Here at the Roses of Prose, we believe Opposites Attract! Check out our take on these opposites.

April: Success and Failure

Friday, April 18, 2014

Blogging as a Promotional Tool by Jannine Gallant

Blogging--does it help promote our books? Editors and agents tell us to get out there and blog our little hearts out. People pay good money for blog tours to promote their books. I've done blog hops for prizes, and I guest blog on occasion (i.e. when I have a new book out or a freebie or a sale). Once in a while I even slap something up on my own blog. (Yes, I'm the first to admit I'm a bad blogger. Bad. Bad. Blogger!) Except here at the Roses of Prose. Our lovely group blog. I never miss my days mainly because I try to plan and prepare my posts ahead of time. And I like to throw down my opinions on everyone else's posts.

So, back to the original question--is all this blogging successful? Or is it a time-sucking failure! I guess it all depends on how you look at it. Let's break it down by types.

Blog Tours: The last one I did, I had almost no comments from readers. Even the hostesses failed to chime in at several stops. I have a sneaking suspicion many authors sign up to be blog tour hosts, post the blogs they get, then forget all about them. In other words, they don't bother to advertise. Don't get me wrong, I think there are some hosts out there who really try. It's a mixed bag, and you just don't know what you'll get. Most authors favor the blog tours that include reviews. I'd love to hear opinions about this.

Blog Hops for Prizes: I did one of these not too long ago. I chipped in my share and got quite a few comments. You had to comment to be eligible to win. However, when all was said and done, I didn't sell one book. Most of the other authors had the same results. Frustrating.

Guest Blogging: When I have something to promote, I'll frequently ask friends if I can guest on their blogs. Since they're my friends, they generally promote my appearance. I enjoy visiting them. My only issue is I have a sneaking suspicion I'm not reaching anyone new. Our writer community tends to move in circles--the same circles, reaching the same people. I've been told (repeatedly!) I should branch out to find new blogs with similar interests to mine and ask to guest. Not so easy since I'm not good at pushing myself on people I don't know. I need to work on this one!

My Personal Blog: (sigh) I gave this a real shot. I set it up with a theme. I like to cook, so I posted recipes weekly along with posts about books, etc. I kept at it...and at it...and at it...and then gave up. Everyone says you have to keep posting and eventually your blog will attract followers and grow. My question--how long is eventually? After a year of posting, I was averaging maybe 20 hits on days I posted and zero comments. Maybe patience isn't my strongest virtue, but I threw in the towel. Now, I use it once in a blue moon (sorry for all these cliches!) when I have a free or sale book to push. I know, pathetic! So, can anyone tell me how long eventually is? Did your personal blogs gain a strong following after a while?

Last But Not Least--Group Blogs: We have a wonderful group here. I only have to post twice a month. Everyone is friendly and supportive. We comment on each other's posts. We each bring different readers to the blog (I hope). Instead of my feeble 20 hits a day, here we get a couple of hundred. These are all good things. Do I sell more books on my days to post. Honestly, no. But since I like being part of a group, and I see value in cultivating supportive relationships and being available to readers on a regular basis, I feel our group blog is a success!

One final thing that makes most of us batty! Comments. Seems like the only people who leave comments are other authors. The number of comments never correlates to the number of daily hits. What does this mean? I think it means that there are actual readers out there who drop in occasionally or regularly to see what we have to say. Either they're shy and don't feel the need to comment, or they don't have blogger accounts. I think that's the key. If you aren't actively promoting, would you go to the trouble of creating an account? If it were me--I wouldn't. So, despite all this, I'll keep on blogging and hope someone out there is reading it!

If you've gotten this far, do I have a deal for you! WE'LL NEVER TELL is on sale for only .99 cents! Today is the last day of my Kindle Countdown Deal, so get a copy now. Click HERE.

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Controlling the Beast of Social Media by Betsy Ashton

Writers face a daily dilemma: how much time to spend on social media marketing books and how much time in writing new ones. Our agents press us for new manuscripts which have to be written, edited and re-edited before we submit to the agent. Once the agent passes the multi-edited manuscript to the publisher, the writer faces additional edits and proof reads. At the same time as we are preparing the current WIP for publication, we are expected to be working on the next manuscript. The juggling act is worthy of the Ringling Bros center ring.

We are expected to have a presence on social media. Facebook. Twitter. LinkedIn. The next social media fad. Publishers tell us we need a platform we can exploit for book sales. No platform seems good enough. They pressure us to expand, spend more time in social media. Out on speaking engagements we set up. Out on book tours we set up. Out in signing events we set up. Tweet all the time. Post all the time. Blog all the time.

