Monday, June 23, 2014

Keeping Your Brand Outside Your Comfort Zone!

NEWS BULLETIN:  We have a local Amber Alert that has just been issued for a local girl. Please share on facebook, twitter, any social media you can:

Cassidy Geffert was abducted today from her home in our school district. Please pray and share!

And now back to normal Ruthy stuff!!!!  And thank you for sharing!

What form of crazy is this? Ruthy posting on MONDAY?????

How can such a thing be????? And she's bribing folks to stop in and talk by offering a $20 Amazon Gift Card??? What a generous soul she is!!!!

And I'm going to let you guess how close I came to FORGETTING I traded with the Pamster... I love Yahoo reminders, LOL! (Wipes brow, says "phew!")

And mind you, we're not talkin' brandin' the rumps of cattle here, although that feeds directly into my love of my next release "Her Montana Cowboy" pictured below, set in Montana and... Oops, off-track, MY BAD!!!! So, we're not talking cattle-branding, we're not "blue box" mac-and-cheese, nor are we "Just Do It" Nike, but those brands do bring to mind a specific cow, food or company. We want that recognition, but maybe not as narrowly defined.

I was one of those annoying authors who laughed off the idea of a "brand" owning an author, (SHOCK ALERT, RUTHY WAS ANNOYING!!!!!) so allow me to quote the really cute Desi Arnaz:  "Let me 'splain."

Keep your brand inclusive. Think of those "words" you see describing Amazon lists:

(From "Running on Empty", my second independent novel:)

  • How sweet are those numbers? Not for nothin', this book has stayed in the top 10-15 for eight months... That's pretty solid stuff for a book that's finding its own audience via word of mouth and recommendation. And that's old-fashioned author-building right there!

Those categories help define your brand. Your work should be recognizable to your readers, and you don't want to surprise them, take advantage of them or betray their trust. Authors shouldn't do that, it's disrespectful, like trying to slip something in, just to test the waters when readers are expecting something else.


But........... (There's always a but....) 

Prolific writers like to test the waters, spread their wings, explore the shores, pick the over-used adage of your choice, so how can you do that and stay in your brand?

Keep your brand general enough to include multiple sub-genres.  Here's my example:

"Hearth and home author Ruthy Logan Herne was born in poverty but after bribing, wheedling and cajoling numerous editors, she's established herself as an all-American author of feel-good books that make the reader love truth, justice and the American way. With coffee and chocolate, of course!"

I'm a "Hearth-and-home" author. And the reason I've chosen that phrase to describe my work is because it works across the board. It's perfect for my beloved Love Inspired series... It fits my independent novels beautifully... It works for my historical novellas, it embraces small towns, cowboys, quaint neighborhoods and farms and it has no regional connotation.

THAT'S HUGE!!!!! I like diversity, it helps to keep me fresh and on top of my game. Writing the occasional historical, spreading my wings geographically and changing the levels of humor and/or religious elements helps me reach more people and (hopefully!!!) disappoint no one! And exploring new avenues and publishers via novellas (I love writing novellas!!!!! And I love you, Naomi, even if you're not a novella-reader, you can still be my buddy!)

Branding does not have to be absolute. It is what you make it as you captain your ship. Last year I was invited to be part of the Big Sky Centennial continuity for Love Inspired. I was given a COWBOY RANCHER book with baseball twists and horses and dogs and family and fences and mountains and aging grandparents, scuffed tables in the diner, a library in a house and some suspicious things going on in the sweet stuck-in-time town of Jasper Gulch, Montana. Oh mylanta, what a mess of hot crazy fun that was to write, LOVE IT THIS MUCH!!!


I discovered I love writing Western, I'm a cowboy and horse freak, ranching is one of the most rugged and labor intensive jobs known to man, and I want to write MORE WESTERNS!!!!

Ruthy-goes-cowboy!!!!  :)

We've all got to find our own niche. Because I like a fairly big niche, I've learned to broaden the horizons of my brand to fit the kind of book I like to write... the kind of book I love to read!

Hey, coffee's hot, fresh bagels from Brooklyn (yes, I drove down to the city, grabbed a tray of 48 bagels, assorted, of course, and cream cheese, lox, fish, fresh onions, prosciutto, and lacy Swiss cheese.... and the all-American flavored cream cheeses for the less adventurous among us! Stop in, leave a comment and hey... if you want to talk about how to identify your brand or improve your brand, all youse have to do is ask.

The Ruthster is IN!!!!

And here is the promised pic of the CHEESECAKE!!!!!!

Oh my stars, to die for, jump in and have some "Hearth and Home" Cheesecake!!!!!


  1. Just make sure you have your cowboy in the novel, and your unique sense of humor and that's your brand, too! I'm looking forward to Her Montana cowboy and His Montana Sweerheart! Glad you brightened my Monday!

  2. What a fun post Ruthy! Please enter me in the drawing.

  3. I love how you identified your writing, Ruthy. That makes a lot of sense and works for your books.

    It's been so hard, though, to pin myself down. Not because I write a great variety of stuff but because to me, I'm just me.

    After years and years, I think I've pinned it down. I write big-city fiction with real issues and real hope. A couple story ideas happen in the country, but my characters are still from big cities, and I deal with our culture as it really is while showing that God's just as relevant today as He's always been. So I hope all of that comes through my little mission statement-thingy.

  4. I'm snickering.

    Guess who else is writing a western?

    An Amazon gift card is enough to make anybody drool.

    Tea's brewing. (Since Ruthy has already provided coffee.)

  5. I write historical.....that's good enough, right???? Naomi said that one of the chapters she just critted was very Melissa-ish. I have no idea what that means but at least I do it!

  6. I write historical.....that's good enough, right???? Naomi said that one of the chapters she just critted was very Melissa-ish. I have no idea what that means but at least I do it!

  7. Ruthy, so far I have one published book. It is a contemporary light hearted romantic novella. I loved writing it and hope to write more.

    I also want to write full length romances and romantic suspense. Lofty goals.

    Is that too broad for one brand? The two things they have in common is they are all contemporary and set in small towns.

    Any ideas? Am I thinking branding too soon?

    1. Oh, and please enter me in the drawing. I LOVE Amazon cards.

  8. I'm so glad you love writing novellas Ruthy because I love to read them.

    Wow! You've gone western! I love it! Ruthy's gone western! Yeehah!!!!

    I would love to be entered to win a copy of your new book. Thank you for the opportunity.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

  9. I love you brand, Ruthy, and I like how it doesn't box you in.. Hearth and home definitely describes the kind of stories I love to read. Makes me want to grab one of your books and cozy up for a read.

    How long did it take you to come up with your brand? I'm amazed at how there are so many unique ones out there among Christian authors. Interesting how there can be that much variety in one genre.

    Right now if I had to make up a brand for me it would 'beleaguered librarian who is weary of packing up her library for a new carpet'. I can't see much beyond that definition of my life these days. If I'm not packing books into boxes I'm recovering from packing books into boxes or even worse, dreaming about packing books into boxes. Argh! It's a necessary evil though since our carpet is circa 1967! And orange! Just would have been nice if they had agreed to replace the carpet last year when the library got painted. I had to pack it up for that as well. Two years of packing up a 20,000 collection library is not fun...Have I whined enough yet? I'll just stagger over to the buffet table and drown my sorrows in a bagel. :-)

  10. But seriously, even though I write historical AND contemporary under Virginia Carmichael, the stories are all sweet romance with a happy ever after. I don't write violence (one fight scene in all my books!) or harm animals or put kids in danger. I think readers known that even with big dramatic plots, there are places I don't go and they feel comfortable entering the story.

    And I always thought Try, Try Again would be your mainstay, but it looks like Running On Empty is your attention-getter!

    P.S. Random thought- did you see the discussion on the self pub boards about Amazon gift cards and reviews? If you give someone a gift card and they have reviewed your books (or go review your books after, either way) Amazon will REMOVE THEIR REVIEWS. Just like those of they remove reviews from people who have the same publisher (although I've gotten a few to stick), Amazon doesn't like anything that looks like a conflict of interest.

    Just FYI.

  11. Marianne, good morning, sweet thing!!!!

    Oh my stars, working in the Big Sky setting, working with those gals on this continuity was awesome enough, but throw COWBOYS into the mix????

    YeeeeeHaaaaaaw!!!!! :) I hope you go over-the-top loving this continuity!

  12. Loves-to-Read aka: "Mystery Woman!!!!"

    You're entered, sweet thing, and glad you got a kick out of this whole "branding" thing. :) I got me a brand, shore 'nuff!

  13. Nice numbers for Running on Empty, Ruthy!'s a great book!
    I always knew you were a cowgirl at heart!

  14. The closest thing I have to a western is a WIP I have set in
    19th century Portland. It's currently seeing its first round of contest judges, so I'll get some intial inklings of my WIPs reception in mid-July. I do not know how Americana fits in with my brand yet. However, staying true to my passion in this WIP, the heroine is Japanese.

    In the meantime, I'm taking Ruthy's Monday morning post as an unexpected good sign. My son's baseball team is participating in the Ripken experience in Myrtle Beach this week. There are 27 teams in his age group from all over the U.S. A Ruthy post always dovetails with baseball.

  15. I love 'hearth and home,' and your cover is beautiful! You must be so happy.

    Because I'm not published and not branded yet, I flip back and forth between writing romantic suspense and romance. I wrote a romance last year. Or so I thought. So many people at conference told me it was women's fiction, I had to believe them. But the other two are my favorites.

    Thanks for sharing!

  16. Sally, that's a mouthful of fun and interest!!!!

    So Sally-my-dear, I'd see yours as a mix of big city hope and down-home values....

    And it can be that simple "Big city hope with down-home values" and that then blankets all of them and EVERYONE UNDERSTANDS what you're saying.

    Perfect blend with wide parameters!!!!

  17. Helen Gray, we are sympatico!!!! Sisters of the heart, cowboy lovers all!!!!

    And I'll have a cup of that tea, darling.... while we toast the American West!!!!

  18. Good morning, Ruthy! Great points about creating a brand that will "go where you go."

  19. Ack! Is that what I get for saying what I really think in the comments? Called out in front of everybody??? Thanks Ruthy. You're a real friend. ;-)

    So novellas aren't my thing. Do you want to know what I love? Series. A good series where you meet the characters for coming books in the first book and there's a hint of growing story for the coming characters in the novel that I'm currently reading. I'm like a dog digging for a bone when I get started on a good series. I just can't stop myself with one book!

    I suppose that relates to branding. Kind of.

  20. I'm with Melissa in that I can narrow my brand down to . . . fiction.

    No wait: Christian Fiction. Shocker, I know.

    And yes, Melissa writes Melissa-ish chapters and Melissa-ish books, but I can't for the life of me figure out how to "brand" her Melissa-ish writing either.

  21. "Big-City Hope with Down-Home Values." I like that. A lot! Now you need to try it for Melissa, Ruthy. (Not that it will take much to come up with something better than Melissa-ish). :-)

  22. As a reader who enjoys Christian fiction, I'm happy you have written in various fiction categories. I started with the LI books, loved them, so I moved on to the independents and loved them even more. (Like Virginia I thought Try,Try Again would be your mainstay, but Running on Empty dealt with the abuse issue so expertly and delicately, I appreciate that too. I didn't think the topic could ever be done that well, but you did it!)

    Looking forward to "my cowboy adventure" via Ms. Ruthy. I can't wait to see what you do with the western setting and cowboys, sounds like a lot of fun!

    Please throw my name in that cowboy hat drawing!

  23. Wow, Ruthy, you are in rare form today. We should always get you on a Monday!
    I've been looking at my own work and thinking that while my historicals span a range of periods, there's a common element of people wanting to Go Home, either physically, spiritually or both. I'd like to have a brand or slogan of "Welcoming You Home," which could cover genres and time periods. I think that's what I'll go for if no one else has taken it.
    I love the EARLY West and am an Oregon Trail nut, which is easy because everyone on the Trail was looking for a home in Oregon. I also have some unpubbed stuff on World War I and its follow-up years, which was a "going home" thing in the sense that the doughboys basically came home to, well, nothing. We didn't treat veterans well after Vietnam, but the Great War wasn't so great either in that respect. Yeah, home is good and I WANNA WRITE ABOUT IT!
    Thanks Ruthy,
    Kathy Bailey
    Thank you for another good post.

  24. Hey, Ruthy! I'm up early to write! (Yes, this is early!) Gotta get this book turned in by July 1st! That's next Tuesday, BTW.

