Tuesday, December 16, 2014

What's Up Wednesday


What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk.  Head over to Jaime's page for links to find out what's up with everyone else. Here's what's up with me.

What I'm Reading

The vast majority of my reading lately has been aloud to my kids. Recently, they've decided they love Shel Silverstein. We finished A Light in the Attic last week and are now reading Falling Up. I do like all of Silverstein's poems, but definitely feel the strongest attachment to Where the Sidewalk Ends mainly because it's the Shel Silverstene book I read as a kid. It's also the one we don't actually own yet. So Santa, if you're reading this, do you maybe want to get my daughter Where the Sidewalk Ends for Christmas?

What I'm Writing

I'm trying to work on Fragments of Life. I like the concept a lot and think it has the potential to be my best book yet. But it's a very hard story to write. My POV character spends the entire book lying in a hospital bed. So yeah. It's a challenge.

I've got about four decent chapters right now and parts of others that I like. I think I need to do some more research first though. Like maybe go to med school or something.

I did officially quit my day job this week. For the last four months I've been on family leave ('cause I just adopted two kids) but I told my old boss I wasn't coming back this week. Now that writing (and being a mom) is my only job, I really do need to find time to write.

What Works for Me

I now have an office, sort of. I had an office before I became a mom. But that room is now my son's bedroom. We moved our desktop, and the desk it sits on into a little alcove off the side of our living room. I have always preferred writing on my laptop though. For the last few months I've been doing most of my writing while sitting on my bed, which may be one of the reasons why I've gotten so little done in the last few months.

I recently got a new chair that fits nicely into the corner of my bedroom, so I can still go to my room and close the door to get away from my kids when I want to write. But I can sit somewhere a bit more comfortable than a bed when writing.

What Else I've Been Up To

Both of my kids have birthdays this coming week, and Christmas is right around the corner. Last Sunday we had a joint birthday party for both kiddos and Jesus. Because I'm a fairly social person, and quite possibly insane, I invited a ton of people. We had 20 kids and 30 adults at our house on Sunday.

Now that that's over, I'm busy planning smaller family only (meaning grandparents, cousins, etc) birthday dinners for both kids on their actual birthdays. My life is way beyond hectic, but the kids are loving it.

My son (who is about to turn six) keeps talking about how fun his party was. Today he said, "Do you remember my party? It was so much fun, it feels like a dream. That was exactly the party I've always wanted to have."

So I may not be getting tons of writing done, but I am doing a great job of trashing my house in the name of six year old joy.

So what's up with you?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

What's Up Wednesday


What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk.  Head over to Jaime's page for links to find out what's up with everyone else. Here's what's up with me.

What I'm Reading

I actually read this book last summer, but I've never recommended it on WUW, so I'm going to mention it today. Dormant's author, Leeann McLennan is both a friend of mine, and a fabulous writer. Dormant is about a superhuman girl (aka superhero) who chooses to ignore her powers and try to live as a normal after her mom dies while helping to save the world. When Olivia is taken hostage during a bank robbery, her supernormal instincts kick in and she is thrust back into the superhero world.

This is a very fun YA/SciFi story that I would recommend to anyone who loves a good superhero adventure.



What I'm Writing

Now that my second novel has been out in the world for almost a month, I'm trying to focus on writing book three. Trying being the key word. December is so not the time to start a new project. Real life is way to distracting. I started penciling out some of my ideas for book three last spring when I was waiting to hear back from beta readers on book two. I've now read through all of those notes and have about 10k words of a crappy first draft.

I want this book, Fragments of Life, to come out sometime in 2015. In order to make a November release for EoE, I had to get a good draft to beta readers in April. Um, yeah, I have a lot of work to do on this next story.

The story does start on New Years Eve. So maybe I'll aim to make 12-31-15 the release date. That way it will be out for the ebook upswing in January after people get ereaders for Xmas. Yeah, I still have a lot of work to do.

What Works for Me

KDP Select. For people self-publishing, or thinking about self-publishing, you should definitely know about KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) Select. Any indie author who wants their ebook on Amazon has to use KDP, but you also have the option of signing up for KDP Select.

In order to use KDP Select, you have to give Amazon exclusive ebook rights for 90 days. Every 90 days, you can either re-enroll or start selling your book in other platforms. There are two main benefits to KDP Select. The first is that you get 5 free days, or 5 discount days, per 90 day period. Today, is actually one of my free days. So if you haven't bought The Evolution of Emily yet, and you want to read it, but don't want to pay for it. I recommend getting it for free right now.

The other benefit may actually be more significant. KDP Select books are included in the free Amazon Prime lending library for the entire 90 days they are in KDP Select. A percentage of the Amazon Prime membership fees is given to authors whose books are borrowed, so my royalty rates for borrowed books are actually about the same as my royalty rates for sold copies.

In the three weeks EoE has been out, I've actually had more borrows than sales. In addition to getting paid for borrows, they also count towards Amazon sales rank. I only had my first book, Counting to D, enrolled in KDP Select for 90 days before opening it to other platforms. I'm now thinking I'm going to leave The Evolution of Emily on KDP Select until my third book comes out, whenever that happens.

What Else I've Been Up To

It's December and my life is therefor insane. If you've read my blog at all in the past four months, you probably know that I just adopted two kids. Both kids have December birthdays. My son is about to turn 6, and my daughter is turning 8. We've got two birthdays and Christmas all in the same week, every year for the rest of our lives. Yeah, December is now crazy.

We're having a joint birthday party for the kids next weekend. So far there are 35 people coming, but we're still waiting on several people to RSVP.

I said my life was crazy right now right? Yeah, book 3 is so not getting done anytime soon.

So what's up with you?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

What's Up Wednesday - Book Release Addition


What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk.  Head over to Jaime's page for links to find out what's up with everyone else. Here's what's up with me.

What I'm Reading

I recently read three books about indie publishing and marketing that are all conveniently bundled together. All three books have a slightly different take on the indie market, so reading them all together back to back was a good way to get a broader sense of the industry.

Yesterday, my second novel came out. Reading three books on marketing, has been a great way to remind myself of all the things I should be doing.

If you are an indie publisher, thinking about indie publishing, or even a traditionally published author who wants to improve your marketing, I recommend all three of these books.

I will warn you though, the three books in one giant kindle file makes for a very long read. This is the first bundle I've every bought, but I've heard of as many as a dozen books being bundled. That would really be a long ebook.

What I'm Writing

The Evolution of Emily is now on sale! You can buy it here, or here, or here.

Oh, wait, you wanted to know what I wrote this week? Not a whole lot. I did join a new writing critique group though. So hopefully, that will help motivate me to get going on my next book soon.

I did just release a novel yesterday though, so I'm not going to feel guilty about not writing this week.


What Works for Me

Since finding time to actually write, isn't something that I seem capable of doing these days, I've decided to say what marketing strategies work for me in this section. Here is a fabulous tip I have for all authors, weather you are indie or traditionally published.

Include search words in links to amazon. Let me explain, because this is a really great tip. Amazon chooses what books to recommend under a given key word search based upon what books were purchased while searching for that word. So you want easy sales, to friends and family, to include those search words. The easiest way to do that is to search for the book yourself, and then send the link that includes those search words.

For example, my first novel Counting to D, has a dyslexic main character. When people are searching for a book about dyslexia, I want them to find my book. So I just searched for the word dyslexia on amazon, found Counting to D (currently ranked 42nd under that key word) and sent you the link that has the key word of dyslexia included. If any of you decided to click on that link and then buy C2D, amazon see people buying C2D after searching for dyslexia and increase my presence under that word search.

What Else I've Been Up To

My kids have been missing A LOT of school lately. Last week, they had an insearvce day on Monday, and Veteran's Day on Tuesday. Then there was freezing rain on Thursday, so school was closed. Next week, there are conferences on Monday and Tuesday, and then Thanksgiving, so they have the entire week off.

See, there is a reason why I'm not getting any work done on my next book. I'm very busy being a mom right now. I do love Thanksgiving. But I'll never be a fan of freezing rain.

So what's up with you?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

What's Up Wednesday


What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk.  Head over to Jaime's page for links to find out what's up with everyone else. Here's what's up with me.

