The Reading Connection

The pleasure of all reading is doubledI attended the annual ACFW conference in St. Louis last week. It was a great opportunity to learn about the craft of writing and get the latest news of the publishing industry. It was also a lot of fun to hang out with my writing peeps. They get me.

We talked about writing books, of course, but we also talked about reading them. When it comes down to it, we novelists are readers first. We write because we love books, and we believe in the power of story. Reading the same book creates a connection. It provides common ground to discuss thoughts and emotions. The pleasure of reading is one of the few things in life that multiplies when it’s shared.

Are you part of a book club? A member of Goodreads? How do you share the experience with other readers?


Top 10 Ways to Show Twitter Love to Authors

twitterI have to admit it. I wasn’t a fan of Twitter when I first joined, but it’s really grown on me the last couple of years. It’s become one of the most versatile forms of social media out there, and that makes Twitter one of the best places to show social media love to authors.

My Top 10 Ways to Show Twitter Love to Authors:

1. Follow your favorite authors. Just keep in mind that an author’s Twitter handle might not be the same as their name. (For example, Jessica Keller’s handle is @AuthorKeller.) If you’re not sure about the author’s Twitter handle, enter their name in the search bar at the top of the screen, and a list of suggestions will pop up. Another option is to start at the author’s website. Most authors will have a link from their website to their Twitter profile.

2. Favorite a tweet. It could be a big announcement or just a random thought for the day. Whatever it is, let those authors know that you like what they’re saying.

3. Retweet. Don’t just favorite that tweet, retweet it, especially if it’s an announcement about something fun like a giveaway. You can generate excitement and get people talking about your favorite authors.

4. Reply. A lot of authors tweet questions for their followers, so take advantage of it and reply! Or maybe an author just announced a book signing event in your area. Tell them you can’t wait to meet them. Let your favorite authors know that you’re out there and you’re listening.

5. Mention your favorite authors. Tweet something fun or intriguing about the author’s book that will encourage your followers to check it out. When you do, mention the author by including their Twitter handle in your tweet.

Twitter mention

6. Use a hashtag. The #hashtag phenomenon originated with Twitter, and it’s one of the most effective (and fun) tools to show some social media love to your favorite authors. When you mention an author or tweet about one of their books, be sure to include a hashtag. It can be a popular hashtag like #amreading, or you can get creative and make up one of your own: #NewBookBoyfriend, #fictionalhottie, #YAawesomeness.

7. Create a list. A list is a group or collection of Twitter accounts that you put together.

Twitter list 1

When you view the list timeline, you only see tweets from the accounts you’ve selected.

Twitter list tweets

Other Twitter users can subscribe to your list, so make it easy for people to find and follow your favorite authors. Create a list and give it a clever (but descriptive) name so your followers won’t be able to resist checking it out. For more info on making a list, go to

8. Give a Follow Friday shout-out. Friday is the traditional day for recommending accounts to other Twitter users, so it’s the perfect excuse to mention your favorite authors. Include a short description like “Must-read YA” in your tweet along with the author’s Twitter handle and one of the Follow Friday hashtags: #FF, #followfriday, or #ff.

Follow Friday tweet

9. Tweet a picture. Twitter only allows 140 characters per tweet, but “a picture is worth a thousand words,” so post a selfie of you with the latest book from your favorite author. Or how about a shelfie—a picture of your bookshelf with that awesome new addition? Do you have a new book-inspired manicure or tattoo? It’s all good. Just be sure to mention your favorite author when you post your tweet.

Twitter image

10.Tweet a video. Share a book trailer from the author’s website or from YouTube. Or post a six-second Vine showing your reaction to the five-star book you just finished. Don’t forget to mention the author and include a hashtag.

What other ways can you show Twitter love to your favorite authors?

©2014 Kim Vandel

Top 10 Ways to Show Goodreads Love to Authors

gToday’s guest post is by Amanda G. Stevens, debut author and Goodreads ninja. 

If you love books, you’re probably already on Goodreads. It’s the most obvious social media platform for book lovers, and it’s a great place to show love to your favorite authors—in both obvious and not-so-obvious ways.

Top 10 Ways to Show Goodreads Love to Authors:

 1. Rate books. This is a straightforward process. Add the book to your “read” shelf and give it a star rating.

2. Review books. Goodreads reviews vary a lot in length. You can post two sentences or ten paragraphs. Reviews can be text only, or you can get creative with gifs. Be engaging and detailed. So you loved the book—why? What makes this book different from others in its genre? What makes this a book you will remember forever? How did it make you feel? GR Post (Review)

3. Recommend books. Do this thoughtfully: don’t recommend one book to your entire friend list. Choose the friends who read similar books, who would most likely enjoy this one. The more reliable your recommendations are, the more friends will trust them and check them out.

4. Talk about the author and book in discussion groups. If you haven’t joined a Goodreads group yet, why not? This is where you get to chat with people about the stories you all love. Be sure to use “add book/author” when you comment, so readers can click on the book rather than having to search for it. Update your reading progress. Every time you do this, the book shows up in your friends’ news feeds. And don’t post only the page number you’re on. Include an intriguing comment. Make fellow readers curious about the book. Tell them why you can’t put it down (without giving spoilers).

5. Update your reading progress. Every time you do this, the book shows up in your friends’ news feeds. And don’t post only the page number you’re on. Include an intriguing comment. Make fellow readers curious about the book. Tell them why you can’t put it down (without giving spoilers).

GR Post (Reading Progress)

6. Become a fan of the author. Again, this shows up in your News Feed and on your profile page and gives the author a nudge of visibility. And it’s easy. Go to the author’s page and, under their picture on the left, click “Become a Fan.”

7. Interact when you see someone else reading the book. Like their progress updates and ask questions relevant to where they are in the book. Let them know how much you enjoyed it.

8. Vote on lists. In Listopia, you’ll find everything from “Books With Boys on the Cover” to “Sigh-Worthy Kisses” to “Greatest Literature of the Twenty-First Century.” Voting a book onto (appropriate) lists is especially helpful if a few of your friends will vote, too. One vote won’t help a book stand out, but five or six can make a surprising difference. GR Post (Listopia)

9. Share the book’s Goodreads page on your other platforms. Goodreads makes this wonderfully easy with their “Share This Book” feature, which includes Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, and Pinterest.

10. Create fun stuff! Goodreads allows readers to create quizzes and trivia questions. This is a fun way to engage other readers of the book, and again, when you take a book quiz, your results show up in your News Feed.

One of the most helpful things you can do for an author is simply to remind fellow readers that this book is out there, and you read it, and you loved it. Now it’s your turn: how have you shown Goodreads love to an author?

stevens-LR-4As a child, Amanda G. Stevens disparaged Mary Poppins and Stuart Little because they could never happen. Now, she writes speculative fiction. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in English and has taught literature and composition to home-school students. She lives in Michigan and loves books, film, music, and white cheddar popcorn. Amanda’s first novel, Seek and Hide, will be available September 15, 2014 from David C Cook. She can be found online at her website, on Twitter, and of course on Goodreads.

Congratulations to Amanda on her debut! Be sure to add Seek and Hide to your Goodreads “Want to Read” list today! 


48215_10203599576063825_5868202758901641120_o©2014 Amanda G Stevens and Kim Vandel

Top 10 Ways to Show Amazon Love to Authors

Amazon Love for AuthorsSocial media is the obvious go-to method when you want to let people know about the books and authors you love. While Amazon might not qualify as social media, it still has some great tools you can use to get the word out. They make it super easy to show love and support to your favorite authors.

Here are my Top 10 Ways to Show Amazon Love to Authors:

1. Buy their books. Obvious, right? But don’t just buy their books. After you make your purchase, you’ll be given the option to share a link on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Share the link and let your friends and followers know about the awesome book you just bought. There’s an added bonus if you share it on Twitter. Your followers can reply with #AmazonCart, and the book will be saved to their Amazon shopping cart for easy purchase the next time they visit Without leaving Twitter!

