Monthly Archives: February 2015

You Want Me To Do A Book Signing?

Congratulations!  Your book is now in print and your publisher wants you to do what? A book signing? Okay. I mean, how hard can it be?

New authors — don’t go into a book signing event unprepared. Here are a few simple, but oh so important, points I learned the hard way:

Too many is better than not enough. If you’re taking your own books to the signing, take a lot. Set out a small supply on the work table and replenish as necessary. (And if a miracle occurs and you do sell out, be sure you have order forms and extra pens available.)

You need a comfortable working space. Arrive early to check out and set up your ‘stage.’ You’ll want a comfortable chair, lots of elbow room, and a clear tabletop space to lay out your books for signing.

One loyal friend is worth their weight in gold. Have someone with you who can direct traffic,
help collect payment, restock supplies, and chat up the fans while they wait their turn for some one-on-one time with the author. And take photos. Always capture your events in pictures.

Everyone likes free stuff. Readers are no different. Encourage them to share your information by having little extras on hand, things like bookmarks, business cards, flyers, brochures, pieces of wrapped candies, or other simple giveaways. Getting your name and your book’s name out there is critical. Some authors even hold drawings or contests and offer prizes for the winners.

A reliable pen may save your life. Have several reliable pens on hand. Colored ink is great, IW Front Coverbut reliable is more important. There’s nothing uglier than when your pen runs dry in the middle of an inscription or in the middle of your signature, and then you try to match the ink and overwrite. Did I say reliable? I personally prefer a ballpoint pen, one with a heavier stroke rather than a fine line. And blue ink, so it stands out from the black print.

Decide where to sign. Some authors like to write on the title page since that’s where their name appears in print. This is great if you’re penning a “To ___” and leaving a signature. Most books published today offer a blank page near this front. I find this to be a perfect place for longer inscriptions.

(Imperfect Wings, Book 1 in The Imperfect Series, now available on . Look for Book 2, Imperfect Trust, coming Summer 2015.)

A person’s name to him or her is the sweetest and most important sound in any language. Dale Carnegie has it right. Many readers expect you to personalize an inscription in the book they purchase. Even if you are 100% positive how to spell a name, have them to confirm the spelling. And then use their name when you thank them.

The all important inscription.  What you pen on a book flap is as important as what appears between the pages. Your impromptu handwritten message is a reflection of you and deserves the same professional attention you gave your book.

I like to take short lines from my book being purchased. I might change them a little, personalize them for the reader. I also keep two or three signature phrases available. These come in handy when someone purchases multiple books and want different inscriptions for each one. Here are a few of my favorite short inscriptions: All my best, Thanks much for reading my book, I wish you peace and joy, All my best, and May God’s blessings be upon you.

I recommend you write out these messages a time or two before the event. Longhand isn’t common anymore, so we have to think about forming a word on paper. In typing, the brain visualizes whole words. Not so when the hand holds a pen. We actually have to think through the spelling and formation of letters when we write. Practicing your inscriptions ahead of time will develop familiarity, muscle memory, and that all important hand/brain connection. And help you avoid bungling the message—or (akkk!) misspelling a word.

Also, make sure your signature is legible because, believe it or not, some readers like to show off their autographed copy. Make sure they can tie what you sign to the name printed on the book cover.

Capitalize on connections.  Just as readers connect with the characters in a book, they also get a kick out of acknowledging a connection with the author. Make your inscriptions personal whenever possible. To my good friend and neighbor, Shirley. To my sweet co-worker, Donna. Thank you to my dear fan, Barry.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. Interact with your fans. Have fun with them. Chat with them so they can see you’re a real person. And be sure to thank them – for buying your book and reading it. Ask them to consider leaving a review on Amazon (or Goodreads, etc.) if they liked it. Make sure they pick up one of your handouts with your contact information (Facebook Twitter, email, website, etc.), and ask them to let you know what they thought of the book. Encourage them to share the book with others, or recommend it for purchase. The more buzz you can manufacture the most interest in your book you’ll create, and we all know how powerful word of mouth can be.


