Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere


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Almost there …

checklist-2077020_1280

So many things to think about, get prepped, and design. And time seems to slip away. Maybe I need to take a sabbatical. Or maybe just a weekend with nothing else going on. No kids home from college, which always throws extra energy into the routine, and usually means I don’t get a whole lot done.

I do have an excuse to hunker down for the next week: it’s going to be freaking cold. I mean, below zero cold. For the high. We’ve been so spoiled this winter, and now when the hard stuff gets here, it’s almost nostalgic. You know, the ol’ “I remember when we had -40 windchills. For days.” Yep. This is nothin’ when you think about it.

It’s Minnesota, after all.

“I thought you were going to do a cover reveal, love.” My Muse settles a hip on my desk beside me. “You have the image.” He’s doing the flannel thing, with an appropriate thermal shirt underneath his black- and red-checked flannel, sleeves rolled halfway up his forearms. Worn jeans and hiking boots complete the lumberjack flair. “So share it. Everyone’s waiting.”

I lean back in my chair. “Except when I share it, everyone is going to want to see the listing. And the listing isn’t complete.” I just sent an email to my publisher asking them to please complete the listing. A half-finished listing is not professional. I think I would be disappointed if I went to look up an author’s book and the listing didn’t even have the cover the author just revealed.

“The ebook isn’t even on the listing yet.” And we’re in the red zone in terms of book release. I mean, seriously. I’m trying to be patient. I really am. It’s just frustrating. My agent suspects it’s fallout from the merger. She’s probably right, but that doesn’t make things any easier.

My Muse sighs. “Everyone knows a cover reveal is just that. The cover. No one expects the listings to be complete.

“Yes, they do. I mean, how many times have I gone and put in a pre-order after the author has done a cover reveal?”

“How many?”

Of course he would have to ask. “Okay, I don’t know exactly, but it’s a lot. And I have to figure out my author website, and my newsletter.” Which I have been working on.

“The site will go through changes, love. Everyone’s site gets refined over time.”

“Thanks, but that doesn’t do much to reassure me. My publisher doesn’t even have my book listed on their ‘Coming Soon’ page yet.”

“It’ll work out, love.””

“Nice thought. I’m just not seeing it yet.” On the bright side, if I don’t have my author page finished this weekend, it’ll give my publisher more time to get the listing fixed before people see the not-quite-done one.

“Hey.” My Muse slips off my desk, takes hold of my arm, and lifts me from my chair. He turns me to face him, blue eyes full of reassurance. “You keep doing your thing. Do what you can do and don’t fret over what you can’t control.”

“Fret? Really?” No one says “fret” anymore.

A crooked grin stretches across his face. “Yes, really. Look it up.”

Sigh. Okay, here’s something to tide you over:

teasers_cr

Oh, and can’t forget Zoey:

zoey_cr

She sure looks regal here. Yep, just like a cat to think she’s in charge. 😀

O-kay. Stay tuned …

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Clueless, but trying

The back door of my writing office opens, letting in a blast of crisp winter air and a flurry of snowflakes. Despite my sweats over long johns–my winter casual wear in the house–I shiver. “Shut that. It’s cold.”

My Muse closes the door and stomps snowy boots on the doormat. He unwraps a red knit scarf from around his neck and pulls off a matching stocking cap before he tugs off his ski gloves. “Brisk. Actually, love, it’s refreshing.” He starts to cross the office, his boots thudding on the floor.

“Hey, stop. Don’t get snow all over my office. Take your boots off.”

An eyebrow arches high before he complies, leaving his boots on the mat as he peels off his leather bomber jacket. He shoves the gloves in his hat and his hat into a sleeve of the jacket before hanging it and the scarf on the coat tree beside the door.

“Nice of you to come back during the snowstorm.” I lean back in my chair and feast my eyes — er, take inventory of my Muse. A cream-colored fisherman’s sweater–looks toasty warm–and jeans, with thermal socks–wait. “Minions? Where did you find those?”

minion socks He follows my gaze to his feet. “What?”

“Never mind.” I return my attention to my computer.

My Muse drags a chair beside me. “I see you haven’t taken down your Christmas lights.”

The huge whiteboard on the wall is a perfect mount for my lights, which I draped around the perimeter. Another string of lights surrounds the door trim on both doors. “I like Christmas lights. If I wait long enough, I can call them Easter lights.” christmas lights

He groans. “Uh-huh. What are you working on, because I know for a fact that isn’t your WIP.”

