Monthly Archives: January 2014

What are you reading?


We’re going to do a couple of new things here on TWSS!

One will be Weigh In Wednesday. We’ll post a question and our thoughts and then you weigh in on the topic. Easy Peasy!

The second is What are you reading? Vicky Burkholder and I will post covers and blurbs about the books we have read recently, with author permission, of course 🙂 You can share what you’re reading or ask to have a certain book put up with your name and that you’re reading it. Fun!

So get ready to showcase stuff you love and/or like 🙂


Books: Susan Gourley/Susan Kelley!


Making Your Blog a Hit

Marine's HeiressWriters and other professional people who use the web in their business pursuits must use their time wisely. With the plethora of social media venues available to promote a product or build a brand, no individual can maintain a meaningful presence on all of them. I’ve chosen to concentrate my online minutes on my blog.

The first year after I started my blog, Susan Says, I hovered at around forty to fifty followers. If I received five comments on a blog post, I was thrilled. I posted in an erratic manner, no particular day or regular pattern. The subject of my postings usually involved something about my writing experience. At some point, I stumbled upon a few blogs that had hundreds of followers and were so interesting I started to seek them out nearly every day. From them I learned some things. Within a year, my followers doubled and then doubled again.

Here are a few things these mentors taught me:

  1. Decide on a theme for your blog. Is it promotion, reviews, craft oriented or a personal log?
  2. Keep posts short or you’ll lose readers to the TLDR rule. Too long, didn’t read.
  3. If someone comments on your blog, respond to their comment and blog etiquette requires that you visit their blog in return.
  4. End your blog with a question or questions, leading your readers to answer and react to your post.
  5. Make it easy for people to follow your blog. Don’t put your follow button at the bottom of your sideline.
  6. Provide links to your other social sites like Facebook and Twitter.
  7. Don’t use word verification. It turns people away. Many bloggers I know will not even comment on a blog that has that hurdle.
  8. Include useful links in your posts that may in some way benefit your readers.
  9. Make a schedule and stick to it whether it’s twice a week, every day on like mine, MWF.
  10. If you want more followers, join a popular blog fest like the famous A to Z Blogging Challenge that runs every April.

Today I have over five hundred blog followers and I often have between twenty and thirty comments on my posts. Has that helped market my books? I don’t know but it is the social media type I’m most comfortable with. Being comfortable means I don’t feel like it’s hard work to keep it fresh and active. Those kindly bloggers who helped me as mentors are now my partners in a group blog we run to help other writers called The Insecure Writer’s Support Group. This is another great place to build blogging contacts and participate in a once a month blog hop that will expand your circle of friends.

I’ll be relying on this circle to help promote my newest release. The Marine’s Heiress, is the second book in The Recon Marine Series. It follows the bestselling The Marine’s Queen into the outer regions if the galaxy. Recon Marine Vin searches for vengeance but instead finds duty, honor and love, but it might be too late to stop the violence he’s already set in motion. Buy it at a discount directly from the publisher for a limited time.

Thank you to the ladies for having me here again and including me in their circle of friends. Do you think you’ve done everything you can to make your blog successful? Can you add any advice to my list?

Susan Kelley has three romance series published and writes epic fantasy as Susan Gourley. She lives in Pennsylvania in a large country home with her husband and children. As a full time writer, she spends her days at the computer with a cup of coffee or hot tea at her side. Find her:

Blog: Susan Says

Facebook: Susan Gourley

Twitter: Susan Kelley

Books: Victoria Smith!


It is with great pleasure that I introduce one of my best friends to The Whole Shebang Site. Today is Super release day for her first full-length novel and it is awesome. Take it away, Victoria.

fortheloveofisaac_finalWhat genre do your books fall into or is it a genre blended? Romance, but there’s a lot of blending. I write paranormal, urban fantasy, contemporary, and dystopian. All of my books have romance and a happily ever after or at least a happy for now ending.
What inspires you to write? Everything!

Do you listen to music or set the mood somehow to get writing? I usually listen to music, though sometimes I will write with a favorite movie on in the background, and sometimes I like quiet (which I rarely get).
Do you come up with the plot or characters first? Yes! Both happen often.

Do you have a favorite book of yours? I have two favorite books I’ve written. One is my very first single title romance about a haunted campground and the two sisters who inherit it. That book is my favorite because it was a huge confidence builder, among other things. The second is a book about a woman who was raised as a killer and how she adapts to the world now that the war is over. Both are waiting for a home with someone who loves them as much as I do.

Who would you consider an influence on your writing? Oh, this is a hard one. I guess… Every author I’ve ever read for different reasons. My friends and family are also a huge influence because they encourage me to keep going when things get tough.

Tell me something quirky about yourself. There is a rat living in my house. In a cage. She belongs to my oldest daughter, but she can’t have pets in her apartment, so Maggie lives here. I actually like her.

What do you aim to make people feel when they read your books? To fall in love as my characters fall in love and feel their pain / hope / joy and to be equally scared, grossed out, and pleasingly disturbed.

What’s next for you? My previously published novella, Sheltered, will be released by Liquid Silver on February 24th. I’m currently working on two (plus) projects – one is set at the end of a zombie-like apocalypse. The other is about a world where there is no green left – no grass, no trees, no clean water. I’m excited about both of them!

Do you sing in the shower? No, because someone would hear me and that would be like torture.


Victoria Smith PhotoBio: Victoria Smith wrote her first romance at the age of nine and hid the story from her brothers to avoid being teased. Her mother recently found the folded notebook paper and, if you’re lucky, one day she’ll reveal the hero in that story. Now, she writes urban fantasy, paranormal romance, romantic suspense and women’s fiction – always with a happy, or at least satisfying, ending. An active member of Romance Writers of America, Victoria lives in Pennsylvania with her high school sweetheart. Visit her at


Art: Courtnye Koivisto!


