2nd book in the month of romance….

As I sit here listening to one of my fav sets from ABGT 200, I’m making sure all of you who have been eagerly awaiting the freebie eBook of Destined for You, the 2nd book in the Danielle Grant series. Get it now, as it’s up for the next five days as a download.

Happy reading (and dancing and trancing)….and a Happy Valentine’s tomorrow. For inquiring minds, who think I am married to a man who does outrageous things (like Will Smith famously sending 5,000 roses..), nay. Rog and I have always boycotted V-day out of principle (as in, what about all the other days where we do nice things? Don’t those count)?

So, we go out the day after because the places are empty, and we are, in fact, hungry. Call us kooky, but better deals are always to be had the “day-after” anything, never, ever, the day before.

24 hrs left for Book 1

Just a reminder for the last free ebook #1 in the month of romance….

Made for Me, book one in the Danielle Grant series…ends 2/10

Free download…then the next one up is the sequel, Destined for You. All books available in print at Amazon and B & N a’course  if you must have the hard copy.

Factiod: Writing the final book in the series, although I will say more than one reader wants another. Not in the plans, but you never know. What I’m really thinking about is  sequel to A Convenient Date, since so many readers have asked for another one (or more) books to follow. We shall see.

Getting over it, Literally

There I am, lying in my bed (alone) staring straight up at the ceiling, trying to feel the vibes from my Himalayan salt rock to my left, and all I can think of the report I read on the bar in the Midwest that prominently featured a sign that read something to the effect of: any patron using the word “literally,” will be escorted from the premises, and that they would have no Kardashian here.

In the depth of my recent despair (death of a loved one) you would think I’d have better things to occupy myself with than this, but that’s the irony. Until you have lost a loved one (or two), you can’t guess at the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wringer that’s going to occur. After a while, the body gives, then the mind, and not necessarily in that order.

So, I’m ruminating on girls and a word apparently used in a show (and real life) that I’ve never watched even once, literally. How could this obsession gone so far and wide and deep in to the fiber of middle America to cause a bar owner to literally put up a sign on the window?

This, then, gives way to my own rumination on the word itself. The more I start to think about the word, the more I literally think it’s valid for many things:

  • a comma, used for a pause in a sense (literally)
  • a period. He’s an idiot, literally
  • a question. You think I want you, literally?
  • an exclamation. I’m so pumped, literally!

Come down to it, those dark-haired, big-bossomed LA gals referenced in the media have it right. Literally is about the only non-offensive word that is used at the White House and an outhouse, what’s more Americana than that, I wonder, trying to will myself to sleep.

Literally.

 

Month of romance/ free books & videos

Cover art inspired as I was sitting by the water on Lake Zurich. The Alps in the background, crazy exotic cars everywhere. it was great inspiration.

In February, the month of all things heart-shaped. Because everyone I know can use more love in their life, (I mean, how often do you hear someone say “I’m full-up on love. Don’t need anymore?) I’m going all in with a four-week give-away of my four women’s fiction books, aka, contemporary romance.

What does that mean?

  • A free book a week, no download limit (as in, you can download on any device)
  • You can share the link with your friends (same as above)
  • You can read and review….and review (did I mention review?)

Lichtenstein Castle that plays a role in the book with Danielle’s man of romance (the first one:)

I’m starting off with a fan favorite, Made for Me. Why? It’s exotic (set in Switzerland), it’s fast-paced and it’s a sequel. So the next book will be Destined for You.

Tap on the title or this link and you are on your way. The full description is below.

Oh! If that isn’t enough, you can read along with me. I’ve started a Made for Me playlist on my YouTube channel. subscribe and you will get notified of new chapters as they are posted.

Another view of the castle. What’s interesting is that the family still lives on the property and we saw the young Prince and his gang smoke cigs and lounging by their small BMWs watching us. It was surreal, funny, sad and a bit weird all at once. Not quite as romantic as I imagined, but I moved on.

So grab your best drink, sit back, read, watch or listen, and enjoy February with me!

When the world goes dark

Everything seems a bit brighter, and my troubles a bit smaller when in the mountains

This last Thursday, we received the call no one wants. My father-in-law will only live a few more weeks. We were shocked, perhaps because we were hopeful the brain cancer wouldn’t spread so fast…that we would make it to the summer…one more Fourth of July, one more birthday. But one of my mantra’s in the corporate world is “hope is not a strategy,” and sadly, it applies to our personal life as well.

The tears had barely started to give way to a deeper level of grief and pseudo acceptance until Saturday, when I got another call. This time, telling me the husband of our dear friends and neighbors of 15 years had 24-48 hours to live. There was no time to process that–just stunned disbelief and grief. He died this morning, and my husband, who was still in his robotic, I-can-and-will-take-care-of-my-family mode, was determined I wasn’t going to spend another day riding the waves of tears and weepiness. He announced he was taking us skiing, and loaded me and our youngest daughter into the car and up to the hill we went.

I cried for most of the drive, then the liquid seemed to dry up the higher we climbed in elevation. At the top of the gondola, the sunlight blinded me and I had to concentrate on my eight year old zooming down the mountain. The heartache of loss was gradually replaced with the joy of youth, her unfettered happiness of swishing down a mostly empty hillside. Rog caught me in a moment of smiling, that point in time where I forgot everything and just saw the beauty of life.

Taking another look around, I pulled out my phone and took a photo. From above, the grief I experience down below, in the real world seemed so far away.

As we rode down the gondola, the dark clouds weren’t just metaphorical, but very real. My heart constrained again, my eyes blurred, but I didn’t lose it. I felt like a little of the hurt had been replaced with light, not a sunbeam or super nova, but enough to allow me to see through the dark.

 

Free book promo: A Convenient Date

If you are looking for a free ecopy of A Convenient Date, the search is over. For a limited time, I’m offering a free ebook copy to those who sign up for my newsletter. (this promo lasted 5 weeks….check back again in the future for other promos)

Book jacket info….

Two years after the unexpected death of her husband, Kaitlyn Reid’s life is improving. Her relentless devotion to helping the less fortunate provides a welcome distraction from the emptiness and sorrow.

Just as life begins to feel stable, her world is turned upside down. She receives an unexpected email from her attorney informing her that she is being sued by a woman claiming to be the mother of her deceased husband’s son. A son she knew nothing about…

Reeling from the news, Kaitlyn happens to meet Rick Santos. Rick is a recently divorced financier that has relocated from the San Francisco Bay area. Unaware of her personal turmoil, Rick proposes they become each other’s ‘convenient date.’

Vulnerable, but with nothing to lose, she accepts.

Will she trust her heart to Rick? Will she allow him to serve as her ballast during her times of crisis? Or will she run, fearing a future resembling the dark torment of her past?

A Convenient Date is about discovering real love and the realization that doing the right thing isn’t discretionary or convenient. It may ruin Kaitlyn, but truth and honesty is the only path that will give her the freedom she needs to live again.

Strong, smart, sexy. Is there a convenient date waiting for you?

The domestic rebel- best peanut butter blossoms

In my next life, I’m going to do nothing but cook, take pictures and eat. Oh, and I’m going to come up with a super-cool website name like the domestic rebel. Who does that? Someone who must be solid. 

Like most good things that happen to me, finding this site was unexpected and wonderful. My first experiment are the blossoms, which I’m making at this very moment, writing between batches. What’s different about this recipe is the peanut butter + flour quotient.

Having made thousands of these divine little devils, I was a little worried when the dough finished mixing, because it was a tad on the crumbly side, and I’m used to a smooth texture. This means the cookies will be a bit more dense, but that’s good. I’ll compensate by undercooking, which will make for a divinely chewing final product.

Important dates for self-published authors or independent publishers

I love Draft2Digital. Seriously. They make my life as an author and owner of an imprint so easy. For readers who don’t know, I have books published under mainstream house (McGraw-Hill) and my own imprint (faster sales, higher royalty). It also means that while I “go direct” for some channels (think B&N and Amazon) for the highest royalty), I also use draft2digital as an aggregator for all the other distribution companies, such as itunes, Tolino, Kobo and the like.

Why do you care? Because I received this email from D2D that gave me the highlights of all the deadline/closure dates for the majors. I had no idea. If you aren’t on the mailing list, you may not have or know this info either. It’s worth checking out.

If you are publishing new books or making changes
during this holiday season, there could be delays.
For best results, submit your requests no later than December 11th to make sure they’ll be live by Christmas.

Hi Sarah,

We just wanted to give you a quick reminder about how the Christmas holiday will impact scheduled publishing with our various vendors, as well as our office hours for the holiday.

Christmas falls on Monday this year, so our offices will be closed both Monday, December 25, and Tuesday, December 26. Normal office hours will resume on Wednesday, December 27.

Our offices will also be closed on Monday, January 1 in observance of the New Year.

We expect that the flurry of pre-Christmas releases and the special holiday hours at our partner stores will result in some delays. If possible, plan ahead and submit any changes or listing requests by December 11th to ensure the changes get published before the break.
We have received additional details directly from several of our partners:

APPLE
Apple’s publishing systems will be experiencing additional delays from mid-December through early January. To help you in planning release dates around this period you may use the following schedule:

  • Release dates from December 17 to 31 have a delivery deadline of Monday, December 11.
  • Release dates from January 1 to 8 have a delivery deadline of Friday, December 15.

All submissions must be submitted prior to midnight (PST) on the dates above.


BARNES & NOBLE
Book submissions and metadata changes supplied to Barnes & Noble from Draft2Digital are processed the next business day.

B&N will be closed December 24 (1pm EST) & 25, and December 31 (1pm EST) through January 1.

No files will process during those windows, and there will be no direct support. Also during this time you may experience review slowdowns, and slowdowns following those dates as B&N deals with backlog.


KOBO
Kobo will have only limited support from December 18th thru January 8th. They ask that you only upload important and non-deferrable imports during that time. Kobo’s publishing system will be down entirely from December 22nd through December 27th, and from December 29th until January 2nd. During this time we will not be able to submit any new books or changes. We recommend getting everything to them by December 11th.


SCRIBD
Scribd have announced limited support over the break (which greatly restricts how much our Customer Support can assist you with problems at their stores). Scribd support will be closed from December 25th through January 1st.


AMAZON
We anticipate that Amazon will be closed on December 25 and January 1. To ensure against potential delays in file review and other processing, we recommend submitting your books prior to December 11th.Due to the volume of submissions during the holiday season, we expect other vendors will take longer than usual to implement changes and to publish new works. However, there are no confirmed or planned publishing delays.


Preorders scheduled during these periods will go live as expected, provided we get the final manuscripts in and approved before the cutoff date of December 11th. We highly recommend getting us the final earlier that week to make sure it gets through review.

Happy Holidays,
The Draft2Digital Team

Draft2Digital, 5629 SE 67th Street, Oklahoma City, OK 73135, United States

Email Marketing by ActiveCampaign

Free videos on the biz of authoring

Keeping a promise I made to myself years ago, I’m nearing completion of Author Straight Talk, a book on the ins and outs of the business of authoring. In support of the book, I partnered up with the amazing Chuck Pryor, the exec producer and director of Joel Osteen’s SiriusXM stations, to shoot a series of videos that I’ve posted on YouTube. About 10 min each, each episode is a highlight of the associated chapters. The Intro Piece and the Episode One: The Money and Motivation behind authoring is up as well. Posts will appear every Tuesday, unless I can’t help myself and post Monday night.

Comment at will. I’ve never been much of a comment-responder (I just made that phrase up because it fits me), but I’m changing my evil ways. Yesterday, I couldn’t help myself and actually started answering questions on some other guy’s page on self-publishing. Since he wasn’t bothering to do it (that’s what happens when you get KK’s of views), I figured I’d help him out.

Subscribe to be notified for new posts and other such stuff, and check out the schedule below.

Post Date Video
Nov 21

Intro Video

Nov 28

Video 1- Money and motivation

Dec 1

Video 2- Inspiration & writer’s block

Dec 8

Video 3- Genres, trends, writing for yourself

Dec 15

Video 4-Copyrights, ownership, lawsuits

Dec 21

Video 5- Sales & social media

Dec 28

Video 6- Editing

Jan 12

Video 7- Getting an agent

Jan 19

Video 8- Overcoming insecurity, fears

Jan 26

Video 9- Tools & Time management

Feb 2

Video 10- Process, start to finish

Feb 16

Video 11-Getting the facts right

Feb 23

Video 12-anything goes- ask Sarah

 

Guest etiquette–Best Hostess Gifts

This is such a stressful subject for men and women, I thought I’d address some basics on the subject. Everything I have learned has been through mortifying experiences, good examples and lots and lots of well-intentioned acts gone awry.
What is a hostess gift?
It’s a present a guest gives the host/hostess as a means of showing gratitude and saying thanks.
Do people actually do this? (Rog asked the first five times)
Yes, they do. In fact, it’s a multi-million dollar business (just look on line if you don’t believe me).
Are you surrreee? (same source as above)
Yes. This is considered good form, tasteful, and in certain circumstances, required.
Is it expensive?

Not at all. Many gifts are less than $40, many less than $20. Homemade gifts, such as banana or pumpkin bread or cookies are a few bucks tops.

  • Alternate View
Is it really required in these down, economic times?
Let’s broaden this question to: Is a host/hostess gift ever expected? No. I think not. Sometimes, if a hostess goes all out on a party, she may like a card or something in return. But I can guarantee nary a word will be uttered by the hostess. It’s completely bad form.
Overall, I have zero expectations some one will give me something for throwing a party. In San Francisco, the environment is a bit more formal, for lack of a better word, and gifts were a part of the scene. Loved that. In the south, it was considered bad form to bring food (unless specifically asked by the host/hostess), so flowers are more the norm. In NY, I’ve noticed anything goes, as long as it’s expensive and is in good taste (a’la jewelry and hard to get Broadway tickets are not uncommon) and anything from Red Envelope, with their little red boxes, will be adored.
What is a gift appropriate?
A few pointers:
The first time you have been invited to the home. That’s a must. It conveys appreciation for the fact that the host/hostess have gone to the trouble of making dinner for you (and perhaps your family). After that, you can casually offer to your host/friend if you can bring something. If they say yes—bottled water—ask if they have a preference. If yes, then honor their request for the type if possible. Don’t stray! The host/hostess will be counting on your contribution once you commit. If they decline, use your best judgement.
When someone throws YOU a bridal or baby shower. The hostess has provided the food, the invitations, the venue etc. This can be several hundreds of dollars. That said, when I host either for someone, I expect neither. This is due to the economic realities that the bride/groom-expectant parents have likely shelled out tons of money already. That said, if you are cash positive (and people know this), show good form and treat your hostess (see below).
I’ve received many well-intentioned, though odd things over the years.
Candle holders. This was for a baby shower I hosted. Puter, in a Gallic, fourteenth-century-type of a way. Very large, not my taste, but a nice gesture. Though Martha Stewart advocates candles for a hostess gift, I don’t give candle holders myself. Candles are very much a personal design/taste thing, and it’s easy to screw it up.
A pink Chantilly rug. Strange but true. It was cozy, looked expensive, and right out of the seventies. I’d worry about saying this, but we moved and haven’t been in touch with the guest that gave us the rug in three years. I’m pretty sure this blog isn’t being read by the gift-giver.
When is a gift not necessary? 
If it’s a “guy-thing,” such as a BBQ for Rog’s hockey team, I’ll ask the wife/girlfriend/partner if I can ‘bring something,’ which, for hockey players, means food or beer. The first time, I had Rog ask his teammate for a suggestion, and he received “nothing, just show.” I promptly ignored that comment, and made a vat full of delectable brownies. The entire professional size pan was cleaned out in ten minutes. Food is always a hit with the guys.
Note to girls: Rog claims men don’t drink beer and eat sweets at the same sitting. This, my friends, is false. Men are good with both.
Best hostess gifts
The best hostess gifts are the ones that convey thought and consideration for the host or the hostess’ likes and dislikes. A few examples…
If your host talks about fishing, pick up something small from the fly shop. He’ll likely return it, but it’s the thought (and the store credit) that count. When your hostess has a small garden, get a pot of herbs, or a pair of gloves. Don’t worry about the style. I for one, have never met a pair of gloves I didn’t like (they get dirty after all!) If you host has mentioned attending author events, get him the latest bestseller.
If your hostess is a cook, just about anything kitchen will do. Better yet, a cooking magazine subscription is awesome!!

