Archive for May, 2009

“Submission” shooters, anyone?

I love my boss.  How many bosses call you up on a Saturday night and say, “We’re having a drinking game. What kind of drink do you want?

I kind of babbled a moment (or five), since this isn’t the kind of question I’m used to getting from most of my previous bosses.  She asked me the title of my book, and I said “Submission.”  Fifteen seconds later, she IM’s me the recipe:

jello_shot_recipeSubmission Cocktail Recipe (Category: Shots)

Use a “In glass” for Submission drink recipe

Dissolve lime jello in a cup of boiling water. Add another cup (or more to taste) of tequila (for special occasions add slices of lime) and mix well. Chill for 2 hours in a freezer or 4 hours in a fridge. Serve in shot glasses

Ingredients :

– 1 packet lime jello

– 1 cup hot water

– 1 cup tequila

The last thing my last boss offered me was an inferiority complex by asking me to search Craigslist for her for a new person to clean her house… at $5 more per hour than she was paying me for my 20 years of marketing and business experience.

Turns out this Submission shooter is made from my favorite flavor jello, and my favorite going-out booze. The woman is a mindreader.  But I began to wonder.  The “Submission” shooter may share the name of my upcoming release, but how historical is it?

Well, it may not be an authentic Regency drink.  But check out this recipe from How to Mix Drinks, or The Bon Vivant’s Companion by Jerry Thomas, dated1862:


Here’s to being unfit for waltzing or quadrilling after supper!

Fiona 🙂


Psst… wanna buy some good seed?

So… anyone wanna sneak outta here and go pull some weeds?

I used to have a garden as a kid, next to the grown-up garden, and it always seemed so… Americana.  So wholesome.  So old-fashioned goodness.

It was a lie.  Gardens are evil.

This year, I decided I was gonna try it. I wasn’t going to do anything dangerous… you know, no corn or anything hardcore.  Just the recreational stuff.  Tomatoes and maybe some green peppers. Maybe a couple of pumpkins for the kids. They’re perfectly safe. Everyone does it.

I got my hub to turn over the ground, buy some good soil, some peat moss, build a nice little edge around it with some old 4×4’s that were laying around.  I started my tomatoes. Two kinds.  It was fun.

Peppers.  Some cabbages.  Fun, I say! Purely recreational.

Then, I saw it… and I couldn’t resist.  Broccoli.

Yellow squash.  Cucumbers.  Radishes, watermelon, strawberries, three varieties of onions…

I pulled my hand back from the rack at the garden store.  I can stop.  See? I can stop.  I did NOT buy the asparagus or the super jumbo pumpkins the size of Rhode Island.

Three weeks went by, and I didn’t touch the stuff.

Yesterday, I fell off the wagon.  I was in the grocery store, minding my own business, hand-selecting only the  healthiest, freshest produce for my family. Then I saw them.

Seeds… lots and lots of pretty paper packages of seeds. The colors were all so bright and pretty….

Zucchini, carrots, green beans, a five-variety-pack of herbs.  And multicolored peppers… red, yellow, purple, chocolate, white… And pumpkins.

I got the little cooking pumpkins.  Kids can carve a couple, I can make pies…

There’s no use pretending.  I’m caught in the web of evil gardening madness.

Off to turn over another 6×6 section of the back yard…


(who will be hurting in the morning…)

So… What kind of promo does work best?

The results are in! What kinds of promo work best? All of them!

It was an almost exact tie, with the first two getting the highest response.

Romance author Jane E. Jones ( adds, “Honestly, I find that a good website and the social networking sites like Twitter, a regularly updated blog, and joining a popular writer’s forum or two have been the best promo for me.” You can read her comment to the What Kind of Promo Works Best for You post below.

Tammie King, (owner of Night Owl Romance, Romance Book Promotion,, and Tammie King Web Design suggests, “One way is to get started is by providing a monthly newsletter. Get people to sign-up by doing a monthly contest via the newsletter… promote that on your website and at other locations. I use Constant Contact, but their are other newsletter services.”

Here are the results:

Posting excerpts with loops I regularly “play” on
releasing another book–each new release boosts back-catalog sales
blogging and/or twittering
Posting excerpts with loops I don’t regularly “play” on
Other (see below)
Offering contests and give- aways

Best get working on that stuff…. after I tweat about it, and post it to myspace… come follow me!


Thanks to everyone who voted!

Fiona 🙂

What Kind of Promo Works Best for You?

