Category Archives: Guest Blogger
Please welcome guest blogger Colin Falconer to Write on the River!
THE BLACK WITCH OF MEXICO
(note this title is FREE to those who have a subscription to Kindle Unlimited)
I was in Mexico researching a book and a writer friend told me about the black witches. I decided to go looking for one. It was in the south, in a town called Catemoco, that I finally tracked one down.
He was a snappy dresser, even down there in the middle of nowhere; a silk guayabera shirt, chunky gold rings on every finger, one of them a skull with small rubies set into the eyes.
In a candle-lit room filled with statues of Santa Muerte, he got straight down to business.
‘Is this for business or for love?’ he asked me.
I decided to play along. ‘Love,’ I said.
‘Who is this woman? Do you want her back – or do you want her dead?’
That took me off balance. ‘I don’t want anyone to die,’ I told him.
‘Give me a photograph,’ he said, putting out his hand. ‘She will come back to you.’
He smiled as if he could read my mind.
“There exists good and evil in the world,’ he said. ‘There is the devil and there is God.’
He regarded him with his magician’s nasty eye. ‘I can call forth the maldad negra and cause great harm, even death.
‘Is that what you want? Is it? All I need is a name, and a piece of their clothing or even a photograph. I can take away your bad luck and give it to someone else.
‘Or I can make a woman love you. Is that your secret desire? Come, tell me. What is it you want? I can give you anything, anything. Todo que quieres.’
I walked out.
But the idea lingered; what would have happened if I had gone along with him?
And so The Black Witch of Mexico was born.
Would you sell your soul to have anything you wanted?
From the witch markets of Mexico City to the ancient valleys along the Guatemalan border, places still haunted by the statues and ruins of the Olmecs, a man is drawn deeper into a world he doesn’t understand. He soon comes to question everything he once believed.
Are witches just superstitious nonsense? Or is there such a thing as real evil in the world?
The Black Witch of Mexico is a chilling psychological thriller where nothing is quite what it seems.
Be careful what you wish for – you might just get it.
Please welcome Cool Gus Team Member Deborah Coonts to Write on the River to talk about her latest release!
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This whole story started with a smoking gun.
You see, I’m not much of a foodie. And, I’m not much of a cook either. In fact, I have a love/hate relationship with food—I love it, but I hate it when my jeans don’t fit. And it doesn’t help that I’m more of a Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives kind of gal rather than one who favors an exorbitantly-priced, twenty-item tasting menu that stills leaves you lusting after a Whataburger. So, when it comes to fancy food prep, I’m a bit clueless.
Which leads me back to the smoking gun thing.
I was eating dinner at one of my favorite local restaurants in Vegas, Due Forni, with two of my best buds, one of them a chef. As a first course, we ordered some of the homemade mozzarella and their famous bread (totally to die for). I ordered the smoked cheese and, through mouthfuls I expressed my pleasure and my wonder at how they imparted the smoky flavor. I’m originally from Texas and the whole smoked thing is a religion there—but it requires a huge smoker and tons of hickory and I didn’t see that sort of set up at Due Forni. So, I wondered out loud how someone might give fresh mozzarella a smoked flavor.
My bud, the chef, looked at me as if I’d been living under a rock and announced, “With a smoking gun, of course.”
But, of course! A smoking gun. Who knew?
That little tidbit stopped me mid-bite and totally derailed his dinner as I peppered him with questions.
I mean, there’s just something so prosaic about killing someone with a smoking gun, don’t you think?
So, off the story ran, as stories are wont to do. Before long I found myself mired hip-deep in the world of gourmet cookery. And I became interested in the conundrum of serving incredibly fresh food in a place that is as hospitable to the nurture of delicate plants and exotic fish as the surface of the moon. And that led to research into the pipeline for gourmet foodstuffs, the need for temperature control, for impeccable and consistent quality and lightning fast shipments. All of this is incredibly competitive, with the top-tier chefs locked in a fierce battle for the freshest, most unique items on the planet.
The perfect recipe for murder.
Or several, as the case may be… kitchens are dangerous places, you know.
And, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect for this sort of culinary chaos.
