This is a recent post from James Moushon, who is always working to help authors. It’s long, but well worth your time! Enjoy!


How Do You Develop and Use a List of Your Readers? – HBS Author’s Corner STUDY

One of the pieces of information authors are finding invaluable is a list of their readers. If you want to announce a new release, a promotion or a giveaway, the instant access to a list of your readers is priceless. It could mean an instant jump in rankings and an increase in reviews both critical to the success of your book.

The reader list is being used to develop friendships and relationships far beyond the sale of your novels. Building a list is a lot like farming. You cultivate the field. You plant the seed. You watch it grow. Then you harvest the crop.

It is study time again and I am fortunate to have a group of outstanding, award-winning authors whose opinions I value highly. I challenged my HBS Author’s Spotlight crew and over 25 authors responded to the study. Here what they had to offer.

Why develop a reader list?

There are many reasons to develop a list. Of course, an opportunity to increase sales or obtaining reviews is at the top of the list. Developing relationships and gaining followers is a close second.

Build Relationships and Friendships

NYT and USA Today Best Selling Author Melody Anne @authmelodyanne (Website). She is the author of many Romance and Young Adult novels.

I lean heavily on popular social media platforms to build and maintain reader’s lists. More accurately put, I use social media to engage and build relationships with my readers. Using social media, I allow readers to come into my life and share in experiences that they can relate to, from the view point of one woman to another.

I think heavy engagement with my followers via social media is one key aspect to building my reader list.  Due to the viral nature of things like Facebook and Twitter, if a fan “likes”, retweets or comments on anything I post, the friends of my fans can usually see it, attracting a sort of viral attention to my social media presence.

Author Carolyn Hughey @ScribBLINGDIVA (K. T. Roberts) (Website) is a published author of humorous contemporary romance and mystery novels.

I frequent Facebook and leave comments about whatever they’ve posted on various walls even if we’ve just met. By doing so, I’m building a friendship. The one thing I won’t do is become their friend and ask them to buy my book. I’ve seen that happen a number of times and I think it’s sneaky and bad business practice. I never advertise my book on anyone’s wall but my own. I also offer contests throughout the year.

What are the methods other authors use to find their readers and build relationships?

Provide something of value

Terry Ambrose @suspense_writer (Website) is the author of the McKenna Mystery series and a member of Murder, We Wrote.

I’ve chosen the path of using my writing about real-life scams and cons as a way to improve my reach to new potential readers. While some authors are naturally outgoing and can interact with readers about the most minor details, I’ve found that’s not one of my strengths. What is a strength is my knowledge of how to help those same people avoid being taken in by a scam. As a result, that’s the focus for the majority of my outreach.

Author Connie Flynn @ConnieFlynn (Website) is the bestselling award-winning author of many Mystery, Fantasy, Paranormal and Romance novels and short stories.

My mailing list was initially grown through my online writing school, Bootcamp for Novelists. When my partner and I closed the Bootcamp we had about 750 subscribers. Since then it dipped to a low of about 620 but is now up to just under 700.

My problem is that I’m not quite sure what to put into each issue. I don’t want it to be a ‘buy my book,” “buy my book” kind of thing and my last major use of it was to solicit readers for my most recent new release. That was very successful and most of my posts on Bootcamp activities (I still do some) are successful. But pushes on my backlist are not so well received.

Brent Hartinger @brenthartinger (Website) is the author of The Russel Middlebrook series. The movie version of his novel: Geography Club was released in 2013.

I offer a free ebook download of an earlier book if people subscript to my newsletter, and people sign up pretty regularly. I know that some people subsequently cancel the subscription, but that’s okay. It’s also a promotional tool — if someone is browsing my site, they have a chance to “sample” my work. In the end, I’ve ended up with a pretty substantial email list, and the “free” book hasn’t cannibalized sales at all because the ebooks that I offer for free have continued to sell just as well as always.

Suspense Author Suzanne Jenkins @suzannejenkins3 (Website) is the author of the Pam of Babylon series and The Greeks of Beaubien Street.

HI James, the way I am building my email list is to give those who sign on a free download of a short story that is a prequel to a new series I’m planning. I advertise the download on my Facebook page and have used the paid boost on Facebook, too. I also use to tweet about it. Here’s the link.

Author Lorhainne Eckhart @Leckhart (Website) is the Author of Kindle Bestseller THE FORGOTTEN CHILD.

The methods that have worked well for me are by offering free books, for example the first book in a series free.  What happens is it drives sales to my other titles in the series. It’s a great way to find new readers.  At the end of all my ebooks I always provide an afterword with a link to sign up to my newsletter and I notify my readers of upcoming promotions and new releases.

I advertise every month and always join other authors in giveaways of larger prizes and promote our books together.  I occasionally participate in blog tours for new titles, but when comes down to it, providing the link to sign up for newsletter in the afterword of my ebooks, on my website, Facebook page has had the biggest impact.

How should you use social media programs to develop a reader list?

To me, Twitter and Facebook are a shotgun approach to building your list. I do have a good group of followers and I try to interact but links to them are fragile. Here’s what my crew had to say.


Mark Barnes @markbarnes19 (Website) writes Mystery novels and Educational, non-fiction books.

As an education author, my publishers have tight marketing budgets, so I need to publicize my work as much as possible. Twitter is my best network. Over the years, I’ve acquired more than 10,000 followers, and they have helped get the word out.

Facebook is another powerful network, and I’ve created pages for my books and for my blog. Brilliant or Insane is another excellent tool, as I publish education blog posts there daily, and my books are advertised there, too. I have an email list, but I’m not sure it’s worth the time and money that goes into it. In the long run, I believe that writing and sharing content, which leads back to your promotional material, is the best marketing a writer can do.

Best-Selling Author Chuck Barrett @Chuck_Barrett (Website) is the author of the Award-Winning Jake Pendleton series.

In the beginning, Twitter was the best, then Facebook. Now neither have much impact in my opinion. I still use them as well as Goodreads and LinkedIn. They are still excellent ways of promoting new books, new ideas, etc., but they don’t really add to the number of readers.

Amazon Best-Selling Author Cheryl Bradshaw @cherylbradshaw (Website) is the creator of the Sloane Monroe series and the founder of the hugely successful Indie Writers Unite group on Facebook.

I’m mainly on Twitter and Facebook. I use Twitter for most of my interaction with fans, and usually only promote on there once a month when I run a BookBub ad. If you’re constantly promoting, you’ll lose your existing fans, and you’ll be unfollowed. Twitter is a great place to connect with fans, meet new people, and meet fellow authors. I resisted signing up at first, but now I have almost 50,000 followers, and I tweet almost every day. You can find me on Twitter at


Susan Aylworth @SusanAylworth (Website) is the award-winning, bestselling author of the Rainbow Rock Series.

When people follow you on various social media sites it automatically gives you a link to their profile that they have created. The site automatically compiles a list for you of fans who are interested in your work and you can use that to reach your readers by posting updates.

Author Connie Flynn @ConnieFlynn (Website) is the bestselling award-winning author of many Mystery, Fantasy, Paranormal and Romance novels and short stories.

I haven’t used these mediums to get subscribers to my newsletter. I do belong to a Twitter tweet team and am convinced it keeps me in front of readers because every time I stop, my downloads dry up. To increase my mailing list, I mostly do occasional blog hops or giveaways that increase new subscribers. Many of these actually stay, but some don’t, being they were motivated more by the prizes than because they think I’m a fascinating writer. Most of my stable new subscribers come from programs where I appear personally and do a presentation. The rest of them come from my blog and my website, both of which have subscriber icons. I’ll be working harder on making these effective over the next couple months.

