Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Goodbye 2015



In two short days, another year will have come and gone. We’ll be saying goodbye to 2015 and ushering in 2016. With the end of the year, I thought it was a good time to sit back and reflect on what I’ve accomplished with my writing. Besides making me feel better, it will motivate me.

So, what happened this year? Let’s see…

Four books came out this year, which is pretty much the equivalent to one book every quarter. I released the last two books in the Time for Love series and the first two books in the Taking on Love series. In case you’re wondering the four books I released this year were: Tough Times, It’s About Time, Taking a Gamble and Taking a Chance. If you haven’t already, be sure to check them out.

Taking a Gamble, the first book in my Taking on Love series, took a virtual tour. It was introduced to a host of new readers and has been well reviewed by those who have been kind enough to post reviews online.

I’ve received several new Twitter followers and my Facebook author page is up to 630 likes and counting. That might not seem like much compared to some more well-known authors, but it’s a big jump from where I started at the beginning of the year.

I continued to blog faithfully each month. Though I didn’t see an increase in people following my blog, I can see that more people have read it and even commented. I’d call that a win.

A book trailer was released for Taking a Gamble as well as a cover reveal trailer for Taking a Chance. If you haven’t seen either of those, you can still check them out on You Tube.

All of my books became available for purchase on Amazon as of November 2015. Prior to that, only a select few were offered on the world’s most recognized online retail site.

Besides releasing four books, I have an additional two written; the final two books in the Taking on Love series. The first of those books, Taking a Risk, is currently being edited and will soon be off to formatting. Taking Another Shot, the final Taking on Love book, will need to be edited and formatted, but it will be a bit longer than anticipated. Next year, I have a surprise release in store that will come out after Taking a Risk. Stay tuned for more information on that.

Yes, there are some things I didn’t accomplish that I wish I had, one in particular, but I’m not discouraged. 2016 is a new year with new and exciting possibilities. Goodbye 2015 and coming soon, hello 2016!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

I'm Raising the Price of my Books: Here's Why

I'm not just a writer. I'm a reader too. I think most authors are. The love of reading is what makes us so passionate about writing.

A few years ago, I finally caved and bought my first e-reader. As I was getting acquainted with it, I was astonished to find that many authors were offering their books free. There were just as many that were priced at a paltry 99 cents. For a while, the only books I would buy were those priced at 99 cents, especially if I didn't know the author. I discovered some amazing authors this way including Erin Nicholas, Nicky Charles and Christie Craig. I was also able to rule out those that I didn't enjoy without breaking the bank.

Since the 99 cent price point was working for me as a consumer, it made sense to use it as an author. The idea was that I could reach more readers, including those who loved to read but had a limited budget. Every e-book I've released in the last two years has been priced at only 99 cents. Considering not one of my books is less than 50,000 words, I felt like readers were getting their money's worth. As a reader, nothing irks me more than paying $5.99 for a book that turns out to be less than 100 pages when I download it to my e-reader.

Recently, there's been a shift in people's opinions on the price of books. There's a theory out there that a book that costs 99 cents is poor quality, poorly edited and the author isn't talented. That's true for some books that are 99 cents, but it's also true for some books that are $5.99. In fact, I've seen more mistakes in some of the $5.99 books I've read than some of the free ones. Maybe it's because the authors offering their books for a cheaper price feel like they have to try harder or pay for it in reviews. Who knows?

A recent industry survey also found that the highest selling books are those priced at $3.99. Readers feel the price is reasonable and are confident the quality will be good.

From the release of my first novel, I've been hoping that I'll end up a bestseller and I'm not picky. I'll be happy if I'm an Amazon bestselling author, but I'd also be happy to be a NY Times and/or USA Today best seller.  I haven't reached that goal yet and I'm beginning to wonder if the 99 cent price point is costing me new readers. I have a pretty steady following of loyal readers who have read everything I've produced since my Wattpad days. My books are well received by reviewers. Yet I continue to struggle to reach the one big goal on every writer's bucket list; become a bestseller.

With the change in readers' opinions, I think it's time to change with it. I'm not saying I'll become an instant bestseller, but I have to see if this is going to help. Come January, I'll be raising the prices on all of my books while still keeping them reasonably priced. Will it make a difference? Time will tell, but you better believe if I become a bestselling author next year, I will be shouting it for all to hear!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

All I Want for Christmas: Some Things Never Change



It’s that time of year again. The holiday season is upon us and Christmas is this month. With the approach of Christmas comes that inevitable question: what do you want for Christmas?

Most people are expecting me to answer with a specific gift item. Oh, I want a watch or I could really use some more Magnolia perfume. On a serious side note, if anyone knows where I can get my hands on some Magnolia perfume by Avon please let me know. It was part of their floral line a few years ago and I haven’t been able to find it since.

Getting back on track, the truth is that I only want one thing. It’s the same thing I’ve been asking for since I became a published author. It’s a gift that can be purchased for less than ten dollars, but it’s something I can’t buy myself. As I typed that last line, I was struck funny by how much like a riddle it sounded, but that wasn’t my intent.

The only thing I want for Christmas, the only thing I want in my writing career really, is to be a bestselling author. Clearly, I can’t make that happen on my own. Sure, I can write a killer novel and promote the hell out of it, but I can’t buy enough copies of my books to secure me bestselling author status. I need readers to do that for me, and I’m including my friends, family and coworkers in that group.

If you really want to give me something for Christmas, buy one or all of my e-books. I currently have seven e-books out and they are all priced at 99 cents each. Even if you buy all of them, you’re only spending $6.93 and we both benefit from that. You get the books and I get the sales that can help me inch closer to that bestselling author mark. There is one other thing you could do that I would really appreciate. After you buy the books, if you could be so kind as to leave a review on Amazon, it would make my day. Reviews don’t have to be much. A few kind words are all that’s needed.

So, there you have it. Once again, all I want for Christmas is to be a bestselling author. As soon as I reach this goal, I’ll stop asking for this gift. Until then, I’ll ask every year. Now you see what I mean when I say that some things never change. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Plagiarized: A Tale of Two Betrayals



Whoever said imitation is the sincerest form of flattery obviously wasn’t a writer and was probably not talking about writers. Copying a writer’s work and claiming it as your own is serious, it’s illegal and it has a name; plagiarism.

