Authors in Bloom Blog Hop

Dianne Venetta_AIB Logo_2015

Spring has officially arrived, and you know what that means. I’m back with another amazing gardening tip, some cool decorating pics and a blog hop list crammed full of fun and prizes.

If you follow me, you know that I live overseas, so various towns and villages celebrated Snowman Burning Day–the torching of a large straw snowman–to herald in the Spring Equinox. I have no pics because the thought of setting something large on fire seems inconsistent with gardening, so you’ll have to take my word for it.

Meanwhile, I was busy decorating some antiques I picked up just in time to entice Mother Nature to show off her pretty dresses. While I love to garden, I sometimes get stuck on how to display my blooms indoors. At least, I did until I started visiting various Pinterest pages and discovered I can transform pretty much anything into something that cradles a few flowers.

For example, why not use a vintage beer crate gussied up with bottles of single stems for Spring, or an old berry crate. It’s amazing what cleaning, treating the wood and a simple waxing can do to elevate the style of simple pieces. Adorned with flowers and candles, and….why not?? Right? I was sold! And yes, my wallet took a tiny hit, too.

Here’s a pic of my berry crate with a few treasures tucked inside, and the beer crates (and Daniel, the nice German guy who carted all my stuff to the car!). Aren’t they beautiful? Even old galvanized olive buckets (mhmm, snagged one too!) can be a home for wildflowers or dried lavender bundles.

Aren’t they adorable? So, scout your house or garden for any potential treasures and show off your Spring blossoms (without burning any snowmen).

Speaking of Spring, I’ve recently set my series starter One and a Half Regrets to free, so you can dive in and take a heartwarming romance break now that winter is officially at an end. I love for everyone to win, so if you’re here–you can one-click this universal link to grab it from the book retailer of your choice.

GET THE FREE BOOK!

If you subscribe to my newsletter, you know I’ve just released Book 5 in the Love by the Numbers sweet series. I’m SOO excited about this magical romance. What’s spring without a wedding, what’s a wedding without a wild animal attack, and what’s a blog hop without a fun little contest? So, up for grabs is a stuffed plush coatimundi (yes, a critter to go with your blooms!) and a copy of Book 5 in my Love by the Numbers series, FIVE DAYS IN PARADISE.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Here’s a little bit from FIVE DAYS IN PARADISE:

I knew it. Knew his stubbornness was born from resentment.

“This isn’t about who’s getting married,” I protest. My career practically depends on me executing this wedding to perfection, and I damn sure can’t do it with some trashy rock band screeching up the joint. “It’s about me.”

He pauses. “No. Not even for you, Lise.”

“Gah!” I fling my hands in the air, bashing one accidentally into his sideview mirror. It rattles but stays attached to the car. My hand is stinging almost as much as my injured pride. I cradle my bruise, relishing the pain, because it reminds me of what comes of tangling with Nick DeSilva. No matter how handsome the package or fulsome the promises, in the end there’s nothing inside.

“That sounded painful. Did you hurt yourself? Is anything broken?” He takes my throbbing hand in his, checking for injuries.

Broken? Only my heart. My dreams. My plans to move forward with my life. 
“You are the most obnoxious, self-centered, egotistical… I hate you, Nicholas DeSilva. I really do.” And damn me, I’m crying now. Tears spill down my cheeks. I no longer cry when I’m sad. The tears only come when I’m burning hot mad, like now–the moment I realize that once again I need him and he can’t be bothered to lift a finger.

Our hands drop, but he doesn’t let go. He’s too close, crowding me with his familiar presence and his glittering dark eyes. “Well, I don’t hate you, Lise. I thought I did, but I don’t.”

“Get away from me.” I jerk free and push at his chest, but my protest is half-hearted and he knows me so well. Something in his eyes flickers and changes. They’re no longer like polished obsidian. More like hot tar on the summer asphalt.

“I don’t hate you,” he repeats like he’s trying to convince himself. “In fact, I…” He shakes his head, unable to say more. His hands cup my face, and all the breath in my lungs leaks out.

He’s going to kiss me. It’s the last rational thought I have before his warm, sweet mouth covers mine.

Get it here! 
Amazon 
Universal Book Link (all retailers)


Hope you enjoyed this post and don’t forget to COMMENT on each Authors in Bloom blog post to be entered for the Blog Hop grand prize–a Kindle Fire or Nook (winner’s choice) along with a 2nd prize $25 gift card! Only those visitors who visit EACH and EVERY stop are eligible for the grand prize ereader and gift card. Eligibility will be verified by hop’s end.  Also, leave your contact email in the comment section, or we have no way to contact you if you win. Fingers crossed!!

