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Boys Meeting

Find out what the boys are up to in No Love Allowed. 
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Take Me -- Chapter 10


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Giveaways and the Act of Gift Giving

Those who know me know that I love giving gifts. It’s something drilled into me by the generosity of my mother. Growing up, I have been taught that when meeting someone new one must bring a gift to commemorate the occasion. This is of course for when you know you’re meeting someone new and not when it’s accidental, like running into someone. Although, during times like that I secretly hope to see the person again so that I can bring him or her something.


One of the perks of being an author is that I can expand my gift giving into my circle of fans—many of which I am now honored to call friends. This translates to picking one Facebook follower a month to send a birthday present to. Every day, I make sure to greet everyone on my birthday notification list. Why? Because birthdays are awesome. Then on random days, the person who replies to my greeting gets a gift. Simple as that.

Giveaways are an extension of my penchant to give gifts. Not only are they an excellent way to spread the word about an upcoming release, make a blog tour more lively, or just a way for readers to discover you, authors have been using giveaways as part of promoting themselves and their work. I knew of an author who gave away one Kindle Fire every month.

Through social media there are a million ways to conduct giveaways. Having an RT & Follow giveaway on Twitter is popular. Conducting/attending a Facebook party is also a great way to promote your work. Instagram giveaways are quite fun and something I have yet to figure out properly.

Do you have a book on preorder? Have swag to giveaway? Why not have readers send you screenshots of their preorder confirmations in exchange for book related swag.


Like I said, tons of options out there.

If you don’t have time to set up a giveaway, be open-minded to sponsoring blogger giveaways. Sometimes all you have to do is send out the prize you and the blogger agreed upon and in exchange you and your work get exposure.

Giveaways don’t have to be big ticket items. Signed copies. Ebooks. Bookmarks. Whatever you can spare that helps promote your work.

The downside of giving gifts and doing giveaways is sometimes you get a deluge of messages from people asking for free books. Happened to me once. I sent a signed copy to someone and the next day I got ten emails from that person’s friends demanding free books. It was heartbreaking. And in many ways made me feel cheap. Like they were spitting on my generosity.


Of course, with anything that we do, there can be downsides. But do those downsides discourage me from giving? Not at all. In fact, it’s even furthered my commitment to give and share.

There’s already enough negativity to the world. If I can contribute to spreading more positive energy then why not?   

Didi & the Diverse

The word diverse can mean a lot of things to a lot people. That’s what’s fantastic about the word. Diverse literally means variety.

As a budding writer, I have always been attracted to diverse characters. This goes beyond just the color of their skin or the culture they come from. Although I already have characters in my head that represent different races and cultural backgrounds, I’m waiting for the right opportunity to start writing their stories.

A couple of years ago, I was in search of a critique partner, as many of us writerly types do. I had just written Disclaimer: I Like Boys, which has since been renamed No Holding Back. This is the story of Nathan and Preston. My boys. Finding love.

I found an author who also writes diverse books and is very vocal about writing diverse books, so I thought: Why not? We exchanged chapters. A day later I got an email from this author telling me that she couldn’t critique my story anymore. Why? Because my book was about two boys falling in love. I found that quite ironic. Apparently to this author, the word “diversity” has limits.

That is the funny thing about writing. You meet many different types of people. Diverse people. With diverse ideas. And these are just the characters in my head.

Before No Holding Back, there is No Love Allowed. Didi’s story. Oh, Caleb is in there too. But for the sake of this post, let’s focus on Didi.

When Didi first came to me, she was a character who was clearly different from any heroine I had ever encountered. She spoke her mind. Demanded that she be written in the fashion she dictated. What is a humble writer—i.e. typist—like me to do?

So I sat down and listened.

As she told me her story, one aspect of her character came up. Didi has bipolar disorder. Like many in this world we call home, all I knew about this disease of the mind were the extreme mood swings. Right away I knew I had to do my research. I couldn’t go into writing Didi’s story blind to what she goes through on a daily basis.

I needed to learn more. So I turned to an abundance of articles, documentaries, and interviews (some personally conducted by yours truly). But the weird thing is the more I learned about Didi’s disorder, the more I realized I knew nothing. I reached the point where writing her story became daunting.

First of all, I did not want to bog down the book with information. No Love Allowed is a love story. It’s an easy read meant to entertain you for a couple of hours. A book you can read in one sitting. Imagine doing that when all you’re reading are facts fit for a website Q&A.

This is why Didi said she didn’t want her story to be about her disorder. She had bipolar disorder, but she wasn’t the disease. She was more.

That was when writing her story became fun. Each and every scene she was in came alive in my head. From her makeover scene with Nathan to the moment she feels her hand shaking and couldn’t paint because the side effects from her meds were particularly bad that day. Each and every piece of dialogue is wholly Didi.

With No Love Allowed finally hitting shelves, I must say farewell to Didi and her beloved Caleb and move on to the other characters in my head. Those who have been following my work since my very first publication may notice that my characters have become more diverse with each book. I want that to continue until I can write no more.

Because for me: Diversity has no limits.

*Originally Written for the CBC Diversity blog.
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