Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Why Confidence Is Important In Writing

I love dark entertainment. It doesn't matter if it's books, movies, television shows, or video games to me.

There was this television show that I started watching recently. It's called "Flesh And Bone." It's a dark television show about ballerinas. The main character has practiced so hard in the first episode that she is able to easily rip off her own toenail. There's blood on her hands, but she pushes herself and binds her foot up. She sucks up the pain because she is up for an audition for a paying ballerina position. One of the teachers rejects her as soon as she starts talking.

But she remembers that toenail. She remembers that earlier she ran away from a painful situation and she knows she deserves this opportunity. So she asks for another chance. She could have bowed her head and walked away like the other girls, but she stands up for herself instead. And she passes the audition with flying colors.

Why? Because she had confidence. People without confidence bow their head and agree when someone tells them they failed. People with confidence, keep trying and believing. They stand up for themselves.

I know that people say that the most important thing to have in the publishing industry is thick skin, but I disagree. If you have confidence, you don't even need a thick skin. If someone doesn't believe in you, it doesn't hurt you because you believe in you.

In fact, I believe that the reason some authors get angry at one star reviews is that secretly, deep down inside, they wanted to be validated. They don't feel confident in themselves and their writing, so when they see anything that's not positive written about makes them feel bad about themselves. They get defensive and sometimes they lash out, making the whole thing worse.

If you are a self-published author, like myself, then you have only one person who believes in you: YOU. You don't have a publishing industry standing behind you or an agent submitting your story to various places. You have to do it all yourself.

I'll tell you something that was previously a secret. That anthology that I recently published with? I was terrified when I submitted my short story to them. I've written several short horror stories in the past few years, including that one, and all of them, including that one, have been rejected by the magazines I've submitted them to. If I hadn't submitted anyway, though, I wouldn't have gotten to see my pen name in print for the first time.

If you are not confident as a writer, you are not going to try for the opportunities that are presented to you. You're not going to network with people the way you are supposed to. You won't know how to use your contacts to accomplish things.

If you are not confident as a writer, you will hold back when you are writing. You won't dare to write in your own special way. You'll try to write like everyone else because you believe in them and not yourself.

If you are not confident as a writer, you will not submit your stories to different places. Yes, even in self-publishing you must deal with submissions. Sometimes there are awards you can try for or reviews from bloggers. If you are insecure, you won't bother. Because you "know" before you even ask, that they aren't going to accept you.

If you are not confident as a writer, then you won't be able to justify with your family why you need money to pay for an editor or advertising. You'll feel guilty for making them survive on macaroni and cheese and hot dogs for a week because you need the extra money. Eventually, you'll stop using the money on yourself because it's just your "stupid" writing and what does it matter anyway.

You'll be robbed of time by people who don't think your writings important. You will agree with them.

And you won't tell anyone about your books. Your friends and family will be shocked when they find out you published something. You won't have the support of them. You'll never know you have the support of fans because you'll never mention your book to anyone.

You won't know when to tell people 'no.' You'll always do what your editors and critique partners say, even if it destroys your story. You'll regret everything you write. Because you don't believe in yourself and your abilities.

I know how it feels to lack confidence, so I hope as a writer that you don't lack confidence.

It's easy to believe in yourself when you have a team of people complimenting you and backing you up, but when you are standing alone, sometimes against criticism, it's difficult.

But it's okay to be confident. It's okay to reach for the stars. To sometimes publish before you are ready because you will learn and to strive for goals that seem impossible. Believe in yourself and do it anyway.

It doesn't matter what other people say. Their words can't hold you back.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

New Short Story Published

I have a new short story published! It's a scary story in an anthology ready just in time for Halloween. It's called "Horrors: Real, Imagined, And Deadly."

I know several of the authors that contributed and have read their work. They are all excellent.

Thanks to Matt Sinclair for putting it together.

So far, it's only up on Amazon and Smashwords, but I believe it will be up on Itunes, Kobo, and other outlets really soon.

It's also the first time anything I wrote will ever be available more than just electronically.

Here's the cover.

And the blurb.

What are you afraid of? What causes the hair on your neck to stand up? Do you worry about what your fears mean? What horrifies you might be nothing to someone else. But there’s something for just about everyone in this collection of personal tales. Whether your fears remain secret or you laugh while you watch monsters devour your neighbors, you'll find a reason to keep your lights on tonight. The first collection from Elephant’s Bookshelf Press focused purely on horror stories, "Horrors: Real, Imagined, and Deadly" includes tales from E.B. Black, Kay Elam, Kim Graff, Justin Holley, Precy Larkins, Sarah Glenn Marsh, Mindy McGinnis, R.S. Mellette, Madeline Mora-Summonte, Matt Sinclair, A.M. Supinger, and Charlee Vale.

Here's where to buy it.


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Fast Food Book Burgers

They say not to quit your day job when you become an author. My day job before becoming an author was working in fast food, so it was not a big loss to me.

Lately, I've felt like writing and working in fast food have something in common. In both industries, to make money, you have to be quick. Fast food is just "food" without the word "fast."

I am not a person who likes to be rushed. I like to take my time to do things and do them right. Sometimes I can do things quickly, but overall, I like to take my time.

When I worked at Subway, there was this machine for cutting the tomatoes quickly by hand. You'd stick the tomato in, push the handle down and the tomato would be sliced through instantly. My co-workers would have something like ten tomatoes done in thirty seconds, while I would take a couple of minutes to do the same thing.

The reason for this was because on the tomato machine it had a warning that if any parts of this machine were broken, it was dangerous to use and could slice off your hand. The machine was very broken from the moment I started working there. The blades would swing wildly outside of the machine if you didn't aim it perfectly at the tomato. I took my time slicing tomatoes because I was afraid I would chop my hand off.

My co-workers never chopped their hands off. I am clumsy, so perhaps I am more at risk of this than they were, but the fact is, they took a risk, did things quicker, and accomplished more in the time it took me to accomplish one thing. They had no reservations about calling me slow or mocking me for it, but I refused to risk my fingers for tomatoes.

I viewed them as dangerous and foolish. They viewed me as lazy.

I did this because I wanted to take my time and make sure I did things correctly. Yes, it would probably be fine if I worked fast like they did, but I wanted to feel one hundred percent certain of myself every time I chopped the tomatoes.

They were more business minded. They had checklists that they needed to get through quickly.

We both worked hard at our jobs, we just approached it differently.

There is so much arguing in the writing community about whether it's superior to write fast or slow. People who write quickly believe their books are perfect. They are business minded and know that they need to get things out there as fast as possible to make money. They usually do make more money than the people who write slowly.

But people who write slowly and take their time, don't like to take short cuts. They want to make sure everything is written perfectly. They don't like mistakes being made. They take their time to write things better and let the business aspect take second place.

It's about your personality. It has nothing to do with talent. It has nothing to do with how hard you work.

It's not a jab at anyone if I say that I am writing slowly to make sure I write this story better, to focus on quality instead of quantity. But it is actually a jab when writers insist that their quick work is as good as anything someone wrote slowly created because that's the reason we take our time.

People who eat double cheeseburgers don't worry about whether or not the cheese is all aligned perfectly. They're not thinking about whether there is too much ketchup or not enough. They're not concerned if the bun is toasted slightly more than normal. What they care about is the taste. They want to eat a double cheeseburger and they want to eat it quickly.

So if a fast food worker takes the time to make sure all those details line up perfectly every time, they are going to make less burgers than the person who just slaps it all together. Their burgers will be superior, but the customer isn't going to notice the difference.

The critics might. They might analyze the burgers and notice all the little details, but the average consumer will not. To them, it will all be the same double cheeseburger because it all tastes the same.

I feel like this is true with books as well. No customer is ever going to notice how quickly or slowly it took us to write any book. A critic might, but that doesn't mean you are going to get more sales. Getting books out faster gets you more sales. Just like with fast food and getting double cheeseburgers out to the customers more quickly.

When you write slower, you do write better (not compared to other people, but compared to yourself), but it's not often necessary. Little details matter less than the big picture.

Still, big mistakes happen less often when you write slow.

When I worked in Subway, I was working with a guy one night who was the fastest worker in the place. Everyone always told me to be just like him. He was helping me learn how to cook the tiny kids sandwich buns they used to have.

They came in this giant box where they were all frozen together. We needed to break them apart to be able to defrost and cook them. In the process of breaking them apart, he dropped several on the ground. He picked them up and put them with the rest.

I objected, but he argued with me that we had just mopped and there was no way that these buns that dropped on the ground would hurt anyone. I was wasting time.

None of the customers ever noticed that he dropped them on the ground. None of them got sick. It was indeed faster what he did rather than starting over and making sure we didn't drop any buns on the ground next time. But it didn't feel right to me to give customers food that fell on the ground.

People who write slow do things slowly because the shortcuts don't feel right to them. Whether the shortcuts are okay or not doesn't matter. They won't feel good or proud of a product unless they take their time.

In my marriage, my husband likes to do things quickly. He likes to check things off his list. I like to do things "right" or how I view them as right. I am slower than him at doing things often, I take time to plan them perfectly, but I can sometimes do them better than him because of it.

We've learned from each other. Sometimes I should do things quickly and stop worrying about the tiny water blotch on a dish that went through the dishwasher. Sometimes he should do things slowly, like when it comes to my dogs. Patience with them, doing things slowly and correctly, always gets them to behave more.

If both people who write fast and people who write slow realize that they can learn things from each other and stop defending the way they write constantly, I think we can all improve. There are times when you really need to write something slowly, when that's the only way to get something done correctly. And there are times when writing needs to be sped up. You're taking too much time on the little details and it's cutting into your paycheck.

I don't believe people who write fast make a million mistakes. I don't believe their books are bad, but I do believe if you write slower, you catch more mistakes and make a better quality of book. It's not a jab because thinking this way means I am bad at business. Good marketing is the most important thing when it comes to selling books and making a living. We just have different strengths and weaknesses. Marketing is often a struggle for me, while it might come naturally to someone who writes fast.

I just don't want to hear again that books that are written quickly are just as good as any book written slowly AND they sell more AND the people who write fast are superior in every way. And I don't want to hear again that anyone who writes quickly has no idea what they are doing AND their books are automatically worse than people who write slowly. Try to find ways to appreciate each other instead. Try to find ways to appreciate each other's strength. Stop competing with each other and start learning.

Friday, October 2, 2015

The Romance Formula

There's a reason I've been struggling to write blog posts lately. Some of it is time and some of it is because I'm having trouble articulating what's on my mind.

I don't want to offend anybody and it's hard to say what I want to say without possibly upsetting certain people, especially romance authors. They are my peers and I do not want to upset them. I admire a lot of them.

I am frustrated though.

I'm getting really close to finishing two of my novels. It's taken me forever because I wanted to work on my writing techniques.

I read my bad reviews. I've thought about some things I've heard people say. I've been working on improving things.

I want to sell well someday. I want to make people happy.

Maybe part of my problem is that I've always struggled with being a people pleaser. I shouldn't care what people think or say, I should just do.

But that's not really me. I'm always trying to improve myself. I'm also sensitive, so when people speak, I tend to listen. This doesn't mean I cry when they say something negative, it just means that I'm not so good at ignoring people.

Anyway, what I really wanted to work on this time around was writing actual romance novels. I learned after I self-published that even if you write a novel and the entire thing is about a relationship, it's not a romance novel unless it has a happily ever after. Sorry, Nicholas Spark fans, but The Notebook isn't a real romance novel according to most romance novelists.

Because Romance novels need to follow a very specific formula or people aren't happy.

The biggest thing is the happily ever after, but there's also subtler things that you don't realize are there until you try to write something different.

You must write a main female lead who is either "average" looking or attractive. She must have a great personality or she isn't deserving of the male lead. The man must be very attractive. This is a fantasy after all and we can't have any "ugly" people. So while I think it would be interesting to write a romance novel about a character with dwarfism (I'm always coming up with random things like that), in reality, it's not okay according to romance writers.

I am ruining the fantasy. The best I could get writing about a person like that would be writing some kind of fetish erotica novel.

I'm not allowed to write about people that are "different", that I find interesting.

The men must be rich. They must be alpha. They must be handsome.

But in real life, I married a poor, nice guy. He is indeed very handsome, but I love him the way he is. What if I don't want to write about rich people? What if I don't want to write about men who are borderline aggressive assholes?

I'm destroying the fantasy! What kind of romance writer am I if I destroy the fantasy?!

It doesn't matter that it's not my fantasy. I must not destroy the fantasy.

The characters must both have strong personalities. They must fight with each other through the entire novel. This can be fun at times, but I also romanticize the idea of people falling in love who have outside circumstances keeping them apart, rather than internal ones.

There is some leeway in this area, but it seems like there's a strong preference. People prefer two characters who are fighting with each other, not two characters who are fighting for their love against the world.

And if I need to spend some time developing characters and personalities in the beginning? You can't do that. The two main love interests must meet in the very beginning, preferably the first chapter. Definitely within the first five though. If they meet in Chapter five, then I'm pushing it.

In my most recent novels, I did this with the first book. I forced it because I wanted to fit in to the romance genre. And all my critique partners agreed in unison that I started too late in the story and I needed to actually develop the characters first because they were all one dimensional.

And once I did that, the romance started halfway through my book now.

Guess what? It's not a romance novel anymore.

In no other genre can character development possibly kick you out of the genre. My book still fits into fantasy now that I developed my characters. It did before I developed them and it does now afterwards.

But romance...romance...romance...

You must write for the formula or it's not a romance novel anymore.

Also, the characters can't fall in love too fast or have sex too quickly. Forget that relationships in real life progress in all kinds of different ways. It must go like this...

First they see each other and hate each other. Then they are fighting and there's sexual tension. Then they are fighting and they shockingly kiss in the middle of fighting. Then this leads to fighting and them fooling around. Then this leads to fighting and having sex. THEN, they resolve everything and live happily ever after. They're in love now!

My husband and I in real life, we moved in together after a week of knowing each other and had already said we loved each other. Some people might think that's crazy, but here we are five years later happier than we could otherwise be. It allowed me to get close to his mother for the little time she had left of her life and it allowed me to be there for him when he lost her.

But romance novels aren't about real life. They are about the fantasy. 

If two people meet in a book and have sex right away, then it's not a romance novel anymore. Maybe an erotica, but in romance, people aren't allowed to do that stuff until they are in love, late in the book. Some of my reviews for Medusa's Desire complained about this. Even though they don't say they love each other until later, because they had sex write away, I was accused of making it an "insta-love" book. Because in romance novels, sex equals love.

I've been trying not to do things like these.

And it has made me stop enjoying reading romance novels because I learned the formula too well and now they all seem like this:

"Brock is a Dragon King. He kidnaps Stacey. They fight because they both have strong personalities, but they slowly fall in love and have sex. Then they live happily ever after."

"Damien is a billionaire bachelor. He's content being a playboy, but then he meets Susie. They fight because they both have strong personalities, but they slowly fall in love and have sex. They live happily ever after."

"Big Feather is a Native American Chief. He kidnaps Stephanie. They fight because they both have strong personalities, but they slowly fall in love and have sex. They live happily ever after."

"Josh is a cowboy. He's teaching model Tiffany how to work on a ranch. They fight because they both have strong personalities, but they slowly fall in love and have sex. They live happily ever after."

And then there's one of my books...

"Medusa is a monster reviled by humans. Perseus is a hero sent to kill her. Instead, he sleeps with her and she travels with him. They fall in love, but he's sleeping with another woman to cover up their relationship. She realizes he'll be happier without her, even though he loves her. She makes the ultimate sacrifice by ripping out her eyes and erasing his memory."

It's all out of order and the ending is wrong. The whole novel is still about Medusa and Perseus' relationship, but they sleep together when they first meet and their ending isn't happy.

If you want to write a novel that hits all these areas that I labeled as formulaic, that's fine. There's a place for EVERY type of novel out there.

That's not what's bothering me. I'm not trying to get rid of anything.

I'm just asking that you please stop trying to get rid of me. Stop telling me over and over again that it doesn't matter how much of my books has a couple falling in love, it just matters whether I meet the formula or not.

If there is room for your books, why isn't there room for other books?

If fantasy worked like this, if it was this strict and this specific, then everyone would have to write about dragon novels. Somewhere in the novel, one of the dragons would have to lay an egg. In the end, the baby and the dragon mother have to live happily ever after and you must introduce a dragon within the first 20 pages.

There would be this author who liked to write about elves. She'd try to make it about dragons, but as she is writing, the dragons would start growing pointy ears and walking on two legs. So she'd change it and make it about elves, trying to add a dragon somewhere in there to make up for what she had done. But people would go,"What is a dragon doing in a book about elves?" So she'd cut out some of the scenes with the dragon in it, start swearing because she forgot to put a scene where the dragon laid an egg, and worry that it's no longer a fantasy novel because the dragon didn't appear until the tenth chapter.

Then she'd throw her manuscript out the window and scream and cry and wonder...



I read romance novels all my life. I only started reading fantasy as an adult. It wasn't really allowed in my house when I was younger. I love it now.

But even though I'm less familiar with it, even though I didn't grow-up with it like I grew-up with romance, I've been welcomed with open arms. I can write about orcs. I can write about mermaids. I can write about magic. I can write about no magic. There's barely any rules.

So I don't get this romance thing, where we throw out stories like Romeo and Juliet and The Notebook because they don't fit the formula well enough.

Is it because of Jane Austen? Is it because all romance novels need to be related to Pride and Prejudice in some way? Rich man falls in love with feminist. They fight a lot because they have such strong personalities, but slowly they fall in love anyway and live happily ever after.

But I am a Bronte girl. A Jane Eyre lover. I want a story about a girl who was abused growing up. We don't meet her true love in the first chapter, we meet HER instead-strong, interesting Jane Eyre. I want a stocky, ugly man to fall in love with the pale looking Jane. She's too skinny. I want a deranged wife to come in on their wedding day and ruin their chance at happiness. I want her to be homeless and hang out with church people for awhile even though it has nothing to do with the romance. And then when she finally does get her happily ever after, it's only after the main male character is disfigured and hideous and blind because his ex-wife tried to kill him. It's PERFECT!

That's my kind of romance story. That's what I want to write and what I want to read. And there has to be a place for me, too, somewhere in there.

It's not that I hate the formula. I just don't want to have to meet every point, every single time.

I don't want people to stop writing what they are writing. I don't want to get rid of alpha males, billionaires, and firemen.

I just want there to be some variety. Is variety really so horrible?

Friday, July 24, 2015

When Authors Go Overboard

There's nothing wrong with being angered by piracy as an author. I even understand being angered by fan-fiction, especially if said fan-fiction goes in the same direction as Fifty Shades Of Grey did and leads to a book deal. But there are some authors, who try to protect their copyright, and wind up going overboard instead.

This came to light recently in a facebook post. I can't find the original post for a screenshot of it, but an author confronted a book blogger for posting a picture of her book cover without her permission.  This book blogger was trying to help this author advertise her book. She didn't need permission to post the book cover (it's only stealing if she was trying to publish her own book with the same book cover on it and claiming she made it) and she was doing this author a favor. The author called her a thief and insulted her. This book blogger was terrified to promote authors anymore as a result.

It makes me sad. Why would an author do this? Because they are so obsessed with their copyright, so obsessed with making sure that their precious work is never stolen from them, that all they care about is whether or not they think someone "stole" something from them. They can't look at the intentions of the person (which was to promote them) or the positive that could have resulted from it (more sales!) They were too obsessed over whether they felt like something was stolen from them or not.

Back before I ever wrote a book, I stopped being a fan of a certain author. I read all of her books. I was obsessed with them. It was to the point where I logged onto her web-site and wanted to post on her forum, just so I could discuss her books with other fans and what would happen next in the series because I couldn't wait for more books.

When I went to create an account, I was given a set of rules that I was supposed to follow if I wanted to join the forum. Amongst the list of rules was a rule that said that no one was allowed to join the forum and use one of the characters' names in our username. We couldn't be called "Ilove(character)" or "(Character)isawesome". We weren't allowed to use her book covers in our avatars or signatures or write anything about our affection towards those characters at all. Why? Because it was "stealing" from the author.

Enjoying someone's work, expressing how much you love her characters, is stealing? What? This author isn't thinking this through. Making a username about a character, on her own web-site no less, is not stealing. It's appreciating her creation. It's contributing to the fandom.

Even if I were to make a username on another forum saying "Ilove(hercharacter)", that still wouldn't be stealing. I would be promoting her. People would probably think, eventually, who is (hercharacter)? They might ask me about it and become fans, too.

If you guys want to go everywhere online and call yourself "ILovePandorasMistake" or "ILoveMedusasDesire." Or after I release my next books "IWantToHaveBright'sBabies" or "NightIsTheHottestGodAround." Then do it. I encourage you. Not only will it make me feel awesome if I ever see it because you love my stories so much, but it is a type of promotion. People will learn about my books through you.

If you want to go around posting my book cover, links to my book, and my blurb everywhere, do that as well. I will thank you for it. You are doing me a huge favor.

When authors do this kind of stuff, it makes them seem greedy. They are so obsessed with the money and whether a fan doing something small is stealing a couple of dollars from their pocket that they are literally ruining fans enjoyment of their work.

While I understand why authors hate fan-fiction and this is not a criticism because the issue is kind of borderline, I don't personally hate fan-fiction. I view it the same way. If someone wrote a fan-fic of my story, it means they loved it so much, they daydreamed about it and continued the story in their mind. They loved it so much that I inspired them to write as well. If you ever write a fan-fic for one of my books, feel free to send it to me. It will make me happy. I don't know if I can read it, for legal reasons, until I conclude a series because I can possibly be accused of stealing otherwise. But I will read it if I can and it will make me so happy to just know it exists.

I grew up in a small town and it reminds me of this local fast food joint we had. The owner had a temper. You could hear her yelling and insulting her employees constantly. On top of that, she was greedy. Although I lived in a small town, we eventually expanded a little bit and got a few fast food places where I lived. Hers used to be the only one. In particular we had a McDonald's and a Subway. A few other fast food chains tried to open restaurants as well, but the town was too small and they wound up closing. Anyway, McDonald's was right across the street from this local fast food place. The owner would watch people go into the McDonald's and tell us that if we ever went in there, we were no longer welcome as customers.

It turned me off as a customer. Why? Because she was greedy. She said McDonald's was putting her out of business because it was taking her customers. No, she was putting herself out of business by being unwilling to share. She lost me as a customer because she wanted me to be loyal to her and only her and she threatened me if I didn't comply. So I started going to McDonald's and only McDonald's because they let me do whatever I wanted.

An authors stories and his/her characters are precious to him/her. But we can't let that attachment to our characters destroy our relationship with our fans.

If someone steals your book and tries to publish it under their name, then screw that person. You have every right to be angry and sue the crap out of them. If they post your book on pirating sites, go after them, that's fine. But don't mix those people up with fans who are just trying to talk about how much they enjoy your work or bloggers trying to promote you. You're shooting yourself in the foot if you do that.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Is Marketing Really Too Hard For Authors?

(Welcome Deborah Riley-Magnus to my blog. She's here to talk to us about her book and give us some advice on marketing. Here's her post...)


My first knee jerk reaction to this question is a rousing, “NO! NOTHING IS TOO HARD FOR AUTHORS!” However, I’m seeing this issue from a different point of view. I was a marketing executive long before I began to write fiction and nonfiction, so what is painfully obvious to me, is rather obscure to the average author. Let’s start at the top.

Once an author gets past the terror of this strange thing called “marketing” things get very simple. It’s a process, just like developing character or plot, like writing well, like editing and reaching out to agents, publishers, or beta readers. It’s a process all authors are familiar with. Before the author wrote their first paragraph, it was all a scary and uncharted journey ahead, before they baked their first cake, the first time they sat behind the wheel of a car, and the first day of work at a new job is all the same. We all figure it out. Marketing is no different. Marketing is all about connecting with the RIGHT people, creating awareness of our coming or existing book(s), and letting those people buy.

Too many authors imagine that marketing is all about shouting, “Buy my book,” then waiting for the sales to roll in. True marketing is about connecting with people, live and online, who will love the unique elements in your story, and talking to them … not trying to sell to them, just connecting the way we do everything else in our lives. This is EASY. And, it brings not only sales, but loyal customers and fans.

Too many authors think that the only way to market a book is through book related locations and events. How boring and uncreative can they possibly be? Authors are creative beings, so why do they step away from that powerful skill set when it comes time to market? It’s a conundrum.

There are so many extremely creative things to do that cost little or nothing, and create bigger exposure and larger impact on prospective book buyers. Let’s look at three specific comparisons.

Genre Exposure Strategies – People who buy books do lots of things in their daily lives. They make purchases, go on vacations, cook … tons of things. Why do authors imagine that the only way to reach everyone who might purchase a romance is either in a romance book club or looking at romance book lists? They’re not. They're living their lives, so why not reach them where they live? It’s the creative thing to do! If there’s a foodie in your book, look into online foodie groups on Facebook or on Yahoo and join. These are great places to post about your most recent book blog entry about food and your characters … and gain some serious following. Seek out foodie bloggers and offer to write a food related guest blog for their following … with your book cover and buy link at the bottom. Anything you might do in genre related venues will work in these unique hook venues. The only difference is that there are no other authors shouting “Buy my book” at your new audience. It’s all yours.

Book Events – Why, oh why, do authors think that the best, the ONLY place to hold a book event is at a book store? BORING! Is there a gardener or garden in your book? Hold a book signing at a gardening show or in a beautiful community garden. Is there a dog in your book? How about a book event at a pet supply store or a dog park? Is your book about medieval times? Check out the possibilities of holding a book event at a new age shop, or a Renaissance Fair. Are there horses in your book? Think about holding a book event at a cowboy hat and boot store. BE CREATIVE! You were creative when you wrote the book, be creative while marketing it. No other author is going to be at these venues competing for your book buyer’s attention.

Publicity – First of all, Publicity is not advertising. Many authors purchase an ad in a publication, online venue, or author event brochure and expect sales. Oops, wrong strategy altogether. Publicity is a deeper strategy for sales. Step away from standard author thinking and get creative! Connection with a charity that directly relates to your book’s unique hooks is the way to go. Got animals in your book? Support the Animal Rescue League or an international animal protection charity. You can tell people that you give a percentage of the sales to the charity, you can offer to support local charity events by offering a gift basket (your books, a pound of coffee and two coffee mugs) for the event’s silent auction, or you could create a fundraising event for the charity yourself. All three are great approaches. All three create high visibility. All three help build loyal following and sell books. So, you don’t have an animal in your book … there’s a related charity somewhere in your story. Seek it out and CONNECT!

What kind of results? Bigger book sales. Need I say more?


Write Brain/Left Brain:
Bridging the Gap between Creative Writer and Marketing Author
Marketing is a very scary prospect for authors. It seems like a foreign language meant to be spoken in a far off land without an embassy to help explain the culture. None of this is true. It isn’t marketing that’s the issue—it’s a fear and general misunderstanding of marketing in relation to an author’s talents and skill set.

It’s time to open the author’s mind to the purely creative aspects of marketing as it relates directly to their specific book and audience. WRITE BRAIN/LEFT BRAIN skillfully bridges the gap between creative writer and marketing author, and opens the wide road to sales success.

Available at Amazon and B&N


In 2013 her nonfiction, Finding Author Success (Second Edition), and Cross Marketing Magic for Authors were released. Her newest book, Write Brain/Left Brain, focuses on bridging the gap between the creative writer and the marketing author.

Deborah produces several pieces monthly for various websites and online publications. She writes an author industry blog and teaches online and live workshops as The Author Success Coach. She belongs to several writing and professional organizations.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Download Free Books Legally (Authors Against Pirating)

Most authors know that our books are going to be pirated eventually no matter what.

