Thursday, December 22, 2016

New Year's Resolutions of the Gainfully Unemployed

At this time of year, most of us look back before we move forward. I like to prepare for the new year by doing the following:  

1) Asking questions, such as: 
  • What went well in my freelancing life? 
  • What do I have control over that I could improve? 
  • How do my revenues and time spent compare to previous years, and where is most of my revenue coming from?
  • What changes occurred with my client base?
  • How can I grow my business next year?
2) Going through my physical and virtual filing cabinets, removing/shredding/recycling documents I no longer need. This morning I painstakingly created a new template for my acting resume, which over the years has become such a mishmosh of styles that it was difficult to edit and update.

3) Reviewing the tools of my trade. To improve my home recording setup, I just bought new, comfy headphones and more soundproofing. Not long ago, I updated my acting and voiceover site, New headshots are next.   

4) Deciding what my trade(s) should be? I love writing, but my books just haven't been selling enough to justify the cost/time I've spent to release and market/promote them. A few boxed sets did well, but with their short shelf life, they'll be gone soon. Was it a waste to box my Wars of the Roses Brides books, releasing 1/05/17, or will I at least earn back the money I spent on the cover, formatting and ads? 

I spent a good bit of time in 2016 on live storytelling and standup comedy, appearing with The Kates, at Write Club, That's All She Wrote and more. I enjoyed the process and the performances, but only earned $20 here and there. How much do I need to earn before I can make room for time-consuming but enjoyable activities? 

4) Making sure my health is on the right track. I had a checkup recently, went to the dentist, and will get a mammogram next week. Sure, I could eat less sugar, especially Target's chocolate peanut butter ice cream (someone decided a serving is only a half cup). I could also work out more, especially now that my building has upgraded our exercise room....

5) Adjusting goals. The main thing I plan to do next year is discipline myself to be more proactive. I keep telling myself I'll put more effort into self-marketing (which I define as researching and submitting to potential clients), but lately have found other ways to occupy my time.  

For years my goal has been 20 acting "touches" per week, including incoming calls/emails from agents and clients, bookings and self-submissions. I think the time has come to raise that to 25.

What are you going to do to improve your business? 

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Hello! Thank you for stopping by my blog as you follow A Royal Christmas 12 Author Hop. I hope you're enjoying your journey.

I've released four medievals and a medieval novella, and over the years have collected hundreds of books about 15th century England. My favorites (such as Private Life in the Fifteenth Century and the medieval craftsmen series offer fascinating details about castles, knights and and life during that time period, which I love learning about. Something else I love is when sources say, "No one knows what happened," because I think it's fun to combine actual history with imagination. 

What do you love about historicals and why?

Comment below to enter to win one of three copies of Nicholsa's story, my first book, At His Command, 2016 Booksellers' Best Award Best Historical and Best First Book winner, which is also on sale for .99.

Lady Amice Winfield doesn’t know how she can fulfill her duty to marry the king’s choice because she’s falling for Sir Nicholas Gray, the knight sent to protect her from undesirable suitors. But serving opposing factions seeking to govern England threatens to pull them apart. Could she defy her king for love?  

I hope you'll sign up for my newsletter, and join me online on Facebook at Ruth Kaufman Author & Actress, @RuthKaufman on Twitter and Goodreads.  If you're interested, all of my books and sets are on my Amazon author page.

Elizabeth Rose created this great video:

Here are links to the other authors participating in the hop:

Tuesday, November 01, 2016


What makes us want what we want...what blend of genetics and environment makes some people love to play or watch sports and others subscribe to the opera, while others don't understand the allure of either? There's wanting...then there's craving, defined by as "A consuming desire, a yearning."

Look how far many people go to get tickets to the World Series or Hamilton.... How much they're willing to pay beyond the norm. I'd call that craving. Because, for the Cubs, it's probably once in a lifetime? Because Hamilton is a truly great show supported by extensive hype (it seems every day a Facebook friend posts the now-requisite Hamilton selfie)?

I crave something not once in a lifetime, not on occasion, but almost every hour of every day. It's legal, affordable, and almost everywhere I go: sweets. The craving is strong, demanding, making me fight it many times a day. Such as, but not limited to, whenever I:

  • pass donut shops near me. Their neon signs shout, "Yummy!" (One nemesis is Stan's pretzel-shaped donut )
  • see candy in any checkout line or store, especially if it's on sale
  • am near a brownie, especially if combined with ice cream and bittersweet hot fudge
  • eat ice cream or candy that I've bought. How do I stop at one serving (defined as a half-cup for most ice creams, a mere dollop)?
Why is avoiding sugar so difficult for me? Do I love the process of eating, the mouth feel, the taste...or is it the sugar "high?" Do desserts somehow assuage the sting of acting, writing and dating rejection? You'd think all of the articles I've read lately about sugar being the new smoking and how bad it is for your health would provide enough incentive to at least cut back.

But when Target's Peanut Butter Fudge ice cream is in my freezer (my "drug" of choice used to be Edy's S'mores Slow Churned. I confess there were a few times I made my way through an entire half-gallon at one sitting, though I dug around for the "good stuff" and avoided some of the plain ice cream. Fortunately, I can't find that flavor anymore and the new ones don't sing the siren's song.)

Don't buy ice cream, donuts or candy, you say? And deny myself one of life's small pleasures? I try to psych myself out by not leaving sweets on display (out of sight, father out of mind), or even buying things I don't like as much as others. I don't buy OREOs, because I don't have the will power to not consume an entire row. Or two. And now Halloween candy is 50% off....

What do you crave? If you succumb to sugar like I do, here are a couple of articles on how to eat less of it:

The Washington Post: How to fight sweet cravings when sugar is everywhere, Ruth Kaufman! (No, the article didn't include my name, but it might as well have.)

WebMD: 13 ways to fight sugar cravings

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Clear your closets & clear your mind?

Lately, I've been avoiding making a few life and career decisions. One is whether or not to move. I'm leery of making the wrong choice and/or making a mistake...especially after spending significant time and effort. Yes, I know that no decision is a decision in itself. And that wrong choices/mistakes can often be corrected.

In case I do decide to move, I've embarked on a project: going through all of my stuff. I don't consider my place cluttered, but do have hundreds of books and many closets. Being a writer, I love my research books and those on keeper shelf. Then there's the to-be-read shelf. It hurts to donate any of them, but some must go. Being an actor, I never know what I might need to wear for an audition or a booking, so I have a wide variety of options. Yet surely some things can be added to the pile.

This morning I worked on my coat closet, organizing bins holding hats and gloves. I came across this pair of green leather gloves with gold and metal decoration. I don't know where I got them or if they were a gift. I've never worn them, because they're that nice, and enjoy admiring them from time to time. Keep? Try to sell them on e-Bay? (I've been looking up a few items and am surprised by the low prices. How does an individual make enough money to make it worth the time to take pictures, post and follow the sale, and pack and ship the item?) Or actually wear them?

There's a style of velvet Thinsulate gloves I love that I've bought in different colors and patterns over the years at TJ Maxx and other discount retailers. Apparently I lost one black and one grey, but those remaining make their own pair.

Seeing the now-tidy bins lined up in orderly rows gives me a sense of accomplishment. Each time I fill a bag or box, I feel lighter. Clearer. I'm sure I'll feel even better when I actually take the bags to their next destination.

Will those feelings carry over into my work and/or decision-making? Does an orderly home lead to an orderly mind? I hope so.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

My Enemy, My Love releases today in Kathryn LeVeque's Kindle World!

I'm excited to announce that my novella My Enemy, My Love is now available as part of Kathryn LeVeque's Kindle World, World of de Wolfe Pack!

Kathryn asked me to tell the story of her hero Sir William de Wolfe's best friend Paris de Norville's parents. Her book introducing Paris, The Wolfe, starts at the end of 1231 AD. So to make him the right age, my novella needed to be set around 1200 AD. I like to incorporate some real history, so I searched for events around that time. And chose King Philip II's 1203-4 siege of Chateau Gaillard.

Philip Augustus wanted to evict the English from Normandy, and at the time, CG was their last holding. He sacked the nearby town, then placed the chateau under siege.

Some civilians were allowed to leave the chateau. But several hundred weren't. The chateau's commander wouldn't let them back in because supplies were running low, and he needed to keep his soldiers alive to defend the fortress. So many people were trapped outside for months between the French army camp and the chateau in the midst of winter. Some died, and some resorted to what many would consider immoral acts to stay alive.

My other books are set in 15th century England, and I have hundreds of research books on that era. Finding what I needed for MEML was challenging, though I did come across great resources such as an episode of the PBS show Battle Castle.

Another challenge was how to make a tragic event the backdrop for a romance. I condensed the progress of the siege and left out some of the more horrific elements. For example, since those left outside had so little food, some went to extremes to find sustenance. One source said dogs were eaten, others said something even worse: cannibalism.

I focused on the concept that something can come out of very difficult times. I hope readers enjoy Lady Aline de Lacy's and Sir Apollo de Norville's story.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Prioritizing when your schedule isn't in your control

In addition to writing romance novels, I'm an actor. Because I usually don't get more than 24-hour notice of auditions or sometimes even VO and OC bookings, I don't always have control over my schedule.

I might set aside an afternoon for my work-in-progress only to learn I have an audition for, say, a national TV commercial, at 2:55 the next day, and may have lines and/or specific wardrobe and/or hair to prepare. Often the specs and storyboard or copy don't arrive until the end of the day. Of course I'm thrilled for every opportunity to practice my craft.

Yesterday was great because I had two on-camera auditions. First I had a half-hour of monologue coaching via Skype, then went to audition #1. I went back home to change wardrobe and prepare for the next, and squeezed in some paperwork for a VO client and a VO audition. Then I went to audition #2. Though it lasted less than 5 minutes, the preparation and travel took a couple of hours.

I suppose I could have cancelled dinner plans with the team of the podcast I produce to make time to write, or made myself write when I got home around 8PM. But sometimes even energetic people feel drained, and I was tired after more than 10,000 steps and giving my all at the auditions.

Late last night, a long voiceover script arrived that's due Monday morning, and I also have a VO audition waiting. Yesterday I was a guest on Anna Markland's blog, and was pleased to have some comments to reply to. I decided to submit to #PitchWars, and though I'd already reviewed the mentors, I needed to prepare the query and submission. While all of these tasks are exciting and important, it's easy to see how another day can fill up without getting any writing, revising, or book promo done.

Sometimes the acting biz is slow, so I can focus on writing. Yet I sometimes wonder if the best use of my time is completing/releasing more books, promoting the ones I already have or seeking more auditions/marketing my acting. Should I focus on one career and abandon the other? For now, I'm trusting my instincts and going for both....


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

AT HIS COMMAND: Double Booksellers' Best Award winner!?

I'm honored to announce that AT HIS COMMAND  won BOTH the Best Historical and Best First Book 2016 Booksellers' Best Awards.

And this week a reader wrote, "I started reading 'At His Command' and didn't stop until I was 20% in. Wow, what a wonderful story!!! I was actually angry at the clock for passing so quickly.  I can't wait to return to it but wanted you to know I LOVE it so far!!"

Yet despite such wonderful accolades and praise, and though I've (temporarily?) reduced the price to .99, I'll share that sales have dwindled to a trickle.

How do I keep AHC visible so readers can discover it amidst the 42.986 historical romances in the Kindle store as of this writing?

I follow several online book marketing groups, where the main takeaway is that what works for one author may not work for another. The others are to write more great books--some say it takes at least five or six--and be patient. I've released four medievals in a year and a half, and have a novella coming in September. I have completed manuscripts in other genres, and over a third of the second book in what I hoped would be my Unsung Knights of the Round Table series. Do I finish that or release something else, which may interest more or fewer readers?

And how does an author keep going if she's not just doing it for the joy of writing or saying she's a published...spending time writing, revising, getting books ready for release, promoting current releases and paying for covers, editors, promotion, bookmarks? When is someone being patient and persistent, and when is someone beating her head against a brick wall?

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Another new boxed set: Medieval Hearts

My third book, The Bride Tournament, is now part of the boxed set Medieval Hearts: Four Epic Tales of Romance and PassionIt's on preorder for .99 on Amazon and will be available in Kindle Unlimited when it releases July 12! 

In TBT, The Gone with the Wind love triangle meets The Bachelor in late medieval England. The king wants her to marry the new earl, but she wants to marry her betrothed. So she holds a bride tournament to find the earl a better, more willing bride. Who will win his hand in marriage…and his love?

Also in the set are:
Enthralled by Amazon All-Star Emma Prince

When raiding Northumbria’s holy houses to help his village, Eirik meets Laurel, who stirs him like no other. In an attempt to protect her, he breaks his oath never to claim possession of another person, and claims her as his thrall. But can he claim her heart, or will Laurel fall prey to his enemies’ devious schemes?
Torn between securing her freedom or giving herself to her Viking master, will fate decide for Laurel—and rip them apart forever?

Lady of the Mist by bestseller Elizabeth Rose

Echo, daughter of the infamous pirate, Captain Powell ap Llyr, tries to live up to his expectations of being the son he never had. But when handsome lord Garret is trapped aboard her ship, she can’t let him die at the hands of her father and the crew. Love and honor clash as a nobleman and a pirate fall in love and face the most difficult challenge of their lives.

Knight Storm by Ria Cantrell

Respected as a Healer, Rhianna du Montefort turns a deaf ear to hurtful whispers of “witch” and vows not to marry. Sir Erik Ragnorsen is commanded to marry her, but despite his reputation for honor doesn’t wish to marry a witch. Will love be strong enough to weather the storm that threatens to tear them apart?

Hope you enjoy the set, and, if you're so inclined, leave an honest review.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Enchanting Knights! New Boxed Set with

I'm excited to announce that My Once & Future Love, which RT Book Reviews calls a "fantastic blend of romance and Arthurian legend," will be part of the boxed set Enchanting Knights: Medieval Romances of Legend and Lore with books by Allie Mackay (aka Sue-Ellen Welfonder), April Holthaus and Elizabeth Rose! The set releases 6/20 and is on preorder now! Available on Amazon for just .99 and free in Kindle Unlimited.

We love the cover! Do you? Here's a bit more information about the books in the set:

If the roguish Bran doesn't change Mindy's mind about him and his bonnie homeland, neither will find peace. But unexpected passion can be the most powerful....
A lady on the run from her scheming uncle aids an imperiled knight. Desire and respect spark as he helps her in return, but secrets, danger and destiny thwart the power of love.
LEGEND OF THE FAE: April Holthaus
Returning home from battle, he stumbles upon a lass who can’t speak. While trying to solve the mystery behind who she is, Galen finds himself falling in love with a lass he knows nothing about.

She’s the Lady of Fire villagers call a witch. He’s the infamous Dragon's Son. Can they work together to destroy the dragon, or their haunting pasts stop them as they realize they really fear themselves?

Friday, June 10, 2016

Welcome! This stop is MY ONCE & FUTURE LOVE (Unsung Knights of the Round Table #1) by Ruth Kaufman, which released May 26th.

Morgan ap Myrddin must rescue his father, Merlin, from imprisonment. But enemies have wounded him, draining his powers. Annora of Amberton flees her castle to seek proof that she’s not a lunatic as her uncle declared when claiming wardship over her so she can reclaim her home and lands.

Morgan stumbles upon Annora’s cottage and enlists her aid. As he helps her in return, respect and undeniable desire spark. But he won’t succumb to the lure of a mortal woman as his father did. She’s wary of caring for a man who won’t discuss his past. When he finally does, she fears he’s the lunatic. Secrets, danger and destiny thwart the power of love.

GET YOUR COPY TODAY!Amazon:   Also available in KU.

~ ENTER TO WIN AN E-BOOK OF AT HIS COMMAND, double finalist in the 2016 Booksellers’ Best Awards:

What’s a lady to do when the king commands her to marry a lord, but she’s falling for the knight sent to protect her from undesirable suitors and is a scribe for the king’s rival for the throne? Could she defy her king for love?

Q: What’s your favorite historical setting and why?
A: Leave your answer in the comments!

And please be sure to "like" this page so I can notify you if you ‪#‎win‬!‬

NEXT STOP: @Tammy Andresen 

Thank you for participating in our blog hop! Winners will be drawn Monday, June 13, and announced on each post. ‪#‎NewReleaseHop‬‬  

(No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited.)

Friday, June 03, 2016

What are you and your books worth?

In addition to being an author and writer, I'm a voiceover and on-camera talent.

When I book acting jobs through a talent agent, rates for the shoot and usage (national TV, internet, internal only, etc.) are already set. If I think they're too low, I decline the audition. For example: a radio commercial for a hospital in perpetuity (unlimited time period) for $500. That might seem like a lot to a beginner, but I could have conflicts trouble down the road when the next hospital doesn't want to hire someone who already has hospital spots running.

If I book a gig myself, I set the rates with the client. When I self-publish, I set the prices for my print and e-books after taking prices I see for other books in my genres and Amazon's suggestions into account.

Yet there's often pressure to discount or lower rates or prices I set for acting work or books. Questions abound.

Acting: The client may have what I think is a very low budget or say they can find someone do to the project for less. Do I meet their rate to get the job, or wait until I find a client willing to pay the rates I've researched and think are fair for my skills, expertise and experience? If a client sends me a large quantity of work, do I offer a volume discount? Is there value in meeting/working with new clients at a lower rate, hoping for more projects in the future?

Books: There are dozens of discount/free book e-newsletters. To even get a spot in one, I have to pay and/or meet certain criteria. The cream of the crop, BookBub, cost $390 to advertise my first book for free in the US, UK, and Canada.

Will the ad earn out in terms of sales? Now that I have four novels available, do I make the first free to encourage readers to read it, and hope they'll pay for the others? Do I stay in Kindle Unlimited, for which readers pay a monthly fee and I get paid when readers read my books...usually around .005 cents per page? Do I do more boxed sets, which often have 4 books for .99...but since all 4 authors share in the marketing and promotion I'll probably sell more copies than I can on my own? How many giveaways do I do via blog hops, Facebook parties and online promotions?

At the moment, my first book, AT HIS COMMAND (a double Booksellers' Best Award finalist in Best Historical and Best First Book) is on sale from $2.99 to .99. How much time and money do I spend to promote that?

Often, the only way to know is to try something and see if it works. If not, try something else.

Thursday, May 26, 2016


Today is release day for my fourth book, MY ONCE & FUTURE LOVE, Unsung Knights of the Round Table #1.

In MO&FL, Annora of Amberton flees her castle to seek proof that she’s not a lunatic as her uncle declared when claiming wardship over her and her lands.  

Morgan ap Myrddin must rescue his father, Merlin, from imprisonment. But enemies have wounded him, draining his powers.

He stumbles upon her cottage and enlists her aid. As he helps her in return, undeniable desire and respect spark. But he won’t succumb to the lure of a mortal woman as his father did. She’s wary of caring for a man who refuses to discuss his past. When he finally tells her he’s a Knight of the Round Table, she fears he’s the lunatic as danger, secrets and destiny thwart the power of love.

To celebrate, I'm having a virtual release party today from 4-7PM CDT, featuring amazing guest authors and giveaways. I hope you can stop by to chat with us.

RT Book Reviews says, "Kaufman is an excellent storyteller with an affinity for setting stories in the Middle Ages. My Once & Future Love is a fantastic blend of romance and Arthurian legend, and it paves the way for the start of the Unsung Knights of the Round Table series. The characters are intriguing and their insecurities and fears make them seem more real."

Night Owl Reviews says, "The chemistry between Morgan and Annora sizzles with vibrant energy from every page right along with their strong, compelling personalities which makes it easy for readers to relate to the characters and to become ensnared in their relationship quandary, which has a maelstrom of emotions keeping suspense and anticipations high throughout the steady to fast paced plot full of intrigue, excitement and romance."

I love the tales of King Arthur and his nights, and wondered, "What if there were knights we'd never heard of?

And here's my first international interview!

Happy reading!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Hope you'll visit these upcoming events on Facebook!

I hope you'll be able to stop by these amazing online events! Chat with authors and enter for a chance to win giveaways and prizes. 

May 23 - May 28
Introductions begin May 16!

Romance Writers Gone Wild! A week-long romance reader's paradise! Join over 100 romance writers for sneak peeks, excerpts and giveaways, with a specific day dedicated to your favorite romance genres, all without leaving the comfort of your home (or changing out of your bunny slippers). There's something for every romance reader -- contemporary to Scottish Highlands, romantic suspense to inspirational, paranormal to urban fantasy and everything in between. Prizes include Amazon gift cards and a Kindle Fire!

May 26, 4:00-7:00PM CDT

An online release party for My Once & Future Love, Unsung Knights of the Round Table #1.

RT Book Reviews says, "Kaufman is an excellent storyteller with an affinity for setting stories in the Middle Ages. My Once & Future Love is a fantastic blend of romance and Arthurian legend, and it paves the way for the start of the Unsung Knights of the Round Table series. The characters are intriguing and their insecurities and fears make them seem more real."

And Night Owl Reviews says, "The chemistry between Morgan and Annora sizzles with vibrant energy from every page right along with their strong, compelling personalities which makes it easy for readers to relate to the characters and to become ensnared in their relationship quandary, which has a maelstrom of emotions keeping suspense and anticipations high throughout the steady to fast paced plot full of intrigue, excitement and romance."

I'm thrilled to have a great lineup of guest authors: 

4:00 Anna Campbell Author Page
4:20 Cathy MacRae Author
4:40 Elizabeth Rose
5:00 Ruth Kaufman Author & Actress
5:20 Laurel O'Donnell
5:40 April Holthaus-Author
6:00 Ruth Kaufman Author & Actress
6:20 Barbara Devlin's Nautionniers
6:40 Kathryn Le Veque, Author

Anyone who leaves a comment will be entered for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card. Individual authors may offer giveaways. 

*Promotions held during the Romance Writers Gone Wild Event are in no way sponsored, endorsed, or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. Contest and giveaway entrants are providing information to the authors participating in this Event and not to Facebook. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited.

The MO&FL release party is in no way sponsored, endorsed, or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited.

Monday, May 02, 2016

Dealing with Setbacks & Disappointment

We all know that not everything can go our way, despite our best efforts. And that sometimes, despite putting many irons in the fire, none of the big ones get hot. We won't get every job/gig/opportunity we apply/submit for, most authors will receive some unfavorable and/or inaccurate reviews, someone you want to date may not want to date you.

Rejection and disappointment are part of everyone's life. As an actor, author, speaker/storyteller and single person, some months I can receive more than most. When they arrive within a short time and I don't have good news to counteract them, I admit it's hard to believe I've chosen the right career paths. Self-doubt creeps in. It can be hard to know what to work on next, whose advice to take, what to change.

Recent setbacks/disappointments include:
--An on-camera job I was on check avail for never materialized
--A live corporate job and a VO job I was on hold for were canceled
--Didn't get a big VO job I was shortlisted for
--Learned that a role I'd done in a film was recast
--A dream agent who'd said she loved my voice rejected one of my books.

Being on hold/check avail, shortlisted and callbacks are great because they show your agent you can do that kind of job and the client was interested. But they don't pay the bills. And the gig was so close, you could taste it.

Patience is not my strong suit, and waiting for good news isn't the answer. The solution is to find the energy and motivation to move on. Control what you can, and do something that helps you move forward.

I revamped my website, including a new commercial demo. I'm working on a new narration demo, with new elearning and medical to come after that. I got headshots with a new look: straight hair. I've been working on promotion for my May 26 release, MY ONCE & FUTURE LOVE, and continue to audition and submit.

How do you deal with disappointment?

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

New Release! Medieval w/Magical Realism: My Once & Future Love

 When did you first hear about King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table? Probably when you were a child, because the tales have been passed down for centuries. There are hundreds of books and movies, including the upcoming Knights of the Round Table: King Arthur

My favorite Arthurian books include The Once and Future King by T.H. White. And my favorite movie is still Excalibur (who could forget the wedding scene?). I watched that dozens of times when it first came out on HBO. 

We’ve all heard of Sirs Lancelot and Galahad. Some know of Sirs Kay, Bedivere and others. But what if there were some we didn’t know about? I decided to tell their tales and journeys toward love in the Unsung Knights of the Round Table series.

Book #1 is MY ONCE & FUTURE LOVE, a medieval romance with magical realism. Morgan ap Myrddin must rescue his father from imprisonment. But enemies have wounded him, draining his powers.

Annora of Amberton flees her castle to seek proof that she's not a lunatic as her uncle declared when claiming wardship over her and her lands.

He stumbles upon her cottage and enlists her aid. As he helps her in return, undeniable desire sparks. But he won’t succumb to the lure of a mortal woman as his father did. She’s wary of caring for a man who refuses to discuss his past. When he finally tells her he’s a Knight of the Round Table, she fears he’s the lunatic as danger, secrets and destiny thwart the power of love.

I'm working on book #2, featuring a main character in MY&FL. Stay tuned!

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Authors in Bloom!

Hello, and thank you for stopping by! I hope you’re enjoying the Authors in Bloom blog hop. 

I've released three medievals in my Wars of the Roses Brides series. 

And my May release, MY ONCE & FUTURE LOVE, starts a new medieval Arthurian series: Unsung Knights of the Round Table. 

When a lady on the run aids an immortal knight in peril, can love flourish?

As you can see, I take a lot of flower pictures...with my cell phone. My tip is to appreciate and share the results of your gardening efforts with pictures. Choose interesting angles and close-ups that accentuate details and will look great on social media. 

Wide shots of gardens and flower beds usually don't stand out as much as closeups, especially when viewed in small or thumbnail sizes. Also check the background to make sure it's visually appealing and not distracting.

Another idea is to create a calendar using your best shots, via a site such as Vistaprint (which often has discounts up to 50%) and give them as gifts. I've gotten many compliments from family, friends and clients (I'm also an on-camera and voiceover talent).

My favorite flower is the peony, because I love how they look and smell. I need to take some peony pictures! What's your favorite flower and why

I'll be giving away an ebook of AT HIS COMMAND to three people who comment below and leave their contact email so you can be reached if you win. 

And anyone who signs up on my website for my occasional newsletter will receive another entry to win a copy of AT HIS COMMAND.

Other authors participating in the blog hop:

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Anatomy of a Headshot & Curly vs. Straight

Next time you watch TV or a movie, notice how many women have curly hair. Not that many. And what roles do they play? The quirky best friend or co-worker, the out there aunt or neighbor. Not a newscaster, executive or businessperson, spokesperson or business owner or doctor.

So with Chicago Justice coming to town and hoping to pursue more serious roles, I decided to get a headshot in a suit with straight hair. For me, that's not an easy decision...because the process of blow drying, flat-ironing and de-frizzing takes well over an hour and many products.

First I had to choose a photographer. I went with someone I know who rents a studio in what she calls the South Loop (but I think is past that).  A half hour session is $100, and you do you own hair and makeup.

I'm a morning person, so getting up early to start transforming my hair wasn't a problem. With my now-straight hair tucked beneath a silk scarf for de-frizzing, I was ready to apply light makeup. Wait. When did my eyebrows morph into an old man's, with random hairs sticking out hither and yon?

I'm glad I brought two suits, because the navy one I really wanted to wear, with what I think is flattering, small peplum on a zippered jacket, looked too dark on camera. I ended up in a traditional pinstripe, with a bright deep blue tee underneath for a pop of color. Pearl instead of hoop earrings. Some with glasses, some full length. Some smiling, some not.

Keeping your chin down while tilting your head and smizing as Tyra instructs can be a challenge. How will they turn out? Will my agents like them? Will casting directors/producers/directors?

How will I know if I've been submitted with straight or curly hair, so I know which to have if called in for an audition? Looking like your headshot is essential. Stay tuned....

A current, curlier and slightly shorter hair headshot:

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Pitching to agents & editors on Twitter

Back in the day, if you wanted to learn about literary agents and book editors so you could submit your book for representation or publication, you had to go to a library or buy a book listing such information, without knowing if the information was still current.

Then, as now, you could also attend conferences to hear them speak and/or meet them in person for up to the minute info, but that can be expensive and time-consuming.

Then came the Internet, where agency websites that often list agent bios and interests. Publishers have sites, too, but information about individual editors can be hard to find. And sites might not be updated frequently...despite a fast-changing market. For example, I just checked a publisher at random whose site still has Fall 2015 editor interests. Sites like QueryTracker can be great for agent info, assuming the profiles are up to date. But the onus is on you to search, and the genres are often quite broad, such as romance.

Then came Twitter, where authors could follow and interact with agents and editors. (For some reason, in my experience, Facebook didn't catch on for this purpose.) Even better, those industry professionals can let authors know exactly what they're looking for in real time.

Popular hashtags are #MSWL, manuscript wishlist, where editors and agents post in detail the projects they'd love to see and #PitMad, where author Brenda Drake holds quarterly events during which authors tweet pitches by following her rules. If an industry professional likes the tweet, the author can submit (usually by following instructions on the agent's site or given in a reply tweet).

There are other pitch parties, too. A recent event was #PitMatch, where Cupids matched tweets on #MSWL and #PitMad. I was fortunate that a dream agent favorited my tweet. I submitted 5 pages as her site instructed, and within a few days her assistant requested the first three chapters, then she herself requested the full. Fingers crossed!

I popped online to browse #MSWL, the other day, and came across an editor who wanted a romance set in Hell. Well, I just happen to have one. I replied to his tweet, he asked a follow up question...and requested.

Of course, as with any type of pitching, there's no guarantee of representation/a sale, or even going further than the initial submission. But Twitter pitches are a great way to connect quickly with agents and/or editors.

This approach saves authors significant time. If someone is interested, you'll know soon, maybe within minutes or hours. I've met many authors who are terrified to pitch in person, so Twitter bypasses that fear. Plus, your query/submission isn't unsolicited as it would be if you just queried as their websites instruct. The agent/editor is already aware of your project and asked to see it.

Happy pitching!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Self-taping vs. in-person vs. Skype

There's a trend for actors to self-tape or self-submit auditions. This means that instead of auditioning in person where someone will read with you and someone else is responsible for recording/technical stuff, you need a good partner to read other characters' lines, and record, edit and upload a quality video of your audition. 

On the one hand, I'm very grateful for recent opportunities to audition for a few high-profile out of town projects I might not have been considered for without self-taping. On the other hand, the pool of talent expands, so more actors may be submitted for each role.

More pros: You can do the scene as many times as you want (or your partner can stand). This eliminates the tendency some actors have to think they could've done better, or  fret, "If only I'd done THAT." 

You don't have to show up to an assigned audition appointment that may be inconvenient. 

You can record any time before the submission deadline. 

More cons: You're responsible for producing a video with a non-distracting background that matches the sound, lighting and video quality of an actor who may go to a professional studio. You can do that, too, but the cost could be prohibitive.  

You don't get any feedback from casting or production personnel. With indie features, short films and certain other projects, the director him/herself may be in the room and offer direction. Not only that, you get to meet some of the team and perhaps establish some rapport. 

You don't know if your video is ever watched. At least when you're in the room, someone sees the results of your preparation. 

Self-taping can take a long time, because of technical difficulties or mistakes. The last one I did took almost 4 hours because my extremely knowledgeable partner had trouble syncing sound and exporting the video.

In person, I'm often asked to do more than one take. I prefer the opportunity to make different choices. I don't recall any self-tapings I've done that wanted more than one take.

I'd like to see more Skype auditions. I've only done one. Skpye allows actors to get some feedback, start building relationships, and make the process a bit more personal...without distance and equipment/video skills being issues. 

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

The power of FREE: At His Command on Amazon 3/1-5

AT HIS COMMAND is free on Amazon March 1 to 5!

I've read many posts about making a book free for a brief time or permafree. While it's hard to give away a product I spent countless hours producing, I'm hoping the benefits are worth it:

1) Readers may get to know an author and buy her other books. (Or will they wait to see if those are free, too?)

2) If the book is also in Kindle Unlimited, and subscribers read it, you get paid for those pages.

3) If you get enough downloads, the book climbs Amazon bestseller lists including Top Free Historical Romance, which leads to more visibility and perhaps more sales of other books.

4) You might get more reviews. The more reviews a book has on Amazon, the better the opportunities for Amazon promotion, such as "also bought" and "you might like."

But making "going free" work can require a significant investment of:

1) Time: to scour promotion sites, choose some, and apply for a listing by filling out their forms. Posting on Facebook groups and other social media. Spent away from writing/getting your next book out or other work. Checking and compiling results.

2) Money: for said promotions. I got my first BookBub for 3/2, quite an achievement. (I was denied for two books when I had .99 cent countdown deals.) Though it costs hundreds of dollars, the high number of downloads and visibility are said to be amazing. I hope so!

It's working! AHC is already #38 on Top Free Medievals.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Book publicity: how much & what works?

I believe that, unless sales are through the roof, authors can't do enough to get the word out about their books. But what works for one author might not work for another, and we must balance time spent with cost, and still make time to write and release new product.

Do I currently have a formal marketing plan? No. Do I try to stay on top of promotional opportunities and regularly promote to develop a great mix of reviews, blogs/articles and ads? Yes. Of course I'd love huge sales increases, but I've read that the frequency of impressions needed to get people to take action has increased from seven to 10. So I'm focusing on growing awareness

Here area few recent and upcoming results:

THE BRIDE TOURNAMENT  received a great review from Publishers Weekly, and is currently front and center on Highlights: "Kaufman hits her stride with this enjoyable third entry in her War of the Roses Brides series...."  "Appealing protagonists, a satisfying pace, engaging supporting characters, and numerous obstacles to overcome combine in this emotionally satisfying romance."

A post about TBT on Romance Lives Forever was tweeted and retweeted for several days. I stopped counting when the total reach passed 630,000!
And coming March 2: my first BookBub, such a popular and selective discount and free book daily email that I've been refused multiple times (as have many other authors I know). It costs hundreds of dollars, depending on your genre and countries you wish to include, but word on the street is that the thousands of downloads make it worth the price.

This and other promotion will be in conjunction with making AT HIS COMMAND free for 5 days. How many downloads will I get? Will sales of my other books increase? Stay tuned!

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Valentine's Day Blog Hop Featuring Heros

Hello and welcome! I’m Richard Courtenay, Earl of Glasmere.

My thanks to Ruth for telling my story in THE BRIDE TOURNAMENT and for hosting me today and to you for stopping by. Please comment on your favorite characteristic in a hero for a chance to win one of three copies of Ruth's first book, AT HIS COMMAND.

What is your strength?
I would have to say patience. The lovely Eleanor can be quite strong-willed and full of, shall we say, interesting ideas that she's convinced are for the best. Plus, as I'm sure you know, even in your time, politics can be trying. 

What is your weakness?
Trust. After you’ve allowed yourself to open up and be vulnerable to accept what you thought was love only to be cruelly betrayed…it’s very difficult let anyone else breach the armor you’ve created around your heart. Especially when said someone is doing her best to find you a better and more willing bride because she wishes to wed her betrothed, but you find yourself intrigued nonetheless.

What would you like to get on Valentine's Day?
Chaucer is believed to be the first to associate this day with romantic love. In the 1460s, when I first met Lady Eleanor de la Tour and was offered her hand in marriage, Valentine’s Day hadn’t yet come into vogue, as they say. Now, I confess I would like to receive chocolate. I do enjoy a good piece of chocolate, preferably with hazelnuts. The way it melts on your tongue.... 

What would be your perfect date?
 Unfortunately we One of our first "dates" was what you call a picnic. We had an interesting al fresco luncheon. She just looked so lovely sitting on a cloth on the grass arranging the foodstuffs I'd brought, and I was so pleased to be with her, I wanted that moment to last. So I'd say another picnic, on a perfect sunny day with a slight breeze. I'd select items to tempt her palate and please her.   

What are you giving the heroine for Valentine's Day?
Eleanor loves chocolate even more than I. We share many things, but can be possessive when it comes to sweets. So I'll be giving her a large box of her favorites, just for her. Which means no fruit allowed except for raisins, and only milk chocolate.    

Ruth is honored to give away an ebook of AT HIS COMMAND to three random visitors who comment below about their favorite characteristic in a hero.

List of authors participating in the hop:
I hope you'll visit them all to learn about their heros and enter their giveaways.