Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Mythbusting, The Writer's Edition

Before I even learned to write, I was a storyteller. As soon as I learned to write, I turned that in to a dream of wanting to be a writer. I'm probably going to date myself here, but I wanted to be the next Judy Blume or Lurlene McDaniel or even SE Hinton.

There are a lot of myths associated with being a writer, things that well-meaning people tell you. People think they know what it means to be a writer, but if you aren't one, you may not know the truth. I'm here to tell it to you. Here they are, in no particular order, the myths and the truth about being a writer.

1) Writing a good book is enough.
Sadly, this is not the case. It's certainly the first step, but it doesn't guarantee that your book will be published or that it will sell well if it is published.

2) Only self-published writers need to worry about book promotion.
Nope this is not the case. Many publishers require prospective authors to submit a marketing plan along with their manuscript. Even big name publishers won't invest much, if any, in their lesser known authors. They save their budget for the big boys and girls with a proven track record for stellar sales.

3) You're going to be a best selling author.
Believe it or not, this is harder than it sounds. Again, writing a good book is only the beginning. You have to find a way to get that good book into the hands of your readers. It's rare for most authors to be best sellers with their debut novel. It usually takes time for us to build a following.

4) You're going to be famous.
Some writers are but not all of us will. I've been writing for thirteen years, and I have yet to be recognized by an adoring member of the public. I have had readers reach out to me and express their excitement when I actually respond, and that still floors me. Those few incidents aside, I have yet to be out shopping and be recognized for being a writer.

5) You're going to have a ton of fans.
That's true for some of us, but it's not common. It also depends on the genre of your book. Authors who write in the more popular genres seem to have an easier time amassing fans. For the rest of us, we're more likely to have a small contingency of loyal fans who snap up everything we write and then post glowing reviews online. I love those people. They are the reason I keep writing even when I feel discouraged.

6) Having a widespread social media presence will increase your book sales.
It's not working for me. Now, I'll be honest, I don't take advantage of every social media forum. The truth is I just don't have the time. I currently have a Facebook page, a Twitter and Instagram account and a blog and a website, all of which I try to regularly update. My book sales don't change. No clue why. Maybe my social media posts aren't that interesting.

7) If readers like your book, they will write an Amazon review.
Your die hard fans will do this for you because they love you and they know how much this means to you. A majority of readers will not. They think buying the book and liking it is enough, but here's the thing. Book reviews are warm fuzzies, and if you don't post those reviews then I don't have any way of knowing how much you liked my book.

8) You should write a blog.
I've been blogging for a few years now. A fellow author strongly encouraged me to do it as a way to connect with my readers. I'm sure a few people are reading it, but it's rare that people comment on my blog posts or share my blog on their social media.

9) You should tweet incessantly about your book to generate more interest and sales.
You can, but it's probably not going to do any good. I don't know about you, but I follow a lot of people on Twitter. It doesn't take much for my twitter page to fill up and for tweets to bury one another. I'd have to tweet all day, every day to make a difference. Even then, would it work? Would you be more likely to buy my book because I tweeted about it?

10) Giveaways are a good way to generate interest in your books.
No, they're a good way to generate interest in free stuff. People will happily like, share, retweet or whatever you ask for a chance to win that gift card or coffee mug. That doesn't mean they are going to be so moved by your generosity that they buy your books.

11) Your books are good enough to be made into movies or a TV series.
They might be. This happens to a lot of books. It also happens a lot less than you'd think considering the sheer number of books that are published every year.

12) If your book is good, you could be part of Oprah's book club.
I'm not sure if Oprah still has a book club, but she did when I started out. I can't tell you how many times I heard friends and family tell me I needed to get on Oprah's book club. Sounds good. When you figure out how I can do that, you let me know.

It occurs to me, I could probably go on and on, but I think that's enough for now. Don't get me wrong. I love being a writer, and I'm happy with it. I just wish someone would have busted some of these myths for me before I started down this career path. It might have been less of a shock, but it wouldn't have stopped me from trying.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Now What?

