Saturday, March 31, 2012

Get Voted Into a Tribe!


Are You in an Online Tribe?

If all you've heard about tribes was on the reality show Survivor, you're in for a big surprise with Triberr.com. Instead of voting people off the island and whittling the tribe into an island of one, Triberr is all about connecting islands of people into communities of Biblical proportions.

Upon landing on Triberr.com you find yourself alone as Chief of a single starter tribe called "My Tribe." Much like Tom Hanks on Castaway, you yearn for companionship and wonder if talking to yourself and reblogging yourself will allow you to survive.

Immediately you begin looking for a tribe to join. Triberr provides you with a series of topics of which you may select one. Voila! You're on a tribe. You peek around and look for the Chief. "Oh, great Chief. I landed here but what do I do now?" Your tribemates are equally confounded. "I haven't even figured out how to enter my Twitter account." "Why am I not seeing anyone's streams?"

So you gather around the Bonfire and look for help. There's the FAQ, News, and of course Tribes looking for TribeMembers. So you click on a few, get invited and invite others. You may notice that it costs "Bones" to invite someone through the Bonfire. Not to worry. If you already know someone's Twitter ID, go back to your Home Page and click the Invite button and enter their ID directly. No bones, and a new TribeMember on your stream. Now you have tribe mates aplenty and content pouring into your stream. Do you just sit around the campfire and hold hands?

You can if you want, but the entire purpose of Triberr is to tweet your TribeMember's stream contents to your Twitter stream and extending the reach for everyone's blog entries to the anthill of followers every tribe member has. So go ahead, "Approve" and you will soon be tweeting away.

So, if you have a Tribe, please invite my Twitter ID @AyalaRachelle. If you would like to be in my Tribe "Indie Author Promo", send me your Twitter ID. Be seeing you around the Bonfire, and instead of being voted out, you will be voted in.

Some Helpful Articles on the Triberr Phenomenon:
Use Twitter to drive traffic to your blog: A how-to interview with Triberr co-founder, Dino Dogan

Writer's Window Daily

Ever Wanted to Publish a Daily Newspaper?

Paper.li is a content curator service using Semantic Web technologies to allow users to collect content and publish an online newspaper.

This week I started "Writer's Window," a collection of articles that would educate, edify, and entertain writers and self published authors. I chose ten streams to collect information from, and every morning, at 8:00 am Pacific Time, the Paper.li service collects articles from blogs and other online sources and puts together a my very own Daily Paper!

All you have to do to get this paper delivered to your inbox is to visit and subscribe. Me? I just hang out until after eight when the paper is generated, cull some content that is off topic or distracting, pin a few other articles I want to present and write an optional Editor's Note. No getting up at the break of dawn and dragging my little red wagon around the blog, tossing papers into the rosebushes, and dodging sprinklers and running from the neighbor's dog. A few tweets later to notify the contributors and I've got a cup of tea and my daily news to enjoy.

Wanna join me? Please subscribe here: http://paper.li/AyalaRachelle/1332951508 and let me know if you, too, have a paper you want me to subscribe to. Be seeing you!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Before I Breathe by Jenelle Jack Pierre

Before I BreatheBefore I Breathe by Jenelle Jack Pierre
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A somewhat sad, but ultimately uplifting story. Kalena was an ordinary girl in high school hanging with her friends when she made met a boy who seemed to be a sweet. When she gets pregnant, she falls out with her family and moves in with her boyfriend's family. Things fall apart and Kalena returns to her parents, suffering from stress and depression. A chance meeting with a stranger fills her with the urge to turn her life around.

I found Kalena's voice so authentic that it brought me back to my high school days. I don't particularly blame the boy or any of her friends. They acted exactly like teenagers would act. The author does a great job with details so much so that the reader is sunk into Kalena's skin, feeling her despair and rejection and then rooting for her to succeed. A few structural details with time sequencing tripped me, but this did not distract from the wonderful coming of age story.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

My Emily by Matt Patterson

My EmilyMy Emily by Matt Patterson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dear Matt,

Your story touched me in so many levels. As a parent whose little one died, I understand the endless cycles of hospital visits, the conferences with the doctors, the hope and denial, and the final crushing blow. I went through all of this without knowing God, but at the moment when my son left this world, God put a thought in my mind that he had gone with Jesus Christ. And at that moment, at the lowest point of my life, I knew God's grace had touched me and he had sent my little boy to draw me to Him.

My favorite quote:

From time to time, I hear parents bragging to each other about their "perfect" children. I smile knowing that some would look at Emily's life and think that a child born with Down syndrome has little hope for a meaningful life. Throw in the diagnosis of leukemia and that little hope turns to no hope whatsoever. I disagree.

Patterson, Matt (2011). My Emily (Kindle Locations 775-778). Matt Patterson. Kindle Edition.

I don't look at people as "perfect" or "imperfect". Every person was designed and created by God for a specific purpose that only God knows. If God was pleased to create that person the way they are, who am I to say anything? Every one of God's creation is perfect in His eyes, and I am just grateful with awe that He has blessed us with all the perfect gifts he bestows upon us every day we exist, especially the most perfect of all gifts - Romans 6:23

This is a book to be read and re-read. Your joy and exuberance of discovering Emily and your pure love for her are a testament to God's love for his children. Thank you for sharing your story!

View all my reviews

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Innocent Little Crimes by C. S. Lakin

Innocent Little CrimesInnocent Little Crimes by C.S. Lakin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A cross between Agatha Christie's "Ten Little Indians" and William Golding's "The Lord fo the Flies," Ms. Lakin's story is a chilling account of what happens when you bully the wrong person.

The setting: A remote island in the Puget Sound. A brewing storm on the horizon. Five desperate and venial schoolmates, each with their secret sins and back-luck stories, converge on Lila Carmichael's funhouse mansion for a reunion of their Thespian club.

They eat, drink, cast aspersions and pretend to enjoy themselves until a parlor game orchestrated by Lila goes gruesome. Written before the hit TV series Survivor, Ms.Lakin nevertheless presents a highly disturbing account as former friends gang up and turn on each other to ensure their own survival.

After tearing each individual to pieces in the most humiliating manner, Lila Carmichael, like Satan the Devil, then entices the victims with promises to fulfill their ultimate desires if they'd only deliver up one of their own, the chosen sacrifice.

What follows is human nature at it's lowest and most degrading as the story draws to its tragic conclusion.

Ms. Lakin's story held me entralled, without letting me go until I finished it at 2:00 am in the morning. While the action and dialogue grabbed my attention, the longish backstory near the end had me on pins and needles, impatient for the finale. For me, there were too many violins playing to excuse Lila Carmichael for her atrocious behavior, including a stern and unloving father and a weak mother. But that's just me. I don't like making excuses for the villain.

But the ending was totally worth it, sad and pathetic. The moral of the story? If you're cruel to someone, look over your shoulder, and don't ever accept an invitation to a mansion on a remote island.

View all my reviews

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Come the Shadows by Wendy Young

Come the ShadowsCome the Shadows by Wendy Young
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm a big city girl, not used to the slow pace and charm of a small Southern town, but Ms. Young does a good job of drawing you into Campbell Creek alongside of two cops, the aging Will and the young, brash rookie Ricky.

While it was hard to get used to Will's old-fashioned attitudes, I did enjoy the interplay between Will and his feisty wife Laura, who is determined to figure out why land developers are trying to buy properties for inflated prices.

Once the action started to roll, there was plenty of investigation interspersed with commentary on family values and different ways of handling marriage, children and career paths. Perhaps the story was too cozy for me, but I never got the sense that anyone was really in danger.

My favorite female character was the spunky Jessa, Will's younger sister. But the ending was less satisfying for me. There were a few loose ends that remained concerning a mother and daughter relationship. I suppose the author leaves it open to continue the series, but I'm just a big city girl and like to see everything nailed tighter than a taiko drum head.

A fantastic debut. I look forward to more sweet tea and peach pie from Ms. Young.

“Pie, Ricky-Bob, is a Southern virtue,” Will said, “and one I believe in with all my heart. And that’s all you need to know.”

Wendy L. Young. Come the Shadows (Kindle Location 221). Wendy L. Young.

View all my reviews

Selling Software and Selling Ebooks

Back in the dawn of the personal computer era, in the mists of time when floppys were really floppy, and PCs ran on command line DOS prompt, people bought their software packaged in pretty boxes off the shelf in gleaming retail establishments such as CompUSA and Egghead. Installation consisted of copying files into arcane locations and hand-tweaking .ini files. A software developer needed pretty big pockets to not only write the software, but get the media manufactured, the user guides printed, and everything packaged and distributed to retail outlets. In other words, a major outlay of cash or a contract from IBM [which was how Microsoft started].

