Top 10 Awkward Moments At My Bookstore Signing

Three Simple (and Surprisingly Cheap) Ways to Promote Your Book

If you’re an indie author, chances are you spent most of your budget on your proofreader, editor, cover designer and maybe a branding expert. So, if funds are low, how are you going to afford to promote your book?

Have no fear, cheap ways are here, and I’ve tried them all.

I used these techniques and found within six months of trying them all that my monthly income had increased by 300 percent. They all took very little time to set up, and were worth the investment, because they brought me a profit. Before you try any of these, though, I caution you that they will only work if you had your book properly edited by a professional, your cover is eye-catching and designed by someone who recently took a course (cover trends change yearly!) and if you have a website, a Twitter account, and a Facebook Author page set up. Once you’ve done that, you can implement these techniques.

1. Tweet about your book. Use Booklinker.net to set up a universal link to Amazon, so that no matter what country your potential customer is from, it will lead them directly to their Amazon store. You can also add beautiful promotional photos to your tweet with using Canva.com

2. Ask any followers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to send you photos of themselves with your book. You can offer them a free copy of your next book, or if you aren’t sure when that’s going to happen, a complimentary second copy for their friend. Then post them on your most followed form of social media. Readers love interacting with authors, and this gives you lots of great, free photos to share around the web. You might want to set up a special folder in Pinterest just for these photos. You can integrate this idea with a Rafflecopter (Rafflecopter.com) which engages your Facebook and Twitter followers and gets you new readers to sign up for your mailing list. Mine was the most expensive technique on this list, but I got over 200 new and engaged subscribers in a few weeks.

3. Set up a Kindle Countdown Deal or Free Book Deal and then do a paid promotion to announce the deal via Bargain Booksy or its sister company Freebooksy for your first deal day, and for later days in the deal, Book Sends, Fussy Librarian or, for those in the UK, Book Hippo, which is free!  I know, it seems wrong to put the book you spent so much time writing down to 0.99 or even free. I fought against the concept for months, but when I finally did a free book deal for my first book, and then advertised that it was free using Freebooksy, I made back all the money I’d spent having my second book professionally edited. You do need to spend some money in this business to make money. Once you leap and give it a try (baby steps at first, don’t break the bank!) you’ll be amazed at the results. You’ll have a higher ranking in the Amazon charts for a while, so more readers will learn about your book, buy it, sign up for your mailing list (especially if you’ve mentioned the mailing list at the end of your first and second book) and more reviews, which will result in even more sales. It takes time to build momentum, but it does all work like dominoes once you promote your first book for a low price, or free.

You needn’t put your book in Kindle Unlimited (exclusive to Kindle) just to get it free – there are ways around that so that you can put your books on Kobo, iBooks etc. – and everyone writes about this  (price matching) so I won’t cover it here because it’s a long drawn out process. I am exclusive to Kindle and it’s working very well for me, but you can still put your book to $0 for a few months via price matching, and see if that results in more reviews and sales of your other books.

It’s all an experiment, and the industry is changing every month, and so I would suggest that you spend very little on these simple ideas and on any paid promotions at first, but do dip your toes in the water, and gauge how they perform for you over time.  Then, if you’ve found success, use part of your profits to advertise some more.

Good luck, and don’t forget to keep on writing! Even just 50 words a day is better than nothing.

Heather

 

 

On “Going Commercial” – And Loving It.

I’ve just been invited by Amazon Canada to be an Amazon Influencer. This means that I get my own website at Amazon.ca to display all of my books (finally!) and I can recommend products to you there as well. As one reader put it, “You’re going commercial?”

You bet I am, but I’m not doing anything differently with my online presence than I have been for many years. It’s just that a large corporation finally noticed that what I have to say (of my own volition) to my followers may be useful to them. If that’s what some call “going commercial,” I say bring it on, bring it big or go home broke. I’m not doing anything I’m not proud of; in fact, I’m really excited about this, because I’d already been plugging books and products in my Instagram/ on Twitter and YouTube for two years without even realizing it. Now I’ll just be earning a small percentage per purchase when I point readers to books and products that I already use and love.

I’ve always been a writer for the love of writing, and if I can find ways to do what I’m passionate about every day, stick to my morals, and still make a decent living in the 21st century as an author? Then “going commercial” is something I’m darn proud of.

The best part is, this is one more way that I can prove to those of you who aspire to become authors that, yes, Virginia, we CAN be wealthy writers! Very few can make a living that will sustain a whole family simply by writing books (especially if you don’t have over ten published books out yet). We can, however, make a decent salary for ourselves as writers if we think outside the box and do more than just write books. We have to consider selling those books as ebooks, paperbacks, audiobooks; selling the rights to adapt those books into films; speak about our lives as writers and get paid for that, and use social media to gain more interested readers, which gives us leverage in making business deals with corporations and organizations that we respect.

I started out as a poet, first published at age five, and decided to become a writer then and there. At the time, I didn’t realize I was headed into a profession that would pay me very little (even as a trained journalist) for coming up with fresh ideas and stories out of thin air. It didn’t make sense to me: why are writers so undervalued, when people who catch footballs and run with them earn $5-20M a year?

Reality sunk in quite quickly in my twenties when I began sending out story ideas to magazines and learned I’d be paid two to forty cents a word for my work ($1/word for the top magazines) and that the average author in Canada makes $6,000 a year. For some crazy reason, though, I kept on writing. I think the reason is called passion.

I’ve since made it my mission to be transparent with followers who tell me that they want to be authors, too. I try to remind you that it’s going to be challenging, but not impossible, to make a living doing this. I only started making a good profit at writing fiction two years ago. It started out as what I called “skate money” to buy my daughter skates, but soon my earnings became “vacation money,” and I was able to buy a $500 daybed for our backyard, several lovely vacations for our family and I paid many bills (or as my husband Bill likes to joke about it, “Pay Bill.”). While my book income continues to grow, I wouldn’t be able to handle the mortgage payments on my own, plus saving for University for our daughter, plus all of our yearly expenses, without the help of my spouse’s income. I can’t sustain my family in 2018 on my author earnings. Yet.

And that’s why I’m going commercial. Plus, I love online shopping. I love avoiding traffic and crowds and shopping in my luxurious grey robe. Now, when I’m not writing my next novel or working on getting the last one adapted into a movie, I get to buy dresses, purses and shoes and tell you what I think about them? Yes, please!

Check out my new Amazon Influencer Link and please use it whenever you want to buy one of my books or audio books. It will be much appreciated.

Thanks for taking this journey with me,
Heather

Heather Grace Stewart
Shopping online is my second favourite way of doing it. I most love shopping at outdoor markets, buying flowers and hand-crafted decorations for our home.

It Never Goes Away.

I’ve been so excited this past week, I can barely eat, sleep, or —now this isn’t normal for me —write!  I know it’s because I’m artistically exhausted. I just completed the long and arduous task of putting together an anthology of poems titled Caged: New and Selected Poems.

Don’t get me wrong – the task was not without joy! It’s a unique arrangement of photographs and new and selected poems published over the last 25 years of my career, and it was created with the help of an amazing team, including editor Jennifer Bogart and book and cover designer Jo Clendening. Writing, taking the photos and even putting this anthology together—that was the fun part. Now comes the challenging part: getting it out there into the hands and hearts of poetry readers around the world.

It never goes away: that nervousness in the pit of your stomach the week before a book release. Will anyone want to read it? What if the reviews are horrible? And this one – this one will be familiar to many aspiring and long-time authors – What if this is the last good thing I ever write?

Experience has taught me that people do indeed want to read my works, and that sometimes some of the reviews are indeed horrible. I’ve learned not to pay much attention to those if they don’t offer me solid advice on becoming a better writer. I won’t let trolls or nastiness stop me from allowing my creative juices to flow. Creativity makes my life more colorful and meaningful. Besides, there have been many great reviews, and even a couple bestselling novels. I try to focus on those positive achievements, while still giving myself room to improve and grow as an artist. Tantrums happen with setbacks and frustrations (come on, I’m an artist!) but I finish those as fast as I can, and move along. Wayne Dyer once wrote “no one is going to ruin this Christmas, especially not me,” and I try to live my writing career like that. It’s a privilege to get to do what I do. I try to remember that every day.