IN SEACLUSION: Tips from a Savvy Cruiser, Part VIII – The End

Read about the final heroine in the The Love Boat Bachelor at Write Integrity: Chapter Eight Port of Call: St. Maarten

We’d love to know which chapter you liked best. You can vote for your favorite heroine starting Wednesday at noon on February 4th  through end of the day on Friday, February 7th. The creator of the heroine receiving the most votes gets to pen the final chapter of the book.

Find out who wins Brent’s heart! The Love Boat Bachelor is set to release on Valentine’s Day (February 14th), and for a limited time you can download the complete novella for FREE from (February 14-17). Thanks for sharing out journey!

Weight Gain 2So you gained a little weight. So you got a little too much sun. So you have a suitcase full of dirty clothes. So you bought too much stuff and now you can’t figure out how to pack it all.

As all good things do, cruises come to an end.

Tip 1: A day or two before the last day, you’ll receive legal documents to fill out for reentry into the United States. The Cruise Director will likely give a talk on the last sea day and walk you through the process. Most cruise lines also provide a looped television program with detailed instructions.

Baggage TagsTip 2: Your cabin steward will provide bag tags for your luggage. These come with a number that specifies your Zone Departure number.

Tip 3: The night before the ship is due to dock, you’ll be asked to pack and leave your bags outside your stateroom door. They’ll be collected sometime during the night and staged in the customs area on the dock for inspection. Anything you do not set out, you are responsible to transport yourself. No porters available on the ship.

Tip 4: The ships typically dock early in the morning. This allows current passengers to disembark, cabin stewards to clean the rooms, and new passengers to board before the late afternoon sail time. It’s a well-oiled process. Follow directions.

Bags in hallwayTip 5: If you plan to set all your luggage out the night before – REMEMBER TO KEEP A CHANGE OF CLOTHES and any needed toiletries for the morning!

Tip 6: For those who have casino winnings in the casino bank, you’ll be notified to clear your account by a certain time.

Tip 7: If you purchase alcohol while on your vacation, it will be held for you during the course of the cruise. You’ll be notified to either pick it up, or it will be delivered to your stateroom.

Tip 8: On your in-room television, you can access your account at any time. Check it regularly. Don’t wait until that last time to dispute or question a charge. The lines will be long at the Purser’s Desk and the Information Desk.

Tip 9: Be aware that most cruise lines levy gratuities for your stateroom team and your dining team. They deserve it. They earned it. In fact, if they’re really good (as they most often are), we get envelopes from the Information Desk and leave additional tips in cash for them. You can always dispute the standard amount levied, but remember, just like wait staff in the US, these workers depend on tips. It is also customary to tip the Maitre ‘d on the last night. A token, tucked into an envelope, and handed to him when he greets you at the door is how we do it.


Tip 10: The disembarkation (or debarkation) is designed to get current passengers off as quickly as possible. Don’t buck the system – you won’t win. Those who are “Self Assist” (meaning they didn’t put any luggage out the night before and will carry all their stuff themselves) usually get to leave first. Those with morning airline connections come next, followed by afternoon airline connections. All others are usually dismissed by deck. Be patient. Go wait on the Lido Deck. Enjoy a last leisurely breakfast.

Goodbye 2Tip 11: Once you ding your Sail and Sign card in the security kiosk for the last time (yeah, it’s kind of bittersweet), you’ll traipse down the gangway and into the terminal building. There you’ll find and collect your bags (yes, you can get a porter there if you need – for a fee), and queue up in the customs line. It’s a madhouse. Be patient.

Tip 12: If you made arrangements through the cruise line for airline transportation, find your way to the buses. If you need a taxi, find the taxi queue. If you have someone picking you up, the security staff will direct you to the KISS-ride area.

Ship at nightTip 13: Last, but not least, when you arrive back home, take time to bask in the pleasure of your trip. If you had a great time, leave a comment on the cruise line website. (Some cruise lines will send you an email survey soliciting your feedback.) And tell others. Show them your souvenirs and pictures. Share your memories and excitement. Like I said in the first blog, cruising is not for everyone. You either love it or hate it. I sincerely hope you had a cruise of a lifetime!

Bon Voyage!