Enter the Internet And Shareware
The Internet changed everything in the early nineties. This was before WWW, but forums such as Compuserve and usenet allowed ordinary people to hook up with developers through newsgroups. People began writing code and sharing it with others, and the "shareware" industry commenced.

Shareware works on the concept of providing code for free, either for a limited number of features, or a limited time period. The user tries the code, and if he or she finds it useful, he'll pay to either unlock additional features or pay to use it after the trial period was over. Shareware allowed developers and programmers to bypass the retail distribution channels and middlemen who controlled the flow of software to retail establishments. Programmers could market directly to their end customers. Many successful programs, games, and applications, too numerous to name, had their roots in shareware.

What about Books?
What is an e-book but a piece of encoded data? So why has it taken the publishing industry so long to transform like the software industry did twenty years ago? Just a year ago, people lounged at Barnes and Noble and Borders, sipping latte and thumbing through massive tomes of dead trees. A would-be author needed the support of publishing companies to upfront the outlay of money required for printing dead trees, distribution and marketing.

In less than five years since the Kindle was released and the concept of ebooks popularized, authors have turned to the shareware concept to market their books. Amazon's "Look Inside" feature is exactly the same as sampling before buying. Because of this ebook revolution, readers can browse hundreds of books, looking inside with a single click and have instant fulfillment to either purchase or delete. The middleman (other than Amazon) is cut out, and authors can spread their wares in front of the customers and let them vote with their "clicks."

And just as Egghead Software, Circuit City and CompUSA retail stores have gone by the wayside, so has Borders, Waldenbooks and Crownbooks. As for the music industry... same story. Information in electronic format will trump physical media in terms of cost, distribution, and direct marketing to the end-user.

What do you think? Do you still love the feel of paper books? When was the last time you bought a piece of software in a pretty cardboard box with a DVD? How about music? When was the last CD you bought? The last time you went to the drugstore to get your photos printed? Are there things too precious to be replaced with bits and bytes?

Friday, March 23, 2012

I've been Tagged by the Lucky 7 Meme

I was tagged by Angela Quarles, Chantel Rhondeau and Melinda Dozier this week to participate in the Lucky 7 meme.  Unlike other games, I thought this one might be fun, if only to find out what random passage of my current WIP would pop up.  Here are the rules:

  • Go to p. 77 of current WIP
  • go to line 7
  • copy down next 7 lines/sentences & post them as they’re written
  • Tag 7 other authors and let them know

Owen advanced and retreated, then advanced again, then threw up his hands. “You’re jeopardizing the case. Reporters probably have Greta’s penthouse staked.”
“I’m surprised they don’t have this place canvassed.” Dave pushed Owen out the door and locked it. He set the GPS on his cell and zoomed out the driveway.
[scene break]
Jen couldn’t sleep no matter how many relaxation exercises she tried. She sat on Greta’s white leather couch and meditated on nothingness. The intercom phone rang.
“You can’t come up here.” Greta’s voice screeched.

Hope you enjoyed this short excerpt from "Broken Build". More fireworks between Jen and Dave to come this Fall!


And if you think seven is lucky, eight is even luckier (Ask a Chinese realtor why). Now I'll tag eight cool and fantastic authors. You won't want to miss their Works in Progress! Visit their blogs and see what's upcoming!




Thursday, March 22, 2012

Guest: Mia Darien Hears Voices



Mia Darien Interviews Characters, not Authors. Do you know anyone to send her way? She'd love to hear from you. Visit her at http://www.miadarien.com/

I hear voices.

No, really. As a writer, I have every character I've ever written - even ones I have killed off - in my head. They talk to me while I write. Sometimes they yell at me when I write something about them they don't like. When I've really annoyed one, they might stop talking to me and make writing very difficult.

The fun part is that I'm not the only author I've ever talked to who felt this way. It makes for entertaining conversations amongst writers. It's also the basis for a somewhat new section on my author website: Character Interviews.

I had seen them mentioned on other people's sites and when talking about blog tours, but I didn't have a lot of experience with them at first. But, since I do hear those voices, it wasn't hard to imagine. Really on a whim, I thought it would be fun to keep a continuous section going on my site and invite authors to let their characters loose on my site for a post.

It's been a learning curve, figuring out the best ways to go about it, but I've had some great authors jump on the wagon and we've put together some fun stuff.

I think it's enjoyable for both the reader and the writer for a variety of reasons. As a reader, you get to learn about the characters in a very "first hand" way, and get to learn about authors' fun sides. You learn about the book, and knowledge is power. It's a way to learn about new stories you wouldn't know of otherwise.

