Tag Archives: Savage Cinderella

February: The Gateway to Spring

Hello Dear Readers,

PJ Sharon here at the end of this brisk and snowy January. I’m happy to see more daylight and looking forward to that first sunny seventy degree day that gives me hope for an early spring. I don’t generally put much faith in Punxsutawney Phil, but we often get enough of a warm up in February to warrant a day trip to the beach.

As I greet the second month of 2015–my official birthday and “gateway to Spring” month–I’m busy working on those new goals and projects I set at the beginning of January. I’ll spend some time this month helping friends promote their books, participate in a couple of multi-author events, and spend my birthday with a few close friends for an Outlander party, where I’ll share all eight episodes of the first half of season one in marathon fashion, serving wine and cheese, and hanging out in my jammies with Jamie, Claire, and the gang. I know…I need to get a real life, LOL, but Diana Gabaldon’s work has been an inspiration to me as a writer and the STARZ adaptation of the book has, thus far, captivated me!

If you’re wondering what kind of multi-author events I have planned, check these out. (Bookmark the following sites and come back to them to enter the giveaways once the events go live, or stop by my website and sign up for my blog or newsletter, and notification will come right to your inbox).

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I’ll be celebrating my mutual love of romance with the authors of Addictive Reads. Between February 13-15th, we’ll be sharing in the Gifts of Love Blog Hop, and offering readers a chance to win a $50 dollar, or one of two $25 dollar gift cards, as well as prizes at the individual author sites. boaw-logo-2015-original

Later in the month, I’ll be participating in the Beauty of a Woman BlogFest, where I’ll be posting on my blog, along with bloggers and writers from all over the world, talking about some facet of beauty as we know it. My post will be a letter with advice from me to my teen self. That should be interesting! You can check out all the blog posts between February 23 and March 1st. Make sure you make the rounds to all the participating author’s blogs for inspiration and prizes.

On the writing front, I’ll be working on my non-fiction book, ERGONOMICS and Self-care (A practical guide for writers, readers, desk jockeys, and couch potatoes). I’m still in the beginning stages, but it’s coming along nicely so far and I’m having much more fun writing it than I thought I would. On the fiction side, I’m planning a series of novellas to go with SAVAGE CINDERELLA, which has almost 3 million reads on Wattpad. My Wattpad followers love, love, love Brinn and her journey of survival. I look forward to revisiting these characters and creating further adventures for her supporters.

In keeping with my health and wellness goals in 2015, I’ll be taking myself to the beach for my birthday and then attending a four day Qi-Gong workshop at the end of the month. The workshop will consist of training in the ways of movement and breath work, nutritional healing, and energy balancing. Since I’m all about the multi-tasking, it will also help me meet my continuing education credits for my massage therapy license. Professional development is at the forefront of my goals this year. Whether attending writing conferences or healing workshops, sharing time with like-minded individuals is always so energizing! I’m sure the workshop will be the perfect opportunity to help me usher in Spring.

What are you up to in this coming month? Are you getting cabin fever? What do you do to beat the winter doldrums?

Killer First Lines

PJ Sharon here, chatting today about “Killer First Lines”. So what constitutes a great first line? Is it action-packed? Does it evoke emotion or imply conflict? Maybe it sets the scene or reveals the tone of your story. Or does an awesome first line combine all of these elements and more in order to grab the reader and compel them to read on? Consider these first lines:

1)      It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. —Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (1813)

2)      It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. —George Orwell, 1984 (1949)

3)      I am an invisible man. —Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (1952)

4)      You don’t know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain’t no matter. —Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885)

5)      If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. —J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye (1951)

6)      Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. —Charles Dickens, David Copperfield (1850)

These classic first lines might seem antiquated in terms of today’s genre fiction standards and rules, but they remain powerful examples of compelling prose. They say something about the author, expressing their unique voice, and setting the tone for what’s to come. They inherently ask a story question and open the eyes of the reader to a new world in which the author’s imagination comes to life on the page.

