Brand-Aid: Blogging and Social Media for Writers Wrap-up

The In Print affiliate, Chicago Writers’ Association hosted the 6th Annual Writer’s Block Party Saturday, August 26, at the Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin. I was proud to be a part of the panel featuring Jennifer Brown BanksMarcie HillBecky Sarwate, and Charlie Monte Verde. Author Dan Burns was moderator.

Jennifer Brown Banks, Becky Sarwate, Marcie Hill, and Mary Lamphere. (Charlie Monte Verde not pictured)

Originally, Social Media expert Dan Blank (We Grow Media) was going to video chat with us but unfortunately he had a scheduling conflict. Instead, he kindly put together this video where he talks about making personal connections through social media and how this marketing can be part of the creative process. He believes you should be selling yourself and what you have to offer beyond your product.

With a five person panel and lively, interactive audience, we didn’t have time to view Dan’s 30 minute presentation, but I encourage you to click on the video link above and watch. Between the panel Q & A, the crowd Q & A, and the pizza & socializing, we pushed right up against the 4 pm closing time.

Confession 1: I felt out of my league on this panel of social media experts.
Confession 2: I’m okay with that.

I opened with “Hi, my name is Mary and I’m a Facebook addict,” to which the crowd compliantly responded, “Hi, Mary.” I use social media VERY socially. My Facebooking and Twitter and Monday blog posts are more personal than professional. I learned a lot from the other speakers and will share those points in future blogs. But I’m okay with my contributions to the discussion. I believe many of the audience members might have been new to the whole thing and I like to think I offered informal insight into an ever-growing and potentially overwhelming world of new-age marketing. Thank you CWA for the opportunity to participate.

As I write this post and reflect on all the information we covered, I’m thinking I may have to post daily this week to properly share…

If you are curious about the ins and outs of social media and how they relate to authors, stay tuned!


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The Letter K

Next up in The Writer’s Alphabet is the letter K.

K could be for Kindle Worlds, where K could also be for Kinder Garden, my first novella in the Mary O’Reilly Paranormal Mysteries World, but it could not be for Baker’s Dozen, my new release.

But I think K is for Killin’ it!

As I work on my third submission to the MOR Kindle World, I think I might just be killin’ it!

What are you working on? Are you killin’ it?

To catch up with The Writer’s Alphabet so far, click here.
Comments and suggestions for letters are welcome.


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Crazy 80’s

For my husband’s birthday, we went out to eat, to a show, and back in time.

We joined a rowdy AARP crowd of Crazy 80’s people at the Arcada in Saint Charles, IL for the Retro Futura tour featuring Annabella (of Bow Wow Wow), Katrina (ex of Katrina and the Waves), Men Without Hats, Modern English, The English Beat, and headliner Howard Jones.

Wow, to be young again. Best gift ever–for one night, anyway.

The show kicked off at 8 pm sharp with Annabella. She was fabulous. Fun, sassy, energetic. Go ahead and put “I want Candy” in the fluffy song file, but make room in your catalog for other Annabelle songs–she can sing!

Next up was Katrina. They used the same musicians so the transition was quick. When you get to be our age, you appreciate that efficiency, lol. Truth caveat: I hated “Walking on Sunshine” in the 80’s. She was probably my least anticipated performer. She blew me away. That woman can shred!

We had discussed the order in advance and were surprised that Modern English was up next. C’mon, “I Melt with You” is the 80’s anthem. Sandwiched between the songs we expected to hear, singer Robbie Grey introduced their new release, “Take Me to the Trees“.

The English Beat filled the stage with musicians and energy! Dave Wakeling and King Schascha (not Ranking Roger) rocked the house with a handful of their 80’s hits.

I was so happy to be in this moment of 1982, that I forgot about my gray hair, mortgage, and grandkid.

In a surprising (to me) place in the line-up, Men Without Hats hit the stage next. The song, “Safety Dance”, still makes me want to swing my arms into an S. But it was Ivan Doroschuk‘s cover of the Abba song, “SOS”, that really made me dance.

Wrapping up the show was the iconic Howard Jones. Ever the optimistic song-writer of the 80’s, his music is equally relevant and uplifting today. I loved everything about this set…the keytar! the percussionist/drummer Emily Dolan Davies, the snippets of original music videos that played on the big screen behind the stage, the banter…Do yourself a favor and cue him up on youtube or iTunes or whatever, get on with your day and just let his music play.

The show ended around midnight. FOUR HOURS.
The crowd applauded, the lights went up, the roadies took the stage for breakdown, and 2017 slammed into me with sore feet, achy back, and exhaustion.
I’m only too old for this…after it’s over.

We bought tickets the day before the show. Great seats, decent sound, fabulous line-up, and amazing crowd. I am so glad we went! These performers have been covering the same songs for over thirty years and yet they made them seem fresh and exciting. All of the artists were engaging and content to do what the crowd expected to hear. 1982 was a long time ago. For as much as I love these songs, I’ll be spending time today looking up their new releases. New since 1982, but also new like now! In 30 years, we’ll be rockin’ like it’s 2017.

If you’re a member of the Crazy 80’s, you would have LOVED this show.

Saw this on the Retro Futura website this morning:
**Due to a scheduling error the August 18 show in Merrillville, IN is being moved to The Arcada Theatre in St. Charles, IL.

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Hi Rev Writing Retreat

I just spent five days and four nights with three fantastically talented people in Lonesome Hollow, a remote location in Wisconsin.
I spent that time writing. Well, reading and editing, but also writing.
Sure, we ate, laughed, drank, laughed, and even slept a little, but mostly, we worked. And laughed.

Hi Rev is right!

And proud.
I have really enjoyed my experience with the Kindle World and publishing Baker’s Dozen and Kinder Garden, Mary O’Reilly Paranormal Mystery Stories, but I’m ready to release a story in MY world again.

Pocket Money was my first publication. I love that it’s a book. A real book. A softcover book with a gorgeous glossy cover and a fully developed original story printed on the paper pages. I want that physical connection again.

So I spent five days and four nights working on A Stranger’s Child, a contemporary continuation of the Pandora myth. I cannot wait to introduce it to you!
I accomplished a LOT this retreat, but writing is a lot of work and there is still much to do.

Reading, writing, editing, critique, reading, writing, editing, beta readers, reading, writing, editing, formatting, reading, writing, editing, cover design, reading, writing, editing, blurb, reading, writing, editing, upload, reading, writing, editing, publishing, printing, DONE.

Stay tuned, it’s coming…

after my nap.


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J is for…

I wanted to say J is for Just, but when I was editing the post, I realized “just” is one of those words I try to remove.

Instead, J will be for Juxtaposition.
Check out the rest of The Writer’s Alphabet here.

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Baker’s Dozen, a Mary O’Reilly Paranormal Mysteries World story, is now available on Kindle!

Baker’s Dozen is the story of Vivian Flynn, who in 1958 planned to hold a cascading bouquet of daisies when she walked down the aisle. Then tragedy struck. Nearly six decades later, she’s sitting in Mary O’Reilly Alden’s office seeking assistance in finding her long lost love. With the help of Stanley and Rosie Wagner, Mary must solve the sixty year old mystery that took the life of dedicated teacher Robert Baker and reunite his spirit with his bride-to-be.

Kinder Garden is a ghost story. Baker’s Dozen is a ghost love story.

Following the lead of my friend and mentor, Christine Cacciatore, author of Mary O’Reilly Kindle World stories, Trouble Lake and Grave Injury, my first novella in this world featured my own characters, Kimmie Jillison and Marc Harbour. My second offering focuses on main character Mary O’Reilly Alden as created by author Terri Reid.

It’s very interesting and challenging to write in someone else’s world. Especially as their character! I hope I did Terri proud. (I’m sure her fans will let me know.)

I’m already well into a rough draft of my next Mary O’Reilly Paranormal Mysteries World story. It’s titled, Safe Harbour, and will continue the adventures of Kimmie and Marc from book one, Kinder Garden. In Safe Harbour, Kimmie Jillison is torn between the affections of Marc Harbour, her new crush, and Liam Mitchell, the ex who broke her heart but now is back in her life. Things become even more complicated for Kimmie when a charming and handsome stranger, an amnesiac ghost, seeks her help in trying to solve his mysterious death.

I have really enjoyed my experience with Kindle Worlds*. If this is something you’d be interested in as an author, I encourage you to check out the site. There are a ton of Worlds in many genres by many authors. Click here for a previous blog post on the subject. Or feel free to ask me questions.

One last reminder–download Baker’s Dozen today! 😀
And thank you for your continued support.

*My one complaint is the formatting. Trust me, the file I submitted is formatted correctly. I have NO idea why some chapter spacing and indents are missing in the digital download.







There are some days when I am still so tickled by the fact that I am a published author.




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Crack TV

Binge-watching is nothing new. Folks have been doing it–well, since it became available.

Sidebar: Can you believe there was a time when you couldn’t watch whatever you wanted whenever you wanted? When you actually had to *gasp* wait until a show was broadcast?! And then *gasp* sit through commercials?! And if you missed it when it was on, you had to wait until *gasp* SUMMER RERUNS?!

But I digress.

I’m not a binge-watcher. Even if I have that kind of time, I don’t have that kind of patience. I made it through all of the available seasons of Supernatural on Netflix, but it took me four or five years to do it. Hardly a qualifier for the Binge Olympics.

I tried a couple of episodes of Game of Thrones. Nah. And Breaking Bad. Meh. I couldn’t sit through an entire episode of The Walking Dead. Yawn. And Orange is the New Black was only okay. There’ve been a lot of trendy series that I’ve started and just never came back to. I spend a ton of time sitting at the computer, but at least that’s interactive. And between Dark Matter, Elementary, The Blacklist, and a myriad of other established series, as well as live sports, I watch enough television already.

But then.
Then I watched The Fall.

It’s a terrible title, totally forgettable, but that premise, those characters, and the subplots…whoa.

I get how you might not take my recommendation seriously since you probably binged every series I previously dismissed…

…but that premise, those characters, and the subplots…whoa.

This from IMDB about The Fall:
A seemingly cold but very passionate policewoman goes head to head with a seemingly passionate father who is in fact a cold serialist in this procedural out of Belfast. The only thing they share is their common complexity.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever. Just watch it.

There are issues. Like Gillian Anderson’s come and go accent. And where does he keep getting cars? And man, it’s ALWAYS cold in that office.
And yet, I can’t stop thinking about this show.
I actually watched more than one episode in a row!
That’s a binge for me.

There are only 17 episodes TOTAL.
I’m afraid to binge. I want the high to last.

But oh my goodness, I want to know what happens next!

I am not a peddler of addictions,
but I’m pretty sure the first one’s free…


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