Thursday, January 23, 2014

My Next Book

I finally have a release date for my new book!  On March 25, 2014, I will release my third novel, Hold Still. The synopsis is below, but the real reason I wanted to talk about it is so you can see the freaking awesome cover which was designed by Carrie at Forward Authority Design Services.  I love this cover so much, I can't stop looking at it.  So here it is!  Voila!

Here's the synopsis (but don't go away because I want to tell you about how 2 of my favorite books are available in audiobook format now!)

After saving her three-year-old daughter from a car-jacking, off-duty police detective Jocelyn Rush ends up in the ER.  The last person she expects to run into is Anita Grant, former prostitute and an old acquaintance from Jocelyn’s days on patrol.  In spite of her obvious injuries—mutilated hands and feet—Anita refuses to talk about what happened. Reluctantly, Jocelyn backs off, and Anita's case goes to Philadelphia’s Special Victims Unit.

Before long, Jocelyn is pulled into the SVU’s investigation.  Anita is finally ready to talk, but only to Jocelyn. Her story is harrowing, even to a seasoned veteran like Jocelyn. Working with SVU, Jocelyn’s investigation unearths a series of similar crimes going back four years.  Three men are preying on local prostitutes, viciously assaulting and mutilating them.

The police apprehend two of the suspects, but the third eludes capture. As the hunt for the most sadistic of the three intensifies, and his crimes escalate, Jocelyn and her colleagues have precious few leads.  Then a monster from Jocelyn’s past resurfaces.  She doesn’t want to be reminded of the terrible secret that destroyed her family nearly twenty years earlier, but the man offers her a lead that could crack Anita’s case. 

To solve it, Jocelyn must connect her past with her present—before a sadistic attacker sets his sights on her.

Finally, check this out!  One of my favorite thrillers, The Mistaken by Nancy S. Thompson (and psst, that one is on sale for $2.99 right now!) and my only favorite paranormal, new adult romance, Strength by Carrie Butler are both available as audiobooks now!  Woot, woot!

What's up with you guys?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Best Book(s) I Read in 2013

It's always hard to do a post on books I've enjoyed cause as you may know, I won't finish a book I'm not completely and totally into so basically, if I read it, I thought it was pretty awesome.  I don't suffer through books anymore--not even mediocre ones.  There's simply not enough time.  I read a lot of amazing books in 2013.  I discovered Dennis Lehane whose books spoke to my soul.  I read all of his Kenzie/Genarro series and cried when it was finished.  His books are like drugs.  All this time he's been out there, and I had no idea how mind-blowing his work was!  I also discovered Chelsea Cain whose books I marathoned over a 5 day period during which I did not sleep.  Naturally, me being me, I read Elizabeth Smart's book when it came out.  It was extremely well-written and gripping--and of course terribly sad and disturbing.  But it had a happy ending, and I think she is one of the most heroic people I've ever read about.

Two of my other favorite authors (and friends) released the second books in their series last year and I thoroughly enjoyed those and cannot wait for more!  Carrie Butler's Courage and Dana Mason's Precious Embrace.

Also my friend, Michael Infinito released his second novel, 12:19, which is a thrill a minute and extremely fascinating.

I did not read Karin Slaughter's new book.  Not because I didn't want to--you all know by now she is my favorite.  I mean I nearly passed out when I met her--but out of protest of the price of the ebook.  I don't mind spending $10 to $12 on a memoir like Elizabeth Smart's or the book I'm going to talk about.  Given what these women went through, the least I can do is fork over $10-12 in support of them telling their stories.  But for a regular old fiction ebook, I think it is absolutely appalling that a publisher would charge more than $7.99 for an ebook.  I mean really.  It's not like they have to produce it all over again every time someone orders it.   Luckily, some of the Big 5 have caught on and heavily discounted some of their older titles which allowed me to discover Lehane and Cain.  I got an Amazon gift card for Christmas so I will likely order Slaughter's new book in hardback which I can actually get cheaper than the ebook, unless the ebook comes down in price.  And for the record, it is KILLING me not to be able to read it. It's not that I don't want to support my favorite author.  I know she's not the one who sets the price, but I don't want to encourage all this $12.99-for-an-ebook nonsense.  (Also, I've seen ebooks priced as high as $14.99.  Yeah.  Total B.S.) So yeah, as a reader, I'm going to stop bending over for the Big 5.  That's just how it is.  They can take their overpriced ebooks and shove them . . . okay well, you get the point.  (By the way, I think more and more readers are going to turn to indie books for this same reason which I think is awesome.  Hopefully the Big 5 will figure out a way to compete without alienating all their readers.)

But the book I read last year that was so good, so poignant, so riveting, so disturbing, and so well-written that it was life-changing was a memoir by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett called A House in the Sky.  I didn't expect this book to be all that it was.  If you don't know, Amanda Lindhout was a Canadian in her 20s who routinely traveled the world. She was somewhat of a professional traveler.  After awhile she began dabbling in journalism.  In 2008, she and her ex-boyfriend traveled to Somalia for a story and were abducted and held for ransom for 18 months.  This is hands down one of the best books I have ever read.  Period. I don't read a lot of memoirs.  I don't read much outside of my genre anymore, actually, but I saw Amanda Lindhout on Dateline and the interview was so good, I simply had to read her book.  I was not disappointed.  It's not for everyone. As I said, there are parts that are deeply disturbing.  But if you think you can handle it, you should definitely check it out.

What did you read last year that blew your mind?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Honesty Cover Reveal!

Honesty (Mark of Nexus #2.5)

Category: New Adult  Genre: Urban Fantasy
Book Description:
Note: This title is best enjoyed after Strength (Mark of Nexus #1) and Courage (Mark of Nexus #2). Cole Blake is more than just a roguish ladies’ man. He’s also a dedicated worker—so dedicated, in fact, that he’s willing to blackmail his boss with a falsified sex tape in order to keep his job. And his proactive efforts don’t end there. After hours, he uses his Dynari abilities to moonlight as a vigilante, keeping his neighborhood safe from drunks, dealers, and would-be thieves. Until a mistake stops him dead in his super-accelerated tracks. Now burdened with the closest thing he’s ever had to a conscience, Cole struggles to justify his once-reckless actions. It’d be all too easy to give in to his darker impulses, especially with ERA making dangerous advances toward their goal of revolution, but embracing that hatred could jeopardize the few relationships he actually cares about—including his pursuit of the saintly Rachel Ranford. No, in order to keep everyone safe, he’ll have to come clean about his warring compulsions and ask for help... before his dark side takes over.

Click here to read the first (unedited) chapter of HONESTY!
COMING MARCH of 2014  Want to learn more about HONESTY? Check out its book page!

Where to Find Carrie:

Honesty by User_0307 on Grooveshark

Friday, January 3, 2014

Post-Release Post #5: The Year In Review

I had all these good intentions of doing a Happy Holidays post and a Happy New Year post . . . but those things didn't really work out.  Although I do hope you all had a fabulous holiday, and I hope 2014 brings wonderful things and good health to all!

My family and I were sick almost the entire month of December and when we weren't there were school obligations, Christmas-type obligations and other things that needed tending to.  But I had been working on this post piecemeal and I think it's complete!  So here goes:

So it's been a little over a year since my first novel was published.  It has been a wild ride.  As you know if you've read my blog for any length of time, my road to publication was long and torturous.  Four and a half years on the agent search with more close calls than I care to count.  (I still can't decide if it's great to get so close and then not get the prize or completely devastating to get so close and be passed over.)  Then eighteen months on submissions with publishers basically saying the same thing that agents said:  we love this book.  It's great, but NO.  Then finally, Sapphire Star Publishing took a chance on me and made my dreams come true.  As most of you also know, publication has been my dream since I was eleven years old.

It hasn't been the way I always fantasized it would be--the way every writer probably fantasizes it will be, but the market has changed tremendously since I was eleven!  But it has been, without a doubt, awesome.

So I thought, what can I tell other authors about this journey?  I kept trying to fashion some kind of Top 10 List or some other clever way to deliver my thoughts, but it hasn't happened.  So basically, here's a bunch of random stuff from inside my head:

(DISCLAIMER:  this is all based on my experience only.  Other authors have different experiences.  I am only speaking for myself.)

That moment when you hold your book in your hands for the first time--no matter what happens after that, nothing can change the sheer awesomeness of that moment.  No one can take that away.  It is like this golden moment suspended in time that you'll always look back on when you want to feel all warm and fuzzy.

Great reviews will make you happy.  I personally love the long ones that are detailed and well-thought out.  Those are my favorite.  Bad reviews like 1 and 2 star reviews--they really do sting at first but after awhile you're all *shrug* meh, can't please everyone.  Sometimes, though you'll find that the occasional snarky review is really annoying.  For me, the most frustrating thing about critical reviews is that people are usually complaining about something that agents and/or editors made you change.  But again, you can't please everyone!  Oh and the words "review to come" really mean "no review forthcoming".

Signings are a mixed bag.  I actually have a separate blog post prepared on this topic which you can look for within the next few weeks.  My launch was successful because the majority of the people there were people who knew me; people I invited.  Events after that were really fun but didn't help with sales.  And also, people kept asking me, "Is this available in ebook?" That said, I'd never turn one down cause I always have a great time and always end up meeting great people.

There are a ton of things you think you absolutely must do when your book comes out, but in retrospect, they really weren't helpful.  Like book trailers.  Don't get me wrong.  I LOVE my Finding Claire Fletcher book trailer. Love, love, love it.  I would still make a book trailer in the future just because I think they are cool, but they don't do squat for sales.  Not that I can see, anyway.  Also blitzing the entire world with your book cover and synopsis on release day.  Sure you might get a small spike in sales, but I think it's better to build slowly, over time, than to put all your eggs in the release day basket.  If you're doing your own marketing, think long term.  Six months, not six days. I have, however, personally found press releases to be extremely useful.  But do NOT, I repeat:  DO NOT pay someone else to write them.  You're a writer, after all.  You can do it.  There are free and very low cost sites where you can have them distributed, but write your own.   Google press releases, do some research, ask your other writer friends for samples and write your own.

There are a buttload of great ereader sites out there where you can advertise your book, and many of them are very reasonable.  Kindle Book Review, Digital Book Today, Lendle, etc.  Again, if you're doing your own marketing, you should look into them.  Jade Kerrion has a great post on this kind of thing.

Traditionally pubbed, small press authors make woefully little money on their books.  For a long time I thought I made the smallest percentage of all per book until I realized my agent actually makes the smallest percentage.  But the author percentage is small.  I'm not knocking it; I'm just saying, it's a fact.  That's just the way it is.  Publishers put up all the costs to produce your book up front so of course they take a large percentage.  The reason I bring this up is just because I feel like first time authors are shocked to their very core when they get their first royalty check and it's not even enough to buy a cup of coffee.  Which leads me to my next random thought . . .

Selling books is HARD.  Yeah, like really hard.  Like probably getting people to enroll in a pyramid scam would be easier.  I've been extraordinarily lucky with sales, but I know many authors who are not.  Authors whose books are much better than mine.  (And yet, as I always say, I'm still not breaking any records.  Not even close.)  When you get your first royalty statement and you see just how few books you've sold in the last month, it can be very disheartening.  This is something else I think that pre-published authors have a lot of misconceptions about.  To be fair though, my genre seems much harder to sell in than others.

If you're published by a small, independent press, you're going to be treated like a self-published author. Mostly this means that major reviewers, press outlets and yes, even bookstores will close their doors in your face.  The good news is that we are living in the age of the Rise of the Indie Author and the ever-growing ebook market which means that more and more really great writers are abandoning the traditional route and self-pubbing.  It also means that there are more and more services available to Indie authors that help them to make their books better and their presentation more professional.  I think one day we will come to a point where very little, if any, distinctions are made between Indie authors and a legacy authors.  Anyway, what I have learned in the last year is that readers don't really care how your book got into their hands--they just want it to be good.

Small presses offer little or no marketing support.  I actually consider myself lucky that my publisher set a few things up for me here and there.  What I have heard repeatedly, over and over, in the last year through the grapevine are a lot of angry, disgruntled small press authors complaining that their publishers are not doing anything for them.  Small presses have small budgets.  I don't know why this comes as a surprise to people.  A publisher with 30 authors who are each selling 5-20 books a month is not going to have tens of thousands of dollars to put behind your book.  Even if they have one or two authors who are selling 100-200 books a month, they're still not making very much.  Not enough to throw thousands of dollars behind books that are struggling.  That's just the way it is.  A large publisher with a Stephen King or a James Patterson in their stable may have that money, but a small press will not.  It may suck, but the reality is that if you want more exposure, you're going to have to find it yourself. If you're not published yet and you're considering a small press, you better ask them right up front just exactly what their marketing plan is before you sign on the dotted line.  The days of authors being recluses and doing nothing but writing are over.  Today your time will be split 80% marketing activity and 20% writing.  I don't like it either, but that's how it is.

Also, there will be mistakes in your book.  No matter how hard you and a large team of editors, beta readers and critique partners try--there will be mistakes.  And readers will call you on them.  Some of them will be typos.  Others will have to do with authenticity, and even when you've done your research and had an expert--or two experts for the very purpose of ferreting out exactly such mistakes--read your manuscript, things will fall through the cracks.  Luckily in the publishing age that we live in, it's not too hard or too costly to upload a  new, corrected version of your book.  Although everyone who bought it before that will still think you're a flipping idiot.

You must have swag on you at all times.  I've sold a tremendous number of books just by having a bookmark in my purse to give to people when the subject of my book comes up.  I always carry bookmarks, postcards and business cards. Invest in swag.  It works.

The number one thing that readers told me in the past year was that they loved how short my chapters were!  I mean I heard this from well over 200 people.  So that is something to take into consideration when writing!

Finally, your writer friends are the ones who will get you through every low and boost you even higher for every high. I simply could not do this without all the wonderful, amazingly talented writers who I am privileged to call my friends. You know who you are.  I love you and am so grateful for all of you!

Again, I'm so sorry to have been remiss in my blogging duties the last several months.  I have been working feverishly on getting book 3 ready for publication and I am 40,000 words into book 4 so I have a good excuse!

Good stuff to all!