The Series You’re Not Reading

Have you heard of Hart Johnson’s serial A Shot in the Light?  I didn’t think so.  And I also think that’s a damn shame.

You all already know that I tend to read out of genre.  A reminder of why—you don’t want my stuff to sound like everyone else’s.  I would also like to believe that, by choosing to read deep and wide, dipping into many different types of writing, things I would normally never encounter if I never strayed from the genres in which I write, I am making my writing voice richer and more varied.  If I read a steady diet of newspaper articles, my writing is going to be, by default, like newspaper articles.  If I read a constant stream of romance novels, my writing will sound like a lot of books you’ve already read.  I’d like to think that those of you with me for the long haul—that is, my wonderful awesome readers who are reading this blog post right now—are with me because I am different.  So…hear me out.

Once in a while, even as a reader who has her favorites, you just have to read something different.  Johnson’s book is one of those that I’m telling you you should.  Have you ever read Stephen King’s The Stand?  Yeah, well, I did too…eons ago.  I won’t ever read it again because, even though I loved it, it was a mammoth of a book and consumed me for days on end.  It was incredible and that story will always stick with me, but it was massive.  Johnson’s serial A Shot in the Light has the feel of King’s book only, for me, strangely enough, it feels more hopeful.  King had the epic good versus evil thing going on, but it had a mystical feel to it.  You know, God talking through Mother Abigail, leader of the good guys, against the gang of dark, led by the guy cast perpetually in shadow, Randall Flagg.  Both camps divvied up and set up “base camps,” if you will, in preparation for an epic showdown.

Dare I say, much as I loved The Stand, that I am loving Johnson’s serial even more?  Yeah, she has the whole good versus evil thing going on, but it’s tangible.  There are no good versus evil forces fighting behind the humans—it is the humans.  So, in my mind, that makes it feel real.  And her premise (thus far, at any rate), that of the one percent staging a deadly flu virus so that they can get an even bigger hold over the economy and control everything about the working man’s life, feels to me like it could happen.  Here.  Now.  Today.  It’s that realism that makes me continue to love the series.

More than that, though, Johnson has an amazing connection with her characters, and she has multiple stories that continue weaving in and out and around each other, and I am blown away by how well she knows those characters and the story.  I am a sucker for that kind of precision, because I know I could never tell an epic tale with the scope of Johnson’s series.

You know I don’t plug books (except my own!) very often, because I don’t ever want my peers—my fellow writers who pen books in my genre—to feel that they have to compete for my attention or my readers’ attention.  We have a cooperative friendship, and so I don’t want to promote any one author more than another if I can help it.  Well, that and…I know you, my readers, will find those romance authors you want to read anyway.  You don’t need my help with that.  But once in a while, you might be looking for something totally different, and if you are, I’m urging you to try Johnson’s series.  You can find the books in the series thus far on Amazon and if you’re dying to see what I’m talking about, you can find her first book here on Amazon:  A Flock of Ill Omens

Rock on, my friends, and happy reading!

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Decisions, Decisions

My friends, what a journey this has been!  Next month—in April—I will have been publishing as an indie for three years.  It is a decision I have never regretted.  Not once.  I am doing what I’ve always wanted to do—create worlds out of words…and be read.

But I have had a different and tough decision to make this past week, so I want to give you some background, and then I’m going to tell you my decision and why I made it.  Let me first tell you that most publishing decisions I make are reader oriented.  That is why, for example, I don’t intend to charge more than $2.99 for my books…ever.

In February 2013, I published Bullet, the book that made me an Amazon bestseller.  I was in the top 100 Kindle books for five days.  That was when I finally saw that maybe, someday, I could retire from a job I have despised for a very long time so that I could focus on something I love with all my soul.  In fact, Bullet did so well that I (perhaps prematurely) quit my second job, the one as an adjunct professor at the local community college.  Yes, until that point in my life, I had worked two (and sometimes four) jobs at a time to support my family.  So I’m sure you can imagine the hope in my heart.  And I will tell you this as well—if I could have sales consistently like I did with Bullet (and even with Rock Bottom), I could quit the day job.

However, since that time, I have seen sales steadily decline, and I keep analyzing (and perhaps overanalyzing) the reasons why.  I’ve tried different things as well, because my thought was this­—I have more readers now than I did then, so doesn’t it make sense that they would continue reading my work?  Oh, I have no idea, and I’m done analyzing it.  I’d rather spend my valuable time writing, not overthinking things.  But I’ve spent time doing that because the numbers I’m seeing don’t make sense.  I have dozens of theories as well, but they’re not worth my time.  My time is best spent…you guessed it–writing!

A couple of weeks ago, I got the coolest email.  It was from KDP.  For those of you who don’t know what that is, the letters stand for Kindle Direct Publishing.  I opened it, thinking it was an automated message, because I get them once in a while, but it was from a real person, and she and I made arrangements to talk the next week.  So…I talked last week with from this woman from Kindle.  It was a fantastic conversation, and she answered some of my burning questions, while I told her about my experiences as an author, especially with Amazon.  If you don’t want to read about that part of our conversation, feel free to skip ahead four paragraphs.  Otherwise, here goes.

