Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Inside a Writer's Mind

I'm in Orlando, Florida this week with my family on spring break.  If you've never visited Florida, you may not know that the entire state is covered in tiny lizards. To tell you the truth, I'm not sure of the species. Everyone's grandparents live in Florida (or at least they think they are your grandparents) so everywhere you turn there is an octogenarian offering you free information about the state and it's wildlife. Poolside rumor has it that these little guys can drop their tails when they get scared.  The tail will continue to flop around, distracting an attacking predator while the lizard gets away.  Over time the lizard can regenerate it's tail.

For most tourists, the story would end there but for a writer like me, it's just the beginning. I proceeded to tell my family and the informing octogenarian about how interesting our world would be if people could drop their appendages in a similar way.

There would always be "that kid" in school.  You know the one who is afraid of everything.  He would drop his arms every time someone said "boo."  Bullied kids would constantly have stubs. Kindergarten teachers would rue the first week of school and the accompanying slew of dropped arms.

Parents who wanted to bury their children's lost limbs would have to dig through a "lost and found" where invariably decomposing arms would be confused and arguments of ownership would ensue.  Frequent droppers would be forced to wear identifying jewelry.  Athletes would be specially trained to not drop under stressful circumstances and wrestlers who gave into the temptation would be harshly teased and immediately disqualified.

Rich parents would buy cosmetic arms for embarrassed droppers.  Unclaimed arms would decay at the bottom of the lost and found, forcing administrators to create a policy of cremation for unclaimed limbs at the end of each week. Secretaries would clean out the limb box at the same time they purged the staff refrigerator of unclaimed brown bags.

If you dropped your writing arm, you would be forced to write with your non-dominate hand.  But if you dropped both of your arms the school would have to provide you special accommodations. Students who conveniently dropped limbs just before a test would be suspect.  Parents would be called.

I could have continued but my daughter begged me to stop and said in hushed tones that I was being "weird" and scaring people.  I guess I was.  But I bet I am not alone. :)

 Inside a writer's mind, anything is possible.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Event & Giveaway

New to this event?  Start here: St. Patty's Day Event Details

Hello Aengus, 

I'm Drucilla, psychic leprechaun and all around sweetheart. I'm here to help you find your true love. She might be closer than you think, you know.  Like sometimes, you might think you love one person but you really love the one that's right in front of you.

You must be tired from your search, how about a Drink? No?  I have shamrock shakes. Cookies?  Corned Beef?   Oh come on!  What's so special about this Caer anyway?  

You know, I've seen the future and you are much happier if you stay and have cookies with me. 

I like your beard. Is that vest, like, made of four leaf clovers?  Can I touch it?  
Do you like my hair? The sparkle is natural.


Move along Aengus.  Oh, you want a clue, do you? I'll give you a clue:

Never turn Drucilla down for another dame!

Visit these other leprechauns and see what they have to say:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Must be 13 years old or older. Open to wherever Amazon Prime ships within the contiguous U.S. (PO Boxes excluded) and Canada.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Reflections of a First Year Indie

It hardly seems possible. A year ago, I published my debut novel, The Soulkeepers.  That novel became the first in a series and as of today, I have three young adult novels on the market and more on the way.  I consider the series a success because:

  • Every book in the series has hit one or more best-seller lists
  • Over 225,000 of my books have been downloaded or sold
  • My royalties would have earned out a traditional advance
  • My royalties are equal to or greater than what I would have earned working full time in a traditional job
  • I've received fan mail from all over the world
  • My also bought section looks like this  (Do you recognize any of these names?):

Going indie has worked for me but I would be remiss if I didn't mention the growing pains and hardships that came with the indie package.
  • Indie means entrepreneur.  I work 50-80 hours per week writing, editing, formatting and doing all of the things involved in running a small business.
  • It's difficult to find reliable help. I did finally find an editor that was worth what she was charging. I would like to find a reliable person to format for me who doesn't take 30-60 days to do it and guarantees their work.
  • When I was approached regarding subsidiary rights, I could not find an agent to represent my interests despite my success.  I now have an entertainment lawyer instead.  It's amazing to me how hard it is to convince someone to take a chunk of your money.
  • The environment is filled with non-stop change in policies and procedures.  Things can pop up overnight that challenge the way you do business. Luckily, indie authors are nimble and I've been able to adjust reasonably.
  • Brick and mortar bookstores don't like indies.  Weaving Destiny spent December and January in the top 200.  I remember walking into my local Barnes and Noble and holding my iPhone up to the shelf where they display the best-sellers.  All of the books on the chart next to mine were up there, but no Weaving Destiny.  It was a sad moment to have accomplished so much with so little and not be recognized by the industry.
What have I learned from this experience?  Well, first off, I didn't need an agent or publisher to be successful.  I did it by networking with other writers, significantly Karly Kirkpatrick, Megg Jensen, Angela Carlie, Magan Vernon and The Indelibles. Despite my success, it is clear indies are not given the same opportunities or respect as traditionally published authors.  There is still a stigma.  Some bloggers won't even read indie work.  Most bookstores won't carry indie paperbacks. I couldn't find an agent to represent me for subsidiary rights. I don't qualify for benefits from the Author's Guild, or professional author status from SCBWI or RWA. 

While I am aware that the industry has erected these barriers to keep me out (I am obviously indie riff raff!), in an ironic twist I can understand why.  My background, after all, is in the business world and I understand how industries resist change.  I also understand how a person can say and do some short-sighted things when their career is threatened by a changing environment.  But, perhaps, if the traditional publishing industry was run by more business majors than english majors they would come up with more innovative and profitable ways to deal with someone like me besides simply making it more difficult for customers who already want my books to get them.  

For example, instead of offering huge six and seven figure advances to a select few writers who will likely never earn them out, perhaps spread some of those dollars to successful indie authors in the form of print only deals.  A successful indie doesn't require a large advance because they know they'll make up the royalties in sales.  They already have reviews, buzz, and a following. When I was growing up, we used to call this "like shooting fish in a barrel".

Bookstores, why net let indies who meet certain sales targets in?  Take a deeper discount.  Charge more for hosting book tours. Make it easier for my customers to use you to reach me (and give you a percentage of their dollars). What you are doing now is training readers to go around you to get the books they want.

Same goes for professional organizations.  How about a special professional membership for self-pubbed authors who, for example, sell more that 10,000 copies at $2.99 or above with an average rating over 3 stars.  I'm making that criteria up on the fly but you get the picture.  If the organization was truly worried about quality and professionalism, there are measurable indicators that could be used without issuing a blanket "no" to an entire population of authors.

Anyway, I'm always available to talk to progressive thinkers about the opportunities.  Meanwhile, I'll keep doing what I do. I love every minute of it! 

Happy Birthday, Soulkeepers!  Three books in one year.  Who would have thought?  

Friday, March 2, 2012

Return to Eden Available Now!

The third book in the Soulkeepers Series, Return to Eden, is available now on

Barnes and Noble
Introductory price: $2.99

Apple(iBooks), Kobo, Sony, Deisel, and paperback still to come. The book will tour in April when all formats are available.

Dr. Abigail Silva has waited over 10,000 years for redemption and a chance at a real relationship with the angel she loves. But when you're made from evil itself, it's hard to remember if salvation is worth the wait. With Lucifer's plan coming to fruition, she must decide if God's offer of humanity is all it's cracked up to be, or if a deal with the devil is the more promising solution.

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