Step-by-step Instructions for a Facebook Release Party

imagesBook launch coming? Awesome! How about a virtual release party on Facebook?

If you’ve never attended an online event, they are a lot of fun. This blog will explain step-by-step how to set up a book release party on Facebook.

BEFORE THE EVENT

1) Decide on your budget – you have to give away prizes, swag, books, gift cards, and don’t forget to include postage for anything you have to mail.

2) Choose a date (that’s not a holiday or major sporting event) and a two-hour block of time for your event. When you promote it, don’t forget to add the time zone (example: 7-9pm Eastern). Monday and Thursday nights usually work pretty well.

3) Decide if you’re going to give away your book. The whole reason for the party is to sell your book, so giving it away seems a little counter-productive. Perhaps you could give only one copy away in the grand prize.

 facebook-eventSETTING UP THE EVENT

Go to Facebook and “Create an Event.” On the left side of your Facebook newsfeed page is a button called “Create Event.” Click on it and when the pop-up box appears, look at the top and make sure it is set to “public event.” You cannot change it later.

Add the date and time. Under “Where” state clearly that the event will take place “Right here on this page!” People get confused when they’re invited to a party and it’s actually taking place online. You can’t emphasize enough that the party is “RIGHT HERE ON THIS PAGE!!!”

Once you have the event page, you can upload a picture for the top banner.

Now, invite all of your Facebook friends. Some people will not respond to the invitation because they just don’t see it, so copy the link at the top of the event page and post it on your Facebook page. You will have to do this a few time and more frequently as the date approaches. Promote the event everywhere. Your blog and Twitter followers can also attend. Post the page link anywhere you want.

NOW, IT’S TIME TO PUT TOGETHER A GREAT PARTY!

We will use the above example of 7-9pm Eastern to explain the exact details. The party moves amazingly fast, so write a script in Word so you can copy and paste it onto Facebook at the exact times you want to. You’ll also want to take photos of your prizes and anything else you want to show. Have them ready to go on your computer to upload. Make your party questions things that everyone can participate in. Your script will look something like this:

7:01 Hi, everyone! Thank you for coming to the GREEN EGGS AND HAM Release Party. We are going to have a lot of fun and give away some great prizes, including the grand prize of a swag bag, a signed copy of GREEN EGGS AND HAM, and a $25 Amazon Gift Card. We will get started in a moment.

7:05 Hi to everyone who just joined us! Thanks for coming. If you have any question about GREEN EGGS AND HAM or about writing in general, fire away. I’ll answer questions as they’re posted. Now, let’s get started…

7:06 Question #1 for Prize #1 – a swag bag and a lovely green ceramic egg. A winner will be chosen from the comments at 7:20. — In GREEN EGGS AND HAM, Sam I Am had a name that rhymed. If your name rhymed, what would it be?

7:10 (post photo of the ceramic egg) Here’s the green ceramic egg we’re giving away right now.

7:15 (post photo of the book) Here’s the cover of my new book GREEN EGGS AND HAM.

7:20 Okay, comments are closed. One moment while we select a winner…

7:21 And the winner of Prize #1 is John Doe. Please send your mailing address to Sam@greeneggsandham.com. Congratulations!

7:24 Question #2 for Prize #2 – a swag bag and a $5 Amazon Gift Card. A winner will be chosen from the comments at 7:35. — In GREEN EGGS AND HAM, Sam didn’t like green eggs and ham until he tried them. What food did you not like until you tried it?

7:28 (post picture of prize #2)

7:31 (post picture of something that inspired the story)

7:35 Okay, comments are closed. One moment while we select the winner….

Question #3, picture of prize #3, picture of something else, close comments, announce winner, Question #4, picture of prize #4, repeat and so on and so forth.

Give away prizes at 7:20, 7:35, 7:50, 8:05, 8:20, 8:35, and 8:50. The 8:58 grand prize should be offered to all attendees and chosen from all comments.

In total, you will need seven questions and eight prizes, because the grand prize doesn’t require a question. You will also need eight pictures of prizes and probably eight pictures of your cover or inspiration to fill the time. If you correspond the question # and the prize picture, you’ll be able to upload pictures quickly. Question #1 goes with prize picture #1, etc. Trust me, you won’t have time to look for it.