I have been writing for most of my life and have, over the years, experienced a modicum of success publishing poetry, short stories, academic pieces, and journalism (under another name).  The novel, though…that blasted animal had eluded me.  I’d gotten some encouraging letters from editors, ones that said I had a “strong writing voice” or that my work wasn’t “quite” for them, but even with those nice rejections, they were still that—rejections.   The sh*tty part about traditional publishing is that you not only have to write your book and make it as perfect as possible, you also have to write a synopsis (and I’m not talking a little blurb on the back of the book—synopses sent to editors are often three or more pages long) and a query letter, and then your manuscript will sit on the editor’s desk (or in their inbox) for months.  Sometimes you have to send a submission to that editor exclusively before you can pitch it to another.  And it comes down to what you saw me complaining about before—I just want to write!  I don’t want to spend agonizing days or weeks getting a pitch ready for a publisher or agent when all I want to do is write a story.

Anyway…someone very close to me had success.  Finally, after all her years of submitting, she got picked up by a publisher.  She was going to be traditionally published!  Of all the people I knew personally who deserved that chance, it was my friend.  I was so excited for her.  A couple of months after that announcement, she told me about Amanda Hocking (I’m sure you’ve heard of her; if you haven’t, Google her.  She is one of the first indie authors to have HUGE success).  I did my own research and discovered Kindle and haven’t looked back.  Yes, until that point, I knew all about ebooks but had never bought my own.  Well, after reading about Hocking’s success story, I invested in several ebooks and researched the hell out of indie publishing.  I’d already written Tangled Web and had four of my close friends beta read it for me.  Once I (kind of) knew the ropes, I designed my own cover, formatted my own book, and clicked Publish.  I continued to learn and grow, but I’m a fast learner.  Soon, I was publishing lots of books.  A couple of months later, I did more research and found Barnes and Noble and Smashwords.  But you know what?

I kept writing.

I kept learning too, because there was a lot to learn, but I’d say by fall 2012 I was pretty much in my element.  I knew the ropes and it was just a matter of writing.  I didn’t do too much marketing.  I interacted with my readers on Facebook and Twitter, but I didn’t pimp myself out in groups or anywhere I didn’t feel I wasn’t wanted.  I still don’t, by the way.  By this point in the game, I had published about fifteen books.

Anyway, without giving you way too much history (too late, right?), I discovered what worked and what didn’t.  I became very familiar with the different platforms I was utilizing to publish my books.

And one of those companies was far and above a clear winner as far as sales go.  Far and above.

So, this is what I was telling the lovely (and I mean that sincerely) KDP lady over the phone.  Sure, KDP had its issues, but it was a fairly easy platform to use and I was often able to find the answers I needed quickly when I wasn’t sure about something.  Representatives were usually responsive to questions.  I’m no techie either, but I found the platform easy to maneuver and understand.

But there’s more to it than that…there’s an ugly truth that some folks may not want to hear.  But I’ll get to that in a moment.

Let me start by saying that Amazon has been very good to me.  My sales on Amazon far outweigh sales I get from any other venue.  Without naming names, let me just say that Amazon accounts for over ninety percent of my sales.  The second highest venue is around nine percent and the final is about one percent.  I’m not including print books because I don’t sell enough of them each month for those sales to matter.  I am strictly speaking about ebooks.

So my KDP rep asked me if I would consider going exclusive with Amazon again.  First, I told her why I didn’t.  And what was cool?  I was able to be completely honest with her.  I told her I didn’t like how Amazon made it that an author can only utilize certain features—like sales or offering free books or having her books in the Kindle Lending Library—if she has committed to exclusively offering her book on Amazon for a minimum of three months.  I chose in August of 2012 to not ostracize my Nook readers and I didn’t feel like any additional sales I made through the perks Amazon offered would make up for that.

Fast forward to last week.  My KDP rep and I had a long, heartfelt conversation about my future.  Remember earlier in this post where I told you that further success has eluded me, that it seems that no matter what I try, sales keep slipping?  Folks, I don’t want or need to be rich.  I don’t.  But I do want to retire from my godd*mn soul-sucking day job.  I see the potential in my writing to do that and, as I said earlier, if I could sell a book like Bullet or even Rock Bottom, something that successful?  I could do it.  And guess what?  I offered both books the same way—one week introductory priced at $1.99, followed by the capped price of $2.99.  I didn’t have to be greedy to make money.  I want my readers to be happy and I don’t want to break their banks.  And that’s why my next paragraph pains me a little, but I wanted you to know the whole back story.

My KDP friend made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.  I don’t feel like I can share the details, because it was just between her and me, but if I offer my next book (Be Careful What You Wish For) exclusively with Amazon for three or more months, she has promised that they will make it worth my while.  She told me (and I trust and believe her) that they can help me push to that next tier, get my book in the hands of readers who are new to me.  Yes, I want to keep all of you, my faithful readers, happy, but I will never get to retire from that sh*tty job if I don’t get new readers as well.  So I am going to trust her.  My next book will be exclusive to Amazon for three months.  I have agonized over this decision, because I tend to put you, my readers, first when I make decisions, and here’s what ultimately helped me make the final decision—even Nook and other pad readers can download a Kindle app onto their computers or phones or other devices, and that app costs nothing.  I know, because I used the apps when I first started publishing.  I have a Kindle app on everything I can put one on.  Please know that this was a difficult decision to make because I had to weigh all of you (okay, not all of you, because most of you use Kindles, but some of you!) against my desire to write full time.  So, I guess, if you love my writing, the decision will help you in the long run as well.  But I have to put my faith in Amazon.  Over this three-year journey, they have not let me down yet.  Not once.  Their customer service—both as an author and as a reader—has been consistently stellar and that they reached out to me says it all.  Thanks to that conversation, I now have my first Amazon pre-order (Fake—Nicki Sosebee), and I predict that many other good things are coming.

Please know that this decision has weighed heavily on my mind for the past week, and it is one that I have not made lightly.  That is why I felt the need to share it with you.  Also know that the rebel in me wanted to reject it outright, but when I took a long, hard look at it and weighed the pros and cons, I had to ultimately make this decision.  Now time will tell if I made the right one, but I wanted to explain it to you now—before I make that actual step—because I want you to know why I made that decision. 

Peace, love, and ROCK ON!!!  ~Jade

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The Ugly Human Emotion

I am not everyone’s favorite writer, and I want to assure you that I am totally fine with that.  Really.  What matters to me is that, of the people who do read and love my work, readers describe my characters and books as real over and over and over again.  They might be gritty and sometimes hard to swallow and the emotions—they’re definitely ugly on occasion.  That, I believe, is what makes them real…and why some folks like my stuff and others don’t.

I was reading a review of one of my books the other day (yes, I still read them sometimes).  It was about one of the books in my Bullet series (sorry, I can’t remember which one).  The reader said that the book was not a typical rocker book, that there is cheating and drug use…and it was realistic.  The reader also said that it’s not like the typical rocker book where the cheating bad boy rocker all of a sudden reforms because he’s found the girl of his dreams. 


That’s what I strive for, have always tried to achieve, and I know that not all readers will like that.  I get it.  Some of us want to read to completely escape reality, to not have to deal with the ugliness of life for a while.  I understand that and know that’s why my writing won’t always be for everyone.  That said, I cannot bring myself to write something that doesn’t feel real, and if that means I will never reach the echelon of folks like Stephen King or John Grisham, not a problem.  I will die proud of what I’ve written, no matter the cost.

But that brings me to what I’m writing right now.  I’m currently finishing up the next Nicki Sosebee book, Fake.  Readers have been begging me to finish it, and I have suspected that maybe part of why I’ve had a problem writing it is I’m dealing with a lot of ugliness right now.  Part of being human is that we are emotional creatures.  Sometimes the emotions are wonderful—happiness, feeling proud of something we did well or someone we love, bliss, elation, contentedness.  But an entire book of those emotions would be, well, boring.  Let’s face it—drama and all things horrible are what make a good book great (or movie or play or…you get my drift).  While ugly emotions might make for a sh*tty life, they make for great entertainment.

That’s why my books wreck me sometimes, because I go through these emotions with my characters, and I don’t want to avoid any of them—nasty things like jealousy, rage, anger, frustration, unrequited love, fear, feelings of betrayal, dishonesty, lust, greed—yeah, all those seven deadly sins things and then some.  If I don’t feel them when I’m putting them on the page (even if those feelings are muted), then I’m afraid that you won’t either.  So I walk down those dark paths.  I must.  My characters must.  These are the crucibles which make them stronger, and that’s why we love them.

It’s not always pretty, but then again real life isn’t either.  And I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I would appreciate a lot of things in my life if I hadn’t had to undergo some sort of trial to get there.  For instance, my first desk job I appreciated because I’d worked a lot of sh*t jobs before that.  I appreciated my college degrees because they were tough to earn.  I appreciate my car because I had to pay a lot for it, and it’s better than all the crappy ones I had before!  I appreciate a lot of good things more because of the adversity I had to undergo to get them.  (With the exception of labor…I think I would appreciate kids without twenty-one hours of praying for death.)  That’s my philosophy with my books.  You can really love and appreciate a happy ending if you’ve walked through fire with the characters to get there.  That’s not to say you wouldn’t like it, but I want you to love it.  I want it to stay with you.

Do I always write like that?  Hell, no.  The first two Nicki Sosebee books were light and fun.  Most of Quickies is that way too.  And I have no doubt that you enjoy those as well…but will they stay with you?  Time will tell.  I still strive for realism, even when it’s not dark.

But that’s it, folks.  Life can be ugly and nasty and dirty…and my books are but a reflection of what I see.  If you want ivory towers and knights in shining armor rescuing the fair damsel in distress, I’m not your author, and I never will be.  I won’t apologize for it, though, because I don’t want to be that author.  I want to be the down and dirty, gritty, in your face writer who is going to call it like she sees it.

And I am.

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What the F*ckity F*ck?

Ever have a day where you are p*ssed at every f*cking thing?  Welcome to my day!  I have some “real life” reasons for it, but my mood has prevailed and colored my view on everything I’ve dealt with today.  So, while Jade is feeling majorly b*tchy, let’s deal with some gripes.

You all probably know that Fully Automatic came out last week.  Aside from the fact that Amazon published the book in record time (long before I was ready for it to go live), a few things have happened surrounding its release that I can no longer keep my mouth closed about.  So…at the risk of getting people p*ssed at me, hang on tight.  Here goes nothin’.

The Alternate POV book:  When I chose to write Bullet from Brad’s point of view, I did it with the intention of not writing the same book simply told from another vantage point.  To me, that feels like a cheat.  Yep, there are scenes both books have in common, situations you will recognize, but this is not Bullet all over again—not by a long shot.  I found out, though, that many readers are avoiding it like the plague because that’s exactly what they’re afraid Fully Automatic is.  It’s disappointing, because I expected this book to do so much better.  So, yes, I’m going to b*tch, because there are authors out there who have done that—they haven’t poured their heart and soul into their alternate POV books, and now the rest of us suffer. 

Whew.  Okay.  That was gripe number one.