Crime and Horror Author Jade Varden @JadeVarden (Website) is the creator of the Deck of Lies book series.

For me personally, I focus most of my efforts on Twitter because this is where I can find the bulk of my audience online. It’s not just about using social media to promote, as an indie author it’s also important to use the right social media sites. I follow certain people on Twitter in order to find more potential readers. Book bloggers, book readers and other authors are often open to buying indie books.


Amazon Best-Selling Author Cheryl Bradshaw @cherylbradshaw (Website) is the creator of the Sloane Monroe series and the founder of the hugely successful Indie Writers Unite group on Facebook.

On Facebook I promote through targeted ads which point back to my Facebook author page and sometimes also link to a new book or one of my novels. It’s inexpensive and effective, and I’ve found it’s a good way to reach my demographic. Through targeting you can isolate your ad so it only shows to potential readers in your genre, thereby giving you the best bang for your buck.

Veteran Author Susan Oleksiw (Website) is a bestselling author of the Mellingham series and the Anita Ray mysteries.

I have a Facebook author page, where I post notices about upcoming events, reviews, and links to articles I find interesting. This page is entirely about writing and the writing world. I never post anything about my personal life or views.

Award-Winning Author Jinx Schwartz @jinxschwartz (Website) is the author of the Hetta Coffey series.

Other than the signup link for my newsletter on my website, I build my readership by meeting great new readers on Facebook. I’m getting more on Twitter, as well, but Facebook is where you build a rapport with new readers, and also meet other authors who will share your work with their readers.  I am also on the others, like Goodreads and Google+ but have not quite mastered them. Another great way to meet people are Yahoo Groups.

What other ways can you use to develop a list?

There are other ways to build that list that are more direct. Some of the Spotlight crew weighted in on them.


M. Louisa Locke @mlouisalocke (Website) is the Author of Maids of Misfortune and Uneasy Spirits, bestselling Victorian San Francisco Mystery Series

For the last two short stories I wrote, I also announced on my Facebook page that if someone subscribed to the newsletter they would be able to get a coupon for a free copy of the short story for a limited time before it was published on Kindle.  This was probably my most successful tactic in getting fans to sign up for the newsletter. I now have 420 subscribers to the newsletter.

I have only sent out 5 newsletters–again, only when I have a new publication–but my average open rate is very good (65.5%) and my click through when I offered the coupon for my latest 2 short stories was 70-80% (very high.)

When I published my last book, I was fortunate in having Amazon put it up as a pre-order, and I had 700 people pre-order it. I assume that many of these were people who knew about the pre-order through my social media (website, Facebook, newsletter, twitter, etc.) My goal is to make sure that I have an even larger number ready to order the next book. 🙂

Using blog tours and Meeting bloggers

Ellen Mansoor Collier (Website) is a Houston-based freelance writer and editor whose articles and essays have been published in several national magazines. Ellen just released the third novel in her Jazz Age mystery series: Gold-Diggers, Gamblers And Guns

I don’t use much social media myself, but I hire blog tour hosts who do—and it works for me.

Also a couple of readers started adding my books to Listopia on Goodreads and I found a few more lists to help categorize my mysteries, e.g. books set during the 1920s, historical mysteries, etc.

I admit, I haven’t joined the Twitter or Facebook craze myself but I have a Facebook page that I don’t update and do enjoy reading tweets from various friends and famous folks.  What’s worked best for me are meeting bloggers via blog tours. When I first wrote FLAPPERS, I approached a few bloggers directly and gotten some positive responses from people who have turned into friends. Since then, I’ve discovered that bloggers are most likely to reply if you have a tour host to help promote your book. For only $25-30. and up, these experienced book tour hosts will do most of the work of setting up reviews/interviews and guest posts.

Sure, there’s a lot of preparation involved on some tours, but you can choose from a wide variety of hosts and services. They’ll tweet about your book, posts and reviews during the tour and often spotlight you on their own blogs. I’d opt for a tour that focuses on your genre (in my case, historical mysteries). Ask around, compare notes and see which tours come highly recommended by fellow authors, and try to find the best one for your book. Amy Metz has a new tour service specializing in mysteries that’s affordable and effective—try it out!

Award-Winning Author Jinx Schwartz @jinxschwartz (Website) is the author of the Hetta Coffey series.

What groups do you use to find your readers?  All of these. (Support groups, Forums, Blogs, Author Networks, etc.) However, I mostly stick with the ones like (links) DorothyLMurder Must AdvertiseAll Mystery Newsletter, and the like. I love guest blogging because, quite frankly, I just don’t seem to have time to keep my own blog up.


Veteran Author Susan Oleksiw (Website) is a bestselling author of the Mellingham series and the Anita Ray mysteries.

Another useful approach is blogging. I blog weekly on my own blog and have been visiting other blogs once a week for my new book; after the first four to six months I cut back on visiting other sites to once or twice a month through the rest of the year. I have a regular monthly entry on Author Expressions, for writers published with Five Star/Gale, Cengage.

The important point about blogs is to write on a variety of topics that are mostly related to my books–travel, India, Indian food, New England features, the New England paper industry, writing and editing, and the like.


NYT and USA Today Best Selling Author Melody Anne @authmelodyanne (Website). She is the author of many Romance and Young Adult novels.

In addition to this I run numerous contests throughout the year, which in most cases requires a person on social media to like or follow me on social media, and/or identify a specific detail about one of my latest releases, and the prizes are usually pretty terrific which would encourage just about any fan of my genre to purchase one of my books.

Kindle fire giveaways (Kindle book review)

M. Louisa Locke @mlouisalocke (Website) is the Author of Maids of Misfortune and Uneasy Spirits, bestselling Victorian San Francisco Mystery Series.

One of the ways I built up this page was to participate in period Kindle Fire Giveaways sponsored by the Kindle Book Review. To keep up interest in this page–I post my daily word count when I am writing, link to pictures I have put up on my Pinterest page, and post notifications when I do any promotions of my books.  I will also pay to boost posts when I have published something new or when there is a promotion. I also have a number of Facebook groups that I will post to when I have something like a promotion, new book, or something else like an interview that I think might be of interest.  One of the newest that I am quite happy to have joined is Clean Indie Reads, which seems a perfect place for me to connect with potential readers.


Veteran Author Susan Oleksiw (Website) is a bestselling author of the Mellingham series and the Anita Ray mysteries.

One activity that is not often mentioned but one I consider important is charitable donations. Whenever I receive or hear of a request for a donation of books, I always send something, with an inscription if I know what it should be. These are always appreciated, and I reach readers I might otherwise never know about. In addition, if my book is remaindered I’ll buy a number of copies to sell but also to donate on my own. I choose libraries in small cities that usually have small book-buying budgets and mail them a complimentary copy. The library can add it to their circulating library or pass it along. Some libraries will then buy copies of the other titles in the series.

What online tools and software can you use to record names and email addresses?

The winner by far on this topic was MailChimp. However, some of the authors had some very good alternatives.


Award-Winning Author Jinx Schwartz @jinxschwartz (Website) is the author of the Hetta Coffey series.

