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Why I Am Giving Away Over Two Years Of My Effort For Free

August 23rd, 2014 No comments
Cover of Falling, Girl With Broken Wings

This Baby Is Now Free!

A lot of writers will go into dramatics about how hard it is to write a novel. When they get really amped up on metaphor crack, they reel off the bodily fluids that went into creating the novel, including blood, sweat, tears, manna of the soul, etc…

The truth is that writing isn’t always hard. Some writers can dash off ten books a year with nary a speck of sweat on their upper lip. Other writers scrape and strive and snivel for ten years to eke out that magical manuscript. It all depends on the writer and the circumstance.

My first novel, FALLING, took me over two years to write. Scratch that. It took me approximately six months to write and then about triple that time to edit it into shape. This novel was hard. The first usually is. I started it with no plan about how it was going to end, no character sketches, no brilliant plot twist looming in the wings. All I had was a scene seared into my brain of a girl standing over the bed of her sleeping brother doing everything she could not to reach out and drain his energy.

From that dubious starting point, FALLING slowly formed…and reformed…and reformed as I fought the plot, the chapters, and the words into something worth reading. I remember writing and rewriting the same sentence, quibbling over specific words, changing chapter formats, and begging more and more people to read it and give me feedback.

No blood was spilled writing this novel, but at times I felt like I was leaving a piece of my soul on the pages.

This week, I set FALLING for free on Amazon. This is not a short-term promotion. FALLING will stay free, at least for the time being.

I thought long and hard about this move. Something deep inside of me rebelled against the idea of giving away FALLING and all the hours, all that mental energy, away for nothing. That part of me asked, “Do you value your writing, your talent, and hundreds of hours of your time so little that you have to give your book away just to get people to read it?”

But in the end, I decided to go with free for one specific reason. I want people to read my books. In today’s world, attention is a rare commodity and Amazon is stuffed to the gills with books for readers to choose from. Each available book requires hours of a reader’s time. That’s a big investment aside from the book’s cost. No wonder so many readers stick with their favorite authors or only choose proven best-sellers, those “hot” titles that all their friends and Oprah are talking about.

I’ve decided that my primary goal as a writer is to introduce people to my books. Making a profit is secondary. To forward this goal, I need to lower the barriers – lower the risk – as much possible for the reader. I’ve already written what I believe is an engaging, touching, amusing, and high quality book. I’ve also tried hard to give readers a true taste of the book in the description, which includes caveats about the book’s violence and language to help a reader make an informed purchase decision. The final thing I can do was eliminate any financial risk.

Of course, I have a second agenda. My hope is that a reader will see FALLING as a low-risk time investment, read the book, love it, and then purchase the following books in the series. If this happens, then FALLING will act as a hook, the freebie that sucks readers into the series and hopefully turns them into fans for life.

At the very least, I can say that I’ve done what I can to invite readers into the series.

Visit Amazon, Kobo, or Smashwords to download FALLING for free. Enjoy!

Fun With Overlapping Narratives

August 2nd, 2014 No comments

Every story presents its unique challenges. Sometimes the plot hits a brick wall and I stare helplessly at my computer, at that last lonely sentence waiting for a mate. Other times the characters pull against their leashes, and we have to trek down mysterious paths together.

My current project, RECOVERING, led me to a different puzzle. This novella overlaps the first half of my novel RISING and is written from the foul-mouthed point of view of my character Gabe. The whole reason that Gabe insisted I write the novella in the first place is that he only makes a short cameo in the first half of RISING.

Roughly 90% of his novella covers new ground, but several early chapters in the novella play out events that are featured in RISING when Maya briefly returns home and interacts with Gabe. In essence I had to write the same scenes over that already exist from Maya’s point of view – same action, same dialogue – but infuse it with Gabe’s perspective.

Sounds easy, right?

Not exactly. To get the scenes just right, I had to carefully reconstruct them from the chapters of RISING, reading and re-reading those chapters as if they were under a microscope.

