Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Authors in Bloom Blog Hop!

I am so excited to be getting back into blogging with my first blog hop in .... well, a very long time. I barely remember how to do these anymore, but I will try my best!

The objective of this hop is to share a gardening tip, a recipe or both which gives me a great opportunity to share some of my vegan discoveries. A little over three years ago, my family and I decided to start following a plant based diet. It was the best decision ever. Our health improved dramatically; my husband's daily migraines all but went away and my daughter was able to get off of her three daily medications for allergies. Even my mother who recently began living with us was able to get off of her diabetes medication. On top of that, I have so much more energy and I'm not trying to sound conceited or anything, but I look great for a woman knocking on 40. I teach college and my students thought I was in my 20s.

Anyway, I actually enjoy cooking so much more now that I am vegan. I get to be so creative and try new flavors all the time. Not to say that it was always easy. In fact, shortly after giving up dairy, I quickly realized that I had been a cheese ADDICT. So I spent several months discovering the best ways to appease that addiction the plant-based way. Today, I am going to share my simple go-to cheese sauce that can be used in a variety of ways. I like to keep it on hand for a quick easy mac and cheese that the kids love. I add a green pepper or salsa to make it a nacho cheese dip. I add a little cornstarch and agar and then refrigerate to make it a slice-able cheese. It really is a foundation recipe that can be tweaked according to your own preferences. After you read the recipe, please check out my giveaway.

Recipe


Ingredients
  • 2 12oz boxes of Pasta
  • 4 Yukon Gold potatoes chopped
  • 2 carrots chopped
  • 1 white or yellow onion quartered
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 cup of cashews
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • A dash of liquid smoke
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions
Boil vegetables and cashews until soft. If you have a high speed blended like a Vitamix, you don't need to boil the cashews. I discovered once when I was out of cashews that they are actually optional. It tastes perfectly fine without them. Put all of the boiled vegetables in a blender and just a little pasta water. Add the nutritional yeast and liquid smoke. Blend until smooth and creamy like hot  melted cheese. Keep adding water until it gets to the perfect consistency. Do not add too much water. Taste the mixture and add salt and pepper to taste. Add other seasonings like paprika to your liking. Pour of pasta and you have vegan mac and cheese!
That is an hones to goodness picture of my mac and cheese. In the background is my vegan Popeyes Chicken. I'll put that recipe up on my website!

Giveaway Time

Today I am going to be giving away a copy of the first book in the Priscilla the Great series.


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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

“She looks like me…even the glasses” A Wrinkle in Time Review


Image result for a wrinkle in time
A Wrinkle in Time is visually STUNNING, emotional, and exquisitely crafted.

Period.

      I’ll be honest. I didn’t really want to see it. I had seen several bad reviews about the film and I was dreading watching a childhood favorite butchered. But those reviews were wrong. I absolutely loved this movie.

     Almost from the opening credits, A Wrinkle in Time had already brought me to tears. I was transported to my ten-year-old self staying up way too late at night reading that beloved book and starting my love affair with science fiction. I never saw myself in the books I liked to read. My eclectic choices in reading material from British literature to Sci-Fi all but guaranteed that I would never read about people who looked like me. My favorite novels always featured fragile white girls who needed to be saved or strong white girls who did the saving. And that was okay. I absolutely loved those stories. The Secret Garden, A Little Princess, Tess of the D’ubervilles were some of my stories that shaped me into the woman I am today. They were also stories that a little black girl in a poor neighborhood weren’t supposed to read. They were also the reason why a little black girl from a poor neighborhood began writing stories. I wanted those same stories that touched me to feature characters that looked like me.

     What brought me to tears in A Wrinkle in Time might have had more to do with the message Ava DuVernay recorded that aired before the start of the film. Immediately, I thought of an interview she had on The View. In it a co-host asked her about changing the race of the main character, Meg. “In the book, Meg is white. But you made her biracial,” the host says. Next, Ava said something that completely changed my perspective. “Is she? Because when I read it, she looked like me.” For some reason, those words just touched me. For every book I have ever read, the characters have always been white unless it was explicitly stated otherwise. But why? I think it was because I was subconsciously programmed to think that only white characters had stories interesting enough to tell. That is changing.

