Do You Use IFTTT?

from Instagram:

Does anyone #ifttt?

It’s pretty much the coolest thing since sliced bread. In fact, it’s the very reason I’m going to start micro-blogging here on Instagram. Did you know you can create a “recipe” that automatically posts your #instagram photos to #wordpress? Uh, yeah. Pretty life

What’s your favorite recipe on IFTTT?


How to Run a Book Giveaway on Instagram

free book

As you can see, I’m all about giving away a FREE digital copy of my book, Dear Hearts, today! Before we get to the “how to” of running an Instragram book giveaway, I’ll let you in on how you can get a free copy of my book!

  • Follow me on Instragram.
  • Like this picture and tag a fellow bookworm in the comments.
  • Repost this picture with the hashtag #dearheartsgiveaway.
  • Fill out the form below.

Check out what Dear Hearts is all about here.

What readers are saying:

Ms. Clay also managed to make the essence of this story relatable to the reader audience. My empathy trigger was pulled throughout the story, and I couldn’t help but have a visceral reaction to their emotions and plight. Addiction, abuse, homophobia, and family discord are difficult subjects to tackle – the author handles them in a raw, real, yet readable way. Similar to when someone describes having poison ivy, the listener can’t help but itch, too.

Now for the Nitty Gritty: How to RUn a Book Giveaway on Instagram

Here are a few quick tips to running your own book giveaway on the ‘gram:

  • Make sure your book giveaway graphic catches the eye. To pull this off, I use my one true love (beside Cheezits…Sorry, Matt) to get the job done. Canva is a really cool, easy to use online graphic designer. You can use it for just about anything (blog posts, social media, elaborate schemes to trick your Grandmother into getting a tattoo of George Clooney on her back). Important stuff.
  • Find the right hashtags. This site is uber helpful. So is a can of spray cheese when you have too many crackers. But we’re not talking about that right now.
  • Tag book lovers in the photo. And book haters to show them what they’re missing: spray cheese.
  • Set up the giveaway rules so that you can widen your audience/readers/cats. Cat widening is the real issue. Please stay educated, you guys.
  • Send out an update about your Instagram giveaway via all of your social media channels. Also via dove. I feel like doves have gotten the short end of the stick here recently.
  • Email a few friends to help spread the message. And my mom. She’d love that.

Lastly, it helps if you’ve built up your Instagram a bit as far as followers and pictures go. But really, it’s all about having fun and giving away a great read. And sending your grandmother anonymous directions to the tattoo parlor.

But really, what isn’t?

Writing Tip: How to Brand Yourself on Instagram

Copy of Why I Went From Represented Author to

I like to think I’m queen of the Instagram in the simple fact that I’ve created roughly forty-two accounts and most of them contain photos of half-eaten sandwiches and the guy who stocks bread at our local Wal-Mart.

Really, we have to blame his bone structure.

So you can understand why I’ve had to rethink my Instagramming techniques and get down and dirty with this simple fact: I’m a writer. People want to see writerly things from me.

But what? And does that mean I can finally finish these sandwiches?

I’m just kidding. I already did. Because art.

Finding Your Focus: What You Should Be Instagramming and No, It Shouldn’t Be The Bread Guy. Sorry, Dave.

I follow a few writers on Instagram who excel at capturing their lives on camera and this is all well and good except for the simple fact that I suck at it.

Here’s the thing: some things I just don’t want you to know about even though I love you more than a bucketful of sandwiches.

My daughter is off limits. My husband is off limits (except for this, this and this, naturally) and all those gushy wushy wonderfully lovely private moments are mine and mine only. Like the time I found that Gusher under our fridge and it only had one hair on it.

The heavens smiled down that day, friends.

But anyways, what I’m saying is that I had to start brainstorming and decide how I wanted to present my writerly self on the ‘ol Instragram and I decided to focus on what I do best: write and pretend everything is a black and white movie. That way I don’t have to wear make up.

So I’ve been sticking with 3 main rules when Instagramming my heart out:

  • Instagram my poetry.
  • Instagram my face.
  • Use the willow (black and white) filter.

Here are a few sandwich-free examples:

Oh my God, how artsy, right?? Dave is going to be so jealous.

Hashtags: Where to Find Them, How to Use Them, and What to Do When You Run Out of Sandwiches

I haven’t had my current Instagram account for too long, and I’m already up to 120 followers which makes me roughly the same as Beyonce and the guy who frosts Dave’s bangs at the Wal-Mart salon (phenomenal work).