Some writers hit the daily slide into the social media sand trap and emerge hours later or not at all. If I don't set limits, I'll "check my mail and posts on FB" before I begin writing. I'll answer only critical messages, look at the most important posts on my timeline. Oh, look, how cute is that kitten. I love kitties. I respond. Before I know it, I need more coffee. What? Two hours flew by? It can't be.

I decide I'll watch the clock in the corner of the computer screen. Right next to that wonderfully snarky post from one of my favorite FB friends. Someone is following me on Twitter? I have to check out this intelligent person who finds me worthy of a follow. I tweet back, receive a response and trip lightly into conversation that goes nowhere but takes time.

I don't suffer from writer's block. I don't have ADD or ADHD. I love writing, but those snarky Maxine comics must be read.

I put my foot down. No more wasting time. Watching the clock was a failure. I asked my husband for a special present two Christmases ago. I wanted a special egg timer. Mine has blue sand and flows for 15 minutes. When the sand of time runs out, I switch off my wi-fi and get back to work.

Oops. Time's up. What works for you?


Betsy Ashton is the author of Mad Max Unintended Consequences published in March 2013 by Koehler Books.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Dare to Let Your Characters Fail by Alison Henderson

I know writers who rub their hands together in glee cooking up new and increasingly diabolical ways to challenge (i.e. torture) their characters. They delight in leading their literary babies to the brink then pushing them over. They plunge their heroes and heroines into the depths of despair in order to make their ultimate triumph that much sweeter. 

Sadly, I'm not one of those writers. I'm too tender-hearted. I love my characters, and it's hard work for me to create sufficient conflict between them, much less subject them to failure. But I know I have to do it for their own good. It's like letting your child fall off her bike so she learns to get back on and try again. Failure really does sweeten success.

In my latest romantic suspense, UNWRITTEN RULES, my heroine (Madelyn) is a bodyguard who lives and breathes professionalism. She's competent, sharp-witted, and savvy. So what did I do to her? To test her mettle, I thrust her into an unfamiliar environment and allowed her to fail. A would-be assassin evades her security and attacks her client, ex-CIA agent-turned bestselling author Carter Devlin. Here's an excerpt from that scene:

