Lately I’ve been

I had been writing for years, sounds like an opening sentence to a novel, but true I had stopped writing for a while and returned after my successful participation in the NanaWriMo 2011. The piece I wrote during the November challenge was published in June 2012. It is a crime novel with lots of action and a character driven by his love for his first sweetheart. Currently I’m writing a ghost story, sounds ordinary doesn’t it? A ghost story. But, it’s also about family and crime and two very strong women. One alive and the other dead, both lively though.

I read alot on Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, WordPress, and several other social websites. In fact it takes up most of my time. However, the information on self publishing I find at these sites, you know the how to’s and what works for others, is beneficial, especially for new authors. I love creating stories. Let me say that again, I love it.

Publishing is a bit of a challenge but doable and Marketing sucks. I recently read a blog on the subject and the author suggested that authors stop tweeting a hundred tweets, and all the other marketing tactics and write. Huh? Yes, he suggested authors need many titles, especially more than one book to get noticed. You know what, I tend to agree. After reading the blog I did ease off the tweets, mostly the ones promoting my works. I still tweets stories I find about self publishing on the web. Why? I want to spread the word to new and established authors on what’s current in the self publishing world. I still catch up on FaceBook and GoodReads. I read what’s being posted or reviewed.

I learned about betas through these sites and thought instead of putting much of my free time into promoting and marketing why not focus more on my writing and since I obviously cannot stay away from social sites why not read the works of other authors, give reviews and maybe get one or two of my own work. So here I am. Instead of seeking reviews for an already published book. I seek opinions of my unpublished work before it goes live at Amazon or Smashwords. I found FictionPress on a Bing search. I’m three days old now. I’ve read and gave reviews, and though I’m no pro, I try to both encourage authors and alert them to typos or errors. I am a firm believer that authors cannot edit their own stories. Beta readers like those found at FictionPress can help authors polish their works to publishing quality. Does this take away from hiring a professional editor…maybe not. The more eyes on the story the better.

I recieve email updates on posts /authors I like from WordPress to keep up, but haven’t added much content myself, well actually none since late September. My time flies when ones busy marketing.

New Authors, Fresh Voices

I’ve been working on my next novel The Genealogist’s Guests! You may ask yourself if you were researching your family history and your ancestors start appearing, in spirit form of course, what would it take to realize it’s not your imagination. When you hear the whispers, see movement, maybe a shadow, or a door opening on its own. Maybe your coffee has already brewed when you go to make a pot, or your computer is already turned own when you enter your office. Rationally, you may think to yourself there’s a perfect explanation, you left the computer on, made the coffee and don’t remember doing it, and the whispers are all in your head, but then what happens when your fireplace has a fierce fire built, your lawn in manicured, your evil ghosts, the menacing ex-serial killer ghost tries to kill you.  What happens when your neighbors find out your place is haunted, or worse it’s you that’s haunted. Here’s a little scene from the book:

George climbed back into his white Ford pickup truck. He looked back at Liz as he rolled along the driveway and as he faced forward he thought he saw a man in the tree line. He slammed on his breaks causing the gravel to stir. He captured Liz’s attention and she stood by her flower bed watching the peculiar way George moved around in his seat. George searched the tree line but didn’t see anything unusual. He saw Liz watching him through his rearview mirror. He threw the truck in gear and got on out of there. Liz searched the tree line herself and saw nothing unusual, except that it was a beautiful scene. In fact her acres looked as if someone had meticulously manicured it to a perfect setting. “How splendid,” she said. “My guest will approve.”

George wasted no time getting home to Margaret and when he charged through the door screaming, “It’s just what you said Margaret! She’s got some spirits over there. Saw it with my own eyes!” Margaret wasn’t surprised.

“Calm down George,” Margaret said. “We’ll help Liz. Now tell me what you saw.”

 

The novel is due for release in the fall 2012. Lot’s of work to do, next step get that book cover in the works. I’ve learned the hard way to hire someone to design the cover, along with editing. I self publish, not that I gave traditional publishing a good chance, I didn’t. The allure of self publishing and getting my works out to readers quickly excited me. I truly believe in the indies and have habitually scanned books on Amazon, reading those first chapters, searching for that fresh voice, that compelling story by the next best selling author-indie author. A huge variety of indie author’s works are now published through Amazon, Smashwords, CreateSpace to name a few, and more publishing companies are joining in on the fun. We, the indie’s are appearing on the New York Times best seller list and web blogs all over the internet. There’s real talent in the self publishing and I am excited to be a part of it.