329238-hints-and-tipsA FEW HINTS

Before you sit down for the event, get yourself something to drink and have a good clock nearby to keep an eye on the time. It’s good to have a friend stay with you. They can pick the winners for you, help keep an eye on time, and they can run and refill your coffee cup. You’re going to be too busy to move for two hours!

The day of the event, repeatedly post the link on your Facebook page like a countdown. Post in the morning, again at mid-day, 2 hours before, 1 hour before, 30 minutes before, 5 minutes before. (If you have multiple pages, post on all of them. Also post on Twitter, your blog, your website, everywhere.)

Ask questions revolving around your book that anyone can answer, relating a little about the story or characters, but not confusing people, because they more than likely have not read the book yet.

If you see someone come in midway through the party, comment “If you’re just joining us, we’re on Question #4. Please jump in.” Some of your author friends may stop in for a few minutes to support you. Don’t be surprised if they don’t participate. They don’t want to steal your thunder. If you have time, say hi to them publicly, telling your friends, family, and readers that Jane Doe, author of XYZ, is in the room. The general public loves to know that we’re friends with other authors.

Post photos about things that are relate to the prize or the book. If your book takes place in a castle or on a beach, post a photo that “inspired” the location. If your book takes place in a certain time in history, post a photo of that era. One or two photos between questions is plenty. The last half hour, you’ll be commenting and answering questions, so you probably won’t need the photos, but they’re good to have on hand if you do need them to fill time.

Respond to funny comments. Like EVERY comment. Even a smiley face lets everyone know you’re paying attention to them.

About 8:30, your crowd will get a little quiet as two hours is a long time to pay attention. This is the perfect time to advertise a second chance at a $25 Amazon Gift Card by going to your website and signing up for your newsletter, or mention what is happening on your book tour tomorrow, or where you’ll be signing books next week. You have a captive audience. Use it.

ONE MINOR ISSUE:

On Facebook, the last comment on any particular post sends that post to the top of the page, so wait for a couple minutes for everyone to say congratulations to the last winner before posting the next question. You don’t want your next question to get lost in the shuffle. Make it clear what you are posting. Example: “Question #3:” or “The Winner of Question #4 is:”

CLOSING:

After the final question, post “We have a few more minutes to answer questions, and at 8:58 we’ll announce the grand prize winner.” Your crowd will again come to life after the last question, and answering their questions becomes a free-for-all. Be warned, their questions will be very few at first, but will snowball toward the end.

An easy way to answer questions it to copy the person’s name and question, add the word “asked” after their name, and create a new post so everyone can see it. Example: Bob Jones Why are the eggs green? – Make it: Bob Jones asked Why are the eggs green? ANSWER: You’ll have to read the book and find out.

At 8:59, thank everyone for coming and POST A LINK to where they can buy GREEN EGGS AND HAM. Have this link ready in your Word document so you can copy and paste it. You don’t want your guests to leave before you’ve posted it.

At 9:00, re-invite them to the book signing or webpage that you told them about earlier. Post link to website or location.

downloadIT’S OVER! Now what?

Go back to your Facebook, Twitter, blog announcements where you invited people and add a comment: “If you didn’t make the Book Release Party, you can still click on the link and see all the fun we had. The posts will be out of order, as the last one to get a comment automatically moves to the top, but visit anyway!”

Post-promote on Twitter, Facebook, your website, etc., telling everyone what fun you had and invite them to check it out. You’ll still get likes and comments for a few days.

Mail your prizes! WHEW!!

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Lori Crane is a bestselling and award-winning author of historical fiction and the occasional thriller. Her books have climbed to the Kindle Top 100 lists many times, including “Elly Hays” which debuted at #1 in Native American stories. She has also enjoyed a place among her peers in the Top 100 historical fiction authors on Amazon, climbing to #23. She resides in greater Nashville and is a professional musician by night – an indie author by day.

Saturday Snippet of STUCKEY’S BRIDGE

Stuckey's cover_webIf you haven’t yet heard about Old Man Stuckey, he’s a little like Dexter, but with less conscience and a lot more lovable. THE LEGEND OF STUCKEY’S BRIDGE got its start when I wondered about the real man behind the ghostly legend I grew up with in Mississippi. I got so many emails and letters asking about the secondary character, Levi, who is a little psychopath in his own right, I wrote the sequel, STUCKEY’S LEGACY: THE LEGEND CONTINUES. There were similar legends around the same time and the same place, so I pulled them all together and finished up the trilogy with STUCKEY’S GOLD: THE CURSE OF LAKE JUZAN. They are best if read in order, but can stand alone on their own.

