Thursday, January 31, 2013

Inside the Latest Spay/Neuter Campaign in Colima, Mexico

Last Sunday the Colectivo Escuintle, a volunteer organization in Colima, worked with the government to offer a free spay/neuter campaign in Cuauhtémoc, a small town just outside the city. Here are some photos, so you can see what a well-organized high volume sterilization campaign in Mexico looks like. Thank you to Gabriela Alegría for the photos. You can see all 137 photos by clicking on her name.

Here's the building in the town center where the campaign was held. The government paid for the medical supplies. All the workers, including several board certified veterinarians, were volunteers.

Citizens of Cuauhtémoc could bring their pets, and were also encouraged to bring in street dogs and cats. All the animals were carefully documented, weighed, and checked for health issues.

And the surgeons got to work. Though the operating theater was on folding tables, outdoors on the porch of the building, every effort was made to maintain sterile conditions for the surgeries.

Veterinary students helped with preparations, sedating then anesthetizing the animals according to their weight, and assisting in the actual surgeries.

Then a team of volunteers took over, taking temperatures and monitoring each animal in recovery. There were plenty of vets on hand to help out if difficulties should arise, which luckily seldom happens.

After a final checkup from a vet and armed with a page of instructions, owners could take their spayed and neutered pets home again. I'm guessing this is actually a before photo, since they usually look a little groggy on the way home.

March Campaign in Manzanillo

In a week or so, I'll do a whole post about the coming campaign in Manzanillo. For the moment, here's a brief summary: If you'd like to help out with a spay/neuter campaign here in Mexico, please let me know in a comment, or contact Zoe Katsulos. To donate for future campaigns, contact Friends of Pata, a registered US non-profit. Most campaigns in Mexico are run entirely on donations.

There's a spay/neuter campaign coming up in March in Manzanillo, with a full-fledged volunteer humanitourism vacation available. Here's a three-minute video of last year's campaign/vacation. For more information or to sign up, visit The Inside and Out.

I hope you've enjoyed this brief look inside a sterilization campaign in Mexico. I look forward to our conversation in the comments.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Disecting the New Cover Design for Twelve Nights!

Woohoo! Here's the new cover for Twelve Nights!

Following up on the previous post about cover design, here are our thoughts as we came up with this cover.


In Twelve Nights, the main female characters are twins. In the novel, they don't dress like this, and they're not lesbians, and they're not dominatrices... But they do turn out to be a bit devious. We chose this picture primarily because these women are gorgeous! Then we noticed the blouse ruffle and the neck roses, which are a little Elizabethan. Twelve Nights is loosely based on Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. And one is wearing white - in the novel there's the good twin librarian Aggie - and one is wearing black, the novel's bad twin call girl Angela.

The Title Font

The designer had bought the curlicue font on a whim years ago, and now it is perfect for this book! Hopefully the swirliness is reminiscent of Elizabethan times, and might spark a curiosity about the title Twelve Nights for Shakespeare-loving readers. The name font for Carole Remy was chosen to echo the curves of the title, but subdued to the point that you barely notice them. The gray color, rather than black, was chosen to blend the name a little better with the model's scrumptious skin!

The Overall Look

I wrote yesterday about the importance of finding an overall look for your covers. Today, we went through the photos we have for the six covers. Five work fine as full cover photos, no border. The sixth doesn't fit at all, so we're looking for another image for that book. Hopefully, as the books come out, you'll see a cohesive, recognizable design structure. Fingers crossed!

So, please let me know what you think of the cover! As I said yesterday, the point of the cover is to get you to pick up the book. Have we succeeded? Once you're inside, I hope the characters, the story, the humor, and the burn-your-fingers hot sex will keep you reading. But first you have to pick up the book!

Thanks as always for joining me here on the blog! I look forward to conversing with you in the comments.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Confessions About Book Covers

True confession time: When I got the approval copy of the cover for Beauty of the Beast from the publisher, my initial reaction wasn't pretty. The cover photo had nothing to do with the book. The woman on the cover is clearly a 'beast,' and in the book, the beast is the man! She has weird 80's hair, and the book is set in 1950. She looks clinically insane, and in the book she's a respected journalist.

After about 30 seconds of outrage, my brain clicked. Way to go, publisher! This cover will SELL BOOKS. And it did. The paperback sold out in six months, twice as fast as anticipated. At one point, copies of the $6 paperback sold used on Amazon for over $120. Fantasy Impromptu, my second novel, is on sale today for $136.88! Woohoo! I like to think the books sell because they're fun and well-written, but the covers clearly helped get them into readers' hands.

The huge lesson I learned back then is that the cover is only there to get the reader to pick up the book, whether in person in the bookstore or digitally on the Internet. From there on out, it's the author's responsibility to capture the reader with the actual words on the page.

The Cover for Twelve Nights

I forgot that essential lesson over time. I have the rights back from the publishers for my five previously published novels (getting your rights back is a post in itself!), but the covers belong to the publishers. Can't use them! When I started to prepare the first novel for digital re-release, the cover the designer and I created for Twelve Nights was exactly what I wanted and reflected the book perfectly. Trouble is, as Cassandra pointed out in a comment on the previous post, it won't sell. Ooops! Thank you a million times, Cassandra!

The big reveal on the new cover for Twelve Nights is tomorrow. I promise to post it as soon as it's ready, and you can all weigh in on its market potential.

Create a Brand Identity

If you plan to release more than one book, think in advance about the overall look of your first cover. You want to create a brand identity, so that hopefully when your faithful reader sees your next cover, they immediately recognize it as yours.

Using the Beauty cover as an example, you might want to replicate the border, though not necessarily in the same color. You might go with a centered photo, with the title and author name below. You could still use a different title font for each book.

For the new releases, I've decided to go with one main photo on each cover. They're each a little suggestive, but not over the top sexy with abs and boobs. The position of the book title varies to suit the photo, but my name is always at the bottom of the cover. The words Sexy Fun Erotic Romance tie the titles together and serve as a brand identity. At least, that's the plan!

Two Cover Designers

Here are two book cover designers who've befriended me through Twitter. I've checked out their pages, and the covers they design are beautiful and, more importantly, effective.

Generally you can get premade or custom made covers. They cost less than you might think - premade from about $45. If you're not sure about designing your own cover, or don't want to invest in the imaging software, look at the work of several designers and choose someone you are comfortable working with.

So, bottom line. The cover gets the reader to pick up the book. It's marketing, only marketing, and nothing but marketing! Write your incredible, beautiful, beyond words awesome novel, and then put a cover on it that will SELL!

Thanks for joining me here on the blog. I look forward to your comments.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Free Kindle Review Copy of Twelve Nights!

Would you like to read a free Kindle review copy of my soon-to-be-released erotic romance novel Twelve Nights? If you'd like to receive an advance review copy, and please, please, please write a review for Amazon and/or your blog, leave me a note in the comments. I'll add you to the Dropbox list for the review copy. You'll receive a simple link to download the file.

What Makes Me Dance??!! 

The book cover for my erotic romance novel, Twelve Nights!

Thank you Margaret, Katelyn, and Marissa!

A #SexyFun Story

Twelve Nights was super fun to write. After publishing a few of what I felt were character driven erotic romance novels, I decided to beef up my plotting skills. And who's a better plotter than William Shakespeare?! Twelve Nights updates the plot of Twelfth Night, one of my favorite Shakespeare comedies, adding in all the raunchy sex that Shakespeare no doubt would have included were he writing today! If you've never seen or read the play, don't worry, the novel stands on its own. If you love the play, the story is just that much more fun.

Here's the promo

Mix stunning identical female twins with a lonely half-billionaire and his lawyer. Shake well. This rollicking, bawdy coast-to-cost serving of sex and mayhem will make you laugh out loud even as you moan with delight. The ultimate in hot, #SexyFun!

So what do you think? The cover and blurb aren't set in stone yet, since the book isn't officially released on Amazon. Any feedback/ideas will be gratefully received. Be sure to leave me a comment if you'd like a free Kindle review copy. I'm as always looking forward to corresponding with you!



Love, rescue, spay, neuter, adopt out, vaccinate, and have fun with dogs!

In the first post here, Getting Started, I admitted to being a binge writer of novels. I guess I'm a binge writer of blog posts too... Continuing on the list of What Makes Me Dance!

Love, rescue, spay, neuter, adopt out, vaccinate, and have fun with dogs!

A friend and I, Marissa Lepe Preciado, are starting a non-profit organization here in Mexico. Our FB page is Amigos de Perros y Gatos Colima. It's mostly written in Spanish since our main audience is the people of the state of Colima, Mexico, but there's quite a bit in English, and the photos are all fun. We have followers from all over the world, and would love for you to join us.

Rescue and Adopt Out

At the moment we don't have our own shelter, so we support the efforts of other local shelters by posting dogs and cats available for adoption. The adoption rate in Colima is high, and I like to think we contribute through sharing photos with our over 700 friends.

This little fellow was adopted the same day we posted his photo!

Spay and Neuter

We participate in community-wide sterilization campaigns by Colectivo Escuintle Colima and PATA Manzanillo. Together we sterilize over 500 cats and dogs every year. If you would like to contribute or participate in PATA Manzanillo's campaigns, you can visit their US support site, Friends of PATA. There's a campaign coming up in March, and I think you can still sign up to come help out (and vacation on the beach in sunny Manzanillo!) at insideout-journeys-for-your-inner-self-in-the-outdoors.

Taking care of post-op cats and dogs at a recent campaign in Colima.

Have Fun!

The city sponsors dog walks, which we publicize and participate in. Great fun for everyone, and well-attended! At the last walk, a costume event, I think there were over 200 dogs.

This Hulk was my favorite! Isn't he gorgeous! (The green is a harmless food dye.) We took photos to publicize our coming vaccination campaign.

The city also sponsors a dog show at the State Fair equivalent every year. Colimenses love their dogs!

