Reviews, News and Free Stuff!

Hey gang,

Lots of stuff going on out there…Reviews, news and free stuff, oh my!  Definitely update time.

First of all, here’s a freebie for you folks.  Today and tomorrow only, August 8th-9th, you can snag your own free ebook copy of my novel DRAWN through Amazon. Just click here.

I’ve received some awesome support for this free promo from a number of sites and people, such as Free Kindle Books and Tips.  If you are ever searching for top-rated free ebooks, this is a great place to visit and bookmark.  To pop by today’s listing, which features DRAWN (yeah!), click here.

I also highly recommend the site Flurries of Words, which gives top billing to the best ebook deals. They highlighted my novel here!

Another excellent site, Digital Book Today, has just featured an interview with me where I share the moment when I met a ghost in a dungeon, and then…well, you’ll just have to find out for yourself by clicking here.

And props also go out to the awesome review site Night Owl Reviews, who not only gave DRAWN a glowing “Top Pick” review, but also created a banner for the free giveaway of DRAWN just because they are so awesome at supporting authors!

In other news…the fab book review site Book Love 101 just posted this amazing review of DRAWN. The reviewer said: “I loved the passion between the two characters, the forbidden romance, the ever impending mystery that could tear them apart. Loved it all!…We’ve got forbidden romance, time travel, mystery, deception, heart break, and so much more! All put together to make one truly EPIC read! Five stars from me! I’d recommend this read to anyone!”

Zowie!  Needless to say, I’m thrilled.  If you’d like to read the full review, and check out other reviews by Book Love 101, just click here.

And the very cool review site Supernatural Snark is currently featuring a guest post that I wrote titled, “Catching a Spirit.”  I talk a bit about that thin veil between the past and the present, and share an excerpt from DRAWN where Michelle first meets a spirit who is all too real. It’s a bit of a tingly moment, and you can catch it (and tingle?) by clicking here.

Also, the fun review site Romance Bookie was nice enough to feature an interview with me on their site!  I talk about my inspiration for the novel, will there be a sequel (?), and offer a bit of writing advice too.  Read all about it by clicking here.

I have to say that this is just the tip of a wonderful iceberg of supporters. I wish I could mention every single one. The people who take the time to post reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. The folks who bother to Tweet about DRAWN and post about it on facebook and on their websites.  It’s overwhelming in a good way.

My gratitude goes out to you all!

Happy reads,
Marie

Free E-Book Today through Friday Only!

How do you feel about hot medieval ghosts? How about a hot medieval ghost in a free ebook? Hey, who doesn’t love free stuff? Today July 11th through Friday July 13th, anyone can snag an ebook copy of my paranormal novel DRAWN for FREE. Yuppers. That’s a free e-book today through Friday only!

All you have to do is click here, snag your copy by purchasing it at the temporary price of $0, and download it to either your Kindle, computer or other reading device ASAP. After Friday, the novel returns to its $4.99 price.

Here’s what DRAWN is all about:

She’s the artist that finds him in her drawings. He’s the medieval ghost that conquers her heart. And their time is running out.

Michelle De Freccio moves to England seeking a normal life, but someone starts appearing in her sketches. Then he grabs her at the castle, his pale green eyes full of longing. She’s immediately drawn to him, but is Christopher Newman real? She’s either losing it, or channeling a hot ghost from the 1400’s. History calls him a murderer. Her heart tells her other truths. Now Michelle faces endless dangers…and a timeless love.

And here’s some praise for DRAWN:

“I was drawn (pun intended) into this book from the first page and couldn’t put it down…so deftly created…It has the perfect amount of romance, and enough action and suspense to keep the most distracted reader turning pages.”–Rated “Best Book” by Long and Short Reviews

“The characters are beautifully written, and the story is witty, charming, and an utter delight to read…This is a fantastic romantic and tender story that will continue to enchant readers for years to come.” —Rated “Top Pick” by Night Owl Reviews

“A fun, historical time travel full of creativity, beautiful scenes, and an engrossing mystery…I fell in love with the entire story…I didn’t want to see it end.” —Rated 5 Stars by The Cozy Reader

“Mysterious and enchanting, DRAWN is a breath of fresh air. If you are looking for a page turner with a unique twist, then look no further.” —TwilightMOMS

