9 Tools for Creating Social Media Images

Wooden toolbox on the tableEvery marketing professional out there will tell you that when it comes to marketing, people are drawn to images. This is true on TV, on billboards, in magazines, and…on social media. Authors, this means you need to get comfortable creating images to use in your social media on a regular basis. Here are 9 tools to help you do that!

Get Images

Part of the trouble with social media images is having to pay for the rights and do the appropriate attribution. Check out these sites for beautiful, free images.

Pexels 

Free stock images for both personal and commercial use without attribution.

https://www.pexels.com

Unsplash

Free stock images for both personal and commercial use without attribution.

https://unsplash.com/

 

Manipulate Images

If you’re not a Photoshop expert and don’t want to pay the $ for the tools, try these easy-to-use tools to help you put together your social media images.

Canva

You can use the free features or pay for custom image usage. Either way, this is an easy to use tool which produces graphics the right size and type for any social media platform.

https://www.canva.com/

Pic Monkey

For a small monthly fee, you have access to a very easy to use tool which allows you to take your pictures to the next level.

https://www.picmonkey.com

 

 

 

Professional Images

If you’re already a whiz with Photoshop or some other graphics tool, here are some tools to step up your game.

Dafont

Download ton of fantastic fonts. Even try out your words in the font first. Just remember to look for licensing rules for each individual font.

http://www.dafont.com/

Adobe Color CC

A free color picker which helps you find the right combination of colors.

https://color.adobe.com/

2017 Social Media Image Size Cheat Sheet

Recommended sizes for any and all social media options. Each works best with different sized images.

https://makeawebsitehub.com/social-media-image-sizes-cheat-sheet/

 

Other

If you want to try making other types of more complicated visuals for your social media, try these:

Pictochart

To create infographics, either from scratch or with their templates

https://piktochart.com/

Recite

Create images for quotes by typing in your quote, picking the layout, and that’s it.

http://www.recitethis.com/

 

 

Task Management: Top 10 Efficiency Tips

check

Task management. This is a necessary evil that every person with anything to do must deal with in some form or other.

At work, at home, with your kids, at school, in your writing life…No matter where you are in life, you are dealing with tasks. How would you like some tips and tricks to help you be as efficient as possible while you’re working through all those tasks, to-do lists, chores, and obligations? Here are my top 10 tips for task execution:

First 15

Set aside the first 15 minutes of your day. Review anything that’s come up overnight. Adjust the list if needed. Review your list and decide what your priorities are for the day.

Write It Down

This is a bit of a soap box for me. I don’t care how great your memory is. If you don’t write it down – even the little stuff – you will most likely forget something. I don’t care if you have an app on your phone, use OneNote, or use an old-fashioned checklist. Just write it down somewhere.

Prioritized Subset

Don’t work from  your entire task list on a given day. Keep one list for long-term tasks or tasks you know you won’t get to that day. Then, for today, work from a list of tasks that are just for today. Your To Do List won’t be so intimidating that way, and you’ll feel you accomplished more. Psychology is a big part of good task management.

Heads Down vs. Interruptible

Understand when your time is heads down (you can’t/shouldn’t be interrupted) vs. when you can be interrupted without it causing a problem. When needed schedule that heads down time, go to a different room (or get out of the house), or put up signs that say please wait until x:00pm. Being clear with yourself and with others about heads down time is the key.

Dare to Ask for Time

Dare to tell someone your estimate of how long something will take. Example…. your boss says I need XYZ by noon. You can dare to say “To do it right, I need until 2pm.” Let them make the call if they still need it by the original deadline or they can wait. If they can’t wait, now they are clear that they’re getting the rushed version.

checklistLearn to Ask Questions

Never be afraid to clarify. I can’t tell you how many times someone has said to me, “I need ABC.” I gave them what they asked for and it wasn’t what they really needed. Frequently, clarifying questions result in my saying, “You don’t need ABC, you need EFG.” This saves everyone time and frustration.

Stop thinking, act! / Stop acting, think!

There are times when you think a project to death and never actually do. As an author, I’ve had a LOT of friends tell me that they’ll write that book someday, but don’t get to it because they over think it. That’s when you need to stop thinking and act. Frequently getting started will get your creative/cognitive juices flowing.

There are also times when you are moving too fast. This results in mistakes and having to go back and redo. If you catch yourself doing this, take a deep breath and deliberately slow down. Or even take a break and then come back.