I owe a lot of this awesome followership (is that a word? I don’t care, it’s just after eight and nobody has told me I’m cute yet so I’m a little on edge) to using hashtags.

Finding the RIGHT tags for your work is a pretty epic endeavor and since Beyonce and I look pretty much the same in a bikini, I like to use the TagsForLikes app to make the job easier (this sentence makes sense in my head. And yes, my head is that scary. And yes, I am very cute).

I know I’ve mentioned TagsForLikes in my last Instagram post, but I’ve moved on from using one of their generated list of tags to creating a custom hashtag menu of my own. I’ve done a little research on the best hashtags for writers and have concentrated on poetry themed tags since I’ve been publishing a lot of my poetry on the site.  Because that’s what Beyonce would do and we wear the same size shoe.

Instagram Tools: Making Sandwiches Sexier Since 1945. That’s Not Accurate. I Just Made That Up.

As for Instagram tools, I suggest using Textgram if you’re Instagramming text, the Repost app to repost others’ work onto your own account, No Crop if you want to Instagram a photo that may not be the right dimensions, PicCollage if you’re Instagramming more than one pic and Crowdfire to keep up with who’s following you and who’s dumped you for a bucketful of sandwiches.

I would never do that to you. Neither would Beyonce.

Did you guys here the news? I’m moving into the publishing world, hardcore. Quick! Hand me that sandwich!

Taking Chances as a Writer

taking chances as a writer

Writing is like being naked.

No wait.

Publishing on the internet is like being naked. And forgetting to shave.

But it’s also a gut punching sensation that keeps me flying through the words. The fact that people are going to read my work and comment on it, good, bad or ugly, keeps me rocking.

But it also makes me do very stupid things, like considering charging for my work.

I’m no saint, y’all. I’m not perfect and anyone who knows me (especially you, dear reader), is already aware that I don’t think things through. I just do them like a mother fricking Nike swish.

Which is not always a bad thing. This type of thinking has somehow helped me garner a following (I think it’s a “let’s go watch the crazy lady” mentality, but I’ll take what I can get), and it’s helped me experiment with different marketing tools that get my work read.

But it also sometimes leads to bad decisions like posting on Facebook that I’ll be charging a one time fee for people to read a private writing blog that I threw together in half a second and I wasn’t even drinking.

I swear.

Needless to say, I took that shit down in a heartbeat and I’ve done some major soul searching since then.

I love writing. I love that you read my writing. And I’m offering my words to the world hands opened, pants off.

I’m just kidding about the pants. OR AM I???? No really, I am. Hashtag too much caffeine.

So you will forevermore be able to read my petrifying first novel drafts on my literary portfolio site no matter how bad some of you beg to edit them (and seriously – somebody on Google+ asked me to edit a chapter because, and I quote, “You show some talent and skill, but you are impatient.” I giggled so hard I farted.)

Additionally, if you’ve been reading For the Love of Chuck, there are some other chances I’m taking with this novel:

  • POV. I’m writing this book in the third person but my narrator has a sassy potty mouth. Wonder where she gets it from…
  • Novel or novella? I’m not binding myself to the “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD THIS MUST BE A NOVEL” thought process because I’m just not down for those types of restrictions, you know? There are many a lovely publishing house that consider novellas so why force something if it shouldn’t be forced?
  • Two protagonists versus one. If you’ve read Unkept and hopefully eventually read Dear Heartsyou know that incorporating dueling protagonists is my thang. I’ve reverted back to this model for For the Love of Chuck and want to further delve into the reasons this way of writing a book works for me. Besides my brain potentially being split in half. But more on that later.

I’ll be writing individual posts on each of these topics so get ready for a shitstorm of writing truth coming your way. Bring an umbrella.

Also? Don’t be afraid to be weird, honest, uncut, raw and to the point. But be kind. That’s your homework.

Plus shave. Please.

How Book Reviews Make You a Better Writer

How Book Reviewers Make You a Better Writer

Hi. My name is Ericka Clay, and I’m still learning to write.


I know. It’s quite difficult to admit. As much as I want to wave my fancy Creative Writing degree over my head as proof that I know ALL THINGS WRITING, alas, I don’t.

Not even a little bit.

And I know this to be true not only because I can practically see it plastered across my forehead when I look into the mirror (I also see perfectly arched eyebrows. It’s a genetic gift), but I’ve also heard it from book reviewers who have read Unkept and Dear Hearts and have critically broken down where I’ve gone “wrong.”

Ouch, right? NOPE!

