Friday, September 11, 2009
I was one of the early dissidents against cell phones. I thought they were the most ridiculous, obnoxious and obtrusive pieces of technology known to man. What in the world could possibly be so important that one must have a conversation walking on the street, in the car or on the bus (the worst)? Flash forward—if I walk out of my house without my IPhone, you can be darn sure I’m going back to get it.
In other words, over time, we’ve all grown accustomed to our love/obsession with being connected—and that one special someone is no longer sufficient—we want to be connected with the universe by every trick of technology possible. And for authors—aspiring or those sunk deep in the trenches—the opportunities to spread the word about your work has multiplied exponentially as the plethora of cyber opportunities has grown, becoming affectionately known as “Social Networking.”
Networking used to be that thing you did after work at the local bar, restaurant, hot spot, and trade gatherings. How many of you remember the glass bowls where you deposited your business cards? Well, now you can network from the privacy of your own home, in jammies and hair curlers, through the magic of Social Networking.
What are social networks anyway? In their infancy social networks were very often simple author loops, where authors from a particular house or specific genre set up a loop where they could email everyone in the group to be kept up to date on trends, gossip and industry happenings, share advice, joys and sorrows.
With the growth and development of YAHOO and its various uses, individuals were able to form YAHOO GROUPS for whatever topic pleased them, build an email list from those who joined the group, and share information between ALL those who held a common interest. MSN has similar “group” capabilities. Both YAHOO and MSN give authors an opportunity to develop a fan base where members join to discuss the author’s, books, characters, ask questions, find out about new releases etc. and most importantly to connect with their favorite author in a matter of seconds.
SHELFARI is a book lovers dream. Members can list their favorite books, build a bookshelf that can be embedded on an author blog or website (showcasing your books of course) and it is also a place to spread the word about your own books and upcoming projects. SHELFARI allows you to build your own network group within the community. A great way to get thousands of people talking about your book. http://shelfari.com
MYSPACE-the social network giant introduced the world to the art of connecting through cyberspace. Setting up a MYSPACE page is relatively easy. There are templates available and all sorts of links to help get you up and running with a look and feel that represents you. The great part is, nothing is etched in stone. If you don’t like the look you can always change it. Most important it is a way to gain friends and hopefully potential readers. The features of MYSPACE include Blogs, Bulletins, and Notices. There is an address book feature as well as a categories feature (which is extremely helpful in categorizing the people that ask to be your friend—are they already fans, potential readers, book clubs or other authors?) http://myspace.com MYSPACE has grown so large that there are MYSPACE pages just for musicians and book lovers.
FACEBOOK—the younger of the social networking giants is truly “everyone friendly.” There is no page building, graphics etc. to contend with to get “a look.” It is a place to get connected with others, share news, talk about yourself and be cheered on by all those who have “become you Facebook friend.” There are a few nice little perks to face book. As an author you can actually set up your own fan page. And as surfers scoot by your page they can become a “fan.” Great way to get announcements out to your FACEBOOK friends about appearances, book release dates, and what you ate for breakfast! http://facebook.com
Amazon Connect—power house Amazon has a neat feature for writers. With Amazon Connect, you can have every book that you’ve written “verified” by your editor or your agent. Once the books are verified and you post to the Amazon blog, each and every person who has ever purchased any of the verified books will automatically get an update. What I found out quite by accident is that my own blog feeds OUT to Amazon as well. So all of my blog posts go to every person that has ever purchase any book of mine through Amazon!
NING—is a thing of beauty and my personal favorite. The versatility and ease of use is wonderful. My entire fanclub was built through NING. The features are wonderful from blogs, to chats, groups, and forums, you can add video and audio as well. A great alternative to a static website. With NING you can build your very own network with your own focus and purpose and have a membership base than can continue to grow. http://ning.com
TWITTER—uses SMS technology (Short Messaging System) to keep friends and family updated about every aspect of your life… if you wish. It’s fun and great for hot off the press info sharing. Twitter is rapidly becoming the go-to network outlet for up to the minute information, resources and trends. The downside is that messages must be short. http://twitter.com
EZTexting—a nice way of not capturing email addresses but cellphone numbers! This free service allows you to embed the widget into your signature line, website, blog etc. and capture cell phone numbers to all those who sign up. This is an excellent way to remind fans and potential fans in one fell swoop (while you’re on the go) that today is the day that your book drops! Or I’ll be at the local Wal-Mart for my signing at 6. Again, this technology uses SMS so the messages must be short and sweet. http://eztexting.com
Every day EMAILING is a form of social networking. Use it to the maximum. Be sure in your signature that you include your web address and the link(s) to any social network site that is/are YOURS. i.e., http://myspace.com/donnahillwriter
Internet Radio is also a form of social networking. On BLOGTALK RADIO for example, you can set up and host your own radio show for free. In addition to mentioning your own books, you can bring on guests that drive listeners to your show and hence find out more information about you. What’s great about BlogTalk is that each show is archived. Listeners who missed a show and always download a missed episode. Your show and what you want to say can be heard by listeners literally around the world. You can embed the widget on your blog, or website so that visitors can sign up for reminders, thus building your listening audience. Listeners can call in and talk to you and your guests. And guests wanting to get on your show to tout their latest offering brings more listeners to your program. http://blogtalkradio.com/author-donna-hill
There are many other social networking sites out there. But these are some of the big ones. And they are all FREE. However I must share a few words of caution.
*Every social network site or utility is not for everyone. Choose one that represents who you are and what you can manage.
* Don’t join a group or network simply to toot your own horn. Members really don’t like it. And can smell you coming a mile away. Join a group because you are interested in what the group is interested in, share your interests, what you are doing, and actually make friends. It’s the best way to gain support when that book comes out. The members will feel that they are supporting a member of the “family.”
*Don’t post to the lists that you belong to or the networks that you are in, only about you, or only post when you have a new book. Members will ignore you.
*One great way to drive traffic to your group is to have fun, informative and relevant information that is not necessarily about you.
* If you build a group or a social network that is specific to you and your work, make sure that the members feel that by being a part of it they are getting something that non-members can’t get.
*Don’t start a group, loop, blog, or social network site that you can’t maintain and keep up with.
There is no doubt that in the current economy, and with publishers pulling back on tours, advertising dollars and new contracts, authors have to be creative and pro-active about getting the word out on their books. Becoming social network savvy is and will continue to be for a very long time, the way that authors will connect with their readers. On my fanclub site, for example, I have members from as far away as Dubai to as close as around the corner from where I live. That may have never happened without the advance of social networking.
With all the Tweeting, and Facebooking and Emailing and Blogging it is easy to actually become disconnected as opposed to connected. We all crave that human connection. Don’t get buried so far behind the screen and SMS messaging that you forget the real world. Send a real thank you card to the book clubs that have supported you. Try to get out to a store or two in your travels to meet your fans. And be as nice in person as you are on screen and your fans will follow you anywhere “in the world.”
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
Mitchell flipped on the light as Sasha step fully into the room. She was pleasantly surprised to see that his room was as neat as hers and she wondered if he'd gotten some sage advice from a friend of his as well.
"I can order something from room service if you're hungry or thirsty," Mitchell said. He shrugged out of his jacket and hung on the back of the chair.
"Water is fine. I'm really full after all the food we ate on the ship," she said, stifling a laugh.
Mitchell chuckled in response. "That's true. One thing about going on vacation, you always eat more than you ever possibly could when you're back at home. I found that out the hard way last time I went away."
Sasha strolled fully into the room, walking towards the terrace doors. She slid the door open and stepped outside. She leaned against the balcony. Mitchell stepped out behind her.
"It really is quite beautiful here," Sasha said softly, looking out towards the horizon.
Mitchell moved close to her. There was barely any space separating them. He looked down into her upturned face. "Everything from the flowers to the mountains to the ocean, the sandy beaches, nothing can compare to how beautiful you are Sasha," he said. "And I'm not just saying all those things because I want to make love to you," he admitted.
Sasha could not believe what she'd just heard. He'd actually said he wanted to make love to her. She reached up and stroked his jaw. "Do you really mean that or is it just a line that should hand all of the single island ladies?" There was a hint of mischief in her voice, but her question was sincere.
"I have no reason to lie to you. If there was someone else I wanted to be with, I probably could've done that a long time ago. It's not what I wanted. I know as well as you do, that there was something that sparked between us from the moment we laid eyes on each other. If it's not, tell me and I'll leave it alone. Right now. I'll never bring it up again."
Sasha knew what he was saying without actually coming out and saying the words. He wanted her to admit that she wanted him just as much as he wanted her. "You're right," she said. "I've never felt this way about someone so quickly." She lowered her head for a moment trying to gather her thoughts. She looked up at his into his questioning eyes. "I feel the same way you do. I've wanted you from the moment I saw you, from the moment we started talking, from the moment... you kissed me for the first time." She listened to her confession pour from her lips. She did believe the things that she was saying. What was even more distressing, was she could not believe what she was feeling. Was it possible to actually feel this deeply this quickly about someone she barely knew? Which she wake up tomorrow and regret the decision she was about to make or would she wake up and discover that this is the greatest thing that ever happened to her?
Mitchell watched the array of emotions flit across Sasha face. It was almost as if he were watching his own reflection. He felt the same way, certain and uncertain, yet knowing that there was no turning back and he didn't want to. He threaded his long fingers behind her neck, pulling her closer to him. He lowered his head. His eyes focused on her lips as they slightly parted waiting for him to touch them. Make them his own. He felt her intake of breath as his lips met hers, soft, sweet delectable like the succulent fruits of the Caribbean island.
He took her mouth, slow and easy like the sultry beat of the ocean waves against the shore. He felt his body react to the softness of hers as he pulled her closer.
She stepped up to him, pressing her body flush against his own. Every dip, every curve fit like perfect pieces. Sasha moaned against his mouth, which only incited the desire that he had for her.
She felt his body harden, stiffen, pressing his heat between her warm thighs.
His large hands slid down the curve of her spine, cupping her behind, pulling her closer, locking her against him. He groaned as Sasha lifted her fingers and played with the shell of his ear.
"Sasha," Mitchell moaned against her mouth. "The whole world can see us standing on the balcony." He stroked her hair, ran his finger along the curve of her jaw.
Sasha looked up at him, feeling bold. "I don't care," she said. "Let them look."
Mitchell tossed his head back and laughed. "You never cease to amaze me." He took her hand and stepped back into the safety of the room, shutting the terrace doors behind them. He drew the drapes. "There are some things that I plan to do to you tonight that I don't want anybody to be a witnesses to other than you and I."
Sasha languidly ran her tongue across her lips. She shrugged off the jacket that she wore over her strapless dress and dropped it on the corner of the bed. She leaned down and released the straps from her sandals and stepped out of them.
Mitchell crossed the room turned off the overhead lights and turned on the softer lights that were positioned on the nightstand next to the bed. He extended his hand to her, which she took and he drew her close.
"Are you sure this is what you want to do?" Mitchell asked a final time.
Sasha nodded, uncertain of what she would say if she tried to speak.
The sound of partygoers moved outside their door. Laughter rippled up and down the corridor drawing their attention. For a moment the spell that they cast between themselves was momentarily broken. The noise quieted by degrees, and Sasha and Mitchell returned their attention to each other. He reached behind her and unzipped her dress. She gasped softly, his eyes questioning her, her answering response was an unequivocal, yes.
Sasha worked the buttons of Mitchell's starched white shirt until it was completely undone falling away from the hard lines of his muscular chest. She ran the tips of her nails across the rippled muscles of his six pack. He drew in a short shot breath then eased Sasha dress over the curves of her body until it slipped away and pooled at her feet.
"Oh... my... God," Mitchell uttered, when his gaze fell upon the curves, the softness, the sensuous delight that was Sasha's banging body. He lowered his head and sought her lips.
Sasha's eyes drifted close as she stretched her arms upward and linked her fingers behind the curve of his neck.
His gentle fingers played with her spine, causing shivers to run up and down her body. The hard bulge in his shorts pressed roughly against her and she felt her own desire rise and flow between her thighs.
A quick pop by nimble fingers released her strapless bra. Mitchell pulled it away and tossed it on the floor. He took a step back to take her in and it was a feast.
Her breasts were full, lush and perfect. Her nipples hard and pointed ready to be tasted and he did.
Sasha let out a gasp of delight when Mitchell's hot lips covered her right nipple, gently tugging, laving and sucking on it making her legs tremble in response. He massaged the other running his thumb across the hardened peak. Any thought of doubt or misgiving vanished, replaced with a need so demanding that she was certain if she didn't have him, and soon, she would explode. And she wanted to be sure that the explosion happened with Mitchell buried deep inside of her. She released his belt and zipper. His slacks dropped to his ankles. He kicked them out of the way.
She reached down, slid her hand beneath the band of his shorts and tenderly stroked the length of him, stunned by the silky texture that covered what felt like steel.
Mitchell shuddered. The muscles in his neck tightened like knotted rope. Something deep and dark rumbled in his throat. In a smooth move he reversed their positions until Sasha's back was to the bed. He eased her down.
She lifted her legs onto the bed and slid over to give him room to join her.
For a moment, he stood above her, drinking her in like a man starved for nourishment, before pushing his shorts down over his hips and stepping out of them. Sasha drew in a breath of awe and alarm. Even in the dim light, he looked lethal. She trembled.
Mitchell moved toward her, stretching the length of his body alongside hers. He caressed her face as she turned her head to kiss the inside of his palm.
His hand drifted down, trailing across the rise of her breasts to the hollow of her stomach to the hot darkness nestled between her legs. She jumped ever so slightly when he began patting her there, gently in a teasing rhythms that shortly had her writhing and moaning softly. He pushed away the barely there string of her thong to find her wet and ready.
Instinctively her hips rose as his finger played with the throbbing bud, slid further and up into the slick wetness of her opening.
Sasha gripped the sheets as her body took on a will of its own, moving up and down against the steady stroke of his fingers.
His rhythm built in intensity. Her head spun as an unbearable heat filled her.
"That's it," he cooed, urging her on. "You feel so good," he murmured. He lowered his head and took her breast into his mouth as he continued to finger her.
"Oooooh, God," she cried, as the first spasm was unleashed and roared through her in a wave that curled her toes and separated her from reality. Her chest rose and fell in hard knocks as her orgasm slowly subsided leaving her weak yet wanting even more.
Slowly she opened her eyes and stared into his.
"Ready for me now?" he asked, slowly easing his fingers out.
She whimpered, suddenly feeling empty. Numbly she nodded her head, then reality hit. "Wait," she managed to say. Pulling herself up on her hands and knees she crawled to the edge of the bed and felt her for purse on the floor. She took out two condoms then returned to her spot next to Mitchell.
"Why don't you do the honors?" he said.
With shaky fingers she tore the packet open and removed the thin sheath. Nervously eyeing him she placed the condom on his swollen tip and rolled it down his length.
Mitchell bit down on his bottom lip to keep from groaning out loud. The heat of her hands, the way she subtly jerked him up and down while putting on the condom was nearly his undoing.
He gripped her wrist. "Okay, okay . . . you gotta stop," he said.
Amusement sparkled in her eyes and a sense of power flooded through her that she could make him feel anywhere near as awesome as how he'd made her feel moments ago.
"What would you have me to instead?" she taunted.
"Lay back and open your legs for me. Let me in."
Locking her gaze with his, she did as he asked. He reached around her and snatched a pillow from the head of the bed. "Lift up," he ordered, and slid the pillow beneath her hips.
He moved into a position above her, snug between her parted thighs. He cupped his hands beneath her knees and rose up on his. He pushed her thighs back toward her chest until they were wide, stretched out on either side of his shoulders.
He didn't need a hand to guide him. Like radar he found her opening. That first contact was electric and shot through the both of them. He pressed. The head breached her opening and she gasped, feeling her insides begin to spread as he slowly pushed into to her.
Mitchell lowered his head and kissed her, filling her mouth with his hungry tongue, muffling her moans as he began to move in earnest deep within her.
The nothings that he whispered in her ear were anything but sweet. They were hot, erotic, down right good and freaky. And she gave just as good as she got.
"Like this . . ." she said, thrusting her hips hard against him, causing his eyes to slam shut and an expletive to gush from his mouth.
He opened his eyes and looked down at her, his gaze intense and fierce. "No. More like this," he ground out, cupping her firm behind in his palms and lifting her lower body up and down like she weighed no more than a loaf of bread.
Her head spun. Her fingers dug into his shoulder blades when he hit a spot that had never been reached. She screamed when he tapped his again, and a again, winding his hips, pulling almost all the way out then plunging back in again.
Sasha couldn't catch her breath as the sensuous assault continued and escalated until her entire body was consumed by heat and the tremors began from the balls of her feet, shot down the back of her legs that were pointed toward the ceiling and exploded in the center of her being.
The sound that erupted from the core of her soul, spiraled into the heated air, unfamiliar, raw and ragged as Mitchell moved harder and faster drawing closer to his own desperately needed climax.
Sasha managed to slide her hand down between their thrusting bodies to cup and massage him, while using her internal muscles to squeeze and release his cock, pumping out every drop of his essence.
"Uggggg!" He slammed into her one final time, pushing himself to the hilt, his body stiff and jerky as if electrified before collapsing on top of her.
Their heavy breathing and the thumping beats of their hearts were the only sounds in the room.
Sasha lay beneath him, listening to his heart pound against her chest, mesmerized by what had just transpired. There had not been many men in her life. She could count the one's she'd slept with on less than one hand. But this . . . this thing that happened between her and Mitchell was beyond carnal lust. It was a reckoning. The way he'd made her feel was how they wrote sex scenes in romance novels. Surreal. Impossible. But she'd experienced it. She could testify.
As his erection began to soften it sent another shudder rippling through Sasha, stunning her with the realization that she had anything left. She moaned in need.
Totally in tuned to her body's reaction, Mitchell slowly pulled out, ensuring that the condom was still in tact before bringing Sasha to another spine curling orgasm with his fingers.
Spent and weak they curled against each other and drifted off to sleep only to wake a short time later to begin all over again.
They made love throughout the night, taking short breaks to talk, laugh at what they were doing and replenish their bodies with much needed water.
Just before daybreak, Sasha coaxed Mitchell out onto the terrace and beneath the splash of stars and waning moonlight, with only the ocean as their audience, she leaned over the railing and let him take her.
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
So I humor the nurse and run down my litany of symptoms to which she brilliantly pronounces "sounds like you're coming down with something ". Duh really.