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Spent some more time this past weekend amongst my fellows, slinging product as we do and meeting up with existing fans and hopefully making new ones. The event was the Detroit Indie Author Mashup, organized by This Redhead Loves Books. I had a great time, and was able to “debut” the beautiful new covers for the original Jack & Sara Trilogy from The Stewart Realty series.



I also got a fresh look at how some successful authors present themselves at these things, how they pick and choose from among the many “multi author signing events” available these days and how they use (or don’t use) signage, giveaways, “swag,” and other gimmicks. In my quest to stay fresh, and to spend what money I have wisely, I’m always seeking this sort of knowledge. I struck it rich because my next-door-table-mate was Meghan March, a USA Today best selling author who had some great advice and was willing to give it. Always a treat when someone as successful as she is willing to spill a little of her “how I did it” words into my rookie ears.

Met this amazing lady, an author from Saline--Claudia Whitsitt & her amazing coffee-hero spouse.

With Dawn, one of my most favoritist fans.

With local author A.M. Griffin (I love meeting people face to face I'm buddies with online!)

With another newer fan, Ginelle.



My next event isn’t until October 10, when I’ll be signing and selling and slinging at the Great Lakes Book Bash in Kalamazoo so mark those calendars! I will be debuting a hot little number I call “VEGAS MIRACLE” in print there…..and speaking of….



I know I yammer on a lot about how I “don’t write formula romance,” and my plots are “unique and sometimes unpredictable.” While I write within some commonly known and beloved romance subgenres like “m/m” and “ménage” I usually add my distinctive real life twist to them. One of the very first books I had published was called Vegas Miracle. It features a m/m/f ménage – the first one I ever concocted—and is, hands down, one of THE steamiest books I’ve written. And for those of you in the know, that is saying a lot.


I’m not a huge believer in the construct that 2 men would willingly share a woman. Men are not designed for that, evolutionarily speaking. They are wired to propagate, to find more women, not to settle down and go halvsies with some other dude, even if they like messing with that dude too (“side bonus for the bi-sexual man”). Most of my “three-way” plots involve situations where the “third” is thrust into the situation/couple by necessity. 

But this is something I wrote with an eye toward "just trying it"--the menage theme.

What emerged is something that contains seriously white smoking hot scenes, and three people who come to find themselves enjoying not only each other's company "in bed" but also each other's emotional support during various trying times for each of them.

Yeah, it's a little angsty at times but hey, it's what I do. I guarantee you that you'll require cold shower/alone time throughout the reading experience so I thought it was high time this steamy number got re-released into the wild.

Here is the blurb:
Ryan and Grace Sullivan have all the outward indications of a happy life: money, success, an undeniable physical attraction that quickly evolved from whirlwind relationship to marriage. But lately, Ryan's become moody and distant. As their relationship starts to crumble, Ryan discovers something about himself he can't admit just as Grace realizes the young man she encounters at an invitation only party, Henri Christophe, a celebrity chef with the most successful restaurant in Las Vegas, is her husband's lover. But Henri holds a secret himself. He wants to be more to both of them.

As they attempt to make their unconventional arrangement work, Ryan's deep-seated fear of relationship failure continues to thwart everyone's happiness. When he finally walks away instead of confronting the emotional connection the trio shares, he returns to find their lives flipped inside out. A sought after hotel and resort consultant, Ryan has yet to meet a problem he couldn't solve. But when it comes to his own heart, he may be too late.


Intrigued enough to snag an Advanced Review Copy of the "new and improved" Vegas Miracle? You can, as long as you promise to review.


Agent Hunt Update: One fresh rejection over the weekend but I did get one of them to respond back when I said "But whyyyyyyyyyy?" or something to that effect. She encouraged me to pitch directly to someone at a convention. Well, unless they have those wherever my kid is playing soccer this summer, that's not happening I'm afraid.

Segue to Kid Bragging Moment:
Numero Dos got into all the schools she applied to INCLUDING the University of Down the Road (I.e. "Michigan"). We are very proud.

Numero Uno made it back alive and sunburned from Panama City Beach Spring Break, yo. He's in a downhill rush to graduation from Central Michigan this May and will head to the University of Tennessee Pharmacy School in the fall.