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A DARING ENGAGEMENT is live!

daring-engagement-finalHOORAY, A Daring Engagement is officially LIVE (yay!)

To celebrate, I’d also like to personally invite you to today’s Carly Phillips’ “Dare to Love” Release party for all 7 authors releasing today. There are LOTS of personal prize options from the authors this month, and a grand prize of a new Kindle and a personalized coffee mug. (Already have a Kindle? Save and gift this to someone else!) AND–you get EXTRA entries from posting a review of any of the new releases. That’s right, post proof of your review for me, and ALSO earn extra chances to win that grand prize. Here’s the EVENT!
I personally will be giving away free audio book copies, a $5 and $10 Amazon gift card–and posting a Proof of Purchase or screenshot of a review for A DARING ENGAGEMENT will put you in the drawing for my special Genuine Pearl necklace giveaway!
I’m so excited and I hope to see you there. Happy Reading!
an-arrogant-heir-to-a-jewelry-empire-a-sassy-saleswoman-with-designs-on-a-brighter-career-one-marriage-proposal-that-might-secure-both-their-futures

Why Finding Readers is like Shopping at Sam’s Club

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Recently, I conducted a poll on Facebook to try to determine what factors influence readers to find and purchase books from “new-to-them” authors. The “influencers” were compiled from previous author polls, discussion on Marie Force’s Author Support Network, and from my own inspiration. I randomized choices for each respondent to allow for a more authentic poll response. Even so, this is the least scientific study I’ve ever conducted, with all kinds of potential bias.

  • The poll was conducted on social media, which may account for the heightened responses regarding those platforms.
  • It was only offered for a week.
  • It wasn’t, to my knowledge, distributed via author newsletters. A few loops, groups, and shared on FB.
  • There was no accounting for the reader actually buying/reading romance, and the sample size isn’t statistically relevant, given the overall projected number of romance readers.
  • I offered a chance to win a prize in exchange for participation (see winners below).

TLDR: It’s not a perfect study. Not even close. (But it was REALLY interesting!)

Below is the screenshot image of results and my analysis. I’d love to read your feedback/insights, so please leave a comment. Keep in mind, as this was NOT a scientific study, YMMV rules apply.  BEHOLD!

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(Click the image and embiggen for more details. Back to return.)

After viewing the Top 3 responses, I think it’s safe to state that the largest impact on gaining new readers is: 1-Great Products 2-From a Trusted Source 3-At a Reasonable or Reduced Price (AND with available free samples to try).

Shocker. This is NOTHING NEW. Marketing experts have been saying this for years, and apparently it works.

I was struck by the analogy of Bulk Shopping. When you go into a Sam’s Club, there’s a large quantity of products (even books, whee!) all at supposed discounted prices. Maybe you only intended to buy a case of wine or a spiral ham for your upcoming party, but darn, as you wheel through those HUGE aisles on your way to the meat case, those frozen food free samples are sooo tempting. You didn’t intend to purchase something else and you didn’t even know that mini-quiches were a thing, until you stuffed that hot gooey goodness sample into your mouth.

You tried it. And you liked it. (And P.S. your mother would be shocked that you actually LIKED spinach.)

The price $8 for a box of 40 seems reasonable, but wait! They’re actually on the endcap, which usually means they’re on sale (hence Free Sample Sally hocking her wares!) You drag out that weekend sales circular—Yep! They’re listed at $5 until tomorrow.

So, you buy it.

Still brushing quiche crumbs off your lips, you congratulate yourself now have appetizers for 20 people for less than the cost of a Starbucks latte. Score!! But, you’re still hungry. Darn it, you apparently LIKE spinach. And you won’t feel like cooking tomorrow. Maybe you should stock up…

Now you’re off roaming the aisles, looking for other party food platters in the same frozen food section, made by the same company. Because, hey, you liked those baby quiches. Maybe the box even had a hot guy in a chef’s hat on the front, telling you how great they are, like that chef you saw on Chopped.

Sexy Aussie Super Chef Curtis Stone.

He’s good. Yeah….you like him. Just last week, he compared spinach egg rolls to a culinary orgasm. And while you don’t normally go for spinach, you trust his taste in frolic fare, so you grab a box to have at your party. Not on sale, but, you don’t mind. The price is reasonable.

And…Curtis likes them.

“Good choice. Have you tried these?” Free Sample Sally asks in a conversational tone, watching you. “They are to die for.”

“I’m just here for ham and wine.” You reposition your egg rolls and mini-quiches, careful not to cover that cute Food Network chef’s face with your thumb.

“I love those,” Sally gushes. Love is kind of a strong word, but you ARE still thinking of those yummies, so you nod. “Have you tried these spanikopitas? They’re on this aisle.”

