Wednesday, March 8, 2017


In my college years, I saved up my money, put away my pain and went to get my eyebrow pierced. When I returned home to my conservative mother, she had an absolute fit. She wanted to know why and what I was thinking. My only response was, “I liked it.”

I had that eyebrow ring for all of two weeks before I had an interview at a prestigious organization and my mother had my uncle bring his tools over to cut the jewelry that represented my rebellious college years, from my face. Oddly enough, I let them cut it because deep down, I knew my mother had a point. I might not have agreed with her point, you might not even agree with the point but it was one that I subscribed to at that time in my life and to a certain extent, even today.

That event happened almost twenty years ago and how I represented myself mattered then, as it does now. Things may not be the same and depending on the circle you’re in or subscribe to; people will make assumptions about you based on things like the placement of jewelry, body art, hair color or your accent. Now that we live in a digital world, those same assumptions can be made with a click of a button.

As an educator, I do not friend my students, teachers or staff members on social media with my personal account because it’s for me it's personal. On my professional account, I will add almost everybody and on my author accounts, I am very strategic about who I invite into my world. In all of my various worlds because it does matter.

Everything you do online can be tracked, pulled back up and put before you. It can even be used in a court of law. Nowadays, it’s one of the first things official look into, as well as the media when there is something to cover; social media profiles, posts, pictures, etc.

Why am I discussing this topic?

One, because branding is vital to an author’s trajectory in the industry. Two; because branding is often misrepresented with marketing. Three; having the title author comes with a responsibility.

How can an author’s branding advance or hinder their status within the industry? In many different ways including but not limited to logos, website, book covers, signatures, tag lines, books other readers purchased along with your books, collaborations, publishing companies, images, comments and posts.

Most authors know that people do, in fact, judge a book by its cover. I'm not saying they should but the reality is that they do. There is also the fact that certain covers represent different things. A cover with a shirtless man often means that the level of sexual encounters will be present. Versus a fully dressed couple whose foreheads are touching; which can signify a sweet romance. When a reader sees these covers, this also is a part of an author's branding.

An author’s profile picture, posts, retweets, likes comments speak louder than our taglines for our books. Even an email address can also send a message. This may sound a bit snobbish but we are talking about branding. A free email account can say a lot about the seriousness of a business or an author.  A professional website could encourage someone to do business with you or not.

I was using a freelancer who was a professional videographer and he resided in Europe. I wanted him to create a video for me and after hiring him, he said, “I looked you up and from the looks of your website, you seem to be a pretty good author but then I saw the prices of your books and then I thought, maybe not.”

Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to say because it was a compliment, until it wasn’t. He was an outsider giving his personal opinion about my brand. My website impressed him; which was great. My prices, not so much. I forget what I told him, but I do know, I started to change some of my prices. Dare, I say, indie authors, prices can also be a part of your branding.

Social Media: There were two unique opportunities that I applied for; one was for the submission of my book for publication and the other was for a contest. One wanted to friend me on Facebook and the other wanted my twitter handle. I’ve conducted enough interviews to know that they wanted to know more about who I was as a person as well as how I represented myself. I could hire someone to write an excellent synopsis, get the greatest editor money could find but if I conducted my online business, which is my how I post, respond and what I engage in on social media; that could make or break a deal.

As an author, I try to be careful about how I represent myself to my readers, other authors and anyone because you never know what in this industry where you'll be and what you'll need. I always remain who I am, which is also essential to my brand. Branding isn't about being fake or putting on a display; many times it's about time and place.

The overall goal maybe to sell books but in many ways, we are selling ourselves. Readers buy books by great storytellers, people they know or have been highly recommended. As a reader first, if I see messiness coming from an author, I steer clear. As an author, I do not engage because it's a fruitless activity that will benefit me none and sends the wrong type of message I would like my readers and potentials to get from me. Plus, I work in a school and have to deal with drama five days a week.

Branding yourself as a gifted author, that is professional, and a hard worker requires spending money. Logos, covers and anything that comes from your business, enterprise, publisher should not look like it was created by an amateur. Honest feedback is necessary and being open to hearing the truth about something is important. One of my favorite things to purchase is best-selling covers. You know, those covers that just make you stop. Yes, those. If they make you stop, the goal is to make the reader stop. I always run it past my PA to make sure it's not just me. If she gives me the thumbs up, I usually purchase them.