With all the additional new releases this summer at RRP, there are alot of us first-timers wondering…

Drive-by Promo

So my book releases in 20 days.  You mean I gotta start talking it up? To strangers?


I don’t really see why I feel so reluctant to start posting excerpts and chatting on loops.  I’ve been involved in marketing for almost 20 years.  I can sell other people’s stuff, why not my own? I’ve spoken to a convention room full of Fortune 500 CEOs.  Why can’t I jump into a loop and say, Hi! Here’s my excerpt?

Well, I think it’s the venom readers and authors loops spew over “drive-by” promo.  You can’t just go into a relevant loop, for instance, “The Loop for Erotic Historical Romance Featuring Hot Heroes,” and post your excerpt about your new erotic historical romance featuring a hot hero.  The “regulars” go nuts.  Who are you? they say.  We don’t know you! How dare you do a drive-by promo if we don’t know you!

Well, do we really need to spend three hours a day promoting our book to the forty-seven online friends we already know? Isn’t the point to get the book in front of new people? STRANGERS?

Does McDonald’s air fifteen commercials asking about our kids, telling us about their husband who won’t put the seat down, and try to be friends with us before they send out that all-important sixteenth commercial… the one with the burgers they want us to buy?

Book promo is advertising. It’s the online equivalent of the book rack in Wal-Mart.  We have to put our cover blurbs into the hands of people who are out looking to buy books.

I say be bold.  Do a drive-by. Find appropriate loops and send out excerpts on their promo day.  Maybe there are lurkers on those lists (like me!) who read promos if the book sounds interesting, even if we don’t know who you are. We might not even care who you are. We might just be looking for something good to read this weekend.After all, when we browse the book racks in the store, do we only look for books by people we know? Hell no.

Find the readers who like your kind of book.  You don’t have to be their friend, you just have to give them a cover blurb that sonds good and an excerpt that wow’s them.  Some people on the loop won’ t like it.  So what? If they aren’t looking for new authors and new excerpts to read, that means they’re not there to buy books in the first place.

Online promo is great.  Online friends are great, too. I met my husband on an online writer’s workshop, so I’ll be the first to tell you those friendships can be real and lasting. But when I met him, I wasn’t trying to sell him my book.  In the words of Offspring, you gotta keep ’em sepa-rated.

And here’s another problem with all this online communication… we spout off our opinions and there will always be people who think we’re an ass. Does that really help us sell books?  Do we really want to know if our favorite author is funny or sweet or a complete social moron when we’re lost in a great story?

All my friends are already gonna buy my book.  Of course, being a complete social moron, that amounts to about six people, if you count the ones who are related to me.  But aside from them, I plan on getting my book in the hands of as many strangers as I can in the next… gulp… 20 days.

Can I go back to my seat now?

I’ve signed up, I’ve picked a theme, I’ve even made my header graphic… can I go back to my seat now?

I thought it would be great to publish a book. You know, finally achieve the dream.  But now that my book comes out in 22 days (ARRRGGH!!) , I’ve got my back to the wall. I’ve realized I have to quit procrastinating and start building a web presence, letting people get to know me, learn about my book, my works in progress, and start jumping up and down at the pep rally, shouting, “Look at me!”

Well, let me fill you in on a little secret.  There’s a reason I completed a dozen full-length novels by the time I was sixteen, and it ain’t becuase I was hangin’ at pep rallies. Remember me? I was that kid in the back row who did her best to remain annonymous.  I even have an unlisted phone number.  I like to say its becuase I’m a scorpio, and I like my privacy, but mostly, its because I’m a loner and I like to do alone things.  Like write books.

But it’s not enough to write books anymore.  Now we gotta sell ’em.  We gotta promote ’em.  We gotta walk into a chatroom or a romance loop and stand up and say, “Hey, guys! So what’s everybody doing after game tonight?”

SO not me.  I’m a lurker.  I love to read the drama on all the loops, but I just hate to reply.  It’s like the internet equivalent of public speaking.  Here’s me:

<watches loop>

<reads posts>

<reads a funny post>

Types, “LOL!”

<rereads reply: “LOL!”>

<wonders, “was that post even supposed to be funny?”>

<wonders, “is that person going to think I’m laughing AT them?”>

<two hours and sixteen Dove darks later…>

<“are people gonna say, ‘who the hell is Fiona Vance?'”>


<closes email and wishes the internet would implode.>

Sigh.  Maybe I can start a 12-step program for Writers Who Hate Attention.

I mean, really. Why do you think they invented pen names? (Hint: A-n-n-o-n-y-m-i-t-y.)