 P.S. Here are the “Shore Excursions” from The Love Boat Bachelor:

Marji Laine’s blog: E-mail to Roselle: From St. Maarten

Fay Lamb’s Interview with St. Maarten Heroine, Mercy Lacewell

Write Integrity: Voting Now Open YOU Decide the Heroine

IN SEACLUSION: Tips from a Savvy Cruiser, Park VII

Be sure to read the next chapter in The Love Boat Bachelor:  Write Integrity:  Chapter Seven Port of Call: Barbados

What is the one thing common to every conversation you’ve had or heard about cruising? FOOD! That’s right, and I saved the best for last.

Tip 1: You could conceivably eat 24/7 on a cruise ship: Room service, early morning continental Dining 6buffet, full breakfast buffet, brunch, lunch, grills, afternoon tea, tastings, dinner in the formal dining room, buffets in the casual dining room, midnight buffets, pizza 24/7, ice cream machines, dessert bars, salad bars, deli’s, specialty stations, a steakhouse, bars where you can get snacks, a cappuccino bar – you want it, you can find it.

Tip 2: Cruise statistics claim the average cruiser will gain 1-2 pounds for each day of their cruise. Believe it. BUT, once you get past the overwhelming Dining 1gluttony stage of the first couple of days, dial back. I mean, the human body can only process so much! Be reasonable. Figure out what and where you like to eat, and keep the other meals reasonable. Just because it’s right in front of your nose doesn’t mean you have to open your mouth and shove it in. I usually keep my breakfast light—juice, milk, oatmeal, fruit. When I choose an omelet instead, I go lighter at lunch.

Tip 3: My opinion only, but the coffee they serve on cruise ships will take the enamel off your teeth! I mean, wow! Can we say strong? I tend to stick with the juice, milk, or water.

Tip 4: Sodas cost money. If you can’t live with your soda, buy the soda package. You only get sodas at the bars or through a waiter.

Dining 7Tip 5: Speaking of waiters, when you order a drink, they’ll need your Sail and Sign card to charge. (That’s why I recommend a lanyard you can wear around your neck.) Give them a tip. It’s expected. Just add it on the credit card slip. $1-$2 is sufficient, depending upon the amount.

Tip 6: Passengers are assigned an evening dining time (or you can choose “anytime dining”) in one of the more formal dining rooms. (I talked about appropriate dress in an earlier blog.) We love this experience! A 3-course, 5-star dining experience. I mean, for a whole week you geDining 4t to eat Lobster, Shrimp, Chateaubriand, Prime Rib, Ribeyes, Surf & Turf, just about any kind of seafood you can imagine, and some you can’t! And the deserts, oh my. Baked Alaska, Cherries Jubilee, Bananas Foster, Black Forest Cake, Crème Brûlée, and other specially created delicacies. This, I highly recommend.

Legend - Vernon-Andrea-BagusTip 7: When you dine in the formal dining room, you’ll have a team of 2-3 waiters to take care of you. After every cruise we’ve taken, and there’ve been a few, we come away saying the dining room staff was best ever! Wonderful people. Thoughtful, perceptive, friendly, personable, and all focused on you and your dining experience. You want two lobster tails? No problem. Want to substitute something? No problem. Something from the bar or a bottle of wine? They’ve got you covered.

Bon Voyage!

P.S. Here’s today’s “Shore Excursions” connected to The Love Boat Bachelor:

Marji Laine’s blog: E-mail to Roselle: From Barbados

Fay Lamb’s Interview with Barbados Heroine, Lacy Dickinson

Betty Thomason Owens: The Love Boat Bachelor Needs You!

IN SEACLUSION: Tips from a Savvy Cruiser, Part VI

Be sure to check out the next chapter of The Love Boat Bachelor:  Write Integrity: Chapter Six Port of Call: Bonaire

You swiped your Sail and Sign card and they let you through security. Remember that feeling when you first walk on board. It’s a keeper! You find your cabin and inspect everything—from

Carnival Funtimesthe Ship Newsletter lying on your bed, the pocket-sized map that will help you find your way, closets, in-room safe, and the bathroom. Be forewarned. It’s tiny, and the shower is even smaller. And yes, the shower curtain will try to become intimate with you! No worries. You’ll tame it.

So, what’s next?

LifeboatTip 1: There will be a mandatory safety drill. All ships have them. No, you can’t get out of it. Your Sail and Sign card will indicate your Muster Station. (That’s where your assigned lifeboat is located.) Don’t worry. Crew members are strategically located to show you where to go. Be patient, and take the stairs. The drill lasts only about 15 minutes.

Tip 2: Your luggage will be delivered to your cabin and left outside the door. I recommend you take the time to unpack completely because, honestly, once you’ve settled in—you’re home! Shove the suitcases under the bed or in the closet where the life vests are stored.

Tip 3: Go exploring. Use the map provided. Find your dining room. Find the theater. Find the casino, pools, bars, spa, gift shops, library, internet café, the kids camp (if you have kids), the Promenade deck where you can walk the length of the ship without detouring, the Information Desk, Shore Excursion Desk, elevators, and anything else that strikes your fancy.Deck Map

Tip 4: Read the daily Ship Newsletters. Your cabin steward will turn your bed down each night, Bedtimeand will leave the newsletter with the next day’s activities (along with the requisite square of chocolate!). Figure out what you want to do for the next day, where and when the activities take place.

Tip 5: There’s as much or as little to do on a ship as you want. The first few cruises my honey and I took we tried to see and do everything. If that’s you—go for it! We’ve settled down over the years, and now we tend to go into “seaclusion” while aboard. That’s the beauty of sailing. You can do or not do, as you wish.

Activities 1Tip 6: If you’re a sun worshiper, there are pools for just about everyone—a fun park that kids love, and adult (serenity area) where under 18s are not allowed, and just about anything in between. Hot tubs abound, as do lounge chairs. You can find a monstrous outdoor movie screen near the main pool area, where they show poolside movies during the day (kid-friendly movies) and night (more suited to adult tastes). There are bars and grills co-located, too.

Tip 7: For the fitness lovers, there’s usually a small gym with a few pieces of equipment, a walking track (you’ll have to make a lot of laps to build distance), and several sporting-type venues (basketball, shuffleboard, etc. Some offer ice skating or wall climbing – each ship offers something different.

Welcome to BarbadosTip 8: The Cruise Director will give a “talk” on what to expect at each port of call. If you are new to cruising or new to a particular port, I highly recommend you attend these sessions. He gives some really good information about the area, shopping, shore excursions, money, do’s and don’ts, etc. The more information you have, the better your experience.

Tip 9: Onboard activities never end. Games, contests, bingo, demonstrations, tastings, lessons, auctions, sales, trivia, karaoke, sing-a-longs, dancing, drinking, swimming, sunning, eating (more about that tomorrow), and other impromptu get-togethers. They even have a library where you can read, check out books and games, or just find a tiny slice of quiet. There’s an internet café where you can use their computers (for a price), get help from a techie, and/or buy internet minutes if you have your own device (for a price). There’s also a chapel. Short worship services are often offered on Sundays and holidays.

CasinoTip 10: For you gamblers, check out your in-room TV for information about the casino. Sometimes they run different lessons for Blackjack, poker, and other table games offered. Casinos will not open while the ship is in port, only once you set sail and pass the 3-mile maritime mark. In addition to the table games offered (complete with dealers), there are a large number of slot machines. You’ll know when you get the casino because of all the ding-ding-ding, whirring, bells, and yells. And smoke. Hard to miss the smoke.

No SmokingTip 11: Speaking of smoking … there is no smoking allowed in most of the common areas of the ship—dining rooms, eateries, the theater, promenade areas, bathrooms. Mostly, it’s okay outside, in a few of the bars, and in the casino. Since fire is a real concern for any ship, you’ll hear over and over: don’t flick cigarettes over the rail!

Bon Voyage!

P.S. Here’s a few more “Shore Excursions” from The Love Boat Bachelor:

Marji Laine’s blog:   E-mail to Roselle: From Bonaire

Fay Lamb’s: Interview with Bonaire Character, Sadie Graham: