Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Thing About Apple

Recently, I received an email from a reader asking me when the last two books in the Kinkaid Brothers series would be available on ibooks. Before I get into that, I have to say that I received this email through the contact form on my website. You know, that form I told you I wasn't so sure I wanted to have on my website. Guess my web designer knew what he was doing after all!

Like I said, a reader emailed me to ask when the novels would be released on ibooks. I was a little surprised by this question. I thought the books were already available in this format. Just to be sure, I logged on to the ibooks website and did a search for them. Sure enough, those last two titles were missing. 

Determined to get to the bottom of the problem, I logged on to the site I use to publish all of my books. Imagine my surprise when I checked the information for my titles and found these last two had been rejected by ibooks, and you're never going to guess why.

At the end of every book I publish, I list the titles of all of my other books. Most authors do. If readers have made it to the end of a book, chances are they liked it. We want to encourage readers to check out the rest of our books. One of the books I have listed there was published last year under an exclusive contract with Amazon. It's a Kindle Worlds novella entitled Going for Wilder. Well, therein lies the problem.

Because I listed Going for Wilder as avaialbe for purchase, ibooks refused to carry my recently published novels. If I remove this title from my list of available books, they will reevaluate placement in their bookstore and likely agree to carry it.

I'm not angry so much as surprised with a touch of amused. That's a pretty petty reason for refusing to carry my newest books, especcially when you consider that Going for Wilder is a $1.99 novella. I seriously doubt making readers aware of its availailbity is going to cost Apple any money, but then what do I know?

No, I'm not going to refuse to make the change. I'm going to revise the available works page at the back of both novels and resubmit. I want all of my readers to have the option of buying my books in the format they're comfortable with, but I learned something about Apple that I didn't know before.

By the way, I have to thank the reader that brought this to my attention and my web designer for the contact form I was so leery of.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Dreaded Contact Form

If you haven’t heard, I recently launched a new website. This is either the third or fourth redesign and each one gets better in my opinion.

With this website, the designer added a feature that I wasn’t so sure about; the contact form. I’m sure you’ve all been to a website and seen one before. It’s a form on the website where you typically enter your name and contact information along with your message, which makes it to whomever manages that mailbox.

As I said, I was leery of doing something like this. One of my earlier websites included a guest book feature. It allowed visitors of the site to enter their comments which were preserved on the site for everyone to see. I’d seen it on other websites and thought it was a fun way to get an idea of what visitors to the site thought. It wasn’t long before I realized how much I hated that feature. Very few people were entering any comments, making me wonder if there was any traffic to the site. I will say the few comments that were entered were positive, but it was still depressing to see. I had my web designer get rid of that option pretty fast.

So, here we are. My new website was being designed. I had a ton of ideas for it. None of which included the dreaded guest book feature. The only thing I wanted was a form that readers could use to join my review team. Anyone who wants to get advanced review copies of my books would complete the form which would make it to my email and then we would get them signed up as part of the review team.

I got that and one other thing I hadn’t asked for. The designer incorporated a generic contact form. Whoever visits the site can fill out their name and other contact information, along with a message. While I wasn’t crazy about this form, I shrugged it off. Even if it doesn’t get used, it’s not hurting anything just sitting there. It’s not like I had plans to use it so any use it gets is a bonus.

You could have knocked me over with a feather last week when I received an email through that contact form. The email was from someone I’d never met before who read my Sapphire Falls Kindle World novella, Going for Wilder. The reader enjoyed the book and was tickled when she read my bio and found out we share a hometown so she reached out to let me know.

I may be a writer, but I can’t come up with proper words to express my happiness. I always love hearing that someone likes my books. It’s even better when that person is a stranger with no emotional investment in my feelings. That person is under no obligation to contact me or compliment me, but she did both, and it was awesome.

Even if I never get another message generated from that contact form, I can still safely say it’s worth having it there. It can stay.

And by the way, if you haven’t checked out my website you really should, especially if you want to receive free copies of my upcoming releases.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

That Book Costs How Much?

I may be a writer, but I'm also an avid reader. I have been since I was a kid. Like most readers, I have several writers that I fan girl all over. I buy all of their books and post my love of them all over social media. I also love discovering new authors.

When it comes to a new author, I take a more conservative approach. Before I buy, I read the reviews of other readers and download the free sample first. I also check the page count of the book. Something I never used to do.

Call me cheap, but if a book is less than one hundred pages, I don't want to pay more than $1.99. I'm always surprised when I glance at the specs of a book and see that a thirty-nine page short story is $4.99. I have to ask myself, what was the author thinking?

To be fair, it's not always the author who determines the price of an e-book. If the author has signed a contract with a publisher, it's the publisher who makes this decision. Being that the publisher is in the business to make money, he's going to price the book high enough to make a profit after shelling out author royalties.

If an author is using a self-publishing press, she may not be able to set the price. Some print on demand companies do allow the author to set the price, but some do not. Some base the price of the book on its length.

I'm sure there are some authors who feel they deserve to be paid a higher amount. It's not so unreasonable if you think about it. When you go to the movies, if you go in the evening, you spend a pretty penny on a two hour movie. Why wouldn't you be willing to spend the equivalent on a book?

I'll be honest. I'm not willing to spend the money unless the free sample really hooks me. And in the interest of fairness, I try to keep the cost of my books in line with their length. I never want to be one of those authors that makes you say; that book costs how much?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Efffect of Affect? The Affect of Effect?

Okay, let me be the first to admit, my copy editing is not perfect. I do the best I can to deliver a polished product to my readers, but the fact of the matter is I'm not in a position to afford a professional editor yet. I have noticed with the advent of e-books, which has brought more writers to light than traditional publishing ever did, that readers seem to be more tolerant of minor errors. I know I am. There's an author whose books I love who is constantly confusing set and sat.

As tolerant as readers are, that doesn't mean writers shouldn't be diligent. I think that indie writers have an even greater responsibility to readers, especially when you consider that some people still don't consider indie authors to be "real" authors.

I am the first to admit that I still have to stop and think, is it effect or affect? If I'm struggling, I'm sure other writers are. That said, there are some things that make me cringe.

Alright is not a word! It doesn't mean you agree everything is okay. It needs to be spelled out as two words; all right. Is something alwrong? Then it can't be alright! Fellow writers, I am begging you. Please stop using it.

Do I feel bad or badly? I feel bad. Bad always applies to feelings. If I'm going to talk about how the team did in the game last night, they did badly. Bad equals feelings. Badly equals how you did or reacted to something.

Do I want dessert or desert? If I'm talking about a sweet treat then I mean dessert. What child didn't learn that you put two of the letter S in the word dessert because you want two helpings? I can eat my dessert in the desert, or I can desert my post, but I am not eating desert.

Does this happen every day? Is it an everyday occurrence? Every day, two words, means every single day. Everyday means something is routine. I read every day.

Does it faze you when I point this out? Do you think it's a phase? Faze means to bother or disturb while phase means a period of time. So, I hope you are not fazed because I can assure you this is not a phase.

Ensure or insure? This is a big one. If I am ensuring you, I'm making you certain of something. Only property can be insured; my car, my house, etc.

Is it the past tense that you passed me by? Yes it is! Past is a noun that means the preceding time or an adjective that often means last. Passed is a verb. You passed me by when you walk past me.

And finally, my favorite, or least favorite, I guess you can say. Do they unconsciously or subconsciously  seek each other out in a crowd?  I hope they aren't unconscious when they do it since that means they aren't awake. I'm sad to say I see it happen often in books.

I'm also sad to say this is just a glimpse into a much bigger problem. Or is it a glimpse in to the problem? It's tough to say, but as writers we should do our best not to let our confusion effect the reader's experience. Wait, was that effect the reader's experience or affect it? Oh, hell!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Ending one Era, Hoping to Start Another

Over the weekend, I put my latest novel up for preorder. Triple Play, the third and final novel in the Kinkaid Brothers series, will be released April 11th, and I'm freaking out here.