For the writer, it's a chance to step outside of ourselves. We can have fun, let the little voices loose for a while and get to interact with potential new fans in a different way than we usually do, but close enough to the usual (i.e., our writing) that it's not scary either.

Besides, who doesn't want a little time for fun every now and then?

I've now done interviews with all different types of authors with all kinds of books. It's been great for me to get a chance to interact with fellow writers, which I love to do, and to help them out with the ever difficult marketing and promotion, which I also like to be able to do. And I get to bring (I hope!) some enjoyment to my readers as well.

I offer two different kinds of interviews. Out of World interviews are where the character knows they are in a novel and answer a set of pre-arranged questions. This is kind of tongue-in-cheek and particularly light-of-heart. I ask the characters how they feel about being in a book, about the author, and who they want to play them if a movie was ever made of the book.

The In World interviews are where each interview is tailored specifically to the character and novel they are in, without the character 'knowing' they are in a book. This is fun in a different way. We get to see more of the setting and the character in that setting. Some of my authors, when I've been able to read their book before the interview (which isn't always possible, I'm afraid) have let me "play" in their world a little bit.

For example, in the interview with A. F. Stewart's Narwis, I got to write a vengeance-crazy monk training a deadly apprentice and in the one with Graham Stewart's Harry Charters, I got to write a big-shouldered broad in an earlier decade.

These are just a few of the different ways the interviews can happen, but no matter what the format, they're all fun... for all the reasons I've already said, and because it's nice to know I'm not the only one who hears voices!

And Mia's not the only one whose characters have a way of getting their attention. For an outspoken Michal who really rips into her author, check out Mia Darien's Character Interview: Rachelle Ayala & Michal from “Michal’s Window” at http://www.miadarien.com/?p=511

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Author Interview: Terry Long




Terry Long's debut novel, The Notorious Proposal, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble as well as other distributors. Today I have the pleasure of introducing her to you. She's sort of a secretive person and not at all related to Terry Guiliano Long, at least I don't think so...

Psst... Here are the exclusives I pried out of her.

So Terry, tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get started as a writer?
Like most writers, I tend to do a bit of daydreaming, so about two years ago, I thought it might be fun to capture the scene in my head and put it to paper.  When I found out just how much fun it was, I never stopped writing or plotting...or having conversations with my characters.

Daydreams, yes, I love those, especially the yummy ones. So what sparked the idea for The Notorious Proposal?
It’s no surprise The Notorious Proposal began with one of my many daydreams.  “What would a woman do, and how would she feel if cornered into marrying a man she didn't fancy?...a man who was a sinfully handsome brute?”  And then, of course, I got to thinking, “Well, hell!  How would a man feel, and what would he do?”  Following these thoughts, I had my plot!  

Cool, I wish I could get my plot from a dream. So who is your favorite character?
My favorite character would have to be the hero, Michael Langdon.  I wanted him to come off as fierce and merciless, and I wished readers to believe him irredeemable.  I wanted to expose his true character slowly, so readers could discover at the same time our heroine does, why he is the man he is, and begin to love him, despite his atrocious behavior.

Love that hot alpha behavior. Was it fun writing him?
Yes, I loved building up Michael’s loutish character, because I knew that my following move would have to be putting him through an ordeal to redeem him!  Ha!

So let me see, you get your plot from daydreaming but you have fun writing it down. Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I should like to think I’m both.  I have tons—ok, not tons, but lots and lots of plotlines labeled by titles, all set to be written.  (My characters are standing by as we speak!)  Once I choose the story I’d like to interpret, I make an outline.  From there, I let each scene unfold and each character develop.

Ha, ha. They're all breathing down your neck. "Me, me! Write about me!" Any reason why you chose the Regency Period to write about? Any authors influenced you growing up?
Julie Garwood is one of my favorite authors.  She is the reason I breathe historical romance novels to this day.

Can't wait to see what you have next. Another historical romance?
Oh yes. I’m really excited about my newest characters. They are not your typical Regency’s prim-and-proper heroine or big, bad, aristocratically-tied hero. So far, she’s making me smirk in absolute approval while he’s making me want to pat his shoulder and say, “There, there.”  I can’t wait to share their love story with everyone! 

Sounds like loads of fun! Thanks for giving us insight on your writing and tempting us with your upcoming story.