    I have never really defined my brand. I always wanted my brand to be Historical Romance. However, so far I only have Medieval Fairy Tale-based Romances published and contracted. That's pretty narrow. But I still consider myself a Historical Romance writer, since I intend to write in other time periods, and not all my books will be based on fairy tales. But as long as these fairy tale retellings keep selling, I'll keep writing them! Besides, I love them. Mainly, I just love super romantic stories with awesome heroines and very heroic heroes. Natasha says I write great wounded heroes. And now that I think about it, all my heroes have been wounded to one extent or another. So maybe that's my brand. ???

  25. Oops! I posted the same comment twice and deleted one. LOL! So don't think I went off on some weird tirade and then decided to delete! Ha! Okay, I'm leaving now. :-)

  26. Ruthy, congrats on those numbers! I love the breadth of your spreading wings! You are so right. What makes stories special are those qualities that warm the heart--hearth and home. That can be anywhere, any time. Love that!

    Love the bagels too! Thanks for making the trip to the city.


  27. Good post, Ruthy! I like the idea of branding in a way that doesn't limit you.

    I like your new cover! :-)

  28. That's such a good point, Ruthy! I think I've probably kept my brand a little narrow. Must leave room to have fun and explore! :)

    Recently, I've called my stuff heartwarming romance. But if I keep playing with YA, I'll have to rethink that, I guess.

  29. Melissa, that should be perfect!!!


    I'm in your corner, don't change a thing!!! :)

    Check those new Amazon choices for books.... FREAKY!!!

  30. Ha! I hear you, Sally. Great post, Ruthy. Now to brand myself. OUCH. I bet that hurts.

  31. Ruthy,the numbers for Running on Empty are exciting!

    Thanks you for getting us thinking about our brands and keeping us from limiting ourselves!

  32. Loved this post, Ruthy, and I have to get His Montana Sweetheart! The first Big Sky Centennial book is already in my TBR pile. It's good to know that it's okay to write both historical and contemporary, because that's exactly what I've been doing. Somehow I managed to start a modern day novel and I got hooked. (You know, you can't give your historical heroes big trucks!)

    Please enter me in the giveaway! I love Amazon gift cards!

    If anyone wants to celebrate with me, today makes one year since my daughter and I started our first manuscript!!! I look back and I'm awed at how far we've come!

  33. Everyone comes around to loving cowboys eventually. heh heh

  34. Melissa, I think Melissa-ish means you have mastered your writer's voice! That's quite a compliment. : )

  35. Hey Ruthy! Great way to start a Monday.

    Branding! Well, apparently I am breaking all the branding rules! Nice way to start your career!

    In the beginning stages with Bethany House, they hinted that they would want to brand me as an historical writer and they didn't really want me writing anything else.

    Problem - I had already accepted (6 months earlier) a contract with White Rose to publish 2 contemporary romances. Plus I was waiting to hear back from Love Inspired on another contemporary. I didn't want to be 'stuck' in one genre since I love both. Anyway God works in amazing ways and somehow I've got to do both (or should I say all 3!)

    My tagline is "Romance Sprinkled with Faith" which is generic enough. Maybe I need something more specific like your 'hearth and home'.

    Also - Here's a big topic for discussion - How do you make your website match your brand??? I'm in the process of wanting to change my website but need some guidance as to how to get both my genres across. Any suggestions welcome!!

    And if anyone wants to discuss prices of web design. Is $1500 too much to pay, reasonable or a great price? Thanks for the help!

    Love to be in the draw!


  36. P.S. Forgot to say how much I love Ruthy's new cowboy cover! Love cowboy stories!

  37. Such great advice, Ruthy! I like variety in my writing, too, and the tagline I adopted several years ago pretty much sums up my focus:

    Inspirational romantic fiction . . . where life and love collide.

    So, historical or contemporary, my stories are about real-life characters dealing with real-life struggles, both in their "regular" lives and in the romance department.

    Oh, and I've written a cowboy story or two, myself. :-D In fact, I'm working on one right now for our Seekerville novella collection--YAY!!!

  38. Terri, heck no, you're not branding too soon...

    You hit on exactly why I went broad-based. Because I write novellas, I write indies, I write fun, sweet category romances and I like writing long and short with various levels of faith, and a broad-spectrum brand (like an anti-biotic, right????) helps to allow us diversity and keep us branded. (Stable of authors, branding, etc... We are an animal-friendly industry!)

  39. Cindy, you're in!!!! And maybe sometime we'll all catch a rodeo together!

  40. Kavalicious!!!!! Oh, what a crazy build-your-muscles diet regime you're on, my darling!

    I agree, it would have been better to do it all last year, but just so youse know, it's the same way here, so our unique countries and systems have similar tactics, LOL!

  41. Virginia, good point. A pen name for out-of-brand works for a lot of stuff....

    I looked at the over-all cross-over effect of my indies augmenting my traditionally published books and vice versa, and then I thought, hey... These are really all hearth and home so if I grab that label and use it, I can cross-publish, have both sides of the aisle helping each other, and then there's the ease of people searching all my books with one click.

    So that made a lot of sense to me because I love both aspects of publishing and if someone reads Try, Try Again and loves it, (I love that story like THIS MUCH!!!) then they can find all of my Love Inspireds and do a quick-click order to their Kindle. This is so huge for category authors and it's made a big difference in my Kindle Love Inspired sales for back list.

    I'm all about making it easy for the sweet, sweet world to beat a path to my door!!! :)

  42. Jill Weatherholt thank you! I think that's a beautiful story, it was a total gift-from-God inspiration from a question and comment my son Seth made when he was in the North Country for college... and it got me thinking, "What if...?"

    And that book has been picked up by anti-abuse sites, anti-child-abuse crusades and I made the .99 price a forever thing so that it's affordable for anyone who has a Kindle, and how wonderful is that?????

    By far Running on Empty has inspired more e-mails and facebook messages to me from women who've survived abuse. It's sad to think how prevalent it is, but how wonderful that we can talk about it! And watch out to prevent it. Villains who prey on children can be insidiously savvy about how to build a trust relationship first, and that makes them ridiculously dangerous.

    I am so stinkin' happy and blessed that this book is helping, and if you haven't read it, quick.... Click on the link in the post and jump over to Amazon and spend the .99.... it is so well worth it!!!

  43. Virginia, that's interesting Amazonian cross-over, big brother is watching stuff!!!

    I can see why when there are folks who pay for reviews.... REALLY????


    But how sad that it's come to that, ridiculous, even, when it's pretty darn easy (as famous authors have shown) to CHANGE YOUR IDENTITY ON AMAZON with a new e-mail and then diss the competition's work.

    It's so 8th grade.

    Beth just gave me a piece of Triple Berry Cheesecake, a recipe I'm sharing this week on Yankee Belle, and OH MY STARS.

    Nailed it!!!!! We just don't do a lot of summertime cooking right now, the outside chores are multiplying daily, and the 65 chickens (BAWK.... BAWWWWWK!!!!) are sneaking valuable cooking hours away. So I made this specifically to Not Look Lame this week. :)

  44. Glynna, good morning! :) Thanks for stoppin' by, and here...

    Try this cheesecake, it's so stinkin' good....

    I'm going to add a picture to the blog post right now.

  45. And I blame Connealy for the whole cowboy conversion.... She made it look so fun!!!!!

    And Love Inspired for offering the chance to go Midwest Rodeo-crazy!!!!

    YEEEEEHAAAAWWWWWW!!!!! Yippee ki yi yay!!!!

  46. Cheesecake pic is now posted at bottom of blog, oh YUM!!!!!

  47. Hi Ruth:

    Now you’re talking my game.
    I like your brand statement below.

    "Hearth and home author Ruthy Logan Herne was born in poverty but after bribing, wheedling and cajoling numerous editors, she's established herself as an all-American author of feel-good books that make the reader love truth, justice and the American way. With coffee and chocolate, of course!"

    I noticed that you did not mention romances. This lack made me think of branding as a two step process.

    Step one: you create a generic brand that can cover many subgenres.

    Step Two: use the cover art, title, and blurb to unmistakably identify the subgenre. For example: if your book is a romance, use a cover that instantly ‘says’ romance to the romance fan. You can also use a title that says ‘this is a romance’ without actually having to say ‘romance’. For example, “The Rodeo Roper Lassos a Runaway Bride”. Now that could only be a romance! (And I’d like to read it!)

    Lesson for the Day: The older you get, the more you like novellas.


    AUDRA: If you take the hero and his horse out of Ruth’s new book, and center the heroine and her horse and crop it while keeping some of the mountains in the picture – that would make an ideal author photo for your newsletter. IMHO.

  48. Ruthy? On a Monday? Sweet!

    I've learned so much about branding here on Seekerville over the months...or years...that I've been dropping by. I love the way you've generalized your brand to include all kinds of stories.

    My goal, after selling two Amish stories, was to keep myself from being branded as "Amish only", so I tried my hand at a cowboy story (coming out sometime next year from Love Inspired Historical), and loved it. I'll continue to write Amish stories, but I'll keep pushing the edges once in awhile, too.

    It just makes sense that keeping your brand general makes your stories sell-able and increases your market, right?

    Have a great day, everyone!

  49. Naomi, LOL!!!!! The price you pay for honesty is having your buds respect your honesty and never letting you forget it!!!!

    And I like series, too, they are my fave. Although I pretty much love anything Lisa Wingate and Karen White publish, series or non-series, so maybe I'm fickle????

    But I've loved series from the time I read Bobbsey Twins, so it's ingrained!!!! You and me, chickie!!!

  50. Something more exacting or recognizable than "Melissa-ish" and "Melissa-esque"??????

    How about something like "Old-time heart, home and humor told in a brand new way"


    Here, honey, have some cheesecake.

    Thank you. Really, truly, thank you. I'm so grateful for your words!

    And if my buddy Virginia is right, do I have to screen my prizewinner?????

    Heck no, we'll throw everyone in the cat dish and Let it go! Let it Go! I am one with the wind and sky! :)

    I love "Frozen".

  52. Kaybee... I love the "going home" idea, and Vince would love it too!!!

    :) I love that we have a marketing guru on board. Sweeeeet!!!!!

    "Bringing you home, story by story..."

    "Heart and homecoming author...."

    "Home, heart and healing author Kathy Bailey..."

    I like a brand/tag that emotes but keeps us open. Who'd have ever thought I'd be writing historicals???? And yet, they're so much fun!!!!!! LOVE IT!!! SHOCKER!!!!!! Keeping our brand solid but wide is just great planning!

  53. Melanie, your brand is amazing delightful author, beloved!!!!

    But let's look at the elements. Historical, romance, fairy tale, heroes, wounded, seeking, home, HEA,

    "Mending heroes' hearts, one story at a time..."

    "Faith-filled and fun, historical author Melanie Dickerson...."

    "Fun, faith and fantasy..."

    "Healing, history, hope and heart..."

  54. WALT!!!!!


    PSYCHE!!!!! Dovetailing your son's love of baseball, the American pastime works for me!

    Got some Cracker Jacks?????

  55. Janet Dean, I'd drive to NYC for you anytime!!!! When there, I'll visit Mary Curry, Beth Glash, Chris Lorenzan, my sons, Love Inspired (LOVE!!!!) and a lot of Starbucks since they're not in my daily reality in upstate!

    I love going to NY!!!!

  56. Mary Hicks, thank you!



    And yes, keeping the brand focused but broad is working!!!!! YAY!!!!!

  57. Missy Tippens look at what Meg Cabot has done with her multi-brand under one name????


    Now that's not going to work initially, but look how Melanie is crossing the YA/Adult Romance divide and it really isn't that big a hop, skip and a jump. Most teens are romantically inclined (OY, UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE CENTURY ALERT!!!!!) so skipping across the bend isn't as big a thing as it maybe used to be!

  58. Aw, Tina.... You and I have been around long enough that we've got Tough Hides... I 'spect we barely feel that brandin' thing!...


  59. Donna, thank you! Isn't it cool to see it out there, performing on its own merit???? I LOVE THAT!!!!

    But more so, I really think it's because the book touches a subject that is way too familiar to people and opens eyes to being more careful and watchful of our children.

    Keeping an open mind, a clean heart and a broad band: Not too shabby!!!!!

  60. Crystal Ridgeway only one year for REAL?????

    Oh my stars, amen to that! You've done great and I'm raising my empty cheesecake plate to you, knowing you can keep on, keepin' on! You go, girl!!!!

  61. Cheryl St. John, thank you for stopping in!!!!! One of my indie mentors, I just kind of smile and copy what she and Virginia do and then claim the credit for being smart enough to COPY SUCCESS, LOL!

    And yeah you're right: It all comes 'round to cowboys in the end.


