Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Warmth ... not just a word?

Yep. Winter is starting to get on the nerves, isn't it? It's not the cold that bothers me so much. It's the lack of color. The black, white, and gray of it. Even the evergreen trees are starting to look a bit bleak.

But hey: spring is just around the corner, right? In a few months we'll be complaining about the heat and humidity. For now, all we can do is remember warmth... And just in time to remind me, my summertime book is out. What good timing...


Sigh. Remember beaches and sunglasses (needed because of sun, not sun on snow?)

It won't be long now...

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Cover Reveal - Sea Panther

Sea Panther
A Crimson Storm Novel

2013 GOLDEN HEART® Paranormal Finalist

Coming March 20th

Can love mend a fractured soul?

After evading arrest for Jacobite activities, Scottish nobleman Robert MacLachlan turns privateer. A Caribbean Voodoo priestess curses him to an eternal existence as a vampire shifter torn between the dual natures of a Florida panther and an immortal blood-thirsting man. For centuries, he seeks to reverse the black magic whilst maintaining his honor. Cruising the twenty-first century Atlantic, he becomes shorthanded to sail his 90-foot yacht, Sea Panther. The last thing he wants is a female crewmember and the call of her blood.

Although she swore never to sail again after her father died in a sailing accident, Kimberly Scot answers the captain's crew wanted ad to escape a hit man. She's lost everything, her fiancĂ©, her job, and most of her money, along with money belonging to her ex-clients. A taste of Kimberly's blood convinces Robert she is the one woman who can claim the panther's heart. To break the curse, they travel back in time to where it all began—Jamaica 1715.

I'm really excited to share Kimberly and Robert's story.
~Dawn Marie

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Are readers hooked on edgy?

Stories have been around as long as people have. People need stories, whether we think them up or we watch / listen / read stories created by others. Sports like the Olympics are a form of story. There's drama, suspense, uncertain outcomes, players with backstories and triumphs and tragedies.

Films are another form of storytelling. Recently I watched Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert in It Happened One Night.

The 1934 story's premise is: A spoiled socialite marries a fortune hunter whom her doting father dislikes. When her father holds her on his yacht in Miami, hoping she'll reconsider, she escapes and boards a bus for New York City. A passenger, gritty newspaper man Clark Gable, recognizes her and sees an opportunity. He offers to help her in exchange for an exclusive story. 

As writers, we teach ourselves to write realistic characters, but there's obviously a market for extremes--the spunky heiress falls for the handsome, broke writer. Depression-weary audiences loved Frank Capra's story, and it set the template for romantic comedies. 

So what types of characters / stories are highly marketable today? What can turn our well-crafted stories into best-sellers? 

Billionaire orphans with erotic dungeons sell. Saving the galaxy from cruel tyrants sells. A socialite, blind to her husband's theft of her wealth, is reduced to selling shoes to her former friends sells. Teenage vampires sell. 

What do these blockbusters have in common? To my mind, they have implausible plots. Yet is this what audiences crave?  To escape into exotic settings, lose themselves in outrageous plots, and temporarily become larger than life characters. 

Cravings can have real life effects: In It Happened One Night," Gable did not wear an undershirt in a chaste undressing scene because removing the undershirt on camera would muss his hair. Sales of underwear plummeted for years.

Potato chips and candy have been revved up with flavorings and seasonings. FDA research shows that these additives, while legal, are insidiously addictive. Feeding highly seasoned snacks to young children hooks their brains into craving more. Healthy foods don't taste so good anymore. This, the FDA warns, leads to childhood obesity and diabetes. 

Consumer craving for jazzed-up plots and settings is just as plausible. Are consumers hooked on edgy? 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Kindle in my Life

My Kindle Fire made a big difference in my life. I always carry it with me, and read at the gym, doctors’ and hospital waiting rooms, at the beach, pool, before sleeping,... I adjust the font and read.

Instead of carrying several books when I travel, I just pack my Kindle and iPad. With these two tablets, I am guaranteed not to run out of reading or out contact with the world.

Did you notice the number of people reading on their Kindle or iPad in airports, on planes or cruise ships, or at the beach in spite of the glare of the sun?

Can you believe I bought or downloaded over 300 ebooks in the last two years? And I reviewed 150 books! I was the first surprised to discover these numbers.

There is always room on my Kindle for more books to enjoy.

Is there more room on your Kindle for a few bestsellers?

HOLIDAY BABIES SERIES http://tinyurl.com/ndvgf9d, Box Set, award-winning romances: Christmas Babies, Valentine Babies, & Mother’s Day Babies, with holiday theme, passion, emotion and humor. And twin babies.

DOCTOR’S ORDERS Box Set, award-winning romances: Babies in the Bargain, No More Lies, Right Name, Wrong Man, with medical theme, passion, emotion and humor.  http://tinyurl.com/oaly3fu

FOREIGN LOVERS http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GUY1SDI
4 books promoted for 99c. Set in romantic and exotic international places, the romance novels in this box are sizzling with passion, emotion and sensual tension, and sprinkled with humor.


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Shrinky Dink Book Cover charms – a craft project

This month I want to talk about a project I did last year for the RT Booklovers convention, specifically for the Intergalactic Bar and Grille. This is a special party put on by a group of science fiction romance authors led by the amazing Linnea Sinclair where we have all sorts of give-aways and prizes. 

Originally I made batches of these to be wine charms but these little ½ x ¾ inch plastic charms can be used for earrings and necklaces as well. They are lightweight, durable, and colorful enough to attract attention, perfect for book signings.

To start you need an ink-jet printer, a paper hole punch, scissors or a paper cutter, and a computer program that will allow you to manipulate images including size, brightness, and contrast. I use Adobe Fireworks, and Microsoft Word to make the printable template, but equivalent programs abound.

Finally you need the Shrinky Dink printable plastic. Sometimes you can find this at your local craft stores but I bought mine directly from the company’s online store: http://www.shrinkydinks.com. Here is a direct link to the kind of plastic you need. This is “Shrinky Dinks for Ink Jet Printers”.

Each package has six sheets and using my template I can make 18 charms per sheet, so unless you are doing 250 for a conference give-away one package will should be sufficient. You will probably waste at least one sheet in trying to get everything perfect.

First step is to size, rotate, and fade out the book cover image. Since the plastic shrinks to 1/9 it’s original size, fading the image will make it look normal once shrunk. I prefer to use at least a 300 DPI resolution cover to start. The first thing I do is size the cover to 1.5 inches wide, leaving the height proportional. Covers can have slightly different dimensions but this gives a height between 2.25 and 2.5 inches depending on the cover. I then turn the cover 90 degrees clockwise so it is lying on its side, top to the right.

I then adjust the brightness and up the contrast. In Fireworks this is under Filters, Adjust Brightness/Contrast. I up the brightness to 72%, and contrast 11%, then save the modified cover image.
Original cover

Cover rotated and faded

I created a template of cells with three columns of six rows using the label tool in Word. In each cell goes one cover. I use the same template to create a backside for the charms. It could be the same cover, making two sided cover charms, but it is difficult to get the charms lined up exactly right, so I recommend using a logo of some sort instead, possibly with your website URL on it. Then if the back and front aren’t perfectly lined up it won’t be quite as obvious.

Now we print the images, first on paper to make sure everything looks great and that when you staple the back sheet to the front sheet you don’t have too much in the way of borders and when cut they will match up. You want a fairly wide space at the top of the cover to punch the ¼ inch hole.

Now print the front page of the plastic. Make sure your printer has plenty of ink since this does take a fair amount of ink (a hidden cost for this project) and you don’t want to run short on a color and ruin a page of the plastic.

Let the plastic cool before turning it over and printing the backside. That will allow the ink to completely dry without smearing. Also make sure to turn the plastic page so that the tops of the backside images line up with the tops of the cover images. Practice on paper first.

Once the plastic is cool, cut apart the charms. I used a paper cutter but if you are careful scissors will work. Make sure to leave as much space as possible at the top of each charm so you can punch the ¼ inch hole. This has to be done before shrinking.

