My First Attempt at a Logo #Mondayblogs

I love logos and I’ve wanted one forever, but my problem, besides being artistically challenged, is my writing ranges in content and style. I need a logo that fits no matter what. Here is what I came up with on Canva.

I like it because it has happy colors and a whimsical romantic feel to it.

What do you think?

My Shortbread Recipe is on You Tube! #MondayBlogs

Mary Martinez is featuring my shortbread recipe and book on her blog,

The After Work Cook.

She even made a video from my photos, to show you how to do it.

highlandghost_cvr_medThis recipe is featured at the back of A Highland Ghost for Christmas

Where the Recipe Came From

Many years ago a Scottish lady gave me this recipe and I’ve been using it to bake shortbread every Christmas since then. I hope you love it as much as I do. Unfortunately Cullen, the hero in A Highland Ghost for Christmas, couldn’t eat it, but he said it smelled “perfect.”


How to Use Canva to Create Ads – 6 easy steps

One – Go to

It’s a friendly site that helps you create great graphics.

Two – Choose a Design

There are many design sizes to choose from. Make sure you click on “More,” so that you can see just how many are available. Everything from e-mail headers to book covers.

The one I use most is the Facebook Post, as this size works well on blogs, twitter and FB. Click it, or whichever design interests you.

Three – Choose a Background

Most of my backgrounds are black. It’s a habit I picked up as a teacher. A black background frames everything nicely. But you can choose any color you wish and best of all, you can change it later. Plain colors are free. There are many interesting backgrounds you can pay for and they are inexpensive (most of them are a dollar USD).

Four – Upload Images

You can choose one of their images, or upload an image of your own from your computer.

Five – Add Text

Most of the time I use the plain text, which I choose from the menu on the left side of the page. The two things I remind myself at this stage are: 1) add my website 2) add the buy link. You wouldn’t believe how many times I forget.

Six – Download

If you’re happy with everything, hit download. If a part of your design costs money, this is when they will charge you. Pick up your design from your download file and save it wherever you want it.

Why am I doing this today?

A good, cyber-buddy of mine from Texas, romantic-suspense writer Marsha West, asked me to explain how I use Canva to create my ads. I hope people find it useful.

P.S. There are lots of You Tube videos about using Canva btw. What I’ve described is just the beginning.

When Buzz Becomes Noise

Buy my bookDo ads get on your nerves?

They do mine.

I grit my teeth when I see some book promotions. It’s not that they’re poorly constructed. For the most part, they’re eye-catching.

Who doesn’t like seeing  a provocative image,  intriguing tag line, and killer title – but that’s not the point. The first time is great. But I keep seeing the same ad over and over, on every one of my social platforms, promoted by everyone I know, until I’m ready to scream, “Enough all ready! I can’t take it anymore.”

Twitter and FB become echo chambers playing a buy-me-dirge.

I get it. I do. We’re all trying to create a “buzz” about our stories, but too often what we create instead is “noise.” A deafening, I-want-to-unfollow-you, get-out-of-my-face, noise.We see our competition put out three ads, so we put out four. We drain our pockets and put ads up everywhere hoping to lure a bigger audience. We want to be the next overnight success.

But it doesn’t work that way. At least not for most of us. The only thing we get overnight is a hangover.



Favorite Five Quotes – Seth Godin Quotes

Seth Godin is a writer and entrepreneur. His ideas about creativity excite me. Here’s his bio from his website:

“SETH GODIN is the author of 18 books that have been bestsellers around the world and have been translated into more than 35 languages. He writes about the post-industrial revolution, the way ideas spread, marketing, quitting, leadership and most of all, changing everything. are five of my favourite Seth quotes. I’ll be chewing on these for awhile Any thoughts?”

My Favourite 5 Seth Godin Quotes:


“In a crowded marketplace, fitting in is a failure. In a busy marketplace not standing out is the same as being invisible.”


“The internet was supposed to homogenize everyone by connecting us all. Instead what it’s allowed is silos of interest.”


“The future of publishing is about having connections to readers and the knowledge of what those readers want.”


“Normal is fading away. Governments and industries and schools like normal because it’s easier… But people don’t like it – we want to be who we are, not who some marketer tells us to be.”


“The tidal wave is overrated.

Yes, it can lead to wholesale destruction, but it’s the incessant (but much smaller) daily tidal force that moves boats world wide… We can definitely spend time worrying about/building the tsunami, but its’s the drip, drip, drip that will change everything in the long run.”


How to Take Charge of Your Own Marketing in 2016

Wait a minute. Wait a long minute. Am I a marketing expert?

No, I’m not.  But, because I am not an expert looking for a way into your wallet, I believe I have an important perspective to share. I am a fledgling writer trying to survive in the ever-changing world of modern publishing. If that rings a bell for you, read on.

This is what I see:

  • a crazy, market place that’s hard to predict
  • small and large publishing houses crumbling
  • sharper than sharp people feeding on writer’s insecurities and promising grand results
  • every marketer says he’s an expert and has THE ANSWER!

This is what I don’t see:

  • common- sense

my strategy (I call it Carson.1):

  1. Give my head a shake. Stop looking for THE ANSWER. It doesn’t exist.
  2. Read free information on marketing, and try strategies that make sense to me. (for example: putting more time into writing on my blog to engage more readers)
  3. Listen to other authors. They are the best source of information. Four of my favorite sources are: my friends, the Indie Yahoo loop and Guppy Marketing Yahoo loop.
  4. Experiment with marketing strategies I can control. For example, I: 1) have a system set up with my newsletter, so that when a new reader subscribes, I send them a free book and chat with them over several days (this is not new or revolutionary but is one of strategies the marketers suggest and you don’t need to pay them to do it) 2) blog and group blog, 3) have a website and be active on Twitter and Facebook, 4) host and take part in Facebook parties, 5) use Choosy Bookworm’s read and review program, and my new favorite– 6) have a kick-ass street team.


…is elusive and defined differently by all of us. I haven’t made any lists, been phoned by Oprah, or been recognized in public. But none of those things matter to me.

Right now success for me is having the opportunity to write, publish and organically grow my audience. That is happening.

Should I sell the house and my husband and hire a professional team of marketers? Honestly, I don’t think it would make that much of a difference. I’m calling the Emperor-is-really-naked card. Most of the marketers don’t really know how to sell my book in the new publishing world. They just know how to market themselves.

My time is best spent the old fashioned way – writing and becoming a better writer.

Am I being arrogant to criticize marketers? Possibly. I’m sure there are many out there that do good work and fill a needed niche. But I also see the other kind, who prey on the insecurities of writers. They remind me of ambulance chasing lawyers. End of rant.

Will “Carson.1” work? We’ll see. I’ll keep you posted.


shutterstock_104723360 (1)How about you? Do you have any marketing tips to share? Are you tired of all the marketing noise out there?


Want to know more about me?

Sign up for my newsletter to learn about my books and I will send you a free e-Cover-Jo-AnnCarson-CoverDanger-covert14book of Covert Danger, the story of a single woman with a double life.

What Not to do for a FB Party

My list of “no-nos” is growing quickly.

Friday (Jan. 15) is my launch day for Black Cat Blues, the first book in my Vancouver Blues Suspense series, and in honor of it, I’m hosting a six hour party.

Me, the shy girl in the corner of the room is having a six hour party. And I wonder why I keep making mistakes? (head shaking)

Launch Party simple
Click on banner for more information.

One – Invite your co-hosts

I mean really invite them. I have eighteen authors “co-hosting” with me. Each has a fifteen minute time slot on the schedule during which they will introduce themselves, play games, tell everyone about their books and run a giveaway contest. If you’re coming expect bare-chested men, lots of chatter, laughter and the opportunity to meet people who love books.

Sounds great doesn’t it. Except I didn’t really add my author friends. I thought I had, but me and FB don’t ever seem to be on the same page. There is a special spot where I needed to add them, so that they could actually comment on the party page.

If the party had started and they couldn’t get on the page, it would have been a disaster. Thankfully my daughter JC McKenzie  tapped me on the shoulder and told me what to do.

Two – Open the Party Page so that everyone can comment

Again, that sounds obvious. And again me and FB aren’t in the same galaxy. I assumed if I had organized an event and invited people they could play on the page. Nuh uh. There is a special place where I had to tick a box.

Three – Beware of FB “Boosts”

My face is crimson. Has been for weeks. When I started planning my party about a month ago, it made sense to me to do what FB calls “boost” my advertising post so that more people could see it. But I boosted too soon and too much.

I won’t even admit what that meant in dollars and cents. It hurts too much. I had set a humble ceiling of $12.00, but somehow along the way that number escalated to $300. I did stop it long before I hit that number, but I still spent more money than I had budgeted for, and I don’t think the boost really helped anyone but FB.

Well, that’s me four days before my big launch and even bigger launch party. Wish me good luck. Come have some fun if you’re in the mood. I’m sure I’ll have more FB party no-no’s to post soon.