Madelyn bounced along on Foxy, her bottom slapping the saddle with every step. There had to be a trick to this. Cowboys never bounced in the movies. She could see figures ahead next to a copse of trees. Carter and Sam must have stopped to wait for the rest of the party.
As she rode closer, she was able to make out two horses, one man standing, and one sitting on the ground. A few yards closer and she recognized Sam Barnett’s helmet of blond hair. The man on the ground must be Carter, but he didn’t appear to be resting. Something about his posture was wrong.
Her heart stopped in her chest, then lurched back into rhythm. She kicked Foxy’s sides and slapped the reins. The mare launched into a full gallop, and Madelyn hung on for dear life. When they neared the men, she yanked the reins with all her strength, and the horse jerked to a halt. She snapped forward in the saddle, but grabbed the horn and managed to keep her seat. She clambered down and raced over to kneel beside Carter.
The broken end of an arrow protruded from the back of his left shoulder. She stared at it blankly. An arrow. He couldn’t have an arrow in his flesh. Who gets shot with an arrow? It had to be fake. There was almost no blood on his shirt. She touched it, and Carter swore violently. The arrow was real, all right.
She glared at Sam. “How did this happen?”
The senator ran a hand through his perfect hair, leaving it still perfect. “I’ll be damned if I know. I didn’t see or hear anyone. Lucy was behind me. I turned around, and he was on the ground. I’m guessing it was poachers. We’ve had some around here for the past few months.”
“I heard an engine,” Carter ground out between clenched teeth. “From over there somewhere.” He jerked his chin toward the small grove of oaks. “Right after I was hit.”
“An engine?” Sam scanned the trees. “I don’t see anything now. I’ll have my security staff search the area with the sheriff when he arrives.”
“You called the sheriff?”
“You bet I did. I’ve got to report a thing like this. I can’t have it get out in the press that I’m hiding anything. Everything’s got to be completely above board.”
Even if Sam’s first thought had been to avoid a scandal, Madelyn was glad he’d called the authorities. Maybe they would find some useful evidence. She refused to believe this was the work of poachers.
“Did you call an ambulance?”
“Lucy wouldn’t let me, but I’ve got a doctor coming to the house.”
A black Suburban roared across the pasture and pulled up beside them. Frank the foreman and Mr. Secret Service climbed out.
She slid her arm around Carter’s back, careful to avoid his injured shoulder and the arrow. A wave of nausea rolled over her. “Do you think you can stand?”
“We’ll take care of him, Ms. Li,” Mr. Secret Service said.
He and Frank got Carter to his feet and supported him on the short walk to the car. Carter’s face was pale, but he didn’t make a sound. Madelyn climbed in beside him and slid her arm behind his back to keep him from leaning against the broken arrow. As soon as the door clicked shut, he closed his eyes and let his head fall back.
She clutched his hand, never taking her eyes from his face as they bounced across the open field. Her muscles tensed with every bump. She wished she could absorb the jolts and spare him further pain. Only an occasional squeeze from his hand betrayed any discomfort.
Someone must have alerted Herman and helped him dismount, because he met them at the back door. She had never actually seen anyone wring their hands before, but Herman twisted his like a wet dishrag.
“How could this happen? I can’t believe it. Is he going to be all right? What are we going to do?”
“I’m fine.” Carter approached, supported by Frank and the security chief.
“He’s not fine,” Madelyn snapped. “Is the doctor here yet?”
Laura stepped forward. “He should be here any minute.” She glanced at Sam. “And the sheriff’s waiting in your office.”
“Boys, help Lucy over to the kitchen table. If the doctor wants him lying down, we can take care of that when he gets here. I’m going to talk to the sheriff.”
They eased Carter onto a chair, and Madelyn sat beside him. Herman fluttered around, unable to settle. A few minutes later, the doorbell rang, the front door opened and closed, and voices came down the hall toward the kitchen. Laura stepped into the room with a well-dressed, middle-aged man with a five hundred dollar haircut and an umpteen thousand dollar watch. He looked more like a cardiac surgeon from a prestigious big city clinic than a country doctor who made house calls. Perhaps it depended on whose house it was.
“This is Dr. Kitteridge.”
The doctor smiled. “This must be the patient.” He set his bag on the table and leaned down to examine Carter’s shoulder. “Hmm. Hunting accident?”
Carter grunted. “Sort of.”
“Well, let’s see what we’ve got here.” The doctor took a pair of surgical scissors from his bag and began cutting Carter’s shirt off. He stopped abruptly and frowned. “You must have been expecting trouble.”
He had exposed the shoulder strap of the bulletproof vest. Sam’s retainer must have been enough to guarantee discretion because he asked no further questions as he continued snipping until the remnants of the shirt had been removed. Next he cut through the strap of the vest, and Madelyn helped remove it as gently as possible. Carter sat perfectly still until the heavy vest lay on the table, then he took a slow, deep breath.
The doctor examined the arrow from several angles then straightened. “You’re a lucky man. The arrow appears to have gone straight into the fleshy part of the muscle below the joint just to the left of the scapula. If it had hit bone, it might have shattered it, and you wouldn’t be sitting here so quietly.”
“How deep is it?”
“Hard to tell. I don’t know how long the arrow was to begin with. Can you make a fist?”
Carter stretched his fingers then clenched them.
The doctor removed a small pointed instrument from his bag. “Tell me if you feel this.” He worked his way down Carter’s arm poking the skin. Seemingly satisfied with the responses, he put the instrument away. “There doesn’t appear to be any nerve damage.”
“Can you get it out?” Carter asked.
“It shouldn’t be too much of a problem, but we’ll need to go to the Emergency Room.”
“Can’t you just do it here?”
“This isn’t a sterile environment, and I don’t have everything I need.”
“The doctor’s right.” Madelyn stepped forward. “We need to get you to the hospital.”
“No hospitals.”
“Be reasonable. You can’t just leave that thing in there.”
“I’m not going to a hospital.”
“Carter, don’t be—“
       Without a word, he reached over his left shoulder with his right hand and ripped the arrow from his flesh. She stared in horror as the room began to spin, and everything went black.


Monday, April 14, 2014


Failure is not an option. This is a sentence I’ve told myself many times. My earlier blog here on April 4th talked about the fact that success is something I don’t automatically feel. Failure, however, isn’t allowed.

Yeah, you’re starting to see the stress I create for myself.

This notion of failure not being acceptable started way back in the day when I was a student in elementary school. Anything less than a B was cause for frowny faces. My parents had high expectations and I thank them for that. As a teacher today, I see way too many instances of children not being pushed to reach the next rung on the ladder of their lives. I see students—and families—who settle for “good enough.” I don’t know for sure which parenting school of thought is best, but anything that emphasizes personal motivation has to be good, right?
I remember living for coming home with a test or report card and nearly bouncing with anticipation as my mother looked it over. When she reached for a magnet and displayed my work on the refrigerator for all the world to see (well, technically we didn’t have that many guests in our kitchen, but whatever), it was as if she’d called up CNN and had them broadcast it to the entire globe that I was a good speller. That I knew how to add and subtract. That I could color pictures like some fancy French artist. That I understood everything there was to understand (from a fifth grader’s perspective) about North American landforms.

I was smart. I was not a failure.

My teacher said so with the big red 100% or A+ she put on my papers. My mother said so when she slapped my work up onto the refrigerator. My friends said so when they wanted to copy off me. Wait… forget that last one. It’s so scene-in-a-John Hughes-movie, isn’t it?
Not accepting failure forces you to go the extra mile, put in the extra hours, stick it out just a little longer. Failure, when it does happen, also shows you what to do next time, and let’s face it, for most things in life, you can always find that “next time.”
You have the power to make it happen. Put on your best lip gloss and don’t take no for an answer.

What’s something you’ve had to try to do a few times before you reached the level you wanted?



Sunday, April 13, 2014

How about success AND failure?

Both at the same time?

Yep, I did it. Here's what happened: we've been house hunting. Correction: I have been house hunting and been dragging the Spousal Unit along with me. We had decided we wanted a smaller house, smaller mortgage, less property to maintain, etc. Heading into retirement, let's downsize.

So I found a few that were good, we went to look. Nope, not so good. Ditto. Ditto. Ditto.

Finally last Sunday we found the Perfect House. Okay, slightly more than we planned to spend, but still a savings. Smaller property than perhaps we wanted, but doable. Nice space, remodeled, beautiful.

We came home to talk about it and turns out "I'm not ready to move yet."

Say what?

Here's the perfect house waiting for us, and now you decide not to move?

Long story short: we're going to map out a True Retirement Strategy (I'm not sure what that is, but the SU will know once he sees it) then we'll house hunt.So we had success and failure.

I am restraining myself from checking to see if the house is sold. Sigh. Some things just aren't meant to be....

(30 books and counting)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Mistakes Can Make Us Smarter by Vonnie Davis

We learn by our failures--if we're smart.

If we're not so smart, we're close to the other end of the mental spectrum. Or so Einstein claimed when he said, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Granted, he was probably speaking on a scientific level. But the same concept could be applied to life in general. 

If I keep planting the same flowers the deer, that daily meander through our yard love to eat, then I'm not using my brain cells to their fullest capacity.

If I go on a diet, except for Oreos and potato chips and pizza, and still can't lose the weight, well, I'm not the smartest dieter, am I?

And if I keep buying the same size shoes that pinch my feet, then by golly I deserve a good foot pinching. Why? Because I'm not learning from my mistakes.

The same applies to our writing. My first book was written in omniscient point of view. As an English major, I'd studied the masters who often wrote using that method. But that was back in the day before editors' and readers' tastes changed. I had to learn from my mistakes and change too.

Over the past four years, different editors have pointed out weaknesses in my writing--God bless them all. My failure to deliver a better quality manuscript became a learning experience at the hand, or pen, or tract changes of teaching editors. By being open-minded, I learned and grew.

I'm always saddened to hear other writers refuse to work with editors to improve a story. Some tend to feel they've written a masterpiece that should not be touched or changed. Yes, there does come a time when an author has to protect her characters, her plot arc and her voice. But, more often than not, if you communicate with your editor, a workable compromise can be made. That teachable moment can still exist. And failures, or weaknesses within the manuscript, can lead to success.

I've done a bit of remodeling at my website to announce my future releases with Loveswept/Random House and Harper Impulse. I hope you'll stop by and check it out.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Success and Failure. You Can't Have One Without the Other by Margo Hoornstra

Success and failure. It's human nature to strive for one and avoid the other. Except, we can't.

Like everyone else, I've had my share of each one. And, through it all, I've found both inspiration and comfort in a number of sayings I've run across over the years. Especially as it pertains to my writing, well, over the years.

They can because they think they can. - Virgil

If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door.  - Milton Berle

Self trust is the first secret of success - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Always aim for achievement, and forget about success - Helen Hayes

Success is never final. Failure is never fatal. It is courage that counts - Winston Churchill

I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that will not work - Thomas Edison

You miss one hundred percent of the shots you don't take - Wayne Gretzky

So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads - Doctor Seuss

Great faith brings great results. And since you'll be the same age whether you go after your dream or not, why let age be a factor in your decisions? - Author Unknown

If you're riding ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it's still there - Will Rogers

When you think about it, if not for the failures would the successes be as sweet?

My days to blog here are the 11th and 23rd.

For more about me and the stories I write, please visit my WEBSITE