AND, our big news is that we just started an Agility Club for Dogs! We meet every Saturday next to my house, and though we have no professional training, we have tons of fun. If you've every wanted to do agility with your dog, just do it. We cobbled together some boards and bricks, cut up garden hose for open jumps and tunnels, even cut down an old headboard for a solid jump. We got our ideas from YouTube.

You can do it! It's really fun!

So there's where we are with animal rescue support. For lots more details and photos, check us out at Amigos de Perros y Gatos Colima. Are you a member of a rescue site or do you just love animals? If so, please follow us here or on Facebook! I look forward to reading and responding to your comments!

Hugs always,


Suzanne Johnson and Susannah Sandlin - My Amazing Friend!

The last two weeks have flashed past. Sorry I haven't posted. I took my own advice from the first post, and have been pondering what to write about on this blog. That led to the list at your left - What Makes Me Dance!

So honoring the list, I'll write first about an amazing writer friend, and invite you to get to know her better.

Suzanne Johnson aka Susannah Sandlin

I've known Suzanne/Susannah for years. We were in a writers group together before she became famous, and it was clear from the start that she has 'IT.' She writes urban fantasy as Suzanne, and paranormal romance, quite a bit steamier!, as Susannah.

We recently reconnected, and she's been mentoring me as I step into the world of e-book publishing, kind of like the master vampire and the newby! Here are a few places you can get to know her better.

Suzanne's FB page
Susannah's FB page
Suzanne`s web page/
Susannah's web page
Suzanne's Amazon page
Susannah's Amazon page

Suzanne Johnson's books are Royal-Street and River-Road, both set in post-Katrina new Orleans. You feel the grit and despair as a backdrop to the high stakes paranormal games!

Susannah Sandlin's books are Omega-The-Penton-Vampire-LegacyAbsolution-The-Penton-Vampire-Legacy, and Redemption-The-Penton-Vampire-Legacy. They're set in rural Alabama, which is extra fun for me since I lived there for awhile.

Suzanne has agreed to write a guest post here soon. If you have questions for her, let me (and her) know in the comments. I hope my affection for this lovely lady has come through in this post. The huge bonus is that she's also an incredible writer, and I highly recommend every one of her books as a delightful, engrossing experience.

Hugs to you all! I look forward to conversing in the comments,


Monday, January 14, 2013

Getting Started

Back as a kid and young adult, I love writing but decided that I wanted to live first, and then have something to say. Forty sounded like about the right age to start. Who knows if it was serendipity or intention, but at around forty, I did get the unstoppable urge to write. I started with poems, then decided after a few months to try to write a novel.

The writers' group I was in at the time advised me to set a schedule, to write every day or at least once a week at a set time. I tried. I really tried. I wrote about a chapter a week, and the book (never published) felt boring even to me. Then three things happened that catapulted me into a novel writing future.

Three Serendipities

I’d always been a huge fan of Georgette Heyer, legendary Regency romance novelist. I found a copy of her biography in a used bookstore. Turns out she didn’t write on a schedule at all. Whew! At the moment of reading her bio, I became an open, acknowledged, and ultimately successful binge writer.

Second was that I read Anne Rice's erotic trilogy written under the pseudonym A. N. Roquelaure. The sex was a little extreme for me, but the idea that a respected, even idolized, writer would publicly write erotica energized an unexpected impulse for me. I'd always liked sex a lot, and now it felt like I could write about it. Woohoo!

The third serendipitous event was the release of the movie Pretty Woman. I loved that movie! That it was a modern retelling of an ancient fairy tale felt like light bulbs going off in my head.

Writing the First Book

About a week before Spring Break (I was an English teacher at the time), I had a dream one night of a modern fairy tale told as a novel. The dream was complete down to the chapter breaks. I dream-realized that I had two choice: go back to sleep, or wake myself up completely and write down the whole plot. I woke up and wrote brief summaries of about 30 chapters of what became my first published novel, Beauty of the Beast. If you know a little about the Law of Attraction, you are probably saying to yourself, inspired action! Yes. 

That Spring Break, I told my daughters that I was going to try to write a novel, and please not to interrupt me unless the house was burning down. They were old enough and comfortable enough with my eccentricities that they just went about their lives, and brought me in a peeled banana from time to time. Seven non-stop days later, the first draft of Beauty was complete. From there it went through half a dozen edits, then got shipped out to ten potential agents. Long story short, one year almost to the day after finishing the first draft, Beauty of the Beast was in every Barnes and Noble in the United States.

What’s the takeaway?

Okay, true confession, in another life, I’m a blogger for the Law of Attraction. Here’s how the LoA worked for me way back before it was ‘invented.’.

Takeaway 1: Intentions do manifest. At exactly the age I naively thought I’d be ready to write, guess what, I was ready to write.

Takeaway 2: Find your own version of the flow, and everything will work. Writing by somebody else’s rules didn’t work. Writing what and when and how I wanted, produced a happily published book with what felt like little effort.

So for beginning and long-time writers alike, I’d remind you of two things: believe in your intentions, and honor your personal work style.

What is your personal process? I’d love to hear your story of beginning to write. What advice do you have for aspiring or beginning or publishing authors? Please share!