This can hurt both the author and the reader. If you're downloading pirated books, you run the risk of having your personal information stolen (if you visit the wrong web-site) or getting a virus that destroys your computer, even if the web-site seems safe to you. The copies you get might be messed up and hard to read and if they have a virus in them, they could destroy those e-book devices or your phone, which you paid so much money to purchase.

As authors, those pirated books never amount to anything for us. Most of us don't make enough money from our writing to live off of it. And most pirates don't download our books and leave reviews for them on sites afterwards, which can actually help us sell more books later.

I get it. Sometimes you just don't have the money to buy books.

But I want you to realize that this doesn't mean you have to pirate books. Many authors offer their books for free all the time. Most of us run promotions occasionally where we offer paid books for free for a short period of time. There's also a lot of us who have given books away for free to people on goodreads and other sites in exchange for reviews.

When you download the books legally this way, it's totally safe. It often boosts our numbers once the free promotion is over (which allows us to sell more books later) and it allows you to leave reviews (the more reviews a book has, the higher it will probably sell.)

There are several web-sites you can join the newsletter of that will give you links to books that are available for free for a short period of time, including sites like bookbub. You can also join author's mailing lists, like mine here: And we will always send out newsletters whenever our books are available for cheap or free.

And in the mean time, I am part of a blog tour where a bunch of authors are offering their books for free, either permanently or temporarily. Below are the dates when the books are available for free, the sites you can download them from, and some information about each one. Visit my blog every day until May 30th to get all of the books.

So have fun and enjoy reading!

Thanks to Author Maegan Provan for organizing this tour.


Also, be sure to visit the facebook pages of all participating authors for a chance to win a $20 gift card! 

MAY 24th:

Jess was born a prisoner, grew up a prisoner and at sixteen knew he would die a prisoner. When his turn comes to try to break through the traps protecting a spaceship it seems his day to die has come. The ship, and others like it, have already claimed hundreds of prisoners’ lives.

Instead he manages to avoid the traps and gain access to the ship with two other prisoners, beginning a frantic flight to freedom. Soon Jess finds himself loose in a brutal universe ruled by the Empire and riddled with pirates, slave traders and worse. Can Jess manage to learn the rules of the universe and the capabilities of the ship he has stolen in time to stay alive?

Where To Download The Book:

About The Author:

Simon Goodson is the author of the highly rated 'Wanderer's Escape' science fiction novel, the first of three books (so far) in the Wanderer's Odyssey series. He is also the author of the two exciting 'Dark Soul Silenced' fantasy books.

His short stories cover a variety of speculative fiction including, but not limited to, science fiction and fantasy. Several of the short stories are freely available from, while many more are available in the collection 'Last Sunrise & Other Stories'.

Simon fits in writing around a full time job as an IT Consultant and a hectic family life looking after his son and two daughters. He can most often be found writing at lunchtimes and during the commute home.

Paige knows evil exists in this world, but she never imagined it would want something from her.

In the small town of Astoria, Oregon, surrounded by deep forest and endless mountains, another world thrives . . . a menacing one where dark spirits dwell in soulless humans. Seventeen-year-old Paige Reed lives in this lush, picturesque setting. She's not your average teen, though she appears to be. Not only is she heartsick, but she's been receiving cryptic premonitions from a ghostly voice since the age of four. After she hears a haunting message about herself, supernatural occurrences begin to confuse her.

Nathan Caswell seems to peer into Paige's soul, evoking a magnetic energy between them they cannot deny. They're connected. But he's no ordinary guy. He tracks dark spirits and becomes alarmed when they set their sights on Paige.

When two power-hungry malevolent beings make demands on her, she realizes then the fate of mankind rest in her hands. Her world quickly turns inside out where the impossible becomes possible, and in the end she's faced with a life changing decision that will not only alter her existence but the world as she knows it.

Can a deeply troubled teen overcome her own demons in order to fight those lurking about? With the past and present colliding, Paige must make the ultimate mortal choice. Will it be the right one?

Where To Download This Book:

Rebekkah Ford grew up in a family that dealt with the paranormal world. Her parents Charlie and Geri Wilhelm were the directors of the UFO Investigator's League in Fairfield, Ohio. They also investigated ghost hauntings and Bigfoot sightings in addition to extraterrestrial cases. Growing up in this type of environment and having the passion for writing stories is what drove Rebekkah at an early age to write tales dealing with the paranormal world. Her fascination with the unknown is what led her to write the Beyond the Eyes trilogy and Tangled Roots.

Rebekkah resides in rural North Dakota, in a farming community of about 1,800, and loves where she lives. She has an irreverent sense of humor, adores coffee, and yummy food makes her happy. She loves books, history, antiques, animals, connecting with her fans and other authors, and watching her favorite TV shows.

Where To Find Rebecca Online - 


MAY 25th:

The Fate of Eros Series: Book 0 * Tales of love and heartbreak. The stories the gods never wanted you to hear about.**

Pandora was created to be the perfect woman. She has the beauty of Aphrodite, the intelligence of Athena, and the gentleness of Hera.

As the first and only woman to exist, Pandora is the center of attention everywhere. Men lust after her, even vow to start wars over her. She's a good girl, so she keeps her distance.

The problem is Prometheus. He's Pandora's box. He's ripped to shreds and killed every day as punishment from Zeus, but he never repents for being a bad boy.

Zeus has warned everyone to stay away from Prometheus, but she's curious. He's handsome and she desires him.

If she opens the box of her desire, it will unleash Prometheus' inner demons. Should she risking losing everything she cares about for one night of lust?

Where To Download This Book:

Amazon -

Barnes and Noble -

Smashwords -

E.B. Black lives in Southern California with her husband and two rottweilers. You can find her on facebook (, twitter ( and several other social media sites, including this blog.

MAY 26th:

These vampires don’t sparkle. They hunt and kill, driven to evil by the raging darkness inside them. From the moment they feed on their first victim they are lost – but what if the darkness was destroyed before that happened? What would be left? Something not seen in thousands of years.

A chance encounter leaves Daniel in just that position. With no memories of who he once was, and powers he barely understands, can he survive in a world where all magical powers are viewed as a sign of darkness? Can he convince others that he is free from evil?

And is he? Has the darkness truly been purged from his soul? Or is it merely driven into hiding deep within, silenced for now but waiting to strike again?

Where To Download This Book:

May 27th:

Rowan achieves her greatest desire when she earns the part of Juliet in the school play, but it’s impossible to concentrate on her lines when her secret crush is cast as Romeo. Eddie is a fallen football hero and the subject of widespread gossip. Not only has he lost the respect of his peers, he’s also earned the open animosity of Rowan's father, the high school’s football coach. Eddie isn't the only one with a tarnished past—Rowan has secrets of her own. When the truth is revealed, will Rowan replace Eddie as the most hated student in school, or will Rowan and Eddie share the stage together?

Where To Download This Book:
About The Author - Tricia Drammeh is a wife and mother of four children who lives in New Hampshire. Her published works include the Spellbringers series, Sweet Sorrow, Better than Perfect, The Seance, and The Fifth Circle. She is currently working on her eighth novel. When Tricia isn't writing, she can be found devouring books, chasing cats, or consuming vast amounts of coffee.

May 28th:

They say you always remember your first. Every moment. Every glance. Every touch. Everything that either of you said. And it’s true. I’ve never forgotten the first woman I slept with. Or the first person I killed. But then, they were both the same night, both in the same place…both were the same person. (First One)

When Angels return to the control room for the first time in over five hundred years they get a shock. Rather than reverting and losing the ability to create fire again, mankind has made immense leaps forward. Find out how the Angels react. (Everyone Out)

Thrown back in time to 1978 I find myself re-living decades of time. Knowing what is to come creates both opportunities and immense pain. (Déjà Vu)

When a test flight goes wrong and reaches a previously unknown level of hyperspace the crew make an amazing discovery. Wounds that should kill heal almost instantly with no pain. As members of the crew carry out ever more extreme tests Captain Shana starts to suspect that all is not well. (Test Flight)

Where To Download This Book:

May 29th

Hunted by a coven of vampires, Katelina has only one person she can trust: Jorick. But when her knight in shining armor turns out to be one of the monsters she has to examine her perceptions of good and evil to survive.

Where To Download This Book:

After the events of Shades of Gray, Katelina and Jorick seek peace but it’s hard to come by. Kateesha plans to fight the same battle as Jorick’s fledgling, but a common enemy isn’t enough to overcome past betrayals. Drawn into a deathly conflict, Jorick and Katelina must learn to overcome old regrets, or risk loosing their future to the ghosts of their past.

Where To Download This Book:

Coupon Code-SH64A

It’s time for Katelina to face the consequences. On a trip home they meet Verchiel, a too friendly vampire, then the police arrest Jorick. They barely get away when Katelina is taken to face Malick, the head of The Guild. Will Jorick get there in time? Who is the terrifying vampire she saw in the woods, and why won’t Verchiel go away?

Where to Download This Book:

Coupon Code- EM62D

Katelina and Jorick should be going to the tropics. Instead, they’re rescuing a captured vampire. Who kidnapped him and why? The truth isn’t easy to find. As Oren’s attack on the Guild draws closer, Jorick and Katelina are led back to the Citadel where the ancient master Malick reigns. When the flames of war ignite, can they rise from the ashes, or will they be consumed?

Buy Link:

Coupon Code- LA62V

The fifth installment of the Amaranthine series sees Jorick and Katelina draw closer as they surround themselves with their own miniature army to outwit the machinations of the ancient master. Katelina grows stronger and learns to stand on her own because there’s no room for the fainthearted in a world where darkness is eternal and the night tastes like blood.

Where To Download This Book:

Coupon Code- BU99C

An extinct cult resurfaces to wage war on the vampire guilds, leaving destruction in their path. Katelina and Jorick are trapped in Munich’s stronghold, with Ume, a vampiress who claims to know Verchiel and offers the help of her secret organization. But, can they trust Ume and her friends? Why have the Children of Shadows reappeared? Is it really a former ally that leads them, or a look alike?

Where To Download This Book:

Coupon Code- GG76D

The seventh installment in the Amaranthine series. Katelina wakes in Samael’s domain without Jorick. Her vampire lover gathers an army to save her, but Malick interferes. When he leaves Katelina broken and bleeding, it’s the final straw. Jorick plans the ultimate taboo: to kill his master. Will he succeed or will he and Katelina be crushed in a greater war?

Where To Download This Book:

Coupon Code- KQ87T

About The Author - Joleene Naylor is the author of the glitter-less Amaranthine series, a world where vampires aren’t for children. As a compliment to the novel series, she has also written several short stories, including the Vampire Morsels collection, and has plans for an Amaranthine Encyclopedia.

In what little time is left she watches anime and updates her blogs, all from a crooked Victorian house in Villisca, Iowa. Between her husband and her pets, she is never lonely, and should she ever disappear one might look for her on a beach in Tahiti, sipping a tropical drink and wearing a disguise.

Ramblings from the Darkness at You never know what you’ll find in the shadows…..

May 30th

The Demon Re’Vel stalks his prey in the forest of dreams, slowly gaining control over the mind of his victim. Rachel doesn’t realize the Demon is real. In fact, she doesn’t believe in magic, Demons, Hunters, or any of the other things the Alexanders have warned her about. She resists their protection, but can’t resist her overwhelming feelings for Jace.

Alisa has been drawn to Jace since the day she saved him from a Hunter attack. A mere human in a world of Spellbringers, Alisa has been embraced by the Alexander family as a hero, but not everyone is willing to accept her. Jace’s intimidating older brother, Bryce, keeps his emotions and his secrets hidden. When Bryce confides in Alisa, it puts her relationship with Jace and the entire Alexander family at risk.

Danger, secrets, and betrayal collide, and when the Demon makes his claim, the small, southern town of Oaktree becomes a battleground for Rachel’s life.

Where To Download This Book:

About The Author - Tricia Drammeh is a wife and mother of four children who lives in New Hampshire. Her published works include the Spellbringers series, Sweet Sorrow, Better than Perfect, The Seance, and The Fifth Circle. She is currently working on her eighth novel. When Tricia isn't writing, she can be found devouring books, chasing cats, or consuming vast amounts of coffee.

The Night Touched haven’t been around in centuries. Created by the original vampire, the “First Born,” the Night Touched were made to create the bloodlines which all modern day vampires come from. Their unique powers and colorful marks set them apart from other vampires.

Harper Kemp had long believed that she was the last Night Touched in existence. With her friends, Lily Buchannan and Jason Howard, she has learned to accept it. Until one night when everything changed.

A plea from her dreams and a forbidden romance, Harper sets out on a path of discovery; not only is she not alone, she’s about to face her worst nightmare- a devastatingly handsome slayer named Silas with a finger on her non existent pulse.

Where To Download This Book:

About The Author - Maegan Provan is a New Adult Urban Fantasy author currently based in Texas with her husband and her dog. When not writing, she spends a lot of time watching old shows on Netflix, goofing off on Facebook and playing PC games, like Guild Wars 2. Maegan is a huge fan of the works of Joss Whedon, Laurell K. Hamilton, and Cassandra Clare, drawing a lot of the inspiration from their work.

You can find out more about her published works, upcoming projects, and the latest news by going to

When Patrick is found dead in his apartment, Katelina is left in a vacuum of uncertainty with no leads. Then the enigmatic Jorick appears. In a single sweep he turns over the rocks of reality to reveal what hides underneath in the shadows; monsters that she thought only existed in horror movies.

Trapped in a nightmare, Katelina is forced to accept the truth of vampires; vampires who want her dead for her association with Patrick. Jorick saves the day, but what should she do when her hero turns out to be one of the monsters? Can she really trust – and even love – someone who isn’t human?

Caught between light and dark, Katelina and Jorick must travel down a path of mystery and terror as their pasts are slowly revealed and their passions ignite, in a world that smells like blood and tastes like fear.

Where To Download This Book:

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Being An Author Gets In The Way Of Being A Reader

As an author, you are supposed to read more than most people or at least that's the excuse authors tell themselves to justify their binge reading.

