Potato Soup ~ Delicious #Recipe ~ @DonnaFaz

It's winter here on the east coast of the US, and nothing warms a person up like a steamy bowl of delicious soup. Here's a recipe for Potato Soup that will fill your belly and make you smile. Enjoy!

Potato Soup

1 pound bacon, chopped
2 stalks celery, diced
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 cups chicken stock, or enough to cover potatoes
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste

1 In a Dutch oven, cook the bacon over medium heat until brown and crispy (be careful not to burn it). Remove bacon from pan, and set aside. Drain off all but 1/4 cup of the bacon grease.
2 In the bacon grease remaining in the pan, sauté the celery and onion until the vegetable soften. Add the garlic, and continue cooking for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the cubed potatoes, and toss to coat. Sauté for 3 to 4 minutes. Return the bacon to the pan, and add enough chicken stock to just cover the potatoes. Cover, and simmer until potatoes are tender.

3 In a separate pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour. Cook stirring constantly, for 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in the heavy cream. Bring the cream mixture to a boil, and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened. Stir the cream mixture into the potato mixture. Puree about 1/2 the soup, and return to the pan. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with warm, crusty bread.

Facebook Offers Authors A Call To Action Button #eNovAaW

Lately, Facebook hasn’t done much to enamor me as a user. However, they are offering authors a new feature on author fan pages that I think is fabulous and I couldn’t wait to tell everyone about it. It’s a Call To Action (CTA) button. It’s easy to set up, easy for visitors to use, and a great thing about the button is that Facebook tracks how many CTA clicks your button receives. So, quick! Go to your Facebook fan page and set up your CTA button right now.

To set up the button, simply click it (marked on the image below with red arrow #1) and choose which action you want your visitors to take. Your choices include Shop Now, Book Now, Contact Us, Sign Up, etc. I have used Shop Now and I connected visitors to the Buy My Books page on my blog. But you could just as easily use the Sign Up button as a way to build your newsletter mailing list. Now that I'm thinking about it, I may edit my CTA button from time to time to see which CTA gets the most attention from page visitors.

To find out how many CTA clicks your button has received, simply look on the right hand side of your author page (marked on the image below with red arrow #2).

As annoyed as I have been with Facebook recently, I have to give the company a standing ovation for this new feature.

How do you think the new CTA button should be used? Share your ideas in the comment section. All opinions and ideas welcome!

Set up your CALL TO ACTION button. It's easy...and it's FABULOUS!

Do Facebook Ads Sell eBooks? #AmWriting

Last week I wrote a blog post describing my Twitter Ad experience. Over the next few days, I was asked by several people (one of whom was an editor from BookLife) if I have used other platforms for book advertisements and how those ads performed. I have used Facebook to advertise—I'm not talking about "boosting" a post, but rather a real ad targeted at romance readers. The questions caused me to do a little digging and I found a graph from one of my Facebook ad campaigns that is fairly comparable to the Twitter ad I posted about last week. Here are the bare facts regarding the Facebook ad:

Date of ad: October 26th and 27th of 2014—48 hours
Total Spent: $50
Total Views: 33,811
Engagements: 1,136
Engagement Rate: 3.36%
Cost Per Engagement: $0.04
Book Sales: 0
          *Amazon Sales Rank on October 25th :   #94,220
            Amazon Sales Rank on October 26th : #101,690
            Amazon Sales Rank on October 27th : #165,114
            Amazon Sales Rank on October 28th : #175,668

After looking over all the information, I must conclude that paid Facebook ads do not sell books. However, there is no way for me to tell if the exposure was a benefit; after all, over 33,000 people saw my book cover, my name, and the fact that I’m a USA Today Bestselling Author, and over 1,100 of them noticed enough to engage with the ad in some way (with a "like" or a share or a comment).

If you’ve used Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, etc, I’d love for you to leave a comment below and tell me about your experience, whether successful or unsuccessful. Thanks! This is great information for Indie Authors to have available.

*To find your book’s Sales Rank on any given day, log into AuthorCentral.com, click “sales information” located along the top bar, click “sales rank” in the dropdown menu, and then click the down arrow in the box marked “all books” to choose a particular title. Once you’ve selected a title, use the various time spans offered (2 weeks, 1 month, 6 months, 1 year, 2 years, all available) to gather the information you need.