Recently, the writing community was shocked by the news that one romance writer plagiarized the work of another. And we’re not talking about borrowing a few lines. We’re talking about taking the entire novel and changing so few details that anyone reading both would immediately see the problem. The author committing the plagiarism initially stayed silent but did remove ten of her books from circulation. Yes, ten! That author has since come out to say that she has “made mistakes” in her writing and was dealing with personal issues.

As an author, I was stunned and sickened when I learned of this. I’ll admit there have been times when I’ve read a book and liked it so much that I wished I’d thought of it. I have never, ever, plagiarized another author’s work. I’ve never even considered it. The fact that someone would is almost unfathomable. Not even in my darkest personal moments can I imagine stooping so low as to steal from someone else.

What makes this case worse is that it hit home for me. Until I learned she was a fraud, I supported the plagiarizing author. I bought several of her books and left glowing reviews online. I followed her on social media. I encouraged like-minded readers to buy her books. As a reader, I feel betrayed. As an author, I’m heartsick. Did the money I paid for her books rightfully belong to someone else?

A few years ago one of my stories was plagiarized. Just like in this instance, it was an alert reader that stumbled across it and contacted me. In my case, there was no profit being turned by the phony. She took my story and made it her own and posted it on a Justin Bieber fan fiction website. It took me a few weeks of going round and round with the moderator of the website, who was probably a teenage girl for all I know, to finally get my story removed. It didn’t matter that this other person wasn’t making money from claiming my story as hers. What mattered was that my story, a story I’d worked so hard on, was being passed off as hers and she was getting praise she didn’t earn.

Plagiarism is one of those crimes I’ll never understand. Isn’t there any kind of conscience on the part of the person committing the crime? How can they sit back and watch the money and praise roll in and not give one thought to the person they’ve victimized? And that’s what we are folks, we’re victims. The authors being plagiarized are victims of the most heartbreaking kind, but the readers are victims too. The readers are paying for a product and endorsing an author who is nothing more than a thief stealing the words, dreams, and in some instances money, of an author who poured blood, sweat and tears into her novel.

There isn't much more I can say other than it's disgusting and anyone who steals from another author should be punished to the fullest extent the law allows, no matter what the reason for the plagiarism was. You can bet I'll be keeping an eye out to see what comes of this case.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

You Asked for It!

I've been an author for a long time. In fact, I'm coming up on the ten year anniversary of the release of my first novel. As I've said before, electronic books didn't exist when I first started out and authors who struck out on their own weren't given any respect. Self-publishing companies were referred to as vanity presses.

A lot has changed since then. Most of it for the better, particularly when it comes to people's perception of the self-publisher. Now, the self-publisher is known as the independent or indie author, and there are a lot more options available to indie authors to get their work out there.

It wasn't that long ago, indie authors had two choices when it came to releasing their work. They could either pay a self-publisher to produce and distribute the book, or they could produce it themselves. Those options still exist, but thanks to the advent of e-readers, authors can release their books electronically for little to no cost.

Last year, I moved away from offering my books in print and went with the electronic format only. Doing this allowed me to keep the costs of production low. That was money I could invest in promotion in addition to being able to pass on the savings to the reader with lower prices. Like many authors, I used an e-book publishing site to distribute my book to online retailers in exchange for sharing a portion of my royalties. The one thing this site didn't do was offer my book on Amazon. For that to happen, I had to reach a minimum of 2,000 books sold through the other outlets first. Unless you're a best seller or have a lot of friends and family on standby, that's a difficult goal to meet.

Not having my book on Amazon turned out to be an issue.  The Kindle is one of the most popular reading devices there is and most readers prefer to purchase directly from the Kindle store rather than create an account with the e-publisher in order to buy the Kindle formatted book. There was also less exposure for my work.

Recently, I released the first book of my new Taking on Love series on both the original e-publishing site and Amazon using their Kindle Direct Publishing program. With that came the inevitable question of whether or not I would finally release the Time for Love series on Amazon. Well, guess what?

After a year, the answer to that question is finally yes. All four Time for Love books are now available on Amazon in e-book format for just 99 cents. I also released Like You Mean It, my young adult novel, on Amazon as well.

You asked for it and here it is. Now help me out and buy those books and tell your friends and family to do the same!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Don't Judge a Book by its Price

The other day, a fellow writer asked her readers if they avoided buying e-books that were priced less than five dollars. Apparently, she'd heard that it was a bad idea to price a book below this amount as it gave readers the impression it was poorly written.

I just about fell out of my chair when I read that. I remember a time not too long ago when the advice of the moment was for writers to price their books at ninety-nine cents to attract more readers. It was suggested that if they didn't want to set all of their books with such a low price point that they make the first in a series this price and the subsequent books a higher price.
 
If you've bought any of my e-books, you know that I've priced them all at ninety-nine cents. I do that because I want readers to feel like they have gotten the most for their money. Yes, it means I make less money, but that's never been the driving force behind my writing. Sure, I'd love to make a ton of money as a writer, but if I don't, I'm still happy being a writer.

As a reader, I can tell you that price doesn't determine whether or not a book is good quality. I've bought some six dollar books that were less than fifty pages of poorly written prose. I've also bought some ninety-nine cent books that ran circles around other, higher priced books. I never let the cost of a book dictate whether or not I'll purchase the book. Instead, I download a free sample of the book before I buy. If I like what I initially read then I'll buy the book.

I've known a few readers who won't pay a dime for a book. If it's not free, they aren't going to download it. I've also known readers who won't pay more than a dollar for a book. I had a friend who was given a twenty-five dollar gift card for her birthday and used it to buy twenty-five e-books.

Truthfully, I guess there's no hard and fast rule about buying books. Some will only download the free or ninety-nine cent books. Some won't go near those. Either philosophy is a shame. Instead of judging the merit of a book on its price, why not give it a try first? Who knows? You might be happy you did.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Pushing Past the Nerves



As a writer, I strongly believe in doing all that I can to avoid self-censorship. I can always get a sense of when an author censors their work based on how the sex scenes are written, but I understand. It’s easy to fall into the trap of censoring your work when you have that little voice in your head reminding you that your mom, dad, grandma, etc. is going to be reading your book. Last week, I ran in to a new possibility for self-censorship that I haven’t faced before.

One of my coworkers, an avid reader who happens to be a sweet Catholic woman, informed me that she purchased all of my books and had already started reading the latest one. While I’m always ecstatic for the sales, I can’t lie. I cringed a little when I thought of all the rather graphic sex scenes in my new book. Now, in my defense, I am a contemporary erotic romance writer. The word erotic is supposed to serve as a warning that my books will not only contain hot and heavy sex, but that hot and heavy sex will be described in detail. Still, my first thought when my dear coworker told me that she bought my book was ‘Well, that’s a bit unnerving’, followed by ‘Hope she’s ready to see a whole new side of me’!

I am not the same person at work that I am at home. The fact that I wear my hair in a bun and wear tortoise framed glasses to work every day seems to give people the prim and proper librarian impression. While I don’t do anything to foster that, I don’t go out of my way to remind people just how scandalous I am. However, I do warn them that nobody wants to know the real me. That would be frightening, but I’m okay with that. My bosses don’t pay me to be myself. They pay me to get a job done.

Not only has my coworker now been introduced to a new side of me through my writing, but she has exposed other coworkers to me as well! Come to find out, she was reading aloud from my book to the four other people she shares an office with. As flattering as that is, I still had that initial gut reaction of it being unsettling.

I can’t say her recitation was the reason, but one of her office mates then went out and bought the newest book, the one my coworker had been reading from. Another sale for me is always good. My second coworker hasn’t really given me an indication of how she liked the book other than to say ‘I finished your book this weekend’, but it turns out the sweet little Catholic lady is hooked. She not only told me that I was going to end up being another of her favorite writers whose next book she anxiously awaited but she found a rather racy picture of a muscular man she imagined my male lead to be and posted that to my Facebook wall.

Moral of the story? Yes, it can be unnerving for your friends, family and coworkers to read your work. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write what you want. Either they will like it or they won't. That’s not something you can dictate, but you can stay true to your writing if you push past the nerves and just go for it. 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Another Rant about Reviews



Last week, I talked about bad book reviews and how authors can handle them. Well, guess what? My rant about reviews isn’t quite over. This time, I’ve got a different beef, one that falls under the category of ‘be careful what you wish for’.

So, what’s my problem with reviews now? It’s a personal one.

If you buy a book, and you like the book, please write a review. Reviews aren’t just a way to validate an author’s hard work. They have a much greater significance. Reviews can influence sales. Some people read those book reviews before they buy and might be more likely to buy a book that’s well reviewed. 

Amazon reviews can be instrumental in promotion. When a book surpasses twenty-five reviews, Amazon will include the author’s book in the “Customers who bought this also bought” category when readers are buying other books. After more than seventy reviews, Amazon will highlight the book for spotlight positions, including their newsletter. Even more reviews and an author’s book can be included in an email to all Amazon customers who have purchased other titles in that author’s genre. Talk about exposure!

Yes, it feels good to get a good review. If you’re not a writer, or you don’t know one, you may not realize how much goes into a book. It’s not simply writing a story and handing it off. Most books start with story and character outlines well before they’re written. After writing comes the editing and revising and then still more editing. Then you share your work with beta readers and with their feedback comes still more revising and editing. Then, maybe if you’re lucky, you can release the book.

When you finally release the book, you hold your breath and hope that readers like it. And you’re not going to know if they like it without that review. I’m not going to lie. It’s very depressing to release a book that you’ve worked hard on and feel proud of and wait for reviews that never come. It can make you question your ability and wonder why you worked so hard.

So, if you read a book you like, especially if it’s one of my books, please take a moment to write a review. It doesn’t have to be an essay. A few kind words will do. Those few kind words can make a huge difference to an author that has no reviews at all. And to those of you who faithfully read and review my books, thank you. I couldn’t do this without you.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

What to do About a Bad Review



Recently, a fellow author was dismayed to see she had gotten a dismal review on Amazon. I’m talking a one star review. The kind of review that went beyond a simple dislike of the book and crossed the line into downright mean spirited.

Of course, the author was devastated by this review. Needing someone to vent to, she reached out to fellow authors. She wanted to know what she could and should do about this review. The truth is there is absolutely nothing you can do to change a bad review. You can cry and complain. You can question your talent and curse the reviewer.

You could get into an argument with the reviewer, but you shouldn’t. Reviewers are entitled to their opinions. Not all of them are going to like your book and some of them are going to make sure everyone knows how much they dislike it. Do they have to be so hurtful about it? No, and they shouldn’t. It serves no constructive purpose. As much as we don’t like what was said or the way it was said, it’s best to let it go. Don’t bother engaging in a pissing contest with the reviewer because you end up looking petty in the end.

Once we get over the initial shock of the bad review, we need to find a way to set the hurt aside. Try to ignore the barbs and pot shots and really look at what the reviewer was saying. Is it possible that underneath all of that bluster, the reviewer has given us something we can do to improve our work? Sometimes the answer is no. Sometimes though, when we distance ourselves emotionally the answer is yes. If we can accept that help, we can improve our craft and decrease the chances for bad reviews in the future.

We can also look closely at the rest of our reviews. If a majority of the reviews are positive then try not to get hung up on the one bad review. Even as I say this, I know this advice is difficult to follow. There can be one hundred good reviews and one bad one and I’ll get down about that bad one before I even realize how many good ones there are. That is not a good practice. All writers need to learn to let go. Maybe the reader didn’t connect with the book. Maybe they had a different expectation of it. Maybe, and this happens, the reader is just an ass who takes pleasure in tearing others down.

Reviews are one of those double edged swords for writers. We look forward to them and want them. We also dread the possibility the book will not be well received or that it will be poorly reviewed. Either way, I think we have a responsibility to take the bad with the good. Sure, we love those glowing reviews, but when we made our work available for public consumption, we opened ourselves up to the possibility that not all of the responses would be positive.

So, what can you do about a bad review? Whatever you want really, but at the end of the day there is one thing to keep in mind. No matter what you do, it isn’t going away!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Jumping on the Bandwagon



It’s official. I’m doing it. I’m jumping on the Amazon bandwagon.

I’ve been a professional writer for almost ten years now and things sure have changed. When I first started out, everything was still being printed and authors who self-published faced the stigma of being considered failures. Self-publishing presses were even called vanity publishers. Now, e-books are the norm and independent, or indie, authors can do just as well as their mainstream counterparts.

It’s no secret that I was one of those people that detested the thought of electronic books and readers. I just couldn’t fathom the idea of not having an actual book. Besides the fact that I enjoyed feeling and holding books, I argued that e-books weren’t something an author could sign. Funny since I didn’t have any signed author copies at the time I was arguing this.

I have since come to realize the value of the e-book. As an indie author, it’s more cost effective to release my books electronically. I can then pass this savings on to the readers with lower price points. That in turn can lead to more sales.