Without giving too much away, I took the story line in a direction that I honestly didn't expect when I sat down to write the book. I'm hoping my readers will support it and like the book. I'm terrified I may have let them down, but that's not what I'm freaking out about.

With the release of Triple Play, it feels like an era is coming to an end. I'm officially closing the book on these characters.

Several years ago, I wrote a young adult novel called Like You Mean It. That novel included a shy young girl, her two best friends, her annoying older brother, the boy she adored from afar and his amazing older brother. Like You Mean It struck such a chord with readers that they begged me for more. And I thought, why not? I loved those characters I could write a story for one of them.

When I sat down to write a love story for Justin Jacobs and Chelsea Schumacher, it was only supposed to be one story. The problem was that I had so many ideas that I couldn't cram them all into one book. It would have overwhelmed readers. Thus, the four book Time for Love series was born.

The Time for Love series follows the romance of Justin and Chelsea. Readers get to catch up with old friends and meet new ones along the way. Somewhere into writing those four novels, I was having so much fun that I decided to write another spinoff series.

After finishing the last Time for Love book, I wrote four books in a series I called Taking on Love. Those books featured characters that had appeared in the Time for Love series. In Taking a Risk, the third Taking on Love book, I introduced a gregarious group of guys; the Kinkaid Brothers.

Let me tell you what, those brothers were a hit. Countless people told me they could tell I had a good time writing about those men and asked if I was going to give them some books of their own. How could I not after a reception like that?

Since one of the Kinkaid boys got his happily ever after in Taking a Risk, there were only three books in the Kinkaid Brothers series as opposed to my usual four.

Triple Play is the last book in the series, and I can confirm there will be no more books featuring those characters or anyone from their books. It seems difficult to believe that one young adult novel spawned eleven additional books! That just amazes me.

As much fun as I've had with all of these books, it's time to move on. So, while one era is coming to an end, I'm throwing the door open on the next one. My next book series, the New Beginnings books, is a new adult series. Each book will focus on one couple's story, but all the characters will be intertwined. I'm so excited for this series, and when the time comes, I hope you will be too.

Monday, March 6, 2017

It's Almost My Birthday!

In two short days, my birthday will be here.  A little over two weeks ago, I got the question. You know the question I'm talking about. What do you want for your birthday?

While I could come up with plenty of things I'd like to have, I thought I'd attack this question from a writer's perspective. If you're trying to decide what to get me for my birthday, there are two things I'd really like to have.

I would love for one of my books to make a best seller list. This has been one of my lifelong dreams as a writer. I think it's one that every writer has, and it's one I need your help to achieve. All you have to do is buy my books. There are several to choose from and most are $3.99 or less. I'd say spending less than $5.00 on a birthday gift is a pretty good bargain.

The other thing I'd like is more Amazon reviews. Those reviews are important. Reviews let me know how you feel about my work, the good and the bad. Believe it or not, even a bad review helps me. Now, don't go rushing out and write a bad review. As a matter of fact, I would love it if you'd take a moment this Wednesday to write a good review. It doesn't have to be much. Rate the book and review the book. One of my books has a review on Amazon that literally says "Enjoyed this" and it's a five star review. I will absolutely take that. A short and sweet review is better than no review.

There it is, the only two things I want for my birthday. I suspect the first one will be a little more difficult to give, but that second one is easy. Best of all, it's free. You don't have to spend a dime to review my books.

Happy almost birthday to me! 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

I Need Your Help!

Something has been on my mind for a while. I've thought about it and stewed about it, and I think it's time to share it with all of you. Hopefully, you can give me some advice so I know what I should or should not do. First, a little background.

From the time I was a child, I wanted to be a professional writer. I used to write stories and make my own books out of construction paper. I remember being so proud of the fact that I was the only person in my fifth grade class who understood how to use quotation marks in my dialogue.