Here’s a creepy scene featuring Old Man Stuckey in his younger days…

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He stood silent and still for a long time, not knowing what to do next. It wasn’t like he had ever killed anyone before. He didn’t have this planned out. He was certain his father would beat him to a pulp when he found out. He stood with his back against the barn door, gazing down at his dead brother, and came up with a plan.

He gathered piles of hay and arranged them in mounds in the middle of the floor. He then pulled matches out of his coat pocket and set the hay ablaze. He added more hay. And more. The fire came to life and roared as he watched. Black smoke filled the air. He felt as angry as the fire looked. His brother deserved to die and to burn—in hell. This was as close as he could come to creating the real thing.

He felt the flames hot on his face, and the smoke made him cough. He covered his nose and mouth in the crook of his arm, and breathed through his sleeve as he watched the flames grow higher and larger. The fire crackled and hissed as it quickly raced up the dry wooden ladder into the storage loft above. There was nothing up there but last summer’s hay, which lit with a whooshing sound.

He looked up. The dimness of the barn had been replaced by a bright yellow glow. Within a few short minutes, the fire had spread all the way across the loft and the roof. While he watched the loft, he didn’t notice the fire had spread all around him, eating everything in sight. Even with his nose covered, he began to cough violently, and he made his way through the black smoke to the barn door.

He pulled on it. It wouldn’t budge. He pulled it again. It wouldn’t move an inch. His brother’s dead body was lying in a heap in front of the door, blocking his escape. He bent down and grabbed the arms and attempted to pull the body out of the way, but the dead weight was far too heavy for his small, slender frame. He gave up, coughing even harder, and tried to pull the door again. He was having trouble breathing and thought he should have planned this better. He was going to die in this barn with his brother.

Suddenly, he heard his mother’s voice outside. “Is anyone in there? Thomas? Wilson?” She pounded on the door.

“Ma?”

“Thomas?”

“Ma, I’m in here. I can’t get the door open,” he yelled over the roar of the flames.

“Thomas, is that you? Pull the door!” She was screaming now, hysteria building.

“I am! It won’t open!”

The fire was thunderous; it was almost as loud as a train roaring down the tracks. He never realized fire made such a deafening noise. The flames spread quickly toward the door, licking at his feet. He looked behind him, and all he could see were yellow flames and black smoke.

“Push the door, Ma!”

He pulled the door as she pushed from the outside, and it inched open just enough for him to squeeze out. She grabbed his arm, and they ran about a hundred yards before they stopped and turned to look back at the barn. Black columns of smoke billowed into the sky, and the flames were a continuous rumble.

When he took his initial breath of fresh air, he coughed even harder. He wrapped his arms around his mother’s waist, buried his head into her bony shoulder, and hugged her tightly. She asked again if Wilson was also in the barn, and tried to pull away from him to go check. He coughed more through tears and hugged her even tighter. Again and again she tried to pull away from his grasp to go search for her other son, but he wouldn’t let go until he was sure the fire had erased all traces of his deed.

When the walls collapsed and the flames finally began to die down, he released his grip on his mother and said, “Thank you, Ma. I’m fine now.” He glanced at the smoldering rubble, then back at his mother, and added, “I don’t imagine Wilson is, though.” He turned toward the house and walked away, leaving her standing in the field with tears streaming down her smoke-stained cheeks.

*************

5-star-largeA five-star recipient at Readers’ Favorite, THE LEGEND OF STUCKEY’S BRIDGE is available in paperback and Kindle at Amazon. CLICK HERE. Pick up a copy and root for the bad guy for a change. 🙂

The Legend of Stuckey’s Bridge by Lori Crane is a page-turning winner. This is a five star winner and Lori Crane is a must-read author.” ~Trudi LoPreto for Readers’ Favorite
“Lori Crane is a Southern storyteller of the first order.” ~Writer’s Digest

Creating a Live Twitter Event

 

twitter-birdsEver consider doing a live Twitter chat? It’s a great way for your fans to connect with you. If you don’t yet have fans, it’s a great way to get some!

If you have a large following, you can probably do a one-hour Twitter chat all by yourself. Most of us are not so lucky and need to enlist the help of our author friends.

SETTING IT UP

Ask four or five author friends to join you.

Choose a day that is not a holiday or a sporting event day.