I spend a good deal of time contemplating first lines. I want my first line to pose a question to the reader—a question that compels them to read on and keep turning pages until that question is ultimately answered at the end of the story. In my current WIP, PIECES OF LOVE, the first line is, I’ve heard it said that it takes twenty-one days to make or break a habit. Hopefully that makes you wonder what habit our teen character must break. Maybe you’re asking what good habit she would like to adopt, and why she would be concerned about making or breaking a habit in the first place.

Here are a few more first lines. These are from more recent books and by authors some of you will recognize. Analyze each of them, not for what they say, but for what they tell you about the author and the story.

1)      The day Honor Grace Holland turned thirty-five, she did what she always did on her birthday. She got a pap smear. Kristan Higgins, The Perfect Match, 2013

2)      My fingers drum into the desktop, beating out the rhythm of my hammering thoughts. TL Costa, Playing Tyler, 2013

3)      The Garretts were forbidden from the start. Huntley Fitzpatrick, My Life Next Door, 2012.

4)     He lifted the limp body out of the trunk, wrapped the girl in a woolen blanket, and tossed her like a rag doll over his shoulder. PJ Sharon, Savage Cinderella, 2012

5)      I’m a liar. I know it. I hate it. And I can’t seem to help myself. PJ Sharon, On Thin Ice, 2011.

Yes, I realize those last two are mine, but they are, nonetheless, decent examples of first lines that hopefully compel readers to read on. Notice the tone in each of the above first lines. With Kristan Higgins books, you know you’re in for some laughs and you can bet that every reader who read that first line had an instant smile plastered on their face. TL Costa’s book, PLAYING TYLER, puts you squarely into the mind of a teenage boy with ADHD. You can hear the noise in his head as he struggles to find focus. And in Huntley Fitzpatrick’s contemporary YA romance, you can feel that you are in for heartache and conflict based on this enticing first line that immediately makes you want to know the Garretts.

Savage Cinderella FINAL 200x300

The opening line of SAVAGE CINDERELLA gives you a chilling look into the calculated actions of a serial killer and makes you instantly care for that little girl and wonder what happens to her next.

And in ON THIN ICE, teen readers are faced with a mirror into their own lives. What teenager can’t relate to the ever-tempting desire to lie?

on thin ice front cover jpg

Look at books you love. Analyze them for how that first line makes you feel. Does it propel the story forward? Does it grab you and pose a question that you have to know the answer to? In my opinion, as long as the first line makes the reader a) think, b) care about the story/character, and c) read on, the author has done their job.

Have you written any fabulous first lines you’d like to share? Can you think of any books you’ve read that had a killer first line?

Shameless Plug for your Vote! by Katy Lee

Hello Scribes’ Fans! Great news! Two Scribes have been nominated for a RONE Award through InD’Tale Magazine! That means, both PJ Sharon and I have novels that need your vote to push us into the next round of judging.

Voting is simple. You get one vote for each category. Mine is Real Virtue in the Inspirational Category.RealVirtue3_850


PJ Sharon’s novel, Savage Cinderella, is nominated in the Young Adult Category. (And deserves to be there, for sure!)Savage Cinderella FINAL 200x300


To cast your vote, click here: http://indtale.com/rone-awards/2012/week-6

The magazine does require you to register, so voting stays legit and people can’t vote repeatedly. Let’s keep things fair. The other option, if you don’t want to register, is to mail your vote in. But all votes must be in by June 1st.

Winners will be announced in August, so here’s hoping!

And whether you vote or not, know the Scribes appreciate your dedication to us and this blog and our work. Without you, we would just be talking to ourselves.

If you want a little more detail on our nominated stories, below are the back cover blurbs. We encourage you to read them if you haven’t had the chance yet.


