Friday, December 14, 2012

Holiday Gifts of Love Blog Hop

Top Ten Reasons I Love The Christmas Season

We're hopping, peeps!  It's holiday time, and for me and mine, that means time to celebrate one of the holiest Christian holidays--Christmas!  So many things I love about this time of year, so I wanted to share my Top Ten Reasons I Love the Christmas Season.  I hope you can totally relate.

10. The goofy kid in the holiday school program who waves and shouts at his or her family and sings loudly off key the whole time. (Yeah, it's usually mine.)

9.   The growing (and lovable) mish-mash of kid-made ornaments decorating my once gold and silver Christmas tree.

8.   "O Holy Night," "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," "Jingle Bell Rock," and "Breath of Heaven"--the songs I crank and belt out anytime they play on the all-Christmas-all-the-time radio.

7.   Despite the holiday stress, despite the crazy to-do lists, despite the increased traffic...everywhere, people still seem to be at their happiest.

6.   Light displays give my kiddos free entertainment with every street we turn onto.

5.   People actually invite me to parties!

4.   Finally getting to see family that all my early fond memories surround.

3.   Fooooood! Need I say more?

2.   No school for the holidays! (Can you tell I'm a teacher?)  And more time for denting the TBR pile!

1.   The reason behind the season--my Lord and Savior--Jesus Christ.  May I never forget this.

There you go.  Leave me a comment about your favorite part of the holidays for a chance to win a $10.00 gift card to the e-tailer of your choice.  You must comment to be entered into the grand prize drawings.  Don't forget to leave your e-mail address.
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And don't forget to keep hoppin' through to the other sites for more chances to win.  You can find them here:

There are THREE grand prizes. You as a reader can go to EACH blog and comment with your email address and be entered to win. Yep, you can enter over 200 times, including this one!

Now what are those prizes?

1st Grand Prize: A Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet
2nd Grand Prize: A $200 Amazon or B&N Gift Card
3rd Grand Prize: A Swag Pack that contains paperbacks, ebooks, 50+ bookmarks, cover flats, magnets, pens, coffee cozies, and more!

Happy Reading and Writing!

Charlie hides her true identity inside a community made up only of males, but her presence places everyone around her in danger. This community is surrounded by Draghoul, once-human creatures bent on infecting others. Left with no other choice but to remain, she fears her secret will be discovered, and she’ll be thrown to the creatures she dreads. Yet, the longer she stays with these survivors, the less benevolent they appear. 

In this new and dangerous version of the world, where the friend beside you might be an enemy and an enemy might be your only friend, seventeen-year-old Charlie protects her baby sister and herself from grotesque monsters outside the community as well as human ones inside. Will the truth she discovers about her protectors save her or ultimately doom her to a fate worse than death?

This is the first full-length novel in the Mercy Series.

C. C. Marks

Friday, November 30, 2012

View From the Grown-Up Table

Okay, so I'm old enough to know better, right?  Believe me, my butt sits squarely at the grown-up table.  No doubt about it.  Yet, so often I find myself cleaning up childish messes of my own making.

The latest one was losing my wallet--complete with credit cards, driver's license, and insurance cards.  With the attention span of a gnat's twitchy minuscule brain, I dropped it in a parking lot next to my car and drove off none the wiser.  Didn't even notice it was gone until later that evening--not because I needed to buy anything, but because I swear I have a guardian angel who whispers in my ear when something's not quite right.  After an exhaustive search of the usual places, I called the gas station, which was my only stop that morning, and asked if they'd found a wallet.  I felt like such a goof just asking, but was even more disappointed to hear that no lost wallets had turned up.

Now, I really panicked.  I called my bank to put a hold on my debit/credit card and cancelled my other credit cards immediately.  Fortunately, there hadn't been any activity on any of them all day.  That meant one of two things.  Either A. it was just somewhere I hadn't looked yet or B. someone had figured out they weren't going to get far with the maxed-out credit cards in my wallet.  Of course, they were more than welcome to pay some down while they had them in their possession.  I might have even bought them something nice if they had.

Alas, still no clues as to where it could possibly be.  So, I re-ordered insurance cards and prepped myself to file a police report.  After all, that would be the grown-up thing to do.

However, my super-secret guardian angel seemed to be telling me to wait, and so I figured if it still hadn't turned up by the end of the week, I'd file the report and cross my fingers no one tried to pretend to be me--poor fool that they'd be.

The next morning, I stopped at the same gas station, cash in hand this time, gathered a few items and went to pay.  The cashier looked nice enough, so I swallowed my pride and asked, "Did anyone, by chance, turn in a wallet recently?"

He glanced below the counter and asked, "What color?"

Oh, my hopes soared as I said, "Pink, with flowers."

"Yeah, this one?"

And you know what?  It was my wallet.  Aaaaah!  Needless to say, I gushed profusely about how he'd made my day and how beyond happy I was now.

Of course, it wasn't all rainbows and unicorns.  I still have to wait for all my cancelled cards to be re-issued in seven to ten business days.  But life is good again, and though I still feel very much like a *cough*-year-old child playing grown-up most days, I guess I don't have to worry about anyone else doing a better job of being me now that I have my identity back.

Anyway, one of these days, I might actually grow up.  Until then, happy reading and writing.

Cherie Marks

Sunday, November 18, 2012

When My Big Moment is Your Meh...

Overheard someone in a store the other day say, "So I said it right to the teacher's face."  But I couldn't help but wonder if the moment was as momentous to the teacher as to this person.  As a teacher, I couldn't help but wonder how many students felt they'd had a moment in my room that I wasn't even aware I was a part of.  I've had students say shocking things in my room, but I'm not easily shocked, so I can't say that too much has left that strong of an impact.

So when I tell you that lately I'm dealing with some heavy stuff, I know it won't impact your life very much at all, and I'm okay with that.  Just know, I'm still here, but life is a slog through a bog lately.  Please forgive me for not being as active lately.  I'm still writing and reading, but I've gone a little quiet lately as I consider a few life changes.

Thanks for understanding.

Cherie Marks

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

I'm on Edin Road Radio!

Come listen to me at 6:30, Thursday night (November 8, 2012) at

I'm excited to be doing my first live interview.

It's going to be a great time, and I'm soooo excited!