When I wrote the same scenes for RECOVERING, I had to force myself out of Maya’s guilt and concern and put myself in Gabe’s shoes to show his loneliness and self-loathing. I had to write from his sense of betrayal, shame, and anger using the same dialogue and the same scene structure that already existed.

This little experiment forced me to focus more on Gabe’s inner thoughts to make the scenes seem fresh and also to change the pacing of the scenes so that it wasn’t a rote rehearsal of the scenes found in RISING. For example, Gabe often summarizes longer bits of dialogue that Maya’s narrative in RISING recalls in full. Gabe’s focus will also emphasize different parts of the scene. He doesn’t notice the sad state of the house as much as Maya does. He also thinks a lot about his mother and sister, people Maya never met.

On the technical side, I ended up putting the text of RISING on one monitor and the overlapping text of RECOVERING on the other to make sure every word of dialogue matched up, that the timing of events was accurate, and that Gabe reacted outwardly in the way Maya observed in RISING.

I hope the result is a fresh take on Maya and Gabe’s interactions that doesn’t feel stale or repetitive. I have to believe that Gabe is such a charmer that his perspective can put a new twinkle on everything!

How do you think I did? HERE is a chapter from RISING and an overlapping chapter from RECOVERING. Enjoy the sneak peek of RECOVERING!

Getting Gabe Right

July 12th, 2014 No comments

Okay, here’s my problem. Gabe Fox has a really dirty mouth. And a dirty mind. And, basically, he’s a boy.

Gabe and I are pretty much opposites in just about everything. I’m a relatively prim and proper person. Sexual innuendo makes my face go all watermelon-colored. Any talk of bodily functions has me laughing awkwardly or quickly exiting the conversation. If I cuss, it’s usually only because I’ve walked into a wall or door (happens more than I liked to admit).

But I love writing about Gabe, dirty mouth and all. He is one of the main characters in my GIRL WITH BROKEN WINGS series. Here’s the thing about Gabe – he has a huge heart, can spit out a ribald joke in even the most dire of circumstances, and is fiercely loyal to his family. He is the light within the murky and often sad world in which his small family operates.

Earlier this year, I was thrilled to complete RISING, the biggest, most complex book yet in the GIRL WITH BROKEN WINGS series. As with the previous two books and novella in the series, it is written from the point of view of Maya, Gabe’s younger sister. There are so many things I like about this book (and I hope you do too), but something about the book always bugged me.

Not enough Gabe (or cow bell).

I’m going to carefully tiptoe around some spoilers here and just say that Gabe is left behind from the book’s main mission and only gets a brief cameo in the first half of the book. It’s the way things had to be from a plot standpoint, but it doesn’t mean I had to like it.

Gabe didn’t like it either.

When I took long car rides or walks around my neighborhood he kept pestering me about it. I started to listen and discovered that he hadn’t been exactly sitting around twiddling his thumbs during the time Maya and Tarren were hunting a new and dangerous angel threat in Peoria, Illinois.

Gabe wanted me to write his side of the story.

We argued. I kept telling him that I needed to start on book four in the series. More than anything I wondered how I could possibly write an entire novella in Gabe’s voice, in his sarcastic, confident, dirty, hyper-masculine voice.

Gabe was adamant, and the boy can be very persuasive when he wants to be. I buckled like a sandcastle hit by a tsunami.

So, instead of writing book four like I’m supposed to, I am currently in the midst of writing a Gabe novella tentatively called RECOVERING. It has plenty of action, keeping in line with the other stories of the series, but RECOVERING is also really unique in that it will offer a look into Gabe’s personal life outside of the mission.

This novella is proving to be a unique challenge for me, mostly because Gabe is just so…Gabe. He cusses way too much and thinks about sex in ways that Maya would never even consider. Imagine how often my face impersonates a tomato while I write.

I’ve never felt as unsure about a work as this novella. After the second draft I printed out the whole thing and read it out loud. Over and over again I wrote the same thing in the margins: “More Gabe”, meaning that the perspective was drifting back into my voice, not Gabe’s voice. I caught myself over and over again speaking too formally, too politely. Gabe doesn’t do polite. He is candid to the point where the TMI line was three exits ago. He just doesn’t give a flying f…fruit about propriety.

This novella is taking much longer to write and edit than I anticipated, and I’m not sure if readers of the series will even like it. Still, I’m glad I wrote it. Not only was it the right thing to do for Gabe, but it really pushed me (and continues to push me) as a writer to embrace a different voice and to understand Gabe on a much deeper level.

He and I are still polar opposites, but I love him like he was my own brother, and I’m glad that I can give him a voice and his own story. If all goes according to plan, keep a lookout for RECOVERING on Amazon and other online booksellers in September. Or you can sign up for my email list and receive a notice when it hits the market.

The Dread Monster Comes Again – The Fear Of Starting Something New

July 5th, 2014 No comments
Young girl, scared

This is kind of what I feel like every time I start writing a new book.

The laptop is open in front of me, the page white and fresh. It’s time to start the first draft of the fourth book in my Girl With Broken Wings series. I want to feel excited. I want to feel plump with possibility like a perfectly ripe grape that bursts between your teeth. I want my fingers to be humming with anticipation.

But what I feel is a deep, dark, shapeless dread.

The old worries whisper through my mind. I won’t be able to finish this book. My writing will come out stale and mildewed on the page. My characters will spout vapid dialogue and be as colorful, as deep as shadows.

It doesn’t matter that these worries are pointless. I’ve already completed three full books in the series as well as one novella. A second novella is on its second draft. I know I can finish this book. I know my talent won’t shrivel up and fade like some mystical, short-lived flower.

So why is it so hard to get started on this book and all the previous books? Why are my first, faltering words always overshadowed by a big, snarling Dread Monster?

The more I think about this, the more I realize that the Dread Monster has always been stalking at my heels. I remember my stomach flip flopping, my throat tight on the ride over to gymnastic meets when I was ten. Later, in high school, my whole body would be tight with fear as the last hour of the day ticked down before a tennis match. We had matches three or four times a week during tennis season and that I enthusiastically made the team all four years, and yet I could never quell the Dread Monster. I could never run fast enough to leave him behind or find a sword to pierce his hide.

Is it just nervousness about starting something new? I don’t think so.

Nervousness is that fluttery feeling on a first date when you don’t know what to do with your hands and words become slippery like butter.

This is dread. A dismal sense of emotional pain, of unstoppable worry and anxiety. It is a growling, slobbery monster that eats light, goodness, and positive mantras for breakfast.

Maybe you’ve felt this way too. Maybe not, and I’m just a freak who gets off on self-sabotage. I wonder if there are other people out there with monsters walking behind them. Maybe some of you have found ways of facing your Dread Monster, of starting new things without worries or an endless pit of doubt opening up beneath you. I have not, but I have found a weapon that works against my Dread Monster.

I ignore him.

I write.

When I look at the white page, while the worries spin so fast in my brain they make me dizzy, I put my fingers on the keys and make them move. The words come, slow at first but then faster and easier. I’ll hit hard parts, and my writing will be as graceful, as smooth as running through sand, but I will buff and polish these areas to a high shine in the editing process. The dread will shrink little by litter and the love of writing, which has always been inside of me, will begin to softly beat inside of me like a second heart.

One day I hope that I can approach a new book, a new project, a competition, or a big life choice with enthusiasm, eagerness, and confidence. But until then I’ll elbow past my Dread Monster and start writing, one word at a time.

Sometimes Opportunity Doesn’t Knock…It Emails

June 14th, 2014 No comments

Opportunity has a reputation for going around and knocking on people’s doors. Honestly, that hasn’t been my experience. Opportunity is sneakier than that. He likes to play Hide-n-Seek with me, ducking behind trees and bushes or flashing by in a conversation with acquaintances.  I don’t mind seeking out Opportunity. In fact, the chase is kind of enjoyable. Makes me appreciate it more when I actually catch Opportunity.

Occasionally Opportunity will get fed up with me. He’ll come out from the bushes (not in a creepy way) and be like, “Hey, you, girl in the glasses, how ‘bout looking my way?”

