Category Archives: Guest Post

Guest Post by Lauren Carr, author of A Fine Year for Murder (with giveaway)

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Guest Post by Lauren Carr, author of A Fine Year for Murder (with giveaway) A Fine Year for Murder by Lauren Carr
Series: Thorny Rose Mysteries #2
Published by the author on January 30, 2017
Genres: Mystery
Buy on Amazon or Audible
Add on Goodreads

After months of marital bliss, Jessica Faraday and Murphy Thornton are still discovering and adjusting to their life together. Settled in their new home, everything appears to be perfect … except in the middle of the night when, in darkest shadows of her subconscious, a deep secret from Jessica’s past creeps to the surface to make her strike out at Murphy.

When investigative journalist Dallas Walker tells the couple about her latest case, known as the Pine Bridge Massacre, they realize Jessica may have witnessed the murder of a family living near a winery owned by distant relatives she was visiting and suppressed the memory.

Determined to uncover the truth and find justice for the murder victims, Jessica and Murphy return to the scene of the crime with Dallas Walker, a spunky bull-headed Texan. Can this family reunion bring closure for a community touched by tragedy or will this prickly get-together bring an end to the Thorny Rose couple?

An Author By Any Other Name ….
By Lauren Carr (aka Jack’s wife, Tristan’s Mom, Marilyn Mayhem, and Beast Master)

Occasionally, I receive an email from an author terrified of using Facebook, the Internet, or any social media for fear of friends and relatives identifying them. Once, I received an email from an author afraid to promote his upcoming book. “I have relatives out there who I don’t want to find me,” he said.

I’m certain there’s a great story behind this, but he refused to tell me.

I was surprised when I first started conducting workshops in using social media to discover that many writers are terrified of promoting their books online for fear of their friends and family finding out that they’re published authors. So, I offer this solution: Use a Pen Name!

Read on to learn about my not-so-secret identity.

My husband has been the financial director at our church for over twenty years. Yep, this mystery writer, who spends her days researching how to kill people is a middle-aged church lady. Since I am somewhat a local celebrity, our church’s gift shop carries my books. While we don’t endorse murder, my mysteries are clean of profanity, graphic violence, and explicit sex. Therefore, our senior pastor (a fan) allows my titles to be sold in our bookstore.

One afternoon, I was coming down the hall outside my husband’s office when I heard our office manager telling a woman, “You really should ask Lauren Carr about that. She might be able to help you.”

“Lauren Carr?” the woman replied. “Do you have her number?”

“Of course,” Jill answered. “She’s Jack’s wife.”

Hearing my name, I stepped into the office and a woman, a church member who I had known for years, turned around. When she saw me she said, “That’s not Lauren. That’s Marilyn.”

Laughing, Jill explained, “She’s all three of them. Lauren Carr is her pen name. She’s also Jack’s wife. He calls her Marilyn Mayhem. But her real name is Terri.”

The woman’s eyes got wide. “Jack is married to Lauren Carr!” Judging by her expression, you would have thought I was Nora Roberts (another author that uses a pen name) living undercover as a middle aged church lady called Marilyn by her close friends.

My true identity is not exactly a state secret. Yep, Lauren Carr, Jack’s wife Marilyn (which is another story), Tristan’s Mom, Beast Master to three dogs—they would all be me.

Pen names are nothing new. Authors have been using them for centuries. Some names are famous: Mark Twain was really Samuel Clemens and Dr. Seuss was Theodor Geisel. Ann Landers was Esther Pauline Friedman. O. Henry was William Sydney Porter.

Why would an author change his or her name to hide his or her identity from the real world rather than step forth and take all the glory they deserve for having completed the daunting task of writing a book?

There could be any number of reasons:

In Mary Ann Evans’ case, she was writing at a time when books written by men were more successful than those written by female authors. So Evans assumed a man’s name (George Eliot) to relate better with her readers.

Likewise, award winning mystery author L.C. Hayden, says that when she first started writing by her real name of Elsie Hayden, she received rejection after rejection until she changed her name to L.C. to give publishers and readers the impression that she was a male writer.