Manage Expectations

If your task is something you owe to another person or people, manage expectations. It’s better to over communicate in general. Tell them when you’re running late, but give an ETA. If you’re running up against that ETA, then let them know you need more time BEFORE that time passes.

2-Minute Rule

Tasks often pile up throughout the day. Any tasks that take you 2 minutes or less to complete, do them the second they come in. It gets those off your plate immediately. Also, most time management experts say that you are more efficient working on the shorter tasks first.

Caveat: If you are someone who has trouble getting back into the groove of what you were doing, then save those 2-minute tasks. Work on them after you complete what you’re working on at the moment.

Last 15

Take the last 15 minutes of your day to:

  • Knock out the rest of your 2-minute tasks (if any are left).
  • Check you didn’t miss anything major.
  • Send ETA emails / set expectations as needed for the following day.
  • Write out your task list for the next day.

 

 

Choose the Right Excerpt for Your Book

Cindy &Alexander.pngWriting your book might be the easiest part of your job as an author. Everything that comes after, the publishing and marketing of the book, are often where authors struggle the most. One of the steps in that time is to select an excerpt or two of your book.

The purpose of the excerpt is to give prospective readers a taste of your writing. Even more important, the purpose of an excerpt is to hook those prospective readers into your story so they want to buy and read it.

To help you select these important passages, here are a few tips to consider:

1. Hook the Reader

Choose a passage where, at the end of reading it, the reader will immediately want to find out what happens next. This may mean ending in the middle of the passage. But make sure the excerpt ends in a way that people say, “What happens next?”

2. Make the Excerpt “Exclusive”

Don’t select an excerpt that either highlights what the reader can already glean from the book blurb, or is a passage they can get in the “Look Inside” feature.

3. Choose an Active Passage

Active means something is happening. Don’t select an excerpt which is a long description of the setting or a character thinking. Select one that has something happening. Interactions between characters or a minor pivot point in the story are good places to start.

5. Demonstrate the Genre

Highlight the type of book you wrote. Is it a mystery? Make the excerpt highlight that aspect. Is it a romance? Maybe think about showing how the couple meets or how they interact? Is it non-fiction, include one of the interesting facts.

4. Avoid Context Needs

Try to pick an excerpt that doesn’t need context to understand what is happening in the scene.

5. Cut & Trim As Needed

You don’t have to copy/paste your excerpt word-for-word. You can trim and cut as needed so that the excerpt is relevant, not confusing, and enticing. The reader will get anything you cut when they buy the book

6. Think About Length

Most new readers will not spend time reading a long excerpt. They want to know quickly if your writing will interest them. Try to keep your excerpt on the shorter side. 500-1000 words is a good rule of thumb.

Cindy &Alexander.png

The Little Signs of Lazy Writing

little-things-fw1Lazy writing. Writer’s try their best to avoid it, but slipping into the simplicity lazy writing affords is easy to do. Articles abound on the internet on lazy writing, most focusing on wider concepts such as showing vs. telling.

Today, we’re going to focus on the little details that a simple search can help you track down and revise. These are words and phrases common in spoken English that sound natural in our heads, but can come across the readers as boring.

As with 100% of writing/editing advice, we’re not suggesting you kill every instance of these words and phrases. Instead, try looking at the frequency that word/phrase pop up in your writing. Also look at each individual usage and determine if a fix would make the writing more awkward or would improve the prose.

Look for these words and phrases in your latest work in progress. See where you can change them.

Boring Words

It/there/was/is are all signals of boring writing, particularly when in combinations like below. See if you can take these words and replace them with more specific nouns or more active verbs. Watch out for making the sentence more awkward or repeating nouns in a paragraph.

 

  • it is
  • it was
  • there is
  • there was
  • there were
  • there are

Needless Words

Needless words come in two major forms–too big or redundant

Big Words

Big words may sound pretty, but may also have readers hunting for a thesaurus. These words can also be too formal or used regionally, but not generally. The tricky part with big words is when you are a reader yourself. People who read a lot–especially varied genres and styles–tend to know more words than people who don’t. They use these words naturally.

We’re not saying don’t use big words. We’re saying watch out for words that could fall under this category and try to decide if using those words is worth it. Check out this list of “big words” and alternatives.

Redundant Words

Redundant words are words would could be cut out of the sentence with zero impact to the sentence. They are simply extra letters on the page. Redundant words frequently take the form of small prepositional words and phrases.

  • He got off of the couch.
  • She backed up against the counter.
  • He jumped down off the ladder.
  • His heart pounded in his chest.
  • She thought to herself.
  • He crossed his arms over his chest.

Mental Pauses

Both in thoughts and in spoken English we naturally insert pauses. People who speak for a living–newscasters, politicians, teachers–practice to remove these words from their speech. Writers should work to remove these from their writing. Just as they give listeners pause when hearing them, they give readers pause when reading them. They interrupt the flow.

  • oh
  • well
  • um
  • uh
  • ah
  • you know

Qualifiers

Qualifiers are words which are used to convey a quantity or size, but are generic and consequently don’t add much to the picture you, as the writer, are attempting to convey. Delete these words or find a better word.

 

  • really
  • very
  • so
  • a lot
  • some

Ex. He was really tall.

You could simply say “tall” and have the same effect, or you could say “towering” and convey a clearer picture to your reader.

Check out this list of alternatives for the use of “very”.

Authors: How to Create a Media Kit

authortoolbox-mediakitMedia kits. Authors, you need one for each book you release, and sometimes for a full series when you’ve released all the books in that series. Many authors have no idea what these are or how to use them. The good news is media kits are very easy to put together, and they can save you a lot of time when it comes to marketing your books.

What is a media kit?

A media kit is a basic document containing information about your latest book being released.

Why do I need a media kit?

Media kits are primarily used as a package of information for reviewers, bloggers, journalists, and other marketing folks to help them write about and market your book.

For indie authors, media kits are particularly helpful when setting up blog tours and requesting reviews. You will be asked for the same information over and over again. The media kit provides that information, saving you time and energy rather than reinventing the wheel every time.

How do I make a media kit?

  1. Open a Word document and save it as TitleOfBook_MediaKit.docx
  2. At the top of the document, type in the
    • Title of the Book
    • Subtitle (if any)
    • Series Name & # (if any)
    • by Your Pen Name
  3. Provide the following book information:
    • Book Blurb
    • Book Cover (insert the image)
    • Buy Links (to anywhere the book is sold)
    • Tagline (a one line phrase which captures your book)
  4. Provide the technical info about the book, including:
    • Publisher:
      Author:
      Cover Artist:
      Page Count:
      Word Count:
      ISBN (Digital):
      ISBN (Print):
      Release Date:
  5. Include a “praise” section which are positive reviews (with quotes) either about the book or about the series. Make sure to give credit to the reviewer or review website and link to the actual review.
  6. Include an “Additional Media” section with links to:
    • Book Page on your website
    • Book or Series Pinterest Board
    • Book Trailer on YouTube
    • Any other fun related links (did you make a quiz? did you do an FAQ about the series? did you do any character interviews?)
  7. Include 3 different excerpts in the following lengths:
    • Under 200 words
    • 500-600 words
    • 700-1000 words
  8. Wrap it up with information about the author including
    • Author Bio
    • Social Media Links
    • Author Picture (insert the image)
  9. Edit for typos and format to make it look professional, but simple.
  10. Save the document as a PDF
  11. When sending, attach the book cover and author picture images separately, so they have a hi-res version and not just what’s embedded in your media kit.

 

To help get you started, we’ve included a FREE MEDIA KIT TEMPLATE as a Word document to this. It is very basic. Feel free to add your own formatting and flare as desired. Best of luck getting the word out about your latest release!!!

 

Lessons the Princess Bride Teaches Authors

by Abigail Owen

I think it’s no secret that one of my favorite movies of all time is The Princess Bride. Last January (2016) I started posting quotes from the movie each day. I found a copy of the script online and have been methodically going through it. A year later I’m up to the fire swamp scene. I have to say, reading each line in detail, I’ve learned a few things as a writer. I thought I’d share…

Very Little Fluff

Remember that I’m posting mostly on twitter, so I’m limited in character count. I’m leaving out the “fluff” or any lines that, by themselves, don’t add much.  In a year, there are very few lines from the script that I skipped.

Lesson: Make every word count and skip the boring bits and fluff for the sake of word count.

Quick Dialog

Almost all of the dialogue I’ve come across so far is quick. Each person saying one or two lines at the most. Very few long speeches or monologues. Think about how many one-liners from the movie are immediately recognizable.

Lesson: Short, rapid dialogue is more memorable and keeps the pace going.

Optimism Despite Adversity

The characters are charmingly upbeat despite finding themselves in serious situations. Think about things like what Westley says when they’re in the fire swamp. “I’m not saying I’d build a summer house here, but the trees are actually quite lovely.” I find this makes the characters more endearing and keeps my interest. If they were to go all serious, I’d be bored in a heartbeat.

Lesson: You can have drama and adventure but not get mired in the melodrama.

Go With the Unexpected

The characters rarely do what you’d expect. I mean, why would someone train themselves to ingest poison, or give the guy they’re about to fight a rest since he just climbed a cliff?

Lesson: It’s okay if your characters do the unexpected as long as they are true to who THEY are.

Surprise Yourself (Inconceivable is Still Possible)

I haven’t gotten this far, but in The Princess Bride, Westley is killed half way through the book (the 2nd time). That’s what I call a corner. I’ve read the author didn’t realize himself that he was about to kill his main character. But Westley’s only mostly dead which is a fantastic fix. We wouldn’t have that if the author didn’t do something inconceivable.

Lesson: As a writer, you should even surprise yourself with what your characters do and what happens to them. DO paint yourself into a corner.

A Little Mystery is a Good Thing

I find it funny when readers or beta readers want all the mysterious questions answered in the first few pages of the book. Where’s the fun in that? In The Princess Bride, many mysteries are left unanswered for a long time.

Lesson: Writers, you have permission to torture your readers with mysteries if it makes the story more compelling.

Perfect is Boring

The characters in The Princess Bride are not perfect people. Westley leaves his love thinking he’s dead for five years, and has probably done some bad stuff as a pirate. Buttercup is marrying a man she doesn’t love. Inigo is a drunk.

Lesson: Give your characters flaws that they have to overcome or which drive the plot in a way that is true to the character and true to the story.

As I mentioned, I’m only up to the fire swamp scene. I’m determined to continue posting until I finish the entire script. I bet I’ll keep learning more great lessons. In the meantime, I ran across this fabulous article. It’s 17 life lessons from the Princess Bride. The article is aimed at parents of autistic children, but I think they’re great for everyone. Enjoy! http://www.snagglebox.com/article/autism-parenting-princess-bride

Top 10 Tips to Set Your Yearly Author Goals

As 2016 is coming to a close, and 2017 is mere hours away, you know what time has arrived…that’s right, time to set your goals for the year.

You thought I was going to say New Year’s Resolutions didn’t you? Nope!

Goals and resolutions often go hand in hand. Think of it this way, a resolution is usually based around making changes in your life to improve it or make yourself a better you. Whereas goals are a desired end point, an achievement toward which you direct your effort. For example:

Resolution: I’m going to become healthier this year.

Goals: Lose 15 pounds by April. Go to the gym every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Limit myself to 1 coke/week.

Setting goals as an author is important. Let me repeat…this is an important exercise every author should take the time to do and most don’t.

Top achievers in ALL fields all set goals. Goals help you focus, move you forward, motivate you to achieve, help you to organize your time and resources, hold you accountable, help you believe in yourself, and get you closer to your dreams.

Today, we will not be setting “life” goals, but “author” goals. If it helps, think of your goals in this scenario as a mini-business plan for your author life for the year.set-your-your-yearly-author-goals

Our Top 10 Tips for Setting Your Yearly Author Goals:

 

1. What Is The Dream?

Every author has a dream or two related to writing. Do you want to publish your first book? Do you want to finish a book? Do you want to get a “YES” from a certain publisher or maybe an agent? Do you want to be a best-selling author for a top five publisher whose books are made into an award-winning series of movies or HBO show?

No matter how unattainable you think them, write down  your dreams for yourself as an author. These won’t be your goals, but you may set some (or many) of your goals this year with the dream(s) in mind.

For example: If the dream is to finish your first book, you might set a daily word count goal, or set a goal to find a mentor to help you, or set a goal to join a critique group.

2. Evaluate Your Current Situation

Evaluating where you currently are is always a great place to start. Look at what you achieved during the past year related to your author career and all the factors affecting those achievements. Evaluating where you are can help you determine where to go next. It also gives you a good baseline of what is achievable, where you could grow, and where you can let go.

For example, if in the past year you finished 4 books, perhaps your goal in the current year is to finish another 4, because you know you can do it. Or, after having had that experience, you realize that pace takes away from your personal life too much, and your goal is reduced to 2 or 3 books for the year. Or, on the flip side, you might realize you can do more, and set the goal at 5.

