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I’m heading off tomorrow to one of my favorite gigs – the San Diego edition of the Southern California Writers’ Conference.  I’m scheduled to conduct an in-depth presentation entitled: Writer Primer – Writer Responsibilities to the Reader and to lead several Read & Critique Workshops.  I’ll also meet privately for one-on-one Advance Submission sessions with aspiring writers whose work I’ve read and evaluated.  This conference, like many others, is devoted to the creative and business needs of aspiring writers.

Those of us who lead workshops are willing mentors to the next generation of writers.  I believe that the Directors of SCWC, Michael Stephen Gregory and Wes Albers, will forgive me if I reveal the fact that Workshop Leaders are not paid big bucks for sharing our experiences in the trenches of the writing/publishing world.

We participate at conferences, counsel students, and lead workshops for several reasons, among them a passion for our craft, the pleasure of finding the one or two or three golden nuggets of creative talent among the attendees, the chance to guide talented writers onto a path that will result in marketable books, and the opportunity to reconnect with our own peers in the writing community.  That last one probably doesn’t surprise you at all, since you realize that the life of the writer is a largely solitary one.

Given the length of my writing and editing career – 20 plus years – I’ve participated in countless writers’ conferences across the country.  I can accurately say that the two stand-outs for me are SCWC ( Southern California Writers’ Conference www.writersconference.com/ ) and SBWC ( Santa Barbara Writers’ Conference www.sbwritersconference.com/ ).  Both conferences allow me to share my experiences as a multi-published writer in both traditional print publishing and, more recently, in the digital publishing arena, as well as to utilize my skills as a veteran editor when critiquing student work.

And so, Readers, I want you to know that aspiring writers are in good hands as Workshop Leaders groom the next generation of writers – the same writers who are destined to entertain and delight you as they sweep you into the future, the distant past, or the here and now with their fiction, or inform you with their non-fiction.

I would like to close by offering my own sincere and heartfelt thank you to Readers You’ve been amazingly supportive of my romantic suspense books during the last several months – so supportive, in fact, that INTIMATE STRANGERS, FALLEN ANGEL, DESERT ROSE, MIDNIGHT STORM, and HEARTBREAKER have all occupied (simultaneously, no less!) the Bestseller Top 100 Romantic Suspense List at Amazon.UK for the previous two weeks, and those same books all spent two months this winter on that same Bestseller Top 100 Romantic Suspense List at Amazon.com in the U.S.   Color me extremely appreciative of readers.

I’m going strong on Facebook, Google+, and at Twitter (AuthorLTaylor) these days, so reach out and we’ll connect.  Meantime, READERS RULE!

Hugs all around, Laura

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author of provocative mysteries and thrillers

As fewer authors set up book signings and other events in which they meet readers face to face, creative types have come up with new ways for authors and readers to interact online. Here are seven fun resources and venues for readers to connect with writers:

Kindlegraph

This site lets readers sign up to receive a personalized book signature for an ebook. It’s a great way for readers to collect author signatures without having to attend book signings and buy print books. About 1700 authors are signed up, and I expect that number to grow. I’ve signed up and receive signature requests weekly. One caveat: You have to sign in through a Twitter account. They plan to change that soon.

eReaderIQ

This site provides Amazon Kindle price drop alerts, watches your favorite titles to let you know when they are available for Kindle, and gives you a regularly updated list of all non-public domain freebies on Amazon.com. It also offers a search engine that lets readers search the Kindle store by genre and keyword, but also define the price range, reader age, language and more. In addition, Authors can buy sponsorships to announce their e-books.

@author

Created by Amazon, this feature is in beta testing with only a handful of authors. In essence, you can email the author directly with questions about their book as you’re reading it. So far, I believe only authors published with Amazon Encore are available, but I expect it will expand.

Goodreads Recommendations 

This is a new feature that works much like Netflix suggestions, finding books you’ll enjoy based on what else you’ve read and how you rated it. But it’s more complex than that, and here’s what the blog says: “The Goodreads Recommendation Engine combines multiple proprietary algorithms which analyze 20 billion data points to better predict which books people will want to read next.” Try it!

Stop, You’re Killing Me 

This site is for crime fiction fans and offers complete lists of authors works and the order the novels were published in. It’s very useful for determining the order of a series, so you don’t miss anything or read out of order. It also lists books by character name (very cool) and posts reviews.

Kickerstarter

An innovative platform for readers and consumers of art to fund projects so artists can be creative. Investors receive something equal in exchange: tickets, art photos, books, etc. Here’s an example of an author with a finished book, looking for support money for a cover design and formatter. I know of this author but I’m not familiar with her work. Out of curiosity, I’m tempted to list my next Jackson book and see if 300 fans will kick in $3 each to fund the production of the ebook. They would receive a copy of the book the moment it was ready and likely a bonus as well, such as a short story. It would be nice to cut out Amazon’s profit on a few copies too. 🙂

PubSlush  

This site is similar, but is focused exclusively on books. Here’s the site description: “Authors submit ten pages and a summary of their book. We then let you (readers)  browse the submissions based on your preferences. You read a brief overview, and if it strikes your fancy, you click through to read a more in depth description. If you’re still interested, you read an excerpt. And if that leaves you wanting more, you support it (which is essentially like preordering the book)! You don’t get charged unless the book is published, so there’s no risk. And for every book we sell, we’re donating a book to a child in need.”

Do you have other interesting, unique or fun reader sites to add?

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I want to start off my first READERS RULE blog posting with a “thank you” to my fellow authors at READERS RULE – Bob Mayer, J. Carson Black, L. J. Sellers, Joseph Nassise, Ruth Harris, Laura Landon, and C. J. Lyons.  I am proud to be included in a company of writers whose careers are hallmarked by their commitment to their writing and to their readers.

Each member of READERS RULE is a veteran writer.  We’ve all been, and continue to be, blessed with loyal readers who have supported our careers through good times and bad.  We all create and write about make-believe worlds – not a surprise, I know!  My point here is that, within the context of the stories constructed in those make-believe worlds and populated by characters we either love or hate, our readers invariably discover themes that personally resonate for them.  Call it the shared human experience.

The theme of a book – revenge, a quest for survival, love conquers all, triumph of good over evil, coming of age, etc. – establishes the initial common ground between the writer and the reader.  Along with a particular character or characters, the theme engages the emotions of the reader, which helps to form a part of the foundation for a long-term relationship between readers and writers.

The equation for me is a simple one.   READER  +  WRITER  =  A Committed Relationship   READERS RULE is all about respecting and honoring the relationship between readers and writers.

It will not surprise you to learn that I read constantly.  When I read the work of my fellow writers, my understanding of what readers expect of me as a writer is further expanded.  As well, I receive messages from readers across the globe, and I’m thankful for their willingness to express their appreciation of my efforts to meet their expectations when they purchase my books.

The Thanksgiving season is upon us, and I am particularly thankful to my romantic suspense readers.  They make it possible for me to touch their hearts as I write the stories I love to write.  In truth, I get back from you as much as I give, and for that I thank each and every one of you.

Stop in at my website ( http://www.AuthorandEditor.com ) and click on the link for a FREE copy of INTIMATE STRANGERS, a romantic suspense novel that “sizzles”.   Not bragging here – just quoting my READERS – they rule!  J

Happy Thanksgiving and a heartfelt thanks to all READERS – you continue to inspire me!  And to the remarkable men and women of our military who serve here at home and across the globe – I am thankful for you. You’re in my thoughts and prayers  – as always.

You’ll find me on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter.

Hugs all around … Laura Taylor

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