I get fan mail because I put my email address in my books, and people email me all the time. So far, all positive:-) Also, on my website and email signature, I have a link to And then I use MailChimp to send out notices about free books, and any new releases.

Author Carolyn Hughey @ScribBLINGDIVA (K. T. Roberts) (Website) is a published author of humorous contemporary romance and mystery novels.

I use my own email GoDaddy contact list and add the name to a distribution list. I also belong to other small groups where I add names to MailChimp for a monthly newsletter. My website has a link for subscribers, ScribBLING Divas wordpress blog signup, The Write Authors on Facebook and blog signups.  At local book signings, I have a guest book sign in where I offer a gift card for signing up.

Author Leti Del Mar @leti_delmar (Website) is an indie author.  She blogs about the craft of writing and indie books.

I like to use MailChimp to create and manage my mailing list. I have reveals to join my mailing list on my website and at the end of every book. When I do blog tours, I always add joining my mailing list as a giveaway option and that has helped it grow the most. Of course, I do get the occasional subscriber from time to time.

Author Connie Flynn @ConnieFlynn (Website) is the bestselling award-winning author of many Mystery, Fantasy, Paranormal and Romance novels and short stories.

I use MailChimp, mostly because the price is right, since it free up to 2000 subscribers. Most services start charging at 500 and I’m already over that.Joseph Lallo @jrlallo (Website) is a bestselling author of the Science Fiction & Fantasy series: The Book of Deacon Trilogy.

I try to cast a wide net when it comes to connecting with readers. Just as I’ve found that the best way to sell a book is to have it for sale where people want to buy it (wherever that might be), I’ve found that the best way to connect with fans is to be present on the network they most use, whichever that might be. I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Instagram mostly. I’ve found Facebook and Twitter to be the most valuable, though Goodreads and Tumblr are great too.

As for tools, I do have a newsletter which I’m beginning to work on developing. I use MailChimp for it and it works great. My website is a semi-custom theme built upon WordPress. I don’t do a lot of searching for readers. I’m not as active on blogs and forums as I might be, and I’ve got this weird notion that showing up on a blog in search of readers is a little like poaching.

M. Louisa Locke @mlouisalocke (Website) is the Author of Maids of Misfortune and Uneasy Spirits, bestselling Victorian San Francisco Mystery Series.

However, in the last year as Facebook has started limited who actually sees any normal (un-boosted) post, I also started encouraging fans to sign up for my newsletter.

For this newsletter I use, and I recently upgraded from the free version so that I could send a reply letter when someone signed up that offered free coupons for various books.

I only started developing a newsletter signup a year ago (should have done it earlier!), as I prepared for the launch of my third book. I started out by emailing any fan who had emailed me personally and asked if they would like to sign up–stressing that i would only send out a newsletter when I had an announcement for a new publication. I also added a signup link to the ends of all my books and stories and put the link on my website. I notice after a promotion–when sales (and therefore readers) goes up–the sign-ups for this newsletter does increase a bit.

Chantel Rhondeau @ChantelRhondeau (Website) is a Romantic suspense author. Chantel writes the Agents in Love series.

I’m fairly new to the mailing list thing, not realizing how important it was in the beginning. Now, I have an account through MailChimp and I put the link for the mailing list and the end of my books, encouraging readers to sign up to get information about my new releases if they enjoyed what they read. I also placed a sign up form on my website that is near the top of it. I did all of this before doing a free giveaway on one of my books, and ended up with several sign ups, so it seems to be working. I look forward to seeing what others have done!

Contact form plugin

NYT and USA Today Best Selling Author Melody Anne @authmelodyanne (Website). She is the author of many Romance and Young Adult novels.

For my fans who want even more detailed news and updates on releases, they have the option to sign up for my newsletter via my website.  If you’re looking for a more technical response, I use one of many readily available contact form plugins available on the web.

Best-Selling Author Chuck Barrett @Chuck_Barrett (Website) is the author of the Award-Winning Jake Pendleton series.

I use every tool available. I have a sign up page on my website. I send out tweets encouraging readers to sign up. Also I try to capture readers at events and book signings then add them to the list.

Software and Services

Author Leti Del Mar @leti_delmar (Website) is an indie author.  She blogs about the craft of writing and indie books.

I just released a newsletter informing my subscribers that extended samples of my books are now available on NoiseTrade for free download.  Since I write in more than one genre, I think it’s a great site to introduce readers to titles they might not of read.

In the future, I would like to put novellas, extra chapters, or scenes from different points of view together and give those away free to anyone who subscribes as a thank you to my readers for subscribing.

Constant Contact

Amazon Best-Selling Author Cheryl Bradshaw @cherylbradshaw (Website) is the creator of the Sloane Monroe series and the founder of the hugely successful Indie Writers Unite group on Facebook.

I use Constant Contact for my emails/newsletter list.


Author Dianne Harman @DianneDHarman (Website) is Award Winning Bestseller Romance author.

I have a website, as well as a blog. I’ve just signed up for a newsletter feature and I have no idea how that will go. I have lists of people on Excel spreadsheets that are notified with a new release. That has proven to be very successful. I generally send it out to friends, acquaintances, and the book list.


Tricia Drammeh @triciadrammeh (Website) is the author of Young Adult, paranormal romance and Fantasy novels.

I recently began to compile a list of readers for my mailing list. At some point very soon, I’m going to put out a plea on Facebook and on my blog, but even though I haven’t done that yet, I already have quite a list going. I’m one of the authors participating in a Kindle giveaway in which the host of the promotion asked sponsors to provide a Twitter handle or Facebook page for contest entrants to follow as a way of gaining extra points on Rafflecopter. Instead of providing my Facebook Author Page URL like I normally would, I decided to use this opportunity to begin building my mailing list. Readers can earn extra points in the giveaway by signing up for my mailing list, and just a few days into the giveaway, I already have dozens of new potential readers waiting to receive my newsletter.


Susan Aylworth @SusanAylworth (Website) is the award-winning, bestselling author of the Rainbow Rock Series.

I use an app that I installed through my web provider (Wix) that compiles a list of people who are interested in my website and who sign up for updates.

Weebly signup sheet

Tricia Drammeh @triciadrammeh (Website) is the author of Young Adult, paranormal romance and Fantasy novels.

Right now, I’m using a simple contact form on my (Weebly) website. It’s very easy for readers to fill out, and Weebly sends me an email each time someone signs up. In addition to finding readers via giveaways and contests, I also rely heavily on blogging. It certainly hasn’t happened overnight, but my readership has gradually expanded. The great thing about blogging is it gives you a chance to have an ongoing conversation with readers. I try to respond to every comment, even if it’s just a thank you. Through blogging, I’ve met both readers and authors, and I’ve made many new friends.

What groups do other authors use to develop their list?

Groups can be invaluable in developing your reader list. Here’s what some of the Spotlight crew had to say about using groups to develop their lists.


Author Dianne Harman @DianneDHarman (Website) is Award Winning Bestseller Romance author.

I use twitter, Google+, Facebook & Goodreads. I do a lot with Goodreads because this is where the readers are. The others are kind of like shooting fish in a pool. You never know what percent of those are readers and what percent of those will be interested in your genre. I am active in several groups on Google+ that are specific to writers. I’m not a huge fan of Facebook. Other than the Authors Social Media Support Group, I’ve had very little luck with involvement. ASMSG has been a huge factor in whatever success I have had as an author, not only for all the subgroups, but for the help I’ve received with all kinds of questions. Can’t recommend it highly enough. Twitter I use, but again it’s kind of a shotgun thing. I have almost 30,000 followers, but what number of those are readers and what number of those interested in my genre? Don’t know. On occasion I take part in the tweet teams on World Literary Café and ASMSG, particularly if I’m offering a reduction in price or introducing a new book.

