Tag Archives: social media

It’s Readers and Writers Week on the Match Game – by Sherrie Hansen

This March, I’m going to be speaking to a group of bed and breakfast innkeepers on the subject of how and why we choose accommodations when we travel. Of particular interest to this group is:  When people are planning a trip, how do they start looking for a place to stay? Do they have a favorite booking platform or do they prefer booking direct? Do they even consider looking at B&Bs or do they automatically head for the big chain hotels? What are some things that attract or discourage them from staying at a  B&B? What catches their eye, makes them stop and take a second look, and press the RESERVE button – or turn around and run as quickly as possible  to the local Motel 6?

BlueBelle 2016.jpg

As an author of ten books, soon to be eleven, I often ask myself the same sort of questions. Why do people buy my books instead of the thousands of others on the book shelves or the millions of others available online?

Sometimes I think the hardest thing about being a writer is finding readers who are a good match with the books we’ve worked so hard to write.

This isn’t the Match Game, but I’m going to make a go at helping you to determine if you and my books would make a good pair.

Love Notes - Winter

  1. You might like my books if you’re from Minnesota, Iowa, or anywhere in the Midwest.

I was born and raised in Minnesota. I’ve lived just 9 miles south of the Minnesota border, in Iowa, for the past 26 years. If you have ties to either state and like stumbling upon familiar places in the books you read, you will probably like my books. Most of my Wildflowers of Scotland novels even have Midwestern characters scattered throughout – hopefully just enough to make you feel at home.

Daybreak in Denmark (3)

  1. You might like my books if you enjoy being surprised when you’re reading.

My books are character-driven and as different from one another as each person is unique – anything but cookie cutter. Some have a mystery to solve, some are a tad bit suspenseful, others, completely relational in focus. A few have Christian fiction leanings, while others are on the steamy side. A number are set in Scotland, and soon to be two, in Denmark. Most are romances, but my new book, Daybreak, focuses on a married couple and what happens when happily-ever-after doesn’t turn out the way you thought it would. Golden Rod has a pair of 500 year old ghosts. Although I will admit to having kidnappings in two of my books, you’ll find that each of my novels follows its own unique template. I like to think they’re refreshingly unpredictable and far from formulaic.


  1. You might like my books if you enjoy having characters from previous books reappear in future novels.

My books aren’t serials – each of them stands alone, but several are linked together in groupings for those who enjoy getting a second or third glimpse of their favorite characters. My Wildflower of Scotland novels (Thistle Down, Wild Rose, Blue Belle, Shy Violet, Sweet William, and Golden Rod) are interconnected through family and friends, as is the Maple Valley Trilogy (Stormy Weather, Water Lily, and Merry Go Round) through the lives of sisters Rae, Michelle, and Tracy. Daybreak, to be released this summer, is a sequel to Night and Day, and has cameo appearances by characters from Love Notes and Sweet William.


  1. You might like my books if you’re a follower of mine on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter or Instagram.

I truly believe that the things we like, comment on, and post about on social media are a window into our general aura and a commentary of what’s important to us. If you like my perspective, the things I focus on and take photos of, the music I listen to, the foods I make at my B&B and teahouse, and the paintings I create in my spare time, you’ll most likely enjoy my books and the characters I write about, all of whom are a reflection of me, my style, and my passions.

Golden Rod (3)

  1. You might like my books if you’re a small town girl – or guy – at heart.

Whether my books are set in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Canada, California, Denmark, Scotland or France, they have small town or even rural settings. They’re populated by people who love wide open spaces and seeing the sun sink into the horizon at the end of the day, and who appreciate and can chuckle about the quirky personalities that are a part of small town living.

Night and Day (1)

  1. You might like my books if you enjoy knowing both sides of the story – from a somewhat experienced point of view.

My books are all written in two or more points of view. At least one is a woman’s, and the other, a man’s. Some say I’m more adept at writing the male point of view. And speaking of characters, mine are a bit more grown up than some, with most ranging from their late thirties to early fifties. They’re not superhuman or stupendously sexy or heroic. They’re rarely virgins or too young to know better. They’re nice, normal, slice of life, girl or boy-next-door kind of people – believable, relatable, and loveable despite their flaws and shortcomings.

If you’ve read any of my novels, you can probably think of a few more reasons you enjoy my books and choose them over the millions of other options available to you. A friend of mine once said he never wanted to be accused of being normal. I’ve tried to apply this concept to every part of my life, whether my B&B, teahouse, art or writing. I don’t know if I’ve inspired anyone new to give my books a try, but I’ve enjoyed giving you a glimpse into what makes me and my books unique. To those who are already readers, or who have visited The Blue Belle Inn, my B&B and teahouse, thank you for coming along for the ride! It means the world to me.

P.S. If you’ve enjoyed one or more of my books like I hope you have – or visited the Blue Belle Inn, please remember that authors and innkeepers need reviews to attract prospective readers and guests!

SW 143

Twenty-six years ago, Sherrie Hansen rescued a dilapidated Victorian house in northern Iowa from the bulldozer’s grips and turned it into a bed and breakfast and tea house, the Blue Belle Inn. Sherrie grew up on a farm in southern Minnesota and has lived in Bar Harbor, Maine, Colorado Springs, CO, and Augsburg, Germany. She attended Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL. After 12 years of writing romance novels late at night when she couldn’t sleep, she met and married her real-life hero, Mark Decker, a pastor. Sherrie lives in 2 different houses, 85 miles apart, and writes on the run whenever she has a spare minute. With her Wildflowers of Scotland novels, “Wild Rose”, “Blue Belle”, “Shy Violet”, “Sweet William” and “Golden Rod”, she has ten books in print, most featuring a “second-chance-at-love” story. Sherrie enjoys painting, playing the piano with the worship team at church, photography, decorating historic homes, and traveling. You can learn more about her books by visiting  http://amazon.com/author/sherriehansen


Filed under marketing, Sherrie Hansen, writing


I admit I spend a certain amount of time every day scrolling through social media sites, some days more than others. While I scroll I see countless pictures/videos of cats, dogs and various other creatures. I see occasional personal or family pictures, some helpful recipes or craft tricks, and way too many political updates or satires.

Every once in a while I will come across something which makes me shake my head in wonder or disgust. It never ceases to amaze me the amount of time some people have on their hands and how they like to waste it. The latest useless controversy is the Starbucks saga. The huge coffee chain has removed their snowflakes and snowmen from their coffee cups! It’s been heralded as a disgrace and decidedly anti-Christmas.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I live in Quebec. I spend almost half my year with snowflakes and snowmen and every other imaginable snow thing on earth. I understand the terrible loss everyone is feeling by not having such beautiful manifestations of winter on their morning coffee cup.

But seriously?

Do we have nothing else to do? If it hadn’t made the rounds of Facebook, Twitter and whatnot, I wouldn’t have noticed the lack of winter decorations on cardboard cups. And what do snowflakes have to do with Christmas anyway?  I have a suspicion snow existed somewhere on the planet before Christianity did. I also know people celebrate Christmas in countries which have never been touched by snow. One has nothing to do with the other.

Do you honestly think the people of Paris are worrying about what’s on Starbucks cups? Would you be able to sit beside a woman who just lost her child to cancer and try to convince her of the importance of such a debate?

I’m also sure the homeless person on the street would be happy to drink a hot cup of coffee from any kind of cup. So, if that Starbucks container disgusts you so much, fill it up, and hand it to someone who will appreciate it.


A.J. McCarthy is the author of ‘Betrayal’, a suspense thriller published by Indigo Sea Press.


Filed under writing

The First-Ever by A.J. McCarthy

I’m a newbie. This is my first-ever blog. But, since this seems to be a period of many first-evers for me, I think I’m probably up for it. After all, I had my first-ever phone conversation with a book publisher a few months ago. It was followed by my first-ever offer of publication, with two more following quickly on its heels. This, of course, led to a few other very pleasant first-evers, and I can hardly wait for the rest.

However, for now, I am dealing with the blog. How should I approach it? Throw in my first chapter? No, it’s too soon for that. Should I try to portray myself as a scholarly, experienced author, quoting Shakespeare or Hemingway? No, I don’t think I would be able to pull that off.

The truth is, I have never referred to myself as an author even though I have been writing for years. Until I had an actual contract in hand from a real publisher I couldn’t bring myself to associate my name with that elite group. I felt like a pretender to the throne. Even now, with only a contract and a book waiting to be published, I’m not shouting to the hills that I am an author. I still don’t have a copy in hand to use as proof.

Since I came on board with Second Wind Publishing I have been regularly checking out the website, the blog and the authors. And, even though I have never met any of them in person and only a few by e-mail, for some reason, I feel an affinity with the group. I feel like I will be joining a family. As in any family, each one of us will have our different techniques, our different way of approaching challenges, our unique personalities, but that doesn’t mean we can’t live harmoniously and learn from each other.

The last part of that statement is currently my biggest challenge. I have a lot of learning to do. I have to learn the processes involved in publishing a book, from the editing to the cover art. I have to learn to think like an author. But, perhaps most of all, I have to learn how to market my novel, or at least do as much as I can to help. I have to become a more diligent Facebook person. I need to learn to tweet, post, like, and share on a regular basis.

For now, I am learning to blog. I have read many blogs in the past, but have never been an active participant. For my first-ever I feel it’s premature to offer my first chapter, and my other experiences as an author are too limited to speak of as yet. So I will begin by telling you a little about myself.

I am a married mother of two beautiful girls, Rachel and Brianna, aged 21 and 17 respectively. Since they are the bright point of my life I’m sure I will be writing about them frequently in future posts. I live just north of Quebec City, Canada, and I work as the vice-president of finance for a manufacturing company. My name is followed by the initials CPA CMA which identify me as an accountant with a specialty in management accounting. My husband, Steve, works in computers and donates a large amount of his time as a volunteer fire chief in the small municipality where we live. I consider this to be my real life.

My fantasy life has only just begun to bear fruit. It began about 10 years ago, when I decided to try my hand at writing, and I discovered a new activity which was surprisingly enjoyable. Over the years, I built a small inventory of books that live communally and passively on my computer. I sent out submissions, mostly to agents, to no avail. Last summer, I pulled out ‘Betrayal’, a manuscript I had written years ago, dusted it off, and reached out to a different segment of the publishing community, the small publishers.

To my great delight, I received three offers for Betrayal. A decision had to be made, and I have to say, a lot of my deliberation was based on my gut-feeling. And that is where Second Wind Publishing comes in.

I have a feeling I will be joining a new, exciting, and accepting family. So far, I have been very fortunate with my families, both immediate and extended. My hope is that this new group of people, most of whom I will never meet in person, will become a different type of family. Some will inspire me to write better, some will help me to focus my energies where they should be focused, some will point out my mistakes, and some will applaud my successes, however large or small they may be.

Another decision to make (heavy sigh). What will my next blog be about? Will it be time for the first chapter? Should I post a picture of my dog and rant about how cute he is? Maybe I’ll think about it a bit longer and I’ll send out a tweet to let you know what’s coming next.


A.J. McCarthy is the author of Betrayal, a suspense thriller published by Second Wind Publishing.


Filed under books, fiction, marketing, writing

Social Media: Scary Stuff

I went to a seminar on social media recently, put on by Social MediU, and it made me feel a bit stupid. For instance, I was only able to turn the above name, Social MediU, into a link for this blog because I cheated. I searched the web until I found the name already linked and cut and paste it into my blog. I do not know how to make the blue links myself yet.

Something I took away from the seminar is that I should be using Twitter. Twitter was very interestingly described as “the wild west,” and that’s the problem: I’m an east coast gal. Give me the tried, the true, the stable. Twitter seems unknown and scary. Who are the “right” people to follow? How do you know which tweets to retweet? How do you know that your very original comment isn’t going to throw you into a state of oblivion, rather than generate followers? You don’t know for sure, and that’s what’s so frightening.

Another piece of advice was to open a g-mail account, which I recently did. I might never have changed from comfortable hotmail, if a hijacker hadn’t forced the issue, but now I have a gmail account, and I can barely figure out how to use it past sending and receiving email (and even then, I think I accidentally archived some e-mails. They disappeared.) How to learn? Even if I could find the hours needed, it would be like a ten year old poring over a calculus book, trying to learn calculus. The brain function simply isn’t there. I’m hoping I’ll have a lightbulb moment regarding computers, but it hasn’t happened yet.

The seminar took place at Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, VA. The owner, Kelly Justice passed on a worthwhile piece of advice: make sure your give/ask ratio is much heavier on the give side. Go as high as 8:1 or 10:1. The one thing you don’t want to be doing is constantly asking for things. Get involved and show interest. Give praise and then give more. Finally, when something is really important, ask graciously for support. Never join Twitter simply to promote yourself, without taking interest in anyone else. Look up tweet chats, find conversations that interest you, and begin interacting. Avoid redundancy on your various sites. And blog often! If you’re running out of ideas for blogging, answer a question off of http://www.formspring.me.

The ladies who ran the seminar, Rebecca Joines-Schinsky of The Book Lady’s Blog and Michelle Franz of Galleysmith, recommend jumping in and getting started. Don’t be afraid to make a few mistakes. For the normal person, “getting it” will happen if you hang in there. For someone computer-challenged, such as myself, I may be hiring Social MediU for help.

I’d love to hear more about social media. Please write back if you have any gems to share!

Lucy Balch

Love Trumps Logic


Filed under writing