I frown at the screen. “Author website. And newsletter. And cover reveal posts, although at this point I’ll just bypass the reveal and plan for the release.” *grumble*

My Muse rests his arm across the back of my chair, which means he’s leaning close. Really close. And that sweater is toasty warm if the heat radiating from him is any indication. “Aaand,” he indicated the screen, “this is which?”

“Website.”

“So what’s the problem? You used to be in IT.”

“But I never built websites. I can do it, it’s just a matter of deciding how to do it. I mean, what it should look like.” Then there’s the time suck of digging around the internet for a free theme that strikes me as the right sort to use.

Ever go on Pintrest? Yep, like that.

“Hey, you’re my Muse, so muse me. C’mon, I’m drawing a blank here. I can’t decide whether to tweak a ready-made template or create a new one. Or what it should look like. I have a landing page that basically says I’m not finished with the site yet, but I don’t know where to go from there.”

His chuckle rolls out from deep in his chest. I know, because at this range, I can feel it. “You’ll figure it out, love. You always do.”

“Fat lot of help you are.”

He looks at me, his blue eyes sparkling–with something like humor, I suspect. “You do realize I am here to help, right? With the whole channeling creative energy thing. Besides, you’re making it too complicated.”

“How so?”

“Focus on the books you know will be coming out first. You can always adjust from there.”

“So, what you’re saying is, leave my police procedural out of the equation for now.” I’m sure he’s right. They are on the back burner right now in favor of my book coming out, Book 2, and another mystery on my list to write. Well, redraft, which seems to be my thing these days.

“What is the saying? Keep it simple? Do that.”

Geez, nothing like being vague. “That’s the plan.”

So that’s my plan over the weekend, the first whole weekend since the kids went back to school. I really should clean. And take down my Christmas lights. And work on the workshop I’m doing in March for our local Sisters in Crime chapter. And I haven’t gone through any seed catalogs yet. And I’m way behind reading blog posts. And …

Anyway. It’s cold and snowy–first real snow of 2019, although I’ve been enjoying our mild winter so far.

Happy Writing!

zoey nap


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A-Musing Return

Blue goo drips down the brainstorming wall like a slime creature suffering from narcolepsy. A crimson splat mixes with a yellow blob. I lob another idea at the wall, this one a bright green. It hits and bounces against the wall like a skipping stone across the water until it shatters against a pink and orange swirl. 

That could work. I peer closer. I’m pretty sure that will work. Still following the pattern on the wall, I reach back for another idea.

No bucket. Damn. I know I left it …

“Looking for this, love?”

I swing around so fast I lose my balance and catch myself against the wall. My hand slips across the mosaic of ideas. I flail, scrabbling against the slick wall.

My Muse catches my arm and hauls me upright before I hit the floor, his other hand occupied by my idea bucket. “Still clumsy, I see.”

Steady now, I move to wipe my hands, until I see the mess. Like finger paints, only brighter and a bit more slickery. “Geez. It’s about frickin’ time. Glad you found your way back.” Seriously. I’m glad he found his way back. Grumpy was starting to get on my nerves. For the past two weeks.

He hands me a towel he pulls from his back pocket. The texture is odd, like velour but scratchier. It does the trick, though. While I clean my hands off, I notice his five o’clock shadow has an extra 12 hours on it. He’s wearing a Hard Rock Cafe sweatshirt from Surfer’s Paradise, wherever that is, sleeves shoved to his elbows. His wearing-them-well jeans and flip-flops complete the ensemble. Then I notice his blond hair is lighter on top, and his skin has acquired a bronze tint.

“Queensland,” he supplies, even though I know I didn’t ask out loud. “And yes, I did enjoy some sun. It’s summer there, you know.” He scratches at the stubble on his face while he checks out the brainstorming wall. “Progress, I see.”

I finish cleaning off my hands and dangle the towel–now looking like a rainbow vomited on it–toward him. “Some.”

He sets the bucket on the floor and snaps the towel at it like a shower room gotcha. The colors shoot from the towel into the bucket, each hue reclaiming its ball shape as it hits the target.

Damn, he’s good.

“Grumpy said you made NaNo. Congratulations, love.”

“No thanks to that killjoy. You know, he’s worse than you are. I am sooo glad you’re back.” Then I plant hands on my hips. “Don’t do that again.”

His blue eyes sparkle. “You progressed on your WIP and you won NaNo. And you worked some things out.”

I poke his distractingly-solid chest. “No excuse. Isn’t there a rule against wagering time with your writer in a poker game?”

He just grins.

Damn distracting. “Anyway, you heard the news, right?”

He tucks the towel back into his pocket. “Which news? The news where you’ll be starting your term as VP with the Twin Cities Sisters in Crime? Do you have your panel ready for the January meeting? How about the workshop about using Word and track changes?”

I roll my eyes. “No. Well, yes, but no.”

He raises an eyebrow. “The news where you’re getting more visibility at the Writer’s Institute in April? Two presentations, a panel, and two half-hour sessions with other writers. Plus selling your book. You are going to be a busy woman that weekend.”

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“Well, yes, but that’s not what I’m thinking about.”

“You should be. You know it’s a great opportunity to get your name out there.”

“I know, I know. It’s on my list. I have to work on my presentations.” Sheesh.

“You got your cover?”

*Grumble* “Not yet. I have seen a draft of the final. Don’t get me started on that.” It’s out of my control. Besides, my agent is looped in on that. She knows what’s going on.

“You’re at the three-month mark.”

“I know. I can’t do anything about it.” Except grumble. “Okay. Here it is. I’ve got an offer for the audiobook version of Murder in Plane Sight.

A smile brightens his face. He wraps his arms around me and gives me a huge bear hug, forcing my face into his shirt. Mmmm, smells like the sea and coconut.

“Congratulations, love!” He releases me. “Well done.”

“I have to give my agent credit. She’s awesome!”

“So, when the book comes out, you’ll have Book 2 ready to go.” It wasn’t a question.

Figures. “I’ve got promo stuff to work on. And I have to revamp my website. And get a newsletter going.”

“Book 2,” he says again, this time adding a scolding finger. “At least you found the plot issues during NaNo.” He rubs his hands together. “Now, about this wall. Needs something over there.”

Sigh.

It’s the last weekend without kids before Christmas break. My plan: writing. Lots of writing.

How about you?


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Na-No-Not impressed #nanowrimo2018

I’m not even going to tell you how far behind I am. Let’s see. If I could do one week’s worth of writing over the weekend, I might catch up to where I’m supposed to be.

Grumpy is not impressed.

grumpy1And he keeps waiting for my Muse to come back so he can complain. About me. Which is probably why my Muse hasn’t come back from his pub crawl yet. Not to mention Mr. E had, like, an extended weekend off since his writer got sick.

Now, in my defense, I have been writing every day. This week has been a treasure trove of “stuff going on”, like a Sisters in Crime chapter meeting, and an author event (no, not me, but I’m doing a panel with the author in January and I had never met her). Aaand (Grumpy, stop with the evil eye *sticks out tongue*) I have a keyboard I can use with my iPad plus I bought the Scrivener app so I can keep writing while I’m passing the time until the events start. I got over 1200 words in during an hour and a half at the library!

“It ain’t enough.” Grumpy hrrumphs.

“Shut. Up.” Gawd. Maybe I can sell this grump-ass dragon to some unsuspecting …

“Hey,” he growls. “I ain’t for sale. Hell, I wouldn’t even be here if that damned Aussie muse of yours hadn’t pulled a full house in the last hand. This is worse than losing that Corellian freighter to that shady Lando.”

“Wait. You lost the Milleni…”

Grumpy holds up a hand. “That’s enough. Don’t want to get in trouble from those guys. They probably got lawyers on retainer in case I tell the rest of the story.”

Ooooh. “Which is what, exactly?”

“None of yer damned business. You gonna write or what? You ain’t gonna make up ten thousand words writing a blog post. You got two days to do it.”

“You know, my son and his girlfriend stopped in to visit last weekend, and my daughter wasn’t supposed to come home this weekend. And I had a migraine last weekend. That’s when I fell behind.” Damn head. Three episodes of Bob Ross and The Joy of Painting was about all I could muster. I couldn’t even do any reading.

“Excuses. I wanna see words. Five thousand each day. And next week you got what, a four-day weekend?”

“You can’t count Thanksgiving. Or Black Friday. That’s when I do all my Christmas shopping.” From the comfort of my own home, because going out in crowds is for the crazy people who think it’s fun.