Now we get to the best part, the shrinking of the plastic. The plastic comes with instructions that include using a piece of brown paper (like from a shopping bag) to cover the bottom of the pan, and baking until completely flat (about 3-5 minutes). Just make sure there aren’t any wrinkles in the paper as they can transfer to the melted plastic. Parchment paper works even better. I set my toaster oven for about 325 degrees and did six at a time. You want space between them so they don’t fall onto each other during the twisting and turning. I put a video of this process on Youtube

Once the plastic has cooled they are ready for use. For wine charms we used 1 inch silver earring hoops and small link rings.
Let me know what you think!
Janet Miller/Cricket Starr

Friday, February 14, 2014


Today, day 4 of my 5-day sojourn of handing out LIE CATCHERS completely FREE, I desperately need some chuckles.  Those of you who have been through this before, chime in please!  What’s your funniest or most unusual experience in your 5 day free journey?  Knee-slappers and gobsmackers welcome!

Four of you who make me laugh or make my eyes pop out, chosen at random, will win a Rite in the Rain waterproof mini-notebook, just like the one found in the back pocket of a dead man floating in the waters of Puget Sound (in my novel, LIE CATCHERS) 

Meanwhile, I hope you’ve picked up a FREE copy of LIE CATCHERS - http://amzn.com/B00HJDS1LG

The Plot:  Two murders, decades apart, embroil an Alaska fishing town.  He’s a Treasury agent, savvy at tracking criminals by computer; new to street investigation, especially in Petersburg, Alaska.  She’s struggling to save her family salmon business and solve an old cold case that haunts the town.

Two unsolved murders will tear apart an Alaska fishing town unless a writer and a government agent reveal their secret obsessions.

Treasury agent Parker Browne is working undercover in Petersburg, Alaska to investigate a money scam and a murder. His prime suspect, Liv Hanson, is a freelance writer struggling to save her family’s business. Free spirited, full of life, and with a talent for catching liars, she fascinates Parker.

Trying to prove she’s a legitimate writer who cares about Petersburg’s issues, Liv pens a series of newspaper articles about an old, unsolved murder. When her cold case ties in with Parker’s investigation, bullets start to fly.

Parker understands money trails, and Liv knows the town residents. But he gave up on love two years ago, and she trusts no one, especially with her carefully guarded secret. If they mesh their skills to find the killers, will they survive the fallout?

http://amzn.com/B00HJDS1LG   FREE until Feb. 15!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Just flat out blatant #promo!

Have you ever gone back to read some of your early writing?  When you read it, what did you think of it?  For me, I thought some of my writing was filled with lots of cliched tactics that I'd read in the books of authors I loved at that time.

There are so many rules, many that I do and don't agree with, that tell us we write this or that.  And I think when I started writing, I tried to make my writing fit the rules for this or that.  But, with the world of writing and publishing expanding, I haven't felt the same need to force my stories to "fit" any set of rules.  I write, and when I'm finished, I take a look at it to try to determine which publisher I should query.

My latest release, Rumer, definitely falls into this category.  Rumer is a married mother of two whose life is turned upside down one day when she's tracked down in a grocery store by a woman she's never met before.

The book deals with some tough subjects, like divorce and gay/transgender bullying.  I've had some reviews that have been great, were I felt the readers grasped the heavy emotion of the book, and understood the book for what I think it is, a mixture of Women's Fiction and Romance.  The story focuses on the emotional journey of a woman who is faced with the very real choice of divorcing the father of her children, and what that means.  And to complicate matters more, what does she do if she wants to maintain a relationship with her children's father, but he's introduced her to a world that she's never been a part of.

What would you do if you fell in love with your best friend, married him, had his children, and then he fell out of love with you?  Would you try anything to keep him, or would you simply walk away?  I don't know what I would do, but this book is one idea that I came up with.

I am proud of the emotional depth of this book, and excited about what I feel it means for me as an author.

Here's more on Rumer...