Logos, swag, and promotional items can be purchased with minimal cost, thanks to organizations like, or These are sites that I've used heavily to create promotional images, videos, bookmarks, t-shirt designs and much more. For some, you can set the price or select a service provider. Either way, the cost remain low and affordable for the author trying to professionally brand themselves, even if it's on social media alone.

How you represent yourself matters and it counts.

The last thing we all want is to be discounted because of poor branding or misrepresentations of our work. Create the brand you want, remain consistent and open for feedback. ♥

Xyla Turner was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She has always been a writer, even as a teenager, she wrote short stories and essays that won awards and nation-wide competitions. Xyla is an avid reader of romance novels and a sucker for sassy females and dominant males. She is a lifelong learner, High School Vice-Principal and a pretty good Auntie. Outside of reading, Xyla likes to spend time with her family and friends, experiment with dangerous adventures and travel. She writes different genres, but her favorite is romance. Visit her at


Friday, March 3, 2017


Every week we bring you an exciting hot book cover from 
one of New York's Leading Romance Authors.

This is a new book release for her.  Happy Reading.

by Alyssa Cole

SUMMARY:   As the Civil War rages between the states, a courageous pair of spies plunge fearlessly into a maelstrom of ignorance, deceit, and danger, combining their unique skills to alter the course of history and break the chains of the past . . .

Elle Burns is a former slave with a passion for justice and an eidetic memory. Trading in her life of freedom in Massachusetts, she returns to the indignity of slavery in the South—to spy for the Union Army.

Malcolm McCall is a detective for Pinkerton’s Secret Service. Subterfuge is his calling, but he’s facing his deadliest mission yet—risking his life to infiltrate a Rebel enclave in Virginia.

Two undercover agents who share a common cause—and an undeniable attraction—Malcolm and Elle join forces when they discover a plot that could turn the tide of the war in the Confederacy’s favor. Caught in a tightening web of wartime intrigue, and fighting a fiery and forbidden love, Malcolm and Elle must make their boldest move to preserve the Union at any cost—even if it means losing each other . . .


Tuesday, February 28, 2017


We are talking Self-Sabotage this week.

Did you read Maria Cox's article yesterday? Do!

Self-sabotage happens when we set a goal, then proceed to make choices that go directly against the accomplishment of that goal. With writing, self-sabotage can look like procrastinating when we’re supposed to be writing. Or it can look like refusing constructive feedback, or failing to do necessary research before a big decision. There are many ways to self-sabotage, but let’s talk about one of the less obvious ways we self-sabotage: playing small.

In the bestselling book A RETURN TO LOVE, author and speaker Marianne Williamson says:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. … You’re playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine…”

The flip side of fear of failure is fear of success. Fear of success brings up questions like: What happens if we go big? How will our lives be different? Will the people around us still love us? If we try and fail, we’re right back where we started. But if we succeed? Things change. And we don’t always like change, even if it’s what we say we want.

Out of this fear, we play small and we hold back. We don’t write that book we think is too “out there.” We don’t submit to our dream agents or editors, we don’t ask for reviews, or we don’t market ourselves effectively. In these ways--which don’t seem too serious on the surface--we sabotage our writing and publishing goals. By playing small, what we’re really saying is we’re scared of change and we want to stay right here where it’s comfortable.

If we want to play big, embrace change, and expand our comfort zones, we must allow ourselves to shine. By shining, by standing in our power, we inspire others to do the same. If we take a closer look at the areas where we’re holding back and make a conscious effort to play bigger, we can turn around that fear of success and work toward meeting our goals instead of against them.♥

Alexis Daria is a contemporary and paranormal romance writer. On Sunday evenings, she co-hosts #RWchat, a weekly Twitter chat for romance writers. Alexis also serves as PRO Liaison for the New York City chapter of RWA, and Municipal Liaison for the NYC region of National Novel Writing Month. You can find her on Twitter at @alexisdaria, and follow her blog


Monday, February 27, 2017


We are talking Self-Sabotage this week.

Join us as authors Maria Cox and Alexis Daria  
give us their take on the subject.

Do you ask yourself, what keeps me from meeting my goals? Why do others achieve theirs successfully? Most of us have goals, big and small, but the most realistic goals in the world won’t materialize if you engage in self-defeating behaviors.

So, what is self-sabotage?

“Self-sabotage is when we say we want something and then go about making sure it doesn't happen.” ~ Alyce P. Cornyn-Selby

In today’s business environment we’re “on” all the time. All eyes are on us to achieve or fail. It’s important that we don’t give in to negative feelings and risk spiraling out of control.

If you’re self-sabotaging you’re not alone. Studies suggest that 85 percent of people engage in some form of self-sabotage.