The Cliffhanger:  No, I do not write cliffhangers, but you don’t even know how many readers have avoided my books, thinking I might have written a cliffhanger.  I don’t know where they get that idea or why, but again, cliffhangers feel like a huge cheat to me.  I’m not going to end a book in the middle of the story just to get you to buy another one.  Even when I write a series, I like each book to be a complete story with a beginning, a middle, and an end.  So you bet I’m b*tching about this because other authors have felt the need to be all cute and clever, trying to force you to buy their set of books that probably should have just been one big one.  So, yeah…thanks.

Wow.  I almost feel all the way better now.  But one more thing…

Stupid Reviews:  For the most part, I figure everyone is entitled to her opinion, and I don’t read negative reviews anymore if I can help it.  I know I’ll get them, and that’s okay, because I do not expect every reader on the planet to like my writing.  That would be ridiculous, and I would be more delusional than I already am.  ;)   Seriously, though, every once in a while I get a review that makes me say out loud, “What.  The.  F*ck?”  I got one of those today…a three-star review for Fully Automatic.  Again, I don’t expect all my reviews to be four- and five-star.  I’m not that naïve.  However, I like for reviews to be well-founded.  Okay, so…I got this review today in which the reader said she was “disappointed.”  Why?  Because, she said, Fully Automatic was “just another re-telling from a different POV.”  If I responded to reviews (which I do not), I would like to ask her what f*cking book she read.  Did she actually recognize the first five chapters of Fully Automatic from having read them in Bullet?  Uh…no, because none of that was in Bullet.  I gathered, reading her review, that she skimmed the book and skipped to the end and felt “disappointed” because I didn’t drag out the storyline more than I did, and I didn’t take the timeline out further.  No, I didn’t, because I still have plans for Nick and Zane’s books (and those stories will take the timeline out further), and Brad, Val, and Ethan will have huge parts in those books.  Fully Automatic was barely shorter than Bullet, and—by most standards—it’s a huge f*cking book.  That’s beside the point, though.  The point is that in review after review after review, written by trusted bloggers who review books for a living, most people have raved about how Fully Automatic is most certainly NOT just a retelling.  I can’t bring myself to do that and sell it to you and then try to sleep at night.

I realize I shouldn’t let this sh*t get to me.  It probably wouldn’t, except this review will likely be read by people who really are afraid that I’ve gone and done that dirty, sneaky trick, and now—thanks to her false review—won’t give the book a chance, in spite of the fact that the majority of readers are quite pleased with Brad’s story.  It’s a story I’m dying for you to read, because it moved me more than any other book I’ve ever written.  It ripped my heart and guts out, and I want to share it with the world!

Well…thanks for listening to me rant, rave, and complain.  I keep looking outside, expecting to see a full moon…but it’s snowing like crazy so I can’t see sh*t (and I also know we’re nowhere near that time of the month).  :)   Thank you to all of you who have given Fully Automatic a chance.  I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that!

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News from Nicki…or Why I Write Like I Do

I know I’ve had a lot of Nicki Sosebee fans quite irritated with me.  If you’re not a Nicki fan, you might ask why.  Well, the last Nicki book I released was #8, Blind, and that was in late November 2012.  Readers have been itching for the next installment and I have promised it multiple times with good intentions.  The good news is I am working on it now.

I feel compelled to explain something about my writing process.  I have not abandoned Nicki, and I will see her series through to the end (which has anywhere from three to five books remaining).  I think readers feel like I have, and I think that’s the source of some of their frustration.  That’s not it, though.  I prefer to write when something flows, because the story feels more fluid and it feels more natural.  I’m not saying I can’t write when I’m not compelled to, but it’s more difficult and, as a writer, I wind up quite dissatisfied with the story.  I have written stories and books that way before, and it’s more difficult.  So now I try to write when a story is calling to me.

Nicki has not called to me for a while.

It’s been the gentlemen from the Bullet series who’ve held my attention for a while.  You all know what a book hangover is like as a reader.  Well, I can tell you they exist for writers too, but I’d argue that it might even be harder to shake as a writer.  After all, while we’re creating those characters and that world, we are absorbed by it.  I can’t speak for other writers, of course, but that’s all I think about.  I know I frustrate the hell out of my family, because I have a one-track mind, and if I’m not actually writing, I’m talking about whatever I’ve been working on.  Bullet and its sequels have consumed me.  After I wrote and released Bullet, I then had other Bullet-related material to write for that blog tour, and when I finally settled in to write the next book (which I’d planned to be Seal All Exits, Tangled Web #3)…I got nothin’.

Well, I thought, maybe I need to write someone I “know” really well.  So I started writing Fake (Nicki #9).  Again, the trail was cold.  I got a little written in both those books, but neither story grabbed me and pulled me along for a ride.  By that point, several months had passed and I knew I had to do somethingQuickies was a collection I’d been working at off and on for months, adding bits here and there, and I decided to force myself to finish it.  I had a few stories left to write and I just pushed them out.  And then I decided to try to go with the flow instead of against it.  I didn’t anticipate that Rock Bottom would be as difficult as it was (but that was for different reasons).  By the time I finished writing Ethan’s story, I had the idea for Feverish, and that story excited me unlike one had in a long time.  Ethan’s story in Rock Bottom was dark, and I needed light, and Jet provided that.  And talk about flow…that book poured out of me.

Bullet was still calling, and I took care of Fully Automatic.  And here we are.

