Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Fifty States of Pray and IWSG - How to Stay in Writing Mode During the Holidays

For the holidays, I am joining in Mark Koopman’s Fifty States of Pray.
I also posted Monday at the Insecure Writer’s Support Group site - How to Stay in Writing Mode During the Holidays.

I wanted to share the lyrics to a beautiful song called Bless Us All from my favorite Christmas movie, The Muppet Christmas Carol. We watch the movie every Christmas Eve and every year, we end up crying over fuzzy felt.

Life is full of sweet surprises
Everyday's a gift
The sun comes up and I can feel it lift my spirit
Fills me up with laughter, fills me up with song
I look into the eyes of love and know that I belong

Bless us all, who gather here
The loving family I hold dear
No place on earth, compares with home
And every path will bring me back from where I roam
Bless us all, that as we live
We always comfort and forgive
We have so much, that we can share
With those in need we see around us everywhere

Let us always love each other
Lead us to the light
Let us hear the voice of reason, singing in the night
Let us run from anger and catch us when we fall
Teach us in our dreams and please, yes please
Bless us one and all

Bless us all with playful years
With noisy games and joyful tears
We reach for You and we stand tall
And in our prayers and dreams
We ask You bless us all

We reach for You and we stand tall
And in our prayers and dreams we ask You
Bless us all

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Merry Christmas from the Cats!

Since Christmas is just around the corner, I thought I'd bring back some Christmas cat favorites, including a couple of Spunky. Enjoy!

I will be back on Monday at the Insecure Writer’s Support Group site and then here on Tuesday for Mark Koopman’s Fifty States of Pray.

And of course, Spunky the cat is here for the holidays!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Are Discounted and Free Books Still Effective?

There was an interesting article at The Digital Reader this weekend - “Are Deep Discount Sales Blasts Like Bookbub’s Still Effective Sales Tools?”

Several points were raised in the article and I thought of a few more:

  • Is the glut of free and 99c working against itself? Are there so many discounted books that they just aren’t drawing attention anymore? 
  • Are buyers merely hoarding without reading?
  • With more large, traditional publishers discounting, will that hurt self-published authors?
  • It still works well for some authors - what is the deciding factor?
  • It encourages buying without reading and little reader to author connection, which is vital in developing fans. Is it then just a short term solution and one that may not really work?

I’ve never been a fan of KDP Select and those days of giving away one’s book, although it was more because of the exclusitivity that’s required. I’ve already read several articles this past year that stated the free aspect was not as effective as it once was due to the amount of authors using it. With sites like Bookbub, you are also paying hundreds more to promote your free or discounted books.

How would you answer those questions?

Last Friday I participated in Milo James Fowler’s ‘Tis More Blessed book giveaway event. And the winner of a copy of The Circle of Friends, Book V...Heather is...

Helena at Becoming Layla

Congrats, Helena!

Friday, December 13, 2013

‘Tis More Blessed Giveaway and Tornado Warning Book Trailer Debut

Today I am participating in Milo James Fowler’s ‘Tis More Blessed giveaway event. Dozens of authors are participating today - see the full list below.

One lucky commenter will win a copy of my NA/YA book, The Circle of Friends, Book V...Heather.

When confidence turns to frustration…

A new beginning awaits Heather Jennings. The position at Clemson means she will finally realize her dream of coaching basketball and Heather’s ready to focus on her duties. Sadly, her triumph is hampered as her father and greatest advocate lies dying of cancer. Battling her grief, she must also deal with a sister who appears incapable of achievement. And once basketball season begins, a talented but cocky player challenges all that remains of Heather’s patience. Her life changes when she encounters a man capable of handling her bold and feisty attitude. Straightforward and smug, he entices her to date him. However, the last thing Heather needs is a serious relationship with a man equally fixated on work and opposed to marriage…

“Heather deals with real life and real situations.” 5 Stars - Teens Read Too

“Wolfe has created amazing characters with believable attributes and flaws… a true gem.” - Donna M. McDine, Write What Inspires You Book Reviews

“I am haunted by these characters… This is the power of Wolfe’s writing.” - The Book Pedler

Comment to win! Open to everyone - USA receives print copy, International ebook.

Visit others giving away books today:

I’m also helping to debut a book trailer for fellow DLP author, Tamara Hart Heiner. Tornado Warning will be released on May 6, 2014.

Monday, December 09, 2013

A Quarter of all Amazon Ebooks Sold Now Are KDP Books

There was an interesting article on The Guardian’s site last week, and it touched upon several interesting things regarding the publishing industry.

Amazon announced that a fourth of all eBooks sold were by independent publishers. The term independent covers any publisher or self-publisher who has used Kindle Direct publishing to publish ebooks. Writer.ly Tweeted a picture of the top 100 on Wednesday with a quarter of the books highlighted - all published via KDP.