You can contact Terry at terrylongbooks @ gmail.com

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Notorious Proposal by Terry Long

The Notorious ProposalThe Notorious Proposal by Terry Long
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Who would have thought the insufferable Michael Langdon, an authoritarian, pompous bully could be tamed by an innocent orphan maid? Instead of love at first sight, it was disgust, loathing and mutual distrust. Michael Langdon was determined that Ally Overton not get her clutches on his foppish younger brother. After all, a woman of such low estate should not make a fool out of his senseless brother. Therefore, in Michael's highly logical mind, it would only make sense to keep Ally away from his brother. And what better way to ensure that Ally would not marry his brother than for Michael himself to marry her! Hah!

Breaking and entering, abduction and kidnapping, forced imprisonment were all crimes available to the wealthy upper crust and Michael gets away without any interference from the police. He thought his problems were over once he had securely locked Ally in her room. But Ally quickly gains the sympathy of all his staff and soon Michael's frustrations mount as he finds himself torn between attraction to Ally and repulsion of her supposed misdeeds.

Ally hates Michael and calls him an ogre. She was unable to see her grandmother who was sick and dying in a sanatorium. She tried to escape, but Michael chased her down. How could she ever find a shred of dignity while locked in her bedroom as a prisoner and forbidden to see her only relative?

I won't spoil the plot. But from this inauspicious beginning, Michael and Ally begin to forge a bond. Ally's vulnerability touches a tender chord in Michael, and her concern for Michael's long work hours encourage her to be friendly to him. She discovers a peaceful side in Michael, his love of sunrises because they remind him of his father.

The push-pull between attraction and misunderstanding heightens the emotion for both Ally and Michael. Their romance gets very hot and the scenes are unforgettable and heartrending. You'll truly enjoy Ms. Long's writing style and cheer for Ally as she tames the ogre and forgives Michael. Not everything is happiness and light, but the end is well worth it, leaving you wishing Ms. Long's next book will not be long coming.

View all my reviews

Buy The Notorious Proposal at Amazon.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Holly Michael on Journalism and Fiction


Author Holly Michael
Clare: I'm pleased to introduce my friend, fellow novelist and blogger, Holly Michael. Holly is quite a world traveler and has met and befriended many interesting people. Let's see what Holly's up to.
---
@HollyMichael
If you look me up on Twitter—(and by all means, go ahead. Follow me. I’ll follow you. We’ll be friends. It’ll be cool.)—you’ll see that my profile reads: Author, Editor, Journalist, Ghostwriter, Book Reviewer

If you look me up on Google, make sure you click on Holly Michael, the author/blogger and not Holly Michael, the Porn Star. I blog about that here: http://writingstraight.com/2012/03/15/battling-with-a-porn-star/ (Um…Holly Michael, the porn star shares my name. I haven’t been one, just in case there’s any confusion.)

Picture Books
Clare asked me to write about my transition from journalist to novelist. My journey into the published world began fifteen years ago, when I quit writing. Yes, when I quit. My plan, at that time, was not to become a journalist, or a novelist. With no college degree, and three little kids, my goal was to publish a picture book. When the mail delivered another rejection letter (the rejection letter that broke the writer’s resolve), I quit. I even announced my quitting to God, just to make it permanent and binding. An hour later, after returning from a walk, my answering machine was blinking.

At the beep, an editor for Guideposts for Teens magazine said she wanted to publish my essay. The next day, I got a check in the mail from a parenting magazine along with a copy of my first published work. I guess God didn’t take me seriously, and had His own plan for me. Publishing doors began to open. I immediately pitched an essay idea to the Guideposts editor, and I became a regular freelancer for them, while selling essays to other magazines.

To Journalism and Beyond
Years later, in a church bulletin, I read a help wanted ad for a diocese reporter. They hired me as their freelancer and I began pitching some of the same stories, along with new ones, to my local and state newspaper. Then, when I needed a full time job, I got hired as a features writer by the local newspaper to which I’d been freelancing. What a great experience. I had to churn out stories quickly. I wrote weekly 2-3K features stories along with three smaller stories for the weekend entertainment section. What a difference from the longer lead times I had with magazine writing.

To avoid this post becoming a book length biography, I’ll sum up what I learned. While connections led me from one writing experience to the next, I also had to do my part. I jumped on any writing opportunity that dared cross my path, sometimes discovering diverse writing opportunities. Maybe because I didn’t pigeonhole myself as a writer, I was able to grab new opportunities. I wrote a biography for someone, was hired to create a magazine for Wal-Mart Headquarters, edited online stories for Guideposts, did editing for corporations, etc.

