PIECES OF ME

Today is my younger son’s birthday. I’m away at a conference in Florida and so won’t celebrate with him this day.

Yesterday, someone said to me that he ought to write his memoirs.

Shouldn’t we all?

Or, as writers, don’t we, already?

How many times have you written an incident that’s happened to you? Or used a trait of a relative to define a character? Or made the neighbor next door a peripheral character in a book?

Come on, confess. I’ll start. I made my in-laws major characters in one of my early books. Here’s the thing. Members of my family read the book and nobody recognized them.

Really. There was also a cousin, a neighbor, people I’d worked with — not so you’d recognize them, but I’d written to their personalities or family history, or something in their current livesused

My husband and sons — I won’t go there. Maybe, maybe not. But the cat — I featured our Calico cat in one of my books because I promised her, before she died.

And aunts and uncles — fair game, where I could reorder life with them to my taste and say what I should have said thirty years ago.

Writing, as it were, pieces of my biography entwined with fictionalizing them.

I shouldn’t write my memoirs. I should say, read my books. There, you’ll learn all about me.

Beyond the Night, the sequel to The Darkest Heart is available now as a Pocket Star eBbook.

Permanent Halloween with author AE Jones

How My Obsession Fed My Writing

Since it is October, I’ve got a confession to make. As a child I loved, loved, loved Halloween. All of it: the decorations, costumes, jack-o-lanterns, candy and the fun. And this obsession has not ceased in my adult life. I spend months coming up with my costume each year that I wear to work. I decorate my home with a different Halloween theme. This year it’s witches. I actually have more Halloween decorations than I do Christmas decorations. And of course, I can’t forget about the parties. I have a Halloween luncheon party for my co-workers and a costume party for my neighborhood.

What is it about Halloween that draws me to it? It’s the idea that for one day we shed our own skin. That we take on a persona that is different than our own. And that persona has its own story to tell which is oftentimes whimsical or grim or fantastical or funny. Halloween is about imagination and anticipation and a little thrill thrown into the mix.

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that I write paranormal. Writing paranormal romance/urban fantasies allows me to celebrate Halloween all year round. There is something special about delving into a world of beings with powers. It makes the telling of the story that much more exciting and challenging. And there is a wonderful contrast when powerful beings struggle with their daily lives and relationships.

In the writing, like in the donning of my Halloween costumes, I create my characters. And I ask myself, what makes them different? Sure they have fangs, or fur, or glowing eyes, but why should the reader care about them? Because a good story has us rooting for the hero or heroine. We want them to defeat the bad guy, or fall in love even though they are blocked by circumstances and their own insecurities. No one is perfect. If they were, the story would be over quickly with little to no fanfare.

In my series, my heroine, Kyle, is far from perfect. She was born with the ability to manipulate memories. She struggles with her own insecurities and straddles the human and supernatural world she lives in, not truly fitting in to either. And this idea actually stems from the age old fish out of water trope. As readers, we may not understand what it’s like to have fangs and live for hundreds of years, but we all understand what it feels like to not fit in. And that understanding grounds us in the story, even when the ‘otherworldness’ of it allows us to escape into a different reality.

And for me as a writer and a reader, the escape is what I yearn for. The escape to a world where I can empathize, befriend, cheer, and fall in love with the characters.

As it turns out, my obsession with Halloween now feeds my obsession with writing. Voices in my head that want to be heard. And this costume-wearing, pumpkin-carving, party-throwing, author is happy to share their stories. One supernatural word at a time.

About the author:

ae jones pic 180 x 270Growing up a TV junkie, award winning author AE Jones oftentimes rewrote endings of episodes in her head when she didn’t like the outcome. She immersed herself in sci-fi and soap operas. But when Buffy hit the little screen she knew her true love was paranormal. Now she spends her nights weaving stories about all variation of supernatural—their angst and their humor. After all life is about both…whether you sport fangs or not.

 

AE lives in Ohio with her eclectic family and friends who in no way resembles any characters in her books. Honest. Now her two cats are another story altogether.

2013 RWA Golden Heart® Winner, Mind Sweeper

 

An angel, a demon and a vampire walk into a bar. Sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, but it’s just another day in the life of Kyle McKinley.