This is good news for small publishers and self-publishers. It represents a leveling of the playing field and sales driven by consumers rather than advertising and bookstore placement. While the percentage probably isn’t as high for Barnes and Noble and other ebook retailers, the change is occurring there, too.

Many traditional publishers are annoyed that Amazon lists KDP titles alongside traditional and large-publisher titles, though. They want Amazon to list those separately. In the past, the big publishers have used their marketing dollar to sway Amazon. Now it looks like that power is finally shifting to the smaller publishers and self-publishers as their books sell more and more titles.

Where do you fall in that equation? Are you benefitting? Any predictions what the big boy publishers will do to regain some of what they are losing in sales and visibility - and can they?

On a side note, this paragraph in the article caught my attention:

“CreateSpace topped the league of self-published print book producers in the US, registering 131,460 ISBNs in 2012, an increase of 123% on the previous year, and of 3,300% compared to 2007, according to figures from US ISBN agency Bowker.”

Note that CreateSpace registered those ISBNs with Bowker - meaning they were the ones to purchase the ISBNs and are listed as the publisher. ISBNs cannot be sold or transferred, so the authors who purchased an ISBN from CreateSpace are actually “renting” the number and are NOT listed as the publisher in the Books in Print database or with Bowker. If you use CreateSpace to print and distribute your book, be sure to purchase your own ISBNs from Bowker if you want to be listed as the publisher.

Be sure to check out the contest we are holding at The Insecure Writer’s Support Group.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

The Insecure Writer's Support Group

It’s time for another edition of The Insecure Writer’s Support Group, hosted by Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh.

Today Im also the featured Wednesday Writer at The Writing Nut.

After almost a month’s break from the Internet, I am finding it a challenge to crank up the engine again. While we might never forget how to ride a bicycle, getting back into social media is more about rebuilding momentum than remembering a skill. Anyone who’s pushed the boulder uphill knows what happens when you stop pushing. The boulder starts rolling backwards and takes you back down to the bottom again.

So here I am, trying to push that boulder back up the hill again. Trying to get back in the habit of writing blog posts and using Twitter. Planning ways to get the word out about my books and my services. Contemplating the next thing I should write. I know what I need to do. Mostly it’s finding a place and a way to do it.

If any of my blogging and writing friends know of an opportunity or two, I would sure be thankful!

Be nice to get the boulder over the hill and let it roll. But I might fall off at that point or get run over.

Be sure to check in with the Insecure Writer’s Support Group website today for a contest announcement.

The next posting for the group will be on January 8 due to New Year’s Day being on the first Wednesday.

Find us on Facebook, too!

Monday, December 02, 2013

Adobe Creative Cloud, Freebie Fridays, Dragon Award

Welcome to December! My month-long hiatus is over and I am back, refreshed and ready to go. I’m sure I missed a lot, so I will be making the rounds and catching up on everyone.

Everything seems to be going to “The Cloud” these days. Your music, photos, movies - even data - stored there. I’m old fashioned and prefer physical or downloadable copies, and I’m leery of any Cloud storage unit. However, the Cloud does provide some really innovative changes and advancements in technology. One of those is the Adobe Creative Cloud.

What is Adobe Creative Cloud?

In the past, you purchased Adobe software and physically installed it on your computer. Now you can pay a monthly fee to access their products in the Cloud - and more:

“You'll always have access to the very latest Adobe desktop apps, including Adobe Photoshop CC, Illustrator CC, and more. Simply download the latest updates when you're ready.
“Your entire creative world is synced and organized for you across multiple devices. It’s now integrated with Behance, bringing your work and your creative community together for the first time. Find inspiration fast. Post work in progress right from Photoshop to get feedback from other creatives around the world.
“You can build and publish websites, mobile sites, iPad apps, and other content for any medium or device.
“You'll have access to every Adobe creative tool and service, along with a growing library of video tutorials to help you explore new tools and ramp up fast.
“There is also Creative Cloud for teams. Add or reassign seats in minutes. Give everyone the latest versions of the same tools. Never worry about compatibility. And seamlessly share files from any device with 100GB of cloud storage.”

Annual plan is $49.99 a month for access to all of their programs and apps. The individual program is $19.99. (20GB of cloud storage.)

One of the biggest advantages is in the upgrades. Their software updates every 12-18 months. Rather than paying hundreds for the upgrade, you simply download it for free. It’s all part of your monthly plan. If you’re looking at a program that is $300 and upgrades every year, the Creative Cloud single program plan will cost less than $240 during that same year.

If you are an Adobe program user, check out Adobe Creative Cloud!