Rock City-Chattanooga Tn

I recently went to Chattanooga Tn and visited Rock City. There I was in line thinking to my self, I’m about to pay twenty dollars to walk out on a cliff. The view was stunning!

Rock City Chattanooga Tn   The walking path was amazing.  For my twenty I saw a waterfall, cave, a wonderful   view, and beautiful gardens! I walked a wood and rope bridge too! My uncle thought it was a fun to shake the bridge as I walked it. I thought it was me making it move and hurried to the other side! While I was up there my writer’s imagination went crazy. I could write many a scene sitting in the gardens. It was peaceful, colorful, and breathtaking.

What’s your take on ‘Paid for Book Reviews’

If you haven’t been over to the World Literary Café’s Facebook page you’ve been missing out on some good conversations.  The latest’s being a post about “Paid for Reviews.”  A FB friend found this New York Times’ Article (Look over to the right under my Tweets), The Best Book Reviews Money Can Buy,  from the Business Day section and started a conversation at WLC’s FB page. Here’s my opinion of the news.

Here we are the self publishing, indie authors, who have either been shunned by or haven’t tried the traditional publishing route. We go at it alone, without the backing of major advertisers. In this piece it discusses five star reviews, the paid kind, and how there are  paid reviewers out there giving five stars reviews and they haven’t read the books.

Wait did I just write that right. It was the part of the article that stuck out for me. You mean I’d be paying someone to give  false reviews of my baby. Wow what does that do for customers? I’ll tell you what it does, it harms the reputation of all indies. They won’t come back and buy another, possibly from any indie author if the review falsely gives it five stars. This is not fiction.

Just imagine that you’re the one with the most fascinating, well written novel capable of being the number one best seller of all time and you can’t get the attention because some self serving person(s) out there saw a way to make a buck and thought it was a good idea to post bogus reviews, not seeing the bigger picture, that eventually led to the abomination of all indies. Our credibility. It feels very close.

I’ve been a part of writers groups and have read some extraordinary works, stories I had to finish reading right then and there. Seriously could not get off my laptop pieces that I would, without second guessing,  give a five star rating. Novels of such should not be overlooked because the author took the self publishing route.  We’ve come to a new age in publishing.

In self publishing infancy, where we are now, we need a program or a plan that assure indie’s are getting recognition without destroying the overall reputation.  False reviews isn’t going to do.  Ask yourself seriously is this the route you want? Wouldn’t it be better, more satisfying to have an honest review and then if need be, improve on your skills, perhaps take some writing courses, become a master of fiction with great reviews and recognition a hundred years from now?

We have fan pages, FB pages, author websites, and so on that reach, for the most part, us. We need to reach the everyday consumers out there, readers who by word of mouth can recommend our novels.  We need well written, edited works, with  great book covers, that knock the consumers off their butts, stories they can’t resist or stop talking about—and we need to advertise. I encourage authors out there to start looking into this avenue. Me, I’m going to take my local library up on offers of giving them a copy of my book, and if they love it…

Yes they will take and review indie books! They’ll know if its suitable for their shelves.

Once accepted I can then start my own little advertising campaign.  What’s your thought? There’s more to the article than what I picked up on, where should indies go from here? How do we assure our spot as an equal to the traditionals?

Value Your Work, Value Literature

As DOJ, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Sony, Apple, and the like battle it out over eBook pricing here I am, a self publisher of one novel, thinking of my decision to price my book at 6.99. Good decision? I think so. I could have priced it at .99 cents… wait are you kidding me? I put a lot of work into that book! It’s not a short story, it’s a full novel. In my opinion there’s a fair market for short stories at less than a dollar price range. I recently read one and was pleased with my purchase. But should a full novel go for a buck? No! Authors! Do not sell your hard work out like that! A three hundred page novel should not sell for the price of a thousand word story.

I considered pricing  my novel at 2.99, a good price range for  new authors trying to attract the attention of readers I think, and I’ve watched many new authors sell a lot of books at 2.99. But what about the value of each? If a hundred thousand people purchased a book at 2.99 based on good reviews wouldn’t they do the same at a 6.99 price? I think so. I would, shoot I’d pay 9.99. So I ask, why price your book at 2.99? Ah yes, to get people purchasing, it’s a tough market out there. I feel you!

So why did I price mine at 6.99? I think it’s a fair price for a new author. I know it’s a fair price for the work I put into it. If people like it they will purchase it, if not they won’t, nothing secret about that.  I, like everyone else can make many assumptions on what the eBook  pricing wars outcome will be, but the responsibility lies on us, the self publisher, to NOT devalue our work. I have never walked into a bookstore, you know where the traditional (published) books are and purchased a new novel for 2.99! Paperbacks that have filled shelves for years still go for 6.99! That’s where my fair price thought came from, let me explain.

If you feel you have a voice, a good story, something for a large population, or a select genre, whatever your fancy, don’t price your brand new voice, your talent for story telling, your place in the literary world-dirt cheap-for the sake of selling as many copies as possible for a quick buck.  Have faith in readers! They will find you at more than 2.99 a copy. The real challenge in self publishing is not with pricing, it’s with marketing. Letting readers know you have a product they will enjoy. For me self publishing also means we must keep the value of literature in its glory.

New Fiction Exciting for Author

I’ve been writing The Genealogist’s Guests. A new novel I’m very excited about, mostly because it’s about ancestors, paranormal activity, or apparitions appearing through the handpainted family tree the main character has in her home office. Here’s a little of what I’ve wrote :

The whispers began immediately. The tree lit up
brilliant as the apparitions made their way to the kitchen, and in there chats
of company arriving in the spring began with enthusiasm. Liz wrapped her hand
with gauze fussing with herself for being careless. In the winter weather it
would take emergency personnel at least an hour to get to her. Aggravated with
herself she made her way to the staircase. She heard something downstairs and
froze, listening. Whispers, she
thought, there’s someone whispering down
there
.

Now Liz is expecting her family to visit from Virginia. After four years of waiting it’s all she can do to remain calm, but no worries she has other family there to support her.

Originally I thought about an October 31 release! Yeah, I’m still holding to that date!

Borrowed Dreams

Recently there have been talks about a website called LendInk. I was concerned about it myself. I also wrote LendInk and requested my title be taken off their site. That same evening, after more discussions, I went back to the website to gather information on how the site operates but could no longer view it. My Norton antivirus screen popped up with its warning about the site.  I have since learned the owner took the site down after recieivng complaints. This link was sent to me to shed some light on the subject:

http://aprillhamilton.blogspot.com/2012/08/congratulations-you-killed-lendink-and.html

Perhaps some education on lending policies would ease tensions. I do not have the scoop on this subject, but what I do have is an opinion. Some would shine a positive light on the use of such “lending” sites. I’m certainly not opposed to getting my work out there to readers. In fact that’s why I give it free to begin with, I run the special to get interested readers with the hopes of a review or two. The review hasn’t happened but I keep hope, maybe even pray someone takes the time.

Getting back to the point, I want readers but, go figure a but right? I’m not in the know of how the, “lend,” sites actually work. For instance, there was no actual purchase of my title in the eBook format when my book appeared at the LendInk site. I know because being new to self publishing I obsessively check the stats! However, there were free purchases, my doing of course, I put the special out. I’m guessing this is how my title was picked up and sent to LendInk as a title that someone can borrow. Ok, I’m still not opposed to reaching readers. As a self publisher, not having the marketing support of a traditional publishing company, I, and all indie’s have to watch for ourselves.

So here comes the fear, My book is being lent to a thousand people and I haven’t sold a single copy, OMG! Do you feel me? How am I as a self published author to know just how many sites my title is being offered for free at, one, two, one hundred…more?

It’s a hot topic and I want to learn more about “lend” sites. If they are a benefit to authors, (self published), what are the true benefits? Is this program a good way of getting our works out there to readers, much like us giving them out for free? If so sign me up! But if I haven’t sold a single copy and my book is being borrowed a hundred times over without, and here’s what’s tearing at my gut, without a single review from any of the borrowers, I’m the loser.