I’ve also learned that as soon as I launch one book, if I take some time to chill and relax into all that’s creative within and around me, something new and beautiful always starts brewing. So far, each new project has been quite different. I like to think I’ll still be writing and taking photos at 88, but we’ll have to wait and see. The official count stays at 12 books and a digital screenplay —for now!

You can check out CAGED: NEW AND SELECTED POEMS on Kindle and on Amazon worldwide and Bn.com It’s available in three different formats, and ready to pre-order at a reduced price on Kindle until Nov. 10!  You can also pre-order the color hardback copy (it has already charted as the #3 Most Gifted Canadian Poetry Book on Amazon.ca! Wow! Thanks, lovely readers!)

The official launch date for the book is November 10, and that evening, you’ll find me on my Facebook Author page, doing a live video to say hello, raise a glass, and thank you for reading. Let’s say 830 EST. I may do an earlier one for my overseas pals if time permits that afternoon.

Copies of the color hardback edition of Caged arrived at our home this afternoon. And guess what? The goosebumps and elation you feel when you hold one of your publications in your hands for the first time? That never goes away, either.

Maybe, now, I can finally sleep.

love,

Heather

THAT’S The Ticket!

Wow! THE TICKET has a few recent reviews which have made me grin and do a little Heather dance — always fun, passionate, but never graceful.
THANK YOU so much, dear readers, for reading, sharing, hashtagging, and for reviewing! You’ve helped make The Ticket a #1 Kindle Bestseller. Now, let’s make it a national paperback bestseller! You can order it on Amazon and Bn.com, or get a signed copy from me at Chapters Pointe Claire, QC on Sept. 17th. Thanks again.
xox Heather
****
AMAZON REVIEW
M.L. Stockwell

This is the most enjoyable book I have read in a long time. I fully intend to read more books by this author and I would recommend her books to everyone.

GOODREADS REVIEW:
Sep 08, 2016
Melanie rated it: It was amazing
I was recently introduced to Heather via a mutual Facebook friend, who described her books as “new works of art”. It took a second for the implications of that to sink in (I blame the picture of Justin Trudeau that this was all posted with), but then it dawned on me–a REAL-LIFE, PUBLISHED AUTHOR?! This is like, Nerd Girl Heaven for me now, talking to a REAL-LIFE, PUBLISHED AUTHOR! So with all of the tact of one who spends far too much time lost within the pages of a book and not nearly enough time actually talking with people, I demanded that Heather tell me all about her books–what did she write, what should one read first–you know, all of the “put her on the spot” type of questions, thrown at her all at once, with a “nice to meet you, btw” added on at the end (as a total after thought) for “charm”.
She was very gracious in answering my questions, which I somehow kept at a manageable number. I loved the way she described what she was going for–“fast fun reads Moms could pick up and put down, and yet they’d be memorable, have deep moments and humor.” Woah–this chick has got it NAILED–that’s exactly what I want to read, at least on occasion, since I am rarely reading less than two or three at a time. When she told me about this one, I jumped over to Goodreads and Amazon and read reviews–she’d told me that she had been inspired by social media story that had become the most viral social media story ever, and I immediately remembered the one she was talking about. The guy, the girl, and the plane tickets.
I remember reading the story a year or two ago–guy buys tickets to take his girlfriend on a romantic trip around the world, and she breaks up with him before the trip, which leads him on a search for a girl with the same name to take her place. I vaguely spending an indulgent, whimsical moment or two imagining just how romantic that could turn out to be, and maybe a bit of disappointment when it didn’t. Fortunately, there’s Heather, whose imagination and pen are BOTH far mightier than mine.
Now, here’s the problem for me in all of this. I have a SERIOUS issue with about 97.5% of chick lit romcoms, because they’re all just, as I call them, “glass slipper bullshit”. I don’t want just perfect, love at first sight happily ever after, and will put a book down and stop reading an author entirely over it. But, what the hell, I figured I’d give it a chance at least. I mean really, what’s a couple of chapters, right?
It was AWESOME, right from the start. It was so very real — it was a lot less like reading a book and curling up with a best friend for some catch up time and a glass or 3 of wine. Allie was just so… I don’t even know. Perfectly flawed? So was Pete, yes, but Allie was a very well-written, relateable character.
I loved this book, start to finish. Sure, it was a little bit of the glass slipper fairy tale, but it was believable. It wasn’t just love at first site and they lived happily ever after, it was a little bit……messy. Like falling in love is. Messy as hell.
P.S–PLEASE let’s have more Trix!! Sassy, spunky, calls em like she sees em and she’s a perfect counterpart to Allie. I LOVED her!

GOODREADS REVIEW

Feb 18, 2016Angela rated it it was amazing  · review of another edition

There are some books that arrive in your hands at exactly the right time; The Ticket by Heather Grace Stewart   is one of those books. When my copy arrived last week, I was in need of a warm, feel-good read with a touch of romance and my needs were amply met by this story.

Lawyer, Allie James, and news anchorman, Pete McCarney meet when he is looking for someone to share an amazing holiday with him after he has been let down badly by his girlfriend, also named Allie James. He has already interviewed more than twenty women of the same name,when he meets Lawyer Allie and decides that she is the one to share the trip.

Both Allie and Pete set out on their adventure with a certain amount of trepidation. Their whirlwind journey is full of excitement, highs and lows and more than a touch of romance.

I have deliberately not said much about the plot, as I would not want to spoil the book for anyone. However, I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed “The Ticket”. The characters came to life and I loved following the development of their relationship. I liked the way the author looked at the situation from both points of view; for me, the “dual narrator” added to the humour and depth of the story.

Thank you, Heather Grace Stewart, for writing a book which is fun and engaging – just the right thing for a bleak winter’s day – or a day in the middle of summer, for that matter.

Pete‘s Goodreads Review (****SOME SPOILERS**** ) 

it was amazing
Read from February 08 to 15, 2016

 

The story follows two very different people, Allie James and Pete McCarney and their coming together following the breakdowns of their individual relationships. Allie is a strong, independent woman lawyer who is still recovering from her divorce from her cheating husband, and is sent on a five week, forced vacation from her law firm. Pete is a successful TV news anchor who had booked a three week, six city tour across the world, only for his girlfriend, also called Allie James to dump him before they travelled.

Not wanting to travel alone, Pete decides to advertise for a travelling companion with the name Allie James and, well you can guess the rest and if you can’t, read the book.

It is clear Allie’s divorce is still a big issue for her and she still holds a huge grudge against her ex and his new partner, which has made her distrustful of men in general. She’s a hardworking woman, but who continually seems to have things happen to her.

Pete on the other hand, has everything; successful career, looks, charm and wit, but the only thing he’s missing is a one true love. It seems an unlikely match with his smooth Gaelic quotes and her foul mouth. Could he really fall in love with someone he’s just met? Even more so with a girl bearing the same name as the one who broke his heart?

What is unique about this book, and I’m seeing it a lot more in books, is that it is written from both protagonists viewpoints. At the start, it just focuses on Allie, but once Pete comes on the scene, the author writes from his perspective too. I know from experience that this is very difficult to do if the viewpoints are from opposite genders. But the author does this very well and the continuity of the story is well balanced and flows exceptionally well.

Obviously, I won’t spoil the book, but there is some sexual content. Usually I cringe when I read stuff like that. Not because I’m prudish or I grew up in Victorian England, but because of the way it is usually written. But in this instance, it is written in a tasteful manner and again, written very well. It is not crude or explicit, but rather leaves some to the readers imagination which, in my opinion is the best way to write scenes like that.

The story is really easy to follow. I am a very slow reader and when I’m reading a book, I always have to have a quick glance over what happened previously so I can continue reading. But this book was very simple to follow; I’d read the last line and remembered instantly what had happened and where I was up to. It’s nothing like these complicated books that take three pages to describe a room and still nothing happens; The Ticket is a page turner and, even though you have a pretty good idea what’s going to happen, it’s how they get got there that keeps the interest going and the pages turning.

Something else that was impressive was the amount of research that will have gone into it. Unless the author has actually been to every place mentioned (and let’s be honest, who would admit to willingly going to Coventry?) she has definitely done some excellent research. Talking of Coventry, it’s nice for once to see an author writing about a different city in England. Almost every book I read from non-British writers who are writing about England, they always inevitably focus on London, like this is the only City we have. This book this use London as a destination, however it’s acceptable in the context of the book.

One part of the book I very much enjoyed was the moment in Prague where it all made sense to Allie and she realised exactly what she wanted. It’s something that a lot of people can relate to, but it takes 14,000 feet in the air with the ground getting ever closer for her to realise it!

I would give this book 9/10. It was very enjoyable and demands a sequel!

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Jennifer Bogart: Create a Community of Author Friends

 

Today I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to feature author Jennifer Bogart as my guest blogger. Jennifer became my friend while editing two of my novels. Besides being a fantastic storyteller and cheerleader for other authors, Jennifer is the mother of four boys. Before you leave this page, be sure to click on the Rafflecopter box at the bottom, That will take you to her blog, where you can enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card! 

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First, thanks to Heather for letting me use her virtual space to talk about Remember Newvember, writing, and finding inspiration. The world is a remarkably great place. Since starting the journey to publication, I’ve met some strangely, incredibly good writer friends, and Heather is at the top of the list. Without the constant support and encouragement, life wouldn’t be the same.

Inspiration for Newvember came from my everyday life. Stuck in routine, happy to exist within a clearly defined space, I struggled – and often still do – to break out of the comfort of familiarity. I discovered that writing is hard work… but not writing is even more difficult. Without the release writing provides, too many chaotic emotions well up and bubble over as suds of insanity. Writing keeps me focused, gives me peace, and provides balance. Most days, I exist somewhere between imagination and reality, since a large portion of my time is spent working on my own writing or editing for others. The hardest part of being a writer is letting others in, taking advice, and recognizing that the work begins after the story is complete.

Marketing, however, is a different beast entirely, and this is where the real work begins. Lately, I’ve tried to make marketing an extension of my creative process. Writing blogs and guest posts, creating worthwhile content and connecting with readers, writers, and other creatives are essential activities because in the end, we have to support each other to achieve success. We’re in this together, for better or worse, and I’m striving to make it for the better. Having author friends, both virtual and in person, transforms the solitary act of writing into one of solidarity. No one understands the depth and passion of the creative mind quite like another artist.

One of the themes that runs through Newvember is friendship – specifically, the different kinds of relationships we need. Not everyone can provide the write right kind of support and encouragement, so it’s important to connect with those who can. Thankfully, I’ve met authors like Heather, who are open, giving, and honest about what is truly involved in the writing process. Sharing resources makes the writing world a smaller, friendlier space.

This post was supposed to be about revisiting Newvember, but it turned into something better… it’s about revisiting friendship – especially the ones that you need most to hold onto your sanity, create a sense of community, and provide inspiration to keep pushing forward in a world that doesn’t always understand what an artist needs.

Jennifer Bogart’s three women’s fiction novels are Remember Newvember, Reflections and Money, Masks & Madness. She has also written two romantic short stories (Under the Stars and Seven Seconds), one serialized novel (Sunny with a Twist of Olive), and one YA fantasy (Liminal Lights published by Morning Rain Publishing).

Visit Jennifer’s  blog

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She’s someone you want in your author community!

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Top 10 Awkward Moments At My Bookstore Signing

Yesterday was a fantastic day, meeting & greeting loyal and new readers of Strangely, Incredibly Good & Remarkably Great.

However, if you think being an author is all glam and perks like sipping free lattes while you sign your books, I have proof of the exact opposite right here in my Top 10 Awkward Moments At My Bookstore Signing List:

10 Heard in one of the busiest bookstores in North America (Chapters Indigo Pointe Claire Quebec)
Me: Are you here for a particular book or could I interest you in mine?

Several customers: Nope. I’m not much of a reader.

9 There were gorgeous, soft, faux fur mittens being sold behind me. People were trying them on all day behind me, and even asking me what I thought. Authors, beware: you’ll spend three years sweating over creating your book series, and end up selling mittens at a high-traffic bookstore.

8 “OMG! It’s Heather Grace Stewart!” My friend screamed this every time she re-entered the store, which she did several times, and ran up to me, arms waving madly in the air. People stopped and stared. I do think it sold a few books, though.

7 My table was decorated in a read-your-book-in-the-bath theme. To the kid who ate my soap: You owe me $2.50.

6 To the guy who took my photo-business-card and then told his buddy, right in front of me, “I’m going to *use* this later tonight.” Ew. Just, ew. I told you to “Just go,” and pointed you to the door, but I wish I’d thrown hardcover books at you. Or my latte down your pants.

5 Facebook Mentions has an option to try Live Video. Facebook, you should call it Can’t Get A Complete Sentence Out Video Because The Connection Is Too Weak. Neat that 2,000 people liked me saying next to nothing while riding an escalator.

4 No, I don’t know where the washrooms are! Well, I do, but I’m sick of telling people because I DON’T WORK HERE!

3 Heard while a line-up formed late afternoon for me to sign box-sets:

Lady at back of line: Is she famous?

Other lady in line: She’s locally famous.

Me: Huh. So now I’m locally famous. Like cheese. Or a small deli. I’m right up there with cheese and smoked meat.

2 I sold out! I sold out! 33 books in three hours! I sold out!

Except, someone who assured me they wanted a signed box set left it unsigned, in Starbucks. Okay, I *almost* sold out.

1 Two female fans licked my face for a photo opp with me.

Yes. Licked. My. Face. Okay, they happen to be wonderful friends as well as fans, so maybe it wasn’t as creepy as it sounds.

Just plain weird.

If this is what being “locally famous” is going to bring, I’m not sure I’m up for it…but I do love cheese. Mmm, cheese.

Heather 🙂

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The Top 7,000 is Fine with Me!

So, I changed my (crazy!) expectations, and it's been working.After working tirelessly for over a year now to get…

Posted by Heather Grace Stewart, Canadian Author on Thursday, November 5, 2015

Readers Are Staying Up Late & Waking Up Early…

Discover the romantic comedies readers can't put down.#Strangelyincrediblygood #58 Humorous Fiction (Kobo) #Remarkablygreat #1 in Time Travel Romance (Kindle UK)http://author.to/hgstewart

Posted by Heather Grace Stewart, Canadian Author on Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Simply FREE.

Simply Free On Kindle Today http://mybook.to/remarkablygreat#8 Amazon Bestselling Kindle Romantic Comedies -Canada#2 Amazon Bestselling Kindle Time Travel Romances-UK#3 in Time Travel Romances -USA

Posted by Heather Grace Stewart, Canadian Author on Thursday, October 15, 2015

Freedom to Read!

I'm in love with writing. I love telling stories through my poetry and novels. I love making you laugh a lot, cry a bit,…

Posted by Heather Grace Stewart, Canadian Author on Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Now Available As A Print!

CANADA! The poem that struck a chord in the hearts of thousands now available as a sticker, framed print, poster, canvas…

Posted by Heather Grace Stewart, Canadian Author on Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Read the Books Before the Movies Come Out!

...SO YOU CAN SAY_ I READ THE BOOKS BEFORE I SAW THE MOVIES._

Thankful For My Readers!

For a week and a half, I had 55,000 people engaged with my posts. It's been one of the best feelings of my life. I don't…

Posted by Heather Grace Stewart, Canadian Author on Friday, October 9, 2015

Writers: Do You Have Rhythm and Flow?

Hi all!
Join me on a 3.5 minute trek along the St. Lawrence River, where I talk about finding your rhythm in writing, using natural elements in your writing to help connect with your readers, and nearly get hit by a truck while vidding (I’m kidding Mum and Dad! Kidding! Promise I’ll never do this again!)

Not this week, anyway. 😉

Writers: Find Your Rhythm

I also have some pretty cool news to share about my third novel, THE TICKET, so check this video out when you can!

Love,

Heather

Marketing: Not My Favourite Thing.

Ugh. Marketing. Just the word sends me running to the fridge for comfort food.

We authors are not built for marketing our books. We need to learn the business, and it’s not an easy one.

I do like interacting with readers online, and I especially love meeting them in person at readings and book signings. But figuring out how to stand out in a sea of millions of other hybrid (traditionally & self published) authors? Yikes. It gives me a migraine.

Yet, I try to spend at least an hour every working day marketing my work. I write every morning, then make business calls and compose or answer emails, and then I take at least one action towards marketing my latest two books. My earlier works? They take a back seat. I can’t do it all. I hope they’ll be discovered when I share a link to all my work online.

One tool that has helped me immensely in marketing my work online and creating printable posters for readings is CANVA.COM It’s so user friendly, and it’s fun! In the last few months, I have made a lot of promotional posts for Facebook, Twitter and even made my most recent book covers with it. It’s free to use your own photos and template. You pay a small amount ($1 each item) if you want to buy the rights to use certain photos and/or designs.

Made this in Canva today:

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Yes, writers write, but we also need to learn to market what we produce, and not just for launch day. We need to speak up and help new readers discover our work. If we don’t (and we don’t happen to have a wealthy publicist who takes us out for a sushi lunch every week- yeah I’m not dreaming at all! ), who will?

Heather

My first LIVE Q&A! Hope to see you tomorrow!

Q&A

Remarkably FREE!

Hey readers, how are things? I’ve been so busy this summer, both playing hard and working hard, and being kept busy with the August 1st release of Remarkably Great. My third novel, The Ticket, will hopefully be out in a few months – more on that later.

Excellent news: Strangely, Incredibly Good is ‪strangely, incredibly cheap today, but reductions like this happen once in a blue moon, so grab your $2.99 copy NOW, and then grab the FREE sequel ‪Remarkably Great but ONLY UNTIL August 26th!

Oh, and a #sigfie #selfie  with SIG or RG would be most appreciated – even if you’re holding up your Kindle! I’d love it! Just tweet or FB post them! Can’t wait!
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“This Book Just Had Me In Fits of Laughter”

“It had me in fits of laughter” “The perfect summer beach read!” “A fun, addictive read.”

Don't Call Me Bae.
Don’t Call Me Bae.
You can preorder it now! Available August 1, 2015 Don't have a Kindle? Order it anyway to show support. then let me know here or at writer@hgrace.com and I'll send the epub for Kobo, iBooks etc.
On sale now!
Available August 1, 2015
Don’t have a Kindle? You can download FREE Kindle reading software for your desktop or smart phone at Amazon.

This Is Remarkably Great!

It’s Remarkably Great release day! Thanks to all my new and longtime readers. Here’s a vid of me doing a brief reading from RG, taken today in our backyard.

You can get the new book here. Reviews and shares on your social media and by word of mouth are much appreciated!

Heather 🙂

Why Deprive Yourself?

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Remarkably Great is available to pre-order NOW on Kindle or order it when it’s launched August 1, 2015! This is a stand-alone story – you don’t have to have read Strangely, Incredibly Good to enjoy its content, but of course reading both is twice the fun.

Prefer print? No worries – you can now order it from Amazon worldwide and Amazon.ca in September. Print copies will be $14.99 plus shipping & handling. You can also order printed copies via Paypal by contacting writer@hgrace.com and making note of your request.

Thanks so much for your interest and support! Please share this post where you can.

Heather 🙂

What Do YOU Think?

I believe Remarkably Great has a new cover: I’m in love!

How do my readers feel about this one compared to the red one with girl on motorbike?

You can preorder it now! Available August 1, 2015 Don't have a Kindle? Order it anyway to show support. then let me know here or at writer@hgrace.com and I'll send the epub for Kobo, iBooks etc.
You can pre-order it now!
Available August 1, 2015
Don’t have a Kindle? Order it anyway to show support. then let me know here or at writer@hgrace.com and I’ll send the epub for Kobo, iBooks etc.

Please vote in comments below.

Yup, Cat is not a blonde, but book covers and movies cast women differently than how they were described in the book all the time. I think the picture depicts Cat and Gene’s passion well….without his shirt cheesily ripped off like 98 percent of the romance novels out there!

Thoughts?

Thanks!
🙂 Heather

Remarkably Great News

Exciting News! You can now pre-order Remarkably Great, the sequel to Strangely, Incredibly Good! Release date: August 1, 2015.

Order it on Kindle with one click here!

Pre Order Remarkably Great

We’re in the beta-reading stage, where I get advice and make slight changes based on comments from my readers. It’s great that through pre-order, Amazon is offering me this chance to get you excited, too!

Please pre-order if you can, and it will make me work even harder to get the book just-right for July. The book will be delivered to your device via wireless on August 1, 2015 and we can all celebrate then!

No plans for print yet. Just too darn expensive, for everyone. Besides, we’re saving trees 🙂

Thanks for sharing in my excitement! (Yes, please share this post!)

Heather

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Remarkably Great is now available to pre-order!

20K Reads for The Ticket!

My work-in-progress The Ticket just reached 20K reads on Wattpad and 1K Likes. THANK YOU!

Considering I’ve only had about 200 reads of my most popular book “Strangely, Incredibly Good” (I mean copies sold – I hope everyone who bought it read it! 🙂 “SIG” has 5K reads of the 3 Chapters I’ve posted on Wattpad) – this kind of validation takes my breath away. I have always written for the sheer joy of it, but also to have my work read, and finally, people are reading. I don’t know if this is a fluke. I don’t know if it’s a “good month.” And yes, I’ve likely lost my mind, giving my writing away for free! (I may not put the entire The Ticket up on Wattpad. Please don’t throw tomatoes at me if that’s what I, or a future publisher, decide).

I just know I’m grateful right now to Wattpad readers who are giving me the ‘thumbs up,’ to keep on writing, even though I have worked my butt off writing 2 and 3/4 novels in 2014-2015 and only made $312 last year (this is NOT a whining session; I’m so damn lucky to have another salary in this household, just wanted to point out the harsh reality for so many hard-working authors & artists living like me).

“It’s not about the money money money,” but it’d be nice to make a small living at this. So I “Don’t Stop Believing,” Here I Go!!

http://www.wattpad.com/user/HeatherGraceStewart

xoxo
Heather

Hold On

Hold On

Wattpad: Wow! My Author Experiment Has Cool Results

Hey guys! So, something interesting is going on with me. Since I started posting this new book I’m writing, The Ticket, on May 1st on Wattpad.com, I’ve now got 7K reads and it’s #14 in Chicklit!

Not sure what to make of all this, but I keep posting the story as I write it, and I’m having a lot of fun as more and more readers are getting excited for the next chapter.

Fellow writers will ask: is it selling books? I don’t know – maybe 5 more Kindle sales since I started this? Not much, nope, but I’m trying to enjoy this journey. It’s certainly more fun to get reader feedback for the many months you’re sweating & breaking your back over writing a book, than to lock yourself away in your office and not hear from your readers for all those months, until it’s published. I like this new way. I hope you do, too.

Please join me on Wattpad if you’re curious, and let me know that you did. Can’t wait to interact with you there.

🙂 Heather

The Ticket-3

#14 in Chicklit on Wattpad.com

7K reads and counting in 2.5 weeks!

Strangely, Incredibly Good Deal For EBook Lovers

 Ebook lovers! Looking for a ‘hilarious’ ‘touching’ ‘page-turner?’ Strangely Incredibly Good is on sale Kindle & Kobo today only (in celebration of Mothers Day) for just $3!
Now is the time to get & read this book if you haven’t yet, because the sequel is on its way!

I also have 9 print-books left here at my home office. If anyone wants a signed copy, I can sign and ship one to you, via Paypal. Let me know if you’re interested with a comment below and we’ll arrange for shipping.

As always, you can get an ebook (in all formats)  or print copy via  Morning Rain Publishing’s website.

Thanks for reading,

Heather 🙂

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Swapping Stories with Author Kate Baggott

My publisher, Morning Rain Publishing, has put together a special deal for Mother’s Day. They’ll gift wrap and ship a copy of Strangely, Incredibly Good in a beautiful canvas tote bag, along with a copy of Dry Stories, for your Mom, or your Mom-friend, your Grandma, even for yourself! – you choose. There are two other versions of that promotion – details are here. 3bundle

Dry Stories is written by my colleague, Canadian author, freelance journalist, writing teacher, and mother of two, Kate Baggott.

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It is a literary compilation of short stories that can be read as stand-alone pieces, or sequentially in a compelling novella. Each story is a letter written to a friend recovering from alcoholism and resonates with the truth of what it is to be human in a naturally disconnected world. It’s received many 5-star reviews describing Kate’s writing as ‘a heartfelt painting of words,’ ‘beautiful’ and “Wow!’

While I love her writing and have enjoyed her Twitter posts, I realized I didn’t know that much about Kate, and I thought it was time to remedy that with a blog-swap: I’m interviewing her on my blog today, and she is interviewing me on her Goodreads blog. Please check out both of our ‘stories,’ and then get shopping!

Kate Baggott

Kate Baggott is a Canadian writer who lived in Europe for more than a decade before returning home. Her work has been published around the world and ranges from experimental fiction to chick lit, and from creative nonfiction to technology journalism. She won the America’s Next Author competition in 2012, Workzine’s Employee of the Month award in 2010, and the Dylan Days Fiction Contest in 2009. She is the author of two collections of short stories, Dry Stories andLove from Planet Wine Cooler. She writes, teaches, consults, and does project management in St. Catharines, Ontario. A mother of two, Baggott holds a BA from the University of Toronto and an MFA from the University of British Columbia. More information about Kate Baggott and Dry Stories can be found on her website, her Facebook group, and Twitter.

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Q&A with Author Kate Baggott

HGS: Dry Stories has had some terrific five star reviews since its release. What famous person would you want to review it if you could get it in their hands, and why?
KB: Angelina Jolie is my fantasy reader and not just because she might buy the film rights! Seriously, I am not up on my entertainment news and I haven’t seen a movie in months, but keeping up with political and international affairs is my forte. Jolie is bravely talking about having her ovaries removed while travelling to Syria to try and spread awareness of how to help people there. There aren’t very many other celebrities, I think, who could get into the Dry Stories themes of parenting, fighting human trafficking and nurturing distant but important human connections all at the same time.
HGS: You lead two six-week writing classes – ‘Have You Got Stories to Tell’ and ‘Nonfiction for Non-journalists.’ Tell me about them.

KB: When I lived in Germany I taught two writing classes to the expat community while I was teaching English as a foreign language for Berlitz and English for Engineering and English for Organic Chemistry at the University of Applied Sciences in Darmstadt. When you are living in a foreign country and learning to speak a non-native tongue, you are forced to confront language as a form of intimacy, a form of community-building. For English speakers, you also have to confront the status of English as a colonial tool and as a tool of oppression. No body wants to be forced to learn a language while no one wants to give up the intimacy or closeness of their mother tongue. I haven’t taught either of my classes since I’ve been back in Canada, but I have been asked to. It would just take a group of six willing participants. That said, it would have a completely different vibe. English is not as precious a resource in Canada as it was for the expats I taught in Germany.

HGS: What do you find the most challenging part of teaching writing?

KB: Teaching writing is a challenge because it is an act of listening. You have to listen to the cadences of your own voice as it is written, to the pauses of the comma, the full stop of the period, the intake of breath as you start a sentence. It is difficult to entice students to take the words on the page and transform it into an act of telling.
HGS: The most rewarding?
Writing, regardless of whether it is journalism, creative nonfiction or fiction, is an act of honesty. Working with students to cut through all the pretty devices we’re taught and getting to the pure story underneath is absolutely golden. ~Author Kate Baggott
HGS:  You’re also a technology journalist. What was, for you, the coolest technology you’ve written about and can you tell us a bit about getting that story? Any fun anecdotes?
KB: Technology journalism is all about trying to explain the most complicated processes in the sparest language possible. The problem is that scientific papers — the source for most articles — is so precise that only other specialists in the field can understand it. Like most writers, I suffer from a condition that requires me to think I am smarter than I actually am. To write about science and technology, I had to learn very early to ask precise and simple questions of specialists. Now I ask immediately what they are doing and why readers need to pay attention.
But, sometimes it is completely and absolutely clear what the breakthrough is and what it means. Watching a video of boy with a prosthetic arm type on a keyboard and move each finger independently was amazing. What that meant for people returning from war zones, for people with birth defects, for people who have been punished by brutal regimes, was immediately clear. ~Kate Bagott

HGS: Ebooks or print books, and why?

KB: Both Ebooks and print books have their uses in different times and places. When I’m travelling for work, I load up my tablet with reading so I don’t have to carry any additional weight. When I am at my leisure and need to slow down with no electricity or light or email notifications, I look to print books. I read print books exclusively before bed and Ebooks exclusively on trains and buses.

HGS: Summer is on its way to Canada (we hope!) Describe an idyllic summer day for Kate Baggott including where you’d go, what you’d see, and what you’d eat/ drink.

KB: These days, I dream of canoeing with my children in the early morning hush. They’ve just reached ages where quiet is a possibility…really, for minutes at a time. It has been a long time since the three of us were away together, but the traditional Canadian cottage on the lake is exactly what we would order up if given the chance. I think I would always associate that with fresh corn on the cob and toasted tomato sandwiches.

Kate, I am so glad we did this story-swap. It’s been fun getting to know you better, and I know my readers will feel the same way. Thanks again for the interview!

Spotlight on Canadian Author: Heather Grace Stewart

Thanks to writer Katherine Krige for featuring me on her beautiful blog, A Writer’s Take. It was a fun interview. Check it out here!

A Writer's Take

Signed with a smile by the author herself Signed with a smile by the author herself – Heather Grace Stewart (Kanata, ON, March 2015)

Have you met Heather Grace Stewart? She is a Canadian poet, speaker, and author of the newly released novel Strangely, Incredibly Good. I have had the pleasure of getting to know her on Facebook and Twitter, and was recently delighted to win a copy of her new book. Yeah for me! It was a lovely Valentine’s present to receive and I flew through the pages. You can find my book review over at A New Day.

As Heather is such a warm individual, I thought I would take a chance and ask her if she would be willing to answer a few questions about her writing. I was thrilled when she graciously agreed to share a few thoughts with me and my readers.

Without further ado, I would love to introduce you…

View original post 1,249 more words

Teach a man to fish…

Give a man a fish-2

Share the Love and Win!

Share this page (using the sharing buttons at the bottom ) and/or your copy of Strangely Incredibly Good with a friend and please ask them to review it on Amazon!

Those who share their book and this page and leave their name in the comments below get entered in my draw for a $20 Amazon or Starbucks Gift Card for Valentines Day, and a signed book of your choice!

The draw is Saturday, February 14th, 2015.

Thanks so much for sharing!

Have a great week 🙂
Heather

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Strangely, Incredibly Good Book Tour!

I’m excited to announce my first book tour for Strangely, Incredibly Good, the ‘funny and touching’ Canadian novel, but first, a little bit of business to attend to: Recently, I’ve received a few reader questions about where to get print copies of Strangely, Incredibly Good. No, it is not yet available on Amazon in print format. So, here’s where you can find it:

Vancouver & Maple Ridge Readers: There are now more copies of Strangely, Incredibly Good on the shelves at Maple Ridge Black Bond Books – Haney Place Mall.

Kingston readers can grab a copy Friday, March 6th, 7-930 p.m. at Novel Idea on Princess St., when I’ll be reading and signing copies. There will be a copy or two on the shelves after the reading.

Ottawa-Kanata area readers: I’ll be at Chapters Kanata Centrum Sunday, March 8, from noon-4 p.m. I am very much looking forward to my homecoming, and hope to see some old friends! Chapters Kanata will stock a few copies after the reading, in case you can’t make it that day.

As always, ebook and print copies can be ordered through the Morning Rain Publishing website, and they’ll ship it directly to you. If you’d like signed copies, you can contact me below, or at my email, writer@hgrace.com.

I’m thrilled and excited to announce that I’ll be doing a two-city book tour on the weekend of Friday, March 6 to Sunday March 8th, which will include speaking at the Ban Righ Centre at Queen’s University, speaking at the Queen’s Media and Journalism conference, signing books at Novel Idea, and signing books at Chapters Kanata. It’s going to be a busy but, let’s hope, incredibly good weekend in Kingston and Kanata, Ontario, and I hope that I’ll get the chance to meet and chat with many of you.

If you think you can make one of the events, please check the event schedule for more information here: Upcoming Events

I’d like to ask you all again to review Strangely, Incredibly Good if you have five minutes. There haven’t been that many funny Canadian novels by women recently, so I’d like to think that this one could have a chance at standing out, if only more people knew about it! So please do share about it, either via word of mouth, or a review, or both! I’d appreciate that more than you’ll ever know.

As always, thanks for reading, and for all the encouragement. You guys brighten these cold and snowy days!

Heather

Here's hoping I'll get to meet new readers and reunite with more dear, old friends on this tour, as I did in BC with Deanna! (who took this selfie !)
Here’s hoping I’ll get to meet new readers and reunite with more dear, old friends on this tour, as I did in BC with Deanna! (who took this selfie !)

The Man With the 132 lb Scrotum? (WIP Excerpt )

“I have to stop thinking about him! This could torment me for life! Okay, tonight I will not think about men. No. More. Man. Thoughts.

I pour myself some wine, sit down on the couch, turn on the TV, and check out the guide. Let’s see. It looks like my choices are:  “Mormon Half Love” or “The Man With the 132 lb Scrotum.”

Seriously? This is my Saturday Night? There is not enough wine in this house for me to even contemplate watching these shows. And yet…this is definitely better than dating.

Oh, look, it gets better. Up later tonight on TLC, we have “The Girl With Half a Face”, “The Man Who Lost His Face,” “The Man with Half a Body,” and “The Man with the 200 lb Tumor.”

~Cat Glamour in Remarkably Great, the (Work-In-Progress ) sequel to Strangely, Incredibly Good

Actually if you’ve read this far, you’re actually really interested, so I’ll tell you the news: the draft manuscript is complete as of today! 🙂 Now comes the grueling process of editing before I submit! I’m hoping this sequel will be out by the end of 2015, but it depends on many factors. Stay tuned!

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Work buddy Sam (15)

Give Yourself a Break!

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Beautiful BC !

Thought you might enjoy seeing a few of the landscape photos I’ve taken this week during my holiday to visit family out west in British Columbia. Tomorrow is my first book signing in BC for Strangely, Incredibly Good. Can’t wait! See you there! (details can be found here on the page Upcoming Events)

The photos were taken in Maple Ridge, at English Bay in Vancouver, and Canada Place, Vancouver.

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Meet the Author!

Hi! Hope everyone is enjoying the holidays. I’m in British Columbia visiting family, and very much looking forward to my first event in the province soon – a book signing for Strangely, Incredibly Good at Black Bond Books in Maple Ridge on Saturday, January 3 from 1-3 p.m. I can’t wait to meet readers who live in the area soon.

Until then, enjoy eating and shopping and resting, and Happy New Year!

Heather

Author Heather Grace Stewart will appear at Black Bond Books January 3 from 1-3 p.m.
Author Heather Grace Stewart will appear at Black Bond Books January 3 from 1-3 p.m.

Cheers to Readers & Reviewers!

As the holidays draw nearer, I’m feeling grateful for so many people in my life. I’ve had the chance to thank some in person already at festive gatherings, but have not yet thanked you readers.

So (raising a glass) thank you so much for purchasing and reading my poetry and Strangely, Incredibly Good this year, and for helping SIG reach #10 in humorous fiction on Kobo! and helping it make the Best New Contemporary Fiction list on Kindle back in June! I KNOW we can do it again! Please tell your friends about this book if you enjoyed the read.

My most fun book-selling-related day so far this year was in October, when I sold 24 at Chapters in Pointe Claire QC in a couple hours to total strangers. Signing & shipping books for 50 family and friends was also a highlight, as was appearing at Shopper’s Drug Mart and the local library for a reading.

Thanks so much to those who have taken a minute to review the book. So far there are 11 USA reviews, 10 Canadian reviews, and 4 UK reviews on Kindle, and a few others on Goodreads. Please do leave a brief review if you have a minute – did you know that even one short sentence is enough to help get more people to discover this book? It doesn’t take much time to leave a review and a star rating, and it makes a big difference to me.

It’s not easy finding new readers as a first-time novelist, but I have to believe patience is key…and writing more. So yes, the sequel is on its way. I do want more people to find and enjoy Strangely, Incredibly Good first, so I’m not sure when that next one will be released, but I’ve been working hard on it and am more than 3/4 done the first draft.

I’ll be signing books over the holidays (Jan. 3) at Black Bond Books in Maple Ridge, British Columbia! Hope to meet some of you there! Check my Upcoming Events for details.

Have a wonderful holiday! IMG_9774

A Christmas Interview

Here’s my first ever videotaped interview conducted by our nine-year-old daughter, Kayla.

Have a beautiful holiday season!

PS If you comment on this video when it’s posted in my publisher Morning Rain Publishing’s fun holiday party event for readers and authors HERE at 7:30 pm EST Thursday, Dec. 11th (posting time – you can comment any time after that all night long)  then you will be entered in a draw to win MRP books and book related prizes!

An Interview with Heather Grace Stewart

Writer-Blogger Caroline Clemens offered to have me visit her blog, Gardenlilie.com for a short interview. Fun! Thanks very much Caroline!

Praise for Strangely, Incredibly Good

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Strangely, Incredibly Busy!

Author Events Fall 2014

October and November on my calendar are filling up with exciting events! I’ll be doing a book sales & signing at Chapters Pointe Claire Quebec, Saturday, October 4, from 1 – 4 p.m. On the same date in November, Tuesday, November 4 at 7 p.m., I’ll be at Pincourt Library, reading from Strangely, Incredibly Good, selling & signing books, and we’ll have evening tea and treats. This special event is thanks to The Writers Union of Canada (TWUC) and the Canada Council, and for that I’m grateful.

I’ve also been invited to Pharmaprix Pincourt’s VIP Tea night on Wednesday, October 22 from 5-9 pm to share Strangely, Incredibly Good with those being given a VIP treatment! Visit my Facebook Page (Events section) if you want to be one of the lucky three people to win a complimentary ticket to this event!

I’m going to leave the rest of November and December free, because I’m working on a sequel to Strangely, Incredibly Good, and want to give myself lots of time for the writing sessions. I’ll try to share as much as I can about my writing process here, without giving anything away!

I’m hoping to travel to Kanata or Ottawa public library some time in the New Year to say hello to my home town, and also to Kingston, Ontario, which holds a place in my heart, as I spent four wonderful years going to school at Queen’s University there.

If you’re reading this and you want me to come to your Canadian library to read and do a book signing in the next year or so, let me know, and I’ll try to work something out!

Hope to see you at one of these events,

Heather 🙂

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Oh, What a Feeling!

It’s a weird and wonderful feeling to be working on a story…ok, a SEQUEL:)  … and refer to the published book beside you, instead of notes in your computer, to get a fact straight.IMG_0530Thanks for reading, and hang in there, Cat’s coming back! 

 

 

 

$1 SCREENPLAY, $2 RHYME, LIMITED TIME!

Heather’s bestselling Kindle screenplay, the romantic comedy The Friends I’ve Never Met, is now 0.99 until Monday afternoon, Sept. 8th!
Heather’s 3rd poetry & prose collection “Three Spaces” and 1st collection “Where the Butterflies Go” are just $1.99 until Monday. Visit your nearest Kindle or Kobo today to take advantage of these super deals before Monday!
IMG_3931“CHEAP BOOKS? WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!”

A Face and a Name

My new business cards from Moo.com are so much fun! Love how they and their lovely card holders (which come free with the cards) are sourced from paper from sustainable forests and recycled pulp. Even the four, red order reference cards aren’t wasted. Instead, they have fun sayings on them like “I like your shoes.” I passed one on to our daughter (“You’re delightful.” ) and will give the other three to readers who want them at my next book signing: Indigo Books, Pointe Claire, Quebec, Saturday, October 4th! I’ll also be the guest author reading & signing books at Pincourt Library, QC, on Tuesday, November 4th.

I’ve put a photo of myself on my business cards for the past two years and have noticed it’s made a big difference in people finding my web sites and buying my books. Some people forget names – so a biz card with just a name on it doesn’t always jog their memory about, “who the heck handed me this card again?”

Think about it for your business cards!

By the way, I love your shoes!

Heather 🙂

 

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Sensationally Sudsy! Behind the Scenes!

You have to be creative and think outside the box (or, er, inside the tub) a lot when you’re a little-known author with a small, independent, Canadian publisher. As hard as it is to get new people to discover your work, you can’t give up. One technique not working? Try something new. Something different. You have to try things that you haven’t seen others doing yet.

When I self-published Three Spaces (2013),  people were just getting into e-reading, but I wanted to encourage paperback sales, too. I was looking over my own book in the bath one night (I rarely re-read my own stuff but our daughter had handed me a copy, ‘Here Mommy, you should relax and read this!’ ) when hubby decided to take photos of me to be funny. I told him to delete them but he didn’t. So as much as you think it was an ingenious idea, it was rather accidental. When I looked at the photos later, I realized that in all except a few photos you’ll never see ;), everything that should be covered up was covered up in suds. I then had the idea that one or two of those photos would be perfect to share to encourage paperback sales ( ‘No ereaders in the tub’ was the slogan). The rest is literary history! (ha! not quite. but such a fun little campaign).

It worked well, and made such a fun business card; one that started many interesting! conversations with new readers. So, with the OK from my publisher Morning Rain Publishing, we decided to do a similar ‘bathtub shoot’ for Strangely Incredibly Good. This time around, I knew the photos would be posted, so I was much more shy. “Bill, am I all covered up? You sure?” He’d smirk and throw lots more suds at me, then shoot the photo. It was a lot of fun!

Since most of you have been following my blog for over five years now (Wow! Thanks!) I thought I’d present BOTH final photos (the one with the beer, and the one with the wine – told you I had fun shooting these photos!) here as well as one that had an Instagram filter added to it. Feel free to share them. In fact, I ask that you do!

Oh, and if you’ve read the book, please give it a brief review on Amazon and Goodreads. Even two words will do! Every review helps.

Thanks so much for reading.

Heather

 

The one with the beer – not photoshopped –

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The one with the wine, with Instagram filter (wow! looks like it’s sunny in there now!):

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The one with the wine, original unphotoshopped:

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Wine pairing

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How I Curbed My Cellphone Addiction

I’m Heather, a novelist, mother, and one-time cell phone addict. The addiction lead to wrist pain and mild depression. Here’s how I snapped out of it, and how you can, too.

It’s not easy to admit this, but for two years, I was addicted to checking my cell phone for new texts or social media posts almost every half hour.

It turns out I’m not alone in this addiction. According to the latest International Data Corporation (IDC) data, 79% of adult smartphone users have their phones with them for 22 hours a day, and 80% of users check their phones within 15 minutes of waking up every day.

My reasons for falling into the addiction were simple. I work from home, and had my phone in front of me at my computer between 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. in case I got an urgent text or call from my teenage daughter or husband, or a family member in need.

As a novelist I have a set writing schedule. I usually write in the morning for four hours. I work with short breaks, getting up every now and then to stretch or pour myself a coffee. Since I manage to get books written and published on time and market them, and have done so for five years, I didn’t think I was the type to get addicted to social media, or at least, the act of checking social media for any new activity. Since I got my new phone in 2016, I have spent about a half hour every evening interacting on social media, and I was happy with that limit.

I didn’t realize I was going over that limit. A washroom break would lead to fifteen minutes on the phone. A quick check to see if “anything interesting” was happening with my friends on Twitter became a half hour trapped inside the Twittersphere. I would joke about cooking dinner while on Twitter — and burning it. My kid and husband were happy, and I was a successful author. I was managing to balance everything just fine. I didn’t think it was interfering with my life in a negative way.

It wasn’t until Apple introduced their new Screen Time feature in iOS 12 in the fall of 2018, and then Instagram added it to their app in 2019 that I started using the features and realizing just how many hours I spent on my phone.

It wasn’t until Apple introduced their new Screen Time feature in iOS 12 in the fall of 2018, and then Instagram added Your Activity to their app in 2019 that I started using the features and realizing just how many hours I spent on my phone. My phone screen time each day was four to five hours, and at my height of trying to gain new readers on Instagram, I was using Instagram for an hour a day!

Before I go into why I didn’t want to spend that much time on social media, let me say that I enjoy social media for both work and play. I have come to love many people I’ve met online; some have even become friends I’ve met in real life.

However, being on social media can be draining. It’s like being in a bar; sure, you can meet some cool new friends, but you also can’t control who’s going to come up to you, spill a drink on you and say something nasty. There’s also the whole “Look At My Amazing Life’ aspect of social media. To each their own, but after 10 years using social media for both work and pleasure, I’m moving into the phase of Living My Amazing Life instead of posting about it. I’m still using social media, but I’m vigilant about how I’m using it. I told a friend the other day that I try to make sure my posts educate, entertain or inspire. If what I’m about to post doesn’t do one of those three things, I stop posting.

When I think back to when I was at my happiest in life, it was when I was climbing the pine tree at the back of our cottage to spend time alone up in my tree fort. I’d chew Hubba Bubba gum and read Archie comics and write stories and poems. I’d look out at the lake and commune with nature. I then climbed down and went for a swim with my sister, or had a great conversation with my parents. I was most happy at about eleven years old, when cell phones didn’t exist.

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There are so many trees to climb! ~Author Heather Grace Stewart

In early March while on vacation, I caught myself checking my phone several times in an hour, and I just got fed up with myself. Why couldn’t I focus on the moment I was living right then — a special family time — instead of what other people were doing? I wanted to find a way to feel eleven again, and I had a feeling it was just within my reach. I knew that if I wanted something to change, I had to make a drastic change. I unplugged from social media by taking every single social media app off my phone. When we got home, I started putting the phone in its charger in the kitchen, where I could still hear it if it rang, instead of in front of me at my desk.

On day one, I kept a journal of how I was feeling. It made me sick to my stomach to learn I was wanting to check my phone. I felt out of the loop. I felt disconnected. I felt angry that not using social media made me feel that way.

By the end of day two, however, I was feeling a sense of relief. I couldn’t believe how much more free time I had! By the end of March, I had finished my fifth novel and sent it to my agent.

After a month of using social media only on my desktop and only at a specific time each afternoon, I began to realize which app I loved the most (as Marie Kondo says, does it spark joy?) and decided to put Instagram back on my phone, but I allowed myself only 15 minutes a day with their Your Activity feature. My phone Screen Time is now down to 30 minutes a day, but that includes texting and calls and email for my work.

The change was like a light switched on in my life; one I hadn’t even realized had been off.

The change was like a light switched on in my life; one I hadn’t even realized had been off. It did take a few weeks, but I noticed that good friends began texting me or even (gasp!) calling more to catch up, instead of hearting my posts on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. I had so much more free time, I was able to take up hot yoga, and that in itself has been life-altering. I’m spending more time cooking and enjoying it; I’m going for walks and spending quiet time just watching the birds in the new feeder in our backyard. I never bring my phone to the breakfast or dinner table anymore. My husband and daughter don’t either. The other night, we shared a big bag of Hubba Bubba gum while watching AGT together and pausing the show to tell each other stories. Then my husband pointed out we had a visitor, and together, we watched a skunk dig for grubs for fifteen minutes in our yard. We marveled at his technique and worried where our old cat was at the time. We put bets on whether he’d get skunked or not (he didn’t — he was happily asleep on a comfy chair on our front porch). To me, that time together was more interesting and weirdly bonding than anything I’ve seen on social media this year.

I still check the desktop versions of a few social media apps once every 24 hours for business purposes, but there’s no “crazy itch” to do so. It can wait.

I have so many trees to climb.

Poetry for Change

Back To You

Hey.

I know it’s been a while. I hope you still remember my name.

I’ve been a terrible blogger for the last few years. It’s been challenging to find time to write my novels, market my novels, teach others how to do that via YouTube and social media, and spend time with my family. Blogging had to be left behind.

But blogging poems and blogging about writing are how I got pulled away from journalism and onto this career path back in 2007. I started this blog as “Where the Butterflies Go,” you all commented on my poetry, encouraged me to turn the posts into a book, and … […]<<< a whole lot of stuff happened! and here I am today, a published author, with four novels, five poetry books, a screenplay book and a kids’ book of poems under her belt. I never could have imagined I’d still be doing this more than a decade later.

I don’t think I’d be here if I hadn’t started that blog and had such great feedback from you readers. Thank you.

I miss that interaction, don’t you? Social media certainly makes it easier to comment (no logging in…I’ll see what I can do about that btw) but you don’t always have the same “clan” coming back. I miss my bloggyland tribe.

I’ve learned so much since my first novel was published. Here are a few of those lessons:

1) Take risks. If you don’t risk, you don’t grow. I know it’s scary, especially for so many of us introverted artist types (surprise, yes, I’m in fact an introvert who had to come out of her shell through drama as a teenager when she realized that’s how artists grow). I have had such an interesting life because of a few brave moments.

2) You have to put yourself out there as an author. No one else, not even your publicist, knows your product like you do. You have to go to the book signings and the speaking engagements, tweet about stuff that really matters to you, and risk looking like a fool (see #1) if you want the right readers to find you. In time, many of those readers will become your friends. Cool right? It’s not all about making money…but…

3) You have to spend money to make money. I didn’t like this one very much. You mean you have to spend money to advertise that your heart and soul of a book is FREE for a few days? Yes, you do. You don’t have to do that until the end of time. Just until you gain a reader base. It sounds wrong, but it’s right. I didn’t start making a profit as an author until I started spending money directing traffic to my books.

4) Give back. I feel this one strongly. I like to encourage and teach aspiring authors, because I remember how maddening it can be to feel like you’re getting absolutely nowhere. I still have those days, trust me, but that’s because I’m trying new things every day (audiobooks, TV deals) so I’m still learning what works and what doesn’t work. There are tens of thousands of new authors out there who are struggling to find their audience in this ever-changing book industry. I just want to encourage them before they decide to call it quits. Speaking of calling it quits…

5) Don’t quit. Success if probably just around the corner, or at least the corner after that. Keep on going, dreaming, risking, believing. Don’t put a second mortgage on your home, mind you, please be smart about it, but do everything you can to get your book seen. You have to keep on going, especially if you have a strong “knowing” about it. If you know it’s supposed to be, it will be. It’s just a matter of time.

I’m so happy to be back. I’ll try to do this weekly!

Heather 🙂

 

Interview with Author Kelly Charron

I’m pleased to reintroduce my Interview with a Poet/Author Series for 2018-2019 with an interview with a very special Canadian guest: psychological thriller and urban fantasy author Kelly Charron.

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Kelly Charron is the author of YA and adult psychological thrillers and urban fantasy novels. All of her novels have gritty, murderous inclinations and moderate amounts of humor. She spends far too much time consuming true crime television (and chocolate) while trying to decide if yes, it was the husband, with the wrench, in the library. Kelly has degrees in English Literature and Social Work. She has worked as a hairstylist, youth outreach worker and education assistant. She lives with her husband and cat, Moo Moo, in Vancouver, British Columbia.

You write both urban fantasy and psychological thrillers. How did you get into those genres and why do you like them?

It was a natural progression for me actually. I think authors write what they’re interested in and what naturally appeals to them. I’ve always been drawn to dark subjects that deal a lot with the human condition and psychology. I love exploring what motivates people and how they react under pressure and danger. Since I can remember I have watched and read thrillers, horror and suspense. I love unraveling mysteries.

The first book I wrote was a YA urban fantasy, but even though it wasn’t a thriller, it had a lot of darkness, secrets and death. The psychological thrillers I’ve written allow me to delve even farther into these areas, but I have a lot of fun switching between genres. I think doing so allows me to rest my imagination for that genre and I’m stronger with more inspired ideas when I come back to it.

We have being Canadian authors in common. What are some of your favourite things about Canada?

We do! What don’t I love? I’ve traveled a bit and always want to come home. Canada is such a beautiful and accepting country. The people really care about one another and I think we have a great sense of humor. Look at all the incredible comics and comedic actors that come from here. I live in British Columbia and it’s so stunning. The mountains, water, and forests are remarkable. You can literally go snowboarding and skiing in May and then wear shorts and a t-shirt to hike.

Do you think it’s harder or easier to be a novelist today than say, 20 years ago,
and why? What are some pros, and some of the cons?

Tricky question. I think it’s easier now in terms of getting your novels in front of readers. In the past, you had to get past the gatekeepers of literary agent, editor and ultimately the publishing house. Besides what was referred to as vanity presses, there weren’t other ways to see your book out in the world. Self-publishing has obviously changed the game entirely and while there are many perks that go along with that, there are some down sides. I’d say there’s a mixture in the quality of books out there now because of the lack of said gatekeepers. Some self-published works go out without editing, proof reading or revisions, however I’d say that overall, the people who are willing to sit down and complete a full manuscript are dedicated and want to make sure the book they put out is to the best of their ability.

Another downside of this is that discoverability is harder than ever. Over 1.5 million books were published in 2017 alone. That is in addition to all the other books that already exist, so you can imagine how difficult it can be to have people find your novels. Overall, I wouldn’t change it though, because it allows all authors to have a voice. My goal is to be a hybrid author, with both self-published and traditionally published novels, that way is the best of both worlds.
What’s your most recent book about and why do you think people should pick it up?

Kelly: My most recent novel is titled, WICKED FALLOUT. It follows a woman named Ryann who has been in prison for twelve years for killing multiple people when she was fifteen. After she has exhausted all of her appeals and believes she’ll die in prison, new evidence comes to light and her case gets new life under a prestigious legal team who enlist the help of a forensic psychiatrist. Dr. Clafin had the arduous task to evaluate Ryann to help determine if she should be set free or remain behind bars forever.

People should pick this book up because it is so much fun! It’s a true psychological suspense that has so many twists and turns that you won’t know what to think from chapter to chapter. Reviewers have likened the cat and mouse game between my main characters to the one between Dr. Lector and Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs films.

That sounds so cool and like something I wouldn’t be able to put down. I’m picking it up for my August TBR list! What are your hobbies besides writing?

I love hiking in the woods all around the Lower Mainland. I read as much as possible and love to paint, though I barely do because I always tell myself I should be writing. Does being addicted to Netflix count as a hobby?

Yes! It does, because I’m right there with you! If you could go anywhere and do anything, what would your ideal day be?

Easy! I would hop on a plane and fly to Salem, MA on Halloween day to tour the city. So much of my fantasy novels (because they are filled with magic and witches) are centered around Salem and Danvers. I would walk everywhere, hang out in the old cemeteries and shop in the all the stores for creepy antiques and then watch everyone dressed up in their costumes and eat too much candy.

Thank you so much for the great interview! This was so much fun.

Anytime, Kelly! Let’s tell everyone a bit more about your recent releases:

PRETTY WICKED

Social Media Promo 4-KC

A small Colorado town. An opportunity for murder.

Ryann has been raised in a strict house by her perfectionist detective father and docile mother. She plays by the rules, doing what her parents ask, getting straight As, cheering at Friday night football games, and is the voice of reason for her eclectic group of friends.

But she’s done following the rules.

Ryann’s been a good girl for far too long. She’s suppressed her dark longings to make everyone else happy.

It’s time to make herself happy—to become the person she’s always wanted to be. Unfortunately, that means a few people are going to have to die.

Her sequel, which can be read as a standalone or as part of the Wicked series, WICKED FALLOUT picks up with the main character, Ryann Wilkanson, twelve years later.

WICKED FALLOUT

Social Media Promo 2-KC

A killer’s last chance at freedom. A psychiatrist’s final decision.

Convicted of six murders when she was just fifteen, the notorious Ryann Wilkanson hasn’t been able to act on her darkest, deadliest urges for twelve years. She’s exhausted her appeals and has little hope of ever getting out of prison and back to hunting.

Until a media-hungry legal team mounts a campaign to do the impossible—get her immediately released with a commuted sentence.

Forensic psychiatrist Nancy Clafin has mere weeks to evaluate Ryann’s current mental state against her grisly past to determine if she’s changed. But under the shadow of her own questionable history, it’s not easy to separate her personal life from her professional duty.

At least that’s what Ryann is counting on.

Behind the cold steel doors of a Colorado maximum-security prison, will Nancy find a cold-blooded killer or a newly redeemed woman determined to right her past wrongs?

Connect with Kelly:

Website: http://kellycharron.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KellyMCharron

Facebook: https://goo.gl/UNkH3g

Goodreads: https://goo.gl/rf4NlM

Pretty Wicked https://goo.gl/EP2GQ8

Wicked Fallout  https://t.co/M8QBtxyhME

 

 

Now You Can Listen to Pete and Allie in the Car, on the Train, in the Sun, in the Rain ;)

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Visit this link to hear a sample clip and learn more about The Ticket audiobook from its publisher: https://tantor.com/the-ticket-heather-grace-stewart.html OR get it discounted as a preorder item from Audible on Amazon: Get it Free on Amazon