Has anyone else signed up for Creative Cloud?

I was also honored by Father Dragon Al with the Golden Scale Award. He is a wise old dragon and I’m thankful he thought of me during his one year celebration.

Milo James Fowler is continuing his Friday freebies with Tis More Blessed.
I will be offering several books in a giveaway on December 13. Thank you for this giveaway opportunity, Milo!

See you Wednesday for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group Post.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

The Insecure Writer's Support Group and Breaking the Silence of Domestic Abuse

It’s time for another edition of The Insecure Writer’s Support Group, hosted by Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh.

I’m not an insecure writer at the moment, if only because I haven’t been writing. Not anything for a book anyway.

However, I have been incredibly busy with other writing related projects. My formatting business has really taken off, which is a blessing. I’m so organized and detail orientated that formatting is a joy to me.

I’m also still looking for more sites to add to our database at the Insecure Writer’s Support Group website. And a couple times a month, I post inspiration for our Facebook Page. (When I don’t leave the house before posting that morning! LOL)

I even got to attend the release party for the book listed below! Over 80% of the profit goes back into Sarah’s Refuge to continue the fight against domestic violence. If you know someone who is struggling, this is a great book.

Toss in a couple speaking engagements and events, and this is a really busy time for me.

So, outside of my Insecure Writer’s Support Group duties, I will be taking a break this month. After blogging for 8 & 1/2 years, this will be my first big break. I’ll check in now and then, but I probably won’t post again until the next IWSG post.

Hopefully Steve the Minion pumpkin is still around!

By Sarah’s Refuge, Inc.

The silence must be broken…

Each year, thousands of men, women, and children suffer domestic violence. For many, it’s far too long to live in this kind of silence. How much devastation must we see in individuals, families, and communities before we realize that someone… anyone… everyone must take a stand?
Featuring stories & accounts from domestic violence survivors & family members. Also included is information regarding types of abuse, why victims stay, awareness months, & a personalized safety plan.
Domestic violence has the potential to destroy everything it touches, but there is a solution.
Stand up, speak up, and break the silence!

$9.95 USA, 6x9 Trade paperback, 122 pages
Non-fiction - Self-help/Abuse (SEL001000)
Print ISBN 978-1-939844-07-1
$3.99 eBook ISBN 978-1-939844-02-6 available on all platforms

“This book packs a punch and provides hope and inspiration for the weary traveler on the road to survival. A must read.” - Mr. Junie M. Christian, Onslow Women's Center, Executive Director

“These are true stories and these women are doing the most important thing a victim of abuse needs to do. They are breaking their silence and speaking out… And if you don’t know what to do, the resource section will guide you to the help you need.” - Karen Walker, author of Following the Whispers

Sarah’s Refuge, Inc. operates the only residential and non-residential domestic violence and rape crisis center in Duplin County, NC. For victims with no other resources or options, domestic violence shelters are often the only option for safety during the initial weeks of transition.

Purchase Links (over 80% of the profits go back into fighting domestic violence):
Amazon Kindle
Barnes & Noble
Amazon UK

Monday, November 04, 2013

Industry News - Self-Publishing Gaining Momentum and the Ultra-Light Nook GlowLight E-Reader

From Book Business Magazine - the divide between print and digital book consumptions grows as self-publishing gains momentum.

“...according to Trade Electronic Book Publishing 2013, paperback print books have about three times as many buyers as digital books. But with self publishing, the rush to digital is much faster.

"The rise of e-books runs almost perfectly parallel to the rise of self publishing," said Michael Norris , senior analyst of Simba Information's Consumer Media & Technology division, commenting on the findings. "When we compiled the data we realized we had enough to create a profile of the self published book buyer, both in terms of demographics and how they buy and use content. Additionally, since so many self published books have been showing up on national bestseller lists meant we could engage in a meaningful category analysis."

Is self-publishing a major force behind the ebook revolution?

From Mashable - Barnes & Noble reveals its Ultra-Light Nook GlowLight E-Reader. This product arrives on the heels of the latest Kindle Paperwhite e-reader and in conjunction with the I-Pad Air.

“Like the Paperwhite before it, Barnes & Nobles’ new e-reader features an updated 6-inch E-Ink display with 62% more pixels on the screen than the previous Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight; this improves text clarity and contrast.

“The most remarkable change, though, is its weight. The GlowLight weighs just 6.2 ounces; that makes it more than an ounce lighter than the Paperwhite — and it’s a noticeable difference.

“Storage space has now doubled to 4GB for the $119 model. Amazon’s Paperwhite also costs $119 (as long as you accept sleep-state ads), but comes with just 2GB. Of course, books don’t eat up a lot of space. The GlowLight can accommodate roughly 2,000 books, while the Paperwhite can hold roughly 1,100 books.”