More spinach? Why not? It can be your theme. You now adore spinach, actually. Mom would be proud.

You thank Sally and cram a few more boxes into your cart, vowing to eat leftovers for the rest of the month.

And that, my friends, is how those Top Three influencers work. You got a free sample of something you liked. You had suggestions from “trusted” sources. And what drew you to Costco was their emailed blast of upcoming weekend sales, which is why you were there to buy a ham in the first place.

In the future, I hope to conduct a few more polls regarding the actual product features that readers find most important when making a decision, but for now, I’m going to pop a plate of mini-quiches in the oven (spinach!) and get on to the more pseudo-science-y stuff:

  1. The total number of respondents was 232, with a total of 693 votes recorded. The poll question did not address rank order (e.g. I look at reason A first, then B, then C), and while I could filter them, since it was not specifically mentioned in the question, I feel it’s not appropriate. The poll simply asked, “How Do You Find New Authors to Read?” with no qualifiers.
  2. The #1 Response-Free Books remained constant for the entire survey. It did not change, no matter when or how many responses came in. The “free sample” still seems to be effective for drawing in new readers.
  3. The Top Three Influencers retained almost equal votes at 89, 86, and 82 respectively.
  4. There is a clearly-defined drop after the Top Three Responses, with #4-Recommendations from Friends garnering only a 26% vote. What’s interesting is that for much of the poll, this response was listed at a lower position, which only shows that without a statistically-relevant response pool, YMMV. Even 10 new votes was able to reshuffle the order outside of the Top Three.
  5. Also of interest—Readers place MORE weight on what a favorite author suggests or endorses, than what their FRIENDS do. I think this illustrates that reading is a personal and subjective choice, and it’s a real testament to “write what you wish to read”
  6. Responses #5-“Facebook parties” and #6 – “Also Bought or emailed book retailer suggestions” tied at 19.5%. This seems to indicate that usual social media marketing/sales techniques still have some success with finding new readers.
  7. The bottom three influencers (Author “puff” blurb on the cover, Bestseller lists, and Keyword searches) remained constant through the entire period of the survey. Combined they received only 26 of the 693 total votes.
  8. It is interesting to note that the #2 ranked “suggestions from favorite authors/author endorsement” seems to be the same as the Bottom ranked “Author puff” (which may be due to reader’s lack of comprehension or an unclear wording on the survey) in fact, it seems that having a favorite author’s personal endorsement or suggestion does not have the same impact as any random author’s quote on your cover. (i.e. Suggestions of what YOU (the author) love to read go much further than a reader picking up a book and seeing an author they do not have a personal connection with puffing the book)
  9. It’s important to point out that there were very few “outliers” and no one chose to write-in an answer.
  10. Lastly, the responses’ popularity was clearly delineated into tiers of impact as evidenced by similar or shared percentages. The Top Three. Responses 4-9. The bottom two.

Also of interest was the screen shot regarding data of who and how readers responded to the survey. Here’s that thumbnail if you care to see it (click to enlarge):

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Thanks to all who participated and shared in my Reader poll and to you, for dropping by. I chose two winners for either a copy of any book on my backlist OR a $5 book retailer gift card.

Big congratulations to Kathy O. and Inga K. You won!

I hope to conduct this survey again later this year, to determine swing in influencers. Who knows? Maybe some new hook may arise to garner reader interest.

And maybe by then I’ll be over my double addictions to Spinach…and Super Chef Curtis Stone.

Did you get your free copy of LIAR LIAR, Book One of my sizzling hot Romance series? Tap to subscribe and get yours today.

 

Authors in Bloom Blog Hop!

Dianne Venetta_AIB Logo_2015

It’s spring, and love is in the air…along with pollen! I love gardening, and when I had to move overseas I thought I’d lose my gardening kick, but it’s in full swing! To celebrate digging in and getting my hands dirty, here’s a cute cupcake idea from Oh Cupcakes! Bake chocolate cupcakes in mini-terracotta flower pots, frost, sprinkle with crushed chocolate cookies and garnish with green fondant leaves in all shapes and sizes. Aren’t these adorable?

(courtesy of Oh! Cupcakes at http://www.ohcupcakes.net/decoration-sugar-sprouts.php)

(courtesy of Oh! Cupcakes at http://www.ohcupcakes.net/decoration-sugar-sprouts.php)

Spring looks DELICIOUS. Just like those sweet cupcakes, I have a new sweet series launching this month. These cupcake-sized romance novellas are sure to tempt you. Watch for ONE SWEET SUMMER to release on April 28th in the Melody Anne “Anderson Dynasty” Kindle World.