     Seconds after Storm Reid as Meg Murray appeared on the screen, my 12-year-old biracial daughter leaned over to me and said, “She looks like me. Even the glasses.” I almost lost it. I had to get up and get popcorn so as not to cry in front of my children. Maybe, just maybe, if I had seen little girls that looked like me leading big budget, amazing films, I would have had the awareness and self-confidence necessary to read a book like A Wrinkle in Time and see the main character as a girl who looked like me.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Starting over


Now that I am finally finished with my PhD, it is time for me to get back into author mode. Thankfully, I have no lack of ideas for novels. I even have one that it is off with my editor and should be published next month. I think the thing I am now struggling with is marketing. Since I have been away from the game for so long, I am not sure what works any more to market books or even where to begin. I feel like at one point I had all of this figured out and now I am completely lost. But I am going to jump right in and just go. So join me on my journey to conquer the Indie Publishing world...again.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

30 Books in 30 Days!


Wow, it has been a really long time since I have posted. But I think I need to get back into the swing of things. So let me give you a quick update as to what has been going on. I gave up writing for a while and disabled all of my books. But writing isn't something you can really give up. I have so many ideas in my head just dying to get out of me. So I went back to writing and put my books back up for sale. The thing is now I have almost no sales. I really have to figure out a way to get my fans back and gain some new ones.

The first step in that process is writing new material to give my former fans something to look forward to. I've already started this with the release of my new children's book Ebonee and Ivory coming out September 16th.


The next step is to start promoting my old titles. That is where 30 Books in 30 Days comes in. No, I'm not going to write 30 books in 30 days. Though wouldn't that be awesome if I did? Anyway, I plan on publishing 30 books in 30 days. Along with my new release Ebonee and Ivory, I'm also going to make sure that all of my books are published on every platform. For example, at the beginning of the month I noticed that my short story Plie with Fire was published on Amazon, Kobo, and Barnes and Noble, but not on Smashwords. So that is one book I need to publish. It is the 14th and I've already published 13 books so I'm right on track.
1. Ebonee and Ivory on Barnes and Noble
2. Leslie DuBois Historical Fiction Bundle on Amazon
3. Ebonee and Ivory on Smash
4. Leslie DuBois Historical Fiction Bundle on Barnes
5. Leslie DuBois Historical Fiction Bundle on Kobo
6. Ebonee and Ivory on Kobo
7. Leslie DuBois Historical Fiction Bundle on Smash
8. Leslie DuBois Historical Fiction Bundle on Google Play
9. Plie with Fire on Smash
10. Dark Marco 2 on Smash
11. Ebonee and Ivory on Amazon
12. Natural Beauty on Smash
13. Natural Beauty on Kobo

After making sure all of my books are available everywhere during September, I will focus on promotion for October. Stay tuned for updates!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Guest Post - Angela Fristoe

So with Danica McKellar starring on Dancing With The Stars, I began feeling a bit nostalgic. I loved watching The Wonder Years when I was growing up and the romance between Kevin Arnold and Winnie Cooper had me wishing for my own childhood romance :) That Danica went on to become an author and math guru made her a even cooler in my dorky opinion. In celebrating the re-emergence of Danica McKellar, I've joined together with a few other YA authors to host a giveaway! Two lucky winners will receive a paperback copy of Kiss My Math by Danica McKellar! The giveaway begins today and continues until Danica wins or is eliminated from Dancing With the Stars.
 From the author of the runaway bestseller Math Doesn?t Suck, the next step in the math curriculum-- pre-Algebra. Last year, actress and math genius Danica McKellar made waves nationwide, challenging the "math nerd" stereotype and giving girls the tools to ace tests and homework in her unique just-us-girls style. Now, in Kiss My Math, McKellar empowers a new crop of girls, 7th to 9th graders, taking on the next level of mathematics: pre-Algebra. Stepping up not only the math, but also the sass and style, Kiss My Math will help math-phobic teenagers everywhere chill out about math, and finally "get" negative numbers, variables, absolute values, exponents, and more. Each chapter features:   - Step-by-step instruction - Time-saving tips and tricks - Illuminating practice problems with detailed solutions - Real-world examples - True stories from Danica's own life as a student and actress Kiss My Math also includes more fun extras--including personality quizzes, reader polls, and real-life testimonials-- ultimately revealing why pre-Algebra is easier, more relevant, and more glamorous than girls think. There are multiple ways to enter including the option to tweet daily. The listed end date is subject to change and winner will be announced within 48 hours of Danica's win or elimination from DWTS. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