“The characters are all wonderful, filling in two worlds with real people and making you feel like you’re there.  The main romance is heartrendingly sweet and will curl your toes.” —Clean Romance Reviews

Even though I’ve been getting such great reviews across the board for DRAWN, many people still haven’t heard of this book. That’s why I’m doing this free promotion. To let as many readers as possible find out about DRAWN in the hopes that they will spread the word about the novel to many, many others.  Plus all the free downloads over these three days will boost DRAWN’s ranking. That means if we get enough downloads, DRAWN will rise to the top and folks who might never have seen it before will take notice of this book in a big way.  That’s why every free download counts so much, so please take a moment to click over and snag a copy!

Want to help even more? Then you can Tweet this free offer and put it on your Facebook.

Here’s something you can cut and paste into Twitter, if you are so inclined:

Get a #freeebook of #paranormal #romance DRAWN by @marielamba today thru 7/13 http://amzn.to/z8azlC

And here’s something you could use on Facebook:

Spread the word! Today July 11 through Friday July 13 only, get a free ebook copy of the paranormal romance DRAWN by Marie Lamba by clicking here: http://amzn.to/z8azlC

My eternal thanks, as always, to all of you!   I’ll be sure to report back here to let you know the results.

Happy reads,

Marie

Reinvent Yourself

How many times in your life do you get to reinvent yourself? To leave behind your past and become the person you really want to be?

For some of us, it can happen when we move to a new place or switch schools. Sometimes it’s a goal we set for ourselves, like by the end of this summer you’d like to eat healthier, spend more time with those you love, learn a new skill, be happier. For writers, sometimes we want to create a novel with an entirely different voice, or in a new genre…like I did when I wrote my newest novel Drawn, a paranormal about an artist who channels a hot ghost with a sketchy past.  Pretty different from my earlier contemporary YA novels What I Meant… and Over My Head.  Writing aside, when it comes to do overs in your own life, maybe you simply decide that this is the moment when you will make a BIG change. To alter the course of your future. Yet sometimes that seems impossible. Sometimes your past gets in the way.

In Drawn, Michelle longs to escape her past and have a fresh start. As she says in this early scene from the book:

The two of us have only been in England for a few days, yet I’m already convinced it’s the best place in the universe. Not because of the quaint little shops or everyone’s adorable English accent, or even because of this supposedly grand castle on the edge of town. No. This place is perfect because here no one knows that back in New Jersey my family, the De Freccio’s, are called the De Freak-o’s.

Back in New Jersey, Michelle’s mother was an eccentric psychic who suddenly up and left the family without a trace. And her brother was a diagnosed schizophrenic. And Michelle had been friendless, an outcast. But in England, she hopes for a new life. A normal one.

Honestly, while writing Drawn I could really identify with Michelle’s do over moment. In elementary school a bunch of snotty girls used to push me around during recess, and it crushed my spirit.  So in middle school, where lots of new kids filled the classrooms, it looked like a clear do-over moment to me.

But reputations tend to cling to a person, so it was pretty rocky for me at first.  Those nasty kids still were in my school, even though their power was now diluted. Still I was too self-conscious and too worried about what I said and wore and how people looked at me.

Now looking back I can see the real problem wasn’t those girls, it was what I carried inside myself: the loser image I wanted to ditch, but that on some level I’d bought into.  What if they were right about me?

In the novel, Michelle may have left her past behind, but her insecurities have come along for the ride:

I get that familiar hot burn of humiliation. I always felt it whenever someone back in New Jersey would pull a trick on me, convincing me that I really was invited to a party, or that science class was actually meeting out near the woods on the edge of school grounds. I discovered I was an easy mark. Too trusting, too eager for friends.

I’d promised myself that those days were over. But here, an ocean away from New Jersey, it’s starting all over again. It’s like I’ve got a permanent “KICK ME” note stuck on my back.

Luckily for me, by the end of middle school I did have friends. I was liked. I remember wondering, why? It mystified me. Wasn’t I the same person who was so looked down on earlier?

In the novel, when things start looking up for Michelle, it mystifies her too:

I sigh, realizing I’ve disappointed my friends. I blink a few times, as this all sinks in. I’ve just turned down an “in” with the popular kids. And I actually have friends. It seems that by simply moving to a new place, I’ve somehow climbed out of my social wasteland. I think of all the high school kids in the world who are teased and shunned. They should all have the chance to move and start over—kind of like a witness protection program, but for outcasts.

Actually, I believe there is a sort of relocation program for anyone who needs it. And you don’t need an airline ticket to England to get there. It’s not a place, but a state of mind deep within ourselves. Michelle started to have friends not because she moved but because she had already begun to change inside. To trust others and have more faith in herself. She truly wasn’t that same person anymore.  And that’s what happened to me, too, in a way.  I’d started to genuinely feel good about myself and to open up to people more and that made all the difference.

Of course nothing is simple, and real change doesn’t happen overnight. You don’t just wake up one morning and DING! Everything is all butterflies and happy songs.  It takes time to gain inner strength and for those better choices in what you do and who you hang out with to all gel and reshape your days into the life you truly want.  For me, it was a process of feeling better about myself and discovering what was most important to me. It did take time, but by the end of high school I felt like really strong, really happy.

In the book, not all Michelle’s new friends are good ones. And her life is NOT easy, especially after the appearance of Christopher who is either a delusion or a ghost.  This definitely spells trouble for a girl trying very hard to blend in. And it forces her to wonder about who she really wants to be. And what she should truly believe in.

She comes to learn she can’t control how others feel, only how she feels. And in the end she must choose whether or not to believe in Christopher, a spirit who may or may not be a murderer. Who may or may not love her back. His life, their love, and Michelle’s hope all hang in the balance.

Michelle does a lot of incredibly brave things in the book, but to me, she is most courageous when she owns up to this:

Maybe I am a fool. Maybe Christopher doesn’t love me. But that doesn’t mean I’m not in love with him…

It’s a huge risk, trusting that this is enough. And it propels Michelle into a life threatening struggle where she puts everything on the line. But in the end, trusting her own feelings opens Michelle up to true friendship and to true love.

Taking risks and believing in yourself.  It’s the bravest thing you can ever do, and what do overs are all about. So believe!

150 Ebook Titles All on Sale for 99 Cents at Book Lovers Buffet!

Ready to stock up on your sizzling hot summer reading (including one of my novels) without breaking the bank?  Well here’s your chance!  Now you can choose from 150 Ebook titles all on sale for 99 cents at Book Lovers Buffet!

This is a limited time offer that is only valid from June 8th through June 22nd.  This special promotion includes a huge selection of romance ebooks, including young adult, contemporary, fantasy/sci fi/time travel, erotica, historical, inspirational, mystery/suspense and paranormal. All are discounted just for this sale till June 22nd. So whatever your taste, you’ll find great beach reads at just 99 centsALSO, on the sale site there is a page devoted to contests where you can win tons of gift cards, etc.  You definitely should check it out.

My novel OVER MY HEAD is available on the Book Lovers Buffet’s young adult page and the contemporary page for just 99 cents with links to purchase my novel through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Smashwords…  I can tell you that after the sale’s over, the price for OVER MY HEAD will be rising, so now’s your chance to snag it on the cheap.

OVER MY HEAD is the ultimate summertime novel, and a perfect beach read full of romance and longing.  This sun-soaked poolside book is about Sang, a high school senior who falls for Cameron, a gorgeous college-aged lifeguard.  He’s either the love of her life or a player out to stomp on her heart.  Sang teeters with Cameron on the edge of true love.  Will she sink or swim?

Clean Romance Reviews says OVER MY HEAD is “full of fun characters and twists…about a teenager figuring out what love can mean in its many forms.” And Stephanie Su of StephSuReads says,The YA world very clearly needs more books like OVER MY HEAD…Marie Lamba gets numerous kudos for portraying the Jumnal family in such an empathic and rich way…younger readers will most likely find a bit of themselves, their frustrations and their desires, in Sang, and cheer this promising young lady on.”

If you want to snag OVER MY HEAD and a ton of the other 150 titles at Book Lovers Buffet without breaking the bank, you’d better act fast…or these prices, like hot summer nights, will fade away…

DRAWN Voted Book of the Month!

Happy to announce that my novel DRAWN has just been voted as Book of the Month over at Long and Short Reviews!  Thanks so much to everyone who cast their vote and showed some love for this novel about Christopher the sketchy medieval ghost, and Michelle the artist who draws him in.  When DRAWN was reviewed by the Long and Short Reviews site earlier in the month, it was rated “Best Book,” which is above their usual 5-Star ranking.