Another author I had worked with used a pen name because his first book, fiction-based-on-fact, said some not so nice things about some real people and he wanted to hide his identity. During my career, I have met more than one writer considering the use of pen names for just this reason.

In the case of Stephen King (Yes, even Stephen King used a pen name!) he didn’t want to risk saturating the market with Stephen King books. At the beginning of Stephen King’s career, publishers limited authors to one book a year. In order to increase his publishing, he convinced his publisher, to print a series of novels under a pseudonym, Richard Bachman.

My reason for using the pen name of Lauren Carr is not quite so grand, or even interesting. Frankly, I don’t like the name Terri. I never did. That’s why my husband calls me Marilyn. (No, that is not my middle name. … It’s a long story.) When I was growing up, I realized that since I wrote fiction, which is not real, then I was free to take on a not-real name and I could be any one I wanted.

What a kick!

I thought long and hard about my name. I gave as much thought to it as an expectant mother, because that was who I was going to be, even if only on the cover of a book. I chose Lauren because my sister’s name is Karen. I was convinced that if my mother was thinking straight, that Lauren, not Terri, would have naturally followed Karen. Don’t ask me why or how I came to this conclusion, I just did. Carr was my late stepfather’s last name.

So, I became Lauren Carr, a pen name that I have had longer than my real name. I was Lauren Carr before I married my husband and took on his name. Little did I realize that as my career has grown, that Lauren Carr would become a whole other identity, which is also a kick.

Is it fun? Sure is.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a mystery dinner theater in the small town where we have lived for close to a quarter of a century. I hosted the event. During the performances, I would be introduced as Lauren Carr to the audience. Jaws did drop. Many people in the audience had read Lauren Carr books, written by the local author, but they didn’t know Tristan’s mom and Jack’s wife wrote those murder mysteries. “She seems so normal!”

Other questions that writers considering using pen names ask me:

What about when customers write checks? Do you have to make them sign them under your real name? Check with your bank. When I first started making public appearances, I contacted my bank and explained the situation, which they thought was cool. This bank said they would accept checks made out to my pen name as long as I deposited the whole amount into my account, which is under my real name.

Yet, when we opened an account at a different bank, this one stated that they would not take a check made out to Lauren Carr because Lauren Carr is not a real person.

Post Office: Let the post office and your mail carrier know that mail addressed to your pen name is for you. Otherwise, it might be returned as wrong address.

Email Address: Very simple. Many people who don’t have multiple identities have more than one email address. I have one email that I use for my personal accounts, one for Lauren Carr for my writing business, and yet another for my social media accounts (which I rarely check). I get more emails to Lauren Carr than I do for my real identity.

I also have different signature lines set up in Outlook. If it has to do with writing, the signature line is from Lauren Carr, author. If it is a grocery list to my husband, it is Marilyn. Terri doesn’t have a signature line.

Social Media: For book promotion, I have a Lauren Carr account and a separate personal account for my personal life. Not too long ago, a friend said that she had to friend Lauren Carr because I never used my personal account.

However, I don’t put truly personal information out there on the social media. The foremost reason I use it for promotion. Therefore, never—I repeat—never put anything personal out there on the Internet that will reflect poorly on your public image. Example: You have a fight with your husband—don’t go onto Facebook to announce that you married a doofus and then provide a blow-by-blow account of your side of the fight. That’s not going to sell books and will alienate some of your readers. Constantly think about your public image and how you want to present yourself. Don’t upload that video of you wearing the beer hat and dancing naked on the kitchen table while singing “I’m a Little Tea Cup.”

Security is a big thing that most authors are concerned about in using social media. We have all heard stories about maniacs hunting down people who they have been following on the Internet. A few years ago, I received a phone call at home from someone who had found my mailing address on the internet. He knew he lived in the same town where I lived and GoogleMapped it. He claimed he lived only a few streets from me. After a few long emails from him and phone conversations, I went on the Internet and removed my address from everywhere I could find it.