Choose an hour to do the chat. When promoting, always include the time zone (example: 4-5pm Eastern).

Choose an appropriate hashtag for the event. Hint: If including the live chat with a book tour, perhaps use the name of your book. If you’re considering doing a monthly or weekly chat, use something that you’ll be chatting about. If your monthly topic is about you and your friends who are all indie authors, maybe something like #indieswrite would work. Make it short and specifically on topic.

Choose a name for your chat. “Indies Go Global” “You Too Can Write” “Thrillers for Chickens” “Cute Boys who Write” Your choice!

Now, go to Tweetchat.com and register your time, day, name, and hashtag. It sometimes takes them two weeks to register your chat and put it on their calendar, so plan in advance. If you’re doing a recurring chat, they will put that on the calendar also.

Tweetchat.com is a live Twitter feed that only shows the hashtag you are following at that moment. You won’t have to wade through a million posts to follow the conversation. Tweetchat also automatically includes your hashtag in your comments, so you don’t have to remember to do so with each comment.

PUTTING IT TOGETHER

Keep in mind, Twitter only allows 140-character comments, so you should plan your comments in advance.

Pre-write a welcome to your guests in Word, so you can simply copy and paste.

Offer your author friends a chance to introduce themselves, their genres, their titles. Even if the chat is about your book, guests still like to see that you have a lot of cool author friends. Ask each other questions about books or writing process. You can also plan these in advance.

At the end of the chat, offer your author friends a chance to post where guests can find more information about them.

The most important part is: Plan specific questions for you and your author friends. Email them to your author friends and give them ample time to create 140-character answers. After everyone answers a question at the chat, discuss the topic among yourselves. Your guests will start chiming in. Leave your answers open-ended. “Don’t you think a hatchet is scarier than an ax?”

Include your guests in the conversation.

Don’t be afraid to re-tweet comments. This will bring in other guests from Twitter who didn’t know the event was happening. If everyone tweets enough, you may even “trend” on the front page of Twitter and attract an even larger audience. Cool!

If none of your guests enter the conversation, that’s okay. They’re still watching, so keep it lively for them.

PROMOTING

Promote the event on Twitter, your blog, your website, Facebook, everywhere.

Create an event on Facebook and invite all your friends. (On the left side of your Facebook newsfeed is a button that says “Create Event.” Use it. On the top of the pop-up box, you can change the event from Private to Public. )

Tell people the day, time (with time zone), hashtag, and topic. Invite them to join you on Tweetchat.com. Create a link. Don’t make them go looking for it. Explain that Tweetchat is a live Twitter feed that only includes the hashtag you’re currently following.

If you’re using the chat as part of a book tour, do the chat toward the end of the tour. That gives you plenty of time to promote that hashtag at every stop!

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Lori Crane is a bestselling and award-winning author of historical fiction and the occasional thriller. Her books have climbed to the Kindle Top 100 lists many times, including “Elly Hays” which debuted at #1 in Native American stories. She has also enjoyed a place among her peers in the Top 100 historical fiction authors on Amazon, climbing to #23. She resides in greater Nashville and is a professional musician by night – an indie author by day.

Saturday Snippet of Elly Hays

elly cover_webElly Hays is based on real people and real events. She was my 5th great-grandmother, Elizabeth Hays Rodgers. I wrote about her granddaughter in Okatibbee Creek and about her great-granddaughter in An Orphan’s Heart, but I began to wonder where the strength of these women came from, so I backed up in the family tree and found Elly. She lived in the Mississippi Territory, today known as Alabama, in the early 1800s – through a most frightening time when the South was the unsettled frontier and the Creek Indians fought against the Americans for the rights to the land. Not only is this her story, but we also get to see it through the eyes of the Creek warrior, Tafv (pronounced TAH-fuh.)

Elly Hays is told in alternating chapters of Elly’s point of view and Tafv’s point of view, and from the first few chapters, you can sense their will be an epic clash between a warrior with nothing to lose and a young mother on the verge of losing everything.

Below is a snippet of the first meeting between Elly and Tafv’s brother Eto.

*******

She angrily plopped down on a rock and yanked dirty stockings from the basket. She dunked them in the water and began scrubbing them hard enough to put holes in them. She could feel her ears buzzing and her shortness of breath and realized she needed to calm down. She stopped scrubbing, closed her eyes, and took a deep breath through her nose, trying to slow her heart. She concentrated on releasing the tension in her shoulders and the knot in her stomach. She felt guilty for losing her temper with her husband, but frustration was taking over her life. Every day brought new problems—life-and-death problems. Her mounting anger was overriding her fear of the Indians and her love for her husband.