  62. Oh, Susan, every time I think of what's happened to you, I just BEAM!!!!!

    I'm the worst at Website questions because I do my own and that's all we're going to say about that. It's basic, it's affordable, and it's on Ipage now so it's easy to navigate and change, and that's all I'm after....

    BUT I understand the need for wanting wonderful, and honestly, I'm going to let smarter people than me answer because I think websites can be Black Holes of Money Loss because they're really basic now. Everyone has one, they should connect your books with your readers, they should have easy-to-navigate pages and a list of books for buying.

    I like some personal stuff, too, because I like chattin' with folks, but I do most of that via facebook, dashing in and out to make fun of Mary and Tina and Missy (she doesn't cry nearly AS MUCH now!!!) and visit folks in their lair.

  63. Myra, cowboy fever has taken over the Seekers!!!!!

    Now we just need Deb Giusti to do a COWBOY SUSPENSE....

    Murder and mayhem on the ranch....

    And a stray coyote or two.

  64. VINCE!!!! My buddy, my pal, good morning!!!!

    You know I could put romance in there if I wanted to, couldn't I??? But not replace the chocolate or coffee, of course!!!!

    But I love the "hearth-and-home" moniker, it's like being in a fireplace store, or a cozy nook of a winter lodge.... Wood, leather, cute guys and HEAs.... :) I'm hooked!

    And Vince, I can't say enough about your advice over the years, the strong and good advice to "put it out there", to be a presence, and that NUMBERS COUNT.

    I believe it all goes hand-in-hand, to be a presence (and be truly present wherever you are!!!) and to write a great book that touches hearts (God's command to feed his sheep) and if you keep doing it, day-by-day, it adds up because it all comes back to numbers in the end.

    I had this discussion with Law-Boy in Manhattan when I first got the call from Love Inspired, and with the right work ethic, we predicted a five-year growth pattern. People thought I was crazy, and I stopped talking about it, but really...

    If you build it, (or write it), they will come.

    All the talk about marketing comes back to the first rule: Write, write, write...

  65. Jan Drexler with the picture I love, love, love!!!!

    Yes, I love that you're keeping the options open, and you know what's funny??? Publishers seem more inclined to do that IF your Amish is historical. If it's contemporary, they tend to box you more tightly. I wonder why that is?????

    I can't wait to have Cowboy Drex hangin' out wi' me, whereso'er the rail leads, Lil' missy...

  66. Why do I want to start singing "Happy Trails to You" right about now?

  67. And don't forget to head over to the cafe today - low-carb coconut, chocolate and yummy goodness.

    Of course, it's always a beautiful day in the Yankee Belle Cafe and endless soiree!

  68. MARY..try a high school or college kid to help with your website. They might even reduce their price if you give them permission to use it as part of their portfolio.

    AUDRA!! I got your newsletter! It's really great!

  69. I really believe branding is a good thing, and I'd better because I couldn't be any more branded than if someone had taken a red hot iron to my backside.

  70. Speaking of branding, I did a book signing on Saturday and I'd pleasantly say to people, "I write romantic comedy with cowboys."

    One guy said, "Wow, that is crazy specific."

    Which, of course, it is. he has a point.

  71. I love the idea of branding that doesn't box you in too much to a specific subgenre. Thanks for a fun post!

  72. Ruthy
    I've barely completed a manuscript, so I've no clue where I'm going/branding at this point. Just trying to be faithful to getting a word daily word count at this point. Plus I've got some graphics stuff to get done in immediatate future too. I'm a hybrid author/artist right now, trying to figure out how that's going to work out.

    all that to say I love this post and the exuberance with which you imbue it.

    i ADORE your brand and would add to it: stories that tug on the ol' heartstrings (well, more like YANK, but then that word usually has a negative connotation - but my heartstrings get yanked on but good each time i read your books - in a good way) i always end up crying cuz your words touch my heart in a healing way.

    anyhoo, would love my name to be dipped into the cat dish for that gift card. got to supplement my book addiction somehow *heh*

  73. Timely post! Thanks, Ruthie, for sharing it. And if you randomly choose me to win...moocho thanks!!!! If not, eeets oh kay.

  74. "Mending heroes' hearts, one story at a time..." I like that, Ruthy!!! :-)

    I am crossing the YA/Adult line, but basically, I always did that. My adult books are really no different from my YA books.

    Now I'm thinking about how my next hero can be wounded. Hmm....

  75. Susan,

    Regarding prices for Websites, I think the thing to consider is that you get what you pay for... or at least you should. When you get a specific quote, you may want to ask how they arrived at that price. An estimate based on the time they plan to invest and a target hourly rate, or a generic one-price-fits-all? Are they setting up a blog or content management system with a generic template or are they designing images and layouts specifically for your brand? Or coding from scratch with interactive features that may not appear on most blogs? Are you paying a college kid doing her first site or a large Web design firm with individuals who have extensive training in graphic design and/or programming? All these considerations will impact price. Can you get a Website done for less than $1500? Absolutely. A generic site based on WordPress or a similar system could probably be set up in an hour or so by someone who knows what they're doing, and a few minor tweaks or upgrades might not take much more time (time=money). Will it be what you're looking for? Maybe or maybe not, depending on what you're looking for and how much you're willing to spend to get it. Big companies might pay astronomical prices (probably way more than $1500) to get exactly the site they want with all the bells and whistles, but that kind of site may not pay dividends for an author site. So the brief answer is "it depends." Hopefully that helps a little. :)


  76. Wow!! That pie looks divine!

    Your info on branding runs parallel to the GRW (GA Romance Writer's) meeting on Saturday where we learned about tying blogs/fb/pintrest together for your readers!



    I was just there and I GRABBED some of the coconut treats for youse when Jan was busy talkin' history about some place called Deadwood... Now there's a place I'd love to call home, LOL! I love that name!

    Also there's this:

    Happy Trails with Roy and Dale


  78. Karen Collier!!! I just mailed a boatload of books out this morning, and one of them had your name on it!!!

    I couldn't give away more books until I caught up on the last mailing, and just so youse know...

    Every now and again they do make me CHANGE BOOKS/REVISE/EDIT so sometimes, despite how smart I think I am!!!! (laughing!) I have "do-overs"....

    But now I'm caught up again, Hooray!!!!!

  79. Mary, you're right! That one is pretty specific but I could totally see it covering contemps as well as historicals....

    And you're just so wildly popular that all you have to do is publish something and folks come running! Go you!!!!

  80. I just saw some exciting news on the Carol Awards list. We have some people on here who need to share their news!!!!


  81. DEB H, I'm so proud of your efforts!!!!! It's been wonderful getting to know you better this past year, and I've got to love on "Guppy"!!!! :)

    You know that broad-banding took time because so much of it depended on who finally saw worth/value in my work. And that was Love Inspired, so that was a firm step in the right direction!!!

    But Deb, mostly your kind words just made my day!!!! Thank you for saying that, you've made me smile and get a little choked up, too.

    Love you, kid.

  82. Congratulations, Melissa! Just got the email about your win!! Yay!!

  83. Hey, IMPORTANT NEWS I've just shared on facebook a local 16 year old girl was abducted from her home this morning, car and gun stolen, crime scene, house in disarray, please take two minutes and go to Facebook and share this girl's Amber Alert!!!! Abduction was mid-morning, kids are off school this week, again, please, please share.

    Girl Abducted Near Ruthy's House


  84. Oh Ruthy, how I love your posts (and your books too, of course). :) "Hearth and Home" has such a lovely, cozy sound to it - - love it!
    And Hearth and Home cheesecake is just what I need right now as I unpack from a wonderful family vacation and get back into the routine (and WRITING too!).
    I've been told (in a nice way) that my writing is "too sweet" *sigh* - - so I'm trying to add more strife and conflict. But it's hard, because I'm a former kindergarten teacher who wants everybody to get along (yes, I know in the "real world" that's not gonna happen real often). :(
    So, as I write my sweet stories (that always include cats and coffee-drinking heroines) I try to weave in enough conflict and strife to make the reader turn pages. ;)
    Must get back to unpacking and laundry now, but here's a just-baked Georgia Peach Cobbler (with extra cinnamon) I'm setting out for an afternoon snack. ENJOY!
    Cannot wait to read His Montana Sweetheart!
    Hugs from Georgia, Patti Jo

  85. p.s. Ruthy, praying for the abducted girl in NY.

    YIPPY SKIPPY !!!! CONGRATS to Tina and Melissa J. for being CAROL AWARD Finalists!!!!

    Happy Hugs from Georgia, Patti Jo

  86. Sue - I'm not sure exactly what you are looking for, but you might check with Jason Walker at Website Ministries.

    He did my website

    He is easy to work with and very affordable. He has done numerous author websites.

    I didn't want to invest the time or energy into developing the site myself.

  87. Great post, Miss Rugby!
    Am I too late for a piece of that cheesecake?

  88. Ruthy,
    Thank you, but don't I get any cheesecake?;-)
    Actually, we celebrated by going out for ice cream. And yes, I'm keeping on. Manuscript #15 hit 67,000 words today. And that's not counting the ones I've started because the idea came to me in the middle of a WIP. You know, if someone had told me a year ago I'd still be writing, I wouldn't have believed them. I started this journey to make my daughter happy. In return it's made me very happy.

  89. Melissa and Tina - CONGRATS!

    Walt - hope your son has a great time.

    Ruthy - such a fun post. You could be a 'brand' slogan consultant in your spare time. You have so much spare time, right? :-) Congratulations on the success of your books.

    Nancy C

  90. Cassidy was just reported found, no other details, and I know it's bizarre to use blogs and social media this way, but honestly, I think that's the best use of it!

    Okay, back to NORMAL....

  91. What a day. I loved reading through all of the comments on branding.

    CONGRATS to Tina and Melissa J. for being CAROL AWARD Finalists! So happy for you!

    Ruthy, so glad they found Cassidy. Thanks for a great post!

  92. Oh my stars, CAROL AWARD FINALISTS!!!!!!

    Oh, Tina!!!!! Melissa!!!!!


  93. Woohoo! Congrats to Tina and Melissa!!!!!!!

  94. Patti Jo, my Georgia Peach, of course you are too sweet, you are a sweet Southern Miss and oh my stars, youse guys are just way nicer than us YANKEES!!!!!!

    But that's okay, someone has to be nice!!!! :)

  95. Amy, welcome aboard! And there is PLENTY OF CHEESECAKE here!!!!

    I wrassled it away from Mandy and Beth, but I saved you some!!!

  96. YAY Melissa and Tina!

    congrats on being finalists!

    yay, yay, yay!!!!

  97. Nancy, you rock!!!! Thank you!!!!

    I'm going to credit those sweet readers and God!!!!

    Go them!

  98. Mindy Obenhaus is on that list too!!!!



  99. I'm just a Pommie mom...
    But I get what you're saying, Ruthy. You've mastered this concept beautifully and provided a map for us.

    And -CONGRATS to The Carol nominees!

    Special SHOUT OUT to MISS TINA! That is going to be one amazing evening, Tina. Wish I could be there, but I will be listening online!

  100. Congrats to TINA and MELISSA! You gals rock and I hope to be there rooting for you.

  101. Yay to Tina, Melissa, Mindy, and all the finalists! What good news! And answered prayers on the Amber Alert!

    Ruthy, loved this post in branding. It goes so well with the Book Fun article about all the flavors of the Seekers. Congratulations on your Amazon numbers for Running on Empty!

    My website brand is Inspirational love stories with the sparkle of God's treasured blessings! This is broad enough for either my (future) books or the books I review, depending on where my blog journey goes. I'm changing to Sparkling jewels along the path of God's treasured blessings! to reflect the Bible verse "The Lord their God will save His people.....They will sparkle in the land like jewels in a crown." Zechariah 9:16 This expresses the idea that as Christians what we do will sparkle and shine God's treasured blessings of love and forgiveness throughout the world, which is what I want my stories and blog to do. Too wordy? Thanks, Ruthy!

  102. Thanks for the cheesecake Ruthy! Good thing I'm a Va resident and not a New Yorker or I'd probably really come to your house for some, just kidding, you'd think I'm a stalker!

    Virginia's comment about Amazon removing reviews by readers who had won books/prizes from author's had me curious, so I went to my Amazon account and checked since I have won a few prizes here and there. I had published a review of Try,Try Again on 8/10 but it is still posted. When I first opened my Amazon ac. I decided to use a generic name rather than my actual name just as a privacy thing, so I think unless "Jane Smith" is using her actual name the review probably won't be removed. Truth be told, I'd rather a review of a book I loved go through than win a prize and lose "my voice".

    Congrats to all the Carol Award finalists especially, Tina, Melissa and Mindy!

  103. This comment has been removed by the author.

  104. Ruthy, I just joined Seekerville and received one of your books in the welcome package. I look forward to reading it. I enjoyed reading your blog today. Please enter me in the drawing. Thanks!

  105. oh my, I log on and here is another Sandy Smith. Are you the one who lives and writes in Tucson? If not, there is one of us there also. LOL

    Welcome to Seekerville. We have lots of fun here and we all learn lots of cool stuff about writing.

  106. btw My name is really Sandy Smith, but because there are so many of us I combined my middle and last name to make my author name different. I did that when i kept getting confused for the other Sandy Smith in Tucson. Small world.

    And I never even knew a Sandy or Sandra the whole time I was growing up. I so wanted to change my name because it was different. But as an adult I run into them everywhere.

  107. Okay Ruthy, enough about me. Ha ha But you said you loved family and community. Maybe the other Sandy is related.

    You really do a nice job on developing family and community. And I loved Running on Empty when you first wrote it. And those figures!!! Woo hoo and that will show the traditionals who didn't want to take the risk--won't it? I just love that you are so successful. We started out with such dreams that we thought were way out there. But they happened girlfriend.

  108. Ooohh read back and see Tina, Mellissa and Mindy are finalists. woooo hoooooo

    YOU ROCK!!!!!

  109. Ruthy, I haven't seen any snakes since Saturday. I hope they will stay away.

    I am looking forward to reading your next book.

    Please enter me in the drawing.

    I will be saving this post for when I need to figure out what my brand is.

    Congratulations to Tina and Melissa!

  110. Thanks Ruthy,
    I have wondered about branding and this answers some questions for me.
    I think I tend to write more about farmers than cowboys. Who lives closer to God than a farmer? And working from sun up to sun down (longer actually because tractors come with good lights)who wouldn't love a farmer?
    Once I get around to it I think my brand would be something like 'Farm Boys and Small Town girls' ummm needs something more hmmm.
    Thanks again Ruthy, this is fun.

  111. Thanks, Ruthy! We'll most definitely be celebrating tomorrow at the café.


  112. "Who plants a seed beneath the son and waits to see believes in God"
    I wanted to put that quote in my other message but wanted to find the source forist. It just says unknown.

  113. Hi Ruthy, great post!

    I'm still working on my brand, but I'm focused more on the actual writing at the moment... Gotta have a cow before you can brand it, right? :)

  114. Thanks for this, Ruthy! I'm still trying to figure out my "brand," but it'll probably come after a few novels. :)

  115. Actually, I do have a brand tag-line that I started using years ago when I first set up my website:

    and the power of Love.

    Does that count as a brand?

    Better than Pommie Mom? (JK, don't answer that).

  116. Ruthy,

    Congratulations on your brand. Who doesn't like a cowboy? This cowgirl had to turn her beau into a cowboy. He hit the dirt a lot, but learned to ride.

    I designed the brand we used for our cattle. It was electric like a burner on the stove.

    Yucky, stinky job and I hated burning calves.

  117. Sherida, I love your line... It sparkles!!!!


    But I don't see that as your "brand" I see that as your tagline. My tagline is "Embracing, endearing, stories that touch your heart... and your soul."

    So what do your stories encompass? Not the ideology, but the setting, the style, etc.

    But that's different from a "brand" that just simply describes what kind of books you write.

  118. Tracey, I know others who do the same thing, not to cheat the system or front-load reviews, but to be able to take part in fun things like SEEKERVILLE!!!!!! :) and still be able to post reviews.

    We should test this theory. I might bribe a Seeker to test it with me.


  119. Sandy Smith, YES!!!!! I'm tickled that you got one of my books and I hope you enjoy it.... I'm having the time of my life, absolutely and it's a joy to share that fun.

    I love that you're new here and we haven't scared you, but that's probably because Mary Connealy has been BUSY and so she's not scarin' nice, new folks quite as quickly.

    Just you wait, honey. It will happen.


    Welcome back!

  120. Sandra Leesmith read Running on Empty in its infancy stages and she was a huge help with guiding me to make it stronger... What a fun ride we're having, Sandra!!!!

    And do try the cheesecake... :)


  121. Wilani, I mailed your book today too!!!!!

    I had my daughter Beth come over and watch little ones while I caught up on mailings and hung around in Seekerville. So totally worth it!!!

    So you watch your mail and enjoy it when it gets there!

  122. Mary Cline.... farms, heartland, pasture, meadow, ranching, growing, hearts, health, home, sweet hay, barns, cattle lowing, dogs, puppies, wind chimes..... Fencing...

    "Home and heartland author Mary Cline..."

    "From America's heartland to your home..."

    "Sprawling farms and mending hearts, "heartland" author Mary Cline..."

    That kind of thing, that paints a picture of the kind of story instantly in the mind of the reader.

  123. Anna Weaver Hurtt and Jennifer Smith, I totally get this!!!!

    I wrote some of everything for the first years. Karen White once told me "Write what you want and then focus on what sells... and then you can write what you want again."

    And she was right! I love stretching my spectrum of work because I love writing, but I also like to challenge myself to stretch and that's exactly what you guys are doing. AWESOME SAUCE!!!!

  124. Lyndie, that's a great tagline!!!!!

    So the difference between "BRAND" and "TAGLINE" is that the brand is the kind of book you write like "hearth-and-home" "Small-town romance" "Heartland author" "City-scape wordsmith" (Okay, Okay, that's TERRIBLE, LOL!!!) And then the "tagline" should go along with the brand...

    So your tagline is beautiful and fits well, so the brand will be faith-inspired fiction of whatever kind you choose!!!

  125. Oh no Ruthy, that was not my intent, to imply beating the system! I was so new to Amazon when I wrote my first review online it made me nervous to have my name out there publicly in cyperspace. To honestly admit how naive I was concerning the entire internet world, I didn't even know what a blog was and had never won anything. I found Seekerville way after the fact.
    I was basically conducting my own experiment by going back to see if the review cuts affected any of the few I'd written under my fan name.

    It kind of hurts my heart to think anyone might misconstue my comment or intent. I'm actually shocked to learn people pay to "frontload" reviews as you call it. I'm still green behind the ears, I guess :) It happens when you've never had any computer classes and figured out by trial and error how to navigate various sites! Now that I'm done admitting to Seekerville how little I know about what I'm doing, I'll hush!

  126. Love the cover on your new book, Ruthie! Count me in for the A. many books that I could buy!! lol

  127. Becke!!!!

    Oooo, the smell of hair singing and hide burning....

    My nose is wrinkling, thinking of it! But you know when you're workin' 400 head of cattle and need to identify one across the pen, an ear tag isn't an easy read...

    I've read about freeze branding that freezes the hair follicles and then the hair comes back white, and how "FROZEN-THE-MOVIE-FRIENDLY" is that???? :)

  128. Oh, Tracey, I hear you! No, I didn't think you were trying to beat the system because it was before the systems were in place, right?

    But once there were authors who were paying folks for reviews (kind of like people who pay for pretend "followers" on Twitter), I think they had to see if they could find some means of control to keep things on the up and up. So they've tried lots of tactics and if Mary Virginia was/is right, this is one of the newer ones.

    I love nice reviews, I think most authors do, but I never solicit them when I send out books, or openly encourage people, or do promotions seeking reviews and you know why?

    I'd rather have 30 or 40 reviews from people who felt inspired enough to go to Amazon or CBD or Barnes & Noble and leave a review than people who sit down to read my books with the focus on reviewing it.

    Words are so very special. And emotions are a huge part of that story-telling, and I like emotions to be a big part of the review process.

    I didn't think you were cheating the system, sweet thing, the fact is the systems in place change about every six months (this is so true!!!) so you keep on keeping on whichever way you have been.

    How can honesty be wrong?


  129. Jackie Smith, you're in!!!!!

    And that cute couple, Jack and Livvie....

    LOVE THEM!!!!

  130. Hearth and Home Ruthy! Love your brand and your books.

    May I have cheesecake for dessert?

    Thank you!


  131. RUTHY ... I'm late today, but I'm here, and am I glad!!!

    VERY interesting topic and fun to see someone I know and love bucking the brand boundaries. If anybody can do it, it's you, sweetie, and it sure is fun to watch. :)

    LOVE your "hearth and home" tag -- very warm and very YOU!!

    His Montana Sweetheart looks WONDERFUL, and I can't wait to read a Ruthy cowboy story. Any shooting involved like Mary's books???


  132. Debby Giusti, my buddy!!!! I saved cheesecake for you and Jules because I knew you'd need some!!!!

    And Julie Lessman!!!! I am having the time of my life, it's almost silly how much fun I'm having and with each story I'm pretty sure it's my FAVORITE... which is ridiculous, but true!!!

    No shooting, we're not in the Wild West of Mary's vivid imagination, BUT....

    We do have a sweet, befuddled grandpa with Alzheimer's... and we're missing a dog named "Tank"... and we fall in love with a blue heeler pup named... WAIT FOR IT!!!! "Blue"...


    A horse named Roy-O and a lost horse named Dilly...

    Time marches on.

    And hearts mend.

    Oh my stars, it was such a good experience from beginning to end... LOVED IT.

  133. Ahhhh, you speak such wisdom oh East Coast woman with the western flair!

    You nailed this whole branding thing, Ruthy. The reader comes to expect something from their favorite author and you don't want to disappoint them or you won't be the favorite author for long. All your books sound so incredibly like you, I don't think you could startle your readership if you tried, LOL!

    Hearth and Home is such a lovely thought, too. Makes me want to go and click that button and pre-order His Montana Sweetheart...oh wait! I do believe I just did!!

  134. Thanks for the post about branding.

    I think discovering own's writer voice helps. With my first post-maternity book, I tried to be urban hip and well, to say that didn't work is an understatement.

    I think your humor shines through this blog.

    And I love cheesecake. (My WH & I were in a store this weekend and he saw mini springform pans & he got so excited-"If I buy those, I can give out mini cheesecakes at Christmas."

    Thanks for the post.

  135. You have such a fun voice in your posts! Great advice, especially since I've come across complaints in Amazon reviews about content being surprisingly religious or Christian, or at the other end, complaints that the romance was too... graphic. While you don't want to give away spoilers, categories and sub-genres help readers know what to generally expect and not be surprised by undesirable content, whatever that may be.
    Thanks for the awesome giveaway!!!

  136. You would want your branding to be all encompassing & elastic I'd say.

  137. Audra, I did too, LOL! I just pre-ordered my Kindle version because I like to see it in both forms!

    THANK YOU!!!!!! :)

    Yee haw, and pass the cheesecake, Lil Missy.

  138. Tanya Adler, I'm in on the mini-cheesecakes!!!!

    What a great idea. I was thinking the same thing, but I was thinking in pretty ceramic pie pans and the pan is part of the gift....


    So I think that's adorable. Although Dave loves shopping for his grandchildren. He gets a huge kick out of surprising them with things!

    I'm laughing at the urban hip statement, it's kind of like the chick lit fad... I read a couple and wanted to slap them for being so self-centered, even the funny ones, because I really have little patience with self-absorbed people. Isn't that haughty to admit???? Give me down-on-the-farm workers or immigrants or small town hardware store owners ANY DAY. I just love writing about the race that knows Joseph!!!

  139. Heidi, you're welcome!!! And I love your name, I need a Heidi heroine. It sounds wonderful, and I love the story of Heidi....

    And you're right, the Amazon "train" is interesting in what it picks to go with the author/publisher choices, and because they just changed it again, I'm curious to see if my changes tweak anything. Such a fun business to watch!!!

  140. Mary Preston Yes, that's a great way of putting it!

    That elastic helps us breathe and we want to encompass a genre, not too specific... but clear enough that the reader gets it right away!

    We have a plethora of smart "Marys" here!!!!

  141. As always, a fantastic and fun post!

    Please put my name in the drawing!

  142. Ruthy, I love a good cowboy story. His Montana Sweetheart looks like a great read. Finding the genre that works best for you is hard. I went through a whole slew of them before I settled on romantic suspense.

  143. I forgot to say, please enter me in your drawing as well.

  144. Sandra Leesmith, I am not the Sandy Smith in Tucson. I write as Sandra Smith, but I'm sure there may be others of those as well. I'm amazed how many there are whenever I go to the pharmacy or doctor's office.

    Ruthy, I don't think you have to worry about me being scared away. Thanks.

  145. Interesting post on branding. It looks like we have to know ourselves to find our brand.
    Please enter me in your generous draw.