Also, here’s another bubble popper – Opportunity almost never knocks. Usually he’ll email or Facebook message. That’s what happened a few weeks ago, when, out of the blue, this guy named Bryan Cohen emailed me. I didn’t know it at the time, but Bryan is a pretty awesome guy.

He let me know that he was putting together a promo event for New Adult Fantasy authors. Would I be interested in being a part of it?

I looked over the edge of my computer to where Opportunity was doing some weird combination of jumping jacks and the chicken dance to get my attention. I considered Bryan’ email. Opportunity danced on, switching to The Robot and then, unfortunately, to twerking.

“Alright, alright, I get it,” I told poor, gasping Opportunity (he’s not in the best shape). I wrote back to tell Bryan that I would be delighted to join the event, Legends, Lovers, and Lives.

So folks, today is the day. Sixteen authors, including myself, have lowered the price of one book each to $0.99. My discounted book is FALLING, Book One in the Girl With Broken Wings series. Some of the books on offer look very intriguing. I’ve only had a chance to dig into one, AFTER THE ENDING, which I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE. Sassy girls, cool powers, the apocalypse…what’s not to like? Okay…. the apocalypse…I wouldn’t like that (as soon as I lost my glasses, I’d be zombie bait). But reading about an apocalypse can be surprisingly enjoyable.

So guess, what, maybe this event is your Opportunity to download some cool new books. New Adult is a very diverse genre that, in my opinion, is more satisfying than the typical young adult novel that features high school students popping pimples and freaking out about prom. I actually wrote a little bit about how I discovered that I was a New Adult Author on the blog Deal Sharing Aunt. The post just went live today.

But back to Opportunity. He’s dancing for you right now, trying to get you to pick up some great books at an even greater price. Don’t make him bust out any Backstreet Boy moves (don’t think he won’t!).

But seriously, if you have a little time, please stop by our Facebook Event today, Legends, Lovers and Lives for some great giveaways, author chats, and links to all the discounted books.

How To Write An Awesome Book Review

May 26th, 2014 No comments

You can totally write an awesome book review. I believe in you!

One of the nicest things you can do for an author you like is to write a positive book review. Seriously, book reviews are a HUGE DEAL to authors, especially indie authors. They not only provide validation (of which we authors are always in the most desperate of need), but also a solid collection of positive book reviews can convince new readers to give the book a try.

Many readers find the idea of writing a book review intimidating. They imagine that writing a book review is akin to the struggle of cranking out the requisite high school literature class essay. Not so! You don’t need to take pains to highlight symbolism or how the protagonist subverts the feminist ideal in your book review. You’re not getting graded. All you have to do is to share your opinion of the book in a thoughtful manner.

Writing an awesome book review isn’t as hard as you think. Trust me. I wrote over 100 book reviews during my tenure as co-owner of Compulsion Reads, a (now-defunct) company that evaluated and reviewed indie books.

If you’ve never written a book review before, then here are a few basic guidelines that might help:

Start with a short setup of the book

Book reviews are written for potential readers, so it is helpful to provide some setup of the story. Consider writing a few lines that introduce the main characters, the setting and the primary conflict. Be careful not to give away too much of the story, or you’ll ruin it for new readers.

Here is an example from a review of my novel, Falling, from the book review blog, Book Marks The Spot:

Maya is living a totally normal life until she gets swept up off her feet, literally. All in one night she gets kidnapped by an angel and learns she has two half brothers oh and the elephant in the room is that is turning into a monster. She now has to survive on animals auras if not she could go on a killing spree. If things couldn’t get worse, her older brother is always looking for an excuse to kill her.

Tell readers what you liked

After the setup, explain what you liked about the book. (Again, you can do this with just a few lines.) Did you have a favorite character? Was the plot fast and entertaining? Did the author have a strong narrative voice that had you laughing and crying? Don’t worry about trying to be particularly witty or finding the exact word. Just be honest, and readers will appreciate your thoughts.

Here is an example from the review I wrote for the very enjoyable book Red Shirts by John Scalzi :

Redshirts is a sweet gift to anyone who has knowingly lapped up the crazy improbability of old (and some not so old) space adventures where drama outweighs plausibility and faceless crew are torn to pieces as a picker upper before the commercial break. Author John Scalzi puts his fingers perfectly on the pulse of these cult shows and breathes life into the poor red shirts that are so often blasted, torn to shreds, and crushed in the background while the heroic officers save the day.

I loved Scalzi’s insight and felt that this book was truly written for me. Scalzi has a gift for witty dialogue and proves himself to be a masterful plotter. The story twists and turns and balances precariously on a crazy premise that does justice to the very genre he unmasks. (See the full review)

Tell readers what you didn’t like.

If you absolutely loved the book, then there might not be any need to point out deficiencies. However, if there were areas of the book that you thought could be strengthened, you can address these concerns in your review. Just take care to mention weaknesses in a constructive and fair manner. (No need to attack or criticize the author directly.)

Here is a short excerpt from my recent review of the book, Beauty is for Suckers by M.A. Carson:

The last quarter of the book picked up some serious speed and a few big revelations piled up. Personally, I felt this part of the book was rushed, and I didn’t like that Nolan (my fav character) faded into the background. Despite these issues, I thoroughly enjoyed Beauty is for Suckers. The book was deftly woven with humor, strong plot points and a good pace. Iris Green proves that death can be the beginning of a meaningful life. (See the full review)

Add caveats.

Remember, your book review is written to help other readers decide if the book might be right for them. If you think the book would appeal to a specific audience or that a specific audience would find it offensive, consider adding a caveat at the end. For example, if I review a book that contains graphic violence or sex scenes, I make sure to mention that at the end of a review.

In my novel, Falling, my characters speak naturally, which happens to introduce a lot of F-bombs and other, shall I say, inventive language into the mix. Several of the bloggers who reviewed my book pointed this out to their audiences, including Maria, of A Night’s Dream of Books:

In spite of the book’s dark theme, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole plot, from beginning to end.  That was largely due to Bennett’s deft characterizations and brilliant prose.  I was even willing to overlook the unfortunate appearance of “the F bomb” every few pages.  Believe me, it’s not every day I find myself doing such a thing!

Finish with a summary sentence

Consider capping your review off with one or two sentences that summarize your overall response to the book.  A book I read earlier this year, Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff by Christopher Moore absolutely blew me away. At the time I finished the book, I was drowning in other work and didn’t feel that I had the mental resources to do it justice. However, I knew his book deserved my praise, so I managed to cobble together a short review with this final sentence that truly sums up how I felt reading the book:

Biff is a lovable narrator, and through his eyes, Jesus truly does live again. One of the best books I’ve read in the last year! (See my full review – Good example of a short and sweet review that will still make an author over-the-moon happy)

Create a strong headline

 Many book review retailors, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble, require reviewers to title their reviews.  You may be able to just reuse your summary sentence at the end. If not, think of a short sentence or phrase that sums up the book in a positive manner. As you write more reviews, you’ll find that this part becomes easier and easier.

Here are a few other things to keep in mind when writing book reviews:

Be sensitive

Authors spend a great deal of time and effort writing their books. To an author, their book is like their baby. Even if it’s a very ugly baby, it’s still their baby. Be sensitive when writing a critical review. If you felt a book was not very good, you certainly have the right to air your opinion, but be mindful that hearts and feelings are on the line. Be fair in your judgment and constructive. If you come off as a hysterical hater, then you’ll end up looking worse than the book you’re trying to haze. Many authors read every review of their book, so keep this fact in mind when writing anything critical.

Limit spoilers

Nobody likes to read spoilers in a review, though they can sometimes be hard to avoid, especially if you want to talk about how much you liked or didn’t like specific plot twists. When discussing later parts of the book, be as general as possible. It’s better to say that, “The surprise ending was disappointing to me.” Rather than, “I can’t believe Krista got hit by a car on the last page after surviving that psychotic stalker.”

If you feel you have to give something away, then make sure you warn readers so they can stop reading. The best way to do this is to write SPOILER ALERT in all caps before revealing any spoilers.

Keep it clean

Writing a book review doesn’t have to be hard, but it does require a little effort and focus. Make sure you write your book review with care, focusing on correct grammar. If your review is all over the place and half the words are misspelled, no one will take you seriously. Again, and I really can’t emphasis this enough, it’s okay to write a short review, but make sure the review is coherent. One of the most frustrating reviews I got from a short story of mine simply stated:

This story wasn’t for me.

Not only does this type of say-nothing review drive authors to distraction (Why wasn’t the story for you???), but it’s completely useless for readers who might be interested in purchasing the story.

Spread your review

If you really want to help your favorite authors, then post your review to multiple websites where readers are likely to congregate. The top websites include Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Goodreads. If you have a personal blog, consider posting your book review there as well and then be sure to link to your review on your social networking pages to let your friends know about the great new book you just read. If you want to go the extra distance, post a link to the review on the author’s Facebook page. If it’s a positive review, it’ll definitely make their day.

Read other reviews

One of the best ways to learn how to write a review is to read other reviews. Reading a dozen reviews for your favorite books on Amazon will give you some insight into all the different ways a review can be constructed.

Now go forward readers and spread your awesome book reviews across the land!

Categories: Essay, Writing Tags: , ,

RISING – Book Three of the GIRL WITH BROKEN WINGS Series

April 17th, 2014 No comments

Meet my new baby, RISING. She's a big one, but that just means there's more of her to love.

Have you ever had a big, hairy audacious goal, like running a marathon, buying a mansion, or finally solving that $%^&*# Rubik’s Cube? That goal drives you, focuses you, gives you a glimpse of future glory. Success can be oh-so-sweet, but then what happens next?

Maya had a goal, a pretty big one. She wanted vengeance against the man who changed her and murdered her boyfriend. (If this sounds like gibberish, it’s time to get your hot little hands on FALLING – GIRL WITH BROKEN WINGS). At the end of LANDING (book two in the series), Maya gets her vengeance, which leaves her with that big, scary, accusing question…what next?

I’ll tell you what’s next — Adventure, Snow Storms, Cool Missiony Stuff, Chuck Norris Jokes, Occasional Kidnappings, and maybe even a little love in the air! That’s right, RISING, Book Three in the GIRL WITH BROKEN WINGS series is here!

And Guess What — You Get A Discount

As a gift to true fans of the series, I have priced the ebook for $2.99 for its first week of existence. On April 27th, RISING, well, rises to its permanent price of $4.99. Buy your copy today and enjoy an awesome story for an even…er, awesomer price.

Other Places to Buy

RISING is also available as a soft cover on Amazon, though the  book is so big that the printing cost make it a wee bit higher than I would have preferred (sorry, nothing I can do about that). Additionally, you can find RISING on Smashwords and Scribd.

One More Thing — Free FALLING Giveaway

If you really want to enjoy RISING, then make sure you start at the beginning. Maya’s story, and the whole not-exactly-human-so-much-anymore thing all start with FALLING, Book One in the GIRL WITH BROKEN WINGS series. You could always buy the ebook on Amazon for just $3.99, but if you need one more little nudge, I’m giving away 10 print copies of FALLING on Goodreads. Participation in the giveaway is completely free. You’ll need a Goodreads account, but otherwise no hoops to jump through. I’d love to be able to mail you a copy of FALLING! Throw you name in the hat.

The giveaway ends April 30th, so sign up today!

Alright, those are all the announcements of the day. Back to business.

Let The Authors In Your Life Know That You Care – Be A Romantic Reader

March 23rd, 2014 No comments

Be a hopelessly romantic reader and give your favorite authors plenty of praise and attention.

Despite our tough, grizzled exteriors, we writers can be a sensitive bunch (no, no it’s true), especially when it comes to our babies. No, not the actual, drooly, thousand-pics-on-Facebook babies. I’m talking about our writing.

Mild criticism can send your average writer on wild crying, ice-cream binging, alcohol-guzzling jags, and compliments can rocket us to the moon (where we immediately asphyxiate with dopey grins on our faces).

Writers love praise. They love hearing from readers, and they appreciate reviews, feedback, and basically any indication that someone has noticed the fact that they just spent months or years of their life pouring their soul into a book.

So, if you want to show the special writers in your life that you care, it’s time to step up your game and become a romantic reader. That’s right. Spritz on some perfume or cologne, shell out a couple of bucks for a bouquet of flowers, and be the gooiest, most supportive reader you can be.

Don’t you love it when your spouse or partner is just “there” for you? They listen to you after you’ve had a tough day, encourage you to pursue your dreams, and attend every one of your open mic poetry slams or garage band rehearsals?

If you really want to support your favorite writers, then be “there” for them:

  • Write positive (and honest) reviews of their novels and post the reviews on multiple sites like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads.
  • Like their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter, and actually participate
  • Read their blog and post comments. (You know, like, maaaaybe this one?)
  • Send them an email about what their book meant to you. (It probably won’t take you more than 15 minutes to write but will spend years framed on the author’s wall)
  • Recommend their books to friends and family members who might enjoy them
  • If you notice one of your favorite authors has written a guest post, is doing a nearby signing, or has been interviewed somewhere on the web, show up and support them
  • Join their mailing list, so you can snap up any new writing that comes out

Going out of your way to support your favorite authors may seem like a lot of extra work, but it’s really not, and it will truly have a huge and positive impact on their lives. Even just a considerate comment posted on an author’s Facebook page that took you a minute to write can make that author’s day or even their entire week plus the weekend.

If you’ve ever read a book that has squeezed tears out of you like a sponge, made you laugh until you snorted, or touched your heart and your mind in a profound way, then give back to those writers.  Most of us don’t write for fame or money. We write from love. Give that love back to the writers you enjoy, especially new or unknown authors. Be a romantic reader.

Random Update

I’m so close to finishing Rising, the third book in my Girl With Broken Wings series, that I can taste it. It will definitely be hitting shelves in April. I’m so proud of this very big baby. It’s been a long labor (okay, I’m officially cooling it with the baby metaphors now), but the results will be worth it.

Categories: Writing Tags: ,

Who Can’t Use More Grouchy Vampire In Their Life? J Bennett Publishes “Death in the Family”

March 13th, 2014 No comments

A New Short Story in The Vampire’s Housekeeper Chronicles

 

Nathaniel has been grumbling for some time that I haven’t been writing about all his thrilling adventures, prowling the night, sipping his prune juice, and driving his poor housekeeper, Deidre crazy (which is technically allowed in her employment contract, btw).

 

Well, here we go. I’m happy to announce that I’ve just unleashed…er, released a new hilarious short story in The Vampire’s Housekeeper Chronicles. You can read all about Death in the Family below, but before you do, here’s a cool quickie announcement:

 

The Story Will Be Discounted To $0.99 On Amazon Until Friday, March 21st

 

That’s right, I want to reward Nathaniel’s most loyal fans with a price even that penny-pinching vampire couldn’t refuse. After the ten days are up, the story will go to its intended price of $1.99. Click the image above to immediately go to Amazon. The story is also available on Smashwords.

 

Okay, here’s the short story blurb. I think you’ll like it!

 

Some Family Feuds Last Beyond The Grave…

 

Life as a vampire’s housekeeper is rough. Try cleaning a haunted mansion when spider webs reconstitute every hour, or keeping a positive outlook when the ghosts put tarantulas in the morning coffee. Then there’s the boss, who gets a little savage when his prune juice runs out.

 

Deidre’s life is no walk in the park, but with the impending arrival of Nathaniel’s sister, things go from crazy…to crazy plus some extra deadly fun thrown on top.

 

Tiffany arrives in high fashion, amazing curves and sharp fangs on full display. Her posse includes a zombie husband who smells like the city dump is his bathtub and a chilling ghost. As Deidre struggles not to burn dinner, impress Drew (hunky wereferret with a capital H), and stay one step ahead of an insane ghost who delights in dropping chandeliers on heads, she discovers Tiffany has an ulterior and vengeful purpose for her visit.

 

Nathaniel has put on his very best cape just for this story. (He does love his capes!) Join him, Deidre, Drew, and a growing cast of colorful characters in this new and hilarious short story in The Vampire’s Housekeeper Chronicles series. Can Deidre stop the powerful, evil, not-even-fair-how-good-she-looks-in-skinny-jeans, Tiffany? Or will Nathaniel learn that death can’t solve all family disagreements? Find out!

 

Here’s what readers are saying about The Vampire’s Housekeeper Chronicles Series:

 

>>> “A very funny short story that gives reading about vampires a delightful and refreshing twist.”

 

>>> “Although undead, Nathanial is a fresh take on the genre, and the Chronicles are quite enjoyable.”

 

>>> “I would recommend this short story to anybody who is tired of chick-lit vampires and appreciates a large amount of wry sarcasm.”

 

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Don’t forget that Nathaniel has plenty of other adventures available. If you haven’t read about Deidre’s infamous job interview, Nathaniel’s not-so-nice vampire hunter visitor, or his duel with a werefrog, check out those stories. This may just be my completely biased opinion, but I really think each story gets better and better.

Please Return My Books

January 27th, 2014 No comments

Reading a book, especially by a new author, is an investment and a risk. Sure, you aren’t exactly betting your life’s savings on a roll of the die, but you are walking through the door to a new world, investing your emotions into fresh characters, and giving your time in exchange for the hope of entertainment and maybe some deeper and more complex emotional reward.

Novels, and the authors who write them, offer you the promise of entertainment, laughs, tears and maybe even a few chills. If an author breaks that promise, you deserve your money back.

If any of my books break that promise, I want you to return it and get your money back. When I write, my goal is to pull readers into my world like a magnet, and keep their attention fully invested. I want your breath to hitch; I want laughs; I want that tightness in your throat. Most of all, I want you to care what happens to Maya, Gabe and Tarren. I want to make your heart ache for their troubles.

If you read a few chapters, and are, “Meh…” then I didn’t do my job as an author. Don’t let me get away with that. Return the book. It may have only cost you a few dollars, but that doesn’t matter. I don’t deserve your money if I didn’t do a good job.

Amazon has a seven day book return policy for Kindle ebooks, which you can find HERE. You have seven days to try out a book and return it for a full refund if you don’t like it. You don’t have to explain why or fight to get your money back. Amazon also offers a generic 30-day return policy for most of its products and encourages its sellers to do the same. Most print books should follow this 30-day policy, but certain books may vary depending on their publisher. (I believe that all of my print books follow the 30-day policy)

Amazon’s return policy makes some authors nervous, and I can definitely see why. The opportunity for abuse is pretty clear. I’ve published a handful of short stories in my The Vampire’s Housekeeper Chronicles that take less than two hours to read. Last year, I noticed that someone returned each of my short stories, and I wondered if it was the same person, buying one story, reading, returning within the seven-day window, and then buying the next story in the series. Well, at least they liked the stories enough to keep reading through the series!

Yes, the potential for abuse concerns me, but I stand behind Amazon’s return policy. I think it is much better to offer readers an easy out than to try to save authors a few dollars by making returns difficult or impossible. I trust that the majority of readers are honest and will be glad to pay a few dollars for a good book that can make them laugh so hard they pee a little. In fact, I wish there was a pee bonus I could give out to certain books.

Authors shouldn’t fight against Amazon’s return policy. The policy is not our enemy; it is actually an ally. If readers know that they always have the option for a full refund if a book turns out to be a stinker, they will feel safer investing in a new author or trying out a new series.

Self-published authors have long tried to entice readers by slashing their prices to the bone or even setting books and short stories for free. These practices may generate interest and downloads, but they undercut an author’s profit potential. (And there’s that whole concern about bottoming out the market, which is a topic for another blog.) Rather than trying to lower prices as far as they will go, authors should trumpet Amazon’s return policy as the no-risk opportunity that it is.

Invite your readers to return your book is they didn’t like it, and then they’ll have no reason not to try it.