2. Share their books on social media. Already bought the book? No problem. You can still share a link and let people know about the must-read novel. Just look for the social media icons on the book’s “product page.”

Amazon share icons

3. Review their books. Tell potential readers what you loved about a book and encourage them to buy it. Reviews will also help a book get noticed by Amazon’s complicated algorithms. The more reviews, the more Amazon will take notice, and the better the chance of Amazon suggesting that book to prospective buyers.

4. Share your review. Once you’ve submitted your review, you’ll be given the option to share a link on social media. Grab the attention of your friends and followers. Encourage them to check out your five-star review.

5. Post a picture. On the book’s product page (under the cover image) there’s a link to “share your own customer images.” Post a picture of you reading the book or a picture of you with the author at a book signing. Be creative and don’t let social media have all the image-posting fun!

6. Vote on helpful reviews. At the bottom of each review, you’ll find the question “Was this review helpful to you?” Voting “yes” on favorable reviews will bump them to the top and give potential readers a positive first impression of the book.

7. “Like” the author’s Amazon page. To find their page, enter the author’s name in the search bar, or you can access it from a book’s product page. You’ll find the author’s name (with a link to their page) directly below the book title. The “Like” button will be on the right hand side of the author’s page.

Author Keller Amazon page

8. Share their Amazon author page. Right next to that “Like” button are the social media icons that make it easy to share the page and let people know about one of your favorite authors.

9. Share notes and highlights. If you’re reading the digital (Kindle) version of a book, you can highlight text or make notes as you read. Highlight your favorite lines from the novel. Make notes about a scene that really connected with you or one you thought was beautifully written. If you’ve linked your Kindle to Twitter, Facebook, or Goodreads, you can share those notes and highlights. They also show up on the book’s product page.

Amazon notes and highlights

10. Start a discussion. You can do this on a book’s product page (below the reviews) or on the author’s Amazon page (under the list of their books). Start a conversation about who you’d pick for the lead role if the book was made into a movie or what makes your favorite author so amazing.

Amazon discussion

What other ways can you think of to show your favorite authors some love on Amazon?

©2014 Kim Vandel

Top 10 Ways to Show Tumblr Love to Authors

Top 10 TumblrToday’s guest post is by author and Tumblr addict Jessica Keller. 

Tumblr is a place for microblogging amazingness. Not just a place—it’s THE place. One of the best things about Tumblr is that it has outlets for everyone. The blog platform includes photo sharing, written entries, video uploads, music sharing, a platform just for quotes, and the ability to post links. The best part of Tumblr is that it attracts creative people, so books and stories are always welcome and reblogged. Tumblr is great because unlike Twitter, you aren’t limited by a certain number of characters and you can use as many tags as you want.

The one

If you’re an author who writes Young Adult Fiction or New Adult Fiction, you better have a Tumblr account. So many writers are focusing on connecting with readers on Facebook and building Pinterest story boards that they’re missing out on where readers are spending time. All the teens I know are active on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram. We should be too. The latest Tumblr data shows that they host 187 million blogs. Don’t miss out on the fun we’re having over there!