Pale green smoke curls from his nostrils. “How the flaming hell has that Aussie muse put up with you for how long did he say? Thirty years?”

Er, yeah, I guess it has been that long. “Hey, I’ve ‘won’ every NaNo for the past thirteen years. Well, except the very first one. And the one I did after I did my own in February earlier in the year.” Was that two years ago? Last year?

“So what the hell is your problem now? And don’t give me any shit about working full time. Or migraines. Or kids coming home from college.”

Gawd, I can’t wait until my Muse comes back.

“You and me both. Now, finish that post and get your ass going on your WIP. Or whatever the hell you’re writing. Maybe you should write something different for a while. Yeah. Like a story about a dragon that loses a damn poker game and gets stuck babysitting a fracking pain-in-the-ass writer.”

“Hey, be nice. I’m bigger than you.”

Grumpy snorts. Tiny green flames illuminate his nostrils. “Fire trumps size, girly.” He extends wings I swear I’ve never seen before now. “And dragon magic. Don’t mess with dragon magic.”

*grumble*

Okay, I’d better sign off before he gets his undies–er, scales in a bunch (hey, 670 words! Woo-hoo!). We’ve got winter arriving–well, more winter arriving–tonight. To all my writing friends out East dealing with the Nor’easter–stay warm, stay safe.

Write on! (and add a furry lap blanket 😀 )

zoey_cr

 


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NaNo-ing under watchful eyes #nanowrimo2018

dory

I flip on the light in my writing office.

Holy shi*!

Once my heart finds its way back into my chest and my pulse recovers, I glare at my Muse, who is standing just inside the doorway. “What the hell? You scared the shit outta me.”

He just stands there, arms crossed on his broad chest, inches in front of me. And he’s wearing that burgundy henley that fits him so well, sleeves shoved up to his elbows. I can smell apple cider and autumn leaves, along with a hint of campfire–not the smokey kind, the hot flames and weenie-roasting kind.

“Are you quite finished, love?”

“Um, could you, er, slide over a bit so I can get in here?”

He looms over me. “I thought you said you were going to finish your WIP before you started NaNo.”

“Ahh, yeah. Hey, I’m still working on it. Every night. I’m counting the words since last night toward my NaNo total.”

“Uh-huh.”

He doesn’t sound too convinced. And I’m burning writing time here. “You gonna move or what? I’ve got words to write.”

He pivots just enough to let me squeeze past him. “I will say you are giving it a good go, love.”

I settle behind my desk and fire up my laptop. “So what’s with the whole stoic muse thing you got going? I’m working, aren’t I?”

He paces to the front of my desk and plants his hands on the top before he leans over. “I want to see words. Two thousand a day. ”

“I know, I know. I’ve been doing NaNo for years, even outside of November,” I tell him, exasperation in my voice. I don’t need this sort of distraction. “So, how about some inspiration to go along with your hard-ass.” I fail to quash a fleeting thought of his nice…

“Hey.” He snaps his fingers and points to the computer. “Eyes on the screen, love. And I won’t be the only one keeping tabs on you during NaNo.”

Uh-oh. “Oh? Sooo, like, what? My book dragon? I’m sending her with Betsy to that writing conference she signed up for. And I’m pretty sure my Night Fury is on holiday all month. I think she’s avoiding me. This whole election thing–okay, the whole ‘my husband is a news junkie’ thing–isn’t doing my anxiety any good. Gawd, I can’t wait until those political ads are over.”

“No.” He waves a hand with a magician’s flourish to settle a foot above my desk, palm up. A sparkly cloud coalesces into a vertical disk before a whisper of wings reaches my ear.

“Ooooh, you got me a fire lizard?” I almost jump to my feet. I’ve wanted one of my own ever since I read Anne McCaffery’s Pern novels back in seventh grade.

My Muse deflates my excitement with a laser glare that I’m afraid might short out my computer. “No. Meet Grumpy.”

grumpy1

The dragon jumps off my Muse’s hand and settles beside my computer.

“O-kay. What happened to his wings?”

Grumpy snorts. “Who needs wings?” he says, his voice low and gravelly, like Sam Elliot meets Boris Karloff as the Grinch.

“But I heard…”

He snorts again, this time with a wisp of pale green smoke. “How the hell else am I supposed to get here? I got ’em. They’re camoflauged. Don’t you worry your pretty little head about it. You’re supposed to be writing.”

I look up at my Muse. His smug expression makes me wonder if this is payback. “Seriously? I’m not writing fantasy.”

“Genre doesn’t matter, love. He’s almost as qualified as I am.”

Grumpy peers at him. “Don’t go there, pretty boy.”

My Muse stares back. “Don’t forget who has the capital ‘M’.”

“Psshaw.”

“I earned it. When you’ve spent as much time with her as I have …”

Grumpy brushes him off with a wave. “Go on. I got this. Say ‘hi’ to E for me, and tell him I want a rematch. He ain’t that good at darts.”

“Wait. You stick me with Scaly here, and you’re going on a pub crawl with Mr. E?”

“That’s Grumpy, kiddo, and next time I won’t lose that last hand to some Aussie.”

Before I could process that, my Muse bends toward me and plants a quick kiss on my forehead. “Behave. Both of you.” He exits out the back door before the shock wears off.

What just happened?

Grumpy snaps his fingers. “Hey, focus.”

“Dude, I’ve got over eight hundred words in.”

“On your WIP? Get your mind with the program here.”

Um, well, no. But a blog post counts, right? I’m counting it. Twelve hundred words to go.

grumpy2

 

Sheesh.

He is kinda cute, though. In a grumpy sort of way.

“Hey, less yakking, more writing.”

Okay, okay.

This weekend’s weather is looking like a prelude to winter, with rain and snow. Ugh. Better for writing, though.

Grumpy taps his foot. “I’m waiting.”

Fine. NaNo onward!


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Winding up for NaNo

tree

Okay, call me crazy (again). My big plan is to participate in NaNoWriMo again this year. Yeah, I know. Nothing like giving myself a week to finish my WIP draft and jump into another completely different story.

“You are having trouble with your WIP as it is, love.” My Muse closes the back door of my writing office, but not before a cool wash of air sneaks in carrying the scent of fallen leaves, that earthy aroma with a spicy edge. His black and red flannel shirt, sleeves rolled to his elbows, is almost too expected, with worn jeans and hiking boots. “And yet you choose to jump into a month-long writing frenzy.” He leans a hip on my desk. “What the hell are you thinking?”

I rock back in my chair. “Obviously, I’m thinking if I have a deadline for my rough draft, I’ll get it done.”

He crosses his arms on his broad chest and sighs. “How’s that working for you?”

Truthfully, not well. “You know the answer to that.”

“I do. Which is why I’m wondering what the hell you’re thinking.”

“Hey, I’ve been working on other stuff I need to do for my book. S had a great list she posted a few weeks back on Story Empire. I’m working through the stuff I can do without a cover, like picking out quotes and excerpts from my book that I can use as teasers for the cover reveal and stuff.”

“You need to finish your WIP, love.” He leans over, bracing hands on my desk and looming over me. “That’s your priority. Do you really think you can finish the draft by November?”

When he makes it sound like that … “Yes. I mean, I’m at the midpoint crisis.”

“Mid. Point. That’s the middle.”

“Or so.”

“You have how many days?” he asks, his blue eyes drilling into mine. Hey, he looks like he hasn’t shaved in a few days. It looks good. Rustic. Like we should be out in the woods somewhere in a log cabin, with a fireplace, and …

*snaps fingers* “Pay attention, love.”

I am. Oh, he means to what he’s saying. “I know, I know.”

He shakes his head in exasperation. I think it’s exasperation. Pretty sure.

“You will finish your WIP before jumping into another project, because you have got to get that draft done, which you well know.” He straightens. “Deal?”

“Sure.”

I’ve got a Sisters In Crime panel to go to this afternoon–for moral support 🙂 It’s only a half-hour away, and it’s another opportunity to see how things work in the world of author panels.

And here’s Zoey, enjoying a warm place to nap, because I know cats make people feel all warm and fuzzy (unless they have allergies, in which case cats make them feel itchy and runny-nosey).

zoey_cr

Have a wonderful weekend!

dory


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Mashup Marketing, Amazon, and a Muse–Guest Post by Staci Troilo #amreading #amwriting

Please welcome my guest today, Staci Troilo. Staci has just released the last book of her Medici Protectorate series (and I am so bummed, but there is the Nightforce Security guys, which is a spinoff written by Staci’s alter ego (well, one of them 😀 ) Kiera Beck). If you haven’t checked out the Medici series, you’re missing out.

