Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I Love Indies! Vintage Books

Authors Lisa & Laura Roecker started something wonderful today... SHOUT OUTS to indie bookstores!

I've always had a soft spot in my heart for independent bookstores, and the gals' blogging about which ones have impacted them seemed like an incredible idea.

My area in Vancouver, WA has a wonderful indie store that I grew up with:  Vintage Books.  They are an awesome, musty old book store that sells new titles as well as used, old, and the downright strange.  I remember my parents taking me there when I was little to pick up the newest Berenstein Bears book, and most of all, I remember the big, orange kitty who would drool on me whenever I picked him up.

Isn't there something magical about a bookstore that has its own cat?

I would beg my parents to let me go back because books were my obsession, but also, I always missed the Bookstore Cat.

I went in there the other day with my husband, and, although the cat is different, it's the same old bookstore.  I love the quirkiness, the history, that comes with a neighborhood institution like that...

Please, don't ever change, Vintage Books :).  You make my hometown that much more special, and I love you for it.

Which indie stores do you love in your area?  Please share!


Also, don't forget to comment on my Book Launch Givaway for a chance to win!  Good luck!

Monday, May 30, 2011

LEGACY OF THE EMPRESS Launch Day Giveaway!

LEGACY OF THE EMPRESS is finally for sale in the Kindle Store, and I'm celebrating by holding my biggest contest yet!

There will be 5 total winners with one GRAND PRIZE:  A $25 Amazon Giftcard!

The next three runners-up will receive either FIRE, RAMPANT, or SOULLESS (in honor of fantasy novels with strong heroines), an e-copy of LEGACY OF THE EMPRESS, and a bar of delicious Ghirardelli chocolate.  Look at those bars sparkling at you in the photo... you know you want them!

The Grand Prize winner and last winner also get a free e-copy of LEGACY, of course :).  

So, ready to play?  Who wants to win a gift card or some great reads??

Here's how it works.  Each time you do one of the following, you get a certain number of entries.  Leave what you've done in the comments below, and I'll tally them all up when the contest ends and pick our winners!

How to get entries:
  • Be a follower of this blog:  Old followers get 1 entry, and New followers get 2 entries!
  • Tweet about this giveaway:  1 entry per tweet (as many as you'd like)
  • Link this giveaway on Facebook:  1 entry per link!
  • Review the book on Amazon or on your blog:  5 entries!
  • Talk about this giveaway on your blog:  2 entries!
  • Tell me who your favorite Fantasy character is in the comments:  1 entry
  • "Like" my book on Amazon: 1 entry
  • Link a picture of you brandishing a sword: 3 entries! (cause seriously... that's cool)
  • Interview me on your blog:  5 entries!
  • Tell a friend about my book : 1 entry each time! (honor system, yo)
This contest will run through 6/31 to give you time to star racking up entries!

GOOD LUCK, and thank you for celebrating this special day with me!

Also, HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY!  If there are any troops who read this blog, please email me, and I'll hook you up with a free copy.  Thank you for your service to this country, and God bless!

Sunday, May 29, 2011


I'm ready to take the plunge! :D

After years of hard work, LEGACY OF THE EMPRESS will be up on Amazon.com and Smashwords.com, ready for purchase by this evening or tomorrow at the latest.  I'll update this post as soon as it's live!  

(Edit: It's now live on Smashwords for $2.99!)

This moment is so incredible for me.  I couldn't have gotten here without so many of you.  My beta readers, my crit partners, my fellow bloggers, my readers.  I love you guys!! THANK YOU for your incredible support!

Stay tuned for a FABULOUS GIVEAWAY I'll be announcing tomorrow to celebrate!

Trust me.... you don't want to miss it! 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Game Changer: Barry Eisler Signs with Amazon

For those of you who don't know, author Barry Eisler recently turned down a two book, $500,000 deal with one of the major publishing houses and self-publish instead. On J.A. Konrath's blog he said "I know it’ll seem crazy to a lot of people, but based on what’s happening in the industry, and based on the kind of experience writers like you are having in self-publishing, I think I can do better in the long term on my own."

So, imagine my surprise today when I heard that Barry Eisler has taken the same kind of deal but with Amazon. You can read about it on agent Janet Reid's blog.

What made Barry change his mind, and what does this mean for self-publishing?

Well, from what I understand, Amazon has changed the playing field yet again.  Not only are they launching their own imprints that publish authors in a more traditional structure, they pay advances AND still give the authors 70% royalties on reasonably priced e-books.  They also give authors more artistic control.

Basically, instead of either choosing to self-pub to maintain control and get higher royalties, Amazon has given authors a third option:  Get traditionally published, but with a better deal than the Big 6 publishers can ever hope to provide.

Did Barry make a good move?  What do you think about this new option for authors?

I'll be interested to see what you all think :).

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Guest Post: Laura E. Bradford, Author of FLYDAY!

We're fortunate to have another guest poster here today:  Laura Bradford, indie author of FLYDAY (a futuristic time-travel adventure). 

I met Laura on an internet forum I frequent that doesn't have anything to do with authors, read her book, enjoyed it immensely, and then asked if she could share her story with us.  Why indie publishing?  Why now?  She was kind enough to share her thoughts below.


Take it away, Laura!

My journey so far:

I have been writing for about as long as I can remember. I currently blog over at A Writer's Notes, which serves as my personal writing blog, and I released my first novel, Flyday, in January. I'm currently working on the next novel in the series, and this week I released a free collection of short stories, Sunset on Mars.

It took a long time to finish the novel, off and on. I started with the basic ideas and characters in 2006; in early 2008 I tore it apart and completely rewrote it. I gave it to my betas, took their advice, and eventually finished it the following year, and then I had to put it aside for nursing school.

I gave serious thought to releasing the book myself after reading J. A. Konrath's blog. I had been submitting to agents, sending carefully crafted query letters, and kept receiving either form letter rejections or "Interesting project, but not for us" or, worse, no response at all. One agent's assistant asked to see the first fifty pages, but ultimately passed. I took someone's advice and rewrote the beginning of my novel, and everyone agreed it was much improved. But aside from a vague idea that ebooks were taking off, I had no idea about e-publishing.

Enter: Zoe Winters' book on self-publishing, Becoming an Indie Author, which describes exactly how one would go about uploading an ebook and setting everything up. I dove into the project on a break from school, hired an artist, and released my first novel in January. I also set everything up on Createspace, so my book is out in paperback as well.

I'm still figuring out the "promotion" aspect. Someone convinced me to give Twitter a chance, and I'm exploring areas, so right now I'm balancing promotion and