What I wrote was influenced by what I read. When I was younger, I read a lot of Judy Blume and Lurlene McDaniel and the like. Judy Blume appealed to me because she wasn't afraid to tackle tough issues and didn't shy away from portraying teens in a realistic light. I liked that Lurlene McDaniel's books never took the easy way out. In every Lurlene McDaniel book I'd ever read, someone died, and it was usually the main character. Growing up, I remember thinking I wanted to be a combination of these two awesome women. I wanted the grittiness of Blume and the drama of McDaniel.

As I got older, I moved from writing angsty young adult stories to even more angsty new adult stories. There was just one problem with that. When I wrote, Letters from Linc, agents didn't know what to do with my book. Though they claimed to like it, they didn't think they could sell it. The new adult genre didn't exist yet.

I did have an agent who liked me enough to ask if I had anything else he could see. I gave him one of my young adult novels.  The agent liked it, we signed a contract and he set out to sell it. Nobody wanted it and nobody could agree why. One publisher liked the character development but thought the dialogue was weak. Another thought the opposite. Yet another felt like the story was underdeveloped. After so many rejections, my agent explained that vampire books were all the rage and asked if I had any. I didn't, but I was willing to write one if it meant getting a book deal.

I ended up writing a four book vampire series. The agent set about trying to sell the first book and I'm sure you can guess what happened. No one wanted it. This was about the time Twilight was hitting theaters and True Blood was airing on HBO. I was told my books weren't good enough to compete with the others.  My agent suggested I come up with a concept no one had tackled yet because he believed I hadn't found my story.

At this point, I was pissed. I'd never wanted to write vampire novels anyway. It was probably that anger that led me to the decision to write my next stories. If they wanted something different, I would damn sure give it to them and The Unholy Trinity was born.

The tagline for the first book in The Unholy Trinity series was; what happens when the daughter of a mass murderer falls for the son of Satan? The books, three of them, were based on the concept that the son of Satan was looking for his soul mate and he wasn't as bad a guy as everyone thought. Sure, he did some evil stuff, but there could be no good without evil. The guy was the ultimate anti-hero, and his nemesis, Christian Church, was the son of Jesus.

Yes, I was taking a big chance with this concept, but that was the point. I was going for shock value. I wanted to be brave and bold and tackle the most taboo subject of all. And do you know what happened?

My agent was appalled. He freely admitted there was no way he could push this novel. It was too risky. No one wanted the son of Satan to be a good guy and no one wanted to read about people selling their soul to Satan.

We parted ways after that, but I decided I was going to put my money where my mouth was. I started uploading the first Unholy Trinity book on Wattpad and sat back and waited. And the damnedest thing happened. Readers loved it. It shot to the top of the most read lists. Readers were following me and clamoring for more. They were sending me art and poetry inspired by my characters. They were debating about plot points and giving me feedback that I used to develop future installments. Some even wrote fan fiction! How cool is that?

Of course, not everyone loved it which is to be expected when you take on sensitive subjects. Some people told me I was going to burn in Hell. They prayed for my soul and begged me to stop writing. I never engaged with these people, but I didn't have to. My readers were always quick to jump to my defense.

After publishing all three of the Unholy Trinity books on Wattpad, I published a prequel as well as a spin off. Then I walked away. I left Wattpad and went back to writing romance novels, everything from young adult to new adult and even gay romance.

It's been five years since the first Unholy Trinity book was published on Wattpad and to this day, I still have people who seek me out on social media to ask one question. Am I ever going to publish a print version of the books? Usually, my answer is no.

Lately, I've been giving it more thought, but I have to admit I'm worried about a few things. Is it too late? Will readers still want to buy these books? And my biggest fear? Am I going to lose any of my new readers who have read my romance novels but didn't know about my Unholy Trinity series?

My husband tells me to go for publishing the books, but I'm still divided. Once in my career, I sold out in an attempt to sell my books and it didn't work. I swore I wouldn't do it again. I would write what I wanted, what my readers wanted, and screw what people thought I should do.

So, I ask you, my readers, the people I write for. What do you think? Better yet, what do you want? Do you want to see these books in print, or do you think I should leave them firmly in the past?