About a month ago, I was on the road.  When I’m driving a long distance by myself, I turn up the radio and jam out and let my mind concentrate on writing.  Many a plot has flushed itself out that way.  And it was on this particular trip that I saw the end of the Nicki series, something I haven’t seen in the past two and a half years I’ve been writing Nicki.  Part of me is sad, but I’m also a little relieved, because I didn’t want her story to become gimmicky like a lot of long-running series do.  I wanted there to be a definite progression of events and a definite end.  I can tell you (I’m sorry!!!) that some readers will not be happy with the turn of events, and—yes—until it’s written, it’s not a done deal, but if it goes where it looks like, some readers will be p*ssed.  I’m sorry.  It’s Nicki’s story, and I am but the scribe.

Another place I write is in the shower.  Knowing me, you’d probably think I sing in the shower, but I don’t.  That’s where details get worked out.  And I hate that, because sometimes I have to hurry up and throw a towel on and run to my laptop to get the ideas down before the details disappear.  It’s not usually that overwhelming, but once in a while…crazy!

A few days ago, that happened.  I was focusing hard on Fake, because I am writing that one next.  I have 16,000 words so far, and I’m happy with the story thus far, but it was missing…something.  That is so frustrating to me as a writer.  Sure, I could push through and thus far I have, but I want that flow I was telling you about.  That happens when elements of a story lock into place.  In the shower the other day, that happened.  I was thinking about the events that have transpired thus far in the story, knowing what happens later on, and trying to figure out how Nicki’s story gets from point A to point B and then click!  There it was, clear as day.  And guess what?  That’s the part that makes it flow, and now I’m excited and eager to jump back in.

That’s good news for Nicki readers, because that means the next story is coming.  Honestly?  I thought maybe I was having a hard time writing because readers were telling me how angry they were going to be if this or that happens.  Again, sorry, folks.  I have to be true to my characters and my stories, and this particular story has been in my head since I first conceived Nicki—the next story too.  After that, it had been fuzzy…up until a month ago.  If I’m being true to the story and the characters, all I can do is give you my condolences if you don’t like where the story goes.

Anyway, I’m sure you’d prefer that I spend my writing time working on her story instead of a blog post, so I’ll get cracking.  But, trust me…Nicki’s coming.  Finally.  Thank you for your patience!

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A year ago, I was still a lesser-known indie author.  I’d gone about the whole enterprise the “wrong way.”  I’ve been a writer my whole life and, a few years ago, when a close friend of mine told me about the ebook revolution (yes, you might ask what the hell rock I’d been hiding under), I checked it out.  Oh, I knew about ebooks—I’d even had one published under another name with another publisher.  I just hadn’t realized how HUGE ebooks had become!

I still didn’t as I naively started checking things out.  You see, I’ve always been a writer (oh, I already said that, didn’t I?).  All I ever wanted was to be read.  And I wanted to write (of course).  So I learned as much as I could, made my own damn cover, figured out how to format my own damn books, and clicked “Publish.”  I wasn’t smart like a lot of these newcomers I see.  I didn’t network first.  I didn’t market first.  I just thought, “If you write it, they’ll read it” (eventually).

So, last year about this time, I’d started experiencing a modicum of success.  The first book I published with Amazon (you might have heard of it) was Tangled Web.  It got a little bit of notice, but it was more a slow burn kind of thing.  After it had been out for a year, I had sold over one thousand copies, and I was told by traditionally published authors that that was good.

Good enough for me, I figured, because that meant that I was being read.

Oh, I was, and I had the Goodreads reviews to prove it.  Lots of people HATED the book.  No, I don’t think hated is too strong a word.  Yes, when I started out, I didn’t even know about Goodreads.  Told ya.  I was pretty naïve jumping into the indie author arena.  But I had faith in myself and I’m driven.

And I wanted to be read.

So, the fall of 2012, I published the second book in the Tangled Web series, and I’d only done it because a reader asked if I would consider writing a series.  Everything But exploded.  It got me on some of the top 100 genre lists on Amazon (not enough to make me a “Bestselling Amazon Author”) and it also put me on several top 100 Amazon author lists.  That was enough for me to realize that, yes, people were reading my books.

Frankly, I would still be publishing even if I only had forty readers.  The need to write is that strong.  It’s as strong as eating and drinking.  Sometimes stronger, I realize, looking at my empty water glass and not getting off my ass to fill it, because I still have more to say here.

This time last year, I was writing a book I called Bullet (you might have heard of that one too).  I posted teasers and excerpts on Facebook and Twitter here and there, and a reader whom I consider a friend now told me she thought this one was different—lots different—and she just knew big things were going to happen.

Oh, man, was she right.  I clicked publish on Amazon, and not long after, Bullet gave me the title of Bestselling Amazon Author.  Bullet was in the top 100 of all Kindle Paid on Amazon for five days straight.  Not bad for a little indie author who had no fricking clue about how to market herself.  I still don’t, and my heart’s not in that sh*t.  I want to write.  That’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.  I don’t want to pimp myself here, there, and everywhere.  I just want to write and, yes, I want to be read.  So there’s that.

But the new year—let’s talk about that.  I have so many things on the writing front that I want to do, and Bullet did help with that.  I used to work a full-time job and teach college classes full-time on top of that.  Bullet gave me the freedom to kiss my teaching job goodbye (and it was at a time when I would have wanted to bail anyway), allowing me more time to write.  I have constant ideas, which can be a blessing and a curse.  Unfortunately, I have to focus on one at a time.  Here are my (hopeful) plans for 2014 (and beyond): 

  1. Get Fully Automatic ready to publish.  No brainer here.  That shouldn’t take too long.
  2. Finish writing the next Nicki Sosebee book, Fake.  I had meant to have it done a year ago (and it’s already one-fourth of the way written), but those Bullet boys have had me in constant writer hangover and it was hard returning to Nicki.  Some tough things are going to happen in this book too, and I think I’m avoiding them.  But I need to get on it!
  3. Begin the Wishes series.  The first book will be Be Careful What You Wish For, and it’s going to be based on the short story of the same name found in Quickies.  Readers demanded to know more of Jessica and Kage’s story, and who am I to argue?  So I’ve had their story rattling around in my head for months.  It’s ready to be transcribed to paper.
  4. On the Tangled Web front, I have partially written Seal All Exits.  Really need to get that one done too, but it’s a hard one.  You’ll see why when you read it.  Heather has a few demons I didn’t know about until I started writing.  She’s a tough cookie, but it’s hard for me getting inside her head.
  5. In the Bullet arena, I still have Zane and Nick’s books to write, and I know their stories.  Again, just a matter of getting them down on paper (or computer, as it were).  Their stories won’t be as dark and gritty as Val, Ethan, and Brad’s, because their stories will take place later in the timeline.
  6. Bullet related…I will be doing (at some point) a spinoff series, thanks to Feverish.  Again, lots of readers demanded more Jet and Emily, and I’m not going to argue.  So I’ll write their story on tour, and then the book after will be Brian’s story.  After that?  Well, Last Five Seconds has two other band members, so who knows?
  7. Other stuff!  Yes, the strange ideas!  I don’t want to give too much away, but I have an idea germinating for a SciFi novel…kind of dystopian—the stuff 1984 and Brave New World are made of.  But, lest you’re nervous, it will still be ME writing it.  Sex and cursing, and—if I can figure out how—rock and roll.  :)   Then there’s this zombie novel I’ve been inspired to write.  No, no zombie love.  Gross!  But the zombie apocalypse, yes, and how it brings two people together who otherwise never would meet.  Sex?  Hell, yeah!  Cursing?  What do you think?  Rock and roll?  Well, nostalgic remembrances, I’m certain!

I think I have plenty on my 2014 plate to keep me busy, but this list looks like I’ll be busy for a few years.  Seriously.  Nicki probably has another four or five books before she’s done.  I was on a road trip a couple of weeks ago.  When I’m by myself on a trip, I crank the radio and write in my head.  I had a revelation of the last Nicki book.  I hadn’t “seen” that far in advance until that bright shining moment and, oh, my God.  I think I see the end.  Still, she’ll keep me busy a little longer!

My friends, I wouldn’t be writing this post right now if the last year hadn’t been as great as it has been.  You have given me what I asked for—someone(s) to read my books.  So, for you for the coming year, I wish happiness, peace, and contentedness.  And know that I want to continue to write for you.  I appreciate and love you very much and am proud to be your author.

Rock on,


Now, for that glass of water…

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Labor Pains

Ladies, you remember what it’s like being pregnant.  Once you’ve accepted the idea and warmed to it, you prepare in many ways.  It’s a long haul, but we’re built for it—and in every way imaginable:  physically, mentally, emotionally.  Like I said, though, it’s a long haul, and it is certainly not easy.

Writing a book is often like that.

It starts out as an idea (sperm, meet egg).  It might take that idea a little while to germinate, but it does.  It rolls around in your head, bouncing off walls up there, causing synapses to fire.  It divides and multiplies, that little zygote, and at some point in this process, the idea gets big enough to “take hold,” and that is the point where I start writing.

I am going to digress for a moment, because I feel the need to explain something.  I don’t write like a lot of other writers do.  I don’t spend weeks (or days or months) writing a plot or an outline.  That kind of writing doesn’t work for me.  I’ve tried it.  I deviate off course anyway.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I know where a story is going—it’s loosely developed in my head (and when I say loose, sometimes it’s VERY loose), and I usually know key points, pivotal points in the story that make it a story.  Beyond that, though, I like to simply have the situation and the characters, and I let them tell me what to do.  If you’ve never heard of this kind of writing before, it’s called pantsing.  Sounds funny, right?  That’s because you have plotters (who, of course, write with a plot) and then you have pantsers.  We’re the folks who “fly by the seat of our pants.”  And look out, because it’s a helluva ride.  It keeps ME excited as a writer, because sometimes my characters will surprise me and do something I hadn’t planned.  I find plots too confining because they don’t allow for that.  To give you some ideas of how that’s happened to me, I’ll give you two examples, and then I really must get back to the main idea of this post.  In Bullet, Clay/Jet was simply going to be a short blip on the radar for Val.  As you discovered, he was not.  He became a major player.  Yay, Clay!  In the Nicki Sosebee series, when I first wrote Jesse, he was going to be the same kind of character—just another boy toy Nicki was going to use to make Sean jealous, but then Jesse surprised the hell out of me, and look what he did!!!

Okay, back to the main idea.  Sorry to go off course.  So, the “baby” idea is germinating and we’re off.  This stage is the first trimester.  Oh, we’re in love with the idea, but it’s bumpy.  There’s some morning sickness—it’s tough getting the story down sometimes.  If it’s a series (right now, I’m writing Fully Automatic, the fourth book in the Bullet series), you have to check previous stories, because even though it’s in your head, you know we’re all human, and it’s easy to misremember something—especially if you had to do some heavy revision before the final version.  You have to check continuity.  You also have to “get back into” the feel of the series and you have to get back into the heads of characters.  The problem with Fully Automatic is that the first book Bullet was written in first person, so I was “in” Val’s head looking out.  I only had to worry about what she observed and felt and perceived.  I didn’t have to worry about explaining everyone else (although I knew what was going on).  Writing the other books was a different story—I then had to “get into” other characters’ heads.  Ethan’s was particularly difficult, but Brad’s is no picnic either.  Don’t get me wrong—I love the guy, but this is the first book I’ve written entirely from the male’s perspective, and that’s making the first trimester a little rough.  I think I’m almost through the morning sickness, and I’m hauling out my maternity clothes.

So now we begin the second trimester, the best time to be pregnant.  Our bodies have finally adjusted and usually the morning sickness has eased off. We’re getting used to the idea of getting a little bigger and we’re starting to look forward to seeing our baby.  That’s a great time during the writing process.  You’ve built a great base for the story and it’s flowing.  The finish line is way too far ahead to start pushing too hard, but you’ve got a great pace and there’s not a lot of struggle.  You’re starting to think about the end a little, but it’s not heavy in your mind.  Things feel great, and you’re just enjoying the story—where it’s going, how the characters are interacting, how something you did early on is playing into things in the story now.  You’re enjoying the magic.

But, before you know it, you move into the third trimester.  Oh, it’s okay at first, but after a while, the enormity of it feels overbearing at times.  You start to question yourself—why, oh, why did I think having another baby (writing this book) was such a great idea?  I’m so fat (it’s too big and it all sucks)!  It’s so hard rolling out of bed (this ending isn’t coming together like I imagined—it’s not smooth at all).  Nothing fits (what the hell was I thinking when I put these characters in this situation?).  I’m miserable!

(Just FYI—Fully Automatic is finishing up the first trimester.)

But the day comes…you are going into labor, and we all know how that goes.  In the world of writing a book, this is the painful part for writers too—here is where we revise the sh*t out of our books—we might have to delete scenes or add more information to make something work better.  We might have to go through the manuscript to make parts clearer.  We might ship our stories off to beta readers for feedback.  We’ll edit and proofread judiciously as well.  At some point, though, we have to push that baby out.

The nurses (or reviewers) examine your baby, and they announce to the room the special and wonderful qualities about your baby, but they might deliver some bad news too.  There’s nothing you can do at that point except smile and continue to love your baby.  If the baby was born with dark hair and the nurse points it out, well, what else can you do but agree?  Yep, the baby has black hair (sorry, though, because I didn’t know you preferred blondes).  If she gets nasty about it, you might feel yourself  bristling a little, but all you can do is take your baby and hold it in your arms and be glad it’s too young to know what the nurse just said about it.

If you have a blog tour, that’s like the christening.  Everyone comes out to celebrate the birth of your baby.  It’s such a wonderful time—joyous and momentous.

And then, after all the fun is over, you settle back in with your family.

But if you’re like I am, it doesn’t take long for you to hop in the sack again…and sperm, meet egg.

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Holly Holiday Blog Hop!

Hello fans! Welcome to our Holly Holiday Blog Hop!

We’re out to make someone’s Christmas extra special.

With a 7″ Kindle Fire HD up for grabs, we’re bound to do just that!

Christmas for children is all about Santa, presents and family.

This year, the adults are getting something too!

Each stop will have its own prizes, so make sure you stop by to visit each one.

To me, holidays mean family, staying warm, and relaxing (well, if that’s possible).

Make sure you not only enter the Blog Hop Rafflecopter below, but be sure to enter my Rafflecopter as well (right below the first one).  If you haven’t hopped to all the other blogs, be sure to do it!  Best of luck and may you have holidays full of cheer, family, warmth, and love!

Rafflecopters begin November 24!

BLOG HOP PRIZE: a Rafflecopter giveaway

ENTER FOR THIS PRIZE FROM ME TOO! :) a Rafflecopter giveaway



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Y’all a Bestseller, Say F**k That…

Apologies to Korn, but it works. ;)

In all seriousness, I want to talk about a topic I’ve thought a lot about over the past year.  It has to do with indie publishing versus traditional.  I want to talk about it because it seems that being picked up by a big publisher is the ultimate goal of most indie writers.

Not mine.

I’ve seen lots of indie authors get picked up by publishers and, while that’s seemingly a good thing, I have also witnessed the pitfalls.  Sure, it’s good for the author (and I could even argue that point, but that’s not my goal here).  The author, it would seem, would have more time to write and have to market less.  That may be true, but not necessarily.  The author would possibly make more money (I have to guess that would be true, or why else would they all be signing those contracts?).  She could also benefit from having someone else coordinate and design her cover and she’d have big house editors polishing her manuscript.  But there’s a dark side.

I have given this matter a lot of thought.  I might not ever have a big publisher offer me a contract.  If one does, it better be a big f**king carrot.  Let me tell you why, because these are all the reasons why I don’t want to stop indie publishing:

1)   Readers have to start paying more—usually lots more—for the author’s books.  I’ve seen a lot of authors who have been picked up by traditional publishers in the past couple of years and their books have doubled in price…or more.  What a slap in the face to faithful readers.  I know we also all want to celebrate that they’ve been recognized by the big publishers who now deem them “worthy” to “play in the big leagues,” but really…what do readers get out of the deal?  A lighter bank account.  I’m guessing (although I could be wrong) that most of that extra money never makes it to the author, so what’s the point?