Do Twitter Ads Sell eBooks? #AmWriting

According to Business Insider, Twitter says 232 million people are “monthly active users” on their platform. After searching Google for some information on how effective Twitter ads are, I decided to conduct a little experiment of my own. I like to see how things work with my own eyes. Here are my results:

I prepared my ad content according to Twitter’s instructions. Their ad dashboard makes it very easy to set up an ad. Because I was promoting one of my iBooks, I targeted readers, and more specifically, romance readers. I also targeted #iBooks. On the final day of my ad, I asked some author friends to RT my ad to see if that helped my ad’s visibility. I’m certain that’s why the graph (below) shows more views on the final day. I spent $10 a day for 5 days.

Total spent: $50
Total views: 21,934
Engagements: 252
Engagement rate: 1.15%
Cost per engagement: $0.20

The most important piece of the puzzle:
Number of iBook sales: 0

Have Twitter ads worked for you? I’d love for you to leave a comment. Have you used Twitter ads and found the same result as I did? Please leave a comment. Information sharing is a great thing!

Scotch Eggs ~ Delicious #Breakfast #Recipe @DonnaFaz

Hard-boiled eggs coated in breakfast sausage might have originated in Scotland, but I first tasted them on a trip to London. If you’ve never eaten Scotch Eggs, now is your chance to give these tasty morsels a try.

Scotch Eggs

Serves 8

8 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
¼ cup flour
1 pound bulk pork sausage
¾ cup dry bread crumbs
1 teaspoon ground sage
¼ teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
Vegetable oil for frying

Coat each egg in flour. Divide the sausage into 8 equal pieces. Flatten one piece of sausage and pat to cover one egg. Do the same for the remaining sausage and eggs. Mix together the bread crumbs, sage, and salt. Dip the sausage-coated eggs into the beaten eggs and then roll in seasoned bread crumbs.

Heat oil (about 1 ½ inches up side of pan) in a 3-quart saucepan to 360º. Fry eggs, 4 at a time, turning occasionally, until all sides are nicely browned, about 5-6 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Serve hot or cold. I prefer them hot.


That All May Read ~ National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped

Do you know someone who would benefit from having access to free books and other materials in audio and Braille format? The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) administers a program through a national network of cooperating libraries that circulates books and other materials to eligible borrowers in the United States by postage-free mail.

Who is eligible? US residents who are legally blind or have other physical disabilities. Read more here.

What is available? Books, magazines, music scores, and other materials. Listening devices are also provided free of charge. Read more here.

The website has a wealth of information: applications to sign up, lists of available books, magazines, music scores, etc, as well as direct audio downloading serivce, Braille transcription and proofreading courses, online catalogs, and more.

NLS also has a newsletter and you might also be interested in the NLS Music Notes.

Getting Fit with 300 Calorie Meals

My FitBit One, Burgundy

Santa left a FitBit under my tree this year, and I have to say I love this little gadget. It counts my steps, my flights of stairs, my calories burned, even my hours of sleep (although I still have to figure out this function). I downloaded the free app on my phone, and when I inputted my height and weight, the program automatically put me on a 1200 calorie per day plan. The way I figure it, that gives me 300 calories per meal (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) with three 100-calorie snacks.

So can I follow this regimen? I think so. The first few days haven't been difficult. (We'll find out if I can keep at it. LOL) I googled “300 calorie meals” and hit a plethora of sites that offer easy recipes that look delicious and filling. Here are just a few:

I have a terrible sweet tooth. My son gave me a delicious box of chocolate covered caramels for Christmas, and I was overjoyed to learn that 1 piece is 60 calories. These are NOT sugar-free or “diet”…just regular caramels coated in dark chocolate.

I’m going to give this regimen a try. It’s a New Year; I want to start out with a spring in my step and work toward less curve in my rump. *grin*

Do you think this is a “doable” plan? What are you doing to keep fit in 2015?

A New Year ~ A New You

According to StatisticBrain.com, the top 10 New Year’s Resolutions are:

1. Losing weight
2. Getting organized
3. Spend less, save more
4. Enjoy life
5. Get fit, stay fit
6. Learn something new
7. Quit smoking
8. Help others
9. Fall in love
10. Spend more time with family

I am such a failure when it comes to resolutions that I decided not to make any this year. Did you? If so, what’s YOUR New Year’s Resolution?

Wishing you all the best in 2015!