And now, heeeere’s Staci!

Hi, Julie. Thanks for inviting me here today. I’ve been crazy busy writing guest posts for my latest release, Tortured Soul, the fourth and final installment of the Medici Protectorate series. As I was about to compose my piece for you, my muse interrupted me. I’m sure my original idea for a post would have been a good one, but I think you’ll like our conversation better. At the very least, you’ll get a kick out of this, since I have you to thank for introducing us.

muse

I’ve transcribed our chat for you:

“Ahem.”

I’d watched him come in the door. He’d risen at dawn and had been doing some form of martial arts in the yard for over an hour. Now he stood in the doorway, his broad, bare chest glistening with sweat. Dark hair, damp on the ends, curled at the nape of his neck. He sipped from my “This Might Be Wine” bottle, his Adam’s apple bobbing as he guzzled the water.

Had to be water. No one built like that drank wine after a workout. Certainly not Mr. Perfect. I had to admit, I might. Okay, I confess—my morning drinks of choice are coffee, mimosas, and Bloody Marys, in that order. Which isn’t really a problem, since I seldom workout in the morning. Nor am I built like a Roman deity. (I’m starting to see some uncomfortable correlations.)

Cara, you’re staring. Again.”

“Sorry.” My cheeks heated as I dragged my gaze up to his and forced myself to blink. And swallow. “Did you want something?”

“You’re supposed to be working.”

“A ha!” Is it bad that I feel perverse glee when he’s wrong about something? “I can’t write right now. I’m working on marketing materials and guest posts.”

“I didn’t say you’re supposed to be writing. I said you’re supposed to be working.”

And just like that, my glee evaporated. “I was. Until you interrupted.”

“If you were working, why were you staring out the window?”

Because my eyes were tired, my brain was mush, and I’d been admiring the view. At least until he came inside. “I was just thinking.”

“You’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately.”

“You’ve been doing a lot of exercising lately.”

His lips quirked.

My face flamed hotter, and I looked away—back to my blank computer screen.

He pulled on a t-shirt then dropped onto the sofa beside me. Close. Really close.

I inhaled deeply. To my surprise, he smelled good. Like pine and sandalwood and something sultry and exotic I couldn’t name. Seriously? After an hour flailing about in the summer heat? I vented the breath with an audible sigh.

He touched my arm. “You always sound so tortured, cara.”

Wonder why. Shifting in my seat, I knocked his hand away. My skin tingled where it had been.

“So, tell me. When you’re not fantasizing—”

“I don’t fantasize. I ponder. Plan. Prepare.”

“And now you protest too much.”

Hamlet? Queen Gertrude? What, were you Shakespeare’s muse, too?”

His jaw ticked and his gaze heated, but he didn’t speak. Still, I thought I heard an answer in his silence.

Given the circumstances—given his qualifications—I should probably give the guy a little more respect than I had been.

“Anyway.” I cleared my throat. “Julie has talked to me about marketing and publishing. In some ways, it’s tough for writers who write mashups or multiple genres.”

“How so?”

He wasn’t challenging me. Rather, he seemed genuinely interested. Apparently the business side of writing was outside his area of expertise. Never would have guessed there was something he wasn’t good at.

I reached for my mimo—er, my coffee—and nestled into the corner of the couch. “Well, if you’re going to be a multi-genre author, you’ve got some decisions to make. Are you going to try to maintain only one identity and segment your mailing list? Or are you going to write under multiple pen names, having one identity per genre? There are pros and cons to each.”

“And you chose to use multiple pen names?”

“Only recently. But that’s because of a policy at work.” He knows all about my job at a publishing company and the requirements that came along with it. He doesn’t know what the company is doing for me, though. “The marketing director there is helping me manage these different personas, and we’ve developed names and identities for each imprint that works for the genres I write in. Before that, I wrote only as ‘me’ and tried to target different segments of readers when I released different types of novels. And I was mostly on my own with marketing.”

“Either way sounds exhausting.”

“You have no idea.”

He took another drink. “Is there a way to make things easier?”

“Marketing takes time no matter what kind of author you are. Single- or multi-genre. One identity or many. Unless you have someone doing it for you, it’s not easy. But one of the easiest ways to target the right readers is to categorize your book correctly.”

Cara, correct me if I’m wrong, but you aren’t self-published. You don’t have control over your books’ categories.”