When I find an author that's new to me, if I like the book I read, I'll go in search of everything else she wrote so I can read that as well. This can be a little discouraging when it turns out the book I just read is the author's latest or first release in a series and the next one isn't out yet.

Even though I'm a writer, I will freely admit that I am guilty of being impatient. I look at the book sitting in the new release section for a month or so, and I start doing a mental toe tapping and thinking it's time for the next book. Of course, as a writer, I know better than anyone it's not possible to release books in rapid succession. Well,  not unless you've already got several of the books written and ready to go, which most writers don't.

That being said, it occurred to me that I need to give you an update on what's next for me. It's been two weeks since Going Even Wilder was released. Going Even Wilder is a kindle world novella, the second I've done in the last year. So, now what?

My next book will actually be out in November. It's a romantic suspense novella entitled Missing Out that's part of the Chandler County series. It's currently in the editing stage and then will be sent for formatting. It will be available in preorder in September.

While Missing Out is being edited, I've already gotten started on my next book. The Truth Inside will be the first book in my New Beginnings new adult series, and I've got good news. There are currently six books planned for my New Beginnings series, but it's more likely to stretch to ten or more, provided you enjoy the first few.

Next year, I am also going to join the Romance Writers Association. You want to know this because it means I might be able to start doing author appearances. I don't do them now because I don't know about these conventions and events until it's too late. Being part of the RWA will change that, and I am excited about the possibilty of meeting my readers. It's always so humbling to hear that people like my books.

There you have it. New books and a new series are on the horizon, and I can't wait to share it all with all of you.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Not My Bad, Review That Is

Even if you don't follow any of my other social media, as a regular reader of this blog, you know how much book reviews mean to me. You have often heard me asking for them, begging even, and assuring you that a review doesn't have to be dissertation length. A simple one liner means as much as an essay. The point  isn't how long the review is. It's that you cared enough about the book to write it.

You're probably wondering if I write as many reviews for other authors as I beg to be written for my books. The truth is that I don't, but I have a good reason.

As an author, I know the blood, sweat and tears, the time and effort, that goes in to writing a book. I know how much an author's book means to her and how nerve wracking it is to find the courage to share that book with the world. I not only know how soul crushing a bad review can be, I can't in good conscience put down a peer by writing a bad review. If I read a book that doesn't appeal to me, I simply don't write the review.

From a reader's standpoint, I probably should. Some readers make a point to read reviews before deciding whether or not to buy a book. I don't want to warn anyone off. Doing that can cause the loss of a sale which affects an author's livelihood. One man's trash and all that.

There are some authors who read every one of their reviews and some who don't read any. Some of us lose sleep over one bad review, ignoring all of the good ones surrounding it while others just lift the proverbial finger in its direction. Many of us do one or more of these things, but some of us do one other important thing.

We read our reviews and use them as a means to improve our craft. Those honest reviews, though sometimes brutal, can be as valuable as the glowing five star reviews that proclaim we can write no wrong.

I know this, but I just can't do it. I can't write a review telling a fellow author how they got it wrong. If I was just a regular reader, I'm sure I could, but I feel a responsibility to support other authors. The good news is that I feel just as strongly about writing good reviews for my peers because they deserve to know their hard work is appreciated.

There you have it. The not so ugly truth. As long as I'm a writer, I won't write reviews that trash the books of other writers.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Going Back to Sapphire Falls

Last year, I was beyond excited when best selling romance author Erin Nicholas invited me to release a book in her Sapphire Falls kindle world. The book, released last October, has been well received.

Recently, I got a chance to write another book in this fabulous series, and I didn't hesitate to jump on it. Several authors from the prior releases joined me in adding new books to the collection, making it even more fun.

I'm happy to say that, Going Even Wilder, my second Sapphire Falls kindle world book released today. Like the last book, it's a novella. This one is shorter than the last one, but these are meant to be short books. The longer the books, the higher the price point which can be less appealing to fans.

Going Even Wilder is a follow up to my first Sapphire Falls book, Going for Wilder. In the first book, piano teacher, Jillian Somers, is bound and determined to get her childhood sweetheart, Jackson Wilder, to admit he still has feelings for her. Flash forward eight months to Going Even Wilder. Jack and Jill are back and this time wedding bells are in the air. Or rather they would be if Jackson would just propose to Jillian already. When Jillian decides Jackson's not moving fast enough on the proposal, she takes matters into her own hands and the hilarity ensues.

I had as much fun writing Going Even Wilder as I did Going for Wilder. I can only hope I did justice to the spirit of the amazing world created by Erin Nicholas who is one of my author idols.

With Going Even Wilder, I'm headed back to Sapphire Falls. If you want to join me, the cost of the trip is just $1.99 for the e-book. Hope I see you there!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Thanks Teddy Roosevelt!

I'm not just an author. I have a day job. My day job often sends its employees to training seminars in the name of making us better. Yesterday, I went to what amounted to a leadership development training. Naturally, the facilitator had a power point presentation. One of his slides was this quote from Theodore Roosevelt: Comparison is the thief of joy.

As soon as I read that, I had one of those a-ha moments, but it wasn't related to my day job. It was centered around my writing. I realized just how much I compare myself to other writers.

Every time I shop for e-books, I'm looking at the covers. Sometimes, I'm thinking I love a cover and how much I'd love to have it on one of my books. Other times, I'm happy that my covers are better and I'm grateful to my graphic artist.

The big thing I do when I shop for other books is look at the reviews. When I see a writer with more than twenty reviews, I'm immediately jealous. I wish I had that many reviews. I wonder what the author did, other than write an amazing novel, to encourage readers to leave a review. I start thinking about all the ways I can get more reviews and wondering if I can make it happen.

When I crack open a book and start reading, one of two things always happens. I either find myself rewriting it in my mind as I would have written it if I were the author, or I wish I'd been clever and creative enough to come up with such a stellar book.

Every month, I get a report of my book sales for the prior month. My sales are steady, but there is no way I could support myself on my royalties. I see that report, and I start thinking about my peers. Some of them share what they make on their social media. If a peer makes more than me, I start to wonder why and how I can make more money, aside from writing better or more books.

Whenever I see a book on a best seller list, it pulls one of two reactions from me. If the book is really good, I wish that my writing was on par with the other author so I could also be a best seller. If the book isn't as good as I think a best seller should be, the green-eyed monster rears its head. This is especially true when the other book is full of errors or just plain weird. I always go on a private little rant about how it doesn't make sense that a book about alligator shape shifters can be a best seller, but my contemporary romance about a Marine suffering from PTSD barely registers on the radar.

Comparison is the thief of joy.

Yesterday, I read this quote and I immediately understood just how true it is. By focusing so much on my fellow writers and trying to live up to them, I'm causing myself undue stress. I would not be surprised if that stress was carrying over to my writing and affecting its quality. I can also say without a shadow of a doubt that comparing myself to my peers often results in me second guessing my talent and ability and wondering if I should just give up. All because I'm so busy wondering what others are doing that I'm not putting my energy where it belongs, on my own writing.

I can't promise I'm going to quit my comparison addiction cold turkey, but I know it's not doing me any good. And I owe that knowledge to Teddy Roosevelt. Well, him and the trainer who introduced me to the quote. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Does Size Really Matter?

Last year, I was invited to participate in a Kindle Worlds release with several other romance writers. Until I received that invitation, I had never heard of Kindle Worlds. It's basically a fan fiction forum. Authors who write in this world are using the characters and settings of the primary author. Considering the person who invited me to participate was Erin Nicholas, one of the best contemporary romance authors ever, I didn't hesitate to say yes.

I have since learned that you don't have to be invited to write a story for these worlds. You can write and submit a story as long as you follow the publishing guidelines.

Several of the authors who were part of last year's Sapphire Falls Kindle World release have decided to do a release in July. With as much fun as I had with the last one, I agreed to be one of these authors, but I have a problem; a big one.

The story has to be a minimum of thirty thousand words to be accepted.

When I write, I don't focus on word or page counts. I just write. Some of my books end up being longer than others. For those shorter novels, I adjust the price accordingly.

Here's the thing with my July Sapphire Falls release. It's a continuation of the story I wrote last year. My story last year topped out at over forty thousand words. This one is just under thirty-one thousand words. While that meets the criteria, I'm concerned.

Thirty-one thousand words will translate to approximately seventy e-book pages, and here's where I'm worried. Is that too short? Do readers want something longer, or is this novella going to be enough? Should I go back in and fluff it up or trust that it's what it should be?

So many questions. As a reader, I don't mind shorter stories, but I want to see it reflected in the price. Nothing irritates me more than a writer offering a twenty-five page story for $2.99 or more. To me, that's the equivalent of a restaurant charging for a glass of water. It should be free, and so should short stories, unless they're part of an anthology.

My inclination is to beef up the story, but I'm resisting. I've already written three drafts and the third one has been fully edited. I think I'm going to trust the story to stand up as is. Let's just hope that size doesn't really matter. Does it? 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Finish What You Started

When I first started writing, all of my stories were stand alone novels. It never occurred to me to write a series. As a reader, I also don't recall reading a lot of serials growing up. I can think of a few, but I'm not going to tell you what they are so you don't realize how old I am!

A few years ago, I took my first young adult novel to Wattpad. Like You Mean It was a stand alone young adult novel about a popular teen who loses his arm in a car accident and has to learn to navigate life and relationships.

It never occurred to me to make the book a series. Not until I took it to Wattpad. As soon as the last chapter was posted, I was inundated with readers' requests for more of those characters. Not quite sure what else to do with Danni and Darren, I decided a spin off story for Darren's brother was in order. That series spawned two more series. Each set of books introduced new characters that readers wanted more of so I responded to the call of the readers as well as my muse.

Now, it's pretty common for books to be part of a series. Most of us not only expect it, we look forward to it. The more books there are, the more emotionally invested in the characters we are. I don't know about you, but every time a new book in a series comes out, I brush up on the story line by rereading all of the preceding books.

I love when books are in a series. You know what I don't love? Actually, I guess there are two things I don't love when it comes to a book series. The first isn't as offensive to me as the second.

First, I can't stand it when a writer starts a series and puts huge gaps in between the release dates of the books. The days of waiting a year for the next book in a series died when Harry Potter finally defeated Voldemort. I'm not saying I want a book a month, though it's nice. I just don't want to wait months and months between the book releases. Not without a good reason. Of course, there is one exception to this. If the book series is long, say ten or twelve books, it may take a couple of years to get from book one to twelve. That's okay, but taking two years to get from book one to book two because the author lost her inspiration? That's just wrong!

The second thing I can't stand, and I mean I hate it with a purple passion, is when a writer starts a series and never freaking finishes it. There are one or two or maybe even three awesome books with more promised only nothing more ever comes. Any number of things can be to blame: the book didn't sell as well as expected so the publisher doesn't want any more of the series, the author loses her inspiration, the author gets a better idea and shoves the original series to the side and so on.

Authors, if you want to work on more than one series at a time, that's okay. As a reader, the more I can get from my favorite authors, the happier I am. I just have one request. If you start a series, and you tell readers it's going to be a series, please, please finish what you started; especially if you ended the last book on a damn cliffhanger.

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?

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Remembering my Dad

Four years ago today, I lost my father. He passed away at the age of fifty-nine, leaving a huge hole in my life. Every day, I wish he was still here, and these are just a few of the reasons why:

My dad always encouraged my writing career. Every time we talked, whether one day or one week had passed, he asked if there was anything new going on. Even when I told him that nothing had changed, and I was still getting rejected, he told me not to give up.

When I decided to pursue independent publishing after too many years of rejections and one sham of an agent, my dad was surprised. I remember him asking if I meant I was going to use a vanity press. I was upset by his attitude, and I think it showed. The next time we talked, he could not stop apologizing for what he said. He told me that times were changing and it was smart of me to change with them.

After my first novel, Letters from Linc, was released, my dad told anyone and everyone that would listen that his daughter was a published author. The dreaded phrase 'vanity press' was all but forgotten. Not only did he champion me to anyone within earshot, he put a copy of my novel in his office and always plugged it when they stopped by.

My dad never wanted to read any of the sex scenes in my novels. He told me it was because fathers didn't want to know that their daughters knew such things. I didn't mind. The fact that he knew my novels had sex scenes meant he was reading them.

Growing up, my dad was full of funny sayings, some of which have made their way into my books. I've often joked about making a book devoted entirely to his quirky quips, but I don't think I could do him justice. I also don't think I'll ever remember them all.

My dad was a good listener. He was always willing to help others and he didn't expect a big deal to be made in return. At my father's funeral, I learned he took in a homeless couple and helped them get back on their feet. My dad was a big man who was larger than life. He liked being a father, but he loved being a grandfather.

When I eloped at the age of twenty, my dad didn't disown me or harm my husband when he found out what we'd done. He laughed and then he said, 'Now, the real work begins.' Truer words were never spoken.

My dad wasn't perfect, but he was my dad. I miss him every day, and I would trade anything to have even one more day with him. 


Thursday, January 5, 2017

This Year



Happy New Year, everyone! Can you believe it’s already 2017? To close out 2016, I did a post highlighting what I had accomplished for the year. With that in mind, it makes sense to start out 2017 by telling you what I have planned for this year. Here we go…

This year, I will be releasing the last two books in the Kinkaid Brothers series. Change Up, the first book, was released late last year. Heading for Home and Triple Play will both be released this year. Heading for Home is currently being edited and will soon be sent for formatting so its release is closer than you think. Triple Play is still being written, but it will be out this year as well and will close out the series.

The end of the Kinkaid Brothers series will also bring an end to a group of characters I’ve spent years writing about. My first young adult novel, Like You Mean It, had a supporting character that readers liked and asked for more of. That request led to the four book Time for Love series which brought back some of the old favorites from Like You Mean It and introduced some new characters as well. Those new characters were given their own books in the Taking on Love series. It was in one of those books, Taking a Risk, that readers met the Kinkaid brothers and asked for more of them. It still amazes me that one book could have such a ripple effect, but here we are.

This year, I will also be releasing at least one book in my new adult romance series which is tentatively entitled Second Chance Boys. I’m extremely excited to embark on this new adventure in a new genre. Each book in the Second Chance Boys series will feature a new couple facing new challenges that today’s young adults can relate to. In fact, I’m so jazzed about this series that I’m having a hard time not jumping ahead and writing them now, but never fear. The Kinkaid Brothers will be finished before that happens.

This year, I will more aggressively promote my books, especially my new adult release. There will be more contests and giveaways on my social media that will help generate a buzz. I will also be doing more book tours and actively seeking more reviews. I am determined to get more exposure for my work this year.

This year, my website will be getting an overhaul. I hope to make it more fun and eye catching so that you want to keep coming back. While I did have some changes made last year, I want to go bigger and better this year.

This year, I am going to participate in another group project with my fellow authors. I can’t say much about it yet, but I’m supposed to release that book in November.

This year, I am hopeful I will finally become a best-selling author. It’s been almost twelve years since I’ve been a professional writer. I’ve released a total of 15 books in the last twelve years and not one of them has reached best-selling status yet, but that doesn’t mean I’m giving up. Each year, my writing gets better which improves my chances. Let’s hope this year I break that glass ceiling.

This year, I am going to kick some writing butt! I am going to make the most of the year and I’m looking forward to seeing what it brings. Who’s with me?