2)   Readers have to start waiting longer—sometimes lots longer—for the next book.  Yes, I know some of these authors will continue releasing some indie books as well, but I know of some authors who have had their releases delayed, p*ssing off their loyal fans, and I’m sure it’s mostly thanks to the big publishers holding the strings.  That’s a huge loss of control, one I’m not sure I want to give up.

3)   Writers might not have the last say in their books.  I have traditionally published friends.  Sometimes the editorial suggestions are welcome.  It’s nice as a writer to have others look over your work, because sometimes you’ve missed something, because you’ve been too close to it.  But let me tell you something that’s cool about indie publishing:  You can be unique and no one can tell you otherwise.  Sure, you might have some folks bash you in reviews, but they’re going to do that whether you’re an indie or not.  Anyway, I’ve had traditionally published friends who have been asked to make small changes—a word here or there—but I also have writer friends who have been told to change major parts of their story.  Yeah, sometimes it’s true that the traditional publisher knows…but what if they don’t?  What if they just want a mainstream, formulaic piece of sh*t?

I have other reasons too.  One is the rebel in me, not wanting to bow to “the man.”  Let me just say this—I have worked hard to get to where I am, and I don’t mean by marketing the sh*t out of myself.  Let’s tell it like it is—I suck at marketing (I know this!), so thank heavens I now have a kick ass Street Team.  But I always believed in the power of my writing, and every reader who loves me (or hates me) has been hard won.  So to have all that hard work p*ssed on by signing it over to traditional publishing seems to desecrate everything I’ve fought so hard for.

Let me put it this way—if I’m ever made an offer (and it doesn’t seem likely, but let’s entertain it for a brief moment just the same), I will have to first sit on my hands (you know my middle fingers get ITCHY AS HELL!!!), and then I will need some time to think about it.  Hard.

Because I really don’t see an upside.

Peace out, my friends, and rock the f**k on!!!  I LOVE YOU!

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Satisfaction Guaranteed…for 90% of You

Oh, God.  I wish I wouldn’t read my reviews.  I really wish I wouldn’t.  Eventually, once one of my books starts getting some of the more critical ones, I do stop.  But I can’t help myself starting out.

I used to read them all, because my thought was that if a reader went to the trouble of writing a review, it might have advice for me.  After all, “the customer is always right.”

But I’m calling bullsh*t.

Some reviews (not just for my books, mind you—I’ve seen it happen with other authors as well) can be downright hateful.  My thought has always been that folks are entitled to their opinions, including if they feel the need to be nasty, but that doesn’t mean I have to read it.

That said, I usually read early reviews.  I just can’t help myself.

And I’ve been FLYING HIGH with the reviews Feverish has received. Yes, I’ve gotten a couple of lukewarm ones and one that said the reader flat-out hated the book (she said she felt that she had been “lied to” because everyone but herself liked the book), but it was doing great on Amazon.

And then…the first one-star review.

It’s always bound to happen.  That old saying “You can’t make everyone happy” exists for a reason.  No matter how fantastic I or a lot of readers think one of my books is, someone is going to hate it.  That’s a given.  The first one-star review Feverish received on Amazon, though, left me scratching my head.  The reader was complaining that, because Bullet was written in first person, Rock Bottom and Feverish should also have been written in first person.  First off, this person is obviously not familiar with my entire catalog of books.  Only two have been fully first person—Bullet and Then Kiss Me—and I’ll even give you that a large chunk of Quickies was written in first person.  However, that leaves eighteen of my books that were—you guessed it—written in third person.  I won’t say never, but I will probably never write a book told from the male’s perspective in first person.  I am not a man.  While I feel confident enough to write third person from a man’s perspective, I do not feel up to the task of writing first person point of view in a man’s voice.

Again, this reader is entitled to her opinion and I will not address her directly.  I would never do that, because I don’t feel it’s right.  I needed to vent, though.  I wanted to ask her why she didn’t read the sample first and then decide it wasn’t for her.  Actually, she probably did, because it’s not a verified purchase.  I just feel like reviews should be legitimate, if that makes any sense.  Bullet got a one-star review early on from one reader who said she was giving it one star because others had—she admitted outright that she hadn’t read it herself.

But I digress.  The other point I wanted to make is that I write what the story calls for.  I feel most comfortable writing in third person, which is why a majority of my books are written that way.  Sometimes, though, a book calls for first person, and Bullet happened to be one of them.  I am not going to be bullied by a reader into writing something that doesn’t work for the story.  I like my heroines to be an important part of my stories, and that’s why both Rock Bottom and Bullet have dual points of view.  I am writing my first book told completely from a male perspective right now—Fully Automatic.  It’s told from Brad’s point of view (make no mistake, though—it’s not just a retelling of Bullet).  But guess what?  I’m telling it in third person, so…bring the one-star review.  I’m not changing it just because one would-be reader feels the need to be nasty.  I know other authors who might cave to that kind of pressure, but I know this—there are lots of quiet readers out there (meaning non-reviewing readers) who loved the book just the way it is…and those folks are the ones I’m writing for.  You don’t like my stuff?  Don’t buy it.  Don’t read it.  Go away and read something else.  I don’t want your business.

Okay, I’m shutting up now.  Sorry to vent.  I hope you forgive me.

I also need to stop ranting because it’s NaNoWriMo, and Jade’s got two books to write.  Oops!  Third person!

Love to you all—yes, YOU.  If you’re reading this, you’re one of the folks I’m writing for.

Oh…one more thing.  My blog posts will probably always be written in the first person…mostly.  :D

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