Becoming a Novelist
After doing editing work for a company, the president of that corporation asked me to write a script for a seminar series he was teaching. A few years later, he phoned and asked if I’d write a novel based on certain criteria, to go along with the seminar class. I was hooked on fiction.

My difficulty in transitioning from journalism and nonfiction, was learning to loosen up and cease writing in formal AP style. Learn the rules, then break them. Write fragmented sentences and loosen up the dialogue.

What Helped Me Along the Way: 

  • Understanding, helpful editors, who had patience with me. 
  • Critique groups: Internet Writers Workshop is great, but Clare uses CritiqueCircle.com
  • A Few Good How to Books: Stephen King’s On Writing, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, by Renni Browne and Dave King, The Complete Guide to Writing Fiction and Nonfiction, by Pat Kubis and Bob Howland. 

And to quote a very good author and friend, Rick Bylina: THE ONLY RULE: WRITERS WRITE! EVERYTHING ELSE IS A GUIDELINE.

My Novels:

  • Crooked Lines (Now being read by an agent)
  • I’ll Be Seeing You (final edits)
  • Another unnamed WIP in the conception stage


New Project:
I just landed a new assignment to write a book about sports and type I diabetes for the parents of children with diabetes. A soon-to-be NFL Player has asked me to write this book during the next off-season and I’m so honored and proud because the athlete is my son.

You can read about that story here: http://writingstraight.com/2012/02/19/nfl-aspirations-and-novelist-dreams-follow-the-fairytales-as-they-come-true/

Blogging: www.writingstraight.com 
I didn’t really plan on becoming a blogger, but have discovered that blogging and reading blogs connects me with others in an uplifting give and take learning experience.
---
Well, there you have it. Holly is an inspiration to us all. When we put our problems in God's hands He has a way of making it straight. I'm looking forward to Holly's story about her son. What a testament to a mother's love and a child's determination.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Best Online Critique Group


Before Critique Circle, I was a lonely writer sitting on the couch with my laptop talking to myself. I had a draft that I sent to a few friends who all said it was lovely. I began to search online for information on how to self publish and ran across a post by Victorine Lieske on Kindleboards recommending that every would-be author get their work critiqued at Critique Circle.

Without looking back, I rushed to CC and signed up. I soon found out that I didn't know the basics of comma usage and that my prose was a deep shade of purple. But more than that, I met and made wonderful friends and grew my knowledge base by both giving and receiving critiques and following up on suggestions.

I learned what filter words are, why dialogue tags do not include "smiled", "laughed", "continued", and when to use italics. I also learned the individual styles of the various writers on CC and profited from each and every one. I had my Sweet Sheriff, my Internal Thought Monitor, my David Defender, my Hot and Spicy Meter Maid, my Macho Manly Makeover, my Emoticon Exploder, my Was-Has-Been Banner, among many loyal and dedicated critters who gave me over 1100 crits.

After exactly one year on CC, I published my first book, Michal's Window. I'm truly thankful for all the help and advice I received on Critique Circle. Nobody should publish before passing through the friendly but firm critters of Critique Circle.

TiaClare on CC

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Don't Go It Alone - Self Publishing

Common mythology among agents and those in the traditional publishing business are that self-pubbers are lonely gunslingers or "does-not-work-well-with-others" mavericks. Wendy Lawton says, "When you make a choice to go it alone, some professionals could see it as a maverick attitude. Does it denigrate what a whole team brings to the process?"

Loner No More
I say, "Absolutely not!" Perhaps there are a few self-pubbers holed up in a mountainside cabin without electricity and running water, scrawling marks in longhand on parchment or impressing wedges on clay tablets, but as far as I can tell, indie authors flock to each other like swarms of hyperactive bumblebees in a field of wildflowers. The father of Self Publishing, J.A. Konrath, runs a blog, A Newbie's Guide to Self-Publishing, with ten thousand followers. He is a big proponent of teamwork and community. He donates thousands of hours of advice to new writers on how to market, hire cover artists, find editors, and social network and has the marketing success to show for it.

Talk me off the Ledge
Resources abound for the independent author. Need support for writing your first draft? There's the annual NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) sprint in November where team members can sign up, track their progress and cheer their friends on. Need critique partners and don't trust your mama to give you objective feedback? There's CritiqueCircle.com where writers help each other by earning and spending critique points. Need editing and book cover artwork? Professional editors and artists abound, willing to take work from an unknown writer without agent representation. Need friends to hold your hand and talk you off ledges? Indie authors congregate everywhere from Kindleboards.com to WorldLiteraryCafe.com.

Pulse on the Market
But what about marketing? True, a self-published author must do his own marketing and promotion. And for the most part, so does a traditionally published midlist author--unless he or she has the name recognition of Stephen King or J.K. Rowling. This is where self-published authors have an advantage.

During all the months of critiquing and social networking, a self-pubbed author has already built a network of relationships--real people she has connected with who went through the blood, sweat and tears of creating a full-length novel--people who have torn apart her work, and shared tears over a dead pet or attended an ice-skating event with. She has been sharing experiences, finding out what worked and what didn't work, and mostly what changed. Last year it was giveaways, this year it's Kindle Select and this month the thing to do is grouping Free days together for cross-promo.

There's Strength in Numbers
So how is an indie author to keep up with the trends and catch the wave of new social avenues? Join one or two groups and be active in them. One of the best is the WorldLiteraryCafe.com. Its mission is to promote great literature by bringing readers, authors, reviewers and bloggers together into a vibrant online community.  Another one is the Indie Book Collective, a group more oriented towards marketing and promotion. Many more abound, but the key is participation. Better to stay close to a few groups than spread yourself amongst too many and fail to build meaningful relationships.

There has never been a better time to self-publish than the present, with all of the resources and wonderful people out there giving their time to lend a helping hand to a new author. So are indie authors loners or social butterflies? What do you think? Where are some of your favorite watering holes? Do you agree with "some professionals" that indie authors are bad bets for traditional agents because they are too used to having their own way?


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Beautiful Evil by Robbi Sommers Bryant

The Beautiful EvilThe Beautiful Evil by Robbi Sommers Bryant
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh goodness! Where can I even start? Constance Jacobson, the protag, has such a vivid voice. On the surface she is the bored wife of an executive, hobnobbing with their wives at a boring convention. But she sees visions, has dreams about her departed Daddy and has an imaginary friend named Rose.

While the convention proceeds, Constance goes on a side street and spies a curio shop owned by a gypsy. A Greek vase catches her eye, not the least because it had appeared in her dream, a dream that convinces her it would lead to her Daddy.

An evil is unleashed, but an evil so beautiful, as of fairies and sprites, and friendship and the promise of love, boldness, freedom and a new life. Constance, now called Rose, spirals into an imagined world of ecstasy full of dangerous hot men, parties, and excitement.

But scratch the surface and ugliness and horror appear just around the corner.

Ms. Bryant's descriptive language is lucid and colorful.

His silvery voice wove through the spiced scent of his cologne and wrapped around me like creamy satin.

Bryant, Robbi (2011). THE BEAUTIFUL EVIL (Kindle Location 1565). . Kindle Edition.

I was an orange sunrise soaking the sky. I was a flurry of autumn leaves in a vortex of wind. The stomping of a vigorous flamenco. The sharp turns of a matador.

Bryant, Robbi (2011). THE BEAUTIFUL EVIL (Kindle Locations 1650-1651). . Kindle Edition.

I burned. Purple passion engulfed me. A dance in the dark. Rose’s wild excitement lashed at me in whip-like snaps.

Bryant, Robbi (2011). THE BEAUTIFUL EVIL (Kindle Locations 2185-2186). . Kindle Edition.

The first person narrator's voice draws you deep into the darkness of her mind until you're not sure what's real and what's imagined, and at the end, despite the ugly revelations and the sickening truth, the fantasy wins and you are left with a satisfying numbness.

Beautiful and evocative! Beautiful Evil... so tempting and alluring but scratch it and beware.


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Thursday, March 8, 2012

One Pink Line by Dina Silver

One Pink LineOne Pink Line by Dina Silver
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am amazed at the level of interest I had for an ordinary and not at all unusual topic. The entire story was laid out with no surprises, no cliffhangers, no violence and danger, yet the story glued me. Perhaps it is the innate honesty of the double narrators, and the interleaving of two different first person narratives, a mother and daughter several years apart.

The title of the book already gives away the main conflict, an unwanted pregnancy. The main narrator, Sydney, is the one who receives the verdict of the pink line. She has a way of being calm in the eye of a storm, strong and mature about the situation she faces. She makes the right decision for herself and never looks back, even when it meant losing the man she loves.

Granted there is no angst about the happy ending. It was practically presented at the beginning when the daughter, Grace, appears on the scene. Yet, I was still interested to see how the drama would unfold. It was heartwarming how family pulled together, and true love survived. The big hearts of most of the people in the story made me want to hug all of them (except for one character) at the end. I felt as if they had been my friends and I had lived through this experience with them.

Ms. Silver has the ability to stimulate reader interest without plot devices such as dangerous car chases, a villain bent to kill, and stupid misunderstandings between lovers. Instead, Sydney behaves with great maturity and I believe this is the key in getting at least this reader to like her and root for her. Kudos to Ms. Silver on this wonderfully warm and cozy tale.

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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Vision (Book 1 of Trilogy) by Beth Elisa Harris

Vision (Vision, #1)Vision by Beth Elisa Harris
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Layla is every bit a 21st century girl, or so she thought. Okay, so she gets these vivid nightmares, and excruciating headaches, and has some ability to read minds. But nothing out of the ordinary, right?

Layla receives a cryptic message and heads to England as an exchange student and immediately becomes the object of contention between two magnetic and handsome men. Her life as an exchange student, worried about labs and tests, quickly turns to the surreal when she visits a remote island off the coast of Scotland. An unseen enemy seeks her. Another entity guards her. Does Layla even know who she is or who she has been?

Beth Harris turns time-travel upside down. Instead of spiriting her feisty smart-mouthed 21st century heroine back in time to experience all the indignities of latrines, candlelight and fleas, she brings the past to the present, interweaving sinister plots with world events. In a book filled with magic, legend, intrigue, and betrayal, a thin thread of hope persists, that a love so rich will finally be fulfilled.

----
I only dream of a love so rich.

Harris, Beth Elisa (2011). Vision (Kindle Location 66). eInteractive Media. Kindle Edition.

Contact author at: visionseries@yahoo.com

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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Keeping Great Company at Amazon

I love these authors! And to have my book right next to them? Amazon is the great equalizer!

Top 40 Historical Romance

Top 20 Family Saga

Monday, March 5, 2012

Tracking Kindle Select Free Promotion


Tracking Page
Amazon allows you to easily track how many books you are giving away. Log into your KDP account and hit the Reports Link.

Reports are tracked separately for the various Amazon sites. You will find yourself hitting this page very frequently as the numbers pile up!







Exposure
The biggest benefit of giving books away free is the exposure you receive. People who have never heard of you before are willing to take a chance at investing the one second it takes to take a peek and click. Even better, you will be aggregated with other books that are currently being downloaded by those people.

In my case, another book of the exact same Bible Character was being promoted at the same time. What a stroke of luck.







Even better - Amazon maintains separate charts between Free and Paid books, and these are updated every hour. And since the displays are arranged side-by-side, your book, if you hit the top of the chart, will be placed alongside the top Paid books, which are likely to be very popular.

Here I am at the top of the Family Saga charts right next to the PAID bestsellers "Top 100 Paid" and next to the "Hot New Releases" and the "Top Rated":

Translation to Paid:
When you go off Free, you are still associated with your cohorts. So if they continue to do well, so might you. One of the things I did was to ask my tweet team at WorldLiteraryCafe to tweet the both books on Queen Michal.

After a day back to paid, 140 sold, 26 borrowed, current ranking:
I will report back in three days to see how this tails off. But in any case, as a new author, the Kindle Select program has been a boon.

3 days later, Michal's Window ranked above #750 with 251 sold, 37 borrowed.

Michal's Window stayed in the top 1000 until March 9th, with over 550 sold in 6 days after going off free.

Publicizing Kindle Select Free Promo

The Kindle Direct Publishing Select program has been a true game changer, especially for new authors. By signing an exclusive deal with Amazon, authors can promote their book free for five days per quarter.

How It Works
Enrolling your book is as easy. Go to your Bookshelf and select your book, or multiple books.

Go to Promotion Manager and fill in the form. The fields are self-explanatory. Type in anything you want for Name. It is a private field for you to keep track of your promos.

Notice the small print. The promos do not always start and end exactly on time.

I would advise a few days lead time to contact kindle book sites, blogs, and add your promo information using their contact form, or follow the instructions. Many sites will not post books with only a few reviews or with low ratings. These were the links I found for Michal's Window.


http://ereadernewstoday.com/free-kindle-books-7-more-free-books-for-3-1-12/6711420/
http://ereader-freebies.blogspot.com/2012/03/free-romance-kindle-books-for-01-mar-12.html

List of Sites to Contact:

I'm sure there are a lot more sites, facebook pages, twitter handles. If I missed any, please let me know in the Comments. Thanks!