Award winning Indie Author John W. Huffman @johnwhuffman (Website) writes Historical Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers.

I use Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Goodreads as my primary focus social media outlets, as well as the Independent Author’s Network (IAN) blog site, Author’s Corner, and The Indy Writer’s Group as forums for my books. I never attempt to “sell” my books on any of these outlets, but instead focus on inter reacting with old friends and making new ones while allowing them to make their own decisions as to purchase my books or not. I find other authors on these sites who constantly harp on their books and beg for people to purchase them tedious and boring.


NYT and USA Today Best Selling Author Melody Anne @authmelodyanne (Website). She is the author of many Romance and Young Adult novels.

I’m partial to Goodreads forums. Many young book lovers, my target audience, use Goodreads to find other readers and discover books. I have looked at writer forums and Amazon forums before, but I can’t keep up with it all.

I do quite a bit to find new readers, it ranges from very basic in book advertisements to writing and sharing content amongst a close group of fellow self-publishing authors and participation in online (social media based or live chat) release parties.  In addition to this I advertise on various book sites like Goodreads.

Veteran Author Susan Oleksiw (Website) is a bestselling author of the Mellingham series and the Anita Ray mysteries.

I have a Goodreads page, and post reviews fairly regularly. These seem to get a good response from my “followers.” I have joined in various discussion groups, but do that less now. I’m thinking of setting up a discussion group on a number of specific topics when I finish a collection of stories I’m working on. I’m also on LibraryThing and LinkedIn, but less active on those sites.

Award-winning Author Mohana Rajakumar @moha_doha (Website) is an author based in Qatar. She has a PhD and has been involved in various foundations supporting young writers.

I really love Goodreads for finding readers. Because those who read your book and like it are likely to read other books by the same author. I have has great success writing to past reviewers of my books in posting early reviews of new titles or even beta reading, which is offering comments on a manuscript in progress. They’re often excited to read something before everyone else can and because they’re avid readers, they have insightful comments.

Hope that’s helpful as that’s the only real list I use for readers.

Genre Specific

Susan Aylworth @SusanAylworth (Website) is the award-winning, bestselling author of the Rainbow Rock Series.

Sales and other special events are posted to several Facebook groups, specialized to my niche market, such as the Goodreads Clean Romances page. I’d love to find more!

Speaking at conferences

Best-Selling Author Chuck Barrett @Chuck_Barrett (Website) is the author of the Award-Winning Jake Pendleton series.

I have one of the best ways to build my readership and followers is with face time…actual time in front of readers. Speeches at writer’s conferences and book festivals always show a marked increase. Another successful method in reaching out to book clubs, Friends of the Library groups/chapters, writers groups, local women’s and men’s groups.

Veteran Author Susan Oleksiw (Website) is a bestselling author of the Mellingham series and the Anita Ray mysteries.

I recently participated on a crime fiction panel and was pleasantly surprised to hear a woman in the audience talk about my books. She was a poet, not a fiction writer, and was not the kind of person who would normally read my books. This has happened quite often.

I go to a few conferences, participate in panels, comment regularly on lots of blogs, post reviews, and generally try to keep my name alive. I don’t think reaching readers is a matter of working with any one site but in general maintaining a level of participation in the online world. I’ve tried to track e-book sales according to certain activities, but I can’t identify any correlation.


Author Connie Flynn @ConnieFlynn (Website) is the bestselling award-winning author of many Mystery, Fantasy, Paranormal and Romance novels and short stories.

Good question. The truth is I’ve been using a scattershot method of enlisting new readers and I’ve taken a new direction. Currently I am advertising heavily and have seen a nice uptick in my sales. I’ve also put my first WIP up on Wattpad and am waiting to see how that turns out.

What I have discovered is that my newsletter is important because since enlisting the subscribers as beta readers I’ve also made them into fans and I want to create more of that. Not only is it good for sales, I’ve already made some new friends.

This reply is pretty scattershot itself and I hope it’s of value. If you choose not to use it I’ll understand. Your support has already been invaluable to me.

Veteran Author Susan Oleksiw (Website) is a bestselling author of the Mellingham series and the Anita Ray mysteries.

Wattpad is an interesting site that I have used a bit. I post a sample chapter from a book, for example, and then link to the whole book on Amazon. I’ve posted a short story, related to one of my mystery series.

I use these sites to introduce readers to my books. I’m less interested in putting their email addresses into a program for a newsletter, etc., than I am in making them curious enough about me to follow a link to my books and try one.

Support groups

Award winning Indie Author John W. Huffman @johnwhuffman (Website) writes Historical Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers.

I am constantly in contact with support groups as I come across them, such as this one, and respond to them on a daily or as requested basis.

Are there problems you should avoid?

Author Jake Needham @jakeneedham (Website) is a best-selling Mystery & Thrillers Author.

I have an opt-in mailing list and people who visit my website can add their names to the list. I don’t use any online tools to capture email addresses. My list is strictly opt-in and the only way to do that is by filling out a short form on my site. After I set up the mailing list, it very quickly ran up to about a thousand names, but over the last year or so growth has slowed to a trickle. I have no idea why since I’ve changed nothing and the number of visits I get to my website has steadily increased. Maybe newsletters have simply gone out of style and few people want to receive them anymore. That’s easy to understand since most of us already get far more email these days than we know what to do with.

I should also say that I have the sense that my mailing list is worthless as a marketing tool. Most if not all of the people on it are fans who have already read most of my books. I do get a lot of nice email back whenever I send out a newsletter that has any substance at all. Clearly many readers do enjoy hearing from me and reading my thoughts on things that touch on the subject matter of the books I write, but I don’t think the newsletters actually sell any books for me at all. Trying to sell more books through an opt-in mailing list is almost the definition of preaching to the choir.

Terry Ambrose @suspense_writer (Website) is the author of the McKenna Mystery series and a member of Murder, We Wrote.

I, like most people I know, am annoyed by the constant promotional efforts many writers use. As a result, if I am friends with someone, but the majority of their posts are promotional in nature, I’m going to distance myself from them. Everyone has to do some promotion, but that promotion should be a small portion of the social interactions, not the majority.

NYT and USA Today Best Selling Author Melody Anne @authmelodyanne (Website). She is the author of many Romance and Young Adult novels.

To me the term “capture” implies some sort of unwanted data collection to somehow spam my fans with news they don’t necessarily want.  Typically all news of new releases is available through social media platforms, so any fans that follow me will receive updates as they occur.

Unwanted email

Veteran Author Susan Oleksiw (Website) is a bestselling author of the Mellingham series and the Anita Ray mysteries.

There is so much unwanted email these days that I have decided to stay away from this. I have a list of about 1500 names and addresses, but these change so often that I felt it wasn’t worth the effort to keep up the list and then send newsletters or announcements to people who are already complaining about unwanted email.

Amazon Best-Selling Author Cheryl Bradshaw @cherylbradshaw (Website) is the creator of the Sloane Monroe series and the founder of the hugely successful Indie Writers Unite group on Facebook.