Can Barnes & Noble continue to be competitive with this new device? Will it keep up with the Kindle or even be able to compete with tablets such as the IPad?

This Wednesday is the Insecure Writer’s Support Group post day. And don’t forget to check the Facebook IWSG, especially on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, for inspiration. 

Friday, November 01, 2013

Cover Reveal - Dragonfly Warrior and More Minions!

Cover Reveal - Dragonfly Warrior

The Mechanica Wars: Savage Machines Are Afoot...

At the age of twenty, Kanze Zenjiro's bloody footprints mark the bodies of those who stood in his way to protect the throne of Nihon. Now, the tyrannical Iberian Empire is bent on destroying his kingdom, and they send their steam-powered giants and iron spiders against him.

Zen embarks on a quest that takes him on the most dangerous journey of his life. To succeed, Zen must live up to his nickname, the Dragonfly Warrior, and kill all his enemies with only a sword and a pair of six-guns. He is called upon to somehow survive a test of faith and loyalty in a world so cruel and merciless, it borders on madness.

Dragonfly Warrior is a steampunk adventure like no other. It's a dynamic mix of Asian and European mythology, the Wild West, martial arts, traditional fantasy, and high powered steam action that will keep you turning the pages.

Dragonfly Warrior is the first book of The Mechanica Wars, and will debut on January 6, 2014.

Author Bio:
After doing some freelance writing and editing for more than a dozen years, Jay decided to stop procrastinating and pursue his dream of being a novelist. He's been blogging for over eight years, and even had a comedy podcast syndicated all over the internet. All of that was fun, but all the steampunk-inspired stories in his head just wouldn't leave him alone. Jay spends his days working in medical sales, but he can be found toiling over his laptop late at night when all is quiet.

He draws inspiration from all over: H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Shakespeare, Ray Bradbury, Douglas Adams, and Isaac Asimov.

And Jay loves cookies.


My husband surprised me with a Halloween present - a stuffed Minion!

Say hello to Dave, posed here with Steve:

Monday, October 28, 2013

Designing a Character

Everyone has his or her own style of writing and getting to know main characters. I’ve always found it easiest to design a character first and then plan a story around him. Some like to tackle the story first and let the character develop. Either way, here’s a list of details to consider as you build your characters.

Name and gender

Background - What are the characters’ race, culture, and nationality? What are their religious or spiritual beliefs? What was their upbringing like? What was their economic status? What relatives were present - parents, siblings, others?

Personality - What are the characters’ personality types? (There are several personality type scales and charts. I use the ones outlined in Florence Littauer’s Personality Plus book - choleric, phlegmatic, sanguine, and melancholy.) What are the strengths and weaknesses? What are their interests and hobbies? What are the goals of each character? (That alone can set the storyline.)

Physical attributes - What is the basic body build of each character? Height, weight, eye color, hair color? What is each one’s intelligence level?

Misc. - What are the characters’ ages or birthdays? Who are their friends? Do they have a spouse, girl/boy friend, or children? What other details would help define the character?

Those basics can provide a solid foundation from which to build. Sometimes it takes a bit to coax the details from our minds - or our characters if we decide to interview them. But the results will be three-dimensional characters who are ready to go any direction you send them.

What other details are important to know about your characters?

I’m also posting at the Insecure Writers Support Group website on How to Present a Professional Appearance as a Self-Publisher.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Who’s Your Hero Blogfest

Hosted by JL Campbell.

The release of the novel Saving Sam by J.L. Campbell has been timed to coincide with National Heroes’ Day celebrations in Jamaica. Sam, the protagonist finds a hero—or heroine if you like—in his aunt and the mission of this blogfest is to write a maximum of 300 words about someone who has been a source of inspiration. So, Who’s Your Hero?

As soon as I saw this blogfest, I knew who I would pick - my husband, Craig. And I feel really bad anytime I hear an author say he or she doesn't have the support of the spouse. That's your best friend - that person should be the most supportive.

He’s always seen more in me than I see in myself and he leads our family by example. Craig has always supported me in my ventures, from photography to writing - even my roller coaster obsession. (He waits at the exit for me and holds my drink - LOL!) He doesn’t always understand my choices, but he allows me to plow forward.

Craig let me step away from a J-O-B I didn’t like 14 years ago to become fully self-employed. He helps me whenever he can, and often when he doesn’t want to. He’s driven me to seminars and wandered malls for hours while I did book signings. He tells me he admires my drive and desire to do better and learn more.

He’s the spiritual leader in our house and handles all of the expenses when they don’t pertain to my businesses. Not worrying about money has been a tremendous blessing to me. I joke that he is Mr. Safety, but he is my reality check, as I am prone to jump without a lot of thought.

My husband is my hero!

Who else would spend over a week making me a Despicable Me Minion pumpkin?

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Challenges of Running a Publishing Company

Today I welcome Karen Jones Gowen, who not only is an author, she runs WiDo Publishing. She was kind enough to answer some questions about running a publishing company.

How did WiDo Publishing get started?

The Gowen family had no idea about getting into publishing but things just kind of evolved that way. I had written the manuscript for Farm Girl as a gift for my mother’s 90th birthday, figuring I’d bind up a few copies by hand. My son Don, who worked at Kinko’s, went beyond that. He collected the old family photos, did the typesetting and layout then printed up a dozen bound books for the family.

As Don was showing the finished product around, an investor saw the book and wanted it to launch a publishing company, with our family members who had helped staying on board to run it. WiDo Publishing is named for my two sons, Don and William, who were key in the creation of Farm Girl.

After Farm Girl, it took awhile to get things going, but we managed to publish five books in three years. The fourth year, 2011, WiDo released nine books. In 2012, most of the family who had helped to start the company had left to carry on their lives, so we hired freelancers to do the editing, covers, typesetting, and formatting. We have since published 42 books. By mid- 2014, our sixth year in business, we will hit our 50-book milestone.

We like to say that most publishers launch a book, but in the case of WiDo, it was a book that launched a publishing company.

What genres do you publish?

We publish fiction with a literary bent, including sci fi/fantasy, contemporary fiction, and historical fiction. We also like memoir that has subject matter of unusual interest along with a strong story line. Fiction is limited to YA and older, although we will consider middle-grade fiction that has potential for a wide appeal. We avoid popular romance and erotica.

What markets do you target - bookstores, libraries, academic, ebooks, etc?

Our primary markets are brick and mortar bookstores for print books, and Kindle for ebooks. Libraries can order from Follett Library Resources, which they are inclined to do when a patron comes in and requests a book. We distribute to bookstores through Ingram, offering the standard discount and full returns the first six months after release. This makes our books competitive in the bookstore marketplace.

Most books and websites are geared toward author promotions - what did you have to learn in order to promote as a publisher?

We had to learn a LOT. Especially since the entire industry changed between 2007 when Farm Girl came out and 2012, when we went from doing 1000 initial print runs to short-run digital. Also we had to decide where ebooks would fit into our market, and we chose to focus solely on Amazon, utilizing the KDP Select program for maximum exposure and profitability.

We had to evolve in how we published, how we marketed—going from personal phone calls to bookstores to assisting our authors with creating their platforms on social media. It’s amazing the changes that happened in publishing between 2007 and 2012, and we saw many small companies fall by the wayside. We feel very fortunate that we were able to weather the storm and get to the other side stronger than ever.

What are some of the mistakes writers make when querying?

They happen with manuscripts and with the query letters themselves. With manuscripts, it would be sending it out before it’s ready. Not only proofread, but where the narrative style, the voice, the flow of writing is just not polished enough. Often a writer will need to complete 3 or 4 novels and set them aside before they’ve achieved mastery over these elements sufficient to attract a publisher. Just finishing a novel and editing it completely is not always enough. It takes time and practice to achieve the skills necessary to create a manuscript that will make a publisher want to invest time and money in making a book out of it.

Another mistake is not understanding the market, not realizing how important it is for an author to actively promote. In today’s bookselling world, the author is the face of the book, not the publisher. Nobody cares who the publisher is, but if people get to know a writer online and like their blog or their personality, they’ll be much more interested in buying a book by that writer. A query letter should include information about what the writer is doing online, to make the publisher realize this person is serious about promoting themselves and their work.

A query letter is much like applying for a job. If you want to get hired, you’ll need to come across as someone worthy of being hired. Your personality should shine through, because it’s not just about the manuscript or story you’re submitting, it is also about you. If someone comes across as dull or strange or aloof in a query letter, how will they come across on a blog?

Tell us something about yourself. Be someone we’d like to get to know, who we want to work with. And let us know you’ve done your legwork, researched our company and that you want to work with us.

What can a small publisher offer that self-published authors can’t do on their own?

A really good question, and what every writer should ask before submitting to a publisher. Not all small publishers are alike. Some charge fees for editing, cover design, marketing assistance. They offer fee-based publishing services yet split royalties and call themselves publishers. It’s where a lot of the confusion comes in with the term “small publisher.” Who wouldn’t question submitting to a company like that?

A publisher such as WiDo, who takes on the financial risk so the author does not have to, can free up the writer from business concerns to focus instead on writing the next book. Also, when you pay for everything yourself, the people you hire may be excellent but still do not have a vested interest in whether or not your book does well in the marketplace, whereas a publisher does not get paid until your book sells. The publisher who has taken on the financial risk is going to make sure the editing, formatting, cover design and marketing, even the very title, will give that book every chance to succeed.

We can also get your book into libraries and bookstores, which is extremely difficult to do for the self-published. Our distributor is Ingram, the largest distributor world-wide to both physical and online booksellers; and for libraries, it is Follett Library Resources.

What have been some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in the past few years?

One of the biggest is the floodgates opening to self-publishing. Even writers who have agents are moving in that direction. Many have said that it will put publishers out of business, but we personally haven’t seen any decrease in our submissions. If anything, our submissions are higher than they’ve ever been. It seems that with the ease of writing and publishing (maybe ease is the wrong word, because it is never easy to write a good book); let’s say with the attention paid to all the books being published, it seems like more and more people are writing and submitting overall.

And who can ignore what Amazon has done for the book business? Before Kindle, it was incredibly difficult for a small press to make it on print books alone. Once ebooks took off, that became a viable source of income quickly surpassing print sales. Bookstores are still caught in the old traditions of returns, of only stocking what is popular, of only ordering a book when someone requests it—simply no way for a small press to survive without ebook income.

Also, the prominence of social media has made a big impact on the marketing and selling of books. WiDo can still sell a book where the author isn’t active on social media, but it is so much easier if they are. And more fun, because then it’s like we are a team working together to give that book every chance at success.

Thank you, Karen!

You can find Karen at her BLOG and WEBSITE, and visit WiDo Publishing HERE.

A while back, Heather Gardner posted an image of three Despicable Me Minion pumpkins - and I knew I had to have one! My husband obliged, and created Steve for me:

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

CK Reader Giveaway, EJ Wesley's Dragon's Game, and Zombie Vomit

This week two of my books are featured in Ciara Knight’s CK GIVEAWAY. You can visit her for your chance to win an autographed copy of How to Publish and Promote Your Book Now or Overcoming Obstacles with SPUNK! The Keys to Leadership and Goal-Setting. The giveaway is open to all. You can also visit the Facebook CK Giveaway.

Available Monday, October 22nd!

Jenny Moonsong recently inherited the title of "monster hunter" and an ancient tribal journal/how-to manual passed down by her Apache ancestors. She has already faced a werewolf, witches, and a troll. But nothing could prepare her for her latest confrontation...

Dragon's Game, Moonsongs Book 4, finds Jenny out of her rural West Texas element, searching for an evil witch in an urban Houston nightclub. After attempting to help a handsome and mysterious stranger out of a jam, she finds herself on the run from a ruthless gang who are even more dangerous than they initially appear.

Forced into a twisted game of life and death, Jenny must navigate the complexity of a budding relationship, and somehow survive a night filled with unexpected horror and paranormal mystery.

Dragon's Game is approximately 14,000 words or 45 pages, and is the fourth volume of the Moonsongs Books, an ongoing series of New Adult, speculative / urban fantasy novelettes by author E.J. Wesley.

(These stories contain language and content better suited for readers 17+)

~Moonsongs Series List~

Blood Fugue, Moonsongs Book 1
Witch's Nocturne, Moonsongs Book 2
Dark Prelude, Moonsongs Book 3
Dragon's Game, Moonsongs Book 4

Moonsongs, Anthology 1 (Collecting books 1, 2, & 3)

Add Dragon's Game on Goodreads And for a limited time, you can catch up on the entire Moonsongs series for just .99 cents (regularly $2.99) - Moonsongs Anthology 1 (books 1, 2, & 3) is on sale October 15th - 20th at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Connect with E.J. for all the latest on the Moonsongs books - BLOG, TWITTER, FACEBOOK, GOOGLE+, LINKEDIN, and GOODREADS

This is for Laura at Wavy Lines - she posted a picture of a graveyard treat and it’s one that we make every year. I don’t do chocolate, so we use vanilla or butter cookies.
With all of the layers of cookie, Jello, and Cool Whip, once you cut into it the dish becomes quite messy. Thus, we call it Zombie Vomit.
Or since I am the master of messing up my letters - Vombie Zomit!

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Monday, October 07, 2013

IWSG Progress, Industry News, and Escalation Cover Reveal

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group website kicked off very well last week. We have well over 100 followers through Google Friends Connect alone, plus countless others who subscribed by email, Readers, and other means.

The Facebook Page really took off! It’s so encouraging to see people posting questions and getting such a huge response. Today is Motivational Monday, so if you’re in need of some motivation, visit the group.

One thing I’ve realized since we started building this website is that each of us has a unique talent and strength. Alex provides the direction and motivation and we fill in the voids. I plan on being active in the Facebook group and respond to comments whenever possible, but I know my strength lies in my organized and detail nature. Between the seminars I teach and my book, I can provide many links and options. I hope to keep feeding the IWSG website with more great sites and links. I’m also going down to just Mondays for a while, except for the first Wednesday of the month.

In other news…

Book Business had an article about social media and the publishing industry. It’s geared toward publishers, but I found this section interesting:

“Many authors are choosing to by-pass traditional means of publishing in favor of self-publishing, a trend that publishers need to be aware of. Jill Schwartzman, Executive Editor at Dutton, discussed the ways that traditional publishing houses can use this trend to find content.”

Read the full article HERE

They also had this article - Indie Authors Are Spending Too Much Time On Social Self-Promotion:

“The only thing that can be counted on to enhance your visibility as a writer is to interact with readers in a real, honest, and generous way. If you are dead bent on using social media, focus all of your energies on a singular platform. Hugh Howey said he focused on the readers he already had instead of trolling the universe for more. When you create the kind of goodwill and loyal fan base he has, word of mouth spreads about your books. That way, you get those “1000 true fans” instead of amassing pointless lists of numbers.”

Read the full article HERE

And finally…

Stephen Tremp, author of the Breakthrough Series, reveals the final cover in the trilogy.

Together, Breakthrough, Opening, and Escalation follow the lives of the unlikely participants from innocence to a coming of age through sacrifice, betrayal, passion, lust, unconditional love, and hope. Escalation will appeal to fans of modern-day science fiction, action, and horror.

Congrats, Stephen - another great cover!

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

The Insecure Writer's Support Group

It’s time for another edition of The Insecure Writer’s Support Group, hosted by Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh.

Today, Alex has a big announcement - the Insecure Writer’s Support Group website is now open! 

The site features oodles of information for writers, with links to sites that will help with writing, publishing, promoting, and more.

There is even a Facebook Page.

Behind the scenes was a team of admins working hard to put together the site. Many thanks to Alex for asking me to be a part of the site! The others are Alex J. Cavanaugh, Joy Campbell, Michelle Wallace, Joylene Nowell Butler Susan Gourley/Kelley, and Lynda Young.

We are still working on the site - any suggestions you have are welcome. We are looking for any site that would benefit writers. (Not individual posts.) There is a page where you can leave your suggestion.

Help us spread the word about this great site!

If you read my last IWSG post, you’ll recall I was going to cut back. LOL! I didn’t even post on Monday because I had six formatting orders come in last week. But I have cut back in one area and will cut back even more. My dedication to this new site, my services, my speaking, etc. - those come first.

And maybe someday I will even start writing again!

* As a side note, my husband will be home for a while. Since the government failed to get its act together with the budget, he got into work on Tuesday and everyone was told to go home - and they are expecting it to be a couple weeks. (He works for a contracting company on base.) We are fine financially, but it was totally unexpected! I feel bad for those with no vacation time or savings.

Friday, September 27, 2013

And Now For Something Completely Different…

It was a very slow week for publishing news and a busy week for me with three books to format and a seminar.

So, I am giving you a different kind of post today and very different photos outside of the ones I post for inspiration. For those of you writing contemporary tales, one thing that comes up in a story at some point is what kind of cars do the characters drive? Because a car can say so much about a person, from social status to income level to personal tastes.

Need an idea for a car in your story? Trip down memory lane with me and see if one fits the bill. Or maybe the adventures I had with each one. Just don’t judge me!

My first vehicle, and the one I learned to drive on, was a 1969 VW Bus.
(Me at aged 3 with our brand new Bus.)

My dad had customized it for camping and we used to sneak people into the drive-in inside the built-in storage box. The thing had no guts and the only time it ever went over 65 was down a hill. I kept threatening to turn it into a dune buggy.

Next was a 1974 Ford Pinto. Very thankful no one ever rear-ended me.
(My cat Tiger inside the Pinto!)

After that, my mom sold me her 1978 Honda CVCC.

(It was so awful, I don't even have a picture of it! Imagine this brown...)

It was brown for a reason! And no AC. At the time, I was living in Arkansas, and I about died without AC.

Then at aged 21, I purchased my first pickup - a 1986 Mazda B2000!

It was a year old when I got it and had over 40,000 miles on it already. But it ran like a dream and towed a large U-Haul across country. Twice. I loved that truck!

Next came the Chevy Z-24. Not by choice though. My boyfriend couldn’t afford the insurance so I drove the Z while he drove my pickup. It was an automatic, which was weird for me - I’d only driven stick shifts. But it was the first car I ever got over 100 mph!

