Thursday, February 28, 2013

Recipe Swap: Four-Ingredient Crab Dip

This is one of my favorite appetizers and super easy to make!  I like to serve it chilled in the summer and warm in the winter.


 
 
 
 
 
 
Ingredients
1/2 onion diced
1 can lump crab meat
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup mayo
 
Mix all ingredients together.  Serve with crackers, pita chips, crostini, bread, or whatever you prefer!  Chill for 30 minutes to serve cold or bake in oven-safe dish at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.




Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Love Stitch Fix




Have you heard about Stitch Fix yet?  I discovered Stitch Fix from another blog that I follow and am officially hooked!  Stitch Fix is a personal styling website.  Every month (or however frequently/infrequently you choose) your stylist will send you five new items (clothing, jewelry, and accessories).  You try everything on at home and decide what you want to keep.  The items you don't like you put into the mailing envelope provided and drop off at your post office.  Simple as that!  There is no charge for postage, but there is a $20 styling fee each month that you get to deduct from your purchase.  (So if you keep nothing, you'll be out $20.)  If you decide to purchase all five items, you get a 25% discount plus the deduction of the $20 styling fee.

How do they decide what to send you?  You fill out a style profile online with questions about styles you like, don't like, etc.  Stitch Fix categorizes clothes and accessories as: Bohemian Chic, Classic, Glamorous, Romantic, Casual Chic, Edgy, and Preppy.  There are even pictures to help you decide if a category is "you" or not.  You select the price range you want them to send you for every type of item.  (Maybe you want everything "as cheap as possible?" No problem!  Or you have a fancy event and want a really nice cocktail dress?  You could select $100-$150 or $200+! Stitch Fix has $50 increments to choose from.)  If you have something specific you're looking for, put in a request for your stylist to send that. 

My first and second "fix."  I signed up last October and am thrilled!  I've found several great pieces to expand my wardrobe from designers I didn't even know about before. The more specific I've been each time about what I'm looking for and what didn't work for me, the happier I've been.

My very first "fix" consisted of the scarf above, an army green blouse (I've since told them that I don't like drab colors like army green!), an oversized black sweater, black pants, and a great maroon blazer. I only kept the scarf because I didn't need more black pants, didn't like the blouse or sweater, and didn't think the blazer was the right size.  

I updated my preferences and asked for some great cardigans and blazers for my second "fix."  Being specific worked really well because I'm in love with the things they sent!



Black Funnel Neck Jacket from Tulle

 
Love the lining inside the jacket!


Mystree Cardigan
Love the detailing!

 
My second "fix" also included a dressy cardigan, cream open-stitch sweater, and an oversized tunic-length sweater.  (Sorry, I didn't take photos of everything this time!)  I ended up keeping and purchasing the jacket and sweater above, which were my favorites.
 
I'm looking forward to sharing Stitch Fix #3 with you soon, because that was my favorite yet!
 
Interested in trying out Stitch Fix for yourself?  I found it to be a great and convenient way to add a few new pieces to my wardrobe without having to take my toddler out shopping with me.  Fast! Convenient!  Easy!  And who doesn't want to add some great new items to their wardrobe every now and then?
 
 
(I'm not getting paid for this post, but I will get a referral credit if you use the link I've provided.)




Friday, February 22, 2013

Resolutions Updates

Back in January, I posted New Year's Resolutions for Writers. 

What were my resolutions?

Finish my Chick Lit Short Story
This has been put on the back burner for a while.  I usually write in first person but decided to write in third person so that I could tell the story from both the female and male point of view.  It turns out this is not a good idea for a short story!  I'll either change the voice back to first person or expand this piece into something else.

Find one new way per month to promote First Sight
I've made a little progress with this: I joined Twitter at the end of January and got First Sight featured in the romance category on Premier eBooks.  This month First Sight was on Chick Lit Central!

Make First Sight available in other formats
Part of the reason I changed the cover of First Sight was to make it easier to design the paperback cover.  I'm not a designer, so I needed something simple to work with.  I've got a Create Space account and am excited to be working on this right now!  My enrollment in KDP Select ends at the beginning of March, so starting then, I can publish First Sight on Nook, Smashwords, and more.

Network and join more writer's groups
I've tried to be more active in the writing groups I'm in.  I need to look into blogging groups as well.