She opened her eyes when she heard him clear his throat behind her, and she turned to apologize for her harsh tone of voice. But when she saw the black eyes looking back at her that did not belong to James, she stopped and gasped. They belonged to an Indian, sitting tall on a brown and white painted horse. She hadn’t heard him approach. She jumped to her feet, wondering where she could run.

The Indian was bare-chested, wearing only tan animal hide pants and moccasins. His hair was short, shaved on the sides and sticking up higher on top. Most of the Indians she had seen had this same haircut. His face was covered with lines of red and black paint, and he wore a headband tied around his head with strips of animal fur hanging on either side of his face. His headband was not adorned with any feathers. This was not the same Indian she had seen before.

He stared at her for a long time and did not move. She glanced across the swift creek to the left and right, but there was nowhere to run. She would never be able to outrun a horse. Her heart beat wildly as beads of sweat broke out on her brow. She remained frozen.

“I came to warn you,” the Indian said in a monotone.

Elly was surprised by his English.

He sat motionless, waiting for her response.

She finally blurted out, “Warn me about what? That you want us to leave? We already got that warning.” She could feel her temper escalating again. All of the tension she had felt the last few months, all of the worry for her children, all of the stress of building a new life, was about to explode in this Indian’s face.

“Yes, I’m here to warn you that you need to leave, but not for the reason you are thinking.” He looked down at the reins in his hands, as if trying to gather his thoughts and find the correct words. “My brother and I were the ones who killed your animals.”

Elly threw a wet stocking on the ground. She hadn’t realized she was still holding it, and it had dripped down her blue linen skirt, causing the front of her dress to become dark in color. “You? You did that? How am I supposed to feed my children?” she raised her voice, her temper becoming stronger than her fear.

“This is the least of your worries. When your husband chased us away, my brother’s boy fell from his horse and snapped his neck.” His eyes carried a tint of sadness. “The boy is dead.”

Elly felt her heart soften for a young boy she didn’t even know. Her anger began to subside, as if it were being washed away by the babbling creek beside her. “I’m…I’m very sorry to hear that,” she stammered, wringing her wet hands together.

“You must understand, my brother is the great warrior of our village. He has vowed revenge on your husband and your family for the death of his son.”

Elly’s eyes widened as the Indian continued.

“He told our Great Chief your husband killed his son, and the Great Chief has given him permission to slaughter your family.”

Elly was shocked by the revelation and quickly shook her head. “No. My…my husband would never kill a boy. He’s never killed anyone, for any reason.”

“Our great warrior does not know this.”

“Please tell him. Tell him my husband didn’t kill his son.” She took a step forward as she begged.

The Indian shook his head and looked at her with compassion. “I cannot tell him anything. I can only warn you. You must leave now…before it’s too late.”

Elly placed her hand over her mouth as tears stung her eyes. Her body began to tremble, and she turned her face toward the creek so the Indian would not see her cry. After a moment, she composed herself, wiped her cheek with the back of her hand, and turned back toward the Indian, but he was gone. She looked left and right through the trees, but it seemed he had simply vanished as quickly as he had appeared.

************

3booksElly Hays is available in paperback and Kindle at Amazon.

Elly Hays received Honorable Mention in the 2013 Great Midwest Book Festival, it was on the short list of “50 self-published books worth reading 2013/14” at Indie Author Land, and the cover was a semi-finalist in the 2014 Authorsdb Book Cover Contest. It is the third book of the Okatibbee Creek Series, following Okatibbee Creek and An Orphan’s Heart.

What Type of Editing do I Need?

Types of Editing

pencil-1979pxWhat Type of Editing Do I Need?

If you’re an author, you’ve undoubtedly heard someone along the way say something about getting an editor. You may have a sneaking suspicion that your work could probably use a little polishing. Are there paragraphs that just don’t feel right? Parts of the story line that feel rushed or too slow? Did you get a C in high-school English? Yes, you need an editor. Depending on your writing experience, you can use one or all four edits on your book, and those edits can be done by one person or four different people. Stephen King has an editor, you should too.

So, what are the different kinds of editing available and which do you need? Here’s a breakdown of editor services.

Developmental Editing

When you are stuck anywhere in a story, whether you are at the initial stages of creating an outline, or you are at the end of writing the rough draft, but the pieces aren’t lining up, you need a developmental edit. A developmental editor will review the whole story for you and tell you where there are holes in your plot, where your characters aren’t developed, where you’ve left story lines dangling with no conclusions. They will make suggestions on where and how to fix your story. In short, a developmental editor will help you develop your story.

Substantive Editing

When you are finished with your manuscript, you may consider a substantive edit. An editor will help you put your story into its final form. They may change points of view, look for inconsistencies in your character’s behavior, rearrange your paragraphs, and rework your dialog. You want your story and your characters to be believable. This is the outcome of a good substantive edit.

Copyediting

Once you’ve completed your “final” manuscript, you want to have an editor do a copyedit. A copy editor will read each sentence and fix grammar, punctuation, spelling, and voice. If you give them enough latitude, they will rework tangled sentences and paragraphs. They will also check your captions and footnotes for accuracy against your text. You may get the work back with ideas to improve or delete parts of your work. Your book should be close to finished after this step.

Proofreading

Proofreading is the final step in editing. When you a sure your work is finished, a proofreader will go over your manuscript one sentence, one word, one comma at a time and make sure it is all correct. If you have photos or charts, they will also review those. They will correct any errors overlooked in the copyedit. They will also check all elements of design, including headers, font styles, and page numbers.

 

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Lori Crane is a bestselling and award-winning author of historical fiction and the occasional thriller. Her books have climbed to the Kindle Top 100 lists many times, including “Elly Hays” which debuted at #1 in Native American stories. She has also enjoyed a place among her peers in the Top 100 historical fiction authors on Amazon, climbing to #23. She resides in greater Nashville and is a professional musician by night – an indie author by day.

Saturday Snippet of An Orphan’s Heart

AOH%20cover_webThe second book in the Okatibbee Creek Series is the tale of one of the orphans lost in the shuffle in Okatibbee Creek, Martha Ellen Rodgers Meek, simply known as Ellen. In An Orphan’s Heart, nine-year-old Ellen’s family has been decimated by the civil war and a typhoid epidemic that swept through the county. She and her siblings are now forced to live with other family members, and Ellen finds herself longing for the love of her mother. She is relocated from Mississippi to Alabama, and upon reaching maturity, she decides to go back to Mississippi. Things are certainly not the same as they were in her childhood. She eventually travels to the great plains of Texas to visit her brothers, and immediately upon her arrival, she meets the man of her dreams and plans for a bright future – but has everything torn from her in a shattering turn of events.

An Orphan’s Heart is based on a true story. The names are real. The events are real. The story is told in first person, present tense. The photo at the bottom of this page is the real Martha Ellen Rodgers Meek, taken sometime around 1880.

Below is a snippet of when Ellen met handsome Sam Meek. The electricity was evident from the first moment.

**************

The inside of the house is as charming as the outside. A blazing fire warms the room, and the air smells of freshly made coffee. Mollie introduces me to their daughters: Minnie, who is five, and Willie Jo, who is two. What cute little girls! Judging by their nightdresses, they were about to go to bed. They both run up and wrap their arms around my neck as I bend down to say hello.

“Aunt Ellen, how long did it take you to get here?” Minnie asks.

“A couple of days. I traveled on three different trains.”

“Did you bring us any presents?” Willie Jo asks.

I laugh. I didn’t even consider doing so, but I pull two pieces of candy from my bag and they’re happy with that.

I’m so wrapped up in the little girls, I don’t even notice him sitting quietly at the table.

“Ellen, I’d like to introduce you to my brother. This is Sam Meek.”

The man rises from the table to greet me, and I’m immediately taken aback by his rugged good looks and warm smile. Our eyes meet and lock. Suddenly I feel as if I’m drowning in a pool of green—the richest green of a mountainside, the darkest green of the deepest water. Everyone and everything else disappears.

He offers me his hand as I rise from the floor. “It’s very nice to meet you.”

“And you, sir.” I take his hand and feel electricity flow through every vein in my body. I pull my hand away, and just as quickly regret the action. I wish to feel that sensation again, but there is no way to touch him again now. I glance down and admire his tan forearm, half covered by his rolled-up sleeve. “I am very sorry about the loss of your mother,” I offer as I try to compose myself.

He doesn’t respond for a moment, and stares deeply into my eyes. “Thank you. It’s very sad for all of us.” He doesn’t pull his eyes away.

Mollie brings some coffee to the table, breaking the spell Sam Meek has created, and she motions for us to have a seat.

“Would you like something to eat?” she asks.

“No, thank you.” I shake my head, finding it hard to look away from the exquisite creature in front of me.

“Sam?”

“No, I’m fine, but thank you,” he says, not breaking our gaze. “I’ll have to get to sleep in a little bit. I’m exhausted.”

I sink into the chair but have no idea if I’m actually sitting. The thought of him leaving the room is disheartening, and I’m surprised a man I just met is having this kind of effect on me.

“So, how was your trip?” He turns toward his coffee cup as Mollie fills it.

“It was amazing. When I was younger, I traveled through a small town in Alabama that had a train station. I was so enchanted by the women in their fancy hats coming and going, I vowed to myself I would someday travel on a train to a distant place.” I smile. “And here I am.”

“Sounds nice.” He takes a sip of his coffee, watching me over the brim of his steaming cup. His voice sounds like silk.

I watch the way he sips. I watch his strong, callused hands place the cup back down on the table. I watch his tongue lick a stray drop from his lips. I watch his tanned throat as he swallows.

“Did you sleep on the train or did you stop somewhere?”

“I spent the night in Mobile and New Orleans, but the rest of the trip was on a sleeper train that had bunks. The rocking motion of the train was actually very soothing.” I sip the strong, bitter coffee, then glance at him as I place the cup back on the table.

“Well, I’m glad you had a good journey.” He stands. “I’m sorry to interrupt our coffee and conversation, but I really need to get some sleep. I can hardly keep my eyes open. It’s going to be a long day tomorrow with the funeral and all.” He grabs his hat from the side table. “Relatives have been coming into town all day.” He nods to me. “It was a pleasure to meet you, ma’am. I’d love to speak with you more about your journey, and I’ll see you again tomorrow.”

“Nice to meet you, too, Mr. Meek.” His movements are like a stallion running through a field, like an eagle catching its prey, like a…

“Please, call me Sam.” He grins, showing the slightest dimple under his dark stubble. His eyes sparkle in the firelight.

I nod and smile. I can’t stop staring at him.

He bids a good evening to Mollie and Willie, and just as instantly as he appeared, he is gone.

My heart is pounding in my ears. My palms are sweating. I can’t seem to catch my breath. I wish I could follow him. I look down at my coffee cup and shake my head. When I look up, Mollie and Willie are both staring at me, and I blush.

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James daughter Martha Ellen Rodgers MeekAn Orphan’s Heart is available in paperback and Kindle at Amazon.

An Orphan’s Heart was a finalist in the 2014 Eric Hoffer Awards. The cover was also named a top-ten finalist in the 2013 Authorsdb Book Cover Contest. It was also awarded a Five-Star Review at Readers’ Favorite. It is the second book in the Okatibbee Creek Series. The first book is Okatibbee Creek. The third is Elly Hays.

Amazon Paperback Giveaways and Growing Twitter

Hi authors! I’m not dressing up this post with pictures and frills. This is business! If you’ve been trying to grow your Twitter following, this post is for you.

Amazon has a new program for authors of paperbacks. Scroll to the bottom of your Amazon paperback page, underneath your reviews. You’ll see “Set up an Amazon Giveaway.”

Here’s how it works:

You can offer as many books as you’d like, keeping in mind you have to pay retail price + shipping + applicable tax. You can set up the giveaway in two ways. 1) first come, first serve. Don’t pick that one. Or 2) offering your book to a lucky number (entrant). You can require your entrants follow you on Twitter. If you choose option 2, click “lucky number” and the button to connect to your Twitter account, select the winning entrant from 2-50,000, enter the number of books you’re giving away. The giveaway will run for one week. You cannot change the dates.

MATH: I know what you’re thinking – if I give away 5 books, 1 to every 20th entrant, I’ll get at least 100 new Twitter followers. No, no, no, think bigger. That’s what I did the first time and the 5 books were gone in less than a half hour. Yes, I got just shy of 200 Twitter followers, but the giveaway was over before I even told my Facebook people to enter. Set it up for a BIGGER number. If you give a book away to every 1000th follower, you would get 5000 Twitter followers! FIVE THOUSAND. It’s taken me two years to get to eight thousand. Maybe even go bigger if you’ve got the guts! You need to fill out three short blurbs, one to announce the giveaway, one for the people who didn’t win, and one to congratulate the winners. The contest is instantaneous. The entrant learns if they’ve won or not at that moment, so they’re not going to put off buying your book because they want to wait and see if they’ve won. I filled out the forms like so: Enter to win one of five paperbacks of XYZ. – Sorry, you didn’t win this time, but stay tuned for future giveaways. – Congratulations, you’re the winner! Enjoy XYZ and please check out all my books.