When you don’t know someone well enough, and it’s a first time, relax. When you roam around the hostess’s home, check out what she likes. One sneaky guest of honor saw I like a particular brand of hard to find chamomile tea. When she came for the next event, she brought one wrapped in a bow. I was completely surprised and touched by her thoughtfulness and the effort she put in to get it!

Some specific gifts that I’ve given include….

  • a bracelet from Red Envelope, similar to this one (they don’t carry the actual one I purchased any longer)
  • little, unique ramikens. My mother loves to collect these things…all are different. Each one is fun, and such a girly-thing
  • kitchen hand towels that are seasonal or holiday
Note the trend here…things that are non-essentials; items a busy, overworked woman on a budget isn’t going to indulge herself to buy.
What about those times when you’re invited to a party, barely know the hosts and want to bring a gift instead of providing one after the fact. This could be a work, church or neighborhood event and you have to guess. That’s when you go for the old standards.
Flowers are good, but you must think about the situation of the party.
For instance, bringing uncut flowers to a large party won’t be appreciated by the hostess. The hostess has to stop everything to cut the flowers, put them in a pot and find a place for the gift. It requires her to stop greeting guests, dealing with the food etc, disrupting her flow and potentially making her crabby. That said, uncut flowers ARE great for casual, outdoor bbq’s or even a sit-down dinner with one or two couples.
An alternative for big parties is a gift of a small plant, already in a pot. It doesn’t need to be an expensive pot, in fact, cheap, plastic containers wrapped with some cellophane of the season is perfect. That way, you (the guest) can either sit it down on an open space, or the hostess can do so. It’s a wonderful thank you, and all wrapped up in a single gift.
Chocolate is great. Dark or milk. Hostess or host will love. (I prefer milk, rog is dark)…either way, it’s wonderful (no twix bars)
More often than not, people bring alcohol. We don’t drink wine, and actually, I don’t drink at all. Rog favors ‘fizzy’ drinks, like sparkling water. But heck, people bring what they know and like, and further, they don’t want to drink water. So what started as a BYOW(wine) motto turned in to something akin to the ‘Pay it forward.’
For our holiday party last year, most everyone brought wine or chocolate. This was because I placed on the invitation a note….
No food or gifts please.
If you feel compelled to bring something, the guests enjoy wine or chocolate.
By the end of the evening, we had enough bottles of liquor to open a store. Now, when guests arrive with wine, we either drink what they brought or choose a bottle from our stash we have. Either way, the guests are paying it forward.
When you are mystified, go to a shopping helper. I like sites that identify gifts specifically for Thank you/Hostess gifts. They make it really easy, from aprons to picture frames (and many sub $20).
If you are in doubt….don’t worry about it. If you are late, and the only thing between your destination and you is a Krispy Kremes stand, keep driving. It’s better to make it up after the fact (on round two) with your hostess than to arrive with something so obviously last minute.
Your job as the guest is to show up, have fun, appreciate the atmosphere and leave fulfilled. In the end, the very best gift is good friends, good company, and a return invitationJ
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