I've always been a big reader all my life. I've enjoyed reading romance novels of various kinds since I was twelve years old. I also enjoy reading science fiction, fantasy, general fiction, erotica, and sometimes just anything I can get my hands on.

When you become a published author, though, it becomes more difficult to read. Not only are you suddenly very aware of grammar and spelling mistakes in everything. You're also hyper aware of character development, pacing, cliches, and more. It's next to impossible for you not to have an opinion on everything you read and sometimes your knowledge destroys your enjoyment of something you would otherwise like.

Once you form an opinion, though, you are not supposed to share it. Everyone suddenly sees your opinions through a lense. If you leave a five star review, then you must be trying to kiss up to other authors or be in cahoots with them to help them sell books. If you leave anything lower than a five star review, you are out to destroy other authors and you're viewed as petty and jealous.

I can't even have a personal goodreads account out of fear that someone will associate it with my author name. One of my favorite things about reading most of my life has been sharing those books with others. I've never had people in person that I could share the things I read with. No one I know is a big reader.  I've always had to turn to the internet to find other people that love books.

I still leave five star reviews for books I love on occasion and I might write blog posts here and there about books I read and loved. (I am kind of bursting right now, excitedly, wanting to write about a few books I read recently that I really liked.) But even this is considered controversial. Every time I write a five star review or recommend a book on my blog, I get worried that it might be taken wrong and I might be one of those authors who gets in trouble for it.

It's weird. As authors, we are supposed to love reading books and love writing books. We are supposed to eat, breathe, and taste words. They should be everything to us.

But having an opinion on any of those words? No, authors aren't allowed.

I get why this is a rule. A lot of us are too close emotionally to other authors and to books in general to give unbiased opinions. We are sometimes depending financially on whether certain books fail or succeed.

It's just hard when you want to connect with other readers again like you used to. There's suddenly this wall up and you're on the other side, the author side, and you can't go back.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Mike and Molly - What It's Really Like To Be A Writer

To be honest, I watch a lot of television. I get bored when I am doing chores around my house, so I turn on the television a lot or open hulu/netflix/amazon instant video to entertain me while I clean or cook. I watch a variety of different shows, but one of my favorite types of shows are sitcoms. It's hard not to like them. They are light-hearted. The problems the characters face are always resolved within thirty minutes. Also, I don't have to watch the screen usually to know what's going on, unlike other shows I like (for instance, Doctor Who and The Walking Dead.)

One of the sitcoms I happen to love is Mike and Molly. In the show, Molly has a mental breakdown. She's an elementary school teacher and suddenly she can't stand it anymore. She quits her job in the middle of class, she jumps out the window to get away from the students. She wants to become a writer. Although it was a big moment in the life of the character, I thought it would be over and resolved by the end of the episode. I wasn't expecting the show to spend more than a season showing a mostly realistic portrayal of what it's like to become a novelist.

She has breaks and opportunities that many writers either do not get or take a decade to receive (like she gets a book deal within a year of starting to write.) Yet her family thinks she's wasting her life and that she did the wrong thing. (Even though it all happened very quickly for her.) But besides that, the things she goes through are things we all go through. Instead of writing the book in a couple of days, the show has her sitting down, struggling with the novel over a long period of time and many episodes. It shows how awkward it can be when people you know find out you are writing dirty sex scenes in your books and how harsh writers are with themselves about writing something perfect. Once she's done and gives the book to her publisher, after she's wrestled with every word for a long time, they force her to rewrite....completely.

It shows how publishers are usually focused on the business side of things. They want her to change the book to a time travel erotica when it was supposed to be an erotica about a woman discovering herself. They think that is cool and will sell, but she's a visionary who doesn't want to do that. (It sounds like a struggle a lot of authors go through.) It also shows her working to promote her book after she finishes writing it and how frustrated she gets when her sales aren't effected by her efforts.

Her first book reading/signing has pretty much only her family members and friends there, cheering her on in one of the latest episodes. It also has her writing a second book. Because she's not a bestselling big hit on her first book, like most of us aren't. As soon as she's done writing, she has to start writing the next book and this one, too, just like the last one, she is already struggling through again. She's started the process over.

I just love that this show didn't romanticize writing. It didn't make it something that it's not. It shows that it's hard work and something you have to sit down and dedicate lots of time to without as much appreciation for hard work as many people think. I recommend any author watching at least the last two seasons of Mike and Molly. Tell me what you think.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Networking Online And Off

A few years ago, I joined a web-site that allows me to meet friends through clubs I am interested online. I've met groups of authors this way on several occasions and also cultivated random friendships with other women.

A lot of people who are on the site find it intimidating because it involves meeting a bunch of strangers all at once. A lot of the groups meet in restaurants, so there's also the problem of figuring out where you are supposed to go when you've never met any of these people before. Many people sign up and get too scared to go.

I don't have that much of a problem with it. Maybe I am weird, especially for an introvert, but I find it more comfortable, when I am around new people, to be around a whole group of new people rather than just one person. I think the reason I feel this way is that as an introvert, I am often quiet or do not know what to say. When I am around a group of people, there is guaranteed going to be at least one person who knows what to say and can fill the silence.

The really hard part for me is when I get one-on-one. I don't know where to look. I don't want to look at the other persons eyes too much, but I also don't want to look away too much or I'll seem nervous. I get scared we'll run out of things to talk about and try to run through a list of questions in my head to ask (unsuccessfully.)

I relate to social media in a very similar way. I find it easy to write blog posts or post things on twitter than to interact one-on-one. When people e-mail me or message me, I find myself at a loss of what to say. I also often struggle to know how to respond to my comments. I like facebook because it lets me press "like" when I read a comment. I am good at reading comments and when I press "like", the person knows I read it and am listening, but when I am on a blog or in my e-mail, I can't press "like." I thought what they said was interesting and good, but sometimes I don't have anything to add to it.

It has made some networking with authors awkward for me, I think. I only know how to talk to them through their statuses and don't know how to ask them questions privately or even ask for other things.

Lately, I've really wanted to get together with other authors and exchange sample pages that we can post in each others books or organize a giant contest where we all pitch in a little or write an anthology.

Most authors are introverts, but sometimes you just can't be. You have to reach out and try. You have to go outside your comfort zone. I hope to do this more and more in the future. That's why I am glad I recognized this aspect of myself. I want to make it better.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Fan-Fiction, Fifty Shades of Grey, and Stealing Ideas

The Fifty Shades of Grey movie is coming out this week and I'm planning on seeing it. I read the first book, it wasn't my favorite book, but I think this might be one time when the movie is better than the book.

A lot of people on social media refuse to see it though. They are angry because they view E.L. James as a thief. They think she stole Stephenie Meyer's characters and is using them to make millions of dollars. The books started out as Twilight fan-fiction. They've changed the names of E.L. James' original work, but little else.

I agree that it's wrong to steal from other authors, but I don't believe E.L. James stole from Stephenie Meyer. If she had, Stephenie Meyer would sue her. Don't think it's some kind of benevolence on Stephenie Meyer's part that has caused her to never take E.L. James to court. They are both business savvy people or they wouldn't be as rich as they are. Neither of them would hesitate to sue someone they felt stole from them.

When I was a teenager, I was obsessed with fan-fiction. I didn't have any money at that age, so I'd go on and read a bunch of fan fiction stories about my favorite television or movie characters because I couldn't afford the amount of books I wanted to read. I loved to read and express my opinion, so I'd comment on every story. This is how I learned about the different types of fan-fiction out there.

Here are the four types I've noticed (there may be more):

1.) Rewrites

Where the fan-fiction author takes a story, rewrites it completely and maybe changes a few tiny details so the story is more to their liking or who writes the story from a brand new perspective to explore a certain character and their viewpoints on things.

2.) Sequels

They take the story that's already there and try to continue it.

3.) What If's

Where the fan-fiction author takes a story and writes about something they wished would happen. Like, with the Harry Potter series: What if Harry and Hermione had fallen in love? Things like that.

4.) Alternate Universes - This is where you take a few characters from the book and throw them into your own universe and probably change aspects of their personality and appearance to fit this universe. All you really keep are the names and maybe a few references to the original story.

For instance, I once read an "Alternate Universe" version of Pride and Prejudice. It was supposed to be the same story if it took place in the 1970's. Most of the details of the story changed. There was a few similarities in the progression of the plot, sort of, (just that Elizabeth was disgusted with Darcy really) and the characters kept the same names, but they had to be completely different people. For instance, Elizabeth Bennet was a hippie. And they had completely different experiences, like going on shopping trips and things.

So essentially, it's a whole new story even though it's a fan-fiction.


The first three stories are completely dependent on the original work. The fourth one is not and could exist even if the original work disappeared from our existence. The first three would violate copyright laws if they were published, but I believe that the fourth would not as long as you changed the names and any other relevant details.


The thing about E.L. James' books is that she wrote Alternate Universe fan-fiction. Christian Grey is NOT a vampire. He has a different back story. He's a different age than Edward. Same with Anastasia Steele, she isn't a high school teenage girl with an overprotective father like Bella was. The storylines have nothing in common, I had to search really hard for the similarities in the two book series and there were only traces of this here and there. I'm pretty sure that Stephenie Meyer would be appalled at the morality of E.L. James' books. Meyer's characters do not believe in abortion and try to follow God. E.L. James...well...her characters just do whatever they want and love sex before marriage.

They are far from the same book.

I just find it really strange how confrontational people get about this. I technically am writing and selling fan-fiction right now. It's not only E.L. James who tried to do this. I write retellings of Greek Mythology. My fan-fiction is more like the rewrites-the Greek myths you know and love rewritten from a new perspective where I try to change your view of the original stories. Many other authors have stolen from Greek Mythology as well, including Rick Riordan and C.S. Lewis. In fact, most fantasy authors take elements from pasts myths in some way, that's what makes our books fantasy novels.

I just think there needs to come a point when people stop hearing the word "fan-fiction" and automatically think "stolen." Some of it is stolen work, yes, and would be illegal to publish. You can't publish a sequel to someone else's book, for instance, without their permission. And you can't steal people's books and sell them without their permission either.

But this is not what E.L. James did. This is why I am not at all offended by publishers publishing fan-fiction.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Self-Publishing And Fake Statistics

I haven't had the opportunity to address this before, but it's a statistic thrown around by people in the publishing industry constantly.

"The average self-published book sells only one hundred copies in its entire lifetime. All those copies are sold to friends and family."

This is a lie and it's bothered me for awhile now. This is about self-publishing e-books. People have only been able to do this for the last few years. That isn't even enough time for any books to be much older than baby books, let alone have full, long lifetimes where they sold only one hundred copies.

Also, most people I meet and befriend will never even see my book covers, let alone read them, but I still find ways to sell people books every month.

If you are thinking about going into self-publishing or you just self-published, ignore this statistic. I've sold many more copies than this and I think anyone can do what I've done. This statistic is always quoted in articles where someone is talking about how you can't make a living self-publishing and it's used to discourage people.

I panicked when I first saw it before I published my first book. I thought that my book would sell five copies the first month to five people that I beg in person to buy the book and no one else would buy it ever again.

I'm not saying the average self-published novel sells thousands of copies in the first year. They do not. But self-publishing is about the long term. It's about years of writing, marketing, and self-publishing books. It doesn't matter if your book sells only five copies a month. (Which might total only $10 in royalties a month.) That might be five copies every month for the rest of your life, which in total if your book is around for fifty years could be over ten thousand dollars.

Keep writing more and that number will increase every month. I've been told by some authors that the number increases exponentially. I'll let you know as I publish more books.

Even if you've only sold one hundred copies and your sales have died, try marketing a new way. A self-published book only dies if you give up on it. I had a month when Kindle Unlimited made my sales basically zero, I worked at marketing and now my book sales have stabilized and last month was my highest sales number ever.

Don't give up.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

How A Small Writing Goal Is Changing Everything

The past year and a half has been crazy for me. I found out I had diabetes and I got married. I've struggled with pain from migraines and my teeth. I've had mild surgery and almost had to have a second mild surgery because of a weird cyst thing that I had in my mouth. (Most of my health problems, I haven't shared on social media.) My rottweilers have been sick a lot. Izzy had pancreatitis and I was taking Mika to the vet every week because it turns out that he has Inflammatory Bowel Disorder, which is a dog's version of Crohn's Disease.

I've honestly been overwhelmed with all the changes and struggles in my life lately. I've had a lot to adjust to and work past and my writing hasn't been as quick as I would have liked.

I used to spend all day writing. I remember once writing seventy thousand words in a week. They all had to be edited, but I was happy with it.

But lately, I've sat down, been trying to force myself to write at least ten thousand words because I've been writing infrequently and wanting to catch up. Instead, I've been staring at my novels and getting overwhelmed and my mind has been going blank on a lot of days. Even when it doesn't and I write two thousand words, instead of feeling proud of it, I've felt disgusted with myself, saying things in my head like,"This isn't the way to write three or four books a year and you can't be a successful writer unless you write three or four books a year!"

Then my friend on facebook suggested making a New Years Resolution of writing only one hundred words every day. I liked this idea. It was very doable, even on days where my life was insane. I was tired of going days or sometimes weeks without progress when things got to hectic.

And because of it, I've been writing every day! Not only that, but I feel really good about myself and my novels. It's so easy to meet the goal of one hundred words every day and now I say,"As long as I write one hundred, I wasn't a failure today" even if all I write is one hundred. I've found myself writing much more than one hundred words a day and enjoying every bit of it. Where before I was criticizing myself because I still hadn't met my goal, now I am congratulating myself daily for the progress.

I think it's hard for writers not to get into this psychological head trip where we are critizing ourselves and what we write and how fast constantly. It's a muse killer. I was writing still, but it felt mechanical rather than inspired. This has breathed life back into the whole thing. Because I'm writing those extra words because I want to, not because I feel like I need to meet some impossible goal.

I'm so happy.

So if you're a writer like me and you're frustrated with yourself, cut yourself some slack and you might be surprised by how much you can achieve. I'm achieving more now without the pressure than I was before.