12 Ways to Resurrect a Dead Book




A dead book is a book that has been published for months or years and is not selling well anymore. In traditional publishing, the company would probably just take this book out of print. But in Indie Publishing, we have so much flexibility. It costs us nothing to keep the book going since print books are only made when they are ordered and ebooks don’t take up any space and are around forever. It is never too late for us to breathe new life into an old book, and reach new readers. I have had to resurrect dead books on several occasions so I’m going to give a list of the things I’ve done that have worked in the past. I’m also going to talk about one specific book that I resurrected and has since died again. So I’m going to explain what I plan on doing to bring it back to life again.You can also listen to this info on my radio segment here.
1.      Get a new editor or proofreader. Your book may not be selling because there are too many grammatical errors. It is amazing to me how many people put their work out there without having another pair of eyes go over it. I usually four or five pair of eyes on each of my books and I still find mistakes on the final run-through. It is nearly impossible to get a completely error free book, but you should try as hard as possible to do so.
2.      A new cover and/or title. You may love your cover, but it may not accurately represent what your book is about. Or it may not be enticing enough. Go to Amazon, do a search of the books in your genre, and see if your book cover is comparable to the top books. If not, hire a professional cover artist. My favorite Leslie DuBois book that I’ve written called La Cienega Just Smiled. I personally felt that it was the best book I had written, but it was just not selling. It would do maybe four or five copies a month and I couldn’t understand it. I loved the title, I loved the cover, I loved everything about this book. But I took my pride out of it and sat back and took a look at the other YA books that were similar to mine. I realized that the title and the cover was all wrong. So I changed the name and the cover and the book started selling. 



I also changed the cover to Priscilla the Great



3.      Blurbs.  Make sure your blurb is enticing. This may be the most important tool for selling your book. Your goal is to make it impossible for someone not to buy your book after they have read your blurb. This is a difficult task and you may need to get SEVERAL people to read SEVERAL versions of your blurb.
4.      Tags. Many people are unaware of the importance of tags on the Amazon page. Go to your book page on Amazon and make sure the tags associated with your book are appropriate. Add popular tags that will make your book show up on searches. Do a tag exchange with other authors. I did this for a while and it was really helpful, but it gets time consuming after a while.
5.      An extensive free run. Once you made sure the cosmetics of your book are in order, try an extensive free campaign. I did this for my book Ain’t No Sunshine. It would only sell a handful of copies a month. Then I set it free and it was downloaded over 40,000 times in two months. This worked to raise it in the rankings. Then when it went back to paid, it started selling hundreds and hundreds of copies a month. The only ways I know of to go free is to use Smashwords to distribute your book to Barnes and Noble, Apple, Kobo, and Amazon for free. Or let Amazon price match it when your book is free somewhere else. The problem with this method is that it is difficult to control when you want to stop being free.
6.      Try Kindle Select. Another option for the free method is to use Kindle Select program. When you do this, you make your book exclusive to Amazon for a number of months and then they give you the option to control when you’re free.
7.      Try a free preview. My book Ain’t No Sunshine has died again since its great run over a year ago. So one thing I’m trying to do is put up a 15 chapter preview for free with links to the full book in the back. I uploaded the book on Kobo and set it to free and now I’m waiting for Amazon to price match it to free before I start promoting it. I tried to upload it to Smashwords, but they would not allow me to upload a preview book.
8.      Write a short story. Another option is to write a short story that is related to the book and offer it for free. I have done this several times with my Priscilla the Great books. Almost every time I release a Priscilla the Great short story I will let it be free for a while and then start charging 99cents. I also did this with Nothing Else Matters. I wrote a short prequel to that book and included it in anthology with other authors. Now I offer the short story for free. The cover of it is the same as the book just a different color. I plan on writing a short story to tie in to Ain’t No Sunshine to offer for free. I want to think of a way to tie it in to the new movie The Butler since Ain’t No Sunshine ties in nicely with African American History and segregation.
9.      Google ad. I finally got another one of those Google coupons so I’m going to try a google ad to promote Ain’t No Sunshine with tag words such as African American historical romance, segregation, The Butler, The Help, just popular search words people may be using in the next few weeks with the release of this movie.
10.  Facebook ad. When my preview is finally free on Amazon, I plan on creating a post on my Leslie DuBois facebook page about it and then promoting it to a specific audience. Do a Facebook ad for your Book Trailer. I like the trailer for Ain't No Sunshine, but I need to update it since it references a book cover I no longer use.