BluejayWhat kinds of things do you generally paint or take pictures of?

Birds. Lots of birds. I prefer birds of prey, but all birds lend themselves to painting. They have beautiful forms and plumage, and each one is so unique. Lately, I’ve been trying my hand at macro photography, focusing on natural forms and insects.

What inspires you to create?

As cliché as it may sound, I am eternally inspired by nature. Humans haven’t even come close to creating the natural beauty that is in this world. I want to capture the emotive qualities in birds that can so easily be missed by humans. Though I’ve been interested in birds since I was a child, I’m still learning about new species. Every time I come across a new bird, I start coming up with ideas for how to paint it.

Do you have the picture already in your mind before you paint it or do you start painting and uncover it?

I tend to think about a painting to death before I start painting or even sketching it. I’m not the most diligent sketcher and it doesn’t help that I think of new ideas while driving. (NOTE: Don’t sketch & drive!) Sometimes I will modify a composition while painting it, but a lot of what I paint with doesn’t allow for much editing.

Do you have a favorite painting of yours?

I’m partial to the lammergeier, mostly because it’s such a fascinating vulture. It feeds almost exclusively on bone marrow and has Ground Hornbilldeveloped a technique to break the larger ones it can’t swallow whole. The lammergeier will soar to almost 500 feet into the air and drop the large bones onto rocks. It’s amazing that these birds have learned to use tools like that.

Who would you consider an influence on your art?

Though my style completely differs, I am mostly inspired by neoclassical and surrealist painters. I enjoy the blending of realistic and fantastical elements that these two movements have been able to master. As for contemporary artists, Josh Keyes stands out. He paints beautifully minimal scenes that contain so much of a story.

Do you listen to music when you paint? Who?

I usually just put on a Pandora shuffle and listen to anything from old blues to Andrew Bird to Disney tunes. It’s nice to have a varied output of music because it is constantly changing the tone and mood while I’m painting. I don’t want to get stuck in a mood and have it affect what I’m painting.

Tell me something quirky about yourself.

Secretary BirdWell, I’ve started to collect old bones in hopes to one day get into taxidermy and natural history collections. I can’t do too much in my apartment (my husband would not appreciate a masticating tub of bones in the bathroom), so it’s a bit of a slow start. Also, I really like thunderstorms and get so excited when the weather report calls for them.

What do you aim to make people feel when they view your art?

Something, anything. Respect, curiosity, intrigue. I try to leave out enough context so that the viewer can interpret the paintings with as little influence from me. If someone is interested in learning more about a bird, or simply enjoys the beautiful plumage, I’ve done my job. I simply want to share what I find beautiful with the world.

What’s next for you?

I’m hoping to eventually go to graduate school for art conservation or museum studies. For now, I’m just trying to build my portfolio.

King VultureDo you sing in the shower?

Oh no, I’m a terrible singer. I actually just shower in silence or talk to my cat if she’s around. For some reason, she loves lying in the tub right after the shower is done. I guess the water feels good on her fur in the summer.

 Courtnye and her awesome work can be found at:

LammergeierThanks so much for being here! ~Misty

Books: Katherine Grey!


An Unexpected GiftWriting and the Holiday Season


The holidays are officially over so my post may seem like it’s a bit late, but I wanted to share what I learned about trying to maintain a regular writing schedule from the week of Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day.


Knowing that a lot of my normal “free time” after I arrive home from the day job would be eaten up shopping for gifts, wrapping said gifts, baking, entertaining out of town relatives, and attending at least the necessary holiday gatherings (i.e. the office party which while not mandatory, seems so), I lowered my normal weekly page goal of new material to half the normal amount. I also tried to fit in at least a modicum of promotion.


Well, you know what they say about good intentions. My writing schedule dwindled down to all but non-existent. At first I felt like I was dropping the ball, but on the advice of friend I started keeping a list of all the things (writing related or not) I did manage to accomplish each week. Looking at that list at the end of the week and seeing all of the things I did do kept me from feeling like a failure.


Did I meet those updated writing goals I made the week of Thanksgiving? Nope, not even close. But I did learn something which is just as important. I learned with all of the added responsibilities the holidays bring, for me, writing needs to take a back seat. So as I sit down this weekend and write out my 2014 writing goals, I’m building in a “no writing” cushion from Thanksgiving until the first full week of January. If I have the time, I’ll definitely sit down and write, but without having the pressure of those daily page goals, I think I’ll enjoy the holiday season so much more.



Known only as Lazarus to the band of cutthroats and thieves he leads, William Prescott will do anything to find his missing sister, even blackmail a fragile young woman into helping him. But he never plans to fall in love with this mysterious woman with a troubled past.

Haunted by the memories of war, Olivia St. Germaine wants nothing more than to live a normal life. But when her brother, a doctor, suddenly leaves town without a word, she is forced to use her medical knowledge to help an injured man who puts her life in danger. Can she keep herself safe as she tends Lazarus, or is her heart more vulnerable than she realizes?


Buy Links:


The Wild Rose Press:




Barnes & Noble:



Author Bio:


At the age of four, Katherine pestered her mother to teach her to read. From that point on, she spent the most of her childhood lost in the pages of one book after another. Soon she began writing stories of her own, populated with characters doing all of the things she was too shy to even contemplate doing herself.

A chance meeting with another author led Katherine to seriously pursue a writing career. Her debut novel, Impetuous, was released by The Wild Rose Press in August 2011.

Katherine lives in upstate NY with her family though she threatens to move south at the beginning of each winter season.

You can contact Katherine at:



Twitter: @AuthorKayGrey