I’m mainly on Twitter and Facebook. I use Twitter for most of my interaction with fans, and usually only promote on there once a month when I run a BookBub ad. If you’re constantly promoting, you’ll lose your existing fans, and you’ll be unfollowed.


Liliana Hart @Liliana_Hart (Website) is a NYT and USA Today Bestselling author of romantic mysteries and suspense.

Thanks so much for emailing me. I want you to know I read each and every email from my readers, and those emails are awesome and keep me going and motivated. Unfortunately, I’ve reached the point where I just can’t respond to them all in a timely manner. I wish I could respond faster and stay on top of it all, but I’ve realized I’m not Wonder Woman, despite what my favorite coffee mug says. Just be assured that I’m using my email response time to get the next book out faster. Thank you all so much for your support and for reading.


Brent Hartinger @brenthartinger (Website) is the author of The Russel Middlebrook series. The movie version of his novel: Geography Club was released in 2013.

In my experience, people are so overwhelmed with spam and emails that it’s really difficult to get them to subscribe to email lists. They have to be (a) really passionate fans and/or (b) given something valuable in return, to entice them.

How should you use the reader list?

Now that you have laid all the ground work, planted the seeds, it’s time to harvest the crop. What do I do with my list?


Author Leti Del Mar @leti_delmar (Website) is an indie author.  She blogs about the craft of writing and indie books.

For now, I use my mailing list to alert my readers about the following: cover reveals, new releases and promotions. I send one out every three months or so. I like to be able to give my subscribers a reason to join, so I let them know of any promotions before anyone else.

Search engines/rankings

Terry Ambrose @suspense_writer (Website) is the author of the McKenna Mystery series and a member of Murder, We Wrote.

Because I’m reaching out directly to my audience via search engines, which are now ranking my posts on the first page for the search terms, my website traffic is up and I have more opportunity to garner a potential reader’s interest. With that said, the majority of those visitors are looking for something in particular, so converting them from a visitor who is looking for a specific type of information to someone interested in books can be difficult.

Best-Selling Author Chuck Barrett @Chuck_Barrett (Website) is the author of the Award-Winning Jake Pendleton series.

There is no single sure-fire method that works 100% of the time. Social media has had its heyday. Readers want more substance. They are overwhelmed with the preponderance of authors and books saturating the market. It’s confusing when there are hundreds (or thousands) of new authors flooding social media every month. Readers tend to stick to their favorites and sometimes it’s difficult to get them to break that habit. What works best is to have the best product you can have and get out and reach the readers. Face time with readers is important and that helps word of mouth…and word of mouth sells books. Advertising is only so-so effective and must be well-placed & well-timed or it’s a waste of money. Today’s author must try everything they can to sell books. When something works, stick with it until it stops working then find something else that works.

Brent Hartinger @brenthartinger (Website) is the author of The Russel Middlebrook series. The movie version of his novel: Geography Club was released in 2013.

What do I do with the email list? I send out a newsletter, but I try really hard not to annoy people, so I try to make it (a) substantive, with some actual “content,” not just all about me and please to buy my books, and (b) I don’t send it out more than five times a year. When I have something substantial to announce, I send an email, and I know from (the e-newsletter service I use) that I have a very high “open” rate compared to other marketers, so I think I’m doing something right.

Best Selling Author M. R. Cornelius @marshacornelius (Website) writes post-apocalyptic thrillers. Marsha echoed several responses I received to this study.

Looking forward to this post James, because I do a terrible job of finding readers. I could use some tips.

Throughout this study the authors have echoed how they use their list. They not only use the list to announce new releases, promotions and giveaways but to build relationships.

The communications should be well-timed and not overdone. The primary theme the authors used was ‘give them something of value’. There is no silver bullet here. Write a good book. Cultivate it. And then reap the rewards.

Here are the questions you need to answer.

Do you have a reader lists?

What methods would you use to develop the list?

How would you use the list?

To check out the complete responses to the Study from each author, click the link below.

How Do You Develop and Use a List of Your Readers? – HBS Author’s Corner STUDY Detail

eBook Author’s Corners  Related Posts

Indie Authors: Your Copyright Page Needs Work

eBook Marketing: Include Live Contact Information in Your eBook

Author Blogs: Are You Hiding Your Contact Information From Your Readers?

Authors: Finding Your Readers On-line: A group of Award-winning Authors speak up. – A Study

Some of the sources of information offered by authors follow:

Crime and Horror Author Jade Varden @JadeVarden (Website) is the creator of the Deck of Lies book series.

Slowly building a fan base through interaction.

Who to follow to build your fan base.

What days and style are most advantageous for social media updates?

What should you tweet to sell books?

Follow me:

Follow Me on Twitter: @jimhbs

Or EMAIL at:

View my website: James Moushon – Mystery Writer

Or visit my blog: The eBook Author Corner

Take a look at my Author’s blog: HBS Author’s Spotlight

Or my Mystery blog: HBS Mystery Reader’s Circle

– See more at:


What’s Wrong With Being Indie

My good friend, Hunter Jones, and I recently had a discussion about the pros and cons of being an “indie” or an “independent” author. Here are some of her thoughts. I think they’re excellent and definitely worth the read.

Ms Jones Official 6-14

It seems that every time you read a review of an indie book publication, somewhere you will read it needs to be edited…or…could use correct punctuation…or…I didn’t like the ending.


First of all, when you find a mistake, PLEASE let us know so that it can be corrected, like immediately. When anyone writes, we see what is in our head, not what is on the page. I’ve paid a lot of money for editing. I also have paid a lot of money for books from the major publishing houses with spelling and punctuation mistakes. This is not the sole provenance of indie publishing. Nothing’s perfect. Please let authors know when you find a mistake. It would really help.

Secondly, let’s talk about punctuation. Have you ever considered that many authors misuse punctuation as an expression of their art? Oftentimes, writing is an art form, not an exercise in composition. You can play with fiction. Maybe the punctuation is the way the author wants it-a vital part of their creation. Didn’t Faulkner win a Pulitzer for doing funky stuff with, or without, punctuation? Indie musicians become rock gods because of an early riff or the wrong drum beat. They are considered geniuses for their ‘mistakes’. Why aren’t indie authors who misuse words or punctuation viewed much the same?

Lastly, you don’t like the ending. You don’t like the ending? What’s that all about? Yes, we live in a world where you can choose the ending of some TV shows, but c’mon, we’re talking about books. Since when do you get to choose how a book ends? The ending is chosen by the author. As a matter of fact, the entire book is the author’s concept. Currently, some authors ARE experimenting with allowing fans to choose the ending. You work with us, we’ll work with you. How’s that? Remember, writing is an art form…

Indie music is glamourized and glorified, which is completely understandable. When that indie scene started, the word from the major recording labels was that indie musician’s weren’t good enough to get a record deal. Doesn’t that sound like what is currently going on in the publishing world, only with authors? Now, don’t get me wrong, should a major publisher chose to sign me, I would graciously accept the offer. (I’m not holding my breath.) Until that day dawns, I will, and more importantly, I CAN publish as an indie author.

Wasn’t the American Revolution ignited by an independent writer named Tom Paine? Throughout history, indie writers have taken on many genres, forms and roles. Love us and all our flaws because we have the courage to publish independently. Get with today’s indie publishing revolution because we’re not going away. For those who already support us, thank you. Your dedication and insight mean a great deal.

Next time you read an indie book or story, find reasons to fall in love with it. Does it inspire you? Is it original?