What I love about book reviewers is that they’re not my mother. What I mean by that, is that they’ll never tell me I’m the best writer that has ever existed and that I look mind blowingly fantastic in these JCPenney’s jorts (another genetic gift). What they WILL tell me is that there are a few things I need to work on.

So without further ado, here are a few of my favorite critiques I’ve received in no particular order:

“…I was confused in a few places with the way she integrates flashbacks and memories…”

“The characters are all complicated, as is the writing. Don’t pick up this book, if easy reading is what you are looking for.”

“Nearly every principal character is incredibly flawed, in some cases to the point of being deeply unlikeable.”

“The novel has a somewhat unclear start as the opening chapters are overloaded with a barrage of character names and too many unanswered questions, making it difficult to settle in until the third or fourth chapter.”

“There are a lot of metaphors, back story, and flashbacks in Unkept that often interrupt the flow and clarity of the story.”

“The alternating POVs don’t always take the story forward.”

“However another part of me just can’t seem to truly believe Mitch as a character.”

Now granted, these same reviewers had some amazingly wonderful things to say about my books, too, which I deeply appreciate. But the critiques above are exactly what I needed to hear.

So what does this mean? I get back on that writing horse and do it again, only this time much better.

Those thoughtful critiques are the very reason I’m taking a BRAND NEW JOURNEY and writing a novel chapter by chapter on Wattpad – about a small town transvestite trying to “win” her best friend back of all things! I’ll be changing my style a bit, getting to the meat of the story and using flowery language in teeny tiny doses. I’ll be working on the “here and now” and try my best to refrain from mind boggling flashbacks.

I’ll be taking these reviews to heart.

So book reviewers, thank you, thank you, thank you a million times over for these! You’ve helped me in more ways than you know. And writers, leave discouragement at the door. A good critique helps not hurts, and if it is blatantly hurtful, ignore it and move forward.

We’ve got this, you guys! We’ve got this!

Have you received a “bad” review? What did it teach you?’s officially official! Today is the RELEASE DATE for Dear Hearts! Even better news? If you’re a Kindle Unlimited member, you get this baby for free! Be sure to snag your copy today!


Marilyn Winters by Ericka ClayThere’s a new girl in town, but looks can be deceiving! Find out why Marilyn Winters is an unlikely heroine in my latest novel – that you can read FOR FREE!

read for free

How to Contact Book Reviewers

how to contact book reviewers

After publishing a book, there’s this tricky little problem most authors have to overcome: getting people to read and review it.

Fortunately, there’s an entire segment of the blogging populace that not only does this very thing but can help you build your author street cred: book review bloggers.

The key to getting your book into reviewers’ hands? Sticking to these main steps:

  1. Follow the book reviewer’s guidelines for contacting them about a review. This is THE BIG ONE. Don’t start shooting off emails willy nilly before first making sure you’ve thoroughly met each one of their requests. Reviewers receive A LOT of requests to read books, and if it comes down between an author who followed their directions and an author who didn’t, guess whose book will get chosen.
  2. Find a point of contact and spell their name correctly. I know this one seems like a no-brainer, but I can’t tell you the number of times someone has contacted me as the editor of Tipsy Lit and has blatantly spelled my name wrong even after receiving an email back from me! You want to come off as both professional and respectful, which means taking those two seconds to make sure you’ve literally crossed every “t” and dotted every “i.”
  3. Set yourself apart from other authors requesting a review. In my contact email (see below), I always add in my subscriber count for Tipsy Lit because I want the reviewers to know that I’ll most certainly be sharing their review with my audience. I figure if someone is kind enough to read and share their thoughts about my work, then I can most certainly be kind enough to show their review blog some love!

Below is an introductory email you can work from that I’ve sent to a number of reviewers (many who have read and reviewed my books). Just be sure to replace my details with your own!

Email to Send to Book Reviewers

Hello Awesome Book Reviewer!

My name is Ericka Clay, and I’m the author of Unkept and Dear Hearts. I’m also the creator of Tipsy Lit, a literary blog that has amassed over 12,000 subscribers. I’m contacting you to request a review of my novella.

TITLE: Dear Hearts

GENRE: Novella



WORD COUNT: 32,059

BLURB: From the outside, Mitch and Elena Reynolds are a typical White Smoke family: married, raising a daughter, running a local business, attending church on Sundays. But their happy family image starts to crack when Mitch has an affair with local White Smoke resident, Aaron Hooper.

Mitch and Elena’s tumultuous relationship is further tested with failed attempts to get pregnant again, forced AA meetings to curb their alcoholism and bitter therapy appointments to try and “fix” their daughter, Wren. It’s not until both Mitch and Elena trust in their love for their daughter that they begin to rekindle the connection they first formed as kids. But is it too late?

From the author of Unkept, Dear Hearts is an exquisitely told tale of love, loss and human connection in the wake of darkness.

I am submitting the book via both mobi and ePub files that I’ve attached to this email, as well as the cover art for the book.

If you’d like to learn more about my background, you can do so here.

Thank you for your time, Awesome Book Reviewer, and I hope you’re interested in reading my work!


Ericka Clay

*Remember to attach all files before hitting”send”!

Book Review Blogs

If you search “book review blogs” in Google, you’ll come across a number of great finds, but here are a few I love:

Your book is your baby and now you’re sending that baby out into the world. Do it justice by contacting the right reviewer for your work in the best way possible!

What book review blogs do you love? List them in a comment below (including your own)!

Why I Went from Represented Author to Self-Published Author

Why I Went From Represented Author to

And no, it’s not because I’m crazy.

This is how it is: I had an amazing agent. I had an amazing publisher for Unkept. But I realized I wanted something more than amazing. I wanted control.

I’ve always had a business side to me. I’ve worked as a social media consultant for a long time now and have tried to find ways to blend these skills with my online world, not for financial reasons but because I love the challenge of engaging people, of creating, of turning my skills into something that’s both profitable and necessary to my customers.

Yup. I’m that girl.

So you can imagine having that girl inside my brain while journeying the two year process of getting a book published. First you have to send the manuscript to publishers and then that bad boy is thoroughly edited and printed in a pretty package (if you have a good publisher and fortunately I did!).

But the waiting game was hard for me. The “relying on someone else to put the finishing touches on my baby” was hard for me, too. Not in an egotistical “I’m the best person for the job” type way, but in a “I’m an only child and my parents got me a ‘World’s Best Child’ t-shirt when I was ten” type way.

So we can all blame them.

Seriously though, here are some reasons I decided to go the self-publishing route.

Why I Decided to Self-Publish

  • In spite of myself, I’ve somehow managed to create a large community that cares about the work I produce. This means that even if I cut out a publisher, I still have a wide audience that I can market my work to. And in reality, even if a publisher picks up your work, you’re going to have to do a lot of the leg work anyways as far as marketing goes. They have other authors to publish and support and you can’t expect to hog all of their time. But you can hog your own!
  • I started a blog awhile back, Tipsy Lit, that I’ve tried to find a purpose for for a long time now. It’s gone through many transformations but as of late, I’ve realized it would be the perfect imprint for my self-publishing career. An imprint is basically the name you publish under. I’ve decided to choose Tipsy as my imprint instead of using my own name because it looks more professional and speaks to my business side.
  • I love learning new things and formatting has become one of them. Since it doesn’t make me go running for the hills then I figure it’s a worthwhile use of my time and a great way to save some money during the publishing process.
  • I know some great editors like Roxanne and the Bannerwing Betas, so when I need a second pair of eyes to catch everything I’ve missed, these talented folks are only an email away.
  • Designing book covers is fun for me. Seriously, I kind of love it! And since I’ve been mainly focusing on Kindle covers as of late, the Kindle cover creator in Canva (alliteration for the win!) has been crazy helpful.

I love being at the helm from the moment I put a word down on the page to letting the world know my words are ready to be read. This process may not be for everyone, but I feel pretty darn fortunate that it’s found me!

Have you published yet? Did you chose to go the traditional route or have you self-published? What was your experience like and would you recommend it to others?

dear hearts bookReady to pre-order my very first venture into self-publishing? Then check out Dear Hearts!


The Life of a Writer

The Life of a Writer
Is it legal to put crack in a coffee cup? I’m asking for a friend.

I used to watch other people get published and then tweet the living crap about it on Twitter, and then I’d think God, I want to be them.

Because somewhere in my damaged brain, I had already reconciled with the fact that they were no longer human beings but gods of the universe who were given trained aliens on their publication date and these aliens would cook, clean, do the laundry, massage their feet and DVR Property Brothers for them while they were free to pleasantly market their new book.

But then I’ve suddenly become one of these gods of the universe, and as hard as I’ve searched for my aliens, the only thing I’ve found is a chewed up Lego and a tiny piece of bacon covered in dog hair.

Seriously. who cleans this place?

Instead of basking in the beautifully neon glow of an extraterrestrial, this is my godforsaken schedule on any given day:

  1. Wake up. Wonder why they canceled Who’s The Boss for fifteen minutes and then turn off my alarm. With my fists.
  2. Put on clothes. Or my bath towel from the night before and my “I Got Crabs at Joe’s Crabshack” baseball cap. No one will notice.
  3. Receive a tiny flying shoe in the face while walking down the hallway. Remember I have offspring.
  4. Make offspring breakfast. Kids like bran, right? Right.
  5. Listen to twenty minutes worth of screaming. Realize it’s coming out of my mouth.
  6. Step in poop. Remember I have dogs.
  7. Put on my make up, or as I like to call it, “You were sixteen once…hahaha!” Then cry for seven minutes.
  8. Watch a performance consisting of show tunes and random bouts of jazz hands. Remember I have a husband.
  9. Take offspring to school. Make friends on the highway with my horn.
  10. Try to trick the other parents at child’s school into believing I’m a tiny gnome from the future. Pretend not to be concerned when they believe me.
  11. Go home.
  12. Stare at computer.
  13. Push buttons.
  14. Prank call my grandmother.
  15. Do the dishes and berate them for being dirty.
  16. Pet the clothes in the laundry basket and say things to them like “If only you had legs and didn’t live here.”
  17. Pick up child from school. Avoid glances from the school psychologist.
  18. Go home and play game with child where I have no idea what I’m doing. Name it “life.”
  19. Make dinner with my  mind.
  20. Put child to bed with a kiss and an interpretive dance based on my latest manuscript.
  21. Stare at husband’s head in that cute way I do.
  22. Sleep with eyes open.

You guys, I’m tired, I’m cranky and I’m flat out of aliens. But I’m working my ass off so my book will be READ.

Forget sales, forget curling up into Oprah’s lap while she pats my head (I’m just kidding. I could never forget something like that.), forget being what I think a published author SHOULD be.

I’m here to give you words, to change your mind, to free your heart. And I pray to God/Tony Danza, that I’ve done you justice.

Now if you don’t mind, there’s a head that needs staring at.


Unkept by Ericka Clay


Look at what I did! Now you can pre-order the Kindle version of my novel, Unkept, here: All the proceeds will go towards glittering cats. You have my word.

Welcome to the Best Day of My Life

Unkept by Ericka Clay

Seventeen years.

It’s been seventeen years since the day I knew I would be a published author.

It wasn’t a dream. It wasn’t a maybe. It was a fact.

I would make it happen, I just didn’t know how.

Fast forward to today. THE DAY.

Alongside my amazing publisher, I’m beyond thrilled/excited/alittlebitvomity to announce that you can now PREORDER the Kindle version of my novel, Unkept.

And very soon (March 2nd), the PRINT version will be available for purchase!

I’ve been working with an amazing group of women to polish this bad boy right up and make it something worth reading.

And together, I know we have something that will wow the pants right off of you.

Hopefully, you’re wearing underwear.


OFFICIAL RELEASE DATE: March 2, 2015 from Bannerwing Books



THE PREMISE: As the live-in manager at her father’s funeral home in Burling Gates, Missouri, Vienna Oaks has succumbed to the mediocrity and abject loneliness of her life. Her days are suspended between the mundane and the misery of her clients’ throttling grief, of changing light bulbs, and encountering strangers as bereft as she. But after orchestrating the funeral for a little boy named Parker prompts a severe panic attack, she finds herself at a personal crossroads in which she is forced to confront the pregnancy she’s been hiding, her childhood nemesis, the boy she never stopped loving, and the deep-seated secret surrounding her mother’s death more than a decade before.

In another part of town, Heather Turnbull has just learned from her estranged father that her mother, a lifelong recluse, has died. When making arrangements for her funeral, Heather chooses Oaks Family Funeral home, where she comes face to face with Vienna – the woman she tortured throughout grade school, the woman who has recently had an affair with her husband.

Together, Vienna and Heather navigate through a makeshift friendship born of
circumstance and devised to assuage their ambivalence towards motherhood and their
tenuous relationship with reality, discovering, in tandem, the art of forgiveness and the
will to go on.

With humor and poignancy, Ericka Clay’s debut novel, Unkept, explores the thorny
landscape of childhood trauma and the ferocious politics between little girls — and the
adults they become.

A GINORMOUS thank you in advance to everyone who reads Unkept and hopefully reviews it. You are my lifeblood, folks. Without you, there would be no words worth writing, so please know this: you are amazing, you are wonderful and you are appreciated more than you know.

Love, glitter and felines,

Ericka Clay