Love by the Numbers

ONE SWEET SUMMER kicks off the rest of the “Love by the Numbers” series coming to you each month this year. (Love by the Numbers series includes: One and a Half Regrets, Two Weeks’ Vacation, Three Little Words, Four-Footed Matchmaker, & Five Days in Paradise)

And here’s a little something else to celebrate. I’ve got THREE great ways for you to win.

One determined woman. One stubborn vet. (5)

First, follow me on Amazon for your chance to win a free copy of my latest HOT romance release, DOUBLE DOG DARE. This offer only runs until April 13th, or until all copies of the book have been awarded.

Second, you can enter to win a $10 Amazon giftcard via rafflecopter (for all your gardening and cupcake needs!):
a Rafflecopter giveaway

THIRD, we have a terrific Grand Prize. Leave a comment below telling me which “Love by the Numbers” cover you like best to be entered in the BLOG HOP GRAND PRIZE:  a Kindle Fire or Nook (winner’s choice) along with a 2nd prize of $25 gift card. Only those visitors who visit EACH and EVERY stop are eligible for the grand prize e-reader and gift card. Eligibility will be verified by hop’s end. Winners will be posted on both the first (Dianne Venetta) and last  (BloominThyme) websites.

Don’t forget to check out these other stops:


Do you DARE?

I am so excited to be one of the authors writing in Carly Phillips’ Dare to Love Kindle World. My novella, A DARING DESIRE, released today and there’s a Facebook party to celebrate the January releases, including grand prizes and individual author prizes. You get extra entries for proof of purchase, so pop over and grab this hot novella to warm you up this winter!)

That party address again? https://www.facebook.com/events/1695890544013765/ Stop by and tell me what cupcake could you NOT resist?

NEW!

Slut-Shaming in the Industry

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photo courtesy of Alisa Varner

I happened across a social media post from one my all time favorite authors that actually turned my stomach. The FB post was in response to a linked article about NPR’s lack of inclusion of her wildly popular fantasy novel, (one that I have purchased, and lent out and repurchased and reread–and which holds a coveted spot on my physical bookshelf )on their top 100 Swoon-worthy Romances. I adore this author so much, I dedicated my first historical fiction book (also NOT a romance) to her. It changed the way I thought about storytelling.

So what’s the trouble? Her luscious, ground-breaking fantasy novel wasn’t included in a list of top ROMANCES by NPR. (Click the link to see why not.)

Yes, you read that correctly. Her female-focused fantasy, which has an amazing romantic subplot, wasn’t added to a list of top romances. This lack of inclusion created hue and outcry from her fans with comments like “many romances don’t have any plot at all” and the charmer who asks “how dare you include something as trivial as plot in my spank bag material” and refers to romance “mindless fluff”.

Rabid readers…..please.

Can we stop with the genre shaming?

Seriously, folks. In an era where people get up-in-arms about slut-shaming, fat-shaming, gay-shaming, etc…why do we then feel the need to denigrate other fiction genres, simply because we don’t choose to read it? Do we really need to go here?

We have suffered through a time of the lowest literacy levels in America. As a relatively intelligent (I like to think) female, with multiple advanced degrees,  who writes and reads voraciously across genres, I’m offended that anyone feels the need to cut down one genre of books in order to make another superior. Especially not when in 2014, it was reported that one quarter of adults hadn’t read a single book.

Can we all just stop?

There’s room for all of us on the virtual bookshelf, folks, or haven’t you noticed?

Romance Writers of America, an organization that I have belonged to for many years, defines romance under these terms (my text formatting, btw):

Two basic elements comprise every romance novel: a central love story and an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending.
A Central Love Story: The main plot centers around individuals falling in love and struggling to make the relationship work. A writer can include as many subplots as he/she wants as long as the love story is the main focus of the novel.
An Emotionally Satisfying and Optimistic Ending: In a romance, the lovers who risk and struggle for each other and their relationship are rewarded with emotional justice and unconditional love.

 

If this is the definition of romance according to the official industry standard in publishing romance, then why is anyone surprised to see there are books with romantic subplots being left off the list? Why the outrage? Why the backbiting comments to authors who work just at hard crafting highly successful (oh, wait, that’s right…romance accounts for over 50% of ALL fiction sales) novels?

 

I don’t complain when I don’t see Agatha Christie’s name on the NPR list of best romances. I don’t shake my fist that Tolkein is left out. I don’t concern myself with the fact that Stephen King’s name didn’t appear once on that list.

Books are books are books. Good books are even better. The fact that one doesn’t make a classified list for which it clearly doesn’t qualify doesn’t make it better or worse than any other book (or genre).

I don’t get it. Maybe it’s just me.

It’s not just me, is it?