“That’s true of most of my books. But not all. I have a few self-published titles. I learned through trial and error on those. Lately, I’ve been asking questions and watching what my publishers chose for me. Watching what the top authors in my genres are doing.”

He leaned back against the cushions, and I got another whiff of him. It was more than a little distracting, so I sat up straight then bent over my laptop.

“What are you doing?”

“Pulling up Amazon’s site. I wanted to show you a few things. For starters, look at this. All these authors have multiple categories listed.”

“That makes sense.”

“Yeah, but you’re only able to add two categories and seven keywords when you upload on KDP.”

“So how did they get other categories?”

three categories

“You have to request it. Email the helpdesk in KDP with the exact path you want, and they’ll adjust it for you. You have to have the exact words, though. And don’t just rely on their options. If you look at your competitors, you can see paths you want that Amazon doesn’t offer. Copy them and ask KDP for them. That’s how you get the categories Amazon doesn’t organically offer. You have to be exact and specific.”

“But how do you know which categories to select?”

“Look at this.” I pulled up the categories for Hideaway by Keira Beck—one of my pen names. “See how ‘New Adult’ is one of them?”

Hideaway Amazon Ranking

“I’m not blind, cara.”

Yeah, neither was I. That was part of the problem. I turned back to the screen. “That’s definitely not a book about college-aged people, which is what NA was originally defined as. So I asked my publisher about it. They said the category has morphed to mean ‘includes unmarried sexual partners’ and has nothing to do with an age group. Other than the characters aren’t teenagers. If you want to place your book in the proper categories, you need to ask questions of people who might know more than you.”

“I see.”

“Another thing is to make sure you go as deep down into the categories as possible. The more specialized and specific you can get, the better chance you have at finding your targeted readers.”

“Makes sense.”

“And of course, you need to look at what comparable authors are listing their works as. Keeping an eye on them and what they’re doing helps you stay on top of your game.”

“You sure do a lot of looking at other things.” He tipped the bottle up and drained it dry. Never took his gaze off me, though.

I drained my own drink then scampered into the kitchen for a refill. It was really warm in the house.

“I think I’m going to shower then head to One Ugly Mug to watch the game.”

My mind kind of blanked at shower.

As he walked past me, he leaned down and whispered in my ear. “Don’t dawdle, cara. You’ve still got a lot of work to do.”

Truer words never spoken.

So, as you can see, my newly-acquired muse has made himself at home. And we’re learning from each other—learning some really interesting things.

It’s hard to pick categories for books. I noticed my publisher chose different categories for my eBook than for my paperback and hardcover. Probably trying to maximize exposure. At the end of the day, I stand by the four rules mentioned above.

  1. Ask questions when you don’t understand.
  2. Request multiple keyword streams from Amazon, particularly ones they don’t offer that you can copy from other authors.
  3. The more specific and specialized the categories are, the better chance you have at finding your ideal readers.
  4. Always stay apprised of what comparable authors are doing.

Do those things, and you’ve won half the battle. Properly positioning yourself will entice Amazon to put their vast promotional machine behind you.

The other half requires developing relationships with your readers. Somehow I think my muse knows a lot about that particular subject. But I don’t have time to have that discussion today. I have promotional materials to write.

TS cover

Blurb:

Protection is safety. Until it stifles.

After months of clandestine battles, the Brothers of the Medici Protectorate finally know who is responsible for the assassination attempts on the Notaro family, the secret descendants of the Medici line. And they’ve never faced such a formidable foe.

Roberto Cozza–Coz–faces this new reality with surprising pragmatism. His powers may make the difference in winning their covert war–if only he can master them in time. It would just be so much easier if he could get his emotions under control, but neither his Brothers nor their charges are making things easy on him.

Toni Notaro appreciates the security provided by the Brothers, but she knows she has her own role to play–and it terrifies her. She is the missing link in Coz mastering his emerging abilities, yet she struggles to bridge the gap between what he needs and what she can offer.

As the Brotherhood hurtles inexorably toward the climactic final showdown, Coz and Toni must find the strength within themselves and each other to master the secrets of his powers, or risk death and defeat for all they hold dear.

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Author Bio and Links:

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Staci Troilo writes because she has hundreds of stories in her head. She publishes because people told her she should share them. She’s a multi-genre author whose love for writing is only surpassed by her love for family and friends, and that relationship-centric focus is featured in her work.

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