Soccer Wenchling's team qualified for the U.S. Youth Soccer National League final tourney, thanks to their excellent play in North Carolina and Orlando last year and to the way the 2nd leg of quarter finals went in Las Vegas. So.....we are Oklahoma bound in July it would seem.


March Madness News: 
My team is still in. Is yours?



Make it a great week, Liz fans and others!
Tiffany, the "Redhead" who loves books on a panel discussion of "marketing" or in my case "What not to do online."

Spotted in the parking lot after the event.






Monday Musing:


After a wonderful whirlwind trip down to Myrtle Beach for the Authors in the City book signing, I'm back at it, slinging promo instead of directly slinging product, while simultaneously continuing my ongoing Master's level study of "how do they do it's?"
With some great fans, Cindy...

...and Leah who gave me this (and subsequently made my entire trip worth it)

Multi-author book signings are one of the best ways to study how other folks who spend time slaving over keyboards also spend money promoting themselves. These events are not cheap, for the organizers or participants. But if I were to give a single smidge of unsolicited advice to newbies on this fine cusp-of-March-Madness Monday it would be: Find 2 of these, spend a few bucks on some carefully considered swag/freebies, get your books printed, buy a few pens and a poster/banner and show up.
Love me some ConventionWhore time with the talented Hildie McQueen!


This is only, technically my second one of these, having attended one that was more "convention" than just massive room full of smiling hopeful authors peddling their wares a couple of years in a row so I sort of knew what to expect. It was a drippy, dreary Saturday in South Carolina but it made no difference to the eager readers lined up outside the venue while we scribblers put the finishing touches on our displays. At events like these I am constantly reminded of a snippet of a sometimes overused little homily called "Desiderata." The bit that has always stuck with me from this is the line:

"If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter, for always
there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself."


There really is no better way to study how you are doing than by comparing how much sitting around and twiddling with your phone's Facebook app while watching readers line up at booths all around you you do. I've been there. Right now I'm kind of in a middle place with this. I sold a few books, yes but more importantly I made some seriously great connections with readers, some of whom are newer than me authors. I was also blessed to met 2 of my "biggest fans" face to face which for any author is a buzz.

The temptation to get down on yourself because you only have a 5-person entourage vs. the 20-person one is great. But this business is just as much a "business" as anything and we should all remember that "book signings" should be treated as opportunities to connect off-line and given the same level of importance you give to any other networking event. 

I had a great time and my little "Scavenger Hunt" (the one where I posted "Come find Liz in the bar and she'll give you a free book") netted me a nice long convo with 4 women I was only able to talk briefly to during the signing.  Authors in the City is an annual, amazingly well-run event that changes venues every year and I highly recommend it to you, dear author. Next year it's in Florida.









Mary T. got dubbed "Liz's Gayle" but I'm not sure Oprah is as lucky as me 'cause I said "let's find some Bloody Mary's at 11 a.m. and...."

 Agent Hunt Update: 
Well, I tried a different tactic last week, reaching out to an agent who made a plea for submissions on her blog. Since I don't have a completed MS (I'm currently between them having published 3.5 books on my own and submitted another one of my soccer-based novels to a publisher last month) I thought I'd just intro myself, be face-meltingly clever, pimp my chops, my backlist and show her the first 3 pages of a new project I have slated for self publishing. Yeah. So that netted me another boilerplate rejection.

Sigh.

Heavier sigh.

This week's plan includes fleshing out that new project, plus work on Precious Vessel, which is going back to yet another drawing board via a new editor in April. I am going to skip submitting this week. The rejections are just coming in too fast for me to process and remain sane/motivated.


Liz Great News:

LOVE GARAGE, book 1 of The Love Brothers series, my first self publishing adventure/insanity got a killer review from a mid-major media outlet: The San Francisco Book Review.
The reviewer said, and I quote: "A fabulous story of family, loyalty, and how much small town life and all of the baggage that is history can become engrained in your character." 

And gave it 4 stars! Little ol' Liz book, gets a bit of big market buzz! 

This is also the week that LOVE GARAGE is free to everyone one Amazon! Tell your friends to grab this book that is garnering all sorts of buzz for my new series today through Friday for $0.