11.  Guest blog. This is tricky. You want to do a guest blog on a hot button topic on a popular blog in order to draw attention to your book. But you also don’t want to alienate any of your readers. One of my fans offered to have me write a guest blog on her blog about racism. This is going to be such a tough post for me to write without potentially alienating or offending any of my readers. But it has to be interesting enough for people to want to read it and then share it.
12.  Paid advertising. Just be careful where you give your advertising money to. The most effective sites are Ereader News Today, Pixel of Ink, Kindle Fire Department. There is also cheap ereads, kindle nation daily, Goodreads and many other places. I haven’t paid for advertising in a long time so I’m not sure which sites are effective anymore.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

10 Ways for Indie Authors to Grow a Fan Base


As promised, here are my 10 tips for increasing your fan base that I talked about on my radio segment here. Please feel free to pass these on. Leave any ideas you have in the comments section!

 
1.      Ask fans to leave reviews of your books on Amazon, Goodreads, and Facebook. One way to do this is to offer an incentive. Have a giveaway and make leaving a review one of the ways to enter.

2.     Team up with other authors to create an anthology. For example, below is an anthology of short stories that I put together with 9 other authors. In this way, we introduce our fans to each other and each increase or fan base.


3.     Get fans involved. Ask fans to create their own book trailers, character spotings, or fan art. Even just pictures of themselves reading your book. Post them in a section on your website. I’d have to figure out an appropriate way to do this since most of my fans are underage.

4.   Think of places where you can donate your book. Places with waiting rooms etc. I donate a couple of copies of Queen Bee to a dance studio near my house. Doctor’s offices, hospital waiting rooms, retirement homes, local coffee houses, motel lobbies. 

5.     Create a separate ebook that is just the first 10 chapters or so of your book and give that away for free. Make sure on the cover it says something like ‘free sample’ or first 10 chapters only. Make sure there is a link to the full book at the end of the sample. Right now, book 1 of Priscilla the Great is perma-free and it is doing pretty well. I’m considering changing this and going to the sample method. Below is an example of how James Patterson does it.


6.     Reach out to the city where your book is set. Contact the newspaper of that city, donate some copies to the libraries in that city. Do a target facebook ad for that city.

7.    Add book club style discussion questions to the end of your book and use this as a selling point to book clubs. Seek out book clubs, local ones so you can do in person visits and online ones as well.

8.     Go out and find your readers. Sit down, think about your book and the kind of people who read your books. Write down the top ten sites people who would read your book visit. Start visiting those sites and figure out how to become a part of them. If it is a forum, become a part of the community through relevant posts. Don’t just promote your book. If it is a blog, ask to do a guest blog. For other sites, think about buying an ad for that site.


9.    Find your super fan. A super fan is anyone who is so excited about your work that they have initiated contact with you. Use their enthusiasm to draw in other readers.  Give them a coupon code to pass on to their friends. Ask them for a testimonial to put on your website. Ask if they would like to lead a book discussion or interview you for your website. Ask if they would like to start a fan club for you and give it a cute name.

10Diversify. Create linked materials. For example t-shirts. I’m taking it a step further and creating a iPhone app for my Priscilla the Great series. I’m also considering doing dance bags for my Queen Bee series. Hopefully, by the gift season, I’ll have a package to sell with the first three books of the Queen Bee series in a dance bag for a special price. Or maybe a backpack for the PtG series.

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