In LUCKY CATCH, Lucky has been promoted. She is now the Vice President of Customer Relations for the Babylon, Vegas’s primo Strip property, which really doesn’t change anything, it just sounds more important. She’s still charged with keeping the lid on guests, entertainers, chefs and staff who decide to turn up the heat while at the Babylon. Normally, this isn’t a problem, but with the dishy, world-renowned chef, Jean-Charles Bouclet in hot pursuit and the return of her former lover, Teddie, setting her emotions on sizzle, Lucky’s is a bit distracted.
And then, with Thanksgiving approaching, a young woman gets smoked in Jean-Charles’s food truck on the Babylon’s back lot and he becomes the prime suspect. Of course, he goes on the lam leaving Lucky to deal with his sister and his niece who stick to Lucky like a good roux, leaving her to wonder what game he is really playing. To make matters worse, Mona, Lucky’s mother, is up to her normal shenanigans, throwing fat in the fire just when Lucky seems to be taming it to a manageable flame.
Of course, all of this would be easy as pie for Lucky…except the Babylon is hosting a nationally-televised celebrity chef cooking competition and the prized white truffle, one of the main ingredients, goes missing. Not even the truffle pig that Miss P has ensconced in Bungalow 7 in the rarified air of the Kasbah, can find it.
Would someone really kill for a truffle?
As usual, in a bit of shameless product placement, I insert many of my favorite local restaurants in the book, which is one of my favorite things to do. And, of course, I had to sample them anew before doing so… quality control and all of that. Not to mention the tax-deductible thing.
I wonder if the resulting gym membership is deductible as well?
Anyway, please join Lucky on her wild ride through the kitchens of Vegas and find out whether Lucky can clear her chef before his goose is cooked, whether she decides it’s possible to love again without being parboiled in the process, and who her LUCKY CATCH might be.
And whether I might be shot for working a metaphor so hard it rolled over and died.
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Thanks for stopping by Deborah! Nothing but good times.
Bob’s post, So You Want to Make a Living Writing? 13 Harsh Truths struck some nerves with a lot of writers. There were many comments and reblogs and as #13 reminds us “Content is King.” That said, in comes little old me with the “Promotion is Queen and together they rule the publishing world.” We really should adjust that. Maybe add the notion of (keeping with the chess analogy) “SEO and all things Algorithmic is the Bishop.” These three things play a huge role in any author business. Point is, you can have great content, but if no one knows it exists, well does it exist?
Bob and I will go back and forth and back and forth for hours in email about various different aspects of these chess pieces. We recently tried taking out on-line ads with a company that places the ads in related content. I was actually surfing blogs one day and found one of our ads. Pretty cool. We tried it for a month and currently we don’t have plans to renew, not because it wasn’t effective, because it was. I have all that lovely data about click ins and click outs and time spent on each page of our website and what they did from there, but I didn’t see a direct correlation in sales on the sites that count, like Amazon. If Cool Gus were still an ecommerce site, selling our own books, this might have been much more valuable, but we’re not and anyone selling on-line knows that there is a huge cost in customer acquisition. You don’t just slap a website up on the internet and expect to have massive sales. And lets face it, everyone sells on Amazon. Heck, I bought my last MacBook Pro on Amazon. You can buy underwear on Amazon. My sister-in-law works for a company that sells tech products through Amazon.
Bob constantly calls himself a publishing whore (he’s not allowed to call me that), but essentially you must be willing to try all sorts of things both in your writing and in the business aspect of your career. The key is to remember that not everything you do will lead to sales, but much of it will have a positive impact. Also, what works for one, might not work for the other. We’ve seen people chase trends in writing as well as in business. If someone is doing XYZ, then everyone is doing XYZ. Nature of the beast. Not saying you shouldn’t, but we are saying, try something different. New. Be adventurous.
That’s my big Segway to Book Tasting. That’s what I decided to call The Bob Mayer Sampler – a taste of 42 books. And its FREE. You can download a copy from our website, from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Google Play and coming soon to iTunes. We’ve actually done these before. We had the Science Fiction Sampler and the Thriller Sampler. The feedback we have gotten so far on The Bob Mayer Sampler has been very positive. It’s given his fans one place where they can see the order of each series. But its more than that. Bob also talks about his ideas, where they came, how he researched them and some other interesting facts. Did you know that the idea for Psychic Warrior came from when he was a Green Beret and a real, then restricted training program? Interesting stuff. Gives the reader a look at the man behind the books. A connection.