Upcoming Liz Sighting:
I'll be at the Detroit Indie Author Mashup this weekend, which got relocated a bit to the west (which helps me and my commute). It is being held at the Western Wayne Campus of Wayne State University. Friday, I'm on an 11 a.m. panel discussion about "What Not To Do Online" (a.k.a. Social Media for the average author). Saturday, I'm signing books 12-4 p.m. and WILL have the NEWLY COVERED Jack & Sara Trilogy books: Floor Time, Sweat Equity, Closing Costs available for purchase and signing!
I, for one, canNOT wait to get my hot little fingers on this killer newly covered books! 
Info about the event can be found here: Detroit Indie Author Mashup




EXPOSED BY RAGE
by Sherrel Lee

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

BLURB:

He has a dead body.  She has the seedy connections. To solve the crime they are forced to work together.

To keep her mother’s reputation from destroying her, Ashley Dix Gibson had to learn at an early age to persevere and tune out the lies, gossip, and the bullies.  Detective Michael DeMarco has no desire to team up with a woman with ties to the underbelly of the porn industry but if he wants to solve his case, he has no other options. When Ashley and DeMarco combine their resources to find a brutal killer, sparks of distrust turn into the fires of passion.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~




Excerpt:

The house was large.  Actually--more than large.  A mansion with dozens of rooms upstairs and many more on the ground floor.  I took the long way, thinking I would give a light tap on Jillie’s door, just in case she was in and maybe had company keeping her occupied.  There was a staircase, just past Jillie’s room, down to the kitchen.  More for the use of the household staff, but Jillie didn’t have anyone who lived in so it was only used when the help came on their usual days.

 Sucker punched.  The odor.  Undeniable.  Unmistakable.

Knowing it wouldn’t make a difference, I prayed to the gods for a break.  There wasn’t a chance it was anyone but Jillie, but for once, I found that small molecule of hope glowing in my heart.  Hesitating, just for that moment, I gathered my strength.

The master suite was down a short hallway opposite the dining room.   The hallway narrowed and lengthened.  A scream inside my head ordered my legs to move.  Great, now Master Sergeant Craven was in my head.  I forced myself forward. 

I knew what to do at a crime scene.  I’d been an MP for the last four years and had seen more than I wanted to.  

My stomach rolled and pitched.



AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Wrangler of a fearsome Yorkiepoo named Rogue (Half Yorkie half Poodle weighing in at a hefty eight pounds). Obsession controlled writer with a passion for making up names and twisting myths. 

 Sherrel, as the daughter of an Emmy winning cameraman, learned early in life the dark secrets of creating all those incredible fantasy characters for the large and small screen.

 Refusing to be crushed at the discovery the monsters, aliens, and Robby the Robot weren't real, Sherrel's imagination soared. She became a SELF-proclaimed voyeur of special-effects and expert at fictional character creation.

Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/1E4qlDv
Twitter: @SherrelLeeBooks (Romantic Suspense) @gryphoenix (Urban Fantasy)




Have you ever had one of those "how the heck did I get here?" moments?


I mean, bear with me here, but honestly when I was in high school and college no one ever said to me, "Hey, Liz did you know that you'd sell houses for a living one day?"

or

"You'll give up a near six-figure career selling those houses to help some guys found and open a brewery from scratch?"

or 

"You'll be one of about a million authors who self publish or small publish books?"


I'm gonna tell you it's been a pretty weird ride that finds me on the cusp of 50 years old, unemployed, wishing I could write for a living and knowing better from real-time experience. 

As I was finishing up my degree in English Lit at the University of Louisville, I was feeling at a bit of loose ends. I didn't want to go to graduate school. The man I loved had decamped to Nashville for his MBA. So I got out my fancy typewriter (yes, I am that old) and started sending out resumes down south. I knew what I wanted. It was in Nashville. I applied for a secretarial job at United Way in Williamson County, got a call, got an interview and was handed a "territory" to develop. I was determined to be overqualified to be a secretary.

Future Spouse got his MBA but because his area was automotive, we moved from Nashville to the Middle West in a hot minute once he had his degree, set up our lives in Oxford, Ohio. I hauled out the old typewriter and landed a job at the Hamilton Ohio Journal-News as "Special Sections Editor." This meant I wrote (and took photos for) those little inserts you used to get in your old fashioned paper that looked like "news articles" but that were actually bought-and-paid-for ads. 

While in Oxford, I converted Future Spouse to Current Spouse, we had a lovely wedding in Cincinnati, and moved nearly immediately back to Kentucky so He could run a small car dealership. I had my first Wenchling while there, and made the (in hindsight I can say this with the full force of, well, "hindsight") bad decision to try to work while adjusting to life as a new Mom. 

After about a year, the siren call of Ford Motor Company lead us to our lives in Michigan. I continued to struggle with the "staying at home" thing. I did not consider myself mentally or emotionally cut out for it. I picked up a little editing job, and then I got hired at the Ann Arbor Art Association (now "Art Center") as a membership director. While there, we bought a house, right about the same time we discovered there would be another blessed member of the Crowe's nest.

Once that Wenchling joined our happy little crew, I dropped back to working half time. Then left there and branched out doing a bit of "free lance marketing consulting" and one of my clients advised that I was "good at this" (one assumes "marketing") and that I should make "real money" and get my real estate license. So I did. I was trained by one of Ann Arbor's original brokers, Jim Anderson and made a bit of money but nearly lost my mind trying to juggle two little kids around the whacked-out schedule a real estate agent just starting out must manage. The memory of feeding them fast food in the mini van while trying to calm buyers down during a particularly crappy house inspection is one I wish I could slice right out of my brain.

At the same moment that I discovered Current Spouse and I had really crappy timing vis a vis a vasectomy scheduling and there would be a 3rd Wenchling in the universe, he got an offer to go overseas. So we went. 2 years in Japan, 1 in Kansas, 2 in Istanbul and 2 more in England and we found ourselves back around in the proverbial circle, buying a house in Ann Arbor, with a 13 year old, a 10 year old and a 7 year old. I got my real estate license back and took up with the Charles Reinhart Company.

Thus began 7 years of starting from scratch, building my business all the while managing 3 very busy kids (and a couple of dogs---yeah I'm certifiable). 

Then, in 2008 I was approached by a former neighbor about a project--a "craft brewery" which made me laugh because not only did I not like beer, I had no idea what the hell they were talking about with this "craft" thing. I drink wine, dudes. Maybe some bourbon. Not beer.

"No problem," they claimed. "We want your amazing marketing skills and contacts. We'll teach you the beer bit."

Well, they did that and in 2010 we opened a brewery on West Stadium. I had a blog. I set up social networking, I painted walls, shopped for supplies, mopped more floors than I wish to remember, learned the business by slinging beer at every event I could find in addition to opening the bar and closing it up every day for the better part of 6 months. We grew. I hired staff. I hired a manager. We opened a rental hall. Then, it was determined that my help was no longer needed.

Hence the "unemployed" bit of this story.

It still smarts. But I had written a few books by then and thought "Okay, I'll do this full time, no problem." But the problem exists and it's a big one. It's one most authors understand. One simply doesn't "make a living" as an author without: a. a big publisher behind them or b. the sort of explosive viral thing that the Joe Konraths and Hugh Howeys and others of their ilk manage to build. And that kind of thing is sort of "yesterday's news" if you know what I mean. 

So, the dilemma....what to do....what to do....what to do....

Time to circle back around. It took me a few years but I found my way in real estate and by golly I'm doing it again.

It's sort of a square circle, with corners delineating the various major milestones of my career trajectory, such as it is. I've been derailed a few times, necessary relocations for the primary breadwinner combined with motherhood will do that to a gal. But I'm at a place now, with 2 kids out of the nest other than their various circling back for money, plus the third perched on the edge, ready to launch herself out, where I don't have to worry so much about sports practices, piano lessons, after school snacks and what not. Why not?


Why not indeed.

I have walked into so many Reinhart offices and meetings in the last couple of months and been made to feel so completely welcomed it seems pretty obvious that I left something I never should have.

And so, I'm back.

I will keep writing books. There is plenty of downtime in the early years of this job. I might be able to channel it into some fun new "Ann Arbor real estate based novels." 

I don't think I'm going too far out on a limb to say that "reinvention" is the name of my game. And while it's not a total reinvention this time, in a way, I'm in such a different place now, after all my years spent in the beer and book publishing business it feel like I'm coming at it as a raw rookie.

Depressing? 

No, not really.

But definitely challenging.

And one does not get as good at reinvention as I've been in my life without grooving on serious challenge.



And so.....I invite you to:
Buy a Liz Book
Drink a Michigan Craft Beer...

and

734-277-7226
etcrowe@me.com