 The Top Ten Ways to Show Author Love on Tumblr

  1. Follow the author on Tumblr and reblog their book news.
  2. Post a countdown to release day for a book you’re looking forward to. This can be as easy as doing a written post that just says “2 more days until BOOK NAME HERE—so excited!” Just like on Twitter and Instagram, make sure to tag your posts with the title, author’s name, genre, and any other fun tags you can think of: #Got to have it, #ya lit, #fiction books, #reading.
  3. Share the book cover. Once you upload a picture, you can click on it and add a clickable link. I always link book covers with their Amazon buy page so my followers can get their hands on a book I post right away if they want to. Make sure to tag it like you did the countdown and then add fun tags like #cover love, #so pretty.Doon
  4. Create memes (did you know the rise of memes happened because of Tumblr?) about the book using quotes or pictures that remind you of the characters. When you upload it make sure to tag the author, the title, the genre and add #ya lit meme.haunted
  5. If you’re an artist then Tumblr is the ideal place to display your fan art. Draw a scene from the book or what you believe a character looks like. Authors love seeing fan art and will always reblog it. With your permission most of us print out fan art and use it to decorate our offices…if I’m being honest!
  6. If the author (or someone else talking up the book) posts something book related, interact with them. Every time you respond that post is shared with your followers.
  7. Upload a video of your reaction to the book. You can address the author in the video or maybe act like you’re talking to one of the characters. Anything goes with reaction vlogs. Tag it appropriately and wait for all the interactions you’ll receive.
  8. If you love music you can make a playlist for the book and post songs that remind you of certain scenes or chapters or maybe a theme in the book. Tag music just like you would the rest of your posts.
  9. Take a photo of you holding the book when you first get it or a picture of you reading in your favorite spot. After tagging the photo with the author’s name, title, and genre, think of other tags like #reading place, #favorite place in the world, #this book is so good.
  10. Review the book. Tumblr doesn’t limit you on words, so you can make the review as long or short as you want. If you read lots of books then you can become a Tumblr reviewer and be known for that. You can come up with your own “star system” of measuring how much you liked a book (but don’t use stars…use something unique, like a kiss-o-meter or jars of Nutella…mmm….I’d do that…this book is worth four jars of Nutella).
Saving Yesterday
Here’s the start of a book review that the FictionCrush posted for my latest release.

Thank you for anything and everything you do to help authors. Without you there would be no more books.

DSC_0025Jessica Keller holds degrees in both Communications and Biblical Studies. She is multi-published in both Young Adult Fiction and Romance, is a contributor to writing focused blog—The Write Conversation, and has 100+ magazine and newspaper articles to her name. Her latest release is a Young Adult Fantasy – Saving Yesterday. You can find her at, on Twitter, on Tumblr, or on her Facebook Author Page. She lives in the Chicagoland suburbs with her amazing husband, beautiful daughter, and two annoyingly outgoing cats that happen to be named after superheroes.

©2014 Jessica Keller

Interview with an Author: Angela Howard

Angela's storyToday I get to do one of my favorite things—introduce you to a debut author. I met Angela Howard at a writers’ conference last year, and believe it or not, it wasn’t writing that sparked our friendship. It was cats. Or more precisely, it was the reason neither of us own a cat. I can’t remember how we got on the subject of cats in the first place, but the conversation went something like this:

Me: There’s only room for one person with attitude at our house, and that’s me.

Angela: Exactly! I knew there was a reason I liked you.

In addition to having a great sense of humor, Angela has an openness that instantly puts you at ease, and it comes through in her writing. She encourages others by sharing her own mistakes and successes. She’s the perfect person for us to be nosy with, so I asked her to share some of her experience as a first-time author.

First of all, tell us a little bit about your book.

How to Love Your Crazy Family is about learning to love your family while shattering the myth of perfection. No one has the perfect husband, perfect wife or perfect kids. No one—don’t let them fool you! What we can have are growing relationships where we love with purpose, growing every day to be more like Jesus. Loving others sounds easy in poems, love songs and sappy movies but this is real life and we need practical help. My husband and I also share some of our story in the bonus chapter: Holding Out Hope for Happily Ever After, Even with Bipolar.

Did you go with traditional or self-publishing?

I chose self-publishing through Kindle Direct Publishing with Amazon. I have to give credit to some wonderful friends—Angela Craig and Kim Martinez. They encouraged me to take a leap of faith and go for it. I’m kind of a traditional person so I never dreamed of self-publishing. Fortunately, I had some amazing help from my husband with the formatting (which can be tricky) and I’m happy I did it.

What’s been the biggest surprise about the publishing process so far?

The feeling of vulnerability really surprised me. I thought I was pretty much past that but I’m not. There’s this nagging feeling that my parents will be the only people who buy the book, but I just had to let that go and take the risk. I believe in the message of the book and know that there are so many hurting families who need hope and healing in their relationships—just like my family did.

In addition to being a wife and mom, you have a very busy speaking schedule. How do you fit in writing time?

A couple of things help me: 1) I made a commitment to blog 3 times a week when I first started my blog. That self-imposed deadline to “practice in public” helped me to faithfully show up no matter how I felt. 2) I don’t have an hour by hour schedule, but I do have a routine. I start my day with prayer, sitting quietly, Bible reading and study. Otherwise, I don’t have much to give to my writing, my family or my friends. After that I write—something, anything 5 to 6 days a week. I’m not a “morning person” or even a “night person.” I’m at my best from 8-5. The key is knowing yourself and showing up consistently, even when you don’t feel creative or productive.

And last but not least, the big question: If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

That’s easy! I’d be able to transport myself and anyone I am touching, with the blink of an eye—anywhere. Can you imagine? Lunch on a warm, sandy beach in the Caribbean. A misty sunset walk through the streets of Paris. Come on—amazing!!

Angela Howard author photoAngela Howard is an inspirational speaker, writer and credentialed minister who loves to teach the truth of God’s Word in a fun and relevant way. She writes for her own blog at No Ordinary Days and is a contributor for the Her Voice Blog, and the Becoming His Blog. She also compiled Joanna Weaver’s devotional At the Feet of Jesus. Whatever she is doing, she has a passion to see spiritual growth and an increased sense of purpose in people’s lives. She graduated from Northwest University in 1997. She and her husband have been married for 18 years and live in Washington state with their two children.

You can connect with Angela on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Her new book, How to Love Your Crazy Family, is available from Amazon.How to Love Your Crazy Family cover

©2014 Kim Vandel and Angela Howard

Top TEN Ways to Show INSTAGRAM LOVE to Authors

image005Today’s guest post is by Rajdeep Paulus, YA author and Instagrammer extraordinaire. 

Instagram is, in my opinion, the simpler, user-friendly version of Pinterest, and with a smartphone, it’s truly faster and easier to post pics all day long. The Selfie became Classic with Instagram. But like all the Social Media sites, Instagram filters as you like and interact with certain users. And that is my biggest hang-up with all of Social Media. Sometimes I feel like the creators of these programs are trying to brainwash me into thinking I need to pay attention to only certain friends and followers. Meanwhile, I’m missing out on some big news or fun pics from a friend I run into later that day. Now that my disclaimers are out of the way, if you’re a Young Adult Author, you MUST get an Instagram account. All the teens I know still use Facebook and Twitter, but the majority of their minutes are spent on Tumblr and Instagram. With the easy two-tap Like option, it’s no wonder!

Here are my TOP TEN ways to show some Instagram Love to your favorite authors:

  1. Follow the author on Instagram.
  2. Post a cover shot of the author’s book(s) and hashtag the cover name, genre, topics in the book, and fun tags like #mustread, #lovedit, #couldnotputdown, etc. TAG the author (similar to Twitter).
  3. Post pics of you reading the book in a fun place or with a coffee mug in your hand or with a bunch of crumpled up Kleenex surrounding you. Hashtag #tearjerker, #bepreparedtocryyoureyesout, and other fun phrases that give your followers a sense of what kind of ride they’re in for. Be sure to Tag @authorname.
  4.  ALWAYS Tag the Author Name and Encourage your friends to “FOLLOW” said author.
  5. Post a book-reading Meme that describes an author’s book, i.e., Best Books I’ve Read Ever. Invite Followers to add to the list and tag the authors they love. Or Use fun Picture Quotes Sites like and post your favorite quotes from the book. And Hashtag the title. Tag the author.
  6. When an author runs a Giveaway with fun Book Swag, post a pic of the stuff! Hashtag titles, #bookswag, #IWon, #GotTheGoods, etc., and tag your sweet author who sent you fantabulous stuff.
  7. What I love most about Instagram is that you can SHARE the pics on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook in a one shot dealio click. Follow the prompt on the bottom right of the posted pic.
  8. As an author, you can post an Instagram Challenge. For example, I asked my readers to post a picture of “Stones” (any fun stones … but one of the stones had to be BLUE) and add the Hashtag #SeeingThroughStones. It was one more way for readers to enter a Giveaway. As a reader you can post pictures of Hollywood actors who you think would be perfect for characters, scenes from the location of the book, or even a tasty food pic of your favorite character’s daily menu. Hashtag character names, titles, and the author.
  9. REPOST a Cover of a Book you love to support the author, especially when the book is newly out or just about to launch. There are REPOST Apps you can download that will make sure you give credit to the original person who posted. Or take a screenshot, but make sure to include the top part that shows who posted it first. The Key: Give Credit Always. 
  10. Readers can post short video clips reading from their favorite parts or doing a 10 sec commercial or 7 secs when it comes to Using Vine. The limited length makes Instagram vids more likely to be watched and it also tests your creativity! And that’s the best part about Instagram… It’s a chance for anyone to be a photographer, a movie producer, an artist and a writer!! #happyposting #nowgoforthandinstagramme #yougitthis #InstagramLove #authorlove #MakeUpAFunHashtagInTheComments 🙂

photo-26And, on behalf of all the authors out there, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for sharing our books and titles with your friends. Word of mouth and word on the street have become word on the smartphone and word on Social Media Street. And we appreciate every post, Share, and Like you put out there for us. 🙂

Rajdeep Paulus

Rajdeep Paulus is the author of Swimming Through Clouds and Seeing Through Stones, is mommy to four princesses, wife of Sunshine, a coffee-addict and a chocoholic. As of this June 2013, she’s a Tough Mudder. To find out more, visit her website or connect with her via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagramauthorcard

©2014 Rajdeep Paulus

Support Your Favorite Authors: Give Them Face(book) Time

Social media can be overwhelming. Sometimes it feels like you’re stuck in a crowded room and everyone is shouting in an effort to be heard. But if you can somehow sort through all the noise, you find that one of the best things about social media is that it’s social. It’s interactive.

Portrait of a beautiful woman lying and browsing social media in her netbookSocial media allows readers to connect with their favorite authors. A lot of authors do their own posts, so you get their thoughts and opinions, not a corporate press release. It’s the best way to stay up-to-date on what’s happening in their world, and not only do you get a peek into an author’s world, you can become a part of it.

Being connected to your favorite authors through social media also gives you the opportunity to show them a little love. (And fight back against all the haters out there.) The key to supporting your favorite authors on Facebook is interaction. Don’t just look at their page or read their posts—interact. Let them know you’re out there and that you enjoy their work.

Here are eight quick and easy ways you can interact with your favorite authors on Facebook:

  1. Like an author’s Facebook page.
  2. Invite a friend to like an author’s page.
  3. Like an author’s post.
  4. Share an author’s post, especially if it’s something like a book release. You can help generate buzz about the new book and ensure a successful launch. The author will experience warm fuzzies in abundance!
  5. Comment on a post.
  6. Join the author’s event when they do something like a book cover reveal, giveaway, or Facebook release party.
  7. Share the event.
  8. Invite friends to the event.

With a few simple clicks, your favorite authors will be feeling very loved, so make sure to give them some Face(book) time today.

What other social media do you use? How do you use it to support your favorite authors?

©2014 Kim Vandel

Confession of a Reluctant Blogger

Time for a confession: I never wanted to blog. I wanted to write books, not blog posts, and it wasn’t like I had extra time to kill. How was I supposed to fit one more thing into my schedule? But as an aspiring author, I knew I needed to have some kind of web presence, so I waded into the blogging world. I set a goal of posting once a week for a year, and at the end of the year, I would reevaluate.

Some weeks it was downright painful to get it done, but I reached my goal, and a year and a half later, I find myself unexpectedly thankful that I started blogging. I’ve connected with some fantastic people, forged new friendships, and helped debut authors launch their books. My knowledge of social media and general internet how-to has increased dramatically. I’ve learned a lot about writing and about myself.

I feel confident that someday, when I have to market my own novel, I won’t be lost in the middle of the publishing ocean. I’ll at least know which direction I need to swim in, and I won’t be swimming alone. That’s something to be thankful for.

©2013 Kim Vandel