3. List Out Known Expectations

Most likely, you are starting the year with a known list of expectations. Do you have a contract with dates you owe agents or publishers your work? Do you have a pre-order date set, or you’ve announced a publication date to your readers? Have you already registered for classes? Or plan to attend an upcoming conference?

Write down a list of all the known expectations, because these will do 2 things:

  • Feed into the goals you set for the year.
  • Affect additional goals (conflicts? changes in direction?)

4. Pick Goals That Motivate You

Think about past goals and expectations. The ones you were excited about achieving and working on are most likely those you did achieve or even exceeded expectations.

Most authors are authors because they have a passion for the gig. So the goals you set for yourself, most likely should be ones you are excited to achieve. Passion is a key to achievement.

Ask yourself…why do I care about this goal?

5. Categorize

Often it helps to categorize your goals. Categorizing means thinking of types of goals. Doing this exercise will help you cover the bases. Many authors think of their writing goals (word count, finish a book by x-date, etc.) but forget things like personal growth goals like improving as a writer, or business-related goals like spend less on marketing.

A few category breakdowns you might consider:

Author Related:

  • writing goals
  • marketing goals
  • publishing goals
  • personal goals
  • business goals

Levels:

  • Scheduled Goals (things you expect to achieve relatively easily, or things you are obligated to others to achieve)
  • Stretch Goals (goals that might stretch you a bit, but are still achievable)
  • Reach for the Stars Goals (goals that will be really hard to achieve, but you want to try anyway!)

Generic:

  • work goals
  • personal goals
  • financial goals
  • social goals

6. How Many Goals?

This depends on you and the types of goals you are setting. Many articles out there recommend keeping your goal list short: Only 5-7 goals total.

If you’re someone who gets easily overwhelmed, or perhaps you’re just starting out, 5-7 goals is fantastic. If you’re a lister like me who is 5-10 (or more) years into their career as an author, you might need more.

My suggestion is write them ALL down. Then, if you look at the list and start to have a panic attack, start whittling it down to a size which makes you a little uncomfortable (you want to stretch yourself after all), but doesn’t make you want to throw up.

Remember, you want to be excited to start your goals list!

7. Think SMART, then Dream Big

SMART is an acronym which can help you set the specifics of your goals. Goals which set specifics such as a date, a quantity, a plan, etc. are more often achieved. For each goal you set, think about the following parameters:

  • S – Specific
  • M – Measurable or Meaningful
  • A – Attainable or Action-Oriented
  • R – Relevant or Rewarding
  • T – Time-bound or Trackable

The SMART system is a great way to make sure your goals are not vague or irrelevant.

That said, they don’t tend to work for the “This is the Dream” related goals. Author’s dreams can be BIG, which is fantastic. The big stuff is what we’re ultimately trying to accomplish in the long-term. Check out this fantastic article on how to set goals for those big dreams: When SMART Goals Don’t Work, Here’s What To Do Instead

8. Put Your Goals in Writing

Write it down folks. Otherwise you’ll forget about it. I promise that, when I go to review my goals and see how I’m tracking, I have already forgotten half of them (usually the half I’m not working on yet).

WRITE IT DOWN

9. Prioritize

Look at your final list of goals and prioritize. Make sure you’re focusing your work and effort and energy on the most important goals first. When setting priorities think about:

  1. How long will it take to complete?
  2. When is it due?
  3. Who do you owe it to?
  4. Urgency level?
  5. Downstream impact? (Something could be low urgency today, but if you don’t get started it’s a big impact to you by next month. Or 3 other goals hinge on achieving the first goal.)

10. Reevaluate Regularly

Check your goal list often. Once a quarter (every 3 months) is a good rule of thumb. If you have goals happening every month, then once a month is better for you.

When you review your goals do the following:

  1. Check off those goals which have been achieved.
  2. Look at remaining goals and your progress.
  3. Has anything changed which affects your list?

Reevaluating your goals isn’t just about checking things off the list. During the course of a  year things are going to happen which could impact your list in big ways.

Sometimes life gets in the way, and you need to pare back your goals. Which is okay!

Sometimes an achieved goal can lead to more unplanned for goals. For example, you could have a goal of landing a contract with a publisher. Let’s say that happens. Yay! But they not only signed your book, but contracted 3 more for the series with specific due dates, many within this year. I promise, you’re going to need to add those to your goals and likely re-prioritize your list.

