How to Host a Virtual Launch Party my first book, Denim & Diamonds, was released, I thought about hosting a virtual launch party, but wasn’t quite sure how to pull it off. For my second book, Fatal Impulse, I decided to do a little research and host a Facebook event. It was Saturday, and now that it’s over, I’m declaring it a success. Over 60 people attended, and the ebook surged to 53rd place on the Amazon bestseller list (for women’s fiction / detective mysteries). It may not be the NYT bestseller list, but it was enough to make me proud. So, how did I do it? And what am I going to do again?

  • Schedule. As soon as you have the release date for your book, schedule a Facebook event.
  • Open House. Instead of hosting a “party,” host an “open house.” I ran mine from 9 am – 9 pm. This allows you to cover lots of time zones, and allows folks to come and go as their schedules allow.
  • Public. You want the event to be public, so that anyone can attend. Check your settings in the event to be sure everyone is able to attend.
  • Invitations. Invite everyone on your friend list that you think might be interested. Post links on groups that you belong to. Share with non-reading groups that might have an interest in your topic. For instance, I’m a papercrafter and belong to a scrapbook organizing group. I used my crafting supplies to make gifts for my party, so I shared pics of my giveaways with that group and issued an open invite to any of them who wanted to attend. Notify your local library and local bookstores. Tell friends and family about it.
  • Countdown. Post links on your Facebook wall, your Twitter feed, and other social media outlets leading up to the event, reminding them of it.
  • Prizes. Everyone loves giveaways. Plan to have several small gifts and a couple of larger ones, plus a “grand prize.” I chose to give away a proof copy of the paperback as the “grand prize,” plus a “first prize” of a $10 gift card to an independent book store of the winner’s choosing.
  • Plan. Have a series of questions prepared ahead of time to keep things rolling the day of the party. Good questions include details about your book, but focus on your readers. For instance, something like, “In Fatal Impulse, Andi describes herself as round. What word would you use to describe yourself?”
  • First Post. Outline how the party will work, what you are going to do, what prizes will be given and when. “Pin” this post so that it appears at the top of the page.
  • Schedule. Post at least once an hour, something that will generate comments and interaction.
  • Interact. Comment on your guests’ comments and respond to any questions they have. This is a chance for them to get to know you – and for you to get to know them.
  • Links. Throughout the day, post links to your other social media profiles (Twitter, Goodreads, Amazon, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.) to encourage your readers to connect with you.
  • Your last post. Thank your attendees. Let them know you appreciate them.
  • Wrap up. Mail out all of your giveaways. Connect with your readers on social media. Evaluate your use of time: how many attendees, how many books were sold, sales ranking, etc.
  • Celebrate. You pulled it off. Everyone had a great time. Give yourself some time off social media to reflect on your success!

If you want to look at the posts at my Fatal Impulse launch, click HERE. And if you’ve hosted a successful launch party, please share your tips!


Making Time

One of the most difficult things about writing for me is making the time to write. We went on a camping trip this weekend. I imagined hours lazing by the pool, with my laptop out, going over edits for my next novel.

Didn’t happen. We went to town to get a late lunch. Stopped at a little shop that I’d always wanted to visit, which is going out of business. Although I really wanted the giant wine bottle that swung open, I just couldn’t bring myself to actually buy it.

Guess I really didn’t want it that bad after all.

Watched a movie last night. It was Star Trek: Into the Darkness. Of course I had to watch it. Again.

Got up this morning and had a nice, big breakfast, then broke camp and headed home. Of course, when we got home, I had to clean house. Then I had to make invitations for my step-daughter’s graduation party, then I had to check Facebook and email. And the hubs wanted me to spend some quality time with him. We watched Deep Space Nine and ate chocolate mint popcorn. A good use of time, I’ll agree.

BUT . . . where does my writing fit in? I have GOT to start building time into my schedule. Starting tomorrow night, the first hour after I get home is going to be dedicated to writing. If I am going to make the leap from hobbyist to professional, the time has to be respected.

Is this something you struggle with? How do you make time for what’s important?

Virtual #BookTour: Sunshine Book Promotions

Do you like to win? Do you like free stuff? Pop on over to Sunshine Book Promotions today, read an excerpt of Denim & Diamonds and sign up for a free Amazon gift certificate! Have you gotten your free ebook? If not, go get it!!

Bonus: Throwback Thursday picture from vacation 2010 at my favorite family vacation spot.

Katelyn & me at Silver Beach

I Think I Have . . . oh, look! Shiny . . .

Before I forget . . . Denim & Diamonds is on Amazon! And it’ll be featured over on Under the Covers Book Blog today.

I’m pretty sure I have ADD. I am on a virtual tour this week to promote Denim & Diamonds, and have a book signing scheduled at Village Books this weekend. I took today and tomorrow off to promote. And I am having the hardest time focusing.

Case in point. I went to Youtube to find some videos on ADD. This is what I ended up watching.

Dog Commercial

Yesterday was even worse. I told the hubs I wanted to move our barrister book shelves from the breakfast nook to our living room. I moved a few things then realized it was nice outside and I headed outside to trim some limbs off the small trees that have sprouted up behind the house. Then I noticed the horses need water and filled their tanks. Then I realized the shade was already hitting the pool and decided to hop in. So, what did I accomplish? Not much.

Which brings me to today. My days off are precious. I have a limited number of minutes to spend promoting this book. I’ve got to get it together. So, I made a list on my new smart phone and I hope to power through that list over the next few hours.

So, do you have trouble focusing? If yes, what do you do to trick yourself into paying attention? How do you get things done?

Going on Tour: Countdown to Launch #giveaway #romance

As you likely know, my book, Denim & Diamonds, recently was released. I’m going on a blog tour this next week, and one lucky winner will receive a $20 Amazon gift card. Please mark your calendars, visit these sites and help me spread the word!

Book Tour August 2014

August 3rdI Heart Reading

August 3rd: Underneath The Covers

August 4th: 100 Pages A Day

August 5thI Heart Reading

August 7th: Sunshine Book Promotions

August 9th: Books and Tales

Personal Appearance at Village Books in Columbia, Missouri

August 10th: Cajun Book Lover

Mall of America: Ashley Tisdale #TBT

Katelyn and Kelsey

Katelyn and Kelsey

In 2009, we took a true American vacation, one that really honors the traditions and values of our society. We went to the Mall of America in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It was actually a fun trip. Our kiddo took a friend (that’s them to the left, with our Mustang convertible. Dang, I miss that car.). We spent our days prowling the stores (and, to our surprise, finding several good buys) and our evenings in the pool at the hotel.

On our last day, Ashley Tisdale gave a free concert. While we were waiting in line – the first 300 people in line got wristbands to go see Ashley’s movie, Aliens in the Attic, and to get to meet her – Ashley showed up wearing sunglasses and a sweatshirt. She checked things out on stage and then, to the crowd’s surprise and delight, she played several songs from her new album.

Ashley Tisdale

Ashley Tisdale

We had a great view. I went up a level and took a couple of pics. See the column at the top right of the photo below? That’s my hubs leaning against it, and the girls are standing just below and to the left of him. Nothing between them and Ashley but a security barrier. I felt bad for the girls. They stood in line and, wouldn’t you know it, the group in front of us got the 300th ticket. They were so close! But, we still got to see a free mini-concert.

After that trip, I thought I’d check out future events at the Mall of America. The drive isn’t that bad, and it’s kind of a neat place. But I haven’t done it yet. Maybe one of these days . . . (I’d love to go up for their big scrapbook fest. Hmmmm . . . Maybe I should check their schedule out again.)

Ashley Tisdale at the Mall of America

Ashley Tisdale at the Mall of America

Anyway, thinking about that trip got me to thinking about our trips to Minneapolis to see Ashley Tisdale, and Chicago to see Jeffrey Combs and the other Star Trek celebs and Kansas City to see, well, more Star Trek celebrities. And that got me to wondering about you. What’s the farthest you’ve driven to see a celeb?


Amazon . . . It’s Heeeeeere . . . .

Denim & Diamonds

Denim & Diamonds

I popped onto Amazon yesterday to check on my Author Page and was surprised to see this on my page! Yup – Denim & Diamonds is available on Amazon!

I don’t want to be one of those buy-my-book authors. That kinda drives me crazy. Still – I need the support of readers if I’m ever going to claw my way up the best seller charts (it could happen, right?). But what does that mean? How do readers support writers?

I’ve been feeling very Zen over the last year, and truly feel that what goes around, comes around. In that spirit, I thought I’d share what I do to help support and encourage the writers I like:

  • Like and share their Facebook posts (those with book-related links, not their pics of the tropical drink they’re enjoying while lounging on the beach)
  • Like their Amazon author page
  • Like their Goodreads author page
  • Mark their books to-read on Goodreads
  • As I’m reading their books, I TELL people what I’m reading – in person, on Facebook, on Twitter
  • After I read their books, I leave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads

I know a lot of my friends are readers. What else can we do to support and encourage writers?


Joys of Country Life: Gardening

Lori L. Robinett

fresh zucchini bread

I just pulled three loaves of zucchini bread out of the oven. First batch I made this year. Last night I had a salad for dinner, featuring lettuce and green peppers from our garden. There is something so earthy and practical and wonderful about planting seeds, watering, fertilizing, weeding . . . and then reaping the rewards. This is the first time in our 20 years of marriage that we’ve actually had a good garden, and it thrills me to pieces.

By the way – the best part of our garden? Jalapenos. The hubs slices, batters and deep fries them. YUM. Seriously.

Margo Dill: Caught Between Two Curses

I met Margo Dill at the first Missouri Writers Guild conference I attended (2005). She immediately struck me as someone who was going to succeed. I’ve seen her at subsequent conferences, heard her speak, and have had several opportunities to chat with her over the years. As I predicted when I first met her, she has become a published author and a well-regarded editor and speaker.

Margo Dill

Margo Dill

Margo L. Dill is the author of Caught Between Two Curses, a YA light paranormal romance novel about the Curse of the Billy Goat on the Chicago Cubs, and Finding My Place: One Girl’s Strength at Vicksburg, a historical fiction, middle-grade novel. She currently has two more books under contract–both are picture books–with High Hill Press and Guardian Angel Publishing. Besides being a children’s author, she is also a freelance editor with the business, Editor 911: Your Projects Are My Emergency! and she is part of the WOW! Women On Writing e-zine’s staff as an editor, blogger, instructor, and social media manager. When she is not writing, editing or teaching online, Margo loves to spend time with her husband, stepson, daughter, and crazy Boxer dog, Chester in St. Louis, Missouri.

Take it away, Margo!

With the release of my young adult novel, Caught Between Two Curses, in March 2014, Lori asked me to reflect on my path as a children’s writer. When I stopped to do this, I realized that my path has been going on for almost 15 years. Like most writers, it’s been bumpy, full of success and failure, highs and lows, but I wouldn’t change it. I love being a children’s writer!

People ask me how I got started, and so I thought I would focus on that because maybe it will help someone who is looking for that answer. Then I will also go into how Caught Between Two Curses was published, in case any one has a novel manuscript looking for a home.

In 1999, I saw an ad in Family Circle magazine for the Institute of Children’s Literature, and I decided to take their correspondence course, where I learned more than I ever thought I could. I learned that nonfiction is easier to get published than fiction, how to read magazine submission guidelines, how to find and enter contests, and how to research and start a novel. (I actually started my first novel that got published in 2012 in that class, titled Finding My Place, historical fiction middle-grade.) My teacher was amazing and offered wonderful feedback and guidance. A couple of the stories I wrote for the class placed in contests—once I had that taste of success, that’s all I needed.

From there, I found a critique group. Once you have a basic knowledge of writing for kids or adults—whatever your goal—I believe you need a critique group to offer you feedback on a regular basis. Not only did the members help me become a better writer, but they also challenged me to write pieces outside my comfort zone, including essays, short stories, and poetry for adults. I learned the most about writing in this group, and I went to many writing conferences with them, too, where I learned even more. Each step of the way, I had some success and acceptances, and then I had many rejections. But the successes helped keep me going.

Now onto Caught Between Two Curses, I worked on it some with this first critique group and at the same time as Finding My Place, but I didn’t start seriously working on the manuscript until I got the contract for the middle-grade. I wrote CBTC as a young adult novel, and I had two different critique groups that offered advice and suggestions on it. I pitched it at several conferences—some agents told me that they just didn’t get the storyline with the Cubs and the Curse of the Billy Goat. I tried to explain that it was just a small part of the novel—the real story was Julie’s, and her life as a teenager with a boyfriend pressuring her to have sex and a family that was stuck in the past with the curse. So either I was terrible at pitching my book or they hated baseball that much—or both. I had a couple ask for more pages, which resulted in more rejection. Then I revised it ONE LAST TIME and pitched it in April 2013 at the Missouri Writers Guild in St. Louis to Robin Tidwell of Rocking Horse Publishing. She said, “I love baseball. The novel sounds fun. Send it to me.”

So, I did, and the rest has been nothing short of a homerun. If you are looking for a publishing house, consider Rocking Horse Publishing! Robin has been great to work with. If you are looking for a fun, quirky read with a bit of baseball, magic, and romance thrown in, I would love for you to check out Caught Between Two Curses!

Find out more at

Group blog:
WOW! Women On Writing:
Book trailer:

Caught Between Two Curses

Caught Between Two Curses

SYNOPSIS of Caught Between Two Curses:
Seventeen-year-old Julie Nigelson is cursed. So is her entire family. And it’s not just any-old-regular curse, either—it’s strangely connected to the famous “Curse of the Billy Goat” on the Chicago Cubs.
Julie must figure out this mystery while her uncle lies in a coma and her entire love life is in ruins: her boyfriend Gus is pressuring her to have sex, while her best friend Matt is growing more attractive to her all the time.
Somehow, Julie must figure out how to save her uncle, her family’s future, and her own love life—and time is running out!


Living with Lupus: Laying by the Pool

Butterfly (symbol of lupus)

I’ve been living with lupus for many years now. That’s the reason my kiddo was born at 28 weeks. Lupus was lurking, but didn’t rear its head until I was preggers. I can’t complain (well, I can, but it doesn’t do any good . . . ) – I live a normal life and do pretty much what I want. But I’m able to do that because I take care of myself, and take the disease seriously. Part of that is keeping regular appointments with my docs. Last week was my annual exam with my regular doc, which involves doing my impression of a human pin cushion, and this week was my semi-annual exam with my rheumy.

It was good news/bad news. My vitamin D levels were low, and my white blood count was low. Not dangerously low, just enough to notice. I joked today that the prescription should be laying by the pool and napping. That should totally be a real prescription, right?!

Whether it was prescribed or not, I’m going to make time for that in the next few days. 🙂

How ’bout you? What do you do to take care of yourself?