We’re writers. Don’t hate us because we’re imaginative. We’re reclusive. We’re enigmatic. Will you accept our work, or laugh at us? Either way, we wish to share our dreams and visions with you. Join us. Give us a bit of your time. Instead of buying that cup of coffee which will eventually find its way to a landfill, download someone’s book. You won’t regret it, I promise.

So what’s wrong with being indie? Absolutely nothing. Free your mind and enjoy the ride.




Writer. Exile on Peachtree Street.

I make things up and write them down.

The art form I create when writing is much more interesting than anything you will ever know or learn about me. However, since you ask, I have lived in Tennessee and Georgia my entire life, except for one “lost summer” spent in Los Angeles. My first published stories were for a local underground rock publication in Nashville. Since then, I have published articles on music, fashion, art, travel and history.

October 2013 saw the launch of a novel collaboration, SEPTEMBER ENDS, contemporary fiction laced with romance, erotic and supernatural elements, bound by poetry. SEPTEMBER ENDS has been labeled an “Indie Sensation” due the critical reception and international recognition the novel has received.  It has just been nominated for indie 2013 Book of the Year AND Best Romance by the peer recommended eFestival of Words. The book has been downloaded in every Amazon domain on the planet. It has achieved #1 status on Amazon for World Literature, #1 in British Poetry, #1 in Artistic Erotica and #1 in Contemporary Poetry.

The first installment of The Fortune Series, FORTUNE CALLING, released in January 2014, is the story of Dallas Fortune, a musician from Nashville who has been dealt a bad hand by fate, but finds her way. It has been #1 on Amazon in Contemporary Fiction featuring Performing Arts and #1 in Contemporary Short Stories. Look for it’s audio release soon.

SEPTEMBER AGAIN, released on Amazon on April 15, 2014achieved Best Seller ranking, as did the poetry of SEPTEMBER VERSES, released May 2014.SEPTEMBER AGAIN is a dramatic contemporary coming of age story, no matter what your age is. SEPTEMBER VERSES is the poetry of the SEPTEMBER STORIES with never before seen Editor’s Cuts. The next in the series, SEPTEMBER FIRST, will be released later in Septemeber 2014.

Look for the first RA Jones Anthology to be released July 2014. Confessions of a Sex Addict is four sultry erotic stories set in contemporary New Orleans. The second Ra Jones Anthology is scheduled in November 2014. Eight erotic writers with eight stories, all based on one word, which is the title. More soon…

You can connect with me at the following social media sites: – Exile on Peachtree Street


September Again International Link

September Ends International Link

Sept Ends NEW sml


Happens to the best of us, the dreaded words, “Writer’s Block.” Here’s how one author deals with it. Enjoy!


RHANI D’CHAE shares with us how she deals with writer’s block….

I have some real issues with writer’s block, and I have two basic ways to get past it. I tend to work on two or three projects at once, mainly because my mind bounces around way too much to keep focused on one project only. But I’ve found that when I get writer’s block on project A, it usually helps to jump over to project B, C, or D, and work there for a while. Doing this distracts me from whatever my issue was with my primary project, and allows me to reset my brain so I can slip back into project A with a clear head and pick up where I left off.

The other method I use is to jump ahead to a future point in my plot and work  there for a chapter or two, usually until I run into another block. At that point I will either go to a different section or, if enough fuzz has cleared out of my brain, I’ll go back to the original stopping point and pick up where I left off. I’ve found that doing this has a couple of benefits for me. First, it allows me to continue working on my book when writer’s block might otherwise stop my progress. Secondly, on days when I just can’t focus on the actual plot, I work on connecting the sections and still manage to get something accomplished. The third benefit is that bouncing ahead helps me define where my characters are going and how they’re going to get there. Moving ahead to chapter six may show me that the minor character of  ‘Joe’ has no place there, and so I decide that his car accident in chapter four was A) fatal, and B) not an accident. This gives me the ability to sculpt the story toward the mysterious crash in chapter four, as opposed to writing to chapter six, deciding that Joe needs to be gone, and then having to go back and rewrite both the crash, and its effect on Joe and the characters around him. This is my favorite method of getting past writer’s block, and for me it’s the most effective.

Shadow of the Drill centers around a man whose life was destroyed by violence, who then embraced violence as a means to a very brutal end. It follows Decker and Rudy as they come face to face with their oldest enemies and attempt to close that chapter of their lives. The book contains graphic violence as well as sexual situations, and is not intended for young or easily offended readers. Shadow of the Drill is the first in the Drill series and the second book, Winter of the Drill, will hopefully be completed in the next month or two.

Thank you all so much for allowing me to share a bit of my journey with you today.  To follow the rest of my tour, please visit 4WillsPublishing.  Dianne, you were a great host and thank you so much for having me!


RHANI D’CHAE spent her teen years bouncing between WA, OR, and OK, but has lived her adult life in Tacoma, WA. She likes to read, though she doesn’t read as much as she used to due to diabetic vision loss, and is a fan of Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Brian Lumley, and James Clavell. She loves The Walking Dead, and any zombie film with a high body count. Ms. D’Chae enjoys connecting with people on social networking sites, and loves getting feedback from those who have read her work, so please don’t leave without sharing your comments. 


“SHADOW OF THE DRILL” by Rhani D. Chae


Twitter:  @rhanidchae


Google +:


Review of Shadow of the Drill at NONNIE’S “RAVE” REVIEWS



Jenna Brooks is one of the best writers around and if you haven’t read her acclaimed novel, October Snow, it’s a must read. She recently published the sequel, An Early Frost, and I asked her if she would talk about it for my blog. Here is the conversation she had with Melodie Ramone, also a superb writer. Her book, After Forever Ends, is another book not to be missed. Enjoy!

We all know that authors have their own favorite authors. 

Recently, Melodie Ramone sat down with one of her faves, critically acclaimed author Jenna Brooks, on a video chat to pick her brain and uncover the artist’s inspiration behind the brilliant novels October Snow and the just-released sequel, An Early Frost.


Melodie Ramone: Hey, congrats on the novel. You look beat, by the way.

Jenna Brooks: Oh. Thanks for that.

M: Finally ready for an interview?

J: Go for it.

M: I heard that An Early Frost got an entire rewrite.

J: It did. Twice, actually.

M: Twice? What was wrong with the first two versions?

J: I played it too safe with both of them. I think I wasn’t up for getting into the topics too deeply.

M: What topics?

J: Child abuse. Sexual assault. More than anything else, though, I felt like I just skimmed the Fathers Rights and Family Court industries in the first two tries. Writing about that stuff gives me headaches.

M: So you felt like you mailed it in.

J: Pretty much.

M: Why did you decide to take it all on again?

J: I kind of had to, after those two murders that happened last summer. The little boy who was shot by his father at a court-ordered visitation…

M: I remember that. It was on your blog.

J: Yup, along with all the mindless platitudes that followed.

M: Awful.

J: It was. Then the murder of a young mother, right in front of her little girl. Just a few days later.

M: You should let people know who you’re talking about.

J: Joshua Savyon was the little boy. Jennifer Martel was the mother, stabbed to death by her daughter’s father. Reading the facts on the murders, it was clear to me that both of the killers had Fathers Rights attitudes. I got so angry, thinking about it, about the recklessness of the Family Court. And about the grief of their loved ones. People loved them. There are other victims, you know? It was like the only way to cope was to write about it.

M: Did writing about it help?

J: Not at all.

M: Your background – you’re a domestic violence advocate, a divorce coach, and an editor, among other things.

J: Like a Mothers Rights advocate.

M: “Full-on”, according to your Twitter profile.

J: Yup. It’s the issue I care about the most, and I’m pretty much devoted to it at this point.

M: Then you decided to become a novelist. Or did that life choose you?

J: Any author will tell you, the life chooses you. Then it gets addictive.

M: At what point in your life did you recognize that writing would be your life and a substantial part of your living?

J: Not sure. At some point, I got tired of how little compassion – even common sense – is in play when dealing with abused women and children, so I decided to start writing about it.

M: Explain that. The common sense thing, I mean.

J: It’s just… There aren’t many resources for women who have post-abuse issues, because this culture regards battered women like they bear some responsibility for the felonies committed against them. Like they have power over the guy who chooses to abuse them. And people seem to think that if these women would simply use their power differently…

M: They could change him?

J: Basically. Then, after the woman escapes – if she does – the batterer gets all kinds of help for his ‘problem’, while the woman is told to suck it up and make better choices next time. And the kids? They’re not tended to either. The courts reflect the culture, and the culture is sick.

M: But An Early Frost is a love story, and all these other issues are wrapped around it, right?

J: Right. 

M: Many authors will say that the hardest part of writing a novel is either the beginning or the end. For your process, is it harder to get started, to keep going, or to conclude?

J: It’s all a challenge, but the worst is to keep going, definitely. The issues I write about are hard to put across sometimes, because I present them within a fictional setting – taking the facts and applying them to real-life situations.

M: Tell us some of the difficulties you had while writing An Early Frost.

J: Fatigue. A decent amount of self-doubt, and some negativity from others. Neglecting relationships, that was a big issue.

M: Too busy?

J: Sometimes, but I was in a kind of a fog, too…

M: That weird place that authors go to, inside their heads.

J: Yeah. You know what I mean. Where you get so stuck on a plot point or a character twist…

M: …that you wander into traffic.

J: You’ve done that, huh?

M: A few times. Why the self-doubt?

J: I guess… Because this culture has these set-in-stone ideas about how women think and how they should behave, and I reject those ideas. Especially when it comes to targets of DV. I don’t see a lot of understanding for women in abusive situations, and there’s certainly no effective aftercare for them. For the issues they have afterwards.

M: Such as?

J: They’ve been traumatized, sometimes for decades, and it’s even more devastating when they have children. Especially if the court doesn’t bother to accommodate reality, and assesses them only on their demeanor, because they can run the range from mildly disjointed to openly distraught. Since battered women are often accused of creating their own abuser – or at least, “pushing his buttons” – there isn’t much compassion for them.

M: But An Early Frost is about the aftereffects of child abuse.

J: In the character of Max, yes. Plus her mother was abused, so that factors into it, too. Millions of kids grow up in that situation, and they don’t recover well. I wanted to address it through the character of Maxine, who has a beautiful soul, but she can seem ugly.

M: And you doubted yourself because…?

J: I guess it isn’t self-doubt. It’s more like a cynicism, maybe?

M: Over what?

J: Because a lot of people have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. Those people can get nasty if you challenge the excuses this culture makes for males who abuse women and children. Things like, he was abused as a child, or he has anger issues.

M: You think there’s a double standard?

J: Actually, I think the standards apply only to battered women. People are forever looking at the criminal and asking, “Why does he act that way?” Yet these same people look at the natural, normal reactions of the targets of his abuse, and they don’t ask that same question. If anything, after a batterer cuts his target, this culture blames her for bleeding.

M: An Early Frost is written with a male protagonist who asks that question about Max.

J: Yeah, that was interesting to me, because I started the novel with Maxine as the lead character, and found myself writing Will instead. It just kept coming out that way.

M: What’s the twist?

J: I don’t regard the resolution as a twist, not in this novel. It’s more a contrast, a ‘what if’ thing.

M: What if?

J: What if a traumatized woman is with someone who honestly loves her, someone who’s looking for the goodness inside her, instead of rejecting her for the ugliness that someone else infected her with?

M: Your first novel, October Snow, was a critical and commercial success. An Early Frost is the legacy to October Snow – the story of what happens to the characters who survive the first book. What was it like to take their hands again and walk them through the next phase of their lives?

J: Well, I think I love Will Remmond. He’s tough to get over, especially as he’s based on a real person.

M: You have ‘Hey Will Remmond, call me’ on your social media profiles. Too funny.

J: Yeah, I’m waiting by the phone.

M: What about the other characters?

J: Max gave me nightmares, for real. Dave drove me nuts at first. His character was weirding out, and I couldn’t figure out why for a while…

M: You don’t write with an outline?

J: No. I know the ending, and the social issues I want to explore, but that’s all.

M: What about Sammy?

J: Sammy had me in tears a couple of times. She was trying so hard to find some kind of redemption, when she’s really just a sweet, confused kid whose life is unraveling.

M: Did the truth about Jo ever come out?

J: That was one of the top two questions I got after October Snow.

M: In other words, no answer.

J: Sure there is. The answer is in An Early Frost.

M: What was the other question after October Snow?

J: Readers wanted to know what became of Max, and if she wound up with Will.

M: And you aren’t going to tell me if she did, right?

J: Right.

M: So what’s your philosophy on literature – on art in general? Do you feel that artists have any responsibility to the culture?

J: Yes. And no. I’m all for the expression of creativity, but art can be used to be demeaning. Destructive? I’m looking for the right word here… I mean, too often, the same people who insist that a crucifix soaked in urine is ‘art’ are also the ones who would go apoplectic if a crucifix was displayed in public without the urine. I don’t get that mindset, and I don’t see where it benefits a culture.

M: So you would draw a line?

J: I suppose, as far as referring to something as ‘art.’ If its sole purpose is to shock people, then it isn’t art.

M: Along those lines, do you feel that being a creative person with an experience that could help shed light on a topic requires that you give back, or tell a particular story?

J: Not unless you’re true to the story, which is why the first two manuscripts of An Early Frost hit the trash.

M: What’s next for you?

J: A novel that deals with Maternal Alienation. We’ll look at the issue of children who grow up with DV, and who then reject their mothers.

M: Is that a big issue? Really?

J: It’s huge. But it’s buried by the Fathers Rights movement.

M: Does it have a title?

J: The working title is Ventriloquist.

M: What would you like people to say about you and your work ten years from now?

J: I never think about that. It would cause me to chase the wrong things, you know?

M: Do you ever relax?

J: Is this the ‘what do you do in your spare time’ question?

M: Sure is. I was hoping to ask it in a more creative way, though.

J: Sorry.

M: No problem. I know you watch Judge Judy and Psych.

J: Yeah, I get a bag of Doritos, and my dog and I sit on the bed and watch dumb TV.

M: That’s your idea of a good evening?

J: Guess so. I need a life.

M: You need Will Remmond to call you.

J: No kidding, right?

M: And there you have it. You finally did an interview.

J: It wasn’t bad, actually. Are you going to return the favor when Burning Down Rome comes out?

M: Absolutely. Thanks for the time here.


October Snow and An Early Frost are available on Find them here:

You can find Jenna Brooks online at


7,000 LUNCHES!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHave to share my latest Huffington Post article, and yes, everyone wonders what 7,000 Lunches is. So did I!

7,000 Lunches

Posted: Updated: 
 My husband and I were in Seattle recently visiting our son and daughter-in-law. My son was debating whether or not to take a position he had been offered at a large increase in salary. We were discussing it and he made the statement, “But I don’t know how many lunches I have left.”

The statement made no sense to me, so I asked my son what he meant by it. He told me he recently was advising a client of his about where he should put his assets and the client said, “According to statistics, I have about seven thousand lunches left.” In other words, he was 60 and if he lived to the age the actuarial tables predicted, he would live for that many days. He made it very clear to my son that he wanted to enjoy those days.

I’d never thought in mortality terms as to how many lunches I have left, but like my son’s client, I want to enjoy them. I don’t want to have to do some of the things I did for the good of my family, society, and trying to please everyone else. Since I don’t know the exact number of lunches I have left, I better pay attention and make the enjoyment of each day a priority!

I read an article a while ago that said, “If you had just three hours to live, what would you do?” With only a few hours to do what I wanted to do, I wouldn’t be able to climb to the top of Mt. Everest, an unfulfilled dream of mine. No, I would have to do things that were here and now. Of course I’d call family members and tell them I loved them and there are probably a few other things I’d do in that vein. What caught my attention in the article was that it cleverly asked what things we’d do that probably aren’t good for us, because we only had a few hours left, so what would it matter? Would we go out and buy a pack of cigarettes — you remember the ones we gave up years ago? Would we opt for the biggest steak we could find and a potato with all the cholesterol clogging goodness added to it like bacon, sour cream, butter, etc? Name your poison.

Can you remember when this was a popular statement? “If you ever worked with hospice patients, the one thing you never heard was ‘Wish I’d started Weight Watchers earlier’?” Lots of truth in those words.

Are you enjoying what you’re doing now? If you’re reading this, you’re probably in the second half of your life. Are you spending time doing what you want to do? Years ago I made the decision that “life was too short to spend it stuffing mushrooms,” (substitute whatever it is that you’re doing that takes a lot of time and isn’t very much appreciated) when I could be enjoying people I cared about or reading that great new novel I’d been waiting to get to or a gazillion other things I’d really wanted to do rather than impress guests with my ability to stuff mushrooms.

Over the years I’ve done a lot of entertaining, The one thing I learned after a few years is that if the food is good, the bathroom and kitchen are relatively clean, and the hostess is relaxed, that’s all that matters. Truth be told, no one is going to look under the bed for dust bunnies. And if you ever find someone doing that, don’t invite them back! Almost everyone is far more concerned with the impression they’re making on others than if the hostess stuffed mushrooms for them.

I look back at the years and energy I spent trying to get this squatty, short body morphed into a svelte Barbie doll-like body. Never happened, but I sure spent a lot of time trying to make it happen. And what about the things I gave up in my fruitless search for bodily perfection — a whole lot of wonderful food experiences!

There are two days that were seminal in my growth as an adult. (1) the day I decided to accept this squatty body and quite trying to look like someone I was never intended to look like in the first place; and (2) the day my husband came home from work, asked me what I was doing, and I told him I was reading a book. Yup, just sat down and read a book. Were there other things I could have been doing? Yup. Decided if that was decadent behavior, so be it. I’d be decadent!

And you, dear reader, how many lunches do you have left? And more importantly, what are you going to do with them?

Now What?

Received an email yesterday from the Huffington Post that thrilled me. Here it is!

Hi Dianne,I hope this finds you well. I’m just writing to let you know that we’ve decided to re-feature your post, “Now What” in a HuffPost Post50 handbook being distributed at the Deal With It Women’s Conference on September 29th.

That definitely caught my attention so I thought I’d post it here so you can read it. I mean, if it’s good enough for the Huffington Post to publish in a handbook, it must be worth reading!!!

“The last few years have been interesting for you. The kids have finally flown the nest (maybe after returning for awhile when it became impossible for them to live on their own for one reason or another); you may be without a significant other for the first time in a long time, maybe ever. You’ve downsized from the larger home, and the garden has morphed into patio flower pots. Knitting in a rocking chair doesn’t appeal to you and you have no desire to spend the rest of your life whittling wooden objects. Your grandchildren are busy with their activities and you’re feeling a bit useless. Watching the time pass on the gold watch the company gave you when you retired isn’t filling the hours. The time is past when it was okay to wear a polka dot bikini or a thong to the beach — maybe Europe overlooks flesh that has a mind of its own, but in most places in the United States, it doesn’t work!

So now what? It’s hard to admit how much time you’re spending on the Internet playing solitaire. Well, how about sharing some of that knowledge you’ve learned over the years? Non-profits need your skills. You can donate your time and expertise to a number of different organizations, whatever your interest is — everything from pets to HIV to cancer to community gardens. You name it. They want you, and admit it; it’s kind of nice to have someone want your input!

It doesn’t matter where you live; there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of groups that need your abilities. Hey, we’ve learned a lot over the years! Let’s not discount it. We’re a valuable commodity. We’ve learned how to get money and how to spend it. We’ve learned what works and what doesn’t. We’ve spent a lifetime developing TLC skills. We’re masters at helping people. Our families may be a little tired of the wisdom we spout, but non-profit groups would love to have some of that wisdom.

I’ve sat on a lot of Executive Boards of different non-profit organizations and the majority of the people who sit on the boards are boomers. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why. Younger people are dealing with children, jobs and all of the other things that just getting from day to day entails. They have no time to donate, no matter how worthy the cause. There are only so many hours in a day and a person can be stretched just so far! Fortunately for the non-profits, we boomers have a few extra hours.

If children are your interest, check out the Boys and Girls Clubs. I recently took my granddaughter to a “ba yeah” class (read that ballet!) at one of their locations. The class was reasonable and excellent. They usually provide child care services, sports activities and classes. Fundraisers help support them. You can usually donate your time by simply helping with activities if you don’t want to act in an advisory capacity or help with fundraising. And that’s true for most of the non-profits. Wherever and however you want to help, your services will be appreciated.

There are so many organizations that are community minded such as Rotary Club, Lions Club, Exchange, etc. Two that come to mind in my area are Kiwanis Club and Soroptomists. If your interest lies in the community, check out the Rotary or Kiwanis Clubs. If your focus is on women and girls, you might want to get involved with Soroptomists. “Working Wardrobes,” one of their projects, helps women return to the work force by furnishing them with appropriate clothing.

I find it interesting that all of the organizations I know of are now made up of women as well as men. I remember many years ago when the International Rotary Conference was held in Tokyo, a vote was taken on whether or not women should be allowed to join. Fortunately, it passed. In today’s world that seems ludicrous. Male or female, there are no longer sex barriers.

Those are just a few groups. My daughter-in-law donates time to the Humane Society. She had to become certified so that she could take some of the more active dogs on runs. The Humane Society also has volunteers who take food to a pet whose owner is housebound or ill. See what I mean? You can donate as many hours as you want to whatever organization appeals to you. The only choices you have to make are which ones interest you and how much time you want to donate. Keep in mind that each group has a different feel to it. If you’re not comfortable with the first group you check out, find another one. You’re in the driver’s seat and you’re the one who’s donating your time. Make it time you enjoy!

I don’t have the space to give a shout out to all of the wonderful non-profit organizations that exist, from soup kitchens to hospitals to picking up trash on sidewalks. Whatever you’re interested in, trust me, you’ll be welcomed with open arms.”

Award Winning Author in the Mystery & Suspense genre