WORK: The cool thing is that Amazon does all the work. They contact the winners. They ship the books. You do nothing! It costs more than hosting a giveaway yourself, but when’s the last time you got 5000 Twitter followers from your giveaway?

MONEY: My paperback sells for $9.99, so my total cost for 5 books with shipping and my Tennessee tax was about $82. I got $13 back in royalties from CreateSpace AND I got credit for the sales in my Amazon rankings.

THE PIS DE RESISTANCE: If you don’t give away all your books in the allotted week, Amazon will return your unused money.

If you try it, let me know your outcome. We’re all in this together. 🙂

 

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Lori Crane is a bestselling and award-winning author of historical fiction and the occasional thriller. Her books have climbed to the Kindle Top 100 lists many times, including “Elly Hays” which debuted at #1 in Native American stories. She has also enjoyed a place among her peers in the Top 100 historical fiction authors on Amazon, climbing to #23. She resides in greater Nashville and is a professional musician by night – an indie author by day.

#2 Behind William Freakin’ Shakespeare!

My book I, JOHN CULPEPPER is sitting at #2 behind William Shakespeare…YES, THE William Shakespeare. If for some crazy reason I pass him, I will consider it my best. day. ever. 🙂  Pick it up HERE for $0.99 and make it happen!

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Readers’ Favorite gives “I, John Culpepper” 5 stars!

Culpepper_1Readers’ Favorite has rocked my world! They gave I, John Culpepper a five-star review. In celebration of the release of the third book in the Culpepper saga, John Culpepper, Esquire, you can pick up I, John Culpepper through July 28 on Kindle for only $0.99!

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5-star-largeReviewed by Rabia Tanveer for Readers’ Favorite

In I, John Culpepper by Lori Crane, John Culpepper had a lot of responsibilities and obligations to uphold. He was born into an enormously wealthy family. Growing up in an English manor was fun, he never wanted for anything in his life. But there are a lot of expectations and pressure from his stately family. They want him to become a lawyer, join parliament, serve the country, and retire as an esteemed country man when the time comes. However, this is not what he desires to do with his life.

He has a dream of one day captaining a ship and sailing it across the wide seas and oceans. He longed for the feel of the ocean breeze on his face, the taste of the salty water on his lips, and the excitement of what the undiscovered world had to offer. He loves his parents very much, and there is nothing he would not do for them, but he loves the ocean as well. When push comes to shove, he would have to choose between the money and the comforts of wealth, or his desire and following his dreams.

In I, John Culpepper, you will be transported back to the time John lived and you will feel like you are a part of John’s life. The experience of reading this book was out of this world. Granted, there are few too many characters in the novel and the reader has to concentrate to remember who is who, but once you get into the story, it is a magical experience and you will not want to miss it for anything! Amazing! I’m awed by what I read. Kudos!

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I, John Culpepper is the first book in the Culpepper Saga. The second book is John Culpepper the Merchant and the third is John Culpepper, Esquire. The fourth will be released in late October. It is Culpepper’s Rebellion.

They are available in paperback and Kindle at Amazon.

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It’s Monday! What are you reading?

2a2It’s Monday! What are you reading?

This week I read a book called “Twelve Years a Slave” by Solomon Northup.

71BGwovWcaLIf you missed the movie a few years ago, this is the true story of a free black man, kidnapped in New York in 1841 and sold into slavery in Louisiana for twelve years. The movie was stunning and won many awards. The book is the same breathtaking story.

From a storytelling standpoint, it is told in narrative form, and as an author, I find it very fascinating. From a story standpoint, it is so absorbing, you can’t put the thing down. What happens to this poor man is beyond horrifying, but his strength of spirit throughout his struggle is a lesson for us all. His humanity toward his friends is beautiful, his intelligence toward his situation is inspiring. I imagine his descendants are very proud of him, and I for one, and awed by his bravery and his unyielding hope for his future.

As usual, true stories are the best stories.

It’s available HERE on Amazon.