New Release by Tara Randel

I’m excited for my new release, Rival Hearts, on June 17. I so enjoyed writing this book and working with Abingdon Press during the process. Here’s a overview of the book.

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They both want the promotion. But will they find out that it is worth the cost?

Molly Henderson and Ben Weaver have been rival magazine writers for the same publishing group for years. When both come up for the same promotion, they find themselves in an unexpected competition to win the spot. Molly, editor of Quilter’s Heart, and Ben, editor of Outdoor Adventures, must switch roles, each working for the other for one month, then their publisher will decide the winner.

Can girly-girl Molly survive the outdoor adventures that Ben has planned? Can Ben navigate the perils of the social dynamics of quilting events without destroying a valuable quilt in one short month? More importantly, in this he-said, she-said situation, will Molly and Ben give in to their attraction and fall in love, no matter who wins?

I’m delighted to be part of the Quilts of Love series. If you are available, we’ll be having a Quilting Bee-themed Facebook party on June 17, 8pm EST. Stop by and visit!

“>https://www.facebook.com/events/1421634858096062/

Living Free by Julie Arduini

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I wonder if Facebook is a barometer when it comes to our feelings about our country. Many of my updates from all walks of life (writers, Upstate NY friends, Ohio friends, family) are angry at the direction our government is taking, often naming specific politicians they are unhappy with. The criticisms come from both sides of the political fence.

Yet, when a part of our country is in trouble, whether a weather related event or man-created tragedy, my FB feed displays images showing our unity. We announce our prayers for Arizona in their unimaginable loss of 19 firefighters. That we won’t forget our neighbor to the north, Canada, with their flooding.

This week the US celebrates Independence Day on Thursday and I’m starting to see a new theme pop up in my feed updates, a sadness regarding our country where they don’t even want to acknowledge the true meaning of the holiday. To them, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of independence anymore, so why enjoy the day is their thinking. I understand their frustration, but I’m not ready to turn my back on my country or celebrating her independence.

Here are my ways, despite frustrations, to embrace everything about July 4th.

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1. Consider our forefathers. 

They probably didn’t want to leave their families to fight for freedom, but they did. They were pioneers in unchartered waters, and that always comes at a high price. When I think about pioneers, John the Baptist comes to mind. He forged new territory in sharing a message and he ended up beheaded. Freedom has a price, and I hate to think we’re surrendering the fight. Our forefathers fought for what we have, and it’s up to us to embrace those freedoms and protect them.

2. Consider our grandchildren.

Perhaps I’m too intense for you, but I think a lot about my actions and how they impact future generations. I want to lay down a foundation they can reap a harvest from. I want my kids to know what July 4th is about and why it is important so they can pass that appreciation down to their children and grandchildren. If I ignore the holiday because I’m not happy with current events, so many people lose out.

3. Consider our declarations.

When I’ve prayed everything I can think of over a situation and feel a freedom coming, I change course and start declarations. I think of these prayers as the ones that pull heaven down and bring agreement between the two places. No matter what vote in my country comes down, I start proclaiming the things I’ve prayed for our country. In Jesus’ name I celebrate the greatest awakening in Jesus people have ever known. One that is International and will set people free. I don’t look around for these declarations or I’d probably be too paralyzed by fear. I look up and believe in heaven they are already accomplished, and it’s time to believe it’s time to see that come to pass on Earth. Please know this isn’t me dictating God’s agenda. I’m agreeing with it, and that includes His ways and timing. But when the prayers have been said, time to start proclaiming. And for me, nothing feels freer.

How about you? Do you think your Facebook feed is a barometer for how people feel about your country? Have you heard any grumblings about people ready to ignore July 4th out of grief and frustration? What suggestions do you have to live free in your country even if you don’t feel it’s a guarantee as in years past?

Have a safe and blessed Independence Day. May you live free, and the freest life available is the one living for Jesus!

 

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Reviews You Can Use by Julie Arduini

Aside from buying books,the best thing readers can do for an author is take the time to write a positive review after finishing. It’s an important part of the industry, but hard for authors to market as it sounds self-serving.

I’ll admit, I don’t know if it’s true for product reviews, but I sense it would be the same. Afterall, a great buzz generates more interest. I remember a couple decades or so ago I remember my mom coming home with a Thighmaster simply because she heard all the comments and was curious enough to purchase it. Word-of-mouth works, and in our cyber society, reviews are an important tool.

Did you know reviews could brighten your day as a reader? I didn’t. I was having trouble settling my mind one night and decided to stroll read  stalk through Facebook. One of my friends offered a link and encouraged everyone to read, saying the reviews were funny, hysterical, and a mood lifter.

What was it for?
The Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer.

I’m not kidding.

There are over 3,000 reviews for this banana slicer, giving smiles to readers.

There are over 3,000 reviews for this banana slicer, giving smiles to readers.

As I type, there are over 3,000 reviews. Yep, for a banana slicer.

I’m not going to spoil the fun. You have to go there yourself.

Do you need a banana slicer? Maybe. Maybe not.

But on this winter’s day, I think we all could use a smile.

When finished, do something uplifting for an author and write a positive review for a book you enjoyed.

Let’s making smiling contagious!

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Taking the Windows 8 Plunge by Julie Arduini

My husband is a computer programmer and a natural teacher. When we married, he was patient and taught me not to be afraid of computers and the constant changes. As my confidence grew and his work schedule increased, I started playing with the latest trends and helped my friends get started with their brand new laptops and other gadgets.

When Windows 8 came out, two new things happened. For one, my husband wasn’t overly enthusiastic for me to try it. In fact, he made it clear there is no trying. Windows 8 is like a covenant. You enter in, and you don’t look back. You’re all in.

The second surprise was our son is old enough and technically gifted that he can offer an opinion of his own. “Don’t try it, mom. It’s different than anything you’ve ever had. I don’t think it is for you.”

I took what they said into consideration. Afterall, the loudest Vista critic had to be me. I couldn’t wait for Windows 7 to redeem the hot mess I found Vista to be. But Windows 8 was a different animal. A complete overhaul, my husband said.

What made Windows 8 so different? In one word, apps. Windows 8 was designed for the touch screen user who can slide from screen to screen. If that translates to a concert, the touch screen/tablet type users were the front row seats and my laptop with no touchscreen was the nosebleed section. Using Windows 8 put me at the event, but not up close.

Still, I had to try. I maintain my own website. I consider my greatest victory of 2012 mastering the Bluetooth function on my Ford Sync. I was on Facebook before it was a phenomenon because I felt it would be a great way to grow my platform. Windows 8 seemed to be the next level on my technology mountain, much like that yodeling game I watched as a kid on “The Price is Right.”

My husband tried to inject reason. “You should wait. With your wrist surgery recovery I think the learning curve is too much for someone who will be on Vicodin.”

Okay, I listened to that advice.

I installed Windows 8 on NaNoWriMo Eve.

Two weeks plus later, I have to say my family was right, and wrong.

Here’s what’s true.

Windows 8 is so different. As I wrote, if you had to sum it up, it’s all about apps. The learning curve is steep.

This is the start screen on Windows 8. You can customize it, and it scrolls/slides.

  • Instead of the start menu/list of programs on the left side, everything is an app. When it installed, most everything I was already using automatically converted. But to access the start menu/app center, you have to hover to the left corner.
  • The right corner hover reveals icons to search, settings, devices, share, start, and reveal the time, date, battery status and signal strength, I believe. For touchscreen, I imagine activating this is easy. For me, it takes time to find the exact place to maneuver.
  • I didn’t even know how to turn my own laptop off. What a relief my husband confessed the same. Once you know, it makes sense. I hovered on the right, hit settings, and you can power off. But what a search to figure that out.
  • You can customize how a lot of apps, your desktop, and start menu look. It’s a lot more personal, I think.
  • I’ve never Googled “How to…Windows 8″ more in my life. I am Googling a lot. I needed something to transfer from my Google calendar to the calendar app. I lost serious writing time that took so long to figure out.
  • It can be buggy. I know my husband had to download a driver to make something simple work. I think printing, but I can’t remember, because I was in that depression zone when you want to master something and realize it owns you.

But, you know what? I don’t regret installing it.

  • Every day is easier for me to use it, and I think at the end of the day, I’m efficient because of it.
  • It’s a crisp, clean look.  I love how my start screen looks. I love the layout, much of it a result of my playing with it.
  • The apps are endless.  The categories keep scrolling and scrolling in the store. So many choices.

My advice? If you aren’t interested in joining the technology bandwagon, I wouldn’t go Windows 8. I try to picture someone like my mom trying it and I can envision her being frustrated and frazzled. She just wants to e-mail and manage pictures. Windows 8 would be overwhelming.

If you want in, but you’re busy, give it some time. It takes getting used to, and although this is a very busy month, part of my NaNo word count being down is because I lost it to figuring out Windows 8 aspects.

What do you think? Has anyone installed Windows 8?

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Social Media and Writing: What? Why? By Julie Arduini

One aspect of therapy on my wrist that I didn’t anticipate was talking about my writing life. The therapist admitted she crafted a story and wanted to have it published, but didn’t want “everything else that comes with it.”

That everything else was social media. She admitted she was on Twitter but had no plans to ever send a Tweet. Facebook? No. Pinterest? Instagram? She didn’t even know what they were. Her hope was that a publisher would see her story, publish it, market it, and everyone lived happily ever after.

I think that is every writer’s dream, but reality is a different story.

The economy hit publishing outlets as hard as anyone else. When budgets are strapped, marketing departments get the squeeze. It is now more of the author’s burden to market their work than ever before. Social media is an easy and cost-effective way to get the job done.

What’s out there these days?

Facebook–Yes, it keeps changing, and it can be a time consumer. For me, it’s been a great way to promote my writing and gain an audience before my publishing goal comes to pass. I have a writing page where once a day I tend to ask a question with some aspect of surrender to it that will engage conversation. When someone new becomes my personal Facebook friend, I thank them and invite them to like my writing page. I have my blog auto-feed to both pages. If that was all I did, and yes, I tend to spend too much time on FB, I could be done in 10 minutes or less.

Twitter–This is similar to FB’s status updates, except you are limited to 140 characters per update, AKA a tweet. It’s important to be personal on Twitter, not always sharing links to your Amazon page, etc…It takes discernment, but it is possible to build a following that truly cares about your work and will interact with you. I use Tweetdeck, a grid of sorts with different categories I created to keep track of my followers. Forwarding or Re-Tweeting (RT) is a great way to be friendly and not spend a lot of time. Those few seconds it takes will pay itself back when you do have news that needs to be spread.

Google+I think this is another fast, easy way to share your work. Each day I share a link to my blog. I scan and give a + to other posts by friends I like. It isn’t a time waster. It isn’t very social in my opinion, but for marketing, a breeze.

Pinterest–Think of a virtual bulletin board where you decide what goes on your boards. That’s Pinterest. This should be an author’s dream because you can have a board where you pin your book covers, website, Amazon page, etc…Pinterest gives the flexibility to create as many boards as you want with as many “pins.” A pin is anything on the Internet (except FB) that you canput on your board after adding a bookmarklet. Anyone visiting your board can click on the pin and it will take them directly to the website where the pin originated. My boards are close to my brand–things that are good, bad, chocolate, or about surrender.

Instagram–This is fairly new to me and if I understand correctly, a product of smartphone apps. Again, created out of FB’s creativity, you take pictures and add them with a caption instead of writing a status update. This doesn’t seem to be straight marketing, at least not what I’ve seen. I added pictures from books where my work is featured, but most pictures I’ve seen are of nature, random moments, and loved ones. It’s a great way for potential readers to get a glimpse of you without constantly telling them where to find your writing. It’s another audience to find, and again, the time commitment is minimal. Like Pinterest, I suggest using FB as a means to find followers, etc…Saves time, and you know who potential followers are if they are current FB friends. Find me as JulieArduini.

LinkedIn–It’s a resume, as far as basic definitions go. I think in other fields LinkedIn is a must, and I’m on it, but I don’t use it for marketing beyond making sure my blog and Twitter accounts auto-feed.

And that’s the best advice I can give: Make sure you auto-feed your blog to your social media accounts. It’s an easy way to gain an audience and be that marketing department your book needs.

Hotter than Legwarmers and Sixteen Candles in the 80’s: Pinterest

I’m a Gen X’er who grew up with preppy collars and leg warmers. If you remember Sixteen Candles, the movie where all girls my age wanted Molly Ringwald’s pouty lips and the character Jake, you also recall how fast trends spread. Decades later if I hear someone screech “Jake”, it takes me back to high school where that was a key phrase. Samantha’s clothes were copied. The music group Spandau Ballet enjoyed extra celebrity thanks to their song highlighting a key scene. It wasn’t an Oscar winning movie but it was a trend setter.

These teen flashbacks occurred over the weekend when I returned from vacation. My husband and I enjoyed a few days to ourselves courtesy of Royal Caribbean. We weren’t gone that long, just  short of a week. Yet one word transitioned from a little whisper in the distance to a full roar I can’t escape. Whether online or with friends, this phenomenon is bigger than yes, Sixteen Candles.

What is it?
Follow Me on Pinterest

 

This newest form of social media propelled faster than Facebook and Twitter. Its potential for addiction just as rapid as the rumors Samantha liked Jake. Pinterest is by invite, but if you request free membership from the site you’ll receive one in a day or so.

Then what?

Pinterest is a virtual bulletin board. Where Twitter has Tweets and Re-Tweets, Pinterest has Pins and Re-Pins. I installed a bookmarklet for Firefox and pretty much anything on the web is available as a pin. Create your board, add your pins. Describe what your pins are about. It’s that easy.

Bulletin board ideas are endless. I’ve seen wish lists, home ideas, favorite movies, quotes, antiques, and so much more. You can follow boards similar to the way you accept Facebook friends. What I like about Pinterest is so far, it appears low maintenance. Authors are fond of this hottest new trend because they can pin their book covers and gain a new audience with little effort. Their pins can generate new boards for readers who re-pin those books for their wish list boards.

Steve Laube featured a link about Pinterest that I found interesting. If you’re thinking about trying the cyberspace cork board out, follow me.

I’ll be the one with a turned up collar and leg warmers screaming for Jake.


http://www.juliearduini.com

Surrendering the good, the bad, and—maybe one day—the chocolate

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