Here’s some of what that reviewer said: I was drawn (pun intended) into this book from the first page and couldn’t put it down…This story is so deftly created that I was in each setting and could easily “see” Michelle’s art without illustrations…I recommend Drawn to tweens, teens and above. It has the perfect amount of romance, and enough action and suspense to keep the most distracted reader turning the pages.

To read the full review of DRAWN over at Long and Short Reviews, just click here.

Happy reads!

Marie

Drawn from my Art Background

Sketch from Marie's England journal

In some way or other, aspects of my own life seep into my novels. And in my new paranormal YA novel Drawn you will find it’s the artist in me.  Like in these lines from the novel:

“I sit on a wooden pew in the back row, flip open my pad and lose myself in my sketch.

Things make sense when I draw. Everything is angles and texture and relationships.”

Like Michelle in this novel, I’m a very visual person. I notice the slant of an eyebrow, the curl of someone’s hair along their neck, the slightest twist at the corner of a mouth. In college I double-majored in English and in Literary Art, which was a major I created that blended creative writing and fine art.  My plan was to become a writer/illustrator, but since then I’ve been all writer.  The artist side of me has always been within me, though, lurking.

As an artist, I tend to unconsciously sketch the lines of things I see. You might find the pointer finger of my left hand (southpaw, here) tracing the lines of what I see onto my lap or on a tabletop.  And as a writer, this “mental sketching” naturally filters into my writing. I’m always making connections about what things look like.  It filters into my scenery, like in this part of my novel when Michelle is describing a graveyard she’s walking through:

I like St. Paul’s because you enter its yard through a little wooden gateway with a peaked roof. The roof leans to the left and the gate makes a horror-movie squeak when you open it. Best of all, the graveyard is filled with stones in varying stages of decay. Tall ones lean forward or backward like giant levers that have been pushed or pulled. And full-sized carved stone images of knights in armor on top of marble slabs look like they’d laid down for a nap and froze into place for a few hundred years. Closest to the tiny church are the oldest graves. Words washed away by time. Stones cracked and crumbling. My favorite stones are the ones that look like giant gingerbread noblemen resting on the ground. Their arms and legs are separated from their bodies as if they’d been soaked in milk for too long.

And it shapes my character descriptions, too:

He rubs his chin. “Yet there is something, indeed. And you wield some power over me. I feel it.”

I shake my head but I think there is something about him. Christopher has this rugged appeal that makes even William Wallingford ordinary in comparison. I can’t seem to look away. It’s as if I’m studying him for a portrait. I notice he tends to raise his chin. The very corners of his mouth curve up, making him seem slightly arrogant. And his eyes. Their light color gives them endless depth. Yet they seem so full of…of what?

Longing.

I glance away, surprised.

Of course the fun here is that Michelle actually is an artist too. This means I can use her powers of observation to shape what the reader sees, and her drawing skills are integral to the plot.  Through her drawings she starts to channel what is either a ghost or a delusion. And her ability to notice details ultimately helps her to put together the pieces in an ancient mystery.  It also presents a great opportunity for me as the writer to create some beautiful images, especially of the guy Michelle is so drawn to:

I take a deep breath and open the door. The flickering fire in the small stone hearth casts a shadowy light. Christopher is in his bed asleep. I close the door and press my back against it. My eyes fill with grateful tears. I’m not too late.

He is bare-chested, a sheet covering him just below his arms. His one arm is flung over his head and his chin is turned toward the fire. The coin he took from me hangs on a chain around his neck, a silvery orb resting in the hollow of his throat. I quietly set my bag beside the door, peel off my sweater and crouch beside the bed, wincing from my sore knees. But what do sore knees matter? He’s here and he’s real and he’s safe and he’s even more beautiful than I’d remembered. I’m glad he’s asleep so I can look closely at him without embarrassment. The pout of his lips. The curl of his dark lashes. His flexed bicep. I long to touch him but can’t bear to wake him.

I’ll draw him.

I’ll draw him…  With Drawn, it’s as close as I’ve come to being the writer/illustrator I’d once envisioned I’d become.  I did draw the book’s cover myself, which is a pencil sketch painted with India ink. I guess in a way I am a writer/illustrator and always have been. Just painting images with words.

And hoping you, as the reader, are seeing what I see.

Happy reads,

Marie

DRAWN is Rated “A Best Book”

Happy spring everyone!

SO happy.  I just found out that the review site Long and Short Reviews has rated my paranormal novel Drawn a “Best Book.”  This is high praise indeed.  Higher than their 5-star rating.  As the site explains it, the Best Book rating is reserved “For a book or story that is truly exceptional. You think about it when you’re not reading it. You wonder what happens to the characters when you finish. You would absolutely buy everything else this author had to offer. The highest praise – and reserved for only a few.”

So you know I’m smiling about this.

In case ya don’t know about Drawn, here’s the description:

She’s the artist that finds him in her drawings. He’s the medieval ghost that conquers her heart. And their time is running out. 
 
Michelle De Freccio moves to England seeking a normal life, but someone starts appearing in her sketches. Then he grabs her at the castle, his pale green eyes full of longing. She’s immediately drawn to him, but is Christopher Newman real? She’s either losing it, or channeling a hot ghost from the 1400’s. History calls him a murderer. Her heart tells her other truths. Now Michelle faces endless dangers…and a timeless love. 
 
A Night Owl Reviews Top Pick: “…an utter delight to read. I could not put it down. This is a fantastic romantic and tender story that will continue to enchant readers for years to come.” 

So… back to today’s write up.  At the Long and Short Reviews site, the reviewer said: I was drawn (pun intended) into this book from the first page and couldn’t put it down…The setting is wonderful…This story is so deftly created that I was in each setting and could easily “see” Michelle’s art without illustrations…It has the perfect amount of romance, and enough action and suspense to keep the most distracted reader turning the pages.

This review also gives a great spoiler-free summary of the novel, so if you want a feel for whether this book is for you or not, you can check out the complete write up by clicking here.

I’m also happy to report that Drawn is currently ranked #29  in its category of top sellers over at Amazon, and it keeps consistently getting great reviews from book bloggers and readers alike.  In fact, the novel’s goodreads.com page is full of praise from readers who have been saying stuff like: “I LOVED this book. It wa (sic) such a breath of fresh air. It was so well written and so entertaining i could not put it down.” And “This book was so unexpectedly amazing…”  To check out the goodreads page for Drawn (and to add your own reviews there if you’ve read the novel), simply click here.

If you haven’t already read Drawn, you can find an excerpt along with links to reviews and purchase info by clicking right here.

"I'm not Josie Grossie anymore!"

Thanks so much to my readers who have shared their love for my book.  I have no words to express how this makes me feel.  As Drew Barrymore says in Never Been Kissed, “I’m speechless.  This never happens to me. Words are my life!”

Marie

Stephanie Winkelhake is Golden Heart Finalist!

Some news is just too great to keep to yourself, right?  In addition to being an author, I’m also an Associate Literary Agent for the Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency, and one of my awesome clients is Stephanie Winkelhake.

Stephanie’s debut YA novel, THE MATTER OF SOULS, caught my eye right away. The voice is incredible: smart and insightful. And the novel is intricate and passionate and heart-breaking.  So I can’t say I was completely surprised (though very excited and proud!) when Stephanie told me the wonderful news that this manuscript is a national finalist for the 2012 Golden Heart Award.

This is a prestigious award offered each year by The Romance Writers of America to promote excellence in the romance genre by recognizing outstanding romance manuscripts. Each year, 1,200 manuscripts are entered for the award, and Stephanie is one of 8 finalists in the YA category.  She’ll find out if she wins the award during a special banquet held at the RWA National Conference, but she’s already a winner to me!

Here’s a little bit about Stephanie’s debut manuscript:

Sixteen-year-old Riley Andersen must come to terms with the inevitable: she’ll never graduate high school, never go to college, and never become a wife or mother. With only three months to live, she abandons all hope of a future. What she doesn’t realize is that death isn’t the end. In fact, for Riley, it’s only the beginning. As soon as Riley sees Hayden, her ex-boyfriend, she’s convinced her mind is playing tricks on her. He is, after all, dead…

Okay, can I just say that when Hayden leans over and whispers, “Riley?” in her ear, it makes me shiver? Their story seized me by the heartstrings and I was absolutely glued to this manuscript as I found out more about Hayden’s death, as Riley had to loosen her own grip on life, and as the souls of these two star-crossed lovers teetered on the edge of love and of doom.