I’m not savvy in developing these type of websites, but if I were, I’d without a doubt create one, but try and get retailers like Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo, etc., to provide a link to authors/publishers to my “lending” website where they can monitor the the borrows, maybe check off the total they allow to be borrowed, have borrowers leave a review for the author and future customers with a link back to the retailer (Amazon, Smashwords, etc.) where the review can be seen.

Now that’s lending/borrowing sense. But right now, self published authors are operating clueless, we don’t know where our books have landed in the world of borrowing, or the number of sites offering them. And if you’re a brand new author, new to self publishing, like me, it’s troubling.

Dare to Write and Share

I recently wrote and published, Compelled, by Ann Simpson, an intense story in a jail setting about a young couple’s encounter with a dangerous criminal subculture. It’s a crime novel, a romance, a drama, and is available at Amazon, CreateSpace, and Smashwords. Many published indie authors understand the work that goes into each of these, the writing, editing, book cover, formating, and marketing! While marketing I was drawn to the many first pages or chapters offered for view at Amazon, believe me one could spend hours just reading these excerpts from our fellow indie author’s works.

I asked a reader, a friend of a friend, what exactly grabs her attention when choosing a book to read. She said the cover first, then the first sentence or couple of sentences of the first chapter. If that grabs her she said she closes the book and looks on the back cover for a synopsis. If she gets that, I want to read this, feeling, she purchases the book. First impressions seem critical! And so I have decided to share an excerpt of my upcomming novel The Genealogist’s Guests, albeit minor changes with editing could happen,  I thought it would fun to share.

Coldness throughout the house couldn’t stop her.  The fire she set hours before was a mere hint of smolder that barely lit the large room outside of her small home office. Stacks of papers and books lay all around. A small lamp was placed on the floor to her right.  The sixty watt bulb faced a wall illuminating the family tree painted onto the canvas from floor to ceiling.

The wind outside howled as the storm approached, and mother nature’s threat to cut power to Liz’s computer rushed her as she searched almost desperately for clues about Isabella Hay Taber, her third generation great grandmother.  The lights dimmed as the computer prepared to shut down, “No!” Liz held the monitor with both hands, “I haven’t saved it.” The sound of the computer tower’s hum went silent right after the click Liz heard shattering her pleas for just a little more time. She was close to finding out how Isabella came to Rhode Island from Saint Nicolas, Aberdeen, Scotland.

She looked over to her wall at the tree she painted, nearly three thousand ancestors smothered by darkness as the storm outside beat the wood siding of Rhode Island Colonial, a sturdy structure built in 1920. She stood in the darkness facing her family tree visualizing the names she had painstakingly wrote with the tip of a paint brush, Isabella’s name called to her, a feeling she couldn’t escape. Something about the young girl from Scotland who married her third generation great grandfather Edward Luther Taber sparked her curiosity but with the power out she would have to wait to continue searching for answers.

Liz purchased the twenty four hundred square foot home several years back with hopes of entertaining family who all remained in Virginia when she moved north. They said she was crazy for leaving but Liz had a passion for ancestry and she wanted to be near her ancestor’s graves, their old homesteads, and the towns they lived in, she needed to connect.  She especially liked the Town of Norwich, Connecticut.  A Dunkin Donut shop on Main Street served up a hot cup of coffee on cold New England days. Liz walked many a day down the walkways and roads surrounded by buildings built long ago. She laid her eyes on the Carroll Building built in 1887, and the Norwich Town Hall built in 1870, in fact the very ancestors she’d come looking for walked the same path as she and saw the same landmarks.

She closed the office door and tended to the fire incased in a brick mantle and mused at the size of it. It took up the entire wall leaving no room for cozy corners. She made the best of it and circled her sofa and chairs facing the fire. She’d sleep right there on the sofa to keep warm until the power resumed. She wouldn’t have minded a cup of hot tea but she was feeling tired and the idea of heating the water by fire seemed too much for her to do at the time so she settled for brandy. She never really felt lonely with all her dead ancestors occupying her time but situations like this when the power was out she’d allow herself to hope that soon someone from Virginia would come visit. She sipped her brandy and eventually fell off to sleep.

The storm continued through the night and the house fell silent except for the howling wind and rain outside. Liz lay fast asleep in the large room lit by the fierce fire she built. Adjacent to the room, the home office door was closed to keep the warmth in the main room she occupied. A hum of soft musical tones lingered in the background of the office.  The tree of many names was shadowed by darkness. Close to the base of the tree Isabella’s name was bright. The humming continued as the office door slowly opened and as Liz laid on the sofa covered with her favorite throw a woman wearing a black dress that hung to her ankles sat in the chair next to her. Her hair was pulled back in a neat bun, her face was aged but revealed a beauty that once was, and her adoring eyes rested on Liz.

Liz turned to her side and opened her eyes. She felt the unease and looked to the empty chair, she had an overwhelming sense she wasn’t alone. She closed her eyes and mumbled, Go back to sleep. She hummed a tune she hadn’t heard before and assumed she’d made it up in her brandy induced fog, then fell fast asleep. Isabella rose from the chair and hummed the same tune until her spirit reached her name on the handpainted family tree in the tiny home office where Liz called for truth about her ancestors.

Dare to share yours!

It wasn’t easy

But I have published my book, Compelled,  at Smashwords, Createspace, and Amazon. I am excited about the new book cover designed by Donna Casey at DigitalDonna.com. Editorial service was done by Diane Reynolds.  I send a special thanks for your contribution to this book. I am equally excited about my next title The Genealogists Guest, but I have a lot of work to do with Compelled. Mainly get the news out that it is available. I’ve been reading about marketing, my true weakness, and much of what I gather is that social networking is key, along with word of mouth, and a few reviews. And so I have advertised, should I say, on Facebook, Twitter, and other social websites.

Compelled

And so, after much thought and hard work on my book, I’ve finally come to a decision…the first and second books belong together, and so, part one The Tug and part two The Thrust will be under one cover.

Yep, I posted the message above on Facebook Saturday, June 16, 2012. It’s possibly the craziest decision I’ve ever made. But fact is as the author of the two titles I couldn’t see them as separate books. The second continued from the first and though I was told, “If people like the first one they’ll buy the second, you’ll sell two instead of one.” The better advice was that I, the author, am the one who knows best. And my gut tells me to do the crazy, to take a chance, and give my passion, my story under one cover. Well actually sell it under one cover.

Maybe it’s the first time published author thing. You know where the rush to get the first part The Tug out to readers was so exciting and, forgive me; irresistible, it had blinded me to the full potential of Compelled. And so, after much thought The Tug and The Thrust will be part one and two in my soon to be released new and not so new novel. The story, you may ask, is love at its strongest triumph, the will to stand against all obstacles, and in Macon’s case, criminals, to save his sweet Anna. A story of a good boy gone bad ass, forced, err, compelled to become whatever he had to, to assure his freedom and he won’t leave without Anna.

The cover is completed! I am happy to give great credit to my new book cover artist Donna Casey. Take a look at her portfolio at http://www.digitaldonna.com. If you’re in the market for a cover I recommend Donna!  I’m crazy about the new cover. It will soon be seen at Amazon, CreateSpace, and Smashwords. The editing process is complete with special thanks to Diane Reynolds my editor. All that’s left to do is join the two parts, and yikes, format, and send them on their way to readers. It feels like sending my baby off to, yep, jail!

Interested? Maybe crazy sparks a little curiosity?  I am an indie author! My taking a chance shouldn’t surprise anyone, right, you got me on that one. I don’t know whether my book will be a success, but I hope, pray, wish, want people to read and enjoy my work. So what’s this turmoil of mine all about? It’s about losing one’s self in fiction, mad writing and living, yes breathing each word to create an escape for readers. But not an escape from feeling the emotions because:

Macon will do anything for her. Anna soon finds out how far he will go. They are joined by love and separated by housing units. Set up by cunning criminals and forced to do the unthinkable. Macon finds the strength to free himself but Anna is left behind. He is driven by his love for her and revenge for those who did this to them. His predicament is worse than torture, but he’s relentless and dangerous. They pulled him into their world and now he must push his way back out. He’s not leaving without Anna.

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