What I'm Reading

As the mother of two young children, I read A LOT of kids books. There are some books that my kids love that I tolerate. There are some books that I remember loving as a kid and have a nostalgic attachment too. There are some books I love simply because I see my children in the characters in the stories. Then there is Morris Lessmore. This is a children's book that I love far more than my children.

We checked it out from the library last week, and just returned it yesterday. I was so sad to see this book go, I'm seriously planning on buying it. I actually looked for it at my local indie bookstore and since it wasn't there, I think I may need to order it on line. It's that good of a book.

Seriously, if you are a writer, and if you're reading this post chances are VERY HIGH that you are a writer, you need to read this book. It's an absolutely gorgeous picture book about a man, named Morris Lessmore, who spends his life tending to a flock of magic books. Each night he writes all his hopes and dreams in a book of his own. At the end of the story, after Morris Lessmore dies, a little girl comes to the library and Morris's book flies over to her and lands on her shoulder. The last two pages read, "So our story ends the way it began... With the opening of a book."

Yeah! If you are an author, or even just a book lover, you need to read The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore!

What I'm Writing

The Evolution of Emily comes out next weeks. I think that means it's officially time for me to start working on book #3. I do have a title for my third book, Fragments of Life. Um yeah, that's about all I have.

I really do need to figure out how to fit writing into my regular routine again. But hey, The Evolution of Emily comes out next week.It doesn't matter if I wrote it months ago. I wrote it, and it's a fabulous story, so you should definitely read it.

In honor of my release, I'm having a giveaway. Sign up to win a free copy of The Evolution of Emily, or even better yet copies of both The Evolution of Emily and Counting to D!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What Works for Me

Since adopting my kids last August, I haven't written diddly swat, so I never feel like I know how to answer this question. But even if I'm not doing a very good job at tackling book three, I do have a novel coming out next week, so I am working. And I expect some of you may want to know what works for me in the marketing/promotion side of things.

I did a lot of PR stuff before Counting to D came out last winter. In the month leading up to it's release, I think I did something like 27 guest blog posts and interviews. Um yeah, thanks to the whole new mom thing, I've done exactly zero guest blog posts for this release and have only managed to update my own blog three times in the past month. I sent C2D to more than 100 reviewers. I send EoE to like four. I feel a little bit nervous about this, because EoE is a great book that I actually like even better than C2D, so I really hope people read it, I'm just not doing very much to tell people about it.

One thing that I did do though was sign up for IndieReader In-Store (IRIS). Traditional publishers list all of their publications in either net-galley or edelweiss. This allows bookstores, libraries, and book reviewers to securely review ecopies of a book for free so they can determine if it's something they should carry. The fee for these services is steep though, making it virtually impossible for indie and small press publishers to use. Hence the creation of IRIS. IndieReader enables indie authors to band together and list all their books in the edelweiss network under a single account. The cost to sign a book up through IRIS is $525 per title. Not free, but still possible.

There are a lot of services available for indie authors and it's hard to know what to pay for and what to skip. Like I said, I haven't done most of the PR/marketing stuff for my second novel that I did for my first. A lot of this is a time management thing. I mentioned I adopted two kids three months ago, right? But also, it's a cost benefit issue. Many of the marketing services I paid for when publishing C2D had horrible rates of return. I believe, IRIS was a good investment, and thus opted to do it again. Here is why. LIBRARIES!

I love libraries, and more importantly, kids love libraries. I take my kids to the library every single week. And I know a lot of teens who visit the library just as often as my kindergartner son. Not every YA reader has a kindle, or a huge book buying budget, but most of them have a library card. And thanks to my presence in the edelweiss network via IRIS, I have sold more paper copies of C2D in the last three months than I've sold e-books. And more than half of those print sales have been purchased by libraries.

I do hope that my ebook sales start to increase, and I have some ideas of new cross-promotions to run once I have two titles available. But knowing my book is not only available online, but also in a library near you is so incredibly exciting to me.

What Else I've Been Up To

It's Veteran's Day today, because I always post my WUW post on Tuesday night instead of Wednesday morning. Thanks to the national holiday, there was no school today. The kids had yesterday off too, so the teachers could fill out their quarterly grades. Um, not sure what kindergartner's are graded on, but okay. When I was a kid, I loved long weekends, but the random four day weekend not around a real holiday is horrible on my schedule. I may only get 2.5 hours to myself a day, but I really like that 2.5 hours.

We did spend Veteran's Day at the zoo though.

So what's up with you?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

What's Up Wednesday


What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk.  Head over to Jaime's page for links to find out what's up with everyone else. Here's what's up with me.

What I'm Reading

I met Melissa Eskue Ousley at a Book Fair last weekend. Our tables were right next to each other, so we spent most of the day chatting. I really enjoyed talking to her in person, and was thus excited to read her book, Sign of the Throne.

I'm not very far into it yet, but the premise is very interesting and I expect to enjoy it more and more as I continue reading. If you are curious about the premise, here is the goodreads description.

Abby is an ordinary girl haunted by dreams of an ivory castle, blood-thirsty monsters, and a striking stranger. Working as a babysitter for a family of mythology lovers in wealthy Newcastle Beach, California, she struggles to define herself among the elite class while trying to make sense of her strange visions. Upon meeting David, the doppelgänger of the mysterious young man in her dreams, Abby’s life is changed forever.

Encountering the queen of Cai Terenmare, a magical kingdom in a parallel world, Abby learns of an evil lord hell-bent on usurping the throne, the murder of Cai Terenmare’s king, the Solas Beir, and the kidnapping of the Solas Beir’s infant son.

As the kingdom struggles to endure, the queen shows Abby the full extent of her destiny. She must convince her mysterious crush, David, that he is the lost heir. While braving attacks from the dark lord’s sadistic minions, David must realize his true identity and return to Cai Terenmare to claim his throne before time runs out, lest the evil that was temporarily locked away be unleashed, threatening to destroy both the kingdom and all of humanity.


What I'm Writing

The Evolution of Emily comes out in two weeks! I'm about to be a multi-published author. Getting things ready for the release is taking up all my author time right now. But I was just invited to join a new critique group. Almost all of the other writers in the group are published and I've beta read for about half of them in the past. I LOVE all their writing and feel super honored/excited that they invited me to join their group. They meet twice a month, so the requirement to submit pages every other week should help my writing productivity. Book two may be coming out on November 18th, but my third book isn't going to write itself.

On the topic of my eminent book release, I'm having a giveaway. Sign up to win a free copy of The Evolution of Emily, or even better yet copies of both The Evolution of Emily and Counting to D!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What Works for Me

I'm still trying to figure that out. I know that is a weird thing to say two weeks before my second book comes out, but it's true. I had a different process when writing The Evolution of Emily than I did when writing Counting to D. And now, in addition to needing to write my third book, Fragments of Life, I also have two very active kids that are demanding a lot more of my time and attention. I'm sure I'll figure it out eventually though, and when I do, I'll share something more concrete in this section.

What Else I've Been Up To

I attended the Mollala Book Fair last weekend. Mollala is a very small town about 40 miles from my house. Given the size of the town, there were actually more authors at the event then patrons. It was still enjoyable getting to know most of the other authors. As I mentioned in the "what I'm reading" section, I sat next to Mellissa Eskue Ousley. She is a great YA writer than I'm excited to know. And even if I didn't sell a ton of copies of my book, the few people who did buy it were all really excited about it.

There was one teenage girl who attended the book fair, literally there was one teenage girl. In addition to having copies of Counting to D out, I also had pictures of The Evolution of Emily and a sheet where people could pre-order. The girl saw the EoE cover all the way across the room and informed her mom in a loud voice, "I HAVE TO READ THAT BOOK!"

If you too have to read that book. You can pre-order your copy here.

So what's up with you?

Two Book Giveaway


The Evolution of Emily comes out in two week! In honor of it's release, I'm holding my biggest giveaway yet. You can win an autographed copy of both Counting to D and The Evolution of Emily.

Enter now!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

What's Up Wednesday


What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk.  Head over to Jaime's page for links to find out what's up with everyone else. Here's what's up with me.

What I'm Reading

I can actually answer this one now. I started reading Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg last week. This is the first adult book I've read since becoming a mother (2 and a half months ago) and exactly what I need to be reading right now. I'm so glad it's the book my book club selected, and that I got my act together and actually started reading it.

Lean In is written by the CEO of Facebook, who also happens to be a woman, and is all about women in the work force. It talks a lot about setting priorities and finding a balance between home and work life that is more compatible to the type of balance dads have been achieving for decades.

It is possible to be a good person and have a job, but a lot of women pull back from their careers to focus on their families before they even have careers to pull back from, or families in need of their time/attention. Most men, on the other hand, make their careers a priority, thinking work is the way they can best provide for their families. It's a very interesting book that I'm looking forward to discussing with my friends at my next book club meeting.

It's also exactly what I need to read right now, because balance is something I haven't quite figured out in my new life yet. As I mentioned before, I've been a mom for 2.5 months now, but my kids are in kindergarten and second grade. I'm adopting.

I love my kids! I love being a mom. And I'm figuring it out. Both kids are doing well in school and adjusting to life with their new family. My husband and I are adjusting to them too. I feel like I've got things pretty well figured out now as far as how to be a mom. I'm far from a pro, but I'm getting things done, on the mom front.

My problem is that I'm not doing anything else. This is the first book I've read to myself in 3 months. And I'm an author. I'm an author who hasn't written anything in two months either. I've barely done any promo stuff for my next book that is coming out in a month. My entire life is in chaos and I have no idea what I'm doing--at all. But my kids are great, relatively speaking. I just need to figure out how to put myself, and my career, back into my life.

I know I'll figure it out. I'm starting by reading. And like I said, Lean In is a very good book for anyone to read and a great book for me to read right now.

What I'm Writing

Nothing yet. I'm starting with reading, I'll get back to writing soon. I wrote about 20k words of a rough draft to what I thought was going to be my third book in the Kennedy High Series last spring, while I was waiting for comments from beta readers on The Evolution of Emily. I expect that I will eventually get back to it and finish that book. I like the idea, and the characters. I also like the Kennedy High world I'm creating and would love to make it into a longer series.

But I have an idea for another totally different project that I want to play with. Once I figure out my schedule enough to find a place for actual writing, I'm going to let myself write this SNI for a while. I don't know if I'll stick with it long enough to turn it into an actual book, but I'm hoping the draw of the SNI will be enough to pull my back into a writing routine. Because if I want to tell my kids there mom is an author, I need to start writing again.

What Works for Me

Clearly, nothing at the moment. I've decided one of my biggest problems is that I don't have a place to write anymore. I used to have a home office. But that room is now my son's bedroom. We moved our desk and desktop computer into the corner of the living room, so we could easily monitor what the kids are doing anytime they get on the computer.

Back when I had an office, I never actually wrote at the desk. I had a large armchair in the corner of the room and always wrote on my laptop sitting in the chair. I find comfy chairs much more conducive to musing. That chair is also now in my living room. I brought my laptop into the living room and sat in my chair to work a few times this summer, but quickly discovered it's impossible to get anything done in front of my kids. So I moved my laptop into my bedroom.

I am currently sitting on my bed writing this blog post. But writing is my job. I can't write an entire novel in bed. Not only is it impractical, it's also not even remotely ergonomic. Today, I talked to my husband about rearranging our bedroom furniture. I think if we move around the location of the dressers we can fit a new desk in here. Or maybe I'll just get a new comfy chair to keep in here and go back to writing that way. I need to figure something out though.

What Else I've Been Up To

Last weekend my sister-in-law got married. The wedding was in Tahoe and totally beautiful. It was also our first official family vacation. The kids did really well, both traveling and during the wedding. Traveling as a parent is a lot more stressful than traveling alone though, so I'm glad to be home.

One bright note about the trip. In addition to bringing a book, and actually reading half of it; while on the trip, I also listened to six audio-books. The drive from Portland to Tahoe takes about 12 hours, which we did in 1.5 days each way. I checked out 6 MG audio-books from the library before we went and my kids LOVED them.

My son got car sick on the way down so we didn't let him play with anything in the car. All he was allowed to do was look out the window and listen to the story. Amazingly, C.S. Lewis was all the little guy needed. Did I mention he's 5. Both kids begged to hear more stories every time got into the car. I may have to check out a few more audio-books from the library and play them when we are driving around town running errands.

I still need to figure out how to fit writing back into my schedule. But from the new mom side of things, my life is pretty darn fabulous right now.



So what's up with you?