Keep your eyes peeled for this rising star, and follow her website by clicking here.

And congrats, again, to my wonderful client!

Marie

Blog Tour Tips!: On Planning Your Journey

Running a blog tour to promote a new novel is an amazing way to connect with a wider audience, to get a concentrated bunch of reviews, and to get your name out there!  If you are a subscriber to my blog, you know that I ran my very first blog tour to help launch my new novel Drawn.  It was a great experience, and I’m kicking myself for not doing this sort of thing sooner.

So why didn’t I do a blog tour sooner?  Well, truthfully this is a fairly new thing in the world of book promotion…something that wasn’t around when I was a Book Promotion Manager for a publisher years ago, or even when my first novel What I Meant… came out through Random House.  It felt mysterious, plus I knew authors who paid a ton of money to do a tour where they appeared on just 5 or 6 sites.  Surely I must be missing something here… Surely I didn’t understand the nuances of setting up and running such a tour…

So, of course, I decided to go for it on my own!  On The Drawn Blog Ghost Tour I made 22 stops in 5 weeks.  On tour I did 10 guest posts, 10 interviews, 4 giveaways, and got 9 reviews.  Was it a lot of work? Not more than writing a novel. Was it worth it? Oh yeah. Did I make any missteps? Absolutely.

And so, dear author, here are Marie Lamba’s Blog Tour Tips, which I humbly offer to you in the hopes that you can run your own blog tour, and kick some promo butt of your own…

MAKE CONTACT:

Make up a list of the best book blog review sites for your genre, the authors you have relationships with who can feature you, and send out a request for tour stops on writing-related sites you belong to.  Then start emailing and planning!

And expect decent results… When I was contacting book bloggers this summer about reviewing my YA novel OVER MY HEAD I got spotty results.  Many didn’t respond, others responded but weren’t interested (indie pubbed, right?), and still others DID take it on, giving it a nice review, BUT many of those reviews were slow in coming, some as much as 6 months later.  BUT when I contacted reviewers about a DRAWN blog tour, the response was dramatically different.

MOST bloggers that I got in touch with got back to me immediately (knowing that a deadline was involved), and signed on for the tour! Something about the word “tour” makes them respond very positively. The bloggers were eager to take a spot (I gave them a 2 month lead time) on my month-long tour. As I’ve mentioned, I planned for a mix of  reviews, interviews, guest blogs from me, and a bunch  combined this with book giveaways. I took about a day’s total time to contact everyone and to set up my calendar.

BE ORGANIZED

I kept a folder with a chart so I could track who needed what, what the deadlines were, what the blog stop dates were, and this list included all contact names and emails.

Send out ebook ARC’s and cover images immediately to the ones who want to do reviews.  Also turn around any interview questions  sent to you quickly (I did this within 24 hours of receiving)  just to stay on top of things. And record all actions in your blog chart (you’ll go nuts otherwise wondering what is and isn’t done).

The biggest challenge? Of course those guest posts. You think you’ll have enough to write about but then you find you have to dig deep to do them all and make them high quality.  Be careful you don’t over commit on that part.

I worked hard to make sure no two stops were the same. Original interviews or guest posts on every stop, so if someone were following the entire tour, they’d be rewarded with new stuff. No cut and paste answers! I also tried to create guest posts that would fit with a particular blogger’s audience.  Like a post about ghosts for Jonathan Maberry’s paranormal crowd, or one about medievel romance in history for The Elliot Review, which is run by a librarian, that sort of thing.  The idea is for you to meet that audience on its own terms and make it interesting.  Trying not to repeat yourself can be a challenge!

You can check out my tour stops to get a feel for the sort of varied posts, etc. I did by clicking here.

With each stop, make sure they have a cover image, an author image, and that each interview or post includes your bio and book blurb.

BE NICE!

The most important components involve keeping the good vibe going.  Be courteous to your blog stops.  Thank them.  Buzz them well so they benefit from traffic too.  I created a page on my website dedicated to the tour, with links updated…and also I created blog tour graphics and widgets that every stop can use and sent them that.  I blogged each week about the week’s tour stops, and send out daily updates on my FB and twitter, which were retweeted a bunch. There was a lot to do, but it was all good stuff.  Now here, for you, are…

SOME LESSONS LEARNED

1. DOUBLE CHECK: I ran into some nearly missed tour dates. Why? I sent the material well in advance of the date, and assumed it was received.  Yes, assume. Ass-u-me.  I learned to ask for confirmation that material was sent…and if I didn’t hear back, to email the blogger.  And two days before each post, I learned to “check in” with the blogger just to make sure things were on track and to ask if anything were needed.  People have busy lives, stuff happens, and so a friendly nudge can really help.  *Also, I recommend you don’t have inter-related blog stops where people have to gather clues or anything interconnected like that.  That way if one post doesn’t happen, the world will surely go on.

2. INCLUDE LINKS:  Put the link to your book sales page in whatever you send to folks.  I’d assumed they’d naturally link to the purchase spot and admittedly felt a little obnoxious about typing it into any post I’d sent, but some sites won’t automatically do links for you. Lesson learned!

3. INCLUDE SEARCHABLE MATERIAL:  This is a lesson I learned too late. In your guest posts for the tour, etc., be sure to mention within your post those huge popular authors/books most like your own title…And/or an “if you enjoy (fabulous popular title or author), then you will like (your book)…”  That’s the sort of searchable material you want to have so that folks will find you online.

4. GIVE THE TOUR A LANDING PAGE on your website, which shows ALL the stops and links to those stops. Set this up before the tour starts, so you can send the bloggers on the tour the link to this page, along with your widgets. Update that page as final details trickle in, such as the actual title/subject of your guest post, and on the day of, replace the general blog link with the actual post’s link so future readers will find you there.

5. CREATE A WIDGET that is simple and legible even as a small button (include your book cover), and then put it up on your own website in a post so that other folks can “grab” it and use it on their pages.  I made 3…one banner sized, one half-banner sized, and one button sized.

6.  BUILD EXCITEMENT: Once a week, do a post on your website highlighting that week’s stops to build excitement. To give you an idea of how I tried to keep the energy and interest up, you can read an example of one of these posts here.

7.  BUZZ IT: Take advantage of what’s popping up each day by buzzing it on your facebook and twitter pages… If there’s a particular theme to your post, highlight that…if you’ve gotten a great review, paraphrase it on your FB and in Tweets…  Make those great reviews go the extra mile by either asking the blogger if they will kindly put their review on goodreads/amazon… or if it’s a hot review, put it on your Barnes&Noble.com and Amazon pages under editorial reviews.  I was able to add a bunch to these sites, plus some of my tour bloggers posted on Goodreads…and one beautiful 5 star review was posted as a comment on DRAWN‘s Amazon page.

8.  HIGHLIGHT ON-GOING STUFF: If you have on-going giveaways going on, then continue to buzz them on your FB and twitter so that people will be reminded there is still time to enter.

9. COMMENT! Visit your tour stops to comment back where appropriate to folks who put in replies. The personal touch really makes a difference.

10. DON’T BE A SHMO: Try to somehow balance your tweets and posts with other news and other people’s news so you won’t be a steady stream of book P.R…. I found this to be a little tough because with jam-packed weeks of booktouring there is SO much news coming at me each day…all different, but all about my book!   I made an effort to retweet others in between, and to now and then put up a post on my blog page that wasn’t tour related.  You don’t want to weary people with your news…  Twitter is nice because you can vary your hashtags (#) to reach different people, but also put keywords within your tweet.

11. SAY THANK YOU!  After each stop, take a moment to send a personal note of thanks to your tour stop host. They have used their valuable time to help you, and you want them to know that this matters to you.
Hosting a blog tour is a phenomenal way to build up a quick stable of reviews and buzz about your book.  And you can use these reviews as a stepping stone to even more blogger reviews.  For example, I made a point of contacting bloggers who listed TwilightMoms.com as one of their favorite blogs they follow, and asked if they’d review DRAWN.  Of course I included the rave review from TwilightMoms, and guess what? Those bloggers were eager to give my book a look!

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So is it work? Some. Is it worth it? YES!  You want more readers to find your book, don’t you? Can YOU do this?  You can.

SO GO FOR IT and start mapping out your own book tour.

Marie

DRAWN is a “Top Picks” Novel!

Happy spring, everyone!  Flowers are bursting out everywhere (and weeds too), and nothing beats being able to take a walk AFTER dinner and have it still be light out.  Love this.

SO busy here, what with all the writing, and visiting conferences, plus doing literary agent stuff like reading queries, pitching books to editors, etc.  All is SO exciting, but most exciting are some of the recent reviews I’ve been getting for my novels.  Before too much time sweeps by too quickly, I wanted to take a moment to share them with you all…

I’m seriously thrilled that my new paranormal novel DRAWN has been selected as a Night Owl Top Pick!  The reviewer said such amazing things, things I only thought my parents would say (if you know what I mean).  The review raved, “This is a thoroughly enchanting novel. The characters are beautifully written, and the story is witty, charming, and an utter delight to read. I could not put it down. This is a fantastic romantic and tender story that will continue to enchant readers for years to come.”  Okay, I admit I’m blushing a little… For the complete review, you can go here.

Nearly all reviews for DRAWN have been positive, which is so gratifying.  When you spend over 2 years writing a book, hearing readers say it was all worth it means more than I can say.  I was pretty disappointed to receive an only 3 star review, therefore, from Romantic Times Magazine this past week.  Blah. Why am I sharing this with you? Because I think it’s important for folks to know that writer’s lives have ups and downs and that it’s okay. We understand that one book isn’t for everyone.  Still, it does sting a little when it feels like you’ve gotten the reviewer who doesn’t “get” what you’re doing.  And when you’ve paid big bucks (well, big bucks for me) to have an ad in that magazine when the review pops up. Double blah.  Still (I note with a raise of an eyebrow), that review site also allows for readers to post their own review of DRAWN right there on the page.  So if you could add your own perspective on that site by visiting here, it would mean a ton.

For that matter, if you enjoyed DRAWN, you can really make a huge difference in supporting this title by simply posting your review of it on its Goodreads page here, or adding your review on its Amazon page here (did you know that DRAWN is currently ranked #87 in its category? Huzzah!) or on its Barnes and Noble page here.  Even clicking “like” on the Amazon page and agreeing with the book’s tags helps other possible book buyers to see it. (Don’t ask me how it does…it’s all very mysterious.)  You can do this sort of thing for any book you fall in love with, and truly help that author.  (Why do I feel like saying “Clap if you believe in fairies”?  Not sure!) My heartfelt thanks to anyone who goes the extra mile.  You are an author’s rock star!

Okay, back to the positive stuff now…  Also just a few days ago, I got this phenomenal review for DRAWN from Clean Romance Reviews: “The characters are all wonderful, filling in two worlds with real people and making you feel like you’re there. The main romance is heartrendingly sweet and will curl your toes.”  

There.  I’m feeling better now.

By mentioning this review, I’m jumping the gun a little here, since the review won’t officially post until 3/28, but consider this a heads up, and check out this great romance review site in the meantime!  After the site reviewer contacted me with the contents of the review, she wanted to know if I’d run a giveaway on her site…my response? HECK YEAH!  There will be a DRAWN giveaway on Clean Romance Reviews which will run April 19-27th, so check back there for a chance to win.

And to wrap this up on another cheery note… My other novel, the contemporary YA Over My Head, has some great news of its own.  This book recently cracked the top 10 in its category on Amazon twice in the past few weeks!  I’m over the moon about this (or, perhaps, over my head?).  And it may have something to do with a really insightful review posted by highly respected book blogger Stephanie Su.  On her site StephSuReads, she says: “The YA world very clearly needs more books like OVER MY HEAD, where the main character is of mixed race, culture is an important part of the story, but the story itself is not about accepting one’s culture or battling people’s ignorance of your culturally different family…Marie Lamba gets numerous kudos for portraying the Jumnal family in such an empathic and rich way…younger readers will most likely find a bit of themselves, their frustrations and their desires, in Sang, and cheer this promising young lady on.”  She’s a discerning reader and a serious critic, and I appreciate her thoughtful comments and perspective about Over My Head.  To see the full review, and add your own thoughts to the conversation, you can go here.

That’s it for now on the book front.  Now get outside everyone and enjoy the flowers, deeply inhale that springtime air, and get some sunshine on your face!

Happy reads,

Marie