Rumer Wilson married the love of her life ten years ago, has two beautiful children, and what she believes is a wonderful life to prove it. But, does anybody ever control love? Her world spirals into an unfamiliar place of uncertainty for everything she holds dear, when her husband falls in love with a woman hiding secrets. 

Sebastian Ortiz has loved many women. Rumer is a means to an end. He doesn’t want to hurt her, but he needs her – for revenge on the man who hurt his sister – the sister he’s protected from harm his whole life. 

Neither Rumer or Sebastian could imagine what comes next...

Read a sample here.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Warm summer books for cold winter days

New release announcement! My latest book, Resorts (for short), is out.It's available at Amazon right now, and will be in wide release in May.

It's a summertime book so if you're in the grip of winter, maybe this is what you need.

This is one of the first books I ever wrote and it took a lot of editing to get it in shape to submit to an editor. It's 2 books in one, really. One book is set in the present day and the other is 30 years ago, when the hero/heroine first met. 

Can you imagine combining two books into one readable book? It was a challenge!

Check it out and tell me how I did ....

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Books, Authors, Prizes! Oh My!

Valentine Special
  20% off
Kindle & Nook 

I adore the Month of Love. I drape the house in red and place heart this-and-thats all over the place. Add candles and a few strings of white lights for atmosphere. And with red poinsettias left over from Christmas, the house feels oh so romantic.

The perfect place to cuddle with a hunky Highlander. Uh...book I mean.

Do you decorate your house for Valentine's Day? I'd love to get some new ideas for next year.

In celebration of Valentine's Day, authors are gathering at events and giving away prizes. Here are a few places you'll find me and some friends. Consider visiting. You might find a new favorite author and/or snag a great book.

Two Weeks of Romance at Heart of Romance
28 Authors Offering Book Giveaways
February 1st - 14th

Love Your Authors Valentine's Day Bash
34 Authors ~ Lots of Prizes
Kindle Fire Giveaway
February 10th - 14th

Valentine's Day Gift Hop
175 Authors/Bloggers ~ Lots of Prizes
Two Grand Prizes: Kindle Paperwhite and Digital New Adult Romance Basket
February 10th - 15th

Have a fabulous Valentine's Day!
~Dawn Marie

Saturday, February 1, 2014

A Day in the Life of an Author

 I'd like to say I am female version of Richard Castle, author teamed up with a beautiful homicide detective, only in my case, with a hunky Highlander from Scotland Yard, or maybe a JAG agent in the jaguar shifter world, or following the Silver Brothers around to help with anything they need help with, or the SEAL wolves....yes!!!

The reality is that I was rereading Jaguar Pride again, finished two more bears for orders, made up gift baskets for RT Convention, and fed the cardinals and got some pictures. Oh, and began reading another Rita book. Worked on another guest blog. While I was working on the bears, I watched Richard Castle have all the fun!


Just kidding! Everything I do in the day of a life of a writer is fun.

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And so that's what I was doing. :)

So my question to you is: Can my cardinals eat too much seed? Do the birds feed at night? I didn't think birds did, unless they were nocturnal birds--birds of prey and such, but the seed is all gone by morning. It will sit there all day and no one will eat it. So just curious!

Another bear finished for another order! Two more to go! Plus, I have to ship these today.

And I was super excited to see the female cardinal feeding on one of the bird feeders my mother had out, which makes it even more special for me. Right behind the cardinal, you can see the bunny's ears as the bunny thinks the dish is his. Or... it's sharing the seeds with his bird friends. See how I have to make up a story for everything?

 And I'm back to writing! Still trying to get everything back up on my new computer after my old one crashed and it's amazing how much I lose every time. :(

I also spent tons of time adding a couple of books to Google Play. Will it help sell them? I sure hope so. Everyone says it takes about 2-3 to see any results from sales 2-3 days earlier, so will have to check back in a while. Maybe by the next time I post on here.

Have a great new month! Any super plans? I just learned my daughter wants me to come visit for Spring Break. Yes!!!

“Giving new meaning to the term alpha male!”