Write my second novel
I've been working on the short story, so no start to the novel yet.  We'll see where that goes!  I need to get First Sight into a variety of formats first before I'm ready to start on a second novel.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Writing Wednesday: Marketing Ideas

Some of you may be wondering why I decided to change the format of my blog.  Part of that has to do with marketing.  I'm hoping to find new blog readers by broadening the scope of my blog, which in turn will eventually result in more readers for my book. 

What marketing steps do I think a new indie author should take?

Set up a Blog or Website
Starting a blog or website can be done months or even years in advance.  I've thought about blogging for a while but never started a blog because I was so focused on writing my novel.  But what I didn't realize is that if I had started earlier, I'd have a crucial element to selling my book already in place: readers!

Join Facebook and Twitter
I was already on Facebook but just joined Twitter at the end of January.  I think it would be great to already have a Twitter following before self-publishing.  I'm having to build up my followers now, a couple of months after my book has already been out.  In hindsight, it would have been nice to announce to people my book is coming, its release date, etc.

Join Pinterest, Instagram, etc.
More followers equals more potential readers!  I still don't have an Instagram account but have been on Pinterest for about one year.  Part of the reason for changing my blog format is so that I can pin pictures of what I've been up to.  The more pictures I post, the more times my photos will get repinned, and the more people will know about my blog.

Join Online Writer's Groups/Blogging Networks
I've joined some great groups of women.  While writer's groups can be useful along the way when you need advice, readers, etc. they are also great resources when it comes to marketing.  They can help you get the word out by sharing posts on Facebook, retweeting you on Twitter, and more.  Aside from self-promotion or having friends and family do the same, this is a great resource.

Go on a Blog Tour
I'll admit, I never even heard of a blog tour until after I published First Sight.  This can be a good way to get your book and name out there and even interact with readers depending on what you choose to do.  This is also something that needs to be lined up months in advance.  Chick Lit Central featured First Sight this week (Books of the Week), but this was something I lined up months ago.  I'm planning to do a tour after First Sight is available in paperback and other eformats.

Buy Advertising
I haven't done any paid advertising yet.  Amazon, Goodreads, Facebook, Google, and more all offer paid advertising.  There are many sites promoting indie authors that also offer this.  I've heard mixed reviews from authors depending on what route they've chosen.  This isn't something I would consider until First Sight is available in more formats.




Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Recipe-Swapping Tuesday: Roasted Asparagus


Roasted Asparagus is extremely easy to make and one of my favorite side dishes.

 
 
 
Ingredients
Asparagus
Olive Oil
Shredded Parmesan Cheese
 
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Arrange asparagus in a single layer on a cookie sheet or in a casserole dish.
  3. Drizzle with olive oil.
  4. Roast for 10-15 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and serve.


Monday, February 18, 2013

First Sight is Featured on Chick Lit Central!

First Sight is a book of the week at Chick Lit Central!  I'm so excited that they decided to feature it. 

See the listing here: Chick Lit Central Books of the Week.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

Here is what we did today: Valentine's Day cookies with a toddler :)

 
 
 
I hope everyone is having a fantastic Valentine's Day!  
 
 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

New Blog Format!

As I mentioned earlier this week (Blog Evolution), I've decided to incorporate new features in my blog.  I want to find new readers, connect with other bloggers, and blog about things in addition to writing and independent publishing.

I like to stay organized and because I enjoy recurring features in blogs I follow, magazines I read, etc., I've decided to blog on a different category each day of the week.  Starting on Monday, here is what you can look forward to each day here on Love Chick Lit!


 


Sound like fun?  I hope you'll join me!  If you have a blog you'd like me to follow, please mention it in the comments section below.  I'm always looking for new blogs to read!

P.S.  If you're looking for the free fonts that I used above, you can find them all here:

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Obtaining More Reviews for Your Book

I was chatting with some author friends about reviews the other day.  As a new author, it's tough to get your book "out there" and noticed.  Reviews are crucial in the early stages of sales.  If I've never heard of an author but see they only have negative feedback, I'm unlikely to purchase their book.  That being said, how do you get lots of reviews?

Provide Advanced Reader Copies
Some authors will send copies of their books to reviewers in exchange for an honest review.  This is usually disclosed at the end of the review itself on Amazon.  Even before your book is published, you can send out an advanced reader copy (ARC), so when your book is finally live on Amazon, reviews will already be there for potential buyers.  I think this is a great idea but didn't know about it when I decided to publish my book.

Enroll your book in KDP Select
More downloads of your book will mean more readers and therefore more reviews!  The downside to this, however, is people who would never purchase your book otherwise may download it, not like it, and leave a bad review.  If I see something on a free promo, I may download it even if it's a genre I never read.  Other people may do the same with your book and not enjoy it.

Ask Friends/Family
Asking friends or family seems like a no-brainer to me!  I'd suggest lining this up ahead of time as well so you don't have to worry about it after your book has been released.

There are many different ways to go about increasing the number of reviews for your book.  What tricks have you found most useful?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Blog Evolution

I've been thinking of revamping my blog a little. I have a new template. I have a new book cover. I'm ready to include some new features in my blog, too!   Up until this point, my blog has been mostly about writing. This probably is mostly of interest to other writers and those interested in self-publishing. I love connecting with other writers, but my purpose in starting a blog is to connect with my readers.

What types of blogs do I like to read?
Mommy Blogs
Fashion Blogs
Cooking Blogs
Writing Blogs
Book Review Blogs

I'll probably include a little of all of these topics as my blog evolves. Some of my fellow authors have a blog dedicated to writing and another blog for family or fun stuff. I'm not ready to have two separate blogs at this point, though. 

Look for some changes in the upcoming weeks, and if you're a new reader, welcome!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

First Sight Cover Redesign!

Exciting news!  In preparation for releasing First Sight in paperback, I have a new cover! 


 
 
Although I liked the old cover, I LOVE the new one!  This looks more like a Chick Lit book to me and is more in line with what I originally envisioned.  I did always think the cover would feature a couple (First Sight Cover Design) but because this is Maddy's story, I think this works better.  And I love the flowy, scripty font.  This will be replacing the ebook cover as well, so both the paperback and ebook will looks the same.




Tuesday, February 5, 2013

What I'm Reading: "What Alice Forgot" and "Married by Christmas"

I've decided to start a new feature called "What I'm Reading." Although I don't intend to write lengthy book reviews on my blog at this point, I do want to share what books I'm reading or have recently enjoyed. Here are two of my favorite books that I read this January.


What Alice Forgot, by Liane Moriarty



Alice Love is twenty-nine, crazy about her husband, and pregnant with her first child.
So imagine Alice’s surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym (a gym! She HATES the gym) and is whisked off to the hospital where she discovers the honeymoon is truly over — she’s getting divorced, she has three kids, and she’s actually 39 years old. Alice must reconstruct the events of a lost decade, and find out whether it’s possible to reconstruct her life at the same time. She has to figure out why her sister hardly talks to her, and how is it that she’s become one of those super skinny moms with really expensive clothes. Ultimately, Alice must discover whether forgetting is a blessing or a curse, and whether it’s possible to start over…

Review

I've had What Alice Forgot on my Kindle for a while and finally was able to get to it.  Alice forgets 10 years of her life, and in this book the reader discovers Alice's life right along with her.  There were a few twists that kept me guessing throughout the story, and I didn't want to put it down!  It reminded me a little of Sophie Kinsella's Remember Me, which is another of my favorites.


Married by Christmas, by Scarlett Bailey 



Anna Carter is on the brink of her dream Christmas wedding, she’s got the dress sorted, the church books, even the reindeer to pull her in a sleigh to the ceremony. But now - only two weeks before her big day - her perfect husband-to-be drops a bombshell...

Only nothing's going to stop Anna's plans - not even the pesky inconvenience of discovering her groom already has a wife!


Review

I downloaded Married by Christmas for free over the holidays and was pleasantly surprised--partly because some of the other free Christmas books were disappointing.  Despite the title, the story really has little to do with Christmas and everything to do with finding the one who's right for you. It did start a little slow, but I thought it was a great love story.  I'd recommend it to any chick lit fan!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

First Things First: Before Self-Publishing

As I mentioned here (Writing First Sight) I spent three years writing, editing, and rewriting my first novel.  This was part-time, on-and-off, but it certainly wasn't an overnight process.

Since I originally planned to seek out an agent and publish traditionally, I didn't consider marketing or developing a following ahead of time.  Once my book went live on Amazon, I realized I didn't even have the very basics:
  • A blog or webpage
  • A separate email address for readers to contact me
  • An Amazon author's page
These basics are nothing new to published authors or indie authors who have been doing this for a while.  But for those of us just starting out, it pays (literally) to have marketing tools in place for when you are finally ready to self-publish.  I'm planning an upcoming post on marketing for indie authors.  I've seen some great posts out there from others and have some ideas of my own.  Stay tuned!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

New Blog Design

I was ready for a change and found a new yellow and grey template for spring!

What do you think?