 

Kyle was born with the ability to erase memories, and the inability to keep her opinions to herself. She and her teammates – a vampire who looks like a sexy pirate with fangs, and a Shamat demon with a penchant for Italian pastries – provide supernatural damage control when humans see too much. Today’s problem? A sword-wielding angel and a demon had a supernatural smackdown during happy hour in a Cleveland bar, leaving behind a headless vampire and a dozen human witnesses.

 

This latest supernatural slip-up is attracting all kinds of attention. So much attention that the police step in, and Kyle has to deal with Joe Dalton, a know-it-all human with the sexiest turquoise eyes she has ever seen. Kyle has no room in her life for yet another human who will treat her like a freak. However, Dalton definitely makes her naughty parts sit up and take notice, and it’s more than mutual. But before they can act on their attraction, they must join forces to solve a dangerous puzzle. And when they uncover the truth, the apocalyptic ripple effect forces Kyle to make a choice. Learn to trust again, or risk losing everyone she cares about, including Dalton.

finalrevised copy

Mind Sweeper is Book One in the Mind Sweeper Series.

Book Two – The Fledgling, A Mind Sweeper Novella (coming October 2014)

 

 

 

Book Two – The Fledgling, A Mind Sweeper Novella (coming October 2014)

 

fledgling cover compressed

Re-branding and Fall Clean-up

Fall 2004 015Don’t you just love October? A bit of Indian Summer to go with the beautiful autumn  foliage makes it the perfect time for some fall clean-up–although the past few days have felt more like May than October. I’m afraid I’ve spent far too much time indoors lately instead of being out enjoying this fabulous weather. I did get out for one last kayak trip this week, but yes, I’ll admit that I’ve been dragging my feet on weeding out my perennial bed and prepping for winter. I’m sure it will all get done in the nick of time, and trust me, I have a good excuse.

I’ve been working hard to finish up the third book in the Chronicles of Lily Carmichael trilogy, due out in December. I’m happy to say the first draft is complete and I’m diving into revisions. Yayyy! If you’re a writer, you know that reaching “THE END” is never an easy feat and it’s definitely cause for celebration, but you probably also know that it’s just the beginning of the hard work of revising and editing, polishing and publishing within a pretty strict set of looming deadlines. In addition, I’m in the process of writing a Christmas novella (more on that next month), and I’m re-branding the Lily Carmichael trilogy.

That means new covers, some targeted marketing, and cleaning up some minor issues with books one and two. That’s right,  in order to move on to revisions, I’ve had to go back and read  WANING MOON and WESTERN DESERT to make sure I have all the details straight and threads tied up. During the re-reads, I found a few small continuity errors, typos, and some generally sloppy writing mistakes. (It turns out I’ve learned a few things in the past couple of years.)

One of the coolest parts of indie publishing is the ability to make changes even after a book is published. I consider this a fall clean-up project, much like cleaning out closets or washing windows. It’s not like anyone would likely notice the dirty little details, but it’s an opportunity to  put a fresh face on and make everything sparkly clean. I’m hoping that the combination of the new covers, the cleanest copy possible, and the ability to offer pre-orders six weeks in advance of the release of HEALING WATERS will have a significant impact on sales for the series. I’ll keep you posted and let you know if it works!

As for why the re-branding, Bella Andre once said in a workshop at RWA Nationals, that if your books aren’t selling, the first thing to do is to consider changing your covers. Aside from writing great books, it’s the easiest thing we can do and one of the few things we have control of. The market changes quickly, and competition is fierce, so it’s super important to try to make our books stand out and look professional. That’s why I hired Kim Killion of The Killion Group. She’s awesome to work with, reasonably priced, and tops in the industry. I’m excited about the fresh new look!

Here’s the new cover for SOUL REDEMPTION, the short story prequel to the trilogy. This is a 15k FREE short story available for download from Smashwords.PJSharon_SoulRedemption_200

What’s it like to be a teenager in the year 2057? Life is hard enough when three quarters of the population has been wiped out by a viral plague and a polar shift threatens to drive humanity to extinction. Adding a genetic modification that gives you the power to take life with a touch only makes being a thirteen year-old boy that much more challenging–especially when he can’t control his growing ability.

Zephron Carmichael would like nothing more than to have a normal life. But hiding out in the Northeast Hills trying to escape capture by the Industry—a rogue division of the New Government who wants to exploit Zeph’s gift—is hardly the way to go about it. Life isn’t so bad on the small woodland farm he shares with his Uncle, but he’s tired of living under the shadow of his annoyingly perfect and bossy big sister, Lily, whose ability to heal makes her well respected and loved in the community. It also makes her another perfect target for the Industry.

As Zeph struggles to control the awesome and terrible power that’s growing inside him, he must find a way to protect his sister, find a place in the world, and make amends for a terrible wrong.

You can also read Zeph’s story on WATTPAD

In the meantime, I’m releasing the new covers–one each Friday–over at my PJ Sharon Books FB page. For being such loyal followers of the Scribes, you guys get a sneak peak of the new cover for WANING MOON a day early!

PJSharon_WaningMoon__200

Be sure to pop over and “like” my FB page if you want to join me next Friday for the new WESTERN DESERT cover and on October 31st to see the big reveal for HEALING WATERS (my favorite cover so far!)

I’d love to hear your thoughts about new covers, re-branding, new ideas for marketing old books, or if you’ve ever wished you could go back and fix a book that’s already been published. Your turn…

Third Time’s a Charm

Hey there Scribes’ fans.  Casey here.

perf5.000x8.000.inddIt’s kind of hard to put into words how I feel about the third book in the Mystic Series. Last year, while I was writing the book, it seemed like I would never finish it.

There were two reasons for that:

One: I was simultaneously writing another paranormal romance –  Lachlan’s Curse (which I did complete early 2014 but that’s a whole other blog post).

Two: the book ended up longer than my target goal of 83,000 – 85,000 words. In fact, the word count after the last round of publisher edits was @92,000 words.

Because I am a die hard plotter, in my mind, this shouldn’t have happened. Obviously I took a wrong turn in Albuquerque or something.

Why so long?

Well, the short answer: that’s how long the story is. For those of you following this series (and I thank you very much!) this is Devlin Ward’s book.

Devlin is a virginal satyr who has a boatload of childhood drama to deal with before he can obtain his happily every after. Lucky for him, his heroine, Mary (aka Ma’at) is more than ready to take accept the challenge.

And believe me, it was a challenge for me too.  Even though I know this world well it didn’t make writing their story any easier. When I realized that the first draft would clock in around 95,000 words, I had a choice to make – stop writing and figure out what was wrong or keep writing because maybe nothing was wrong.

While that sounds incredibly insane, I know from first hand experience that I can be my own worst enemy (hello, Doubt Monster).

In the end, I decided to keep writing and see what would happen because I’m crazy like that. I figured, why not? I can always delete stuff later (which I did).

This past weekend, I read the book again after a final round of edits. And guess what? The length felt just right for Devlin and Mary.

So is there a moral to this blog post? Yes!

Don’t fear the delete key. And don’t be afraid to just see what’s going to happen next.

 

 

 

 

My Three-Year Journey to the 10K Cake Club

spice-cake-su-1673099-lIf you’ve never heard of the 10K Cake Club, it’s the name given to that elusive group of authors who reach the milestone of selling 10,000 copies of their book(s). Now, given that statistically, most authors will never sell more than a hundred copies (no kidding), reaching this milestone is an amazing feat. But we all know how numbers and milestones are relative, and our own expectations can often derail even the most wonderful achievements.

PJ Sharon here, celebrating with you, my dear friends, my three years as an independently published author. I released my debut novel, HEAVEN is for HEROES in September of 2011. (In celebration, I’m giving away an audiobook copy of HIFH over on my website blog. Stop by and leave a comment to enter and feel free to share the post with friends on FB or Twitter. Contest ends September 30th at midnight. )HIFH_audiobookcover (2013_06_07 00_53_00 UTC)

Now, I recall being asked, while on a panel of Indie authors, what my sales goals were as a newly self-published author. At the time, self-publishing was on the rise, Indies were on fire, and sales were through the roof for newcomers. Being the ambitious and overachieving sort, I replied with confidence that I wanted to sell 10,000 copies a year, netting me about a $20,000 dollar a year paycheck from my writing–what I saw as realistic and an amount that would make all the hard work worth the effort.

This was a reasonable goal, but one that I soon found was more or less beyond my control to achieve. I did not foresee the effects of market saturation, the need for endless promotion, or the ever-changing Amazon algorithms that would make it nearly impossible to gain traction on the discoverability front. Basically, I could not have predicted the “luck” factor.

When, in the first year, I sold over 5,000 books (I had three titles out by then), I was not unhappy with my results. After all, goals are merely guidelines…a star to shoot for. But in the second year, when I had the brilliant idea to switch from Contemporary YA to writing a Dystopian trilogy, and sales dipped to half of what they did the first year, let’s just say I was less than thrilled with the results of my ongoing efforts. I shuddered to consider my hourly wage as a writer and decided it was best to stop looking at daily sales reports, screaming into the wind about my books, and beating my head against a wall trying to figure out what the heck the secret to success actually was.

My third year hasn’t been any more profitable than the previous two, despite the fact that I–at the suggestion of Indie superstar Bella Andre no less– went back and wrote another Contemporary YA. In fact, I’ve spent more on covers, editing and formatting on PIECES of LOVE than I have on any of my others simply because I’m trying to compete in the market and feel that others do a better job of these things than I can do myself. Added in is the cost of producing a theme song for POL (thinking that this might be a novel idea and help with sales, but has as yet, not appeared to make any difference at all). With production costs up and sales down (thanks to Kindle Unlimited and the insane amount of new product coming into the market), I’ll be lucky to recoup my costs over the next year.

I’m hopeful that once I finish the Dystopian trilogy, add a boxed set or two to my cybershelf, and get back on the promotional wagon in 2015, that I might see some real return on my investment.

Lest you think that any of this is sour grapes on my part, think again.

I went into this with eyes open that it would be a LOT of hard work, gave myself five years to turn a consistent profit (this is typical for any new business), and expected that there would be a steep–and ever-changing–learning curve. I’ve had to adjust my expectations for financial success, but am hopeful that with perseverance, the pay-off will be worth the continued effort. This is, after all, my retirement plan, and being that I have another fifteen years until retirement, I’ve got plenty of time to make it happen, right?

One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned is that success is measured in many ways. Positive reviews and happy readers who are excitedly awaiting my next release are priceless in the grand scheme of things. Knowing that over two and a half million readers have enjoyed SAVAGE CINDERELLA on Wattpad thrills me beyond words. And the awards and accolades for my books tell me that I’m doing something right. Reader reviews continue to average 4.5 stars across the board.

Another important lesson for me–one that continues to be challenged daily–is about finding balance. I worked around the clock that first year and a half, typically putting in 80 hours a week between my two jobs. I finally decided this past year to set myself a schedule. Knowing that I need to work my day job at least 20-30 hours a week to earn a  guaranteed paycheck to cover expenses, I set a limit on my writing/publishing time to 25-30 hours a week. Perhaps that’s partially to blame for the decrease in sales numbers, but I will say, I’m much happier and healthier these days. Time with family and time to take care of myself are far more important to me than sales figures and financial gain. If I’m in this for the long haul, that’s the way it has to be. I’m good with that.

It’s taken me three times longer than expected–and I’ve stopped comparing myself to others who have done it seemingly effortlessly–but I’ve finally made it into the 10K Cake Club.

Cake and ice cream all around! And perhaps a bottle or two of wine…

What milestone can you celebrate today? I hate to eat cake alone.

SCUBA Research, Katy Lee Style

Hello Scribe Followers! I shared this post at the Jaunty Quills last week, but wanted to share it with you all, too. I’m here to tell you about the third book in my Stepping Stones Island, Maine series. Sunken Treasure released this month and was a book I had to really step out of my comfort zone to write. You see, my hero, Gage Fontaine, is a wreck diver which meant I had to gear up and take the plunge.

GearSCUBA (self-contained underwater breathing apparatus) diving was an integral part of the book since an old sunken pirate ship, treasure and all, lay off the coast of the island. For my hero, diving is no big deal, but for my heroine, Rachelle Thibodaux, who has never had the opportunity to breathe underwater, I had to know what she might feel like when the modern-day pirates pushed her in. I had to know the panic she would experience when she watched the surface grow farther away as she sank deeper and deeper in the dark, cold sea. I had to know what one would do when their mask came off, or they came up against another kind of hunter of the shark variety. Yes, I could have researched and read to acquire the knowledge, and for much I did, but there is just something about breathing underwater that needs to be experienced in order to write it right.

face maskBut, I‘m also a little chicken, so I took my daughter with me.

She’s a competitive swimmer and used to holding her breath for a whole lane. She’s also used to moving fast in the water, something SCUBA divers don’t do. It’s a very slow and methodical process. Because of this SCUBA diving was not for her. She kept getting yelled at for not breathing. (The instructor knew because she made no bubbles.) One time she submerged without her regulator (mouth piece) even on. I thought the instructor was going to blow up. After that she said she would stick to swimming and just took pictures for me.

SuitAs for me, I’m not sure if I would strap on tanks anytime soon again, but I won’t say never again. Writing has taught me to never say, never. If I want my readers to experience what my characters are experiencing, I am going to have to partake in activities, too. However, I draw the line at skydiving out of a perfectly good airplane.

 

But not driving fast cars. That I will do any day. (Yes, that is me driving a Ferrari, all in the name of research.)

IMG_5117

 

9780373446216 (1)

DANGER ON THE HIGH SEAS

Shipwreck diver Gage Fontaine is used to modern-day pirates chasing after his boat and the buried treasure he salvages. But when he unknowingly leads a dangerous criminal to the waters off Stepping Stones Island, he puts a beautiful fisherwoman in grave danger. Rachelle Thibodaux has spent the past year hiding on her boat to avoid the town’s censure for her father’s crimes. But when she comes face-to-face with a gun-wielding pirate, she becomes a new kind of target. To save her own life, she’ll have to work with Gage to find the treasure before the pirates do.

Amazon

BIO

Katy Lee writes suspenseful romances that thrill and inspire.  She believes every story should stir and satisfy the reader—from the edge of their seat. A native New Englander, Katy loves to knit warm wooly things. She enjoys traveling the side-roads and exploring the locals’ hideaways.  A homeschooling mom of three competitive swimmers, Katy often writes from the stands while cheering them on.  Visit Katy at:  www.KatyLeeBooks.com. There you will find FB and Twitter links to connect with Katy further.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Welcome friends! Casey here.

Technically, I don’t get a summer vacation but I do have a boat load of vacation time (thanks to twenty-five years with the same employer).

So guess what?  Have you ever been cornered by someone eager to share their vacation photos?

Yes? No?

Well, I’m about to do that to you right now! Seriously, it’s hard to believe another summer has come and gone. While I did find time to pen another novel (see #2), I also made sure to have plenty of fun too! Without further ado, I present – my summer in pictures.

1. May – Sheep shearing at Old Sturbridge Village! Yes, May is not technically summer yet, but my kids college classes were over so close enough. Sheep Shearing2. JuneOver Easy was well underway thanks to a helping hand from Scrivener. I’m happy to report that I finished the first draft by the end of July and it’s currently in the hands of my beta readers. The photo below is from a night at Muse Paint Bar with my writer friends. The painting on the left is mine.Muse Paint Bar3. JulyConnectiCon 2014 KICKED ASS. For three glorious days, my family was knee-deep in geeky heaven. The highlights for me and Hubby – meeting Rob Paulsen and Maurice LaMarche. You may recognize their voices from Pinky & the Brain. They were personable and during their panels – freaking hysterical.Pinky & the BrainThe boys were enamored of Lauren Landa – famous for voicing Annie in Attack on Titan. Look at her. She’s gorgeous.Lauren LandaAnd once again the costumes were amazing. These are some of my favorites.Fro- ZoneToothlessClassic CybermanSeriously – attend this convention! There is so much to do and the Connecticut Convention Center is a great venue.

4. AugustRedcoats & Rebels. Another fun year even though it was a big soggy in the morning. The rain made for light crowds at first but we still had fun. By day’s end, the sun appeared and we captured some awesome battles pictures.IMG_0639IMG_0504IMG_0379Ahh. So much fun. Well, back to writing. I have another book to plot and a few to edit. For more photos, check out my Pinterst page. Thanks for stopping by. I hope everyone had a great summer too.

If you have a moment, please share your favorite summer time moment.

%d bloggers like this: