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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.

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Is Elsa, From Frozen, Too Powerful To Live?

April 12th, 2014 No comments

Disney Princess, or our future conqueror and master?

Frozen is a sweet movie that cherishes the love between two sisters (not that kind of love!) Ana is a whimsical, quirky and adorable-to-a-fault princess who has catastrophic hair in the morning just like the rest of us. Your heart can’t help but melt for her gumption, her unfailing belief in her sister, and the naivety that comes from living a sheltered life. So too, can viewers emphasize with Elsa, cruelly cursed with unstable and deadly powers. Elsa tries so hard to hold her powers in, always terrified of hurting those she loves, that her life is on ice until the day of her coronation. When she finally does let her fears go, our hearts sing along with her beautiful ballad. We vicariously enjoy her coming out and awesome ice dress, hair down makeover, unless you’re this person. (Spoiler) The movie wraps up with Ana’s empowering sacrifice, choosing to protect her sister rather than be rescued by her odd, apparently smelly, reindeer-talking suitor. This choice ends up being her own salvation. Elsa learns that love is the key to controlling her powers and seems to instantly get a grip with this realization. Everything is all hunky dory.

But is it?

Like you, I want to believe that the end of Frozen is just the start of a long and fruitful reign for Elsa. Ana will marry her stinky, Official Ice Deliverer (not the most secure industry when the queen can shoot ice from her hands, but let’s ignore that for the moment) and pop out lots of chipper little urchins. I can’t help but worry, however, that the happy ice skating scene at the end of the movie is only a short spot of sunshine in the midst of a dark and gloomy reign. As much as I want to believe that Elsa will be a fair and just ruler, I worry that her abilities put her at risk of turning into a power-mad tyrant, the likes of which would make Joffrey of Game of Thrones look fair and lenient.

Think about it, Elsa’s powers are almost infinite in their potential for destruction and mayhem. She froze the entire Fjords and cast an eternal winter upon her kingdom…Without Even Trying! It seemed to require little strength and concentration to basically turn the whole place into a snow globe. Later, when Elsa puts her mind to it, she creates a magical palace of ice as well as a sturdy stair case in which a dozen men could run up. Most chilling of all, she can create fearsome ice creatures — huge and cruel, with knife-like teeth, claws and spikes. A single ice creature batted around Hans and his men like they were sock puppets.

As with the Fjord freezing and castle creation, building the creature seemed to take no effort from Elsa, and after its creation, it continued to exist, seemingly without her concentration or continued effort. Elsa has demonstrated one additional fearsome power, the deadly ice beams she can shoot from her hands or spew in a circle of destruction. A head shot has been shown to render the victim comatose, and a shot to the chest spells death unless remedied, weirdly, by an act of love.

Elsa does a pretty job of almost killing her sister, nearly annihilating her kingdom, and freezing her people to death when she isn’t even trying. What in God’s name could she do if she was?

If Elsa developed a Joffrey-like temper in later life, she could easily terrorize her population. Imagine a cackling Elsa freezing entire families that didn’t pay taxes or skewering enemies on icicles that plunged out of the walls.

But this is just piddley conjecture.

What if Elsa had grander ambitions? Her kingdom, Arendelle, seems to be very small and modest. What could Elsa do if she wanted to expand her empire? She could freeze any port in the world, essentially taking any country’s navy out of play. In fact, she could freeze the Fjords again and march an army right across the ice. She could surround Arendelle with huge, impenetrable walls of ice, protecting her own seat of power while her ice bridges allowed her army to scale any chasm, cross any moat, and climb any wall.

Oh, and it’s not like she needs living, breathing, blood-filled soldiers either. She can just make her own army of ice creatures (White Walkers, anyone?) and march them across the land. And if building ice creatures started to become a bore, Elsa could make conquest even easier by simply surrounding any stubborn enemy’s kingdom with walls of ice and literally freezing them to the brink of starvation until they surrendered. All it would take would be one or two examples and every drawbridge would open for Elsa and her White Walker army.

Elsa can literally take anything and everything she wants.

Will she? We can’t know, but the temptation would be great. If I lived in a neighboring kingdom, I’m pretty sure I’d wet my gown when I learned about her powers. (“%$#^ing ice monsters? Did you seriously just say she could make $%#@ing ice monsters? And that thing with the Fjords, that was her?”)

Once Elsa got a taste of blood and treasure, what if she liked it? What if she never wanted to stop? We don’t know the limit of her powers. Could she freeze the entire planet? With so much at risk, might it not be prudent to eliminate the possibility of a great catastrophe? If someone had a ticking nuclear bomb inside of them, wouldn’t it be for the greater good to destroy them before the bomb went off?

I’m pretty sure I know how my favorite literary bad ass, Tywin Lannister would answer that question. He’d cozy up to Elsa, whisper in her ear about the threats all around, let her crush his enemies, and then put a dagger in her back the moment she started to get her own ideas of conquest.

Is Elsa’s little ice skating stunt truly the end of Frozen or simply a poignant moment made all the more ironic for the horrors to follow?

Yeah, I’m weird.

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Categories: Essay Tags: ,

Fun With HTML On Amazon

March 31st, 2014 No comments

I recently discovered that Amazon allows authors to use a small set of html tags to spiff up their product descriptions on the site. (Here is a whole list of the tags Amazon supports) It’s pretty amazing what a few h2 tags and some bolding can accomplish. I spent some time this weekend gleefully giving all of my book descriptions a little makeover. Check out the difference with my book, Falling!

(Sorry, the images are a little skewed by the frame of the website, but if you click on the images, they’ll expand so you can see them more clearly)

ORIGINAL

 

AFTER HTML MAKEOVER

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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.

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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.”

 

###

 

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.

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The Okayness Of Missing A Publication Deadline Even If It Pisses Off Your Deadline Monster

March 5th, 2014 No comments

Deadline. The very word sends shivers of fear up the spine of a college student scrambling to finish an essay or a writer who has made a promise to fans to publish the next book in their series by a certain date.

When I’m working on a tight deadline, I imagine my deadline as a big, snarly monster with matted green fur and a razor sharp teeth breathing down my back. As I furiously type, it licks its lips, ready to crunch some bones, or, more likely, let me know that I’m a total, utter, beyond-question loser if I don’t publish on time.  His named is Reginald.

Reginald; Don't let his adorableness fool you. His retorts can sting.

Reginald and I have an odd relationship. I guess it’d fall under the “It’s complicated” Facebook designation.

Reginald is an important part of my writing life. We indie authors need to have a deadline monster breathing down our neck in order to continue writing each day and publishing on a schedule our readers can rely on. Because it is easy to slack off.

Seriously, easy. Dr. Who marathon – need I say more? (If Netflix were a physical thing, Reginald would pour gasoline all over it and toss on a lighted match with undisguised glee)

But deadline monsters can also be too pushy. Sometimes Reginald stands wayyyy inside my personal space bubble. He can be hurtful when I want to sleep in, or a certain blue Tardis is calling to me. I understand that he’s just doing his job, but the guy needs a little flexibility. And some sensitivity training.

Reginald and I have been on pretty bad terms recently.

I published the first novel in my Girl With Broken Wings Series, Falling, in January of 2012. In January of 2013 Landing, the second novel in the series, Landed. So, January 2014 rolls around and what happens?

A big, ole NOTHING.

Reginald was all about me publishing Rising on schedule this January, but it just didn’t happen. A lot of things sucked away my time in 2013, and, I have to be honest, Reginald was a part of the problem. Every day that passed, he grew a little bigger, more loomish as he crept ever closer. I almost didn’t even want to write, because I knew he’d be staring at me, all judgey and mad.

I kept telling him, “Reggie, this book is 95,000 words long. My biggest book yet. Of course it’s going to take longer. The series is getting more complicated. It needs another round of edits. Also, indie writers can be flexible. That’s one of the great things about being an indie author. We define our own schedules!”

Did Reginald listen? Nope? He just got a big scowl on his face and said, “You’re the biggest loser in all of Loserville. You should run for the mayor of Loserville. I’d vote for you!”

See what I mean about the sensitivity training?

Reginald never gets tired of telling about all the highly successful indie authors who publish two, three, even five novels a year. “And you,” he says, “can’t publish just one?”

That’s when I got mad.

“It’s not the end of the world!” I told my hulking, snarling deadline monster. “I’d rather take more time and make this book kick ass than scramble to throw a messy pile of utter messiness on Amazon! My readers will wait. They wait years for George R. R. Martin. Hopefully they’ll allow me two extra months for this awesome book. So, GIVE ME A BREAK!”

That did the trick. Reggie’s ears went down, his tail tucked between his legs, and I swear I saw the glisten of tears in his eyes. Don’t worry, we didn’t leave things like that. I gave him a big scratch behind the ears.

“You’re really important to me,” I said as his leg thumped approvingly, “but we have to work together. I need you to be a firm-yet-understanding deadline monster. ”

“Okay,” he murmured, “but April, you’re definitely going to publish Rising by the beginning of April?”

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Top Ten Things My Pet Bunny Clearly Does Not Understand

February 3rd, 2014 No comments

I have a pet bunny named Avalon. This is him. He is adorable.

For the most part, we get along well. He has soft fur. I like to pet his fur. He likes it when I pet his fur. He also really, really likes lettuce. I can procure lettuce. We make a good team. Unfortunately, our relationship isn’t all roses and delicious lettuce.

 

10. Flipping over your water bowl is not nearly as awesome as you think. Flipping over your water bowl, while impressive, actually completely depletes your supply of water. You need water to live. This is not a cool trick from a survival point of view.

This is what your water bowl should look like if you don’t want to die a slow and horrible death of dehydration

09. Carpet is not food. It has never been food. It will never be food at any future point. In fact, it is the opposite of food, in that you really, really shouldn’t eat it. Ever. Please stop eating the carpet.

This is not food

08. There is nothing at all interesting underneath the dresser. Please stop trying to dig up the carpet under the dresser. Yes, I realize that there is a small arch at the bottom of the dresser that looks kind of like an opening to somewhere, but it’s not. The only thing under the dresser is more carpet, which, we’ve already established is not food.

There’s nothing under here

07. No matter how much you beg, I will never ever let you eat chocolate again. Remember that one time a chocolate chip fell out of my cookie onto the floor and you ate it before I could pick it up? Two days later you got really sick and I had to rush you to the vet. Do you remember how they had to give you fluids, force feed you, and shave your leg to take a blood sample? Do you remember how I was a total emotional mess, because I thought that I had murdered you via cookie? Of course you don’t remember this, because you are a bunny. But I remember . I also remember the $300 vet bill. So, please stop begging for chocolate, and stop pretending to be shocked that I’m not giving you any. Chocolate can kill you. Seriously, it can kill you.

Deadly poison

06. When you stand right in front of the door it will hit you in the face. Please stop standing so close to the door. The door is not transparent, therefore I cannot see that you are standing on the other side. So, again, this will lead to me hitting you in the face with the door. I now try to open the door very slowly, so I don’t get why I still keep hitting you in the face. You must see the door opening. Just move and you won’t get hit in the face.

Just stand about four feet back from this and you should be good.

05. I’d like you to stop eating your poop in front of me. I understand that eating your poop is a natural thing that bunnys do, and that special forms of your poop (called cecotropes) contain bacteria and fungi that are essential for your health, but it still weirds me out. I accept you for who you are, but that doesn’t mean I’m comfortable with everything you do, mainly eating your own poop. I wish you wouldn’t so flagrantly eat your poop in front of me. I leave the room multiple times a day, often for 30 minutes or more. This would give you ample time to eat your poop in private, but you seem not to care whether or not I’m in the room. Please be more considerate in the future.

04. The sound of peeling a hardboiled egg is not a huge scary thing that requires you to thump your back leg loudly for five minutes and hide under the bed. It’s just a noise you haven’t heard before. It’s okay to be a little nervous, but you really don’t need to freak out about it. There is absolutely no way the sound of peeling egg shells is threatening or can harm you. The same goes for the clinking of change and the sound of my pen tapping the desk. These things are no big deal. Please stop thumping and making it seem like I’m trying to terrify you with everyday life noises.

This is terrifying

This is not terrifying

03. You should probably be more scared of the cats then you are. I am noticing that you don’t give them as much notice anymore. Sometimes they sneak into the room, and you just sit in your hay box munching on hay while they stalk around. You don’t seem afraid at all. You should be. You’re a pretty big bunny, but the cats can still eat you. They are faster than you, stronger than you and have sharp teeth and claws. They are not your friends. You may think that you can change them, and while this is really sweet, it’s also a quick ticket to betrayal and death.

This cold hearted killer is not your friend

02. I know you’re the one eating my shoes. How do I know? Simple process of elimination. The cats don’t eat my shoes and I don’t eat my shoes. That leaves you. Also, I have seen you hop into my closet on several occasions. On more than one occasion I have heard a sound emanating from the closet that sounds suspiciously like you chewing on something expensive and beloved. Also, there was that one time you chewed on my boot while I was wearing it. That was not subtle of you at all. Don’t act all shocked and innocent when I go to buckle on a pair of cute sandals only to discover that the buckle is no longer attached. When I give you an accusing stare, your eyes bug out, as if to say, Who would do such a horrendous thing? If it’s been more than two hours since you ate the shoes, then maybe you’ve forgotten and don’t honestly know. But I do. It’s you. You ate my shoes. I also strongly suspect that you’re the one whose eaten through two of my purse straps.

I didn’t do this

01. Chewing on wires is a terrible idea. Remember up at number 9 where we talked about how eating carpet is really bad for you? Chewing on wires is an even worse idea. It’s actually the worst idea you’ve ever had, except for possibly eating that chocolate chip, discussed in number 7. For some reason you hate wires and want to destroy them all. The existence of wires offends you on the most fundamental level of your being. Your mindless animosity for wires goes deeper than some of the world’s greatest rivalries, including Colonists vs. Red Coats, Hatfields vs. McCoys, Athenians vs. Spartans, Amish vs. Twitter, and Yankees vs. Red Soxs. I have some bad news for you rabbit – you will never win the war against wires. No matter how many times you chew through my cell phone charger, computer cord, lamp wire, WiFi router cable or any other wires, you will not make a dent in their dominance of the world. They are like a hydra. For every paper shredder wire you chew, two will come back in its place. Also, the wires don’t care how many of their kind fall. They are like the army of Xerxes, numberless and undefeatable. You, on the other hand, are very defeatable. You’ve been lucky so far, but this luck can only last so long until your little brain gets fried, mid-chew. You must learn to coexist in a world of wires. I am doing my best to keep them out of your sight and reach, but you have to meet me half way. Did you see what happened to Leonidas in the movie 300? Of course you didn’t, you are a rabbit. So let me tell you. He died. A lot. Sure, he got to yell and chop some heads and run around in his underwear and a cool cape, but by the end of the movie he was a pin cushion. Don’t be like Leonidas . Bow down before the wires. It is the only way.

This is a battle you cannot win

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Categories: Essay, Other Tags: ,

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.

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The Why Behind My Marketing Goals

January 6th, 2014 No comments

Goals. Some people hate them. I love them. Me and goals are BFFs. My goals guide me throughout the year. They cheer me on when I pay attention and haunt me when I start ignoring them. When I achieve a goal, they throw me a party…an imaginary party that I make up in my head…but that’s beside the point.

The point is that goals are important to me. At the end of each year, I take a full day to reflect and determine my goals for the next year. As you can imagine, this is a pretty exciting day for me. I get to lovingly craft my goals and make them all sorts of promises about how I will lavish care on them, call them every day and rush over with chicken soup if they should get sick. This day is also a little scary. Some of the goals I make are big and scary. They loom over me like huge mountains, the kind you need sherpas and very hardy goats for. One of my big goals this year is to buy my first house. This may not seem like such a big goal, but if you look up real estate prices in Southern California, you’ll begin to understand why I might need to hook some ice picks on my belt before I start on this goal.

I like to break goals down by categories. Writing is always a goal category, so are Finances, Health & Wellness, Personal Growth, etc… Once I create yearly goals, I break them down into quarterly goals and monthly goals to make them more manageable.

It’s easy to get fixated on a goal, whether it’s to complete one new novel by the end of the year, make a certain amount of money, or listen to one audio book a month (all goals of mine, by the way). This year, I did something a little different. Before I wrote my goals in each category, I took some time to ask myself Why is this important? I guess I just wanted to see in black and white why I was willing to work so hard.

One of my goal categories this year is Writing Marketing. I slacked on marketing my writing last year like it was nobody’s business, so I knew I had to enshrine some specific goals this year. I know many, many writers who fear or dislike marketing just like I do, so I want to share my little thought bubble on the topic. This is why behind my marketing goals:

One of my dreams is  to live off the proceeds of my writing. That won’t happen by itself no matter how good my writing is. Being a commercially successful author is about writing great and entertaining stories and also convincing people to read and talk about your work. It’s about creating excitement, which requires focus and action. Marketing is very challenging for me. In many ways, I am still uncertain and shy about promoting my writing. A deep, dark part of me worries that my writing isn’t good enough, that I’m embarrassing myself. Marketing also feels selfish and bad, so it’s easy to put it aside and to do other things instead (like write more). But I have to recognize that marketing is part of the self-publishing process and it’s a key component to commercial success. With that in mind, in 2014 I want to focus on creating a long-term and consistent marketing plan, as well as educating myself about marketing techniques. In the past, I haven’t consistently given time to marketing, and I haven’t kept up marketing campaigns. 2014 is the year to go all in. It will take work, time and belief  my writing. I can do this. I will do this.

I wish you the best of luck with your goals for 2014. If you don’t have any yet, start writing!

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Going Beyond The Story

May 26th, 2013 No comments

Extras From Girl With Broken Wings

 

One of the best and most fulfilling aspects of writing a novel is the ability to construct your own world and to inhabit the minds of different people. Placing your characters in a certain situation and moving them forward requires you to understand their motivations on a deep very intimate level.

I think there are plenty of talented authors who don’t heft the shovel and dig too deeply into their characters or components of the plot, but those books don’t appeal to me very much. I can tell when an author truly knows his or her characters, when they hear the whisper of their characters in their heads and see their characters living, talking, dreaming beyond the scope of the story. These are the same authors who build a vibrant, amazingly-detailed world. It’s not just because they are extremely imaginative (though they are that too, of course), but also because they are inside the world themselves.

The writing process for my Girl With Broken Wings series doesn’t start with a blank Word doc on my laptop. It doesn’t end there either. Every day my characters whisper to me, and I watch them move in the long stretches of time between action. I see the house they live in, watch them on the gritty rooftops where they wait to take their shot, feel the endless vibrations of their SUV as they cross the country, always hunting, fighting, delivering.

Of course, all of this background can’t possibly fit into the books. Instead, it must peek out in short clips before the action, in a casual remark dropped into a conversation or in a quick observation by the narrator. These tiny details are stiches in a much larger quilt that makes up the invisible foundation of a story.

I’ve written down a few patches of this quilt and listed them on my website under extras for anyone who is interested in going a level deeper into the world of Girl With Broken Wings. The extras include:

For all you writers out there, don’t be afraid to let your characters speak or to follow them around in your mind even when they’re off the clock. Observe them and allow them the freedom to move on their own without your guidance or requirements of the plot. Observe their world, and if it is gray and fuzzy, then populate it. Add a weird vase in the character’s house and then figure out why it’s there. None of this will likely end up in your story directly, but it will be there just below the surface, adding a deeper layer that readers will recognize and appreciate.

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