Happy Reading (and Listening)


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

It's Red Ribbon Week

Red Ribbon Week began in honor of the memory of Kiki Camareno, a man who dedicated his life's work to fighting the drug trade in Mexico and the United States.  Unfortunately, he was murdered for his convictions, but thanks to his efforts, now kids are more aware than ever how dangerous drugs can be.

The truth is, kids still get involved with drugs, addiction still ruins lives.  I know because I see it in the students I teach.  I see it in my own brother.  Plain and simple, addiction is a preventable disease, and though I'd like to think we wouldn't forget what we've learned from our past if we didn't have reminders like Red Ribbon Week, the reality is history shows we often repeat the same mistakes when we don't remember.

What I wouldn't give to be able to go back and show my young brother how his life was going to turn out.  Maybe, just maybe, that would have been enough to make him stop and think.  Every year, I use his experience as a warning to students, but I know some of them still believe that won't happen to me.  But the reality is, my brother didn't take that first hit with his heart set on becoming addicted.  He just wanted to have a good time.  Yeah, he stopped having a good time a long time ago.

Thank you to those who still uphold anniversaries like Red Ribbon Week.  Here's hoping it saves lives that would have otherwise been lost to drugs.

Happy Reading and Writing,

Cherie Marks

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Valentina Goldman's Immaculate Confusion $100 Book Blast

About Author Marisol Murano

When she was 18-years-old Marisol Murano moved to the United States to attend school so that afterwards she could return to her native Venezuela to get married and have kids. None of this happened. Instead, she ended up getting a Master’s degree which eventually landed her a boring job in an exciting city: New York.

After a few years running the corporate rat race, Marisol woke up to this one day, "Even if you win the race, you're still a rat." That was the end of her banking career and the birth of her first novel: The Lady, The Chef, and The Courtesan.

Marisol was the first to be surprised when her first novel was named Latino Book of the Year, Original Voices from Border’s and was picked as a BookSense selection. She was further surprised when it was translated into several languages.

A second career detour led her to become a chef and the author of a cookbook, Deliciously Doable Small Plates from Around the World. Between novels, Chef Marisol now travels the world conducting culinary demonstrations on exotic cuisine. In fact, Valentina Goldman's Immaculate Confusion was born at sea in a split-second of confusion when during a culinary demonstration a woman raised her hand to ask: “Did you always know you wanted to be a chef?”

Life is stranger than fiction, indeed.

Title: Valentina Goldman's Immaculate Confusion
Author: Marisol Murano
Publisher: Hipso Media
Released: August 1, 2012

Since her arrival in the United States from Venezuela, Valentina Goldman isn’t exactly living the American Dream. She’s living the American Nightmare.

Her late husband, Max, has left her a young widow, a step-daughter whom Valentina didn’t want, and a bi-polar ex-wife. And oh, having given up her dream job in New York, Valentina is also unemployed in Arizona.

Part "Bridget Jones Diary," part "Modern Family," "Valentina Goldman’s Immaculate Confusion" is the story of a woman trying to get a handle on her whacky life in America. In breathless, blog-like snippets, Valentina compares her own story with that of her eccentric sister, Azucena, who has bizarre troubles of her own down in the tropics.

"Valentina Goldman’s Immaculate Confusion" is a funny and moving story about what happens when a passionate South American woman moves to the USA and, like so many of us, ends up with a life she never imagined.

"A funny and quirky mix of anecdotes and life lessons. This is imbued with such a distinct personality -- one that begs you to laugh at nearly every page."
~ Emily from Goodreads

Direct from Publisher Purchase Link:


Book Blast Giveaway:
$100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash from Hipso Media
Ends 10/25/12

Open to anyone who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent's permission. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Monday, September 24, 2012

Why, in Real Life, Ducky was the Better Choice

I've been immersing myself in the early blogposts of a newly prominent author who has a slight obsession with the late John Hughes' movies and other great things from the 80's.  Recently, she made a comment that stuck with me.  And I just feel the need to expound.  Bear with me for a moment :)

Now, I'm a child of the 80's, and I saw Pretty in Pink in the theater and again several times on VHS (yeah, I'm dated) and television, but for some reason, I didn't remember there was an alternate ending where Molly Ringwald's character actually chooses Ducky (played by Jon Cryer) over Andrew McCarthy's character.  Huh, who knew?  Apparently many.  Maybe I should pay more attention.

Still, it got me thinking.  Audiences obviously preferred Andrew McCarthy as the chosen love-interest.  Thus the ending showed in the theaters.  After all, the character's handsome, rich, and through the movie, he grows as a person, right?  Okay, reality-check.  People don't usually change that much from the values they were taught growing up.  These two characters are from very different worlds, and unfortunately, in real life, that usually creates a huge communication problem.  I would go so far as to say, those internal values are as integral to our personalities as anything else.  Uneven values create a level of conflict that many couples can't survive.  It's so difficult to understand where someone is coming from if you don't agree they have their focus on the right things.

Plus, let's be honest here.  Ducky would have been a partner.  He would have been sensitive and understanding.  Sure, he's a beta male and we all favor the alphas, but the alphas have a tendency to be a little more focused on themselves.  Take these famous alpha males, for instance:  Tom Cruise, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Charlie Sheen, Christian Bale.  They are intelligent, charming, attractive (they have their followings), and maybe this is a slightly skewed list.  I'm sure there are some alpha males who are great guys, but that's usually because they have beta characteristics.  Now, I'm not saying Andrew McCarthy's character would have turned into this.  It's romantic fiction after all, and we all know they had a happily ever after.  In real life though, I think Ducky was the better choice, and many a woman who has overlooked the nice guy for the jerk would probably agree.

Though he wasn't perfect, Jon Cryer's character was the better male, in my opinion.  Ducky might have been a pushover.  But he might have also loved Molly Ringwald's character so much, he wanted nothing but her happiness, even if it meant seeing her with the wrong guy.  That's the stuff that would have meant something to me.

Just my two cents, but Ducky was the better choice.

Happy Reading and Writing,

Cherie Marks

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Tuesday Time Tip--Time Management for the Time Impaired

I'm a busy, busy, busy person (aren't we all?).  I have a day job, a husband, three children, an extended family, and a writing career.  Time is not something of which I have tons to spare.  Yet, a new feature I've decided to begin on the blog is Tuesday Time Tip, a posted devoted to time management for writers.

Far from having IT all figured out (whatever IT is), take my tips for what their worth--my own experimentation on my quest to write in the midst of everything else going on in my life.  Use at your own risk, and yes, your mileage may vary.

This week's tip: write when your brain is functioning.

Seems logical, but let me explain.  I have read about authors who get up waaaay before dawn in order to get in some valuable writing time.  And yes, I've set my alarm with every intention of doing this exact thing myself, but the few times I've been able to drag myself out of bed, guzzle cups of coffee, prop my eyelids open with toothpicks, and put my fingers to the keyboard, I wrote about fifty words or so.  Then I spent the rest of the day trying to fight the feeling I'd been cheated somehow.  Should've worked, but didn't.

Now, I do hit a stride at about one o'clock in the afternoon, but with a day job, that's just not feasible.  So, I had to figure out something else that worked for me.

Luckily, for some reason, about nine or ten o'clock every evening, I can't seem to stop the flow of words, and I can usually get a thousand or more written around this time.  So, though I'd like to tell people someday about how I sacrificed sleep and got up when everyone else was still snoozing to pump out glowing manuscript after even more glowing manuscript.  That's not how my brain works, and I have to write when my brain is functioning...period.

So, what I've learned is that you can't fit a round peg into a square hole, or in other words, I'm not a morning person, and I can't make myself be one.  Therefore, I write at night.  It's what works for me.

What about you?  What time of day is your optimal writing time?  Any tips or tricks for us non-early-risers?

Happy Reading and Writing!


Monday, September 10, 2012

I'm a Hybrid and Proud of It!

Back in March, I submitted my manuscript, Lost in New Falls, to a prominent Trad publishing house per an editor's request.  I was jumping up and down at the opportunity. Literally, it wasn't every day that an editor was interested in my work.  Anxiously, I marked my calendar, allowing the  professionally accepted three months before I expected to hear anything one way or the other.

Around the same time, I posted a little flash fiction piece titled, "Mercy," to Smashwords.  After some time, it began getting some good feedback.  Originally, this piece was going to be a complete young adult novel, and though I'd started it, I'd never finished it.  The comments I kept receiving basically said, "Love it! It needs to be longer."  So, I set my mind to finishing Edge of Mercy.

Then, at the end of July, I indie-pubbed the finished product.  I'd chosen to do this one myself for very good reasons.  Not the least of which was the fact a publishing agent I follow made it apparent dystopian young adult was a flooded market.  Even if I happened to hit the jackpot and get a publishing house interested in publishing my book, by the time it hit shelves two years later, the market interest would be lost.  The time-frame of publication was the key factor in my choice to self-pub Edge of Mercy and the subsequent books in the series (coming soon).

I've also published a short story with an e-publisher (Into the Fire through The Wild Rose Press), so with these different avenues of publication, I proudly proclaim myself a hybrid author.

Some say one must choose one camp or another.  You're either Indie or Traditional.  Otherwise, you're disloyal to the cause (whatever that may be).  Some say whatever you choose shouldn't matter to others (this is my opinion) as long as it's working for you.  Right now, this is working for me.

I'm very proud of my tiny successes with Edge of Mercy and Into the Fire, but I'd be lying if I didn't say I didn't still hope for a book deal.  I know, I know...Trad publishers' offers are getting less and less advantageous for authors, but if the shoe fits on the foot in the door, why not wear it?

Okay, there might be many reasons not to wear it.  Not the least of which is the fact that I would earn less than, less than, less than nothing, and the fact that I would have to kiss my manuscript goodbye for pretty much...ever.  But somehow, it's still a part of my dream to see my book in a bookstore (before they're all gone, that is).

So, though I've contacted the editor twice now for a yea or a nay, and said editor still hasn't read my manuscript, I'm not quite ready to call it all off.  I guess the real lesson here is that authors have so many more options now, and I'm not willing to give up on any of them yet.

I'm not the only one whose mind is weighing all her options.  Even heels-dug-in Indies are licensing other rights to publishers (foreign, audio, media, print, etc.) and even die-hard Trad authors are self-pubbing backlist books with great success.  Once again, what's right for one is not always what's right for all.

For more on what others are saying, check out this link about a recent revelation explaining even self-publishers are shopping around for publishing deals, even if it's just certain rights.

Happy Reading and Writing!

Cherie Marks

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Welcome Wednesday Welcomes Andrea Downing

I'm so excited to invite a special guest to the blog today. Andrea Downing is the author of Loveland, released August 8, 2012. She was nice enough to answer a few questions, so here goes:

What inspires you?

I’d have to start with my daughter—she’s the most inspirational person I know. But if I have to put motherly pride aside, just being out west inspires me. Those wide open spaces where you feel you can really breathe and be yourself, the towering mountains standing like guardians—the whole geography of it just fascinates and inspires me. To think of the people who first went there, not knowing what lay ahead, turning open prairie into tilled fields and cattle range and making a new life for themselves away from everyone and everything they knew. That’s truly inspirational. 

Where in the world would you want to visit (all in the name of research, of course) and why?

I’ve been lucky enough to have travelled pretty extensively during the course of my life and while I’d now like to get to Australia and Asia, where I haven’t been, if someone said to me ‘you can go anywhere right now’ I’d probably still choose to head west. And the only reason I can give you is because I feel different there, happier. But Australia might be nice—big country, lots of room to ride!

Who has helped you along the way?

Some years ago, while I was still living in Britain, I wrote a 600 page book I intended to try to have published. It got rejected from about 3 agents and then I gave up—which, when you think about it, is pretty laughable. Anyway, all my friends sort of ‘yelled’ at me, told me how foolish that was, as did my daughter. They’ve all been my cheerleaders until I finally decided I had nothing to lose. 

What obstacles have you overcome to get where you are, and what advice do you have for anyone in a similar situation?

Very low self-esteem, self-doubt and a huge amount of fear! I used to shake horribly when in certain situations with people I’d never previously met, until I had to go on beta-blockers for AFib. So you might say my heart saved me! But really, as I say, I realized I had nothing to lose. Sure, there are going to be people who hate my book and trash it but someone liked it enough to publish it! That’s what you’ve got to believe…

What was your first writing piece and where is it now?

I can’t even remember the title of it but, strangely enough, it was about a British Prince who falls in love with a commoner—and I wrote it way back before such a thing was even vaguely a possibility. So, being so young when I wrote it, I put it in the circular file.

Can you talk about what you are working on now?

Loveland is an historical so I’ve now come back to the 21st Century and written women’s lit with strong elements of romance. Tentatively titled Dances of the Heart, it’s about four people with very different lives, very different conflicts who come together and relationships blossom while they all undergo some interior change. There’s a mother who is a successful writer but has a deep fear of growing old and letting a man, who might reject her, into her life; her daughter, meanwhile, has just suffered the death of her fiancĂ©, quit law school and now lacks direction to get her life back on track. Then there is a hard drinking father who blames himself for having sent his oldest son off to Afghanistan, where he died, and his younger son carries a secret which affects them all in the end. I’m just finishing up.

Who would you like to meet in the publishing industry and why?

I’d really like to head out to Colorado and meet Maggie Osborne. She’s written some terrific western historical romances which I absolutely love, was even President of RWA, but she ‘retired’ in 2004 and hasn’t published anything since. I’d like to know why and I’d like to get her to write more.

Now for a little fun! This is where we really get to know our guests.

Boxers or briefs on your man and why?

Oh, come now, boxers surely. Those briefs look like a banana hammock.

Favorite movie and why?

Broken Trail! I absolutely adore that. Does it count, it was really a miniseries? First off, it has Robert Duvall who I think is fantastic in everything, but really, that scene at the end when the stagecoach pulls away and Sun Foy is standing there… You don’t get any more romantic than that.

About the Book:


When Lady Alexandra Calthorpe returns to the Loveland, Colorado, ranch owned by her father, the Duke, she has little idea of how the experience will alter her future. Headstrong and willful, Alex tries to overcome a disastrous marriage in England and be free of the strictures of Victorian society --and become independent of men. That is, until Jesse Makepeace saunters back into her life...

Hot-tempered and hot-blooded cowpuncher Jesse Makepeace can't seem to accept that the child he once knew is now the ravishing yet determined woman before him. Fighting rustlers proves a whole lot easier than fighting Alex when he's got to keep more than his temper under control.
Arguments abound as Alex pursues her career as an artist and Jesse faces the prejudice of the English social order. The question is, will Loveland live up to its name?


He watched as she sat on a stool and pulled first one boot, then the other off and kicked them aside, then she stood and put her leg on the stool to roll down her stockings one by one.

He marveled at her wantonness, her lack of propriety. “Alex, stop,” he said, laying his hand on hers. “Stop. You know…”

But he was lost; she took his face in her hands and pulled him to her, kissing him so any resistance he had had was now shattered. His heart was beating faster at the sweetness of her mouth, the softness of her tongue, the lack of air as they sought each other. His hands moved over her feeling the outline of her body, knowing its curves, its gentleness, its yielding. “Are you sure?” he asked at last.

“I want you so much, Jesse, I want you so much, I’m not waiting three years. And if…if anything happens, so what? We’ll get married, that’ll be it.”

“Yes, but Alex, you can’t…I mean it’d be a shotgun wedding, it’s not how—”

“Shh.” She put her finger to his mouth and then turned for him to unhook her gown. He ran his hands gently down her exposed back, feeling each scar, then kissed her neck.

“You have nothing on under...”

“It’s how the gown is made. Monsieur Worth builds the undergarments into the gown.” Her voice was at barely a whisper, a tremor showing her nerves. She turned and still held the gown up to her, then, looking at Jesse, let it drop to the floor.

Oooh, so tantalizing. Great excerpt. The book sounds amazing.

About the Author:

Andrea Downing emigrated to the UK from New York in order to do her Masters Degree.  She ended up marrying, raising a beautiful daughter and staying for longer than she cares to admit.  Teaching, editing a poetry magazine and a short stint in Nigeria filled those years until in 2008 she returned to NYC.  She now divides her time between the city and the shore and often trades the canyons of New York for the open spaces of the west—and writes incessantly.

Author website:
Buylinks for Loveland:

Thank you so much for stopping by Andrea. Great answers and even better book! Can't wait to check this one out.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Six Sunday-Slow Simmer

Hey you sixy-sixers! I'm happy to be participating in SSS again this Sunday. It's been awhile. I've been hanging out at my alter ego's blog, but got to give love to both, so woo hoo! Let the sixing begin.

Today, I'm sharing from a wip I've been lovingly calling "Slow Simmer." This is Maria and Hank's story. These two were the secondary characters in my short with TWRP, "Into the Fire." And this story picks up a year after that one, after a very hawt one night stand. Hank shows up to the restaurant where Maria is the head sous chef to film an episode of Restaurant Rescue, where a crew comes into a restaurant to save it from ruin. Needless to say, Maria's not happy to see him.

“Maria? Maria Devere?”

Ah, scummy, scum, scum! He’d seen her trying to sneak out the back door. There was no denying the situation now, so she turned and gave a huge smile and a dorky half-circle wave. “Hey, Hank. Been a while, huh?”
I love these characters and this story so far.

Read more Six Sentence Sundays here, or sign up to participate next week. Hope you have an enjoyable Sunday.

Happy Writing and Reading,

Cherie Marks

Months after he stole her affections—then her executive chef position—Shyann and Luke meet again under sizzling circumstances, competing head-to-head on a televised cooking show called Kitchen Twist. Each arrives with a motive: Luke intends to win back Shyann’s heart, even as she wants closure on the not-so-tasty heartbreak he once served up.

Luke knows culinary masterpieces require a delicate touch, but that knowledge is tossed out with the leftovers as he works to show Shyann he’s not such a bad guy. Now he pushes his skills to the limit to win the competition and satisfy a bet.
Can two top chefs resist each other as they move out of the pan and into the fire?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Crazy Days

You can find me at my alter-ego blog for the "Feed Your Reader" Blog Hop sponsored by I Am a Reader, not a Writer

Click the link below for a chance to win prizes, including an e-reader!

Dark and Dreamy with C. C. Marks

Happy Reading and Writing,


Thursday, August 16, 2012

My Alter-Ego is Featured on Taryn Raye's Blog Today

You can find C. C. Marks at today, talking about books, research, casting heroes and heroines for the movie version, and Edge of Mercy.  Stop by and leave me a comment, if you get a chance.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Book Sales Numbers and Things I've Learned About Promo

Edge of Mercy has been for sale for almost a week, so, at the risk of being crass, I'm going to share some sales numbers. I'm certainly not breaking any records, and much of this data is a friend and family boost, so take it for what it's worth. It will give hope to some and validation to others, but I'm just reporting the facts. After this, I will probably try to report about once a month. This seems to be the standard.
Mercy                Price-              Free         
                         Amazon-          548            
                         BN-                 ?          
                         Kobo-              ?            
                         Smashwords-    504(4 mnths)     
                         ARe/Omnilit-    N/A          
                         Total-              1052

Edge of Mercy    Price-              2.99          
                         Amazon-          14 (15 with 1 return)
                          BN-                2          
                          Kobo-             1               
                          Smashwords-   0                      
                          ARe/Omnilit-   0              
                          Total-             17
Into the Fire        Price-              1.99           
                          Amazon-         2(1 wk)    
                          BN-                1*        
                          Kobo-             N/A          
                          Smashwords-   N/A                   
                          ARe/Omnilit-   ?               
                          Total-             3*
?--Untrackable     *--guestimate

First, let me say that Into the Fire has been released with an e-press since October 2011. The numbers I'm showing are only an increase this week that I can attribute to the release of Edge of Mercy. It does not reflect the overall sells. I can't track numbers at all venues currently, and it is not available at Kobo or Smashwords.

Second, a version of Mercy has been available on Smashwords for 4 months. I have recently updated and lengthened this story, so I'm interested to see how this affects the sales of Edge of Mercy.  Also, Mercy is not currently at Omnilit, but I plan to rectify that this week.

Not too bad of a start. We'll see where it goes from here.

Now, on to PROMO. A few things I've learned this week that might help you on your journey:

  • If you haven't joined any writing groups, this is step one. In no other part of my life have I experienced the level of support, camaraderie, and motivation that a writing group provides. Much of my promo ideas have come from writing groups to which I belong. You can find these in where you live, but also online (Yahoo loops, Facebook, Twitter, various websites with communities).
  • Make personal connections with readers. It's not the easiest way, but a reader I connected with this week bought a copy of Into the Fire from Barnes and Noble. I was grateful for the purchase, but it felt better to meet someone who enjoys the same things I do. This is an invaluable part of all promo.
  • Don't SPAM! I made a HUGE mistake before I really realized what I was doing. I sent out a recommendation on Goodreads. I'd received them in my mailbox, so didn't really think much about it. I had one positive response, but one very offended reviewer let me know she'd placed me on her "do not review" list. Yikes! Not a good place to be. I sent a quick e-mail of apology and learned my lesson on that one. Now some might say, "Who cares? You can't please everyone all the time. You got the positive response." But, let me tell you, this was a prominent reviewer, and there are much better and less offensive ways to promote your book.
  • Speaking of which, there are websites that will inexpensively (or at no cost) promote FREE and cheap books. One I found was One that found me is Here is a Galleycat link of sites that offer promotion of free and cheap books:
  • Finally, I'd heard it before, but I've found it is so true--having a FREE book is an invaluable marketing tool, especially if you are an unknown author. Mercy has already generated sales for Edge of Mercy, and I'm excited to see if this trend will continue.
Hope this was insightful for anyone considering publishing or those who currently are. You can check out more articles about writing by heading over to Muse Monday.

Happy Reading and Writing,

Cherie Marks/C. C. Marks

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Find me at StoryFinds

Great things are happening! I'm so excited that "Mercy," is featured on today.

If you get a chance, check out the post HERE.

Yay! Thank you, StoryFinds!

Charlie’s true identity is a secret, but her very presence places everyone around her in danger. With no other choice but to remain where she is, she stays with a community that might not be as benevolent as it appears. In this short dystopian romance where a friend might be an enemy and an enemy might be a friend, seventeen-year-old Charlie must protect her baby sister and herself from grotesque monsters outside the community as well as human ones inside. Will the truth she discovers about her protectors save her or ultimately doom her to a fate worse than death?

Around 9800 words. Part of a larger work titled Edge of Mercy

Happy Reading and Writing!

C. C.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Top Ten Things I Learned From Indie-Publishing Edge of Mercy

Well, it's July 31st, 2012, and my goal date to have Edge of Mercy published. I almost made it, and I'm okay with that.  The book is available on Amazon and will be available at Barnes and Noble and Kobo by the end of the week.  Sony and Apple will be a little later, but it will make it to both.  In the spirit of the Olympic times, I think I earned a silver, at the worst a bronze in self-pubbing, and I'm going to go for gold next time.  It's not perfect yet, but hey, it's pretty, darn good for a first try, and I learned so much about myself and about publishing for myself.

With the idea of educating anyone else who is considering the indie path, here are the top ten things I learned from indie-publishing Edge of Mercy:

10.  Even if they are very supportive, your family (especially your seven-year-old) won't feel the same urgency to get every little detail just right that you do.  Matter of fact, they might even complain about "all that time you spend in front of the computer."

9.    Which leads me to my next point--The first time you self-publish, be prepared to spend a lot of time in front of the computer.  Beyond typing, editing, re-editing, re-re-editing, you will also be communicating with editors, beta-readers, formatters, cover artists, potential readers, reviewers, previous self-pubbers.  Also, per the learning curve, each step takes trial and error, which can be time-consuming.  Very time-consuming.

8.     To save money, you CAN do everything yourself, but be prepared for some very painful and epic FAILS if you choose to do so.  I did my cover countless times, not always because I didn't like it.  Sometimes, it was because computer gremlins attacked.  Sometimes, it was because my short-term memory has issues.  A couple times, I formatted, converted, converted, saved, and then realized I'd forgotten some of the front and back matter of the book.  I was on a less-than a shoestring budget, so I did everything myself, but next time, I plan to hire freelancers as much as I can.

7.     If you're going to save time, you CAN'T figure it all out yourself.  You have to research the process.  The good news--there are bookoos of resources available.  You just have to find them.  Personally, two resources I count as invaluable to my process are and the Indie Romance Ink Yahoo loop.  Both are beyond informative, and I wouldn't have attempted anything I have without the many willing self-pubbers sharing their successes as well as mistakes.  It was a quicker and, in many ways, better education than the one I went to college for.  The Indie community is a generous group.

6.     There will be bumps along the way, some major potholes.  One that comes to mind is when I uploaded to  Turns out, they want a different size cover image than the other sites.  It took me a good twenty minutes to figure out why it wouldn't load my cover.  Then another thirty to re-size to the right dimensions.  I will probably go back and tweak that one when I can because it skewed the cover to re-size it.  But, the point is, expect problems, and if you can, which I didn't do well this time, give yourself EXTRA time to compensate for the inevitable issues that arise.

5.     Do a "soft-release" first.  This basically means, actually set a release date, but upload it at least a week ahead of time.  It's best to upload to Smashwords about three weeks before your intended release because it takes up to that long to get into the premium catalog which is how you get distributed to other retailers.  But if you're like me, you're tweaking and editing constantly until you have to publish it to keep yourself from going crazy in the pursuit of perfection.  Barnes and Noble and Kobo can take up to 72 hours, and though Amazon usually takes less than a day, there have been threads on the Yahoo loop that mentioned it has taken up to a week.  So, it's best to upload well before you actually plan to announce the release.  If you happen to get a few buys before the official day, maybe they'll post a good review and get things moving all that much quicker.

4.     One of the best benefits of self-publishing, especially electronically, is the fact you can upload changes easily.  Don't get me wrong; you want to get your book to the best it can be before you publish, but if you want to add back matter (links to new releases), a different cover, a tighter blurb, or (hopefully not, but it happens) edits, you can do it with a click of the mouse.  This is different from trad publishing because if there were mistakes, an author didn't always get a second chance to get it right.  Now, keep in mind, any earlier versions that were downloaded before the changes will remain the original version; however, at Amazon, at least, there is a way to send out a message to let people know they can download an updated book if they would like.

3.     Believe it or not, you're going to obsess over your baby.  Yes, it's true.  You will probably be like every other newbie pubber and check your numbers constantly.  Eventually (I hope), this will fade, but at first, sales reports, rankings, reviews are going to be the Three "R's" that rule your every waking moment.  If you can though, set limits for yourself.  Only check sales reports once (or twice at the most) a day.  Set a particular time, and hopefully when the numbers go up, you'll be pleasantly surprised.  Also, don't stress over rankings.  Yes, the higher you are on the "lists," the more visible you will be, but your first book isn't going to soar to number one (MINE IS!) without a lotta, lotta help and luck.  Eventually though, with a few marketing hits, you might see a surge in rankings.  Then again, you might not until you have more to offer (but I'll get to that in a minute).  And, of course, the scariest "R" of them all--reviews--will make you sweat at night, if you let it.  First, the anxiety is because you don't have ANY reviews.  Then, when the reviews begin coming in, that's a whole different kind of scary.  Just keep in mind, it's rare to please everyone.  Hopefully, you'll find your audience quickly and get a few 5*'s to start things off, but if you don't, don't let it get you down.  Don't over-think what you could have done differently.  Just realize not everyone is going to like what you write, and that's just the way life works.  In that case, grab some chocolate, your fave soothing beverage, and put your BICHOK to work on the next one.

2.     Truth is, you just have to go for it.  No matter how hard you work on your manuscript, there's no such thing as perfect.  Eventually, if it's something you want to do, you just have to create the best product you can and share it with the world.  Believe me, no one is going to believe in your book more than you, but no one is going to even know about it unless you share.  Plus, some people will even PAY you to read it.  So yeah, we all write because we love it and all that shhttuff (tee-hee), but if you're interested in publishing, you're probably interested in making money doing what you love.  For the first time, authors (not just the super best-sellers) have the opportunity to make a living writing.  But you can't do that unless you go for it.

1.     Finally, time for the next one.  As hard as it is, the best marketing you could do for your book (read: my most precious) is to write the next one.  Each book teaches you more about your craft and yourself, so they get better the more you write.  Plus, once you actually do find your audience, they're going to want more of your work.  You need to have more to offer, and the only way to do that, is to write the next one.  Also, the reality is, this seems to be the way to move up in the rankings consistently--putting out new books regularly (see number 3), especially if you can make your first one a loss leader.  Readers will get hooked with the first book.  Then come back for all the others (::crosses fingers::).

I hope you found something helpful in this post.  Now, I'm off to obsess over my sales and rankings.  Yeah, I know--number 3.  I'm learning, but I'm far from perfect.

Edge of Mercy blurb:

Charlie hides her true identity, but her very presence places everyone around her in danger. With no other choice but to remain where she is, she stays with a community that might not be as benevolent as it appears. In this new and dangerous version of the world, where a friend might be an enemy and an enemy might be a friend, seventeen-year-old Charlie protects her baby sister and herself from grotesque monsters outside the community as well as human ones inside. Will the truth she discovers about her protectors save her or ultimately doom her to a fate worse than death?

Amazon Buylink
BN Buylink--coming soon!
Kobo Buylink--coming soon!
Smashwords Buylink

Happy Reading and Writing!

Cherie/C. C.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Come Find Me at Darkling Delights

What's the appeal of the dystopian genre? Stop by Darkling Delights to weigh in today as I guest blog.  I'll also be sharing an excerpt from Edge of Mercy.  Stop by if you get a chance:

Happy Reading and Writing,

Cherie/C. C.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Mercy is LIVE on Amazon!

In anticipation of my July 31st release date for Edge of Mercy, the flash fiction piece, turned short story, "Mercy," is now live on Amazon.  For those of you who've read the flash fiction posted here and on Smashwords, this is an expanded version that I pubbed for kindle to make sure I could figure it out before I completed the process for Edge of Mercy.

Everything went pretty smoothly, and I have to thank the Indie Romance Ink Yahoo loop and the awesome folks with Kentucky Indie Writers.  Without them, I don't think I would have ever attempted something like this.  If you're interested, I'll put the various links below.  Currently, it is $.99 at Amazon and free at Smashwords, but don't download from B&N, Kobo, or any other retailers until the expanded edition is available.  The expanded edition is about 9800 words and the flash fiction piece is about 1200.  So, make sure you pay attention.

Anyway, here it is for the world to read:

Charlie’s true identity is a secret, but her very presence places everyone around her in danger. With no other choice but to remain where she is, she stays with a community that might not be as benevolent as it appears. In this short dystopian romance where a friend might be an enemy and an enemy might be a friend, seventeen-year-old Charlie must protect her baby sister and herself from grotesque monsters outside the community as well as human ones inside. Will the truth she discovers about her protectors save her or ultimately doom her to a fate worse than death?

Amazon Buylink
Smashwords Download

Happy Reading and Writing,

Cherie Marks/ C. C. Marks

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Big Reveal for Edge of Mercy

 <---What do you think of the cover?

Literally, just a couple weeks away from the publication of Edge of Mercy.  My excitement is building, but like any major project, there have been a few issues along the way.  Not the least of which was creating my second cover ever and then losing it to the computer gremlins.  Yeah, I get why people pay for book covers.  Next time.  Yet, I think it was for the best because it gave me a moment to step back and think through the process a little more.  I really, really like the finished product I was finally able to SAVE today, but I'm definitely still learning.  Here's a little more about Edge of Mercy:

Charlie’s true identity is a secret, and her very presence places everyone around her in danger. With no other choice but to remain where she is, she stays with a community that might not be as benevolent as it appears. In this post-apocalyptic romance where a friend might be an enemy and an enemy might be a friend, seventeen-year-old Charlie must protect her baby sister and herself from grotesque monsters outside the community as well as human ones inside. Will the truth she discovers about her protectors save her or ultimately doom her to a fate worse than death?
For updates about this book and other reads like it, check out my new-fangled blog at

Happy Reading and Writing,

Cherie Marks/C. C. Marks

Monday, July 9, 2012

Stuck in the Mud--How to Get Through Writer's Block

Right now, I've been working on a short story for over a week and it's driving me crazy.  I'm stuck at one scene and have been for the last two days.  I've exhausted my bag of tricks, and I can't seem to get unstuck.  Sadly, I'll write a sentence, then erase it.  I rant at my internal editor to back off, but she's planted firmly on my shoulder and keeps pushing my muse off.  I backtrack to see if something took a wrong turn earlier in the story, but nothing seems to work.  I've been here before, and I'll probably be here again, but it doesn't change the fact I can't get out of this funk.

It reminds me of one of the funniest scenes in National Lampoon's European Vacation, when Chevy Chase's character can't figure out the round-a-bout in London.

Yep, that's me.  No matter how many times I try, I can't get to "The End."

One of my last ditch efforts to unblock myself is to visit some of the blogs from which I've learned the most.  After hitting a couple unsuccessfully, I came across  I often visit here after a trip to his wife's blog  And can usually find something new at both sites that I truly didn't know or quite understand before.

Last January, Dean Wesley Smith gave himself a challenge to write 100 short stories in a year, and starting July of this year, he's taken up the challenge once again.  Now, I'm not nearly that prolific and don't have plans to attempt any such challenge.  I'd like to just finish the one I started last week.  Yet, as I read through his process for the first story, I was intrigued.  I'd heard it before, but he said it again, and it was worth repeating.  Sometimes, you just had to write through the hard scenes, word-by-word, and keep on going, even if you don't know where it's taking you or if it's salvageable material at all.  I've done that before and been pleased with the results, changing some, but keeping most of what I wrote.  It works.

But, it was the next post that really spoke to me.  It seems after he went through his process and published that story, someone took the time to comment to say it had too many typos and mistakes.  The nerve of some people.  Whether it takes a week or a year, every story is precious to a writer.  It's personal, even when it's not.  It's a part of him or her.  So, it was enough to make Dean Wesley Smith want to give up the challenge--after just one story.  I totally get this.  You know why?  Because when you have to work incredibly hard to suppress your own internal editor, any little criticism just throws all that work out the window and makes it impossible to shut that trashy witch up.

I recently finished a manuscript I have serious plans for and have passed it on to Beta readers who have already given me plenty of feedback, even some criticisms.  Now that's all in my head, swirling around like a summer windstorm, and I can't get to "The End" on my current story.

I'll finish this story.  I'm determined to.  And at least now I have a better grasp of what exactly keeps getting in my way.  Just wish my Muse would grow a pair and knock the IE off my shoulder.  Until then, I'm going to do what I know best--power through.  Wish me luck and any advice is always appreciated.

Happy Reading and Writing,

Cherie Marks

Sunday, July 1, 2012

4th of July Blog Hop and Giveaway!

Blog Hops are the best and when so many authors participate and offer up so many prizes, it only gets better.  The Blog Hop Spot is hosting a blog hop for the 4th of July and I'm excited to participate.

What do you have to do?  Just click on the rafflecopter at the end of the post and find the entries you're willing to participate in to be entered.  It's that simple.  Don't forget to visitThe Blog Hop Spot 4th of July Hop to click on all the other hop stops for more great prizes.


Months after he stole her affections—then her executive chef position—Shyann and Luke meet again under sizzling circumstances, competing head-to-head on a televised cooking show called Kitchen Twist. Each arrives with a motive: Luke intends to win back Shyann’s heart, even as she wants closure on the not-so-tasty heartbreak he once served up.

Luke knows culinary masterpieces require a delicate touch, but that knowledge is tossed out with the leftovers as he works to show Shyann he’s not such a bad guy. Now he pushes his skills to the limit to win the competition and satisfy a bet.

Can two top chefs resist each other as they move out of the pan and into the fire?


Silence reigned for half a minute before he reached out a hand and touched hers like a breezy
whisper. Her head went a little fuzzy at the warm contact. He shouldn’t still be able to affect her so

“I regret it went down the way it did, but why did you show me the exit before giving me a chance
to explain, not to mention—dress? Enlighten me, sugar cheeks?”

With a jerk, she pulled her hand free. He was really asking for it. Sugar cheeks? Seriously? Now
she knew he was only messing with her. She could give as well as she got.

“Tell you what. You win tonight, and I’ll give you your chance. You lose, we go our separate ways,
and you walk out all by yourself, big boy.”

A crooked grin formed on his face as he reached a hand toward her hair. He fingered an escaping curl
before she pulled away, leaving his hand hanging in mid-air.

“You can call me big boy all you want, but I’ll do you one better. How about if I win, I take you to
dinner, and you let me explain the whole situation?”

She felt her eyebrow rise and knew he’d read it as interest, but she didn’t care at the moment. “I
honestly don’t want to hear any explanation from you now or ever, but if I win? Which I will, of

“Then I’ll leave it up to you. If you want me to walk away, I will.” He took a step closer, placed his
hand on her shoulder, and leaned down, his mouth right next to her ear. “But if you want me to call you darling, sweetheart, and sugar cheeks all night long, I’ll do that too.”

Into the Fire Amazon BuyLink:
Into the Fire TWRP BuyLink:
Other links on the sidebars

Enjoy the HOP!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, June 18, 2012

Whatcha Reading on the Beach?

I'm on location writing about beach reads.  Check it out:

My family and I are prepping for a week at the beach.  Of course, we are making the usual packing lists--clothing, beach toys, golf clubs, lots and lots of sunscreen--you know, all the essentials.  But the most important list for me is the list of beach reads I've been so excited to finally crack open.

Life is busy most days.  The day job gives me a little extra time off in the summer, but inevitably we fill it up with activities.  Of course, I've also dubbed this the "Summer I Publish My YA," so I've been working on that non-stop.  Yet, this vacation will not be a working one.  Instead, I'm ready to load up on some of the books in my mountainous TBR pile. That means narrowing the list down to about five books, at the most.  Impossible, right?

The good news is I have e-readers.  I own both a Nook and a Kindle (it's probably a sin, but there ya go.)  So, gone are the days of juggling three books down to the beach, only to cart them back up.  Now, I'm a little more careful about water and sand than I used to be, but believe me, the accessibility to a number of books at once makes a difference. Yet, that doesn't solve my original problem of what to read.

Well, I've worked out FIVE characteristics to help me choose the best possible books for vacation.  Here they are:

1.  It Must Be Entertaining

Of course, this is subjective, but for me, I like a book with a little action, a little romance, and a fast pace.  I like to be pulled so into a book that when I finally look up from the pages (or screen), I'm a little disoriented by my surroundings.  It should be as much of an escape from reality as the vacation is.  And even when I'm off doing other fun beach stuff, I'm still thinking about getting back to my book.  Usually, I can tell by the blurb, the first few pages, and my experience with the author's previous books whether I'll enjoy this one or not.  That's always a good place to begin.

You can read the rest at the ACA Blog

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Six Sunday--Have Mercy

Fun, fun for everyone!  It's time once again for Six Sentence Sunday, where authors share some of their top-notch work.

Adding six more sentences of my soon-to-be-pubbed Young Adult (Far from Mercy) from which I pulled my flash fiction short.  The short was titled "Mercy," and can be downloaded for free at SmashwordsKobo, or Barnes and Noble.

Still at the beginning with our MC, sixteen-year-old Charlie, who is not at all what she seems, so here we go:

Others around me didn’t possess my same level of control, especially Zeke, the boy beside me. His breaths came labored and loud to my ears. I checked the urge to reach a hand out, to reassure him that this night would pass just like the ones before with all still safe inside, the sun rising on a new day. But I didn't currently do girly, and I was no longer Charlotte Baker. Here, I was Charlie Little, the boy the community took in, along with a baby sister and a dying mother, only a little over six months ago. If they ever thought differently, I wouldn’t last the night.

Read more Six Sentence Sundays here, or sign up to participate next week. Hope you have an enjoyable Sunday.

Happy Writing and Reading,


Friday, June 15, 2012

Free on Friday

Here are a few deals I came across.  Thought I'd put a few out there for the Nook also, so here you go:

Freaks (Rizzoli and Isles Short Story) by Tess Gerritsen

In this free Rizzoli & Isles short story from New York Times bestselling author Tess Gerritsen, author of The Silent Girl, a bizarre death comes with a supernatural twist. Homicide cop Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles have seen their fair share of mortal crimes, but the death of Kimberly Rayner may qualify as inhuman in more ways than one. When corpse of the emaciated seventeen-year-old girl is discovered next to an empty coffin in an abandoned church, mysterious bruises around the throat suggest foul play. Caught fleeing the scene is the victim's closest friend, Lucas Henry, an equally skeletal, pale teenager who claims he's guilty only of having a taste for blood-a craving he shared with Kimberly. But the victim's distraught father doesn't believe in vampires, only vengeance. And now, another life may be at risk unless Rizzoli and Isles can uncover the astonishing truth.

Already Home by Vicki Lewis Thompson

Daredevil videographer Langford "Hutch" Hutchinson has put his career on hold to help his widowed father run their family store in Wyoming. He doesn't mean to stay in town for long—though it's long enough to rekindle his lust for Trina Bledstone. Hutch always had a thing for Trina, but she's his best friend's sister—and that meant hands off!
But Trina still has the power to set his pulse racing—and her brother isn't around to stop them from exploring their sizzling chemistry this time….
A Sons of Chance series novella.

And one from the 'Zon:

 She's Gotta Be Mine (A sexy, funny mystery/romance, Cottonmouth Book 1) (Cottonmouth Series) by Jennifer Skully

Dumped? For her husband’s high school sweetheart he hasn’t seen in twenty years? Roberta Jones Spivey isn’t going to lay down for that. Instead, she reinvents herself and the new Bobbie Jones—new haircut, new name, new attitude—follows her soon-to-be ex to the small Northern California town of Cottonmouth. 

What better way to show him—and his sweetheart—what he’s missing in the brand new Bobbie Jones than taking up with the town’s local bad boy—who’s also reputed to be a serial killer. Nick Angel is devilishly handsome and sexy as all get-out. In a word, perfect.

It’s all going exactly according to plan...until a real murder rocks the little town of Cottonmouth. Of course, Nick didn’t do it...did he?

“She’s Gotta Be Mine”, previously published as “Sex and the Serial Killer”, is a contemporary romance of approximately 100,000 words / 400 pages.  (I believe that is with bonus material.  The novel is about 270 pages.)

Happy Reading and Writing,