Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Author Exhaustion: When Things Get Tough

I came across this post by an author friend this morning on Facebook:

Sometimes I get so tired I wonder if I can keep going, but the only other option is quitting, and that I won't do. -Maria Kelly

Maria's quote hit so close to home with me that I couldn't let it go without a blog post. The irony is, honestly, I don't have time to write this; I'm behind on all of my goals.  But I need to write this.  Because I think many writers, especially Indie authors, go through what I'm going through right now. And just to warn you, this post is going to be brutally honest.

When I published my first and even my second book, things were fairly simple. I was focused on the mechanics of finishing the books, getting them edited in the best way I could afford to, covers, formatting for various venues, and publishing to the world with a blog tour and some advertising.  I did these things, and was very excited and surprised by the success my early books achieved. I was able to balance writing with marketing and social media.

Flash forward six books later, now I'm juggling development, marketing, and PR for titles under two names,  and three potential series. And I don't usually talk about this, but besides being a mom, I'm a caregiver for a family member with a long-term illness and that role has pulled me away from work this year. There is such thing as a sales arc. Books are somewhat like balloons.  You knock them up with one hand (tours, advertising, marketing)  and they gradually float back down to earth. So you do more marketing. Tapping the books up again and again over time. 

But I didn't write this to whine.  I wrote to talk realistically about author exhaustion. I hear about authors setting crazy goals for themselves, 5,000 or more words per day 6-7 days per week. These are moms, dads, have other jobs both full-time and part-time, and I think to myself, that is AMAZING. You are AMAZING if you can keep that up and have a family life, and act as your own PR and marketing professional. And hopefully, it will pay off. Hopefully, those words aren't forced, will be used in your final version,  and will connect with your audience. Hopefully, you won't regret what you missed while meeting those goals.

My warning is, sometimes it doesn't pay off. Here's my story. Most people know me as the author of the Soulkeepers Series, but in 2012 I published a book called Grounded. Grounded took a year to research and write. It was professionally edited by an experienced editor and read by more professionals before publication than any of my other books. It is my highest rated book by far and, believe it or not, actually spent time with an agent before publication.

I was so excited to release Grounded, a book I considered to be my personal best, and thought for sure  with all of its professional development, it would be a bestseller.  Well, it's not.  In fact, it hasn't done overly well. Like I said, the ratings and reviews are great, but sales? Not horrible but not terrific. Grounded was written to stand alone but intended to be the first in a trilogy.  Now, I am in the unenviable position of considering sending the synopsis for books 2 and 3 to an early grave. 

My point is that we as authors need to have a healthy balance in our lives.  Author Hilary Wagner often says to "write the story that's in your heart." I've thought about that over the last year. We as Indie authors do the work first then, maybe, if we are lucky, get paid later. If you don't enjoy the work, if the story isn't in your heart, if you're not "feeling it, it's hard to keep going. (I think that's why I connected with this post by Megg Jensen about changing her course to write Shucked.)

So, I'm admitting I'm at a crossroads.  I'm a little exhausted. And I have to decide what comes next after the last two books of The Soulkeepers Series. For now, I'm:
  • breathing deeply
  • writing when the muse grips me
  • planting a garden
  • enjoying my family
  • critiquing and helping other writers where I can
  • and not forcing anything.
And as Maria Kelley says, I'm not giving up. Not an option. Just taking a beat to rest up, regroup, and revisit my goals.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Debt Collector Series by Susan Kaye Quinn

What's your life worth on the open market?
A debt collector can tell you precisely. 
The Debt Collector serial is a dark and gritty future-noir about a world where your life-worth is tabulated on the open market and going in debt risks a lot more than your credit rating. 
Lirium plays the part of the grim reaper well, with his dark trenchcoat, jackboots, and the black marks on his soul that every debt collector carries. He's just in it for his cut, the ten percent of the life energy he collects before he transfers it on to the high potentials, the people who will make the world a better place with their brains, their work, and their lives. That hit of life energy, a bottle of vodka, and a visit from one of Madam Anastazja's sex workers keep him alive, stable, and mostly sane... until he collects again. But when his recovery ritual is disrupted by a sex worker who isn't what she seems, he has to choose between doing an illegal hit for a girl whose story has more holes than his soul or facing the bottle alone-a dark pit he's not sure he'll be able to climb out of again.
Debt Collector is a nine-part serial, with each episode 12-15k words or 44-60 pages. The first four episodes are out, and the remaining episodes release every two weeks. Contains mature content and themes. For young-adult-appropriate thrills, see Susan's bestselling Mindjack series.
Susan Kaye Quinn is the author of the bestselling YA SF Mindjack series. Her new Debt Collector serial is her more grown-up SF that she likes to call future-noir. Her steampunk fantasy romance is temporarily on hold while she madly writes episodes to keep Lirium (the titular Debt Collector) happy. Plus she needs to leave time to play on Facebook. Susan has a lot of degrees in engineering, which come in handy when dreaming up dangerous mind powers, future dystopias, and slightly plausible steampunk inventions. Mostly she sits around in her pajamas in awe that she gets make stuff up full-time. You can find her at What's your life worth on the open market? A debt collector can tell you precisely. Delirium (Debt Collector 1) is now available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, iTunes, Smashwords. See the Debt Collector website to check all the latest episode releases and goings on in the Debt Collector world.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

FAQ: About The Fourth Book...

It will come as no surprise to my readers that I'm a huge Harry Potter fan.  I think J.K. Rowling is a genius and certainly her books are some of the most well worn on my shelf. In 2007, she surprised some of her fans by announcing that Dumbledore was gay.

Now, Dumbledore's background only became immediately relevant to the main story line in Deathly Hollows, when his relationship to Gellert Grindelwald played a role in the adventure.

Still, many readers didn't see the many clues Rowling dropped to his sexuality.  She wrote middle grade fiction and his background wasn't obvious, although it was important.

Why do I bring this up?  Because wether or not you as a reader picked up on the clues, Dumbledore's background colored his character from the very beginning.

What has this to do with The Soulkeepers?

I've received a few reviews that sound something like this:

First off, I find reviews like this personally attacking. They imply that I had some alternative motivation
than staying true to the story and the character. These accusations are false. If anything, I was motivated NOT to release book four, knowing there would be some small minded individuals who would drag it through the mud. But I'm not going to waste time thinking about hateful reviews.

What I really want to put in writing is that Dane was always gay (although closeted because he lived in Paris, IL.). If you didn't see it, here are some clues you might have missed but were there all along.

*Spoiler Alert*

In book one, Dane isn't himself because he's under the influence of Auriel's elixir.  However, he talks about feeling repressed by the expectations of his family.  And although Auriel is beautiful, his desire for her is always related to the drug she gives him that makes him feel free from this repression.

In Weaving Destiny, Dane takes an interest in organizing the prom, and is the only boy to do so. He goes to the prom without a date wearing a white tux with lavender cummerbund. Earlier in the book, when he is accused of "liking" Malini he suggests that he feels the same way for Jacob.  In effect his "closeness" to Malini (and Jacob) is a way for him to feel safe and calmed by their presence (not attraction to Malini herself).

In Return to Eden, Dane has an immediate connection to Ethan, hugs him with everything he's worth, and attends Abigail's wedding with him where he chooses to sit with Ethan rather than his parents.

So, here we are at Book 4. If you've read it, you know that Dane is still closeted. He's reacting to Ethan physically in the beginning of the book but making every excuse possible to not act on those feelings.  This is essential to the story because in every book, the main character dies:

  • In book one, Jacob dies and is brought back by Malini.
  • In book two, Malini dies and is brought back by Jacob.
  • In book three, Dr. Silva dies, is made human by God, and then brought back to life by Malini.
  • In book four, Dane dies, not literally but figuratively, to his expectations of himself and his family's expectations. When he lets go of the farm, and gives up on the closet, he dies to the person he's been trying to be for so long, and comes alive to the person he truly is. He saves himself.

It's no coincidence that Dane's power allows him to walk in other character's shoes.  The power is a flip side of his greatest weakness, which is to not be truthful about his own journey, i.e. to not see himself clearly.

So, you see, Dane has always been gay, was meant to be gay, and the story would not make sense or have deeper meaning if he wasn't gay.  I didn't throw it in on a whim because of some personal agenda. It was always there, even if you chose not to see it.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Volition by Lee Strauss

VOLITION, the exciting continuation of Noah and Zoe's story from Perception, is HERE!

What doesn't kill you ...

Zoe Vanderveen is on the run with her captor turned rescuer, Noah Brody.

They're in love.

Or at least that’s what he tells her. Her memories have returned but her feelings are dreamlike—thin and fleeting. Her heart can’t be trusted. Just look at what happened with Taylor Blake.

Senator Vanderveen’s new team of cyborg agents are in hot pursuit, and a reward for their capture is broadcast nationwide. Record breaking cold and snow hinder their escape. Someone dies helping them.

And their fight for survival has only begun.

Haven't read PERCEPTION yet? It's FREE for a few more days!

Eternal Life is To Die

For seventeen year old Zoe Vanderveen is a GAP—a genetically altered person. She lives in the security of a walled city on prime water-front property along side other equally beautiful people with extended life spans. Her brother Liam is missing.

 Noah Brody is a natural who lives on the outside. He leads protests against the GAPs and detests the widening chasm they’ve created between those who have and those who don’t. He doesn’t like girls like Zoe and he has good reason not to like her specifically.

Zoe’s carefree life takes a traumatic turn. She’s in trouble and it turns out that Noah, the last guy on earth she should trust, is the only one who can help her.

 It's FREE on Kobo itunes Barnes and Noble Smashwords  and on Amazon!

To celebrate the arrival of VOLITION, Lee Strauss is giving away a $200.00 Amazon, Nook or itunes gift card! Contest ends tonight!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the author:


Lee Strauss writes historical and science fiction/romance for mature YA and adult readers. She also writes light and fun stuff under the name Elle Strauss. To find out more about Lee and her books check out her facebook page. You can also follow her on twitter @elle_strauss and on Pinterest. To find out about new releases sign up for her newsletter at .

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Thank You!

Popping my head out of the writing cave for a quick post to thank all of you who have supported Soul Catcher!  I appreciate your positive reviews as well as your heartfelt emails regarding the story.  I knew when I published the book, there would be a handful that would reject it simply because of who the main character was, and yes, that has happened.  But many more have reached out to me with stories of how they connected with the book.  The support and encouragement has been amazing and means more than you can possibly imagine.  Thank you.

To answer a common question, books 5 & 6 are in the early stages of development, and currently, they are slated for release near the end of the year.  I can't give you a date at this point as so much could change between now and then. The Soulkeepers are currently taking turns whispering in my ear about their final, epic adventure. If you want to make certain you don't miss any news, announcements, or releases, please sign up for my newsletter in the right hand column.  You can also follow me on Facebook and twitter.

Until next time,

Monday, April 8, 2013

Magan Vernon's The Only Exception, Available Now

Did you see? Magan Vernon's The Only Exception is out today. I haven't read this one yet, but the premise caught my attention. Also, Magan is REALLY due, as in to have a human baby, in nine days.  So, if you buy this new release you help support another, more important, new release! Check this one out.  It has great reviews on Goodreads and promises to be an entertaining read.

**Due to sexual content and heavy subject matter, this book is recommended for ages 16+**

Fiercely liberal Monica Remy prefers to blend in. Despite her tattoos, piercings, and outspoken personality, she transferred to Central to escape—before she finds out that her next door neighbor is the uber conservative senator’s son, Trey Chapman.

No matter how hard she tries to avoid Trey, he still finds a way to get under her skin. Monica can’t stand his crisp white shirts or his staunch views on women. But she can’t help counting every freckle on his face and wondering what it would feel like to have him stop talking politics and kiss her.

A class debate project forces the unlikely pair to work together, and the political lines are blurred in late-night make out sessions. But despite their fiery chemistry, Trey’s politics threatens to smother their relationship for good.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Available Now: Soul Catcher!

Have you heard? Soul Catcher is available everywhere. Interested in being part of the blog tour?  Please visit Supagirl to sign up!

Book 4 in The Soulkeepers Series (13+)

Dane Michaels has been to Hell and back and isn't interested in repeating the experience. But as a human caught up in the Soulkeeper's world, his life isn't exactly his own. No one can explain why Dane was allowed through the gates of Eden, but it's changed everything. Now, the only one who can make him feel safe is Ethan, the telekinetic Soulkeeper with a dark past and a heart of gold.

When Malini asks Dane to be part of a mission to find the last Soulkeeper, Cheveyo, more than one team member thinks she's tempting Fate. But Malini suspects Fate has had a hand in Dane's life for some time and that he could be the key to unraveling Lucifer's latest plan of attack.

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