And it gives me more opportunity to push the algorithmic button and play with keywords, make fun charts and spreadsheets. You should have seen one folder I put together about a year ago for one of business meetings (yes, we have them regularly). I had all these pie charts and statistical information compiled on all sorts of things we were doing at the time and Bob just looked at me like I had 5 heads and had beamed down from Planet Crazy or something. Bob is currently rolling his eyes because he looks at this very differently than I do. I see the behind the scenes opportunity in promotion and how readers will find Bob Mayer Books and increasing the chances of new customer acquisition (I just like that word) and repeat buyers. He sees a neat way to connect with his readers and introduce them to his Factual Fiction. I see another way to have the algorithms pick up his titles. And we’re going to be working with our authors to do this for them. I think it’s a good tool. Another look inside, except the reader gets to look inside every book in one place via a download.
I also look at this book tasting as another way to promote binge reading, which is like binge TV watching and that’s important because we as a whole have changed the way we watch TV, a lot and we are changing the way we read. Remember back in the day before VCR’s and DVR’s and if you missed a show, you just missed it. Granted, not as many shows to choose from, but still, you were tied to that time. And, because gremlins do exist and they eat VCR tapes, I missed the series premiere of Who Shot JR. OMG, it was terrible! Oh, and free book to the person who names that show first in the comment section. Bob got my DH and I hooked on The Good Wife. Any show we watch, its all Bob’s fault. Just saying. Anyway, on a rainy day when the poor DH couldn’t go play golf, we watched 9 episodes in one sitting. Yep. Got to love Amazon Fire TV!
So, carrying this idea over to books. We’ve always said the best promotion is a good book. The next best promotion? Another good book. And so it goes. A reader recently contacted Bob about the sampler and how much he appreciated it because he’d just found Nightstalkers and knew he’d read some of Area 51 but hadn’t read all 9. Anyway, he could figure out what he read, and hadn’t read, and go to town because what do readers do when they find a book/author they like? They go looking for more books. But again, that’s another thing that has changed. The way readers find us. And it is harder. How do readers find authors? A recommend from a friend. A review on Goodreads. A search on the internet for Area 51, Atlantis, Green Beret, Yellow Labs, whatever. Or maybe a Librarian or a book blogger. So, what is your favorite book or series?
Nothing but good times.
Please welcome NY Times Bestselling author and Cool Gus Team Member Jennifer Probst. Take it away Jen Squared!
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I’ve been thinking about a term Susan Elisabeth Phillips – one of my all time fave authors – used in one of her RWA workshops that’s been resonating with me lately.
Protect the work.
This meant different things at various times in my career. In the beginning, it meant make time to write. Between household chores and a full time job and a demanding family life, I needed to make sure I set aside time to write and follow my dream. That was hard enough.
As I became published, it meant make sure I kept writing. Stay away from consistent social media demands that keep you from completing the next book. Look for balance between trying to build a career yet keeping productivity and quality up.
When I hit the Times list, and I gained more readers and success, it meant something else. Protect the work from consistent career stress and self doubt. One day your books are the hottest thing on the market and there’s money, and bestseller lists, and lots of people who want to be your friends. When your book slides, and doesn’t sell as much as originally thought, well, there’s less noise and a lot more self doubt. Many times I would be deep into my writing, loving my story, and come face to face with a scathing review, or discover my new book is tanking, or general sales are lower than anticipated, and the book I’m working on and once loved suddenly goes flat. I’m worried about pre orders, and PR and marketing and sales. Not my new book.
Sometimes it takes me a while to get out of the hole. Eventually, after a brief panic attack, time lost on the computer frantically trying to be proactive, moaning to my husband my career is tanking, fighting the endless voices of negativity, I hear a tiny whisper in my ear.
Protect the work.
Maybe it’s my muse. Maybe my survival instinct. Maybe my soul. Doesn’t matter.
You see, it really is all about the book. Writing a good story. A story that satisfies the soul of a reader and the writer.
Isn’t that always the goal? Money is good. Success is satisfying. Lots of followers on twitters, and good reviews, and Facebook messages that stroke my ego is awesome.
But the best part of the job and the only thing that helps me sleep at night is knowing I wrote a great book. The rest, in a way, doesn’t matter. Not in the big picture.
Sure, networking and doing your job to help build success and gain readership is important. It’s part of the package. But it’s not the end game.
In the end, everything is about the book.
Write a great book and they will come. Keep writing great books and more will show up.
Clear the mechanism.
Protect the work.
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You can pre-order Jennifer’s latest release here.