 

I hope this article helps you create a fantastic goal list for the year. And I hope you achieve not only your goals for the year, but also your dreams!

Taking the Week Off

Hi All! We are taking this week off our normal blogging schedule in order to spend quality time with our family and friends this holiday season. We’ll be back to our regularly scheduled program next week talking about New Year’s planning!

From us to you…we hope you have a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

xoxo

Authors On A Dime

rwa-aoad2

Editing Technique: Ask Questions

 

An effective editing technique when it comes to editing for content/plot is to ask questions. Seems simple, right? But many authors and beta readers don’t do this enough. By applying this technique, you can find plot hots and inconsistencies, you can also make sure you are addressing every concept which is mentioned (even the little details), and ensure your characters are acting consistently and realistically (rather than just for the sake of the plot point you need).

Q-and-A

Here’s how it works…

Editor/Beta Reader/Self-Editing: As you read, write down or use comments in MS Word to ask questions, even if you think they are obvious or probably are answered later.

Applying Edits: If the question is answered later, think about the timing of when it gets answered (too late? too soon? just right?). If it doesn’t get answered, then go back into your manuscript and answer it. OR, if it’s a question that won’t be answered until a later book in the series, make note of that so you are sure to answer it later down the line.

In the end, every question that could be posed should have an answer of some sort.

That simple.

EXAMPLE

Here’s an example from a recent beta read we performed which the author gave us permission to use.

Read the excerpt and try to ask questions. Below the excerpt is a list of questions that could have been asked during reading.

We had the author read through the questions and apply edits to the section. Questions which, after edits, get answered during the passage are crossed out. She left notes on the remaining questions.

 

Read the Excerpt:

Tala stood in the small room off the main foyer of the chapel where she was shortly to wed the leader of the Banes pack of werewolves—a man recently considered her enemy. Outwardly she projected her usual calm, collected self. Inside, nerves and doubts pummeled her. She’d bitten her lipstick off countless times, a sure sign of her agitation.

“All set?” Her wedding coordinator popped her head into the room to ask.

“Absolutely.”

“Great. As soon as everyone is seated, we’ll begin.” The woman disappeared in a flurry of movement. As a hummingbird shifter, she didn’t sit still well, Tala had learned over the last few months.

Needing a moment of peace, even if temporary, Tala turned her attention to the view. The small Rocky Mountain chapel nestled on top of a large rock base, built of the same granite as the rock, almost as though it had been placed there since the beginning of time. Below, a small, creek-fed lake reflected the starry sky and the spire of the chapel.

Such a setting was perfect for this event as werewolves preferred to surround themselves with nature. After the wedding ceremony both Marrok’s and Tala’s families and friends would follow them into the wooded mountainside for the mating ceremony illuminated by the full moon, with a reception afterwards at a nearby hotel. That was, if they didn’t all kill each other first.

“No bloodshed.” She whispered the prayer to any gods listening.

“What’d you say?” Her sister’s voice broke into her plea.

Tala winced. Damn werewolf hearing. “Nothing.”

The Banes and Canis packs had been locked in a bloody feud for ages. Once upon a time, they’d been the same pack. But a battle for alpha between brothers had torn the original pack into two, one taking the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains as their territory, the other taking the western slopes.

This mating would reunite the two packs for the first time, and, by some miracle, end the fighting. Centuries of blood and death, finally over. Her entire goal for wanting to be Alpha in the first place—to establish a peace too long denied. At least, that was the plan. Not everyone agreed.

A glance over her shoulder showed her sister still peering through a cracked doorway into the chapel beyond.

“Shyla,” she hissed. “Get away from the door.”

In response, Shyla wiggled her provocative backside, covered in a pale turquoise bridesmaid gown which matched the beading on Tala’s wedding dress, and continued to report on the scene in the sanctuary. “Marrok looks amazing in a tux. You lucky girl. Come see.”

“No, thank you.” Tala left the window and sat, her hands folded primly in her lap.

Shyla glanced over her shoulder. “Tala Canis, aren’t you even the least bit interested in your future husband?”

Tala lifted a shoulder in a shrug. “I’ve seen him.”

Shyla shook her head, returning to her perusal of the guests. “I’d be all over that man if I were you,” she muttered. “I’m surprised your wolf isn’t dry humping him every second of the day.”

“Shyla! Someone might hear you,” she rebuked her sister.

Mate, the beast caged inside her rumbled.

No. Means to an end. She and her wolf had been having this debate ever since they’d gotten their first whiff of the alpha of the Banes pack. Sandalwood and rum. If she were less self-controlled, Tala could get drunk on his scent alone.

Truth be told, she wasn’t nearly as uninterested in her husband of convenience as she made out, but she refused to give her perplexing desire any serious weight given their situation.

When a werewolf mated, pheromones were released, igniting lust not only in the couple, but in anyone near them. The more powerful the werewolf, the more pheromones released. In this case she and Marrok were both the ruling alphas of their packs. The first time two alpha werewolves had mated in the history of their kind—female alphas were rare. Consequently, pheromones hung heavy in the air, a sweet perfume of heady need, regardless of the fact that this marriage wasn’t a love match.

Shyla backed up as the door opened unexpectedly. Sandalio, one of the oldest wolves in their pack, entered.

He ignored Shyla and walked straight to where Tala sat. “I hope you know what you’re doing.”

She remained calm in the face of what she recognized as a veiled threat. “I do. And I hope you know what will happen if your support isn’t total.”

Two could play at the threats game, only hers wasn’t as subtle. She wouldn’t mind kicking the old man out on his ear. He was a pain in her butt.

Sandalio narrowed his eyes, but bowed his head in acknowledgement. “My…felicitations on this most joyous occasion.”

“Thank you.”

She exchanged a long suffering look with Shyla as he left.

“He’s going to cause problems,” Shyla warned as she resumed her position at the door observing the other room.

“I know.” Tala would deal with Sandalio when he made his move. Until then, she had bigger problems.

She hoped like hell the scheme of uniting the two packs through marriage would end the fighting. Otherwise, she was about to bind herself to a stranger, an enemy, no less, for nothing. If their wolves bonded as well—and, given her wolf’s possessive behavior already, that was a distinct possibility—their mating would become permanent. She stood the chance of losing her pack, and possibly her life, for the attempt. Many in her pack were fuming about the idea already.

Mate, her wolf purred again, content with what they were about to do. Eager even.

The hussy would’ve already claimed Marrok’s wolf if they’d let them loose together. She practically rolled over anytime Marrok was near, panting with lust, pushing Tala’s own need even higher. Tala would be glad when this ceremony was over and the overwhelming cloud of insta-lust started to dissipate.

“Who’s the hottie standing up with Marrok?” Shyla asked.

They’d each opted to have only one person stand up with them. She’d asked her sister, but Marrok didn’t have any siblings. “Castor Dioskouri—a Greek demigod.”

“That explains why every single female in there can’t peel her eyes off him. Which god made him?”

“I’m not sure actually.”

“Huh. Is he single?”

“Don’t bother. He’s here with—”

“The blond in the backless navy dress? Yeah. He hasn’t unglued his eyes from her since she arrived.”

Tala knew the blond. “Leia’s just his Executive Assistant.”

Shyla hooted. “Do you really believe that’s all she is to him?”

“No. But she’s a nymph…” Nymphs had an uncanny ability to resist gods and demigods when they wished. Leia certainly appeared to wish it.

Shyla flicked a glance over her shoulder. “The one you told me about?”

Tala nodded.

“Is she going to help?”

Factions in both packs were staunchly, if quietly, against this mating. Centuries of hate ran deep and would not be buried in an instant. If they could manage to fulfill an age-old prophesy, or fake it, maybe the tides might turn their way.

All werewolves knew of the foretelling that two alphas—a male and a female—would unite their people in peace. The sign would be a display of nature as had never been witnessed before.

QUESTIONS

Why is she marrying her enemy?

They’ve only been engaged a few months? Why so fast? (Author: Decided that this was obvious enough in the marriage of convenience and trying to avoid bloodshed comments.)

What is the purpose of combining feuding packs?

Why would Tala take the personal risk? (Author: Somewhat answered in the “ending the bloodshed” in this chapter but also answered in more depth later in the book.)

Why is a Greek god Marrok’s best man? (Author: Answered later. Addressed in-depth in another book)

Why would Leia help Tala and Marrok? And what do you mean by help? (Author: Answered later. Addressed in-depth in another book.)

 

What Did You Catch?

Did you have other questions we missed? Is this something you already apply in your own writing or might like to try? What other techniques work for you?