Make an effort to not give away too much about your personal life even if you use a pen name to hide from long lost relatives. I don’t post pictures of my house. I refrain from posting pictures of my son and my husband. Not too long ago a reader who realized she lived in the same town I did posted questions on my timeline on Facebook trying to find out where I lived and if we knew the same people. At one point, when she had put it together, instead of sending me a message off-line, she posted on Facebook “Are you …” I refused to say yeah or nay. If she had sent a message off-line instead of my timeline where everyone could read it, I would have answered her.

What’s the point, or the fun, of having a pen name if you don’t get to live behind a veil of mystery? As an author, with a pen name, you can be whoever you want to be.

Are you a middle-aged church lady on the outside with a young adult cozy writer buried deep inside you? Or maybe you’re a shy kindergarten teacher harboring a thrilling romantic suspense author behind those reading glasses.

Then maybe you might want to unleash your alter-ego and give her a name.

It’ll be fun!

Enter the Giveaway!!

Ends April 22

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About Lauren Carr

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, romance, and humor.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, son, and four dogs (including the real Gnarly) on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

The Missing Link in the Diet Industry: Guest post by Dede Barbanti, author of Transform: The Secret to Unlocking the Perfect You

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The Missing Link in the Diet Industry: Guest post by Dede Barbanti, author of Transform: The Secret to Unlocking the Perfect You

The Missing Link in the Diet Industry

It’s unfortunate, but the diet industry has tricked people into believing that they have to continuously consume their breakthrough product, pill, shake, boxed meals or follow their program if they want to lose weight. Most popular diet programs or products give you that glimmer of hope that maybe this time this one thing will be different and you’ll finally get the results you so desperately seek; but most of those programs will completely destroy your metabolism. They severely limit your calories by replacing nutritious meals with shakes or by changing your appetite with some type of diet pill. Or they provide you with sodium-and preservative-filled prepackaged meals to make it easier for you to stay on track, but they cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars in the long run. And they never show you how to tackle the real problems that cause the merry-go-round.

The diet industry is a multibillion-dollar industry for a reason, my friends: everyone is looking for the easy way out. But Trojan horses can only provide you with a temporary fix, and they are designed to keep you on them forever. Just think about it. If you are replacing any nutritious meal with shakes that claim to have as many vitamins and nutrients as a well-balanced meal, what happens when you stop taking those two shakes a day and start eating like a normal human being again? You will just gain the weight back—and then return to the shakes because you were duped into believing they are the only thing that actually works and can give you results.

As a single mom that has always had to make every minute and penny count, this makes me furious! None of these things provide you with the tools you need for real, lasting results. Just take a moment and think. Why would the “diet industry” want to give you the answer to permanent results? Why? If they did, they would lose residual revenue. They want you to have to stay on their programs or keep going back; this is why they only give you half of the answers. I firmly believe that if you bring balance to three key areas in your life, you will transform your body, life, relationships, and most of all; it will change you from within. When you realize that you can do anything you set your mind to, the sky’s the limit! I am in my fabulous forties, a single mother of three great kids, and a fitness and lifestyle coach, but life has not always been the glitz and glam that it is now. (Note the slight hint of sarcasm?)

To sum up my life before as quickly as possible, I was on top of the world, with a successful fifteen-year career as a professional choreographer and competitive dancer. In my late twenties I got married, got pregnant, and left dance entirely. I ended up getting a regular nine-to-five in real estate, and with tremendous success in sales eventually became a licensed broker. During this same time, I had two more children and got divorced, and the real estate market crashed. I found myself very overweight, eating and drinking a lot, totally broke, and alone. So yes, there is a lot that I am not going into detail over because that could literally take forever and would be a novel in itself!

So what happened to me? At some point during all of this, I totally lost who I was, my passion for life, and my passion for myself. I had always been active and fit, and I had always known what I wanted. I always had direction, but that person had disappeared. What I was facing in the mirror was an overweight, empty version of my former self. Now, don’t get me wrong. My kids are my passion and what I live for, but as you all know, it’s very easy to lose who you are when all you do is give to everyone around you. How could I raise my children to be happy, confident, independent, successful individuals when I wasn’t modeling that in my own life? After some serious reflection, I had to accept where I had gone wrong.

I am a firm believer that the best teachers, coaches, and mentors are the ones that have been there themselves. How can one truly guide someone else if they haven’t experienced the same struggles? Nobody is perfect. I’m just a regular mom who has been through many of the same obstacles you have faced and come out on the other side. This doesn’t mean my life is perfect or that my way is the only way. I’m just very resilient, and what I did worked for me. It has changed the lives of countless people I’ve had the pleasure of working with, too.

It’s unfortunate that most people want to put their precious time and energy into a quick fix. They are willing to believe in any magic concoction or program with a good pitch. It saddens me to see that people are so quick to waste hard-earned time and money on this stuff, but are not willing to slow down and focus inward. I believe that diets, pills, weight loss shakes, and other Band-Aid types of superficial weight-loss programs and products are pure crapola! Sure, you can starve and malnourish yourself by living on shakes. Of course you can waste your hard-earned money on sodium-and preservative-filled prepackaged meals. But what happens when you are ready to go back to normal life? You can’t live on shakes and prepackaged foods forever! Not to mention the diets that claim you will lose a certain amount of weight in thirty, sixty, or ninety days. What happens when those thirty, sixty, or ninety days are over? Ask yourself why you are always bouncing from diet to diet or product to product. Why? Because they only provide you with a temporary fix. None of these things provide you with the tools you need for real, lasting results, and like I said before, it all starts on the inside. The majority of people who overeat are overweight because they are using food as a reaction; their obesity is a byproduct of their external and internal circumstances. Overeating, weight gain, lack of motivation to exercise, and lack of consistency and commitment are the symptoms of not dealing with the core barriers and bringing balance to your mind, body and inner self.

The missing link in the diet industry is that they don’t help you identify your core barriers. They don’t help you identify what needs to be adjusted internally so you have the solid foundation to achieve want you want externally. By keeping you tied to their products, they prevent you from achieving and maintaining your goals. They have no reason to teach you how to change your negative patterns! That would take money out of their pockets. The truth is, I can teach you all day long how to eat correctly. I can show you all the right exercises for burning fat and building muscle. But in the end, if you don’t deal with whatever is causing your self-sabotaging habits and blocking your logic, vision, and commitment, you will not be able to build a solid foundation that can maintain your results. You will only find yourself on that endless, frustrating carousel that you and many others have been on time and time again. You and you alone have the power to achieve your weight-loss and fitness goals. You have everything you need to achieve the life balance and body you have dreamed of. You do not need to starve yourself, pollute yourself with diet pills or drugs, or spend thousands of dollars or hours at the gym. You have all of the tools within yourself and in your home to get the body you want, but first you have to build that foundation. Weight loss my friends begins on the inside, not the other way around.

Let’s face it—things go wrong, plans change, people will let you down; but it’s what you do and the choices you make that determine your happiness. So before you try to blast me with excuses like “I have kids,” “There just isn’t enough time in a day,” “My husband/ex doesn’t help me,” “I work too much,” or “I’m too tired, and this is why I have to buy into these band aid diet products;” don’t even bother. Been there, done that. I know every excuse in the book. I am a firm believer that if you follow your passion, you will find your life’s purpose. When you want something bad enough, you will not let anything or anyone stand in your way. So you can sit there and make excuse after excuse, but the truth is,

“If you want it bad enough, you will do whatever it takes. Only you have the power to create the body and life of your own design. But the first step is to take that first step.”

The Missing Link in the Diet Industry: Guest post by Dede Barbanti, author of Transform: The Secret to Unlocking the Perfect You Transform: The Secret to Unlocking the Perfect You by Dede Barbanti
Genres: Self-help, Health
Pages: 257
Buy on Amazon
Add on Goodreads

Finally, a book that will provide you with the answers that change your body and your life! TRANSFORM really is the SECRET TO UNLOCKING THE PERFECT YOU. Once weighing over 200 pounds, Fitness and lifestyle expert Dede Barbanti not only gives you the tools to achieve your weight-loss goals, but helps you dig deep to fix the core issues that keep you from lasting success and your true potential.

This is not your traditional weight-loss book. Most diet books focus on the outside by changing your eating and exercise routines,but they fail to find the root cause of your bad habits: what, why, and where they all started. These band-aid treatments never treat the problem, only the symptom, and most people find themselves back at square one, frustrated and defeated. Dede's no-holds-barred approach gets your booty into gear by tackling the real issues of your weight loss merry-go-round; so you can stop the madness and unlock the perfect you.

You can continue reading all of those other diet and lifestyle books that ultimately keep you repeating the same old story and never seems to get you anywhere, or you can get real with yourself and finally bring about the changes that you have always wanted...permanently!

About Dede Barbanti

Dede Barbanti is a renowned fitness & lifestyle coach, certified soul memory discovery facilitator, author, motivational speaker and single mother of three. Once weighing over 200 pounds, Dede has dedicated her life to developing innovative methods that have literally changed the face of weight loss, fitness, dieting and lifestyle!

Through the creation of her first format Boogie Box (BBX) and the “Un-Diet” nutrition and weight-loss program; Dede lost over 70 pounds in less than 6 months and has since helped countless people from all over the world. Since forming BBX, Dede has released two groundbreaking workout DVD’s “Boogie Box LIVE” & “BBX Hardcore.”

Her groundbreaking techniques and work have been featured on shows such as: Dr. Oz, Shark Tank, Fitceleb, OnAir, Good Day Utah, ABC, KTLA and FOX News, as well as several media productions. Dede was also named one of OC Metro Magazines “Top 20 Women In Business.”

Dede’s passion, training and experience has helped countless people from all over the USA transform their bodies and lives through her unique and “straight shooting” methods.

Pulling from her years of experience, Dede has written a complete lifestyle guide, TRANSFORM: The Secret To Unlocking The Perfect You. In it, she shares her three principles to obtaining the body and life of your own design!

3 Keys to Turn the Dream of Writing Into Reality: Guest post by Michael Allan Scott, author of Grey Daze

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3 Keys to Turn the Dream of Writing Into Reality: Guest post by Michael Allan Scott, author of Grey Daze

3 Keys to Turn the Dream of Writing Into Reality

by Michael Allan Scott

Dreams To Reality –

I saw a statistic in a blog, recently – “85% of readers dream of publishing their own book.” This may or may not be accurate, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

The trick on this planet is turning a dream into reality. Most of us are here to do just that—turn dreams into reality. And when you look this over, in one form or another, that’s ALL we do, whether they be nightmares or pleasant dreams. The striving toward such goals is the stuff from which we are made.

A Half Truth Is Still a Lie –

Not to put too fine a point on it, that blog I browsed was pitching a course on writing, hence the message was slanted—in short, marketing. The blogger wanted the prospective customer to know “publishing your own book isn’t anywhere near as difficult as it used to be.” This, of course, is a true statement. The blogger goes on to write “It has become very easy to publish your book on Amazon and gain access to millions of readers almost instantly.” While this may be true, it conveniently omits the fact that instant access to millions of readers on Amazon doesn’t typically translate into book sales.

I take umbrage at attempts to woo the wide-eyed hopefuls of the world, however naive they may be, into money-making schemes to their detriment. I find passionate hope a highly valued trait to be treated with respect and carefully nurtured to the advantage of all dreamers who dare dream lofty dreams.

In my view, it takes a minimum of three vital aspects to succeed at any endeavor, including writing for publication:

  1. Reality – Facing “what is” versus how you “want it to be” is key. Otherwise, you don’t have a firm grasp of where you are. And if you don’t know where you are starting from, you’re not likely to get to the desired destination.
  2. Persistence – It seems it always takes longer to realize a dream than it should. That’s not what’s important. Realization of the dream is the only thing that counts. Keep at it.
  3. Hope – The spark of life, itself. Without hope all is lost. Keep the fire of hope alive and shining bright.

What You Need to Succeed, What You Don’t Need –

I recently received a mentoring request from an aspiring writer. It went as follows:

“I am working on writing a book, memoir. I was wondering if you mentored anyone or if you know of any groups that I could become involved with that would allow feedback.”

My reply:

I’m flattered and I love to help whenever and wherever I can. However, due to time constraints personal mentoring is not an option for me at this time.

Please keep in mind, I speak only from personal experience. First and foremost, you’ll need to master the craft of writing, which brings forth your voice—the creative core form which your style flows.

I avoided writing/critique groups based on the premise that only those who can, do. While mostly well-meaning, those who haven’t done it are not in a good position to teach, critique other would-be writers. Most writing groups seem to be the blind leading the blind, huddling together in the faint hope that there is safety in numbers when it comes to art. I hold the opposite view, art is created by individuals, great art is created by individuals with a singular voice and a persistent passion to express their art in spite of all else.

Learn the basic rules of the craft inside and out, to the point where they are unconscious, part of your ingrained writing style. This you can do by studying books on how to write. There are a handful of great books on the subject. But beware, there are a plethora of fair to mediocre attempts to elucidate the basic principles of good writing.

Two of my favorites are:

  1. The Elements of Style | William Strunk, Jr. & E. B. White.
  2. Steven King | On Writing – A Memoir of the Craft

I recommend reading anything and everything that interests, excites, thrills, and/or amazes you. Pick it apart, analyze the writing word by word, sentence by sentence—get to know its nuances, what makes it work for you.

Glen Fry relates an anecdote about Bob Seeger’s advice in the documentary, History of the Eagles:

“If you want to make it, you’re going to have to write your own songs,” Seeger tells him.

“But what if they’re bad?” Fry asks.

“Well they’re going to be bad,” says Seeger, “but you just keeping writing and eventually you’ll write a good one.”

Fundamentally, you need to write. Start writing and keep writing until your writing meets your expectations as the discerning reader you are. I wrote, and submitted for publication, somewhere in the neighborhood of 250,000 words before I began to see the light from the bottom of the garbage bin. I continue to improve with each new work.

What I am NOT telling you here is as important, if not more so, than advice on writing craft. Writing for publication is a BUSINESS. And like any successful business, there’s far more involved than writing a good book, not the least of which is marketing. Without mastering the business aspects of writing you have a Powerball jackpot ticket chance for commercial success. But that is a subject for another blog.

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Please feel free to drop me line if you have questions or want to share.

The mystery books Dark Side of Sunset Pointe and Flight of the Tarantula Hawk and the paperback edition of Grey Daze are available on Amazon. The Grey Daze eBook edition is due out within the next few weeks. Cut-Throat Syndrome, the newest Lance Underphal Mystery is in progress and will be released later this year.

You may also check out the book trailers for Dark Side of Sunset Pointe and Flight of the Tarantula Hawk.

For more on the mystery writer, Michael Allan Scott, and the Lance Underphal mystery series, go to michaelallanscott.com

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Michael Allan Scott and a clickable link back to this page.

3 Keys to Turn the Dream of Writing Into Reality: Guest post by Michael Allan Scott, author of Grey Daze Grey Daze by Michael Allan Scott
Published by the author on January 20, 2015
Buy on Amazon
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GREY DAZE descends. A fresh murder spins out of control, twisting into new realms of paranormal mystery.

Not for the faint of heart, the third in the Lance Underphal Mystery series, is an interplay of corrupt characters immersed in today’s world. Paranormal twists and fast action in movie-like scenes set the story’s mystery/thriller elements apart from the typical whodunit/serial-killer thriller.

Guided by his dead wife, a reluctant psychic finds himself on a wild ride through a criminal underworld, slamming face first into corrupt police, gunrunning bikers, and a drug addicted killer–not to mention confrontations with the dead.

Layers of plots within plots twist this new thriller into a startling climax.

Please Note: this book is “R” rated and is intended for adult readers.

About Michael Allan Scott

Born and raised at the edge of the high desert in Kingman, Arizona, Michael Allan Scott resides in Scottsdale with his wife, Cynthia and their rescue Doberman, Roxie. In addition to writing mysteries and speculative fiction, his interests include music, photography, art, scuba diving and auto racing.

Michael’s latest book is the mystery/thriller/suspense/supernatural/paranormal novel, Grey Daze (A Lance Underphal Mystery).

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