For the last year, my books have been exclusively offered in electronic format and sales have been steady. Not booming but nothing to be ashamed of. Still, I think I can do better and I think the problem has been my choice of venue. The publishing vehicle I’ve used partners with Amazon, but Amazon will only carry your book once you sell a certain amount of copies. Given that I currently have a small following, I don’t have the numbers to make these books available on Amazon. With the Kindle being the most popular e-reader that means I lose Kindle sales when readers can’t find it on Amazon.

In the last few weeks, I’ve been kicking around the idea of releasing my next book series through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) program. It seems to work similarly to what I’m using now, but it comes with the added bonus of having my book listed on and backed by Amazon. Not to say Amazon will endorse my book, but the fact that it will be available there is an endorsement in and of itself.

I’m hoping that by using KDP, I can attract more readers. If that happens, maybe just maybe I can finally reach my goal of becoming a best-selling author. I know I’m dreaming big, but believe me when I say it’s a hope and dream but not an expectation. The practical part of me is not letting me get caught up in the idea that using KDP is going to make me an instant best seller, but it sure can’t hurt.

Using KDP may also net me more reviews than I get now. More reviews are one of the careful what you wish for, double edged sword things. I’ve read some downright mean reviews on Amazon, but that’s a story for another time.

Right now, the important thing to know is that my next book, Taking a Gamble, will be available on Amazon. I find it a little ironic that my book is entitled Taking a Gamble when that’s exactly what I’ll be doing when I release exclusively through KDP. Let’s hope my instincts are right and jumping on the Amazon bandwagon is a gamble that pays off.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Run-on Sentences; The Story of my Addiction



Over lunch, while eating a sandwich she picked up from the deli up the street on her break, she pored over the work spread across her drafting table.

I am ashamed to say the above sentence was written in my most recent book. Now, in my defense, the book is currently in the editing stage. So, the good news is that I managed to catch this before it goes to print. The funny thing about this sentence is that the very day I realized it was filled with unnecessary words, I read a blog article on tips to keep an editor from cringing. I’m happy to say I read the article before I took issue with my wordy sentence, but it got me to thinking. How many more of my sentences are this cluttered?

Asking myself this question led me to seek the answer. Finding that answer in a one hundred thousand words plus novel was no easy feat. The results are both good and bad. Good news? They weren’t as many cluttered run-on sentences as I was afraid of. And since the novel hasn’t been published, I was able to address them before they saw the light of day. Bad news? There were more cluttered run-on sentences than I was hoping for. Since the novel hasn’t been published, that means I have to correct them which might lead to a delay in publication.

As I was going through my novel in search of these pesky critters, I realized something. I have a tendency to add a lot more detail than necessary to some of my sentences. Take that first sentence for example. Who cares where she got the salad from and when? Does leaving that information out of the sentence negatively impact the story? Does leaving it in help? The answer to both questions is no. The solution is to take it out.

I also discovered that I like to take what could be two, sometimes even three sentences, and make them one nice, long, flowing sentence. There were a few instances where I had one sentence paragraphs that were three lines long. I like writing which means I like words, but even I can see this is some serious overkill.

In the category of more good news, this isn’t the end of the world. It’s something I can fix which means making my stories flow better. Of course, the flip side of that coin is the realization that it took several published novels for me to catch on to this problem. Now I have to avoid rereading those novels, or I might end up crying.

A long time ago, an editor told me I was addicted to adverbs. I laughed her off until I counted how many there were. It was an eye-opener. Now, I do my best to use them sparingly. It seems I substituted one addiction for another; run-on sentences in place of adverbs.

Thankfully, I can and will do something about this. I am by no means convinced I am the best writer I can be. As long as I write, there will always be room to improve my craft. If I can overcome my adverb habit, I can beat this too! 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Self-Promotion Sucks! Help Me!



The other day when I was putting my lunch in the break room refrigerator of my day job, a coworker said to me, ‘I didn’t know you had your own website, Trish. That’s cool.’ My website is specifically devoted to my writing and I have a rather large sticker on the back windshield of my car that advertises my site.

The observation about my website was made by someone I’ve worked with for a little over two years now and it perfectly illustrates one of my biggest shortcomings as a writer; self-promotion. I’m not just bad at self-promotion, I’m terrible at it.

There’s a common misconception among aspiring writers and non-writers that the publisher is going to invest in marketing your book. The reality is much different. Large publishers do have marketing budgets, but those are typically reserved for already established authors. There will be little to no money invested in the first time author. Small publishers just don’t have the budget to promote the author. Whether large or small, most publishers expect authors to have a marketing plan by the time their novel is ready to go to print.

I have a marketing plan. It’s a really nice one. I worked hard on it and it’s a good looking document if I do say so myself. Not only do I have it, but I’ve actually implemented some of the strategies on the plan. I created an author website. I have social media accounts which I update regularly. I’ve solicited reviews for each book I’ve published.

I’ve even done some things on my marketing plan that weren’t there. I’ve had created and posted social media ads. I’ve done a virtual book tour. I’ve joined online reading communities to try and expand my audience. I even started a small street team to get my most faithful readers to help me generate an online buzz about my work.

Yet no matter what I do, that best-selling author status continues to elude me. I am apparently either a terrible writer or not doing the right things to get the word out about my books.  For the sake of my ego, I’m going to say it’s the latter and not the former. It’s not that I’m a terrible writer. I’m just not good at promoting my work. Only time will tell if I improve on that. In the meantime, I’m throwing myself on your mercy. 

Please read my work. If you read it, post a review online. It doesn’t have to be a big one. It could even be a one liner; something like ‘Best book I’ve ever read!’ If you have a Twitter account, follow me and favorite and retweet my tweets. If you have a Facebook account, like my author page and like and share my updates. And finally, spread the word. Tell your friends and family how great I am, or rather how great my work is.

Okay, yes, I hear the desperation in my voice and I’m sure you do too. Self-promotion sucks. It doesn’t come naturally to me. Take pity on me. Please.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Resisting Temptation

A few years ago, I was on this writing contest kick. I think I've told you this before. Besides looking for some validation that my writing didn't suck, I needed some writing credits I could include in my query letters to agents. Trying to get an agent is like trying to get a credit card. You can't get credit without an established credit history. You can't get an agent if you don't have some writing credits to your name. How's an aspiring author supposed to get a writing credit? Well, a writing contest seemed like a good place to start.

One of the contests I entered was sponsored by publisher Hardie-Grant-Edgemont and it was called the Ampersand Young Adult Novel contest. It gave emerging authors the chance to have their young adult novel considered for publication. The thing I liked best about this contest, besides the lack of an entry fee, was the fact that it welcomed edgy novels.

I polished up my favorite unpublished YA novel entitled Totally Sick Freak. With the first line of the novel being 'I'm probably the most fucked up person I know', I figured that certainly qualified as edgy.

Obviously, I didn't win the contest. You've never heard of Totally Sick Freak. It's not published and you have no idea what it's about. I did get something I didn't expect though. As part of the judging process, all of the novels were critiqued and authors were sent those critiques. Even though it can be a little sad to see your beautiful creation ripped to shreds, it actually makes you a better writer once you get past the crushing realization that your writing isn't perfect.

A few days ago, I got an email that the contest is open for submissions in two weeks and I gave serious consideration to it. I do have a couple of YA novels that I'd really like to see the light of day. The problem is they're not ready. If I want to submit them, I not only need to clean them up, I need to format them to the contest standards. That's a pretty tall order for such a tight timeline. With enough effort, I'm sure it could be done, but I'm going to stand strong and stick my skipping contests plan I set this year.

I'm all for writing contests, but I made a writing plan this year and contests wasn't in that plan. That's not to say I'll never enter another one again, but I promised myself and my readers I'd try to publish more novels this year. I can't do that if I'm slaving away on prepping for a writing contest that I have slim odds of winning.

So, if you're entering, good luck. I'm pulling for you. As to me, I'm going to resist that temptation; for now!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

It's Indie Author Pride Day!



Earlier today, I was scrolling through Facebook, while on a company approved break at my day job of course. I would never peruse social media on company time. So, there I was scrolling through Facebook on my break when I saw a smiling writer posing beside two copies of her book proclaiming today is indie author day.

I have to admit, I’d never heard of indie author day. Intrigued and determined to find out more, I took to the internet to see what I could find. Sure enough, I found it. You can find most anything on the internet you know.

July 1st has been designated as Indie Author Pride Day. Its purpose is for independent authors to flood social media with pictures and announcements that show their pride in their work. There wasn’t any real explanation of why it exists or who started it, but I assume it was born of the need to remove the stigma from self-publishing.

I’m not going to lie. There are plenty of self-published novels that would probably make better coasters or door stops, but there are just as many that are well written, entertaining, engaging and making national bestseller lists. And regardless of what some people think, it’s not rejection from agents or publishers that motivates some authors to self-publish. There are a number of other reasons that don’t really matter today.

Today is about indie authors taking pride in their work and I have to say I like this idea. I like that someone recognized that all authors deserve to be recognized in some way, even if that means getting out there and sharing their pride on their own. If you ask me, this is actually an interesting marketing opportunity as well.

If you’re an indie author, let’s hear it. If you love the work of an indie author, help them celebrate Indie Author Pride Day by sharing your favorite pictures, stories, books, etc. After all, it’s all well and good for me to get on my own bandwagon. I am proud of the work I do, but I don’t do that work for me. I do it for the readers so thank you. Thank you for making Indie Author Pride Day possible by showing publishers that you’re willing to buy self-published books. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Don't Leave Me Hanging!



We’ve all been there. We buy a book that looks good. We read it and it is good. In fact, it’s so good, it’s a page turner. We turn in to wolves reading voraciously until we reach the end only to get a sharp slap in the face. Rather than get the closure that’s kept us reading, we’re left open mouthed with a cliffhanger ending and no more pages left to turn.

Cliffhangers aren’t new. They’ve been around for ages and it’s not just novelists that use cliffhangers; scriptwriters have done it too. If you’re as old as I am, you remember the most famous television cliffhanger of the eighties being “who shot J.R.” on the prime time soap opera, Dallas. Man, I just dated myself!

The idea of the cliffhanger is to get readers so invested that they come back for more. They buy the second and possibly third and fourth books in the series. Writers net more sales and make more money and readers get more of the characters they love. It’s a win-win situation. Or is it?

I’ve noticed lately that more and more readers are fed up with cliffhanger endings. This is particularly true when the author offers the first book for free and leaves it on a cliffhanger. If you want to find out what happened to the characters, you’re forced to buy the subsequent books. Some readers flat out refuse to do it, but some are so compelled to find out how it ends that they invest the money.

Some readers are not only putting their foot down and refusing to buy the books, but they’re leaving online reviews warning potential readers that the book is a cliffhanger. And of course, you know these readers are also giving one star reviews and talking about how unfulfilled they are. This dissatisfaction leads to them finding other things to pick apart with the book and post in their reviews.

I’ll be honest. I’m on the fence about the cliffhanger ending. If it’s a good book, I’m a little more tolerant, but there is one sure fire way authors get my dander up with cliffhanger endings. I absolutely cannot stand when an author takes what should easily be one, maybe two books at the most, and stretches it into five or six books. The first book is typically free and ends on a cliffhanger and more often than not, it’s less than one hundred pages long. Subsequent books in the series are released that are of equal length but priced higher. And even though there are times when I really like the characters and I’d love to know how their story turns out, I take a stand and join the ranks of other readers and say enough is enough. I’m not buying any more of these books.

I’m here to tell you it is possible to write a series of novels, featuring the same characters, and make them standalone novels. It not only can be done, it has been done by authors in every genre. When that happens, readers don’t necessarily have to buy the other books to understand what happens in each subsequent book, but they often will because they’ve become emotionally invested in the characters.

When I wrote the Time for Love series, it followed the love story of one couple over a series of four books. Each book took place at a different time in their lives. Rather than use cliffhangers, I took the approach of what many call “happy for now”. Each book had a resolution to its conflict, but readers knew there was more conflict on the horizon. Thus far, I haven’t had any complaints about that.

No matter how much you want it to, the cliffhanger ending will never go away. There will always be some writers who have convinced themselves it’s the way to go.  I would never tell another writer how to write their story, but I will warn you that more and more readers are rising up with cries of ‘don’t leave me hanging’ so proceed at your own risk.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

People Actually Read That?



I have a pretty eclectic taste in music. Oddly enough, the same can’t be said for books. I like a few genres and when I read outside those genres, I usually don’t enjoy the books I read. As a writer, I also write in only a few specific genres. Actually, I write in one genre with a few subgenres attached to it. Every book I write is a romance novel. It could be a young adult romance or a contemporary romance but mostly it’s contemporary erotic romance.

When I say that I write contemporary erotic romance that means the characters in my books have sex. For that reason, those characters are typically adults in a consensual relationship. For the most part, I’ve stuck to pretty traditional relationships for my characters, meaning a man and woman are having sex. Sure, I’ve introduced a few toys or added some element of risk for the setting, but I haven’t stepped outside that box of what’s considered typical.

My sex scenes may fall under the category of what’s expected, but I’ve certainly read plenty of authors pushing the envelope, expanding boundaries and just plain getting down and dirty. I can hear you now. Can you give us an example of what those clich├ęs mean? Yes, I can.

Lately, I’ve noticed that polyamorous relationships are cropping up in several of the novels I read. In case you don’t know, a polyamorous relationship is one involving multiple partners. It’s the pretty way of saying a three-way or a gang bang. I know, I know, it sounds like a turnoff. If you’re an uptight person, it is a turnoff.  To those of us a little more open minded, if you read a few romance novels with this plot point, you see that it works when told well. And no, the conflict doesn’t always have to revolve around the participants being jealous of one another.

I’ve also seen more and more same sex romance novels. Yes, gay romance. Some are good and some aren’t. That’s true with any book, but when they’re done well, readers can focus on the love story without getting hung up on the biology. At least, an open minded reader can. A reader who doesn’t agree with homosexuality or doesn’t care for gay romance isn’t likely to enjoy a story of this nature no matter how well written I think it is.

There’s also another trend that I have to admit falls under the “that skeeves me out” category and I like to consider myself pretty open minded in the romance novel department. I’m talking about those stepbrother romances. If you’re a romance reader, you’ve seen them. They’re everywhere with titles like Falling for My Stepbrother, I Married my Stepbrother and the not so subtle I’m Doing my Stepbrother. I don’t have a stepbrother, nor do I have any stepchildren, but I know plenty of people who do. From what I’ve seen, most stepsiblings grow up feeling and being treated like biological siblings. It’s that hint of incest that makes me uncomfortable, but these novels are popular enough to not only be sold but to become bestsellers.

Recently, I even learned about something called dino-porn. I’m not kidding. It’s real and it’s just like it sounds. The plot of the story revolves around humans and prehistoric creatures in sexual relationships. Now, that’s not my cup of tea, but it someone’s. In fact, let me just go on record now as saying the whole bestiality thing just doesn’t do it for me. Don’t read it and won’t write it.

These are just a few examples of what’s out there and before you turn your nose up at it, I’m here to tell you that people are reading it. Authors are making a living at writing these stories and some of them are making a better living than I am with my contemporary erotic romance novels.

With so much diversity in romance, it’s difficult not to be inspired to try something new. No, I’m not writing dino-porn, but I do think it’s time to grow a little as an author. I’m never going to write a student-teacher novel, but I’m thinking of trying my hand at polyamory or gay romance. There’s a market for it so why not give it a try? No, I’m not selling out or looking for a quick buck. Readers’ tastes are changing and I want to change with it. Sure, someone may read my next book and decide it’s not for them, but someone else may love it.

Music has changed with the times. What we listened to in the fifties isn’t what we listen to now though its influence can be heard. I suppose the same should be true for books. What do you say? I’m ready to write some gay romance? Who’s ready to read it? Because yes, people actually read that and so much more!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Why Are you Begging for Reviews?



Earlier this year, I made myself a promise. Rather than just using social media to promote my own books, I was going to actively seek out new authors. I wanted to make sure I was doing my part to help my peers. If I want help, I have to give it in return right? In theory, that’s true, but I’ve discovered a few things that have left me with a bad taste in my mouth and they have to do with reviews.

There are a number of groups on Facebook dedicated to book promotion, authors, reviews and the like. Authors can post links to buy their book, solicit reviews and share news about upcoming releases, book tours, and so on. Most authors tend to post a copy of their book cover with a small blurb about the book and the links to buy. I started to notice that very few were responding to requests for reviews and review swaps. The review swap is just like it sounds. Authors trade copies of their books and review them for one another, making sure to post those reviews online.

My first venture into the review swap foray did not go well. The author asking to trade reviews was a non-fiction author whose latest release was a cookbook. The only valid way for me to review the book would be to test the recipes which I did not want to do. When I politely tried to back out for that reason, the author said she also had fiction novels that she would trade reviews for. I agreed and thought we were ready to proceed only to find out that the author wasn’t interested in reading my work because my books aren’t available through the Kindle store. Okay, then! 

The second time I offered to review an author’s work, it was because she posted a request in the Facebook group that no one was responding to. I suspect no one responded because she wasn’t doing a review for review request. However, she was offering a free copy of the book. I accepted and thoroughly enjoyed the book, but I was dismayed when I logged into Amazon and Goodreads to post my reviews and found more than fifty 4 and 5 star reviews already existed for this work. Why would this author need to solicit reviews when the book was already being well reviewed?

A variation of this happened again this week. An author offered to swap reviews and said he would read any genre in return. I agreed to read his book and was even kind enough to explain that I write contemporary erotic romance so I would understand if he didn’t want to read my book in return though I’d appreciate it. Not only did he send me his book and thank me for letting him off the hook to read mine, but again I find that he has more than thirty reviews on Amazon. Only one was a 1 star review, the rest were 4 and 5 star reviews

People, why are you out there begging for more reviews? Okay, yes, I’m sure the number of reviews dictates how heavily the book is promoted, where it’s ranked, etc., but damn it, you should be lucky you’re getting the reviews you are. One year ago, the first Taking on Love book was released and it has four maybe five reviews on Goodreads. I have even fewer reviews on Barnes and Noble. My point? I would give anything to have thirty or more reviews and I would not be out there actively trolling for more without giving anything back in return.

So, I’ve come to a decision. From now on, I will not do a solicited review unless the author has fewer than ten reviews. I will happily continue to review all the books I purchase on my own as a thank you to the author. I want him or her to know how much I enjoyed his work.

I’m sure some of my peers will disagree with what I’ve said here and my decision not to review your work if your reviews are already rolling in. Maybe one day, I’ll see the other side of this coin. Until then, I keep asking myself, why are you people with double digit review numbers begging for reviews the rest of us with fewer could really use?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Just What the Doctor Ordered



As much as I wish it was otherwise, I have a day job. I’m not a full time writer. Until I eventually become a best-selling author and/or a household name, I have to work Monday through Friday doing the eight to five thing.

Right now, that means I do most of my best writing on the weekends. While I do write on occasion during the week, I have to be careful that I don’t end up burning the midnight oil and burn myself out. I also have to make sure I don’t ignore my family entirely. As it is, I’m pretty much a ghost on the weekends.

While this works, I don’t get to write as much as I’d like. I would love to be able to stay home during the week and write while the kids were at school and my hubby was at work. I could stop at my leisure or just keep writing and not worry. I could also be more productive, getting both my writing and editing done at a quicker pace. That of course means getting more books out sooner.

Last week, I got the chance to live out this idea. I took a few days off the day job and spent a good deal of them working on my latest novel and let me tell you something. It was everything I thought it could be and more. You’re not going to believe this, but I finished the first draft of the novel that I was only six chapters into when I started this little venture.

Not only did I finish the first draft of my latest novel, but I had a great time. I wrote at my pace. I stopped when I wanted. I didn’t have distractions and I wasn’t tired. My story didn’t feel like it was being forced. Instead, it flowed so freely that the days passed quicker than I was ready for.

After having such a good time writing, and getting a taste of how it would be if I could parlay it into a full time gig, it was difficult to go back to the day job yesterday. I found myself thinking about writing and wondering how soon I’d be able to schedule another block of vacation time to do this again. The one comfort I took while going through my double digit emails was that I was only working three days this week so the weekend would be on me that much sooner.

I’m not going to lie. I would love to be a full time writer. In fact, the other day, I was a little incensed when I mentioned to someone that I hated to go back to work and he said at least now I knew what it was like to be a professional writer. I am a professional writer. I’m published. I just don’t have the luxury of selling enough novels to be a full time writer.

Whether I ever get the opportunity to write full time or not, I can tell you one thing. I enjoyed the opportunity. It was just what the doctor ordered. In fact, I need to see about getting another prescription stat!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Labor of Love



As a regular reader of my books, you probably already know that I’ve been working on a four book contemporary erotic romance series entitled the Time for Love series. The series follows one couple, Justin Jacobs and Chelsea Schumacher, through the ups and downs of their romance.

Fans of my young adult novel, Like You Mean It, were already familiar with Justin Jacobs. Justin was the older brother of Darren, the male lead in Like You Mean It. When Like You Mean It ended, fans didn’t just want more. They wanted more of Justin who struck a chord with many readers.

It was in response to the fans' request that I decided to write a spin off story for Justin. When the story first began, I had no intention of making it a four book series. I thought it would be a standalone story and when it was finished, I would move on to the next book with new characters. After I sat down and started writing, I realized there was far too much I wanted to explore with Justin and Chelsea to try and cram it all into one book. Looking closer still, I found that I had four distinct plot points that I could flesh out nicely in four separate novels. With that decided, the Time for Love series was born.

This Time, the first book in the Time for Love series was released in May of 2014. After that came the Next Time and then Tough Times. 

On May 19, 2015, the fourth and final Time for Love book, It’s About Time, was released. The title of the book as well as the release date seems fitting. It was one year ago that the first book, This Time, was released. Now, one year later, the story of Justin and Chelsea comes to a close with their final story, It’s About Time.

The Time for Love series has been a lot of fun to write. The response of the readers has warmed my heart. The books have been well reviewed and are gaining a steady following. I couldn’t be more proud of this year long labor of love.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the journey of Justin and Chelsea as much as I have. And I hope that you’ll join me in the next journey, the Taking on Love series. This will also be a four book series, but each book will feature a different couple and will be a standalone novel; no cliffhangers here. 

As always, thanks for your support and don’t forget to get your copy of It’s About Time!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Stretching the Sales



When I was first starting out in my day job, I once had an executive tell me that when I was promoted, I would take the traits I’d both liked and disliked in my previous bosses and use that to make me the supervisor I wanted to be. Not only was she right, but I think that can be applied to my career as a writer.

In the last ten years of writing, I have observed things my colleagues are doing and either decided to try it myself or vowed that’s not for me. And before we go any further, let me be clear in saying I’m not talking about plagiarizing anyone’s work. When I say I borrow ideas from fellow writers, I’m referring to marketing strategies and writing techniques and such.

I’ve recently stumbled across something I’ve already filed under the ‘writing pet peeve’ category. I’ve noticed a few authors who write a series of novels, but each novel is less than one hundred pages. Meanwhile, the price point for these novels is typically set at $4.99. I hear you; $4.99 isn’t that much. Normally I’d agree, but as a reader, it ticks me off that I spend almost five dollars on a story that is not only thirty thousand words or less, but it has a cliffhanger ending. If I want to know what’s happened, I’m left with no choice but to buy the next book.

Okay, yes, I have a choice. Everyone has a choice. I don’t have to buy the next book. I’ve been choosing to because I’ve been invested in the story and I needed the closure. Not anymore. To be honest, I’m a little insulted by this practice. It feels like the author is trying to get more money out of me by taking what’s basically a single novel and stretching it into four or five novellas and selling it for the same price as some of their counterparts, me included, sell full length novels for.

I’m sure authors who do this think they’re keeping readers interested. Maybe that works for some readers, but my patience for this practice has worn thin. Stepping back, it looks as if the authors are going for sales and sacrificing the story. They’re making it about the money and that’s sad. 

If an author writes an eighty thousand word full length novel that’s really good, I’m going to be more satisfied than seeing this novel released in four installments that are twenty thousand words each. If the novel is good, I’m going to be inclined to buy more of their work when it’s released, even if that means waiting a bit. When an author is good, she’s worth the wait.

If you’re one of my readers, you can rest assured that I will not be engaging in this practice. Every novel I release will be full length and reasonably priced. I won’t be stretching my stories out to inflate my sales nor will I support other authors who do.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Why Writers Want Reviews



I will be the first to admit that in the past, I wasn’t always good about making sure I posted a review of a book I read. I didn’t think it mattered. I bought the book. I read it. I talked about with my friends and coworkers, whether good or bad. It never even occurred to me to post a review of the book.

Since becoming a writer, I’ve come to see the error of my ways and understand how much the writer values reviews. That includes the good, the bad and the downright ugly. I’ve been the recipient of all types of reviews because what appeals to one person appalls another.

These days, writers are using all kinds of tactics to get reviews. I’m talking everything from the good old review swap (you review mine and I’ll review yours) to shameless begging; will you please, please review my book in exchange for a free copy. Some writers even get a little pushy about it; you’ve read the book. Would it kill you to review it? Others get a little craftier and create review teams. In other words, you can have a free copy of my book if you post a review to specified sites.

The multitude of tactics should tell you how desperate we are for reviews, but it doesn’t tell you why. Let me see if I can shed some light on the subject.

Writing is hard work. Contrary to popular belief, we don’t produce a Pulitzer Prize winning story every time we sit at the computer. The first draft is usually the worst and we often end up going through several revisions to reach the best possible product. And we don’t simply do it for us. We do it for our readers who love our characters as much as we do. We need you to tell us if we met your expectations. If we didn’t, we need you to tell us how we failed you so we can improve our next books.

Yes, there’s an ego factor involved. When a writer gets a good review, it makes us feel like the hard work was worth it and maybe we have a measure of talent. It’s also incredibly humbling to hear the positive ways your words have impacted others. It gives you that drive you need to keep going and on those days when you start to question your sanity and your ability, those kind words remind you that your words matter to someone. That alone makes it worth keeping at it, even when it doesn’t always come easily.

Have you ever gone to a concert or a play where there was dead silence at the end of the performance? That would be pretty awkward for the entertainer who would be left wondering if she was good or bad. The assumption would be that she didn’t do a good job since nobody clapped or whistled or shouted praise. The same thing goes for a book. If the reader doesn’t post a review online, a writer has no way of knowing if the book was met with approval or not. That’s an awkward feeling, wondering if you’re any good or if you should just keep your day job.

I’m sure some of you are thinking like I used to. It takes a lot of time to write a review. It can, but it doesn’t have to. It can be something as simple as; I loved this book and can’t wait to read more from this author because she’s the best writer ever. Long reviews are nice, but the short ones mean just as much. The important thing is being validated and acknowledged.

I hope the next time you finish a book, especially one you liked, that you’ll post a review. And if it’s one of my books, I’m begging you from the bottom of my heart to post that review! Trust me when I say the writer will appreciate it more than you know.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Sticking to My Story



I’ve never been the kind of writer that plans my story before I take to the computer. Typically, I have an idea for a story, along with how I’d like it to turn out, and I sit down and begin typing. It’s as I type that the story unfolds.

For a standalone novel, this hasn’t been a detrimental strategy. With one story, it’s a lot easier to keep track of the characters and events. Lately, I’m finding that it doesn’t work with serial writing. More books in a series means more is going on. That makes it easy for the details to get lost as I go deeper into the series.

While I might forget the details, the readers won’t. Readers are as emotionally invested in the characters as the authors are. They feel a sense of kinship with these characters. The term “book boyfriend” doesn’t exist for nothing. Being so attached to the characters means the readers remember things.

As a writer, I think I owe it to my readers to give them the best possible product. That means that not only is the copy editing tight, but the plot is strong, the characters are well developed and I don’t overlook the little things.

If I had a professional editor, it might be easier for a fresh set of objective eyes to catch the fact that in book one the character was twenty-six and in book two which was set in the same year, he was suddenly two years younger. Since I’m not in a position to employ an editor, I have to develop strategies to catch these things.

This weekend, I sat down and wrote a detailed character dossier for the male and female leads of my next story in the Taking on Love series. It wasn’t the first time I did something like this. I once had a publisher ask me to write a character outline for my main characters. I’d never done it before and didn’t see the point, but since the publisher asked for it, I wasn’t going to refuse. I wrote the outline and actually had fun doing it, but I didn’t continue the practice for future works. As of now, that has to change. Using character outlines allows me to have a written reference for those minor details that I tend to forget when I’m caught up in writing the story.

And I’m not stopping with character outlines. I’m going to be doing the plot summary and timeline of events prior to beginning work on the novel as well. This will not only keep me on track but may help nudge me along if I get stuck at any point.

I can’t guarantee these strategies are going to make my novels perfect, but I don’t see how they can hurt. If nothing else, it gives a whole new meaning to that old phrase, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Riding the Series Train



When I first started writing, I only wrote stand-alone novels. I didn’t have anything against the series concept, I just didn’t write them. My novels had a beginning, middle and end that usually didn’t lend itself to another book. The conflict was resolved. What was the point of writing another novel for the same characters when I could move on to the next story with new characters?

A few years ago, when I started sharing my work online, I found that readers wanted more than one story. They connected with the characters and wanted to read more about them. As a result, I wrote a trilogy with a spin off and then a four book series. When one book in the series ended, readers seemed to eagerly anticipate the next.

Most writers are readers as well. It’s our love of reading that makes us want to write and can make us better writers. As a reader, I can relate to fans wanting more of their favorite characters. I too have a number of series in my library that I love to read. Each time a new book in the series comes out, I have to make sure I go back and read the others leading up to it so I’m really ready for that new book. And when the series is over, I often go back and read and relive the entire series again.

Taking into account my own love of books, especially when they come in a series, and my own readers wanting more, it made sense for me to start writing my own series beyond the ones I shared with the online group. When I started writing a spin off story of my young adult novel, Like You Mean It, I never intended to give the male lead a four book series. It was going to be a stand-alone novel, but once I started writing it, I realized there was too much to put into one book. Have you ever heard that phrase, trying to fit ten pounds of stuff in a five pound bag? That’s what I was trying to do with my spinoff novel. What started as one novel actually became four novels in a series.

And do you know what happened when the series ended and it was time to start a new book? Yep, you guessed it. The next book became a series. Now that I’ve started I can’t seem to stop and do you know what else? It’s not a bad thing. In fact, writing a series is what I call a win-win. The writer has fun writing for the characters they love and the readers get more of those characters they love just as much.

There are some people who would say that writing a series is just another way for writers to get more money out of their readers. The readers got hooked on the first book and will continue to buy the books until the series is exhausted. Each new purchase is more money for the writer. That’s true and it might be money motivating some writers, but I’d venture a guess that’s true for fewer writers than you think.

For me, there’s nothing more humbling and nothing that brings me greater joy than readers liking my characters and stories so much that they want more. I’m not one of those writers who finish a story, or even a series, and never want to hear about those characters again. To this day, I still think about those Locke twins and how much more I could do with their family.

I’m not saying every writer should make every book into a series. Some books are meant to be a stand-alone. That’s okay too, but fair warning if you read my books. Now that I’ve booked a ticket on the series train, you can expect a lot more of them from me!