Below are two of the most common behaviors:

“If only…”
We all have some regrets, whether they're about something we did (if only I hadn't dropped out of college), or something we didn't do (if only I’d ask for that raise). To dwell on these “if only” fantasies will only keep you idling in neutral.

The “worry wart”
You fret over things that really shouldn't matter. You fear that if you fail others will think less of you. You doubt your abilities even though “you’re very capable”. Listen, we all have insecurities; we just have to learn to manage them effectively.

Here are a few things that experts suggest we practice in order to minimize the self-deprecating inner talk:

Smile more
Smile. Right now  

Emit good energy
The energy you send out into the world comes back.

Do for others
If you’re wallowing in your own misery, why not pull aside and regroup? Focusing on others is a great way to gain perspective.

See the bright side
Remember that the universe is in balance. Things aren’t always as bad as they seem.

Get grounded and stay grounded
Positive thinking without positive actions gets you nowhere. Be prepared to do the work.

Especially at yourself!

Anytime you feel like your plan has gone off course, fight against shutting down. If you get a bad review, don’t throw in the towel. Before you give up on your strategy, before you decide to give up on your dream, sit down and plan a new approach.♥

Maria Cox is a PRO member of Romance Writers of America; she has also served as President of the Phoenix Writers Club. Maria has been writing stories since she was a young girl. She picked up her first romance novel when she was just eleven years old and has loved the genre ever since. Maria writes sensual romance, stories that showcase strong, sassy, and sexy characters. When not writing fiction, Maria works as a technical writer. She lives in Queens, New York. Please visit her site and/or follow her on Twitter.



Friday, February 24, 2017


Every week we bring you an exciting hot book cover from 
one of New York's Leading Romance Authors.

Let's Play Ball! 

Bottom of the Ninth series
by Jean C. Joachim

SUMMARY:   Matt Jackson, clutch hitter, fielder extraordinaire, and team captain, is dynamite on the baseball field, but a loser with women. Or is he? He makes a show of coming on to chicks in bars, but always strikes out. Convinced being dateless is safer, Matt keeps his distance from women. Is he simply an insensitive chauvinist, or a crafty man hiding a secret? 

Everything he believes in is challenged the day he walks in on a beautiful woman in the locker room. Dusty, the sharp-tongued spitfire, cuts the all-star pro down to size. Unwilling to accept second-class status, she challenges everything he knows about women. 

Does a solo life make living with emotional pain easier? Drawn to the stunning, talented woman, Matt has a long way to go to win her trust. Getting close to Dusty is dangerous. Can he risk his well-protected heart? Matt faces a difficult choice -- will he make the right decision?


Wednesday, February 22, 2017


When people find out I’m an author, one of the first things they ask is how I manage to come up with all those words.  The next is how do I manage to find time to write?  Let me give you a brief rundown of what my life looks like.  I’m a wife, a mother of two small boys, ages six and four—one of whom has ADHD, and on top of all that, I’m an author.  For those of you that don’t know, being an author is time consuming.  It requires hours of sitting in one space at a computer, pecking your thoughts out on the screen one keystroke at a time. 

Now that you’ve been given the full picture of my existence, you’re probably raising questions about my sanity—don’t worry, I do too.  Although my life does sometimes feel out of control, for the most part, it’s a carefully balanced ball of organized chaos.  So how do I find time to write during all of that?  I just do it.

If you want to write, then you must make it happen, no matter the sacrifice.  So, I can’t be a writer when I need to be a mother, but I can make certain my kids have a fixed bedtime routine to ensure I have at least two hours to myself before I collapse into bed.  I might sometimes have to choose between cooking a balanced meal, and ordering takeout so I can meet my word count, but I get it done.  When I’m on a deadline, I might not be able to keep up with my housekeeping the way I’d like (and if you knew how much of a neat freak I am, you’d understand how painful this is), it’s expected I might be stepping over some things for a few days until I type the end.  However, in the middle of me tripping over whatever surprise one of my kids left in the floor, I completed an actual book.

Life can be a greedy narcissistic heifer at times, demanding all your attention and plotting to steal every free second you’d spend writing.  Although you may have to bow down to her during the important times, others, you need to make your writing the priority, and life your mistress.  Why?  Because the only way to do, is to do it.  That’s the only secret I have for time management and getting the work done.  I don’t make excuses, I write.  When I don’t want to, when I’m tired, when I’d rather be watching T.V., I sit my butt in a chair, put my hands on my keyboard, plug my earbuds in my ears, crank up my music, and I write.

LaQuette is a bestselling erotic romance author, and a 2015 Georgia Romance Writers Maggie Award Finalist in Erotic Romance, and a 2015 Swirl Awards Finalist in Romantic Suspense. Contact her on Facebook, Twitter, @LaQuetteLikes, her website,, Amazon, her Facebook group, LaQuette's Lounge, and via email at 


Monday, February 20, 2017



With the scheduled release of the Fifty Shades Darker on February 10, fans are getting excited about seeing their favorite characters and scenes come to life on the big screen.
Many of us remember getting pulled into 1,500 plus pages of non-stop reading and being stunned by the “book hangover” that ensued.

And may writers still wonder: what made so many go ga-ga for Mr. Grey?

Sex therapist Sari Cooper, LCSW, offered some great insights into this in “Fifty Shades of Grey: What You Can Learn about Sex Esteem from the Bestseller,” a lecture she gave in Manhattan a while back. Cooper, a columnist for Psychology Today and an ASECT certified sex therapist, outlined what she called “the erotic triggers” that are written into the book and said these triggers combined are what kept the heroine, Anastasia Steele (Ana) so stimulated and intrigued, and made the story so irresistible to readers.

“These are the multisensory messages that our bodies receive and that get us turned-on,” she explained. Writers of steamy fiction might find some new hints for making things hotter. With her permission, here are the top 10 erotic triggers:

1.    Powerful hero. “He is dark, mysterious, and possibly dangerous — a total Alpha male. He’s wild, dangerous and unpredictable. Being with him is like a roller coaster ride.”

2.    Awakened Heroine. “She is innocent. She is the yin to the yang of Christian Grey. She is a young woman awakened by this man who knows a lot more. “

3.    Christian Grey uses all the senses — taste, touch, sight, scent, sound. “For example, Ana is always talking about how he smells and he about her scent. He also consciously uses these different triggers to arouse her.”

4.    Music is huge part of it. There are many musical moments in the book that inspire erotic or emotionally charged moments.

5.    He appeals to her psychologically. “He sends signals to throw her off-balance, such as his first gift of the collector’s edition of Tess of the d’Urbervilles. He attached a quote from the book that says there may be danger waiting. It creates more intrigue for her and she is intrigued by him.”

6.    There is stimulation of all the erogenous zones and multisensory anticipation. “Christian does it with such expertise, and so much foreplay, with plenty of time to get Anastasia ready.
          A.   Primary erogenous zones. Genitals and breasts.
          B.   Secondary erogenous zones: Earlobe, neck.
          C.   Tertiary erogenous zones: Feet, arms, scalp. 

7.    BDSM. “The book has opened up the door a crack to things people may not have considered before. In Fifty Shades, Ana has many fears about being hurt, but when she is in the red room of pain she is not just in pain — she is in a state of arousal beyond what she would normally feel. Sexual arousal sometimes involves working with negative emotions such as fear and anxiety. It’s the experience of being on a roller coaster that enhances the state of arousal.”

8.    Love. “Ana pushes for ‘more’ than being his submissive and he ‘tries’ because he will do anything to keep her. He’s only had subs [submissive female partners] before, women that he has controlled, and he is pushed to his hard limits by Ana who is demanding more. That’s what people love about the book. They want the romance, the emotional tension. Will it work out for them? They want to know!”

9.    The experience of being desired. “This is a huge erotic trigger for women. It’s the experience of being that special someone. There is no one else in his eyes. He only has eyes for her. She is the one he longs for. It combines the erotic with the sensual. Being desired is such a turn on for women.”

10.  He’s very loyal. “At first we are not sure if we can trust him. She talks about his ‘stalker tendencies.’ What wins Ana over, and wins the reader over, is he’s very loyal. And when she needs him, he’s there. I think it works because women can feel the fantasy of having that danger, with the security of having a good relationship.”

The reader is constantly barraged with these triggers or cues, along with a genuine emotional connection between the characters. Even if some of the writing is corny, the sentiments can set women’s hearts afire because they stimulate the fantasy of the perfect man who is not only gorgeous and rich, but is sexually masterful and desires her pleasure. His virility and her fertility are a turn-on and can help the reader feel young, just reading about their interactions. Sigh.♥

A.C. Rose is a love and romance columnist and author of steamy romance books. Visit her at For more insights to why readers fell in love with Christian Grey, read FALLING HARD FOR FIFTY by A.C. Rose.

Read the full article at the Three Tomatoes: