Headbangers Unite

Hey…do you remember what your favorite song was when you lost your virginity?  What song was playing in your car the first time you drove by yourself?  What was your favorite song when you graduated high school?  Fell in love (really in  love) the first time?  Got your first job?

If music is as important to you as it is to me, you can answer these questions, and you can probably even tell me your favorite albums during those same periods of time.  The sense of smell can sometimes transport us back, evoking a memory that had faded–until we caught a whiff of something we hadn’t smelled since then.  Well, I’ve found that–for me, at any rate–music can do almost the same damn thing.  I can think of a song and I can tell you a memory associated with it.  Here is one example of how vivid music has made my memories…

Early May 1985.  The song–”Turn up the Radio.”  The band–Autograph.  (Don’t feel bad if you’ve never heard of them.)  I had the day off from school (I think it was a Friday, but I could be wrong) because I was going to tour the college I wanted to attend.  I had a President’s Scholarship from that school and another in Colorado.  I’d already toured the other school and wasn’t that impressed.  Anyway, I had my Walkman and was sitting in the back of the car listening to this song, and my mom and dad were in the front of the car…listening to less cool music.  ;)

If you had asked me before I looked at a calendar, I would have sworn it happened on May 5 (but that was a Sunday, so I know that’s wrong).  It was probably May 3.  That’s not important, though.  What’s important is I looked up the song on YouTube and listened to it while typing this post, and it’s amazing the memories that came flooding back.  When I was listening to that song in my parents’ car, I was thinking about that one boy who got away.  I still had both sets of grandparents.  I did a lot for a high school kid (work, theater, color guard, good grades), but I loved it.  All of these things are swirling in my head–the general gist of how I felt back then–but specifics too, like how I fell in love with the college and attended that fall, the different people we talked to on campus (a theater student, an English prof I took a couple of years later, the color of the damn leaves!!!).  This song will always remind me of that day, and that boy, and my first impressions of my alma mater…and who I was back then, the hopeful girl I used to be.

But I digress.  Music has been so huge a part of my life that I can give you memories (big or small) to go with almost every song I love (or like).  I am not judging folks, but I have seen–amongst us crazy metalheads–a community of sorts and a respect for and appreciation of what music has done for us, how it alters our perception of the world.

It provides unity.

For example, a guy I consider a very good friend used to be my supervisor when I taught college English.  We’d hit it off anyway, but it didn’t take long for us to realize we were both hardcore metalheads.  We could spend hours talking music.  One day, the woman who ran the bookstore was teasing us because we were, yet again, talking about concerts, and I said, “I know.  Every time we talk, our conversation degenerates into a discussion about music.”  He immediately corrected me and told me our conversations always evolved into music discussions.  How true.

And then at work a few weeks ago, I was giving a new worker orientation and the guy I was talking with noticed all the CDs on my shelf.  “You like metal?”  Ha ha.  Is the Pope Catholic?  I admitted that, yes, I was a metalhead and then he noticed the Suicide Silence CD.  “Oh, you really are a metalhead.”

Yeah.

Conversations and memories about music.

The reason why I bring it up is because of one of the books I’m working on, one that will come out (I hope) in March.  Yes, it’s about zombies.  Yeah, it’s also about second chances, redemption, learning to forgive yourself.  But one of the undercurrents is what I’ve waxed poetic about here–music binds us and it binds our memories.  It ties us to old emotions.  I’m not going to tell you just how pervasive music will be in Savage, but rest assured that it will be huge.  I tend to have a lot of music references in my books anyway, but this is gonna be something special.  I’m not going to give anything away, but I can’t wait for you to read it!

What the hell are you waiting for?  Add this puppy to your Goodreads TBR: Savage

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The Little (er, BIG) Book That Could–FREE!!!

When I started publishing as an indie author in 2011, I did it for one reason:  I wanted to be read.  Isn’t that the ultimate goal of all authors?  For me, it’s been an amazing journey, one that I wouldn’t change for the world.

But guess what?  I’m greedy.  I want to be read by MORE people.  I want to be read so much that, in the spirit of the holidays, I am giving away my bestselling novel Bullet, and I’m going to make it easy.  I’m not going to send you off to Amazon, or Barnes & Noble, or Kobo, or…well, you get the idea.  I’m giving it away right here in PDF format.  I wanted to include a mobi version (for Kindle users) and an epub version (for other ereaders), but it’s a security issue on my website, and it’s not allowing me to share the book that way.  Feel free to save it and share it as much as you like.

If you’ve never read Bullet before, now you can see what the fuss is all about, but I’m going to warn you–readers either love or hate this book.  There really aren’t many folks in between.  I have readers who love my Nicki Sosebee series but loathe Bullet, and I have readers who love the Bullet series but just don’t get why readers love my other books.  That said, Bullet continues to be my bestselling book, and I think it’s because it’s an emotional journey that readers have said will put your heart in a wringer and make you want to throw your reading device across the room multiple times.

If you are someone who has read and loved Bullet, then please feel free to share the news!  Oh, and happy holidays!

PDF version: Bullet

I’ll try to get mobi and epub versions up somehow, but–for now–I hope you enjoy the book as a PDF file!

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Order Signed Paperbacks by Yours Truly for Christmas

You know all those books I ordered for Rebels & Readers?  Well, they’re now sitting here at my house, and they’ve gotta go!  Want one as a Christmas present to yourself or to send to a friend?  You can!

Here are the books I have and prices.  FIRST COME, FIRST SERVED!  Once they’re gone, that’s it!

Books:

Bullet…$15
Rock Bottom…$14
Feverish…$14
Fully Automatic…$22
Tangled Web…$10
Everything But…$13
Finger Bang…$13
Got the Life…$10
Then Kiss Me…$13
Be Careful What You Wish For…$13
Jade C. Jamison Tote Bag…$4

Now…here’s the trickier part.  If it’s in the U.S., I will ship using Priority mail, so it will get there by Christmas!  I can’t make any guarantee for international orders.  Sorry! :(   That said, here are the rates!

Shipping and Handling:
One or two books to same address.  If ordering more than two, multiply the price. 
If going to different addresses, adjust accordingly.

U.S. Shipping (one or two books to same address) – $6
Canada Shipping – $20
International Shipping – $24

Extras:

If you would like the book to be send as a Christmas present (wrapped and with a card that has a personal message from you), add $1

INSTRUCTIONS:

1) Orders will be fulfilled on a first come, first served basis until I run out.
2) Please email JadeCJamison@gmail.com with the following information:

a) Which book(s) you would like and how many
b) The name you want the book(s) made out to (if you want them personalized) or simply state that you want them signed only.
c) If you want them gift wrapped, let me know what you want the card to say.
d) Your PayPal email address.

 3) Once I receive this information, I will send you an invoice via PayPal.  The books will not be shipped until the invoice is paid.  Once it is paid, I will ship the books out in seven days or less.
4) If the book(s) you asked for is sold out, I will email you and let you know.

And Happy Holidays, my friends.   

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Tangled Web 3 coming right up!

Hello, my friends.  It’s been a while, and I apologize for that.  A lot has been going on in my life (those of you who follow me closely on Facebook probably know some of the details).  That said, I think it’s a crying shame that I’ve neglected my website, so I’m rectifying that right now.

Seal All Exits comes out on Monday, and if you’ve already pre-ordered it, you’ll be getting it for the introductory price.  It will go up after the first day of sale.  I’m eager for you all to read it, because it’s probably the darkest book in the series thus far, but you know me…it’s always darkest before the dawn!

This is one of those books where I am afraid to tell too much.  There are a lot of “secrets,” things I want you to discover on your own, and so I won’t even publish the first chapter here, because those secrets begin on page one, and I want you to enjoy them from start to finish without any spoilers!  That said, I will share one last teaser here for you.  If you’re the kind who avoids teasers, then I will post links first and you can stop reading there!  :)

In case you’ve missed the blurb, I’ll start with it!

Heather Morrow has been fighting demons all her life, but the past two years have likely been her darkest.  So when her friend Katie invites her to a reunion of sorts, Heather jumps at the chance, because Katie, one of the most down-to-earth people Heather has ever called friend, is the only person she has ever felt like herself around, and Heather realizes that she needs an ally to help her out of the shadows.

Kiefer Steele, vocalist for Shock Treatment, has been battling some demons of his own.  He’s been a nothing most of his life, but world-famous guitarist J. C. Gibson took him from his beach-combing, weed-smoking ways and helped him make something of himself…except life on the road has taken its toll.  The only ray of hope in his life has been his continuing online friendship with Heather.  The two met in person once, backstage at a concert, and their friendship has grown stronger.

They haven’t seen each other in three years, though, and both have changed immensely.

When they discover each other’s darkest secrets, will their friendship—and budding romance—survive, or are they destined to spend their lives apart…and alone?

You can pre-order the book at these online retailers:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1zZ8V9k
Amazon UK:  http://amzn.to/1zpYTNo
Kobo:  http://bit.ly/1vc2cXv
iTunes: http://bit.ly/1qRT6It

Teaser:

“Kiefer!”  She looked at him at first as though she thought he’d been serious, but her features softened when she saw the big smile on his face.  God, she was beautiful, and it really was a shame that she couldn’t see what he saw.  It wasn’t just her looks; who she was on the inside and the way they connected made her an amazing beauty.  He couldn’t resist her charms and leaned over to kiss her.

She responded, and he wasn’t sure if it was because of the overwhelming relief she felt, knowing the turkeys weren’t going to chase her back to the cabin trying to devour her or if it was because she felt the same inexplicable desire he did.  Well, desire, yes, but love, no.  He was certain of that and beginning to wonder if she’d ever be able to reciprocate his feelings.

Until they left Johnny and Katie’s at the end of the week, he was going to try to make that happen.

And one of the ways to do that, he thought, was to play on their physical desires.  She had no qualms telling him she felt lust for him, so why not try to use that to his advantage?  He reminded himself too of their friendship and continued to hope that it would help her break through her walls and feel more for him too.

She clutched the hair at his neck in two fists with a desperation that told him maybe they could do more than work up their appetites out here.  He broke off his kiss and moved his lips to her neck, then her ear, and he whispered, “Since there are no zombies…”—he nibbled her lobe—“…or bears or other creatures ready to tear your clothes off,”—he kissed her neck up to her jawline and then touched her nose with his—“how about I do it instead?”

“What?  Tear my clothes off?”

He raised his eyebrows.  “Sound fun?  Or I could leave them mostly on.  I can still take care of you without exposing you to all of nature.”

She giggled, but her eyes told him everything he needed to know.
*************************************************************

I do hope you enjoy the third book in the Tangled Web series.  It has truly been a labor of love!

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Seal All Exits

All right.  No rants this week.  Instead, I want to talk about my next book.  If you haven’t heard, Seal All Exits is coming out in November.  It’s Tangled Web #3, and I think readers have been waiting for it longer than they’ve waited for any other book from me.  Come November, I will put you out of your misery!!!

But…I really don’t want to say too much about the book.  Why?  I definitely want you to be excited for it, but there’s so much in there I don’t want to give away!  I thought about posting the first chapter but even then…I want to keep the secrets a little longer.  :)

To make up for holding the cards close to my chest, I’ll post all the excerpts we’ve shared on Facebook in case you missed any of them.  The good news is you don’t have much longer to wait!

Excerpt #1

“You from around here?”

Heather looked back at him then.  She couldn’t ignore him if he was talking to her.  “No.”  Hmmm…she wondered why he was asking.  Probably because he’d never seen her here before.  She was definitely sensing an interested vibe.  He looked kind of familiar…those eyes.  But she’d never been to Winchester before.  There was no way she knew this guy.

He nodded and took a swig of his drink.  “What’s your name?”

She couldn’t help the slow smile that spread over her face.  She knew it was seductive.  “Do we really want to go there—I mean…considering you’ll never see me again?”

He raised his eyebrows, a smile growing on his face as well.  “Why?  What do you have in mind?”

Holy crap.  Could he sense Heather’s dark side?  She’d tried so hard to be good, but…there was that part of her that just couldn’t resist.  It was strong—stronger than her resolve.  She took a huge gulp of her drink and then looked at him again.  God…his eyes were smoldering.  “I’m open to a lot of things.”

Excerpt #2

Sage was tapping on the edge of the pool table, and Kiefer knew without even asking that he was drumming out the beat to a song.  Mickey was setting up a shot and, as Kiefer approached, Sage looked up at him.  He just nodded his chin at first, but then his eyes lit up.  “God.”  He looked over at Mickey, pounding on the green felt.  “Dude…look at this pussy.”

Mickey looked up from the pool cue.  “What the fuck, man?  You destroyed my shot.”

“So what?  Look at our man over here, Mick.  Tell me if you see what I see.”

Mickey looked up, frustration wrinkling his brow.  But then his expression softened and he looked over at Sage.  “Naw…”

“Yeah.  That cute little blonde waitress who’s been following you around?”

Kiefer could only imagine what he looked like but he wasn’t going to give them what they wanted.  “What?  No.  She wanted an autograph and I gave it to her.”

Sage started laughing.  “Yeah, I’ll bet you gave it to her, all right.”

Kiefer found his sense of humor wasn’t with him…not at all.  In fact, he felt himself getting a little pissed.  “I didn’t touch her, all right?”

“Sensitive,” Sage said, standing up straight.  “So what the fuck is the grin all about?”

Kiefer felt his brow furrow.  “What grin?”

Mickey finally made the shot and looked up after the cue ball did its job, knocking a stripe into the corner pocket.  “He’s right, man.  You look like the Cheshire Cat.”

“He looks like he ate the Cheshire Cat…”

Excerpt #3

He moved close to her but didn’t touch her, save not letting go of her hand.  “So what have I gotta do to get you to tell me your name?”

She couldn’t help but smile.  “I’m not telling.”

“I could do lots to you to make you tell.”

She laughed.  “Oh, I’m sure you could.”  She lowered her voice.  “How about you just call me Angelica?”  Angelica?!  What the hell was she thinking?  What a stupid name.  Not really…but stupid for her.  Well, she’d never been very good at thinking on the fly.  That was Katie’s bag.  And Katie would have a cow if she knew what Heather was doing right this second.

He got closer, this time letting go of her hand and placing his on her cheek while he brought his body close to hers.  Oh.  His hand felt hot against the tender flesh of her face, and she knew now there was no denying the desire buried deep within her.  She felt the tempo of her breathing increase as her eyes scanned his.  He seemed so sincere.  She wasn’t used to that look in a man’s eyes.  “Angelica, huh?  So you’re like an angel.”  Suddenly, her breath stopped.  She wasn’t able to pull air any further down her lungs, because this man had her imagination in his grasp.  His face got even closer to hers and he said, “God…it feels like I know you.”

If something about him hadn’t been grabbing her by her heart and loins and captivating her attention, the fact that he kept thinking he’d met her before would have started to make her question him.  But before she could think anymore, his lips touched hers.  And that was it.  If—if—she’d been trying at all to resist him before, just the warm brush of his tongue on her lips would have ended that notion.

Excerpt #4

Heather wondered if Katie and Johnny had invited the entire city of Winchester, and she didn’t quite know what to expect when she walked into the great room, but she was surprised that there weren’t many more people than she’d seen when she’d first arrived.  There were more people standing, but the place wasn’t packed like it had sounded.

There was laughter as well, and that made her feel more at ease, but she wanted to see if maybe Katie needed her help getting things ready for dinner.  She walked to the dining area but noticed that Katie was standing closer to the spot where everyone had been playing a game earlier.  Heather started walking toward her friend to see if she could help her with anything, but then she stopped cold, dead in her tracks.

Holy Mary, Mother of God.

It was the guy.  The guy.  The one she’d fucked at the bar not three hours earlier.  What the hell was he doing here?

She felt her eyes grow wide.  No way in hell was she going to keep walking forward.  No way.  She didn’t need Katie to know what slutty thing she’d done.  She decided she’d head to her bedroom and maybe come out later.  If nothing else, she needed a safe place to sit and think quietly until she could figure out how to deal with this mess.  Fortunately, he hadn’t spotted her, so she knew she had a chance of making a clean getaway.

She turned, noticing how shallow her breathing had grown, and began walking away.  Then she heard Katie.  “Heather.  Hey, Heather.  Come here.  Don’t you want to see Kiefer?”

Heather stopped.  Kiefer had been in that group of people?  And how could she talk with him without seeing the other guy?

Excerpt #5

They walked off the deck and Kiefer said, “So what did you want to talk about?”

“Hmm.  I’m not even sure where to start.”

“No pressure.”  Kiefer looked up toward the mountain across the road.  It was covered in evergreen trees and the sky above was a light blue, clean and clear.  He could see why Johnny wanted to live here.  Regular worries were gone, far and away, and it was like regular shit just didn’t matter.

Heather stopped walking, so Kiefer slowed and turned to face her.  “Um…I have a proposal for you.”

He raised his eyebrow.  “Yeah?”

“Yeah.”  She drew in a deep breath and looked in his eyes, but he could tell it was hard for her.  “I, uh…I don’t want or need a relationship.  But I’m so glad you’re my friend.”

Kiefer smiled.  “Ditto.”

“So…just so we can get it out of our systems…why don’t we, uh, explore our attraction, but…when we leave here, things go back to the way they were.”  Kiefer drew in a long, slow breath.  Was she saying what he thought she was?  “That sound okay?”

Honestly, no, it sounded like a copout.  He thought some of telling her that, but he wanted her.  He wanted her to continue to be a part of her life and he also wanted to step it up a notch after what they had experienced last night.  This might be his only chance to convince her that a more intense relationship could be a good thing.  So he nodded.  “Yeah.”  On impulse, he took her hand in his.  He wanted to start now.

Heather had other ideas, though.  “Not here.”  Kiefer couldn’t help the look of confusion that he knew appeared on his face.  She let go of his hand but got a little closer, almost as though she were afraid someone would be able to hear her.  “If we’re going to go back to the way things were after this week, then I don’t want to give anybody here any bright ideas, and I don’t want to answer any questions or deal with any looks.”

He nodded, saying nothing.  He could live with that.  And that also gave him several days to see what he could do to change her mind.

If you’re excited for Seal All Exits, here’s how you can get ready.  :)   Read or reread Tangled Web and Everything But, Tangled Web 1 and 2…and might I also suggest you read Punctured, Bruised, and Barely Tattooed?  Yes, it’s not necessary reading, but Punctured is a companion novel, and you will be glad you read it when you read Seal All Exits.

Okay, I need to get back to writing the novel.  Catch ya later!

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Social Media Shenanigans

It seems that my poor blog has become my venting place…but better to vent than blow, I say!

I’ve been thinking a lot about social media behavior and the things that drive me crazy.  Social media are great, but they seem to bring out the worst behavior in a lot of people, and that’s what I don’t like about them.

It’s no different in indie author world.  There are so many instances where I’ve made some really great indie author friends, ones I am so proud to have met and glad to have in my life.  A lot of them, though, just feel like users.  I’m sorry to be a little harsh, but that’s how it feels.  Let me explain why.

First, though, let me tell you why I think the behavior is the way it is.  Indie publishing is tough.  Oh, it’s easy to publish your book.  It’s hard to get noticed…so authors are desperate for any attention they can get.  I understand that, but there are less annoying ways (and sometimes more polite ways) to get attention.

So…let’s start first with Twitter.  I joined Twitter in the summer of 2011 when I was trying to find as many outlets as possible for readers to connect with me.  Granted, no one was looking for me yet, but I wanted there to be any and every way possible.  Twitter was one of those ways.  When I set everything up, I started following some of my favorite bands and I was extremely twitterpated (ha!) when my very first follower was Korn (yeah, the real f*cking Korn!!!), following me back.  Talk about a total fangirl moment.  I was writing the first Nicki book and their act changed Nicki’s favorite band from what it was (a secret I’ll take to the grave) to Korn.  :)

But I digress (something I do frequently, I’m sure you’ve observed by now).  It wasn’t long until I started connecting with other indie authors.  At first, it was pretty cool.  There were a lot of them who were just starting out like I was, and we shared information and gave each other feedback about certain things (blog posts, book trailers, and the like).  I’m not sure when it changed, but it did.  I followed lots of authors back, but I noticed after a time that I would get particular sorts of responses.  “Please read my book” was the most frequent one.  Some were very nice about it.  One person even gifted me a copy of his book.  Others were a little needier about it.  Recently, I was badgered (I wish I was exaggerating!) into following another author back.  I did, and then he started bugging me about reading his story…didn’t say and/or ask about my writing, instead began pestering me about reading his work.  Finally, trying to be polite, I explained that I didn’t have time, free copy or not.  I beta read for friends and, believe it or not, like to read for pleasure.  How do you nicely tell someone that their writing might not fall into either of those categories?  I looked at my schedule and tried to tell this guy nicely that I couldn’t make any promises to get to it any time soon, and that he would do better offering his story to someone else with more time.  He acted insulted that I wasn’t going to drop everything to read his book.

That guy is just one example of Twitter behavior.  A lot of authors DM as soon as you follow back, asking you to read their stuff or visit their website or…well, you get the idea.  I stopped opening direct messages on Twitter a long time ago because if they weren’t spam (many of them were), they were solicitations.  It comes down to this, a metaphor for the Twitter experience:  If you come to my open house party but you don’t even know me, why would you start shoving your shit down my throat at first contact?  Don’t you even possess the courtesy to get to know me first?  And, if you don’t, why are you surprised that I don’t want to read your shit?

It’s like going on a blind date and having the guy unzip your pants before even offering a drink.  It’s presumptuous, rude, unfriendly, selfish, and self-absorbed.

So…I stopped following writers back a long time ago unless I already know them first in some other way.  If I’ve already “met” them on Facebook or elsewhere, then I will follow back.  I recently had another good reminder to stick with that rule.  A traditionally published author followed me a few months ago, and I figured she wouldn’t be the desperate type (didn’t fit the profile), but damned if her f*cking DM to me didn’t prove me all kinds of wrong.  So my personal Twitter rule continues to be not following authors back unless I already know them somehow…and that has to be more than their also friending me on Facebook.

Facebook…well, that’s another animal.  I get friend requests all the time from people I don’t know.  That’s okay, because I know a good chunk of those requests are readers, and I don’t care if they want to connect with me as a friend or by following my page.  I’m okay with either.  For quite some time, though, I’d say at least four times out of five, one of those friend requests is a wannabe author (or maybe a newly established author).  It drives me crazy that I’ll accept the friend request and not five minutes later get an invite from that person to like their Facebook page.  A few of them (maybe ten percent) will be nice about it–they’ll offer to like my page back or they’ll thank me.  Most of them, though, just friend request (probably as many authors as they can) and then sit back, waiting for the accept so they can immediately send the page invitation.  Again…it’s presumptuous and rude behavior.  I suppose I shouldn’t encourage it by liking their page, but I do.  I know how hard it is starting out.  But these folks have a lot to learn about being social.  This is social networking, after all.   Here’s my metaphor for the Facebook experience:  Don’t come knocking on my door and, when I shake your hand, start dragging me out the door so I can come shop at your store.

That’s not the whole of it, though.  I can’t tell you how many aspiring authors or authors just starting out send me messages asking me to share things.  I don’t mind doing it when I can, but if I promoted all the authors who asked, I wouldn’t have time to promote my own work.  Add to it that, out of all those authors, only two in recent memory have offered to promote (or actually have promoted) me in exchange.  One author, about a year and a half ago, one who is now well-known, hassled me to share her stuff every week or so, and when I finally politely declined, she disappeared.  Now she’s well known, but I guarantee she doesn’t realize that people she bugged like me helped her get there, and I can also tell you she doesn’t pimp MY shit like she begged me to do for her for months.  That’s kind of disappointing.  But it is what it is, and unfortunately a lot of newbie authors don’t understand why I’m so guarded nowadays and also hesitant.  It also reflects on me when I promote others, and so I have to be careful of how and when I promote.  I’ve started doing other things now, hoping to deflect some of the negativity, and I hope these authors will take advantage of what I offer and stop asking for things I’m no longer willing to give.

Bottom line, I try to be polite, both in “real life” and online.  I try not to do things online that I would never do to another person face to face…and I wish I could figure out why other people lead their life in the exact opposite way.  I understand, as a writer, wanting to be read, but if you annoy the shit out of people, you might never be read.

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For Shame

You know, I hear the word bully thrown around a lot in the indie publishing world.  Usually, it seems to be an author being bullied by a group of readers.  I’m not going to pass any judgment on whether or not said authors were bullied.  I just know that I hear about it a lot.

I witnessed last week a huge nasty mess of one author (who shall remain unnamed) bullying and shaming an aspiring writer (who will also go unnamed), just because the young lady was trying to get folks to contribute to her Kickstarter campaign so she could publish her novel.  It has continued to bother me, so much so that I needed to say something about it.

First off…yes, I too was asked by the aspiring author if I could contribute to her campaign.  Secondly, no, I didn’t contribute, and those of you who caught my Facebook post earlier this month (my “confession” post) know why I am not in a financial position to help anyone right now.  That said, I’m not sure that I would contribute to her Kickstarter anyway.  It’s not that I don’t want her to succeed, and I am certainly not going to be mean and nasty and tell her to “get a job” like a lot of authors have, but succeeding in the indie world is tough.  I think you HAVE to find a way to survive on your own or fail trying.  I taught myself every indie trick I know.  It wasn’t easy, but I didn’t spend any money to publish my first book—not a dime.  The cover photo was mine and hubby designed the cover.  I formatted the book myself.  I had no f*cking clue what a blog tour even was.  To appreciate the results of a published book, I think the blood, sweat, and tears (and money, if need be) need to come from the author.

Again, I’m not passing judgment.  If she can get her Kickstarter funded, more power to her.  I wish her the best of luck.

But holy shit.  The behavior I witnessed last week coming from other authors was shameful.  SHAMEFUL.  I was pulled into a group message on Facebook (I’m not sure why) and then was given a link so I could go witness said author’s mean and VERY nasty rant at this young lady…and she managed to get a large group of other authors to join in the meanness too.  We are grown ups here, not Scut Farkis on the middle school playground.  I was ashamed of their behavior and left the conversation.  Instantly, my heart went out to this girl.  If I’d been able to contribute to her campaign—at that point—I would have.  Instead, I replied to the message she had personally sent me, explaining that I couldn’t help her right now but wishing her the best of luck.

Authors…if you don’t like something and you feel like being nasty, please instead shut the fuck up.  Grow the fuck up.  We have to live and work together in this indie world and there is no reason to be a nasty bitch.  None.  If you don’t like it, keep it to yourself.  Go ahead and tell aspiring author no.  Feel free to tell her the reason too.  Again, though, you don’t have to be nasty.  Shame on you.

What does it hurt to be nice to someone?  Not a damn thing.  Negativity, though?  It hurts the victim and it even hurts the bully, even if she doesn’t know it yet.  I’m a believer in karma.  What goes around comes around.  You want people to be nice to you?  Start by being nice yourself.  It will come back to you.

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Why I Struggle Reading Indie Books and One That I Recommend

Some of you might have read this on Twinsie Talk Book Reviews a couple of weeks ago, and I wanted to share it here as well.  I did an author review of Strings by Kendall Grey, and this is it!

Some of you might not know this, but I am a former college English and Creative Writing instructor. That, my friends, has been both a blessing and a curse in my life. In the classroom, I had the pleasure of reading the writings of blossoming authors, some of whom should have already been published. I also had the responsibility of helping students think critically and apply themselves so that they could become better communicators through the written word. Those things? Those were the blessings of being a writing teacher.

The curse? The curse sucks, and here is one way it does. All those books so many of you rave about? I can’t get through a lot of them and, NO, I will never—as in NEVER!—reveal which ones. Why? It’s tough enough for me to get through a book that needs to be edited better. I’m used to correcting grammatical, spelling, and usage errors, and I have a hard time getting through a book that is poorly edited. A few errors? No problem. Two or three per page, though, and I’m breaking out in hives before you know it—and I begin to feel like I’m back on the clock. What’s sad is so many indie writers even go to the trouble of hiring editors they have to pay…but either those editors aren’t very good or those authors are disregarding the editors’ advice. Sorry. I said it and now I can’t take it back, but it’s true.

That’s not all of it, though, not by a long shot. Because once a teacher, always a teacher…and nowadays I can rarely read a book where I can just sit back and relax and enjoy it. Oh, don’t point a finger at me. I do it with my own writing, too. I constantly pick and pick until I realize I have to let it go. But this review is not about me. This is about other writers. I have a hard time enjoying a lot of books, because I’m reading like a beta reader (actually, like a creative writing instructor), thinking, “Well, if the writer had done this or that or this…man, this would have been a great book.” Am I picky? Yes. You can probably thank my education for that, because I’ve been trained to pick apart the written word all so it can be better.

But I digress. Let me just set the stage a little more before I move on. It’s tough for me to enjoy indie books like most of you do for all the reasons I mentioned above. Every once in a while, though, I find a book that pulls me in and I do enjoy it. One has stuck with me for a while now, and—since Twinsie Angie invited me to guest review a long time ago and I said I would—I’m going to review it right now.

This particular book has been gobbled up by readers who tend to like my books as well. (I say that because many of my readers recommended this one to me.) The book is Strings by Kendall Grey. Her blurb was irresistible and so I snagged the book via one-click. I was still teaching at the time, though (along with keeping my own crazy writing schedule), so I didn’t read it right away.

When I did, though…WOW. Grey grabs you from the beginning. She knows her characters and her writing style is refreshing—it’s a slap in the face. It’s not that her story is necessarily anything new, but what I loved the most? It was well written—and I’m not just talking about the grammar and spelling (although the red-pen-grasping teacher in me LOVED that).

It was raunchy and disgusting, sure, but I had no eye roll moments (besides, I like raunchy and disgusting sometimes). But I never had any moments where I felt like (cue snark voice), “Yeah, right…sure. That could happen.” I do, unfortunately, have those moments sometimes when I read other indies. Grey’s book felt real and believable. That is important to me as a reader. Whether it’s little or big, I have to feel that it is possible, and Strings felt possible to me.

The raunchy was good, because it fit the characters. Again, I believed the story. I don’t always like or believe the raunchy in other books. Grey set the stage for this from chapter one. You don’t get midway through the book and begin scratching your head, wondering how you got there. You saw it coming and you’re not surprised when it happens.

That’s what I’m talking about. Truth. No, I don’t think the things in the book ever really happened, but they felt like truth in the Stephen King sense of the word. Grey was true to her story, true to the characters, and true to the situation.

Strings is told in first person POV. Again, I don’t always like that perspective because it seems like an easy cop out for some writers who don’t really get to know their characters before they start typing them. Not so with Grey. She knows her characters in and out. Probably the only one I’d say that felt two-dimensional was Kate, and that’s probably because she was the “bad guy” and we were supposed to dislike her. The conflict near the climax involving Kate and Shades was, perhaps, the only part of the book that made me hesitate, because it bordered on contrived and it felt like it was too easily resolved, and I only criticize because Grey handled everything else so beautifully in this book. This felt like one area where she failed to challenge herself. Still, the rest was done so well that I am able to overlook it.

A year later, the way this book was written is still with me, and that is why I felt compelled to review it.

So…those of you who know me know I tend to read nonfiction, literary fiction, horror, and a lot of other books that are NOT erotic romance. When I do read erotic romance, give me something like Strings. It was a well-written book—seriously well-written—and I thoroughly recommend it.

 

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The Problems with Indie Publishing

Over the past two years, I’ve had a lot of indie writers ask me for advice, and I gladly give it.  I’ve been messaged, responded to emails, and the like, but eventually I post the advice here on my website for all to see.

In case any of you want my “credentials,” I am now speaking as not just an indie author, because I really don’t think that gives me much cred, even if I am a bestselling author.  The only thing about the whole deal that gives me cred is that I have readers who want to buy my books.  Nowadays, anyone can publish a book, so I don’t think it’s that big a deal.  Lots of people can even get high rankings if they’re savvy with marketing.

No, my cred comes from education and training.  I have no fewer than three degrees in English (two of them are graduate degrees, one terminal), and I graduated with honors in all cases.  I’ve also been traditionally published (under another name and for other types of writing).  I taught college English–including and especially Creative Writing classes–for seven years, and let’s not even talk about all the “how to” books I have read centered around this amazing profession.

Okay, the stage is set and you, my audience, are waiting patiently for the lights to go down and the show to begin, so I’ll get to the point.

JUST BECAUSE YOU’VE WRITTEN A BOOK DOESN’T MEAN IT’S READY TO BE PUBLISHED.

There.  I said it and I feel better, although I’m pretty sure no one’s listening.  In fact, I think I hear crickets out there.  I’d say it again, but I think you’re probably already getting bored here.  My point is this—I get the draw, the need, the f*cking compulsion to write.  Believe me—I do.  I really do!  I’ve been writing since I was a kid (yes, decades, okay?).  But, as the master Stephen King says in his amazing book about the craft (On Writing), a writer needs to have tools in his (or her!) toolbox…to become a good writer.  No, not to just become a writer and definitely not to become a great writer.  This is just to be a decent writer.

My point is this:  I wrote books as a kid.  Yes, I did.  And I even had readers.  Fortunately, none of them slit their wrists having to read my childish tripe.  But I wrote.  I wrote a lot.

It was by no means ready to publish.  There are lots of things I’ve written over the years that will never see the light of day.  Why?  Because they’re not good enough.  Yep, they’re my babies, and lots of that writing made me a better writer, but some of it just wasn’t good enough.  And THAT, my friends, is my point.  A first (or sometimes even twentieth) draft is not ready for publication.  Aside from many of the indie books I’ve read through that need better editing (and, yes, many are ones that have credited editors!), there are lots other problems.  So, if any of you are aspiring writers, I hope my advice can help you.  I’ve seen many an indie author skewered by readers when, really, if he or she’d just spent more time and perhaps worked on their draft a little more, that writer could have had a masterpiece.  I’m not going to repeat things I’ve said in previous posts, but here are a couple of things I’ve seen in recent indie books that have driven me completely bonkers.  If I were these writers’ Creative Writing teacher, I would have pointed out all the good things I’d read, but I would also tell them they needed to work on these things before clicking that godd*mned Publish button:

Show; don’t tell.  This is a classic “mistake,” for lack of a better word, because often—as people—we have a need to explain things.  Really, though, a lot of telling in a book can get boring.  Readers want to see what’s happening.  Think of it this way—wouldn’t you get sick and tired of watching a long movie that was just a few still pictures (or a blank colored screen) but had a narrator’s voice telling you something?  Hell, yes.  Of course you would!  You would probably begin to tune it out.  (Oh, I know—there are a few of you who wouldn’t, but the majority of us would.)  You’d much rather see action, interaction, reaction—and a little dialogue would be nice too.  I recently read an indie book that had a lot of explanation that was okay, but then an entire seemingly important scene was brushed off with just a few sentences…and it was all telling rather than showing.  I can’t invest my emotions if you’re only telling.  I need to see it and become a part of it to care and want to continue reading your book.

If you bring it up, it better be f*cking important.  I’ve had students who have told me, “But that really happened in real life!”  Well, that might be nice, but let’s face it—real life is full of boring, insignificant moments.  And that’s okay.  If everything that happened in our lives were pressing or extremely important, I think we’d never sleep and we’d likely die young.  We need the quiet moments and even the unimportant ones to make the significant stuff really matter.  But that’s beside the point.  I (and other readers) do not want to read stuff that doesn’t matter, EVEN IF THAT’S THE WAY REAL LIFE WORKS.  If you make mention of a gun in chapter one, I better find out why it matters in chapter fifteen (or thirty or fifty or…you get the point).  If one person glares at another, you better let us know why.  If it doesn’t matter, delete it.  DELETE IT.  Yes, I know it’s hard cutting stuff out, but your readers will thank you for it.  It doesn’t even have to be huge.  It could be something as simple as something that happened in one of my books that I was recently revising.  I got ready to cut a paragraph where I explained that someone gave his cell number out to several people in case they needed it, and as I revised, I made a note to possibly cut that scene…but, it turned out, in the next chapter, one of the characters called this guy, and then I had that revelation:  “Oh, yeah.  If I hadn’t mentioned him giving out his number back there, readers would have been wondering how the hell this girl had gotten it.”  So, that paragraph was saved because it mattered…but it had been on the chopping block during revision.  Yes, it’s a small thing, but it needed to be there.  If that one paragraph had been the only mention (because this guy was a bodyguard trying to assure these people that they could call him anytime), I would have cut it, even though it might have shed a little more light on the character.  It turned out to be necessary.

I guess a better way to say it is this:  Don’t fill your story with bullshit.  Make it all count.

I could go on and on, my friends, but I think I’ve said enough for today and likely pissed a few people off.  I think it’s cool that anyone who feels the overwhelming need to write can do it and can have the satisfaction of potentially having it read by an adoring audience.  But…if you want ME to read it, you can improve your chances by taking my Creative Writing classes.  ;)

Rant done!

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Be a Part of Bullet History!

This giveaway was inspired by one of my Inked Anthology sisters, Stacy Gail.  When we did the Inked Halftime Party on Facebook last weekend, Stacy had a giveaway for entrants where they could name a character in an upcoming book.  She totally inspired me to do that too!

I will be writing Slash and Burn, Bullet #5, as one of my next three projects.  The story’s in my head; I just need to get it down on paper.  Oh, and I need to name some of the characters!

Slash and Burn is going to be Nick’s book.  I don’t have the blurb written yet, but I can give you an idea of what it’s about.  Val Hella, Val’s new band, goes on tour with Last Five Seconds to promote her band’s debut album.  Also in this band are Brad, playing lead guitar, and Nick on drums.  They audition women bass players and choose…Nick’s love interest.  I don’t have a name for her!  I’ve had a couple of ideas but nothing I’m thrilled with.  That’s where you come in.  Anyway, Nick has played the field for, well, forever, having a lot of fun, and nowhere near ready to settle down, but here comes this girl, and she’s Nick’s dream.  Not only is she as free-spirited as Nick, but she’s also bisexual, and when Nick finds out, he thinks he’s died and gone to heaven.  He’s in over his head before he knows it, though, and it’s too late by the time he finds his heart entangled.

So…what’s her name?  I’m hoping you can tell me.  I’m going to leave this giveaway live until October 15, 2014, so everyone who wants to enter has plenty of time to come up with the perfect name.  I’m collecting entries via Google forms, because I’m going to post this giveaway on every social media outlet I have.  Yes, you can enter more than once!

What do you win?  Well, a dedication to YOU in Slash and Burn, first of all.  You’ll get my sincere thanks.  What else?  An ARC (in Kindle/mobi format delivered directly to your reading device or app) of the book too before it’s published!

Want to be part of Bullet history?  Now’s your chance!

Expected publication date is either late 2014 or early 2015, although that’s subject to change based on the cantankerousness of my muse.  Thank you in advance for your help and best of luck.  Nick’s girl needs you!  :)

To enter, complete the Google form here:  Name Nick’s love interest!

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