August 23, 2010

Guest Blogger - Joyce Henderson

Joyce Henderson is a multi-published author who writes Native American Romance set in Central Texas where she was born. Joyce writes "what she knows," horses and ranching, and she loves researching Indian lore.

Her books have finaled in national contests: National Readers' Choice Award, Georgia Romance Writers Maggie, and several others. During her 25-year writing career, she's mentored a half-dozen or more writers who have gone on to publication. And she worked for local newspapers for several years writing a by-lined column "It Ain't Necessarily So."

Learn more about Joyce at

Promotion: It sucks. Words of wisdom (?) from Joyce Henderson


Thanks for having me, Anna Kathryn. Although, you may rue the day.

I'm here to discuss promotion. What does that have to do with writing novels?

Precisely. I'm so glad you asked! It's the conundrum most published authors find themselves dealing with when we'd rather be left alone to write our stories.

Some of us are sorting through all the promotion avenues open to today's writers. This blog venue is one platform many writers believe works for them. Other online promotions are: a website, newsletter, teaching online classes, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, book trailers, interviews, both online and live―on TV or radio.

Then there's the in-your-face promotion. I along with about 2000 other Romance writers recently attended Romance Writers of America National Conference in Orlando, FL. I didn't count the workshops published authors or wannabies could attend, but I'd wager there were 150 or more. Live individuals (versus dead?), or several, stationed themselves at microphones and delivered "words of wisdom," to which authors avidly listened. Publishing professionals: agents, editors, web designers, booksellers, publishers gave of their time, and so did many published authors. A few individual "chats with," or panels of three or more discussed a subject they'd either experienced themselves or taken the time to research.

Authors might do live presentations for readers groups and at libraries. In the case of those writers, like me, who belong to RWA, we travel to different chapter meetings and do workshops for beginning writers and the seasoned as well.

One of the worst types of promotion, for me, anyway, is book-signings―alone. Ack! The heart-in-the-throat, wobbly-kneed, worst deer-in-the-headlights situation I can think of! Writers are all so different. I'm a private person, though most people wouldn't know that because I put on a "great" show! But so many writers I know are shy and don't like to talk in public, let alone try to catch a shopper's eye and get her/him to stop and speak to the author sitting right there in front of God and everybody in a bookstore.

Most all of us have been in that situation and invariably when we are approached it's to be asked where the shopper can find such 'n' such type of book. Or the classic: "Can you tell me where the restroom is?" Do me a favor. The next time you see a person in a bookstore with a pile of books in front of her/him, engage that person. If nothing else, just stop and ask, "How's it goin'?" You don't have to buy the book, but you'll give that author a moment of respite from "loneliness."

There are undoubtedly other promotion ideas that I know nothing about. But hey, these that I've mentioned work for many authors; and I'll mention one more: reviews. Not my favorite, since reading tastes are sooo subjective. One review may be a sucker punch, but the next might send you into joyful celebration. Alas, there are readers who heed these opinions. It's a throw of the dice.

Time is the nirvana all writers seek. Time to network, time to promote, and most of all time to write their stories. I mean, really, how does one balance all the promotion time and still have time to write those stories lurking within? I don't have the answer to my own question, but I'm here, aren't I, blathering? Hopefully I'm engaging readers and other writers to look for my books. The latest, Capture an Eagle may be found at The Wild Rose Press and, both print and digital.

Before I insert an excerpt from Capture an Eagle, I'll explain another promotion many authors do. We giveaway bookmarks and/or copies of our books. This instance right here is no exception. For those who comment, you will be in a drawing for a free print copy of Capture an Eagle. If you win I'll ask you to contact me privately, for your snail-mail address so that I may send a signed copy. Thanks for stopping by…

ISBN: 1-60154-630-0
Mount your horses and ride with me into Silver Eagle and Mariah Kelly's world…

Central Texas, 1865

Drawing Nutmeg in, Silver Eagle murmured in Comanche, "Work well for Mariah."

The horse nodded as if she understood. Dark eyes watching him, her ears twitched. He scratched her pole. "You have not felt a body's weight for many suns. Do not shy when she mounts."

Still rubbing the mare's fine coat, he looked to where the sun would rise. His favorite time of day. So still, he often wondered if the Great Spirit held His breath awaiting the sun's first peek over the horizon. A cock crowed. He smiled.

Behind him a voice shattered his peace. Hot desire seared through him.

"Do you always talk to horses, Silver Eagle?"

Surprised she had arrived without his knowledge, his body tightened. He had thought to have this one last morning workout with no one the wiser. Still not prepared to face her, he now
had no choice.

Giving himself time, he removed the lariat and coiled it with callused hands. After a deep breath, he turned to the woman who had filled his thoughts for so many suns and dark nights. Unwise of him but truth.

"Welcome back to Broken Spur, Miss Mariah." Thank the Spirits his voice did not betray his thudding heart.

"Miss? Sounds strange coming from you." When he failed to respond to her taunt, she said, "You could have welcomed me yesterday."

Did he hear hurt in her voice? Surely not. He had chosen not to greet her. Cowardly, perhaps, but he had needed, still needed, more time to mask his desire. Somehow he must find a way to go about his business on this ranch while staying as far from Mariah Kelly as possible.

Long ago he had known she would be a beautiful woman. Her glorious hair was caught at the nape with a rawhide strip similar to those his sister coiled through two braids.

As Mariah's spring-grass eyes inspected him from dark hair to booted-feet, his member threatened to betray him. A muscle ticked in his jaw as he clenched his teeth in an effort to suppress the wayward flesh.

"You and Tanner have grown to manhood in my absence."

"Boys grow." Could she not speak of something else? He was a man, all right, one who would gladly throw her to the ground and take her right now.

She lifted the gate latch and stepped inside the corral. Nutmeg backed away and trotted to the other side, then turned to watch her.

Mariah smiled. "She's forgotten me. Will I have to repeat the get-acquainted process you taught me, Silver Eagle?"

He shrugged. While he did not think so, he could not be sure. The horse was intelligent and would surely remember her scent. That scent that teased him now.

"Where Tanner is?"

"Finishing breakfast. I was anxious to see Nutmeg. I plan to ride with you and Tanner today."

His heart clenched. Not a good idea.

Before he could object aloud, she continued, "Ma says it's okay. Pa won't be back until this evening about suppertime." She smiled self-deprecatingly. "I still don't do house chores very

Unconventional to a fault, Mariah had donned attire similar to that she had worn as a young girl: a boy's shirt, jeans, and boots. Her long legs, encased in tight denim, did nothing to cool his blood. She carried a broad-brimmed hat in gloved hands, and a canteen hung from a shoulder strap.

Stalling as best he could, he asked, "What Tanner think?"

She laughed, a pleasant sound that rippled over him like water spilling over rocks.

"I don't know. He has nothing to say about where I go, what I do."

"Gone two day, maybe. Round up stray take time. Sleep on ground, eat hardtack."

"Oh, I think I can manage." She grinned. "I've been sleeping on little better than a cot for a couple years at school. The ground might be a welcome change."

"Ground hard." Like my body! Before his thoughts ran away with him, he said, "Horse no seasoned. Most day she penned, no long ride."

"But Tanner says you've exercised her every single day since I left."

Thank you, my friend. She did not need to know that. He shook his head. "No same."

"Maybe, but I'm going to get my saddle and test her while you're here. If she doesn't buck me off, I'll ride along." She shrugged. "Maybe not all day. I'll see how she goes."

"She no buck. Better see she let you near, Miss Mariah."

The Spirits knew the mare would respond to Mariah. So did he, but it had not stopped him from voicing the lame excuse. Having her along did not fit his plan of distancing himself from her.

She turned on her heel and headed for the barn, her hips swaying enticingly. As the sun broke over the horizon, her hair lit to a fiery hue before she disappeared through the open double doors.

What would it be like to release those curls, feel them spill through my fingers?

That thought snapped shut when the screened door slammed.

At the same time that Tanner loped toward the corral, Max Stoddard stepped out of the bunkhouse on the barn's far side. Samuel and two other hands followed. The workday on the Silver Spur would now begin in earnest.


P.L. Parker said...

Great post. I did one book signing and I was the "deer in the headlights." Sending out promo stuff is a better route for me. I'm too public shy to do well.

Kathy Otten said...


I hate book signings. I never know what to say when people walk by examining the ceiling tiles. I've only had one decent signing, but when my new book comes out I'll try it all again, because people always ask when and where. Somehow having done a book signing means you are successful to a non writer friend. I don't know.

Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

Hi, Joyce. Thanks for blogging today and a great subject. I've never done a 'by myself' booksigning. I've always done it with a group, but that causes problems, too, cause then people have a multiple choice of books to buy...still I like the group ones. It gives you someone to talk to during the lulls.

Anonymous said...

P.L., Kathy, and Anna Kathryn,
Again, thanks for having me, AK. Re: book signings. I've done book signings with other authors as well as alone. Neither is "fun."
And multiple authors is a two-edged sword.

Some people will stand and talk to another author and block you from view by passersby. That's happened to me a couple times.

A couple of my RWA chapter buddies have been to some with me and hand out bookmarks to people as they pass by. Not that it sold books, but you have to consider that some people are as shy as the author. (I'm not shy, but there are others...) Shy folks aren't apt to walk up to an author. However, I've been told by booksellers that after the book signing people have purchased the book "by the author who signed here earlier."

Btw, I don't get into this type of blog by the regular channels, so I sign my name so you know who "anonynous" is.
Joyce Henderson

AnneMarie Novark said...

Joyce, I loved the excerpt and the cover is gorgeous.

I'm one of the group who does book signings with Anna. *waves*

Some of our signings have been lots of fun. Others, not so much. *grin*

Congrats on the release!!!

Mary Ricksen said...

I rather like book signings anywhere but at a book store!
I participated in one at a library. I loved it and it gave me courage.
I had to speak in front of a bunch of total strangers. It was hard but a great experience.
I love your cover, I'd pick that book right up if I saw it at a signing. So good luck and thanks for the tips. Sell tons of books!!!

Caroline Clemmons said...

Joyce, what a wonderful sense of humor you have. Like you, I hate booksignings. I've done more than I care to, even had succesful ones. As you said, I just want to stay home and write my stories. I can fake being outgoing, but not for long. Basically, I'm a homebody.

Lynnette Hallberg said...

I truly believe most authors are introverts. We tend to live in our heads, and our stories are a result of what goes on in there! Promotion is tough! It forces us to face people while holding our stories up for them to accept or reject. What most amazes me when doing booksignings is how fascinating anything and everything becomes to those people walking by--anything except the author's eyes--which they cannot meet. Great blog, Joyce.

Susan Macatee said...

I've never done a book signing, nor do I care to. I mostly stick to online promo. I have a website that I update often, a blog that I try to keep up and I belong to a group blog. I also belong to a host of online promo loops and post excerpts and news when time permits. As you said, you have to have time to write the next story. But since my latest release was in December, I have more downtime than I did when actively promoting.

Best of luck with your new release!

Anonymous said...

Joyce here:

Thanks, AnneMarie. Nicola Martinez did my cover. While TWRP has a stable of excellent cover artists, I think many agree Nicola's a superb

I'm so outspoken, Caroline, I better have a sense of humor or I'd have been shot long ago. LOL I, too, have had successful book signings. I can recall two or three where I completely sold out, but that doesn't mean I have to like them.

Yoohoo, "waving" to my friend, Lynn. Thanks fo rstopping by.

Susan, I've been dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st Century. I don't, however, have my own blog...yet. I've been fortunate to be invited to blog or be interviewed on some really great here. Thanks again, Anna.

I hear too many horror stories about some online advertising, so I will continue to cautiously put a foot in here and there before commiting to a lot of online venues.

Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

Hi, Anne Marie. Oh, I think they've all been fun...some have just been more 'productive' than others.

I've been told I talk too much and need to watch that I don't interrupt when people are talking to other authors. I'm a chatty person, and I admit I probably do that....I'm trying to pay attention and not do it in the future.

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

Not being published yet I don't have book signing experiences to talk about. Anyone who knows me would laugh if I said I wouldn't know what to say...not a problem with me. :)

My question is, if you don't sell enough books to make the book signing profitable for the amount of time you spend there, why are they done? Is it just hope someone will take a chance and buy a book for a signature and then fall in love with your voice and become a fan? Seems there must be a better way.

Your story sounds great. Best of luck with lots of sales. Nice to meet you today, Joyce.

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

I forgot to mark the email followup. Don't want to miss your replies. :)

Jamie Ayres said...

Hey there, Joyce! Nice reminders;) I don't mind public speaking being a teacher and all, but am terrified of book signings where nobody shows--maybe we need to start a business to help authors with this, 1-800-RENT-FAN (actually, that # is prob already taken but you get the idea;) Don't enter me in the drawing, already got my copy & of what I've read, it's fan-tastic!!!

Anonymous said...

Joyce here:

Ladies, it's after 10 p.m. in my corner of the world. I stay up all hours, so if you're on the West coast no problem.

Anna, this is your blog. You can talk to your heart's content! The blogspot is called, Chatting with Anna Kathryn after all. LOL

Why do we do signings? Well, Paisley, I'm not sure I'll do more, but I may have to. You see, people constantly ask, where are you signing? Or, when is you next book out? Your readers come to expect you to sign because they want to get a signed copy of an author's work. Those I don't know personally, I'm not apt to invite to my home. LOL

Remember my kicking and screaming scenario? I'm that way with just about everything I do when it comes to promotion. But it's now part of an author's bag of tricks. Unless you're Nora, Jayne Anne, Janet Evanovich, authors have to promote because publishing houses don't do a lot.

We do it, though, and will keep on promoting because we love what we do: write books. And we want to share those stories with the world.
And you can do that one day, too. Keep writing. Keep submitting.

I always tell writers working to be published, it may take a short time, it may take a long time until the editor is found who loves your voice, but don't give up. You only fail if you quit.

Hey, Jamie, thanks for stopping by. Glad your enjoying Mariah and Silver Eagle's story. I always fall a little bit in love with my heros.

Anonymous said...

Joyce again:

Meant to say... I don't have a problem chatting with people. I've also done some workshops. Characterization: Folks are more than a pretty face.
Point of View: Find a head and stick to it, most of the time. Nuts and Bolts: So you think you want to write for publication.

But my voice has gotten so squeaky because of all the medication I have to inhale, I hate to listen to myself!

I've also donated critiques to aspiring authors where the money goes to charity, and I judge 10 or 12 writing contests every year. It's my way of giving back for all the help I've gotten over the years from RWA and other published authors.

Sharon said...

I can't wait til her books hit the print, I don't put it down till the last page is read (same day, mostly) Sharon Seager

Sharon said...

I am anxious awaiting Joyces' next book, can't seem to put her book down till the last page is quickly read, usually in one long day.

Anonymous said...

Joyce here:

It's almost the witching hour.

I notice two Sharon's commented. Thank you both. Sharon S. is one of two East coast Sharon's I know, and I have a West coast friend as well. LOL

I appreciate every one stopping by and commenting. As soon as Anna draws, she'll let us all know who gets my signed book.

I'll get it out right away.
Sayonara to one and all, and once again, thank you, Anna, for your hospitality.

Margaret Tanner said...

Great post Joyce.
I only ever did one book signing, after giving a talk at the local library, signing the books was more nerve racking than actually giving the talk.

Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

Congratulations to Margaret! She won the drawing for Joyce's book Capture an Eagle.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by. Remember you're in the drawing for my monthly contest.