Monday, June 27, 2016


Today's guest is Lori MacLaughlin. I'm happy to help her celebrate the release of her new novel TROUBLE BY ANY OTHER NAME. Please give her a big round of applause.

What I Love

I know I've probably said this a zillion times, but I love to write fantasy adventure — stories with lots of action, strong female characters, a bit of levity, and sighs of romance. Not the jump-into-bed-every-five-minutes type of romance, but the kind where the attraction builds into a true, caring relationship that, if given the chance, can transcend all the challenges the heroine and hero must face.

But in Book 1 of this series, Lady, Thy Name Is Trouble, love is not what the heroine of the story wants. Tara Triannon and her sister Laraina are swords for hire whose exploits across the Western Kingdoms are legendary. The one time Tara let her heart be touched, love burned her badly, and she has no intention of getting caught again by love's fickle ways. However, when things go terribly wrong, the one man whose help she needs is the one man who can threaten her resolve. Jovan Trevillion, though, is a man of many secrets and accepting his help may be even more dangerous than keeping to the perilous path she and her sister already follow. But with the Butcher on their trail, their choices are limited.

Captain Natiere, the Butcher, an assassin with a tortured soul and the heart of a wolf, pursues them relentlessly. Harboring secrets of his own, the Butcher wants only to kill Tara and her companions to discharge a debt, and then he will be free to return to the wilds and perhaps find some way to fill his empty existence. Much to his surprise, his fate becomes more and more entangled with Tara's with every passing step.

In Book 2, Trouble By Any Other Name, all of their fates become even further entwined. Tara desperately searches for a way to destroy the evil creature attacking her through her dreams before it kills her. Jovan struggles to help her while battling with an ancient Being that mentally torments him. And the Butcher is closing in.

Who will survive and who will fall? Only the reader knows. And me, of course. ☺


TITLE: Trouble By Any Other Name

Sequel to Lady, Thy Name Is Trouble

AUTHOR: Lori L. MacLaughlin

RELEASE DATE: May 16, 2016

GENRE: Fantasy


About the Book:

Tara Triannon is no stranger to trouble. She's yet to find an enemy her skill with a sword couldn't dispatch. But how can she fight one that attacks through her dreams?

With her nightmares worsening, Tara seeks answers but finds only more questions. Then her sister, Laraina, reveals a stunning secret that forces Tara to go to the one place Tara's sworn never to return to. Her troubles multiply when Jovan Trevillion, the secretive soldier of fortune who stole her heart, is mentally tortured by an ancient Being intent on bending him to its will. And worst of all, the Butcher — the terrifying wolf-like assassin she thought she'd killed — survived their duel and is hunting her again.

Hounded by enemies, Tara sets out on a harrowing quest to discover the true nature of who she is, to come to grips with the new volatility of her magic, and to defeat the evil locked in a centuries-old trap that will stop at nothing to control her magic and escape through her nightmares.

Buy Links:

Amazon          Barnes & Noble          Kobo               iBooks

Author Bio:

Lori L. MacLaughlin traces her love of fantasy adventure to Tolkien and Terry Brooks, finding The Lord of the Rings and The Sword of Shannara particularly inspirational. She's been writing stories in her head since she was old enough to run wild through the forests on the farm on which she grew up.

She has been many things over the years – tree climber, dairy farmer, clothing salesperson, kids' shoe fitter, retail manager, medical transcriptionist, journalist, private pilot, traveler, wife and mother, Red Sox and New York Giants fan, muscle car enthusiast and NASCAR fan, and a lover of all things Scottish and Irish.

When she's not writing (or working), she can be found curled up somewhere dreaming up more story ideas, taking long walks in the countryside, or spending time with her kids. She lives with her family in northern Vermont.

You can find her here:

Website/Blog               Goodreads       Facebook         Google+          Pinterest

New IWSG Day Feature!

We’re revving up IWSG Day to make it more fun and interactive. 

Every month, we'll announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 

Don’t forget to visit others that day to see their answers - Sign-up List.

The July 6 question - What's the best thing someone has ever said about your writing?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016


I'm very excited to share in announcing the release of Medeia Sharif's new novel A Love That Disturbs.


Evernight Teen, June 17, 2016

Purchase from Amazon (merchant sites will be updated on the author's site)

Maysa Mazari is alarmed by her mother’s talk about arranged marriage. As a hijab-wearing Pakistani-American, she wants to find love on her own. Her judgmental Muslim clique has protected her from racist taunts, although the leader is turning on her as Maysa strays from the group because of her attraction to Haydee.

Haydee Gomez is a former gang member and juvenile detention student. Now living with a clean-cut aunt, she wants to turn her life around, even though one person will never let her forget her roots—Rafe, her abusive pimp. Haydee attempts to pull away from a life of prostitution when she develops feelings for Maysa, although Rafe isn’t willing to give her up too easily.

Finding themselves in danger from Maysa’s friends and Haydee’s pimp, it’s apparent their love disturbs everyone around them as they fight to stay together.

Find Medeia – YA and MG Author

Medeia was born in New York City and she presently calls Miami her home. She received her master’s degree in psychology from Florida Atlantic University. After becoming a voracious reader in high school and a relentless writer dabbling in many genres in college, she found her niche writing for young people. Today she's a MG and YA writer published through various presses. In addition to being a writer, she's a public school teacher. Her memberships include MensaALAN, and SCBWI.

Blog   |   Twitter   |   Goodreads   |   Instagram   |   Amazon

Friday, June 10, 2016

Ask PZM - June 2016

Q. Is there anything new with BookBub?

As some of you may know, BookBub is a well-regarded site for paid book promotions to targeted readers. Although the amount an author pays can be pricey, the site itself has a good reputation for delivering on its download promises.

Just recently I noticed something on the site that may have been available for quite some time – “Claim an Author Profile.”

Apparently as I have done two deals with BookBub in the past, I already had a rudimentary profile that included those two books. I have now added more of my books (they are pending approval at this writing) as well as my social media headshot and a brief bio.

Although at this point I’m not sure what the advantage is to having a profile, as it is free at this time why not claim your author profile if available?

Q: Anything else with which you’ve been experimenting?

Recently I’ve been trying to remember to add a photo to my tweets when appropriate – this makes the tweet stand out in a Twitter stream. And I’ve also remembered to “pin” a tweet to the top of my Twitter account (click on the three dots in the right-hand corner of a tweet to “pin” – or “unpin” – a tweet to your account).

My newest experiment is adding more than one photo to a tweet. Although I thought this would take up many more characters of the character limit of a tweet, it turns out Twitter turns the photos into a collage that doesn’t use so many characters.

I tried two different experiments:

First, for #milmon (Military Monday), I created a collage of my military novels/ebooks. Click on the link below to see the tweet – and note that I included that these books are available for free via #KindleUnlimited. (Sometimes my tweets with the hashtag #KindleUnlimited are retweeted by accounts associated with Kindle Unlimited books.)

And then I created a tweet about my new 3-in-1 ebook BRAINS BEFORE BEAUTY: A Trio of Female Protagonist Thrillers. I used the 3-in-1 book cover and the other three book covers.

(Note that at this writing I did not put BRAINS BEFORE BEAUTY on KDP Select – and therefore it is not free via Kindle Unlimited so that is not mentioned in the tweet. The reason for not using KDP Select for a new ebook in this case has to do with another experiment I’m trying.)

(The first photo you upload to the tweet becomes the large photo in the collage and the other photos appear in the order uploaded.)

P.S. If you are wondering where I got the links to share specific tweets – it is the same three dots as for “pinning” only choose “Copy link to Tweet.”

Q. Can we once again revisit the topic of how important reviews are for a book?

I wish there was a magic bullet answer for this question, which I suspect even publishing companies with sophisticated data collection cannot truly answer. But for our purposes let’s look at this in subsets:

Requirements for a certain number of reviews: There are paid and probably free promotion sites that require a certain number of reviews before considering your book for inclusion on that particular site. Obviously without that number of reviews your book is ineligible, but we have no idea how important that site might be to our own book promotions.

Reviews to encourage buying or borrowing as via a Kindle Unlimited monthly subscription: Buying is one thing, even a 99 cent book, and borrowing is another. I suspect for some people it is as easy to borrow a Kindle ebook and stop reading after a few pages if the book does not appeal than it is to read a few pages via the LOOK INSIDE Amazon feature. With no risk to reading via borrowing, many people I suspect may take a chance on an appealing book cover, title and description for a genre they like even though the book is not accompanied by many – or even any – reviews.

Bestsellers with tons of reviews: If friends urge you to read a book that everyone is talking about, do you stop and read the hundreds of reviews that book may have – or even one or two of those reviews? Or do you buy or borrow that book because you want to read it regardless of what strangers have written in their reviews. Remember, your friends urged you to read this book now!

For unknown authors and books good reviews must surely help, but how many are needed? In other words, if the first few reviews that Amazon displays are positive, do you really scroll down to keep reading more reviews? (Remember that here I’m talking about books. Products such as kitchen appliances may have a larger review reading following.) In other words, do you as an author have to make yourself sick worrying over not having some specific number of reviews? I hope not.

Amazon’s rankings of books – how related are these to reviews? Your guess is as good as mine. After studying this question for years, I don’t have a definite answer. We can assume that the number of reviews should have some impact on a book’s ranking, but there are so many other variables of reviews to consider. For example, does it make a difference if all the reviews are years ago and there are no new reviews? What about if all the reviews are only five stars so that appears somewhat fishy to Amazon’s internal tracking algorithms? (Check out very popular books – even the most loved ones do not have all five stars.)

Now the question of getting those reviews: I’ve tried different legitimate approaches and I don’t really have anything to recommend except spending a great deal of time on your own or with an assistant to locate people who might be willing to write an honest review.

I am NOT suggesting your hire people on sites such as fiverr to write reviews for you. Besides the questionable ethics of such reviews, there’s the issue of Amazon tracking for these abuses as well as astute readers noticing these, which could be detrimental to your book.

I’ve actually bought software to help me identify legitimate reviewers on Amazon for a specific type of book. So far the one time I tried using information provided by this software I got some very strange responses. These replies caused me to stop trying this software for now, although perhaps I tried this with the wrong type of book.

(I got feedback complaining that I talked about the clothing too much in my fantasy adventure short story ROAD TO ZANZICA – 99 cents on Kindle at Yet at the same time I was myself reading a popular fantasy novel that continually described the clothing. And in ROAD TO ZANZICA I had to describe when the female protagonist was disguised in male clothing and when she was garbed in female clothing.)

One more note regarding offering free books through KDP Select or similar avenues for giving away books in exchange for asking for reviews: You get what you pay for, meaning that you may get reviews with three stars or less that say something such as “I got this book for free and it was okay for a free book.” This is one of the major risks with running a free promotion and asking for reviews – your book is downloaded only because it is free by readers not necessarily in the book’s target audience and they may “thank you” for your free book by writing a rather negative review.

And then there is the unknown question about negative reviews, which probably pull down your book’s star rating yet do add to the total number of reviews. Is it worth risking these negative reviews to add to your book’s review numbers?

In conclusion, I know I haven’t really answered this question of the importance of reviews. So I’m hoping that those of you reading this post will share – in the comments section below – your own views on the importance of reviews for your books and what tips or traps you’ve learned.


In sharing the link to this post on Google Plus, I discovered that the same four-photo collage can be created there as on Twitter. Of course, I couldn't find the direct link to share this example here. So if you click on my Google Plus profile link (see below) and then look in the middle right below the large profile image you'll see the four-photo collage on the update --

Also, in reference to above where I said that my new 3-in-1 bundled ebook BRAINS BEFORE BEAUTY is not on KDP Select, I have now put it on. And when I wanted to try a Kindle Countdown for this ebook, I ran up against strict parameters for when a Kindle Countdown can be run during a 90-day KDP Select period. So I recommend that, if you are thinking of running a Kindle Countdown at a specific time, check the parameters now.

One more note: Now I can share my BookBub profile here as it is approved -- see

One interesting thing: When I did a search on my name on the BookBub site to find my profile,the search brought up all my books on BookBub plus at the end of the books there were books by two other authors with the first name Phyllis -- whose books are decidedly not my type of books! (The link above goes directly to my profile and not the search results.)

Phyllis Zimbler Miller (@ZimblerMiller on Twitter) blogs on book-related topics at and her fiction ebooks on Amazon can be read for free via a Kindle Unlimited monthly subscription at and her nonfiction ebooks on Amazon can be read for free via Kindle Unlimited monthly subscription at

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

IWSG - Failure Isn't An Option

It’s time for another group posting of the IWSGInsecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month and encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

Our hashtag is @IWSG

The awesome co-hosts today are…

  Be sure to visit the

As a writer, you've chosen a profession that introduces you to the pain of rejection. It doesn't matter if you're seeking to self-publish or traditionally publish. The mere act of producing a book invites the possibility of heartache. If not publishers or agents, readers and reviewers possess the power to drop you to your knees with a single word.

From 1990 through to 2008, I received enough rejection letters to wallpaper our ensuite. By the beginning of the new millennium, I had signed with three agents. The first one had a massive heart attack, the second had a nervous breakdown, the third was a renowned agent from NYC who ignored me for two years. When I asked for a divorce, she told me I had no concept of the business.

While marketing my first novel Dead Witness, a blogger emailed to ask if I still wanted her 1-star review. Although I'd received 25+ reviews for Dead Witness, her email left me inconsolable. The best part, recently, Amazon cut hers and several 5-stars reviews as if they're never existed.

Every time I received a negative response, it took the wind out of my sails and left me gasping for air. Yet, I couldn't give up. Nor could I take drugs, booze, or pot to make myself feel better. I had to find something to sooth the debilitating thoughts inside my head. Something that would remind me who I was.

I'd like to share with you what I found.

It's not magic. There's no mystic powers. It's a few thousand-years-old technique called meditation: the art of using your breath and a repetitive mantra to simply quiet the mind and relax the body.

If you've never meditated, it's simple. You find a quiet place, sit, back straight, feet planted firmly on the floor, hands resting in your lap. Close your eyes. Focus on breathing. Don't try to control it. Use a mantra; there are many. For instance: Breath through your nose while saying to yourself: Ahhh. Exhale while thinking: Ummm.

When you are ready, meditate on each of these 4 questions, one at a time ... then wait:
Who am I ...? 
What do I want ...?
Why am I here ...?
What am I grateful for ...? 
Don't worry if the answers don't come. Focus on breathing. Relaxing. When your mind wanders, bring it back to breathing. Do this for ten minutes. If it's too difficult to concentrate, type guided meditation in the search window at YouTube and pick one of the many links that appear.

Meditation will take you to that source of healing, to the birthplace of creativity. Slowly but surely, the bouts of depression will weaken, and you will find yourself calm and at peace. If something negative happens, if you falter, find a quiet spot, take ten minutes to meditate, and remember: Failure isn't an option.

Here are a few of my favourite tapes: