Spreading The Seed

I love spinning tales of romance in the Silicon Valley setting. I’m told I seriously over-glamorize the lifestyles of my heroes and heroines but whatever. I write FICTION so isn’t that kind of a requirement? I mean, I have to keep things interesting. right? WINK, WINK

As an entrepreneur, I am fascinated with goings-on in the Valley. There’s such an aura over Sand Hill Road; it’s just bubbling over with innovation, creativity and energy. Being part of that atmosphere, collaborating with fellow creatives and networking with famed venture capitalists must be so charging to a budding startup CEO. And coupled with the drive to build the next big thing? Well, the possibilities seem endless. Sounds like a dream (this is where my romanticizing comes into play)…but what companies really get to LIVE it?

funny silicon valley welcome sign

Enter Y-Combinator.

Y-Combinator provides seed money to a certain number of startups deemed worthy to relocate to Silicon Valley for a three-month period. Seed funding is the earliest stage of venture funding for a company and it helps pay expenses, allowing startups to focus on development with no added stresses.

If selected for the program, startups have access to proven innovators who will help shape and bring early ideas to fruition. They will learn how to deliver a polished pitch to investors and how to close a deal and acquire more funding, if needed. It all culminates in a Demo Day, where the elite group is granted an opportunity to present their work to carefully selected audiences.

All this in exchange for a small financial stake in each company. Sounds like small potatoes, considering most startups would never get this opportunity on their own. Networking is so key…sometimes you need to give a little to get a lot.

Just as an aside, Hubby has already advised me not to get any bright ideas about applying. LOL.

Happy Release Day AND Birthday!!! CAPTURED by Aden Lowe

What a great way to celebrate a birthday!!! =)

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Title: Captured: Hunted Love #3
Author: Aden Lowe
Release Date: March 27th, 2015
Genre: MC/Military Romance, Western Romance

Synopsis:
Jakob and Kate from Big Game continue to explore the possibilities of their attraction, as disaster and violence head their way. A new foe prepares to rain hell down on their heads in the form of an outlaw Motorcycle Club and Kellen, a killer with a grudge against Jakob. Having overheard the plot, Jakob’s old Army buddy, Falon, and Rita, from Bounty, race to help, but can they get there in time?

Kellen will do whatever it takes to have his revenge on Jakob and carry out his orders to force Kate into a brand new horror. Will she be able to count on Jakob’s love to sustain her in the darkness? When Falon and Rita interfere with Kellen’s plans, they become his targets as well, but since they have no value to him, he simply wants them eliminated. Can they trust in their new love to help them get through?

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♦ ◊ Author Bio ◊ ♦

Growing up an only child, I was lucky enough to have a huge brood of cousins to help me get into all sorts of trouble. Long summers spent on various family members’ farms gave me a deep appreciation for the outdoors and horses. I worked my way through college training horses as a result of those summers.
After 15 years editing books for strangers, I decided to try my own hand at writing. Big Game: Hunted Love #1 was my debut, and my story idea file is endless. Now that the Hunted Love series is finished, I might work on a romance series featuring soldiers returning from war and set twenty years in the future. And after that, there’s a Roman Gladiator who keeps insisting on telling me his story… or maybe the pirate, or even the spy, will be next. We’ll see…

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Want A Chance To Win A $50 Amazon Gift Card???

Marketing. It’s a word that simultaneously excites me and makes me cringe. Platforms are constantly changing, making it difficult to reach a target market (ahem, Facebook), prospective customers are tuning out more and more because there is a constant glut of information being thrown at them, key performance metrics that trended positive six months ago may not mean much now because marketing channels are flooded with content and becoming largely ineffective.

So the question is…with all these obstacles, how can you make your company stand out against the competition?

Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer. But I can tell you that testing the effectiveness of marketing channels is becoming critically important to companies with small budgets and the best way to test is to first get feedback from your potential customers. Hence, the reason why marketing excites me. Valuable feedback yields potential for new ideas and opportunities for innovation. YAY! Right up my alley. =)

Vector Notebook with drawing charts

This leads me to my latest project. I NEED YOUR FEEDBACK!!!!! Why not give you all a shot to win a cool prize for taking the time to take my super-quick book marketing survey???

ONE random winner will win a $50 Amazon gift card and FIVE random winners will get swag packs! The contest will end on April 1 and I’ll announce winners on my Facebook page on April 2.

CLICK HERE TO ACCESS THE SURVEY

Book Blitz! True Love Trilogy By Harper Bentley

Title: True Love: The Complete Trilogy box set
Author: Harper Bentley
Release Date: March 20, 2015
Find on Goodreads

From USA Today Best Selling Author Harper Bentley comes all three True Love books together in one boxed set! 

True Love, Book 1 – Discovering Us 

They wanted forever… but sometimes forever’s not that easy.

Ellen has loved Jagger since she was five and he was seven when they kissed through the chain link fence at school. She’s had their wedding planned since she was twelve and is ready for a happily ever after with him, but life just isn’t that neat and tidy. Although they lost contact over the years, which broke her heart, during Jag’s senior year in high school, sophomore Ellen catches his eye once again and their friendship is back on. When things between them gradually develop into something more, Ellen wants to give herself completely to Jag, but he’s not so sure he wants to risk their relationship in taking things to the next level. When Jag is drafted to the Dodgers as the hot, new pitcher of the team, Ellen decides to go with him, transferring colleges and leaving her friends and family behind. But things get more and more complicated when busy schedules, a slimy agent and a supermodel disrupt their lives, which makes Ellen question whether they’ll ever get their perfect forever.

True Love, Book 2 – Finding Us 

They wanted forever… but does forever deserve a second chance?

Jag Jensen and Ellen Love had been best friends their whole lives until he turned thirteen and started noticing girls his own age, but that didn’t mean he stopped watching out for eleven-year-old Ellen. By his senior year in high school, baseball had taken the front seat in his life, with a scholarship to college and a pro career looming on the horizon, when sophomore Ellen caught his attention and they struck up their friendship again. Although Ellen wanted more, Jag didn’t want to drag her into what he knew would be a crazy life, but love has a way of deciding one’s future, and eventually they became a couple. Ellen followed him to California as he began his pro career, but his wild and hectic lifestyle screwed everything up.

Now Jag is lost, realizing he’s never been without his best friend in his life. Learning to live without Ellen doesn’t settle well with him, so while trying to remain at the top of his career, he also wants to get his girl back, which proves to be more difficult than he thought it’d be. Will Ellen give him another chance or does that sort of thing only happen in the sappy romance novels she always used to read? Jag hopes she’s willing to try again as he puts his heart on the line for the woman he knows will always be his forever and a day.

True Love, Book 3 – Finally Us 

They wanted forever… but is forever really their destiny?

After several misunderstandings and unsavory characters get in their way, Ellen Love and Jag Jensen have called it quits after nine years of being together. Now they find themselves in places with which they’re not accustomed: Ellen is trying to get used to the idea of dating another man, having never gone out with anyone other than Jag, while Jag is coping with an injury and the loss of baseball, a game he’s played for over twenty years. Neither is sure how to handle their new situation, but they’re dealing.

When a surprise trade lands Jag right back in the middle of things and right back into Ellen’s life, new boyfriend and all, can he keep his cool and try to recover what they once had? Does Ellen still carry a torch for her first love or has she already fallen for her new baseball player, making it too late for them to start again?

The fight is on as Jag goes head-to-head with Ellen’s new love interest as he tries proving to her that their love deserves another shot.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Discovering Us (True Love #1)
Prologue
They say nothing improves the memory more than trying to forget.
Well, this “They” can bite me.  
As far as I’m concerned, the hippocampus in my brain which stores long-term memory (yeah, I’ve looked that shit up) can go screw itself.  And since I’m going there, the prefrontal cortex can take a hike too. If it wasn’t for my stupid cranium, I think my mental health would be just fine, thank you very much. And that’s not a weirdly ironic statement, huh? But as it stands, my awesome retention of past happenings has played just too strong a role in my life leading me to some serious heartache.
I’m twenty-five years old, I’ve had a mostly decent life so far, but when the memories invade my mind… they always lead me back to Jag.
And I become a mess.
See, Jagger Knox Jensen was already set up for stardom with a cooler-than-hell name (his father had played lead guitar in a pretty famous rock band in the 70s and decided that any kids of his needed awesome names to go with the “cool” that came with, well, playing in a pretty famous rock band in the 70s).
Then there was me, set on the path to the humdrums with my very plain, very average name. Um, thanks again, Mom, for naming me after that Ripley chick in those Alien movies. Appreciate it. No, really.
My name is Ellen Love. Bleh. Saying my name aloud sounds like you’re trying to tell someone what letter’s in my last name. Insert look of disgust here.
Anyway, growing up, Jag and I lived on the same block in a suburb just outside of Chicago. I was a certified tomboy (having three older brothers I really had no other choice), and since Jag and I were the only kids around the same age in our neighborhood, we played together almost every day for years.
Summers found us riding our bikes up and down our tree-lined street, swimming in the heated pool in my backyard, or writing our names with silvery sparklers on the Fourth of July; winters we’d plop onto our backs to make snow angels in each other’s powdery-white-blanketed front yards, drink hot chocolate loaded with melty marshmallows in the clubhouse in his backyard, or run to each other’s houses hauling along what wonderful wealth of goodies Santa had brought us.
The entwinement of our lives was fated from the moment the ice cream truck slowly meandered its way through the neighborhood, and as we both eagerly licked on our Spiderman pops, we realized we were the only kids our age in the area.
And thus our story began.
This is the first part of it. Bear with me. There’s been a lot of shit that’s gone down.

Harper Bentley has taught high school English for 22 years. Although she’s managed to maintain her sanity regardless of her career choice, jumping into the world of publishing her own books goes to show that she might be closer to the ledge than was previously thought.

After traveling the nation in her younger years as a military brat, having lived in Alaska, Washington State and California, she now resides in Oklahoma with her teenage daughter, two dogs and one cat, happily writing stories that she hopes her readers will enjoy.

Innovation & The Chopped Challenge

Definitions for one thousand, Alex.

“To introduce something new, make changes in anything established.”

What is…INNOVATE!!!

If you’re a Food Network fanatic like me, you know there is one show all innovators have to appreciate, regardless of your perceived prowess in the kitchen…CHOPPED hosted by Ted Allen.

Taking a basket of sometimes intimidating, many times downright frightening (Rocky Mountain Oysters???) ingredients to combine flavors and transform them into something truly unique and other worldly? Yeah, that’s innovation to the Nth degree.

Rocky Mountain Oysters?! Courtesy of www.imgkid.com

Rocky Mountain Oysters?!
Courtesy of http://www.imgkid.com

And what better way to celebrate that inventiveness than with a bunch of friends, lots of wine and a little friendly competition??? And who better to host than The Idea Mama and her insanely innovative Hubby??? =)

I bring you…Chopped At Home. I came up a much catchier name but was asked to please refrain from referencing alcohol as there will be a lot of knife play in progress and we don’t want to merge any severed filanges with our delectable courses.

Sigh.

I guess we’ll just keep the shots limited to break times.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZ7JyRaNJ3Y

 

 

Happy Cover Reveal Day! “Free To Trust” by C.W. Nightly


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Title: Free to Trust (Free Series Novel)

Author: C.W. Nightly

Release Date: May 1, 2015

 

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Some pain is felt on the surface others are felt on the soul. Kate knows the sting of deception all too well. Though she bears no physical scars-her ability to trust has been shattered. When her work has her spending time with New York’s most notorious bachelor she finds herself fighting her attraction- that is until he stops fighting fair. But Cole’s high flying lifestyle has made him some powerful enemies. Enemies that want to extract revenge on the irreverent playboy where it hurts the most. Will Kate find the pleasure that eluded her until now only to have it ripped away? Or will she face her past and allow herself the chance to be Free To Trust?

 

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Free to Try on Amazon

 

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9805824Born and raised in Montreal, Quebec, Canada I still call Montreal home. Surrounded by my husband, five children and my Siamese cat. I love reading, the smell of spring rain and walking in the first snowfalls of December when the snow is crunchy, especially at night.

I enjoy curling up with a book and losing myself in the characters. I turned that love towards writing to create stories I hope you love too.

I believe everyone is entitled to their own personal happily ever after :)

 

 

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Time To Bust Outta That Box!!!

You’re a startup entrepreneur. By nature, that makes you an idea generator. It also probably means you’re operating on a shoestring budget.

So you have to wear multiple hats – innovator, marketer, developer, designer – and figure out how to get your offerings to market in an expedient and cost-efficient way. Not an easy task…but you’ve got the tools in your arsenal. =)

For those of you without huge marketing and advertising budgets, it’s frustrating to get your voice heard. I liken it to swimming (okay, it’s probably more like furiously treading water. LOL). You jump into a pool, not realizing it’s the deep end. You’re not a strong swimmer and panic sets in. The pool is packed; swimmers are frolicking, splashing, screaming, laughing. And there you are, right in the middle of it, flailing and floundering. But nobody can help you because you aren’t screaming loud enough. Your lungs are filling with water and you can barely choke out a syllable. DANGER LURKS…need a lifeline!!!!

Lost at sea

Yep. That’s how it is for a lot of us. Markets are flooded with companies trying to pimp their wares. But how many are doing it successfully? Is anyone trying to do things differently to stand out from the virtual crowd?

1. The Alternate Reality – Never assume people are only seeking information online. If you come into contact with potential customers, don’t waste the opportunity to tout your offering. I shamelessly hand out postcards advertising my novel (as well as papering restrooms, hair salons, nail salons, fitting rooms at Nordstrom…LOL). Guess what? After a mass distribution, my sales jump. When I work alongside my street team of hot male models, even better. Know your customer, folks! =)

2. You’ve Gotta Have Swagga – Don’t discount the impact of swag, no matter what Mark Cuban thinks. =) Slap your logo and tag line on mugs, keychains, t-shirts, tote bags and bumper stickers. Zazzle and VistaPrint always run sweet deals!!! Put it out there so people can see it and ask about it. If you don’t know something exists, how can you possibly buy it???

3. Incent & Engage – Contests are a fabulous way to raise awareness of your company name. Get prospective customers to engage with you online and have them invite others to join the party! Photo, video, caption, submit your vote – the options are endless! Just make the incentive worth the effort. The trick, of course, is to find participants. That’s where your social media network comes into play. But don’t stop there. Head to online sweepstakes websites and post your giveaways there. You can find plenty of freebies that will promote them and these sites typically have oodles and oodles of visitors. i mean, who doesn’t love something for nothing? =)

Internet Marketing Diagram

Wanna Be A Crowdfunding Success Story?

Aspiring entrepreneurs can learn so much from crowdfunding success stories. Taking advantage of websites like Kickstarter puts your brilliance on virtual display for a whole host of future customers. But if you want to command major bucks for your company, carefully consider the forthcoming pieces of advice. Incorporating them into your pitch will make your idea that much more investment-worthy and ultimately help you meet your fundraising goal.

1. The Elevator Pitch – If you can’t sell your idea during an elevator ride, LEARN HOW TO DO IT. Embrace the art of writing an elevator speech and then memorize it. Practice it in front of a mirror. Think about a tweet. You get 140 characters to make someone decide to favorite or retweet your thought. Same concept applies here. Two sentences, thirty seconds – compress that story and sell the heck out of it before your target audience loses interest. You have one shot to captivate them. Don’t mess up.

2. Swear Partners To Secrecy? – Not if you want to heighten awareness of your product or service. Pre-launch is super-important because you want to have your “street team” already assembled and evangelizing your offering. Get the word out by leveraging your network, which will best position you for a big splash. Don’t be afraid of someone stealing your idea. Chances are pretty good nobody will run with it and beat you to the punch.

3. Plan For Delays – Challenges often crop up when planning for a product or service release. Best case, you launch on your scheduled date. But always have a contingency plan in place as backup, as well as a communication ready for all the folks eagerly awaiting your launch. You want to keep them personally invested.

4. Just Give Me A Reason – The product is supremely important to prospective investors BUT the story should never be overlooked. To sell a product, you need to establish a reason WHY someone should buy. Use the story to create the perception of need and watch it drive the demand.

What other pearls of wisdom can any of you successful crowdfunders share??

Color Me Anything I Want!!!

Ever wish you could change the color of your eyes to really make your peepers pop?? Oh wait…you can. Color contact lenses. Argh. No matter who the manufacturer is, the hues are still super-fake looking, even after so many years. Staring deep into someone’s really oddly opaque blue eyes is a slight bit disturbing. So I’ve heard. Or when they float around on your brown irises because let’s face it, it’s not a one size fits all product, and you look like an alien with one half-green eye and one half-brown eye. That doesn’t look strange at all.

 

Courtesy of coloring.reviews

Courtesy of coloring.reviews

I’ve been there and I’ve never lost the itch, even though my past experiences were borderline disastrous. So I’ve given this some hard thought.

Wouldn’t it be cool if I had smart CONTACT LENSES to adjust the color of my eyes??? Obviously they would be made of a special material and powered to transmit data to an app (of course, because everything these days has to be controlled by an app to be cool or purposeful). The app would enable the user to determine exactly which shade to color the eyes. Maybe green with a hint of brown around the pupil or certain variations of blue or hazel…possibilities, possibilities.

But why stop there? Let’s really give these suckers an authentic look for the users. The lenses could measure physiological data, transmit it to the app and then make changes to the selected color based on mood, for example. It makes everything look and feel…well, more real. You now have bright blue eyes but you’re getting angry so the lenses detect changes in your body that adjust the shade. Perhaps they darken? They’d be reflective of your mood. In addition, if your pupil dilates, the iris would read that data and shrink.

Google is already on it…kind of. They’ve created the smart contact lens, although they have a much more altruistic goal. Their lenses were created as a way to measure glucose levels for diabetics and then send data wirelessly to a nearby device.

Google’s smart contact lenses for diabetics: Another step towards the Google-powered cyborg

The big challenge to this innovation is the power source. In the case of Google’s invention, a tiny antenna is embedded in the lens but because it’s so small, it needs to be close to the power source, a challenge Google will ultimately overcome, I’m certain.

And then Colarity will be next. =)

Genius, Billionaire, Playboy, Philanthropist – Who Am I???

Here’s just one more reason why Robert Downey Jr. stands strong at the top of my “list.” <3

Microsoft’s social media campaign, The Collective Project, celebrates students using technology to change the world. How better than to give young children use of their limbs back using 3D print technology? That’s exactly what Limitless Technology does. The volunteer group started by a University of Central Florida engineering PhD student recently constructed a special “Iron Man” arm for a young local boy at no cost to his family.

Guess who presented it to him?

Yup. Tony Stark. And the arm was delivered in a box labeled Stark Industries. Nice touch by the movie prop manager.

This video just makes RDJ that much more swoon-worthy. =)

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