In a virtual reality game where she can fly, someone is aiming to take her down. Mel Mesini is a New York City restaurateur and an avid virtual reality world traveler. She’s risen above her misfit life and now bears a striking resemblance to her glamorous gaming avatar. But her successful life-both online and in reality-takes a swerve the night her father is seriously injured in a hit-and-run. Mel is careened back to her judgmental hometown, where being the daughter of the town’s crazy lady had made her the outcast she was. To make matters worse, Officer Jeremy Stiles, the man whose harsh, rejecting words had cut her the deepest, is heading the investigation. Jeremy knows he hurt Mel and attempts to make amends by finding her father’s assailant. When he realizes she’s the actual target, his plan for reconciliation turns to one of protection-whether she wants his help or not. What he wants are answers, especially about this online game she plays. Is it a harmless pastime as she says? Or is she using it to cover something up? As a faceless predator destroys the things that matter to her, Jeremy knows he’s running out of time before she loses the one thing that matters most-her real life.


Eighteen year-old Brinn Hathaway has survived alone in an abandoned cabin in the High Country of North Georgia since she was a child. If her life is lonely and less than complete, at least she is safe from the man who kidnapped her, held her captive, and left her for dead in a shallow grave in the mountains. She believes that her parents are dead, the police are her enemy, and that if she returns to the world, her tormentor will find her. With the help of some unlikely friends, she has what she needs to survive, but is surviving enough? Life takes a turn when a young nature photographer, Justin Spencer—in pursuit of the fabled Wild Child—captures her on film. While chasing the story of a lifetime, Justin is injured and Brinn comes to his rescue. The two build a tentative friendship, but with his own violent past, an abusive alcoholic father, and a mother he couldn’t protect, he must decide if proving himself is worth betraying the trust of the girl he has vowed to help. Trust is a commodity that Brinn has been unable to afford. Can the kindness and gentle touch of a stranger break through the wall she has built around her heart? After half a lifetime of living in isolation and fear, Brinn must decide if leaving the safety of her remote cabin is worth the hope—and danger—that may await her.
(See? What did I tell ya? Well Deserved! Congratulations, PJ!)
For fans who are up for Tweeting or Sharing, we appreciate it, and to make it easy for you, here’s a Tweet:


2 RONE Award nominees need your vote. http://tinyurl.com/ppfshf3 @KatyLeeBooks & @PJSharon thank you for voting 4 REAL VIRTUE/SAVAGE CINDERELLA

A New Face for a New Year

PJ Sharon here wishing all you Scribe’s followers a Happy New Year!

We are so thankful for your support over the past year and hope you’ll continue to join us for fun, informative, and entertaining posts about writing, publishing, and all things books. You’ll be treated to an occasional secret recipe, guest authors, interviews with industry professionals, reviews of our favorite books, and tips on everything from  craft to the everyday pitfalls of trying to manage this crazy writer’s life.

As the first Scribe to post in 2013, I’d like to talk about the most important selling point of a well-written book–aside from it being well-written, that is.

In this day of digital publishing, when as many as 350,000 new books a year are put in front of readers, the burning question is, what will help your book to stand out in the deluge? I can’t help but think the answer goes back to the basics. Most of us judge a book first by its cover, then by the blurb, and then by reading the first page or so. Most readers, many who are buying from their e-reading devices, only see a thumbnail version of a book cover and often decide to look closer only if something about that tiny image pulls them in. Having a breathtaking cover, a well-written and captivating blurb (back cover description), and a grabber of a first line can only up your chances at being noticed.

As you may know, I had moderate success with a FREE promotion last week and I think the results prove my point.  After having my cover redone by a professional cover artist, downloads for Heaven is for Heroes outnumbered my previous bestseller, On Thin Ice, 3 to 1. You can read about my results here.  Since the only thing I did differently to showcase Heaven is for Heroes was a $5 paid ad on Facebook, I’m betting that the new cover had something to do with the increased numbers. My results tell me two things. Facebook ads do work, and cover art matters. Either way, I took the hint and had a new cover made for Savage Cinderella. **Incidentally, I did see a small bump in sales this week after my FREE days, so IMO it’s still worth hopping on the KDP Select gravy train if you’re looking for a boost in sales and visibility.

Although I’d had lots of feedback from friends and fellow writers who liked the original cover, the black and white just didn’t stand out on the thumbnail version. The title and author name didn’t “pop,” and the image didn’t really give a clear impression of the genre or the story, at least not when competing against the cream of the crop with their photoshopped masterpieces.SC SW cover

One of the benefits of independent publishing is that we can easily adapt and change with the market. Young adult cover art has evolved over the past year or two, leaning toward “darker” images, bolder colors, haunted faces with intense expressions, and beautiful young men and women looking tormented but relatable on the covers. The tone of a book should be clearly expressed through the cover art, and there should be some hint as to what the story will entail via the title fonts, tone, and cover image. I’m hoping that my new cover does all of those things, perhaps even tapping into a new readership who previously may have overlooked the other cover simply because it didn’t stand out enough or they didn’t “get” a feel for the book.

There’s no doubt that I’ll run across those who would rather not see a face on the cover, preferring the character’s features be left to the imagination, but the idea is to make an impression–to grab a browsing reader and make them look twice. If you’ve read the book you’ll probably understand why this image is so powerful. If you haven’t read the book, you can find it on Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords, or you can read a chapter a week for FREE on Wattpad.

As always, I’d love your feedback.

Savage Cinderella WEBSITE USEThis cover is the work of Melody Simmons, who also did my Heaven is for Heroes and Waning Moon covers. She is super easy to work with and reasonably priced, not to mention, fast. She had this cover and my HIFH cover back to me in a day or two, offering me several options from which to choose, and working with my suggestions to get to the look I wanted.

I hope you’re looking forward to 2013 as much as I am. I have a feeling it’s going to be a stellar year for the Scribes and we’d love for you all to share the journey with us.

Blessings of good health, peace, prosperity, balance, and harmony to all,


Do you have any exciting plans for the coming year? What do you think about trends in cover art? Too many faces on YA covers, or do you like to see those smoldering and desperate looks?

Marketing Makeover

As the end of 2012 looms on the horizon, I’ve been working on my first quarter marketing plan for 2013. Being a relative newbie to indie-publishing with much more to learn, I’ve been studying the results of my first year efforts, and in retrospect, I can say I’ve definitively learned one thing. Well, I’ve learned a LOT actually, but one thing in particular stands out for me. I’ve learned that there are no constants in this business. What worked for one book didn’t work for others. What worked yesterday might not work today, and no matter how hard I work, there is an element of luck and timing that I have no control over. PJ Sharon here, welcoming you to the Writing Secrets of Seven Scribes. Today, I’ll be sharing what I think is a more focused approach than my previous “throw everything at the wall and see what sticks” marketing plan.

Not that I haven’t had some moderate success with this approach, but like any business, the only way I can survive is if I trim the fat so to speak, and look for areas where I am wasting my time, effort, and resources. To that end, here is what I plan to do differently in 2013.

1) KDP Select-The exclusive 90 day enrollment that I did last spring with Amazon for Savage Cinderella was by far the most successful (at least in the short term) promotional tool I found. With 39,000 downloads, a temporary spot on the top 100 list, and a significant uptick in sales for several weeks after my FREE days, I felt like I was seeing some real progress forward. However, shortly after coming off the Select program, my sales declined in June, and the numbers tumbled every month after that for my first three books. I heard from industry veterans that the best way to rebound was to publish another book, which I did in September. Despite a month long blog tour and several group promotions, I have not seen much improvement in sales since then.

I resisted continuing with the KDP Select program because I didn’t like the idea of exclusivity, and I was hearing that results for the Select program had reportedly not been as good as they were last spring. That being said, I’ve decided to take the plunge again—for several reasons. I would be foolish not to tap into the Amazon pot that is set aside monthly to be divided amongst Select participants, paid out for “borrows” from the Kindle Lending Library. With 1.5 million dollars available for December (twice the norm), “borrows” should offer authors a nice Christmas bonus. Being able to offer my books for FREE for five days during that 90 day period without jumping through all the hoops of playing the “price matching” game is a simple and effective marketing tool. It also helps me to increase my reader base and my visibility, which are probably the greatest challenges that an author must focus on.

So I’ve revamped my cover for Heaven is for Heroes Heaven is for Heroes 72 dpi 600x900 WEBSITE USEand enrolled both it, and On Thin Ice, into the program for the next 90 days. That means Only Savage Cinderella and Waning Moon are available on all platforms. If all goes well, when my 90 days are up, HIFH and OTI will go back onto all distribution channels and I’ll put Waning Moon into the Select program for a few months prior to the release of Western Desert, book two in the trilogy. I hate feeding the Amazon “monster,” but until I see real sales on B&N et al. I can’t pass up the opportunity. I literally have made an average of $15 a month from B&N—and less through Smashwords–hardly worth giving up potentially hundreds of sales through Amazon.

This is where I was supposed to mention earlier that both Heaven is for Heroes and On Thin Ice will be available for FREE on Amazon this Friday and Saturday, December 22-23. If you haven’t read them, I’d love it if you would download them or tell anyone you know who might enjoy some YA romance drama. The more downloads I have, the closer I’ll get to that top 100 list so all those new Kindle owners can find me after Christmas. I appreciate it!

2) I’ll keep exploring available social media platforms-I now have almost 500 FB likes and nearly 1000 Twitter followers, which is where I have put my focus over the past year. I’m not sure how that translates directly to sales, but it sure helps me connect with some great authors, bloggers, readers, reviewers, industry professionals, and some all-around awesome people. Since word of mouth is still the best advertising, it’s clear that social media is here to stay and is a useful medium to help get the word out. I would like to try to focus on finding what works for me and best helps me connect with my target audience. That will include more time on sites like Good reads, Pinterest, Tumbler, Wattpad, and Kindle Boards.

3) Budget funds for paid advertisements and production costs. Short cuts are not the way to go in this business. It’s a very competitive industry and becoming more so every day. Hiring a cover artist, quality editors, and paying for advertising that has proven to be effective are worth budgeting funds for. My husband and I doing everything ourselves at first seemed like a way to save money and maintain control of my product, but in the long run, I can see I didn’t give my books their due.

The nice thing about Indie publishing is that I can make changes whenever I want. The books won’t be taken off the market if they don’t sell in a month or two. My backlist can become my front list if I want to start a new advertising campaign and change up the cover, try a new venue, or target specific groups of potential readers. The sky is the limit, but it all costs money, so I’ve realized that I have to budget money to give the books their best chance to succeed.

4) More than anything, though, I’d like to become more organized about my time management-This is a business. But without writing good books in a timely manner, I will have no business. That means that the writing has to come first. I’m not kidding myself into thinking I’ll be able to keep it all under perfect control, but I will budget my time differently, allowing for 50-60% of my time to go towards production of new material, with only 40% of my time spent on administrative details.

There have been times over the past year where I haven’t written a word on a WIP for weeks because of getting caught up in all the crazy business chores and responsibilities. I’m finally beginning to let go of all that, and bring my focus back to the writing. If it means less time building my network or promoting the books, then so be it. And if I only get one quality book out this year, then that’s okay with me, too–though I’m planning for two and possibly another short story.

Most importantly, staying healhy, sane, and having some fun along the way is much more important to me than sales figures these days. When I start stressing about all the “to-do’s,” I remind myself to relax and enjoy the ride. You never know what’s going to come over that next big hill.

What will you do differently this year?