Friday, September 22, 2017

Happy Book Birthday, A Vampire's Tale!

Six months ago, Tirgearr Publishing released my second paranormal romance novel. To celebrate, Writer Marketing Services has organized a month-long Birthday Bash Blitz! Check out all the stops listed at www.MayaTylerAuthor.com.

A Vampire's Tale is a story about a story. This particular tale belongs to Corgan Halton, a vampire set to disprove Hollywood’s misconceptions about vampires, before he ends his existence. He selects Marisa Clements—an aspiring, paranormal author—to write about his life. With Corgan’s ability to see the future, he knows Marisa will be involved in his death and his presence in her life will place her in grave danger. 

Why a Book about Vampires?

It all starts with an idea. Before writing A Vampire’s Tale, I had never considered writing a vampire book. Why now? Like my character, vampire Corgan Halton, I find the Hollywood vampire, re-invented over and over is, at times, unbelievable and inconsistent. Still, we are fascinated with each interpretation. Hollywood has definitely romanticized vampires. I think the allure, the attraction, is the flirtation with danger. If you think about what a vampire is—undead, blood drinking, human killing machine—romance really doesn’t come to mind.

Like any tragic hero, a vampire’s back story is what fascinated me. And I wondered. If vampires were real, what would they really be like?

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Friday, September 15, 2017

What you need to know about SEO by @mayatylerauthor

Writing books is only part of an author’s job description. The writing—most authors would agree—is the fun part, and the book promotion is decidedly not. After experiencing the mental exhaustion of pouring heart and soul into my book, how am I going to find readers to buy it? The answer? I’m always on the lookout for the latest trends in book marketing and promotion. And, it turns out, book promotion is another area I can stretch my creative wings.

What is SEO and why do you need it? SEO, search engine optimization, is the way to get content in front of your target audience. If you have a web presence, you need to read this article.

SEO is an art and a science. There are two main steps: 1. Produce good content; 2. Promote that content. You can have the best blog post / book / website out there, but if you don’t promote it strategically, no one will know. Likewise, you can heavily promote inferior content and risk losing readers / followers. Think quality over quantity.

Content is King

An effective website, or webpage, contains quality content focused on the user’s intent. When creating content, remember word count, keyword distribution, internal links, and headers affect search rank. Choose your topic selectively. Focus on a subject you are an authority on. It establishes your credibility. Aim for a target length between 300 and 1900 words, using concise sentences. Contrary to past trends, readers seek long-form content as long as it’s applicable to them. Engage with your audience. In addition to the “why” and “how-to” posts, using lists, quizzes, infographics, and videos are popular ways to create engaging content. Create content with a keyword in mind.

The Key to Keyword Selection

Use tools like Google Adwords to determine the analytics on potential keywords and related synonyms. Also, consider exploiting knowledge of important (and similar) topics and themes to increase your readership. Use your keyword in the title and the first sentence of your first paragraph. Use your keyword in the metadata title—the highlighted text in a search engine result—and in the metadata description—the text which describes your website. Target keyword density, the percentage of times the keyword appears in your content compared to the total number of words, between one and three percent.

Don’t Forget Formatting

Content structure—which affects search rank—is (almost) as important as the content. Eye tracking studies measure user experience signals where, and for how long, people look on a webpage. In the eight-seconds you have to grab your reader’s attention, it’s crucial to know where they will look first. Use the real estate above the fold—the space you can see before scrolling down—for your most valuable content, and use headers to break your information into easy-to-read chunks. Use white space strategically, and don’t use banners as previous overuse has led to the phenomena called ‘banner blindness.’

You’ve invested in producing quality, well-structured content. Is that enough? What other factors affect search rank? Site speed. A faster site tends to rank higher than slower sites. You can use tools like Google PageSpeed Insights to rate optimization and receive recommendations. Social signals. These include the number of shares and tweets.

Now to put my new-found knowledge into practice!

References:
Agius, Aaron. (2015, December 24). “It’s Time to Rethink Your SEO Approach for 2016.” Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/253288 on 2017, June 27.

Cain, Kevin. (2012, August 29). “How to Optimize Content When You Don’t Know Jack about SEO.” Retrieved from http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2012/08/optimize-content-when-you-dont-know-seo/ on 2017, June 27.

Dragilev, Dmitry. (2016, May 11). “Six Top SEO Factors in 2016.” Retrieved from http://www.marketingprofs.com/articles/2016/29906/six-top-seo-factors-in-2016 on 2017, June 27.

Patel, Neil. (2014, April 16). “8 Powerful Takeaways from Eye Tracking Studies.” Retrieved from https://www.quicksprout.com/2014/04/16/8-powerful-takeaways-from-eye-tracking-studies/ on 2017, June 27.

Si, Sean. “What are Meta Tags and why are they important?” Retrieved from https://seo-hacker.com/what-are-meta-tags-and-why-are-they-important/ on 2017, September 2.


Weiss, Aaron. (2015, December 29). “Trip Through the Google Zoo.” Retrieved from https://www.searchengineacademy.com/blog/trip-through-the-google-zoo/ on 2017, June 27.

Friday, September 8, 2017

My Vampire World by @mayatylerauthor


Originally posted on Megan Morgan as part of my Goddess Fish Promotions virtual book tour.


My Vampire World

I have been fascinated by vampires for a long time. At times, cast in the role of the hero and others, the villain. Vampires are an enigma, a demonstration in contrasts.

My vampire world is consistently full of contrasts. It is filled with darkness, symbolizing death – cheating death through their undead existence, evading death by keeping to the shadows, evoking death of their human victims. We see the darkness. Then, through their eyes, the world is a brilliant and vibrant place. Everything appears sharper, clearer. Their senses, and instincts, are efficiently honed. They have evolved into superior creatures, intent on fulfilling their basic needs, ruthlessly, with a single-minded goal of survival.

My hero Corgan’s pre-vampire life was also focused on survival. His maker Dee rescued him from desolate conditions and bestowed upon him immortality. He saw how strong and vital Dee was, nothing could touch her, not pain, not fear, not death. He wished to gain what she had, but an undead “life” is what she gave him, a life he couldn’t have possibly imagined or desired. He can live undead forever, but he still longs for his human form.

There is a place, within his world, where he can escape, like a dream, where his consciousness goes when he’s resting. His bite is the key to this world and my heroine Marisa joins him there, experiencing what he experiences, an enactment of his human fantasy.

Vampires live alone or with families, nests. Aside from the seemingly chaotic activities of violence and murder, they also have order. Laws. Rituals. Culture. A history which has developed parallel to human existence for thousands of years. A people cannot survive, advance, without some sort of structure. Vampires can offer their protection to humans by claiming them in a ceremony similar to human marriage. Vampire law dictates adherence to this claim, a vampire cannot harm other’s human. But, as in any society, there are those who defiantly choose to live outside the law. And those who choose to rise above their circumstances.

Other supernaturals also exist in this world. Humans with magical abilities like wizards or shifters. Creatures beyond earthly barriers like angels and demons. These different sects are aware of each other, can identify each other, and, for the most part, avoid each other. Some actively seek and destroy supernaturals, like vampire hunters. Most wish to conceal their presence from humans. Some form alliances, like the one between Corgan and his wizard friend Waldor.


A compilation of contrasts. Darkness and brilliance. Life without a soul. A hidden fantasy world. Order and chaos. Collaboration and conflict. My vampire world.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Promo for When Time Is A River by @susancgoldner

On a bench at the edge of the Lithia Park playground, someone is stalking two-year- old Emily Michaelson as she plays with her eighteen-year old half-sister, Brandy. The child’s laughter curves through the sunlight, as if on wings. The stalker is more enamored than ever, but aware of Brandy’s vigilance with Emily, knows a kidnapping won’t be easy. Planning to gain Emily’s trust, the stalker gives her a necklace—little girls love pretty things. A few days later, Brandy and Emily arrive at the park for the Children's Health Fair. When the stalker sees them enter the public restroom, the opportunity is seized.
Not long after Emily's disappearance, Detective Radhauser finds her rainbow- colored sneakers in Ashland Creek, their laces tied together in double knots. Brandy’s father and stepmother blame Brandy for Emily’s disappearance. Radhauser feels sorry for her, but insists she stay out of the investigation. Brandy can’t do that. She is obsessed with finding out who took her little sister, and why. Will Emily be found in time?

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Excerpt – When Time Is A River

I sat on a concrete bench exactly twenty yards from the Lithia Park playground and waited for Emily. For thirty-two days, I’d studied her movements, followed her and Brandy, the teenager Emily called Band-Aid, trying to determine exactly how and when to execute my plan.    
As the sun made its low circuit across a crisp and cloudless sky, I felt grateful to be free again. To be in this place where the air smelled like earth and pine bark.
I opened my leather attaché case and removed my binoculars and The Sibley Guide to Birds. I set the book in a visible spot beside me on the bench, picked up my binoculars and scanned the clumps of rhododendron bushes where Emily liked to hide. She wasn’t there. Shifting the binoculars to the playground, I searched the line of children at the slides, the sandbox and finally found Emily on the merry-go-round.
Brandy ran in circles and sang as she pushed the laughing child. “The wheels on the bus go round and round…” Every time I saw her in the park, she was singing. Sometimes she came alone, brought a guitar and sat by the creek.
Small clouds of dust rose with the beat of her boots on the worn ring of dirt around the merry-go-round. Her long dark and curly hair was tamed on the top and sides by a hot pink cowboy hat and her skirt flowed behind her like a multi-colored banner as she ran. A half dozen silver bracelets made music when she moved her arm. She looked like a gypsy turned cowgirl.
I focused on her bandaged cheek, flinched and looked away. More than anything, I hated imperfection.
When she skidded to a stop and the dust settled, the merry-go-round slowed and my gaze riveted on Emily. As always, she clutched her worn Pooh bear in her lap. I adjusted the lens on my binoculars until Emily appeared close enough to count the grass clippings on the back of her neck. I imagined the toddler turning somersaults on the newly mown lawn—the legs of her red corduroy pants rising up over the plump soft flesh on her calves. I tried to steady my breathing. Alive with secrets and desires, I no longer cared what the dark-suited doctors said. They never understood my needs or my dreams. Why should I swallow their pills to escape them?
Emily rested her chin on the merry-go-round’s safety bar. With her legs dangling over the side, she looked like an illustration in the storybook, Snow White. A tiny flawless princess—so brightly lit from the inside that I imagined sunshine, rather than blood, filled her perfect veins. When the spinning finally stopped, she stood and jumped.
“Be careful,” I whispered as I set the binoculars aside.
Emily’s hair flew up, then fell back over her forehead—sunlight rippling through the red highlights in her dark curls. In midair she flashed a smile, then landed on her feet, giggling over her shoulder as Brandy chased her around the playground.
A flutter of panic rose in my throat. Brandy was so vigilant. But even careful people make mistakes.
Emily’s laughter soared through the air and the two of them passed so close to me I could have reached out and touched Emily. Then the toddler turned and ran back toward the merry-go-round. As she passed by the bench where I sat, she paused and waved at me.
Happiness swelled my chest. The dream of having this particular little girl pulsed through my veins like a mind-altering drug. It aroused every nerve in my body until even my fingertips throbbed with expectation.
Brandy scooped Emily up in her arms.
She was so pure and innocent. All I needed to do was gain her trust and the rest would be easy.
I pulled the necklace from my pants pocket and smiled as I studied the garnet heart set between two diamonds.
Little girls love pretty things.

 What Early Reviewers Are Saying

Kathy Elliot***** I received an advanced copy of Susan's Clayton-Goldner's "When Time is a River" for review. This review reflects my honest, unbiased opinion.
Another masterpiece has been created. Again, I could not put my laptop down, even carried it into the kitchen while cooking. Detective Radhauser is the man I want solving my case should I ever need a detective and Brandy is the daughter every mother wishes she had raised. The humaness of all of Susan's characters, I believe, is one of the many reasons I am intrigued by her books. And in today's very narcissistic political climate it's so refreshing to read about characters who actually care about others and the greater good of society.

A great mystery indeed, with an ending I could never have surmised. The emotions of each character during crisis seemed authentic and believable. A poignant characterization of schizophrenia and bi-polar disease allowed the reader to understand, without bias, the faulty thinking that occurs in mental illness. I am anxiously awaiting the third book in this series.

Linda Willer ***** I received an advanced reader's copy of this book directly from the author in exchange for an honest review. As with the last two books I read by Susan, I am always amazed at the writing and how something I would take 10 sentences to describe she can do in one and you have a clear picture in your mind of character, time, place and feelings. I love her work and I love this new series (hope it is more than just a trilogy!!!!!) Many have reviewed the plot, telling the story so I won't go over the plot again. I read a lot of series. The protagonist becomes a friend. You live their lives day by day with them. Sometimes, you'd rather not!!!! Sometimes, you just want to tell them, "to get over it." What was refreshing about the protagonist in this series is that we learned and felt his sadness and depression in Redemption Lake. It is now four years later and he is very happy. Bringing Detective Radhauser to a happy place was genius. Now the story really is about Emily and Brandy. It left room for a new hero, Band-aid!!!!!!

Debbie ***** Brandy is a very amazing young lady. When Emily disappeared, her whole life changed. What Emily does to find her baby sister will have you on the edge of your seat waiting to see what happens next. This book is so good you won't be able to stop reading it. The author did a wonderful job writing this story. I would give this book a higher rating than a five-star review if I could. I had the honor to review this book for the author for a honest review. The reaction to this book is my honest reaction to the story

Louise Pledge ***** I started reading this at bedtime and was so engrossed, I wanted to read the whole book in one sitting (er laying). However, I'd had a long day and kept falling asleep. I would, occasionally, throughout the night, force myself to wake up and read a few more pages. So, as soon as I woke up, I picked it back up and had to read until I was done. Yes, the story was THAT GOOD! An emotional story (aren't all missing children stories just that?) with a few surprises along the way. It wrapped itself up, nicely, and not "just all of a sudden" like so many things we read. You will adore the heroine, Brandy, and find yourself cheering her on. 

I was intrigued by the cover and found myself wondering what the title meant. It all ties together and makes so much sense, as you read. Highly recommend!


Author Bio

Susan Clayton-Goldner is a graduate of the University of Arizona's Creative Writing Program and has been writing most of her life. Her novels have been finalists for The Hemingway Award, the Heeken Foundation Fellowship, the Writers Foundation and the Publishing On-line Contest. Susan won the National Writers' Association Novel Award twice for unpublished novels and her poetry was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. A collection of her poems, A Question of Mortality was released in 2015. Her novel, A Bend In The Willow, released by Tirgearr Publishing in January, 2017k has nearly 100 reviews on Amazon, averaging 4.6 stars. Her second novel, Redemption Lake, was released in May, 2017 and is averaging 4.9 stars on Amazon.  Her newest release, When Time Is A River is available for preorder at half price and releases on September 6, 2017.

When she isn’t writing, Susan spends her time making stained-glass windows and quilts. She says those two activities are similar to writing—telling stories through glass and fabric.