Long story short, my truck was traded in for something else and not long after, I and said boyfriend parted ways. What I really wanted to do was part ways with that Z! Still pining after my Mazda, I purchased another pickup - a 1989 Toyota.

It was basic, but I didn’t care - it was my first new car and I signed for it all by myself. That truck and I went through a lot together - slid off an icy overpass, broken windshield and side window three times, someone tried to steal the (bald) tires (ABQ police said it was a gang initiation), I backed into a ditch (farmer had to pull me out with his tractor), and I burnt out the clutch. (Worst smell ever!)

After eleven years, I really needed a new vehicle. By then, I’d fallen in love with Dodge trucks and we test drove both a Ram and a Dakota. My husband thought the Ram was way too big for me, but it came down to price - I could get a basic model Ram or a fully loaded Dakota. Easy choice!

(I couldn't find photos, although I have many, but this is what she looked like.)

She had a Bose stereo, a spray-in bed liner, and every extra I could throw on her. And with a 6 cylinder, 3.7 liter engine, she was fast and powerful! I felt like I was driving a tank, too. It was also a gas guzzler, and since I was traveling a lot for book signings, I spent a lot on gas. Since this was before gas prices went out of control, I didn’t care. I loved my Dakota!

Four years later, gas prices started to rise over $2.00. The truck also needed some work, as unfortunately Dodge is not the most reliable. It was with tears I took her in for something new, but I knew it had to be done…

Enter the Mazda Tribute.

After my first Mazda, I knew I could trust it. They only had two on the lot that were stick shifts, and since Mazda was the only one willing to deal, I picked the maroon one. That vehicle proved to be a trooper. The day after I purchased it, I went to Virginia Beach for a weekend of book signings and day one I did two things you’re not supposed to do with a new vehicle - I went way over 70 mph and I had to slam on my brakes on the Interstate and dive off to the side to avoid rear-ending the line of cars stopped ahead of me. (Can you picture me doing that? LOL!) She also had no guts, but the way I drove, I pushed her to have some.

Seven years later, I was approaching 200,000 miles. Yes, I travel a lot for speaking and book events! The Tribute still ran great, but I knew soon the time would come when she’d fail me. After months of test driving (I was in no hurry) I found my next vehicle - a 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe.

It was also a maroon red and fully loaded with every custom feature you could imagine - heated seats, killer stereo, sunroof, etc. The only downside was it was an automatic, but I already knew I’d never find another SUV that was a stick shift. The best part - I’d planned for this purchase and paid cash for the first time ever!

She’s also like a tank and very comfortable to drive. It won’t go 0 to 60 in four seconds, but it has something I have dubbed “turbo.” It’s like the space shuttle taking off - not fast, but as it gains speed, it accelerates very rapidly. I’ll pass a car and look down to discover I am doing 90 mph! (So, if you’re driving in NC and a maroon-red Sante Fe blows your doors off, it’s me!)

Those were all of my vehicles. Any one of them could fit with a character in your story. Or one of my adventures. If your character needs to spin off an icy overpass, just ask - I can give you all the gory details!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Essential Materials for Writers and Authors

For many of us, the Internet is where we do most of our marketing. We need websites, blogs, social sites, etc. However, we can’t totally forget the real world and the opportunities there to promote.

There are thousands of ways to market and a long list of promotional items to assist those efforts. Two things are essential though.

Business cards – As an author, you are now an expert and a professional. Cards are essential for any business owner. There are sites that offer free cards, but since your business card is a reflection of you, don’t go cheap. A business card should contain your name, your professional title, contact email and/or phone number, and website. Never put a physical home address on the card—P.O. Boxes or business addresses only. You can include your book cover, but every time you write a new book, you’ll need new cards. A logo, slogan, or basic design is a better choice.

Even if you aren’t a published author, a business card still benefits a writer. Instead of “author,’ you are a “writer” or “professional writer.” Hand out your card at conferences and conventions. Use it as a networking tool at every opportunity. With a business card, you will look and feel more professional.

Bookmarks – The most practical promotional item is a bookmark, because it serves a purpose. Even with the e-book explosion, most people still own physical books. A high-quality, two-sided color bookmark will get the most mileage. Your bookmark should feature the book’s cover art, synopsis, ISBN, price, reviews/blurbs, author bio, your website, and publisher information. Compact everything and keep it short. There’s only so much room on a bookmark and you want the text to be legible.

Most people won’t remember your name, let alone your book’s title, five minutes after they meet you. Don’t let them forget by handing out bookmarks. You can also leave them for patrons at libraries and schools or at the doctor’s office. Get creative and have fun!

Does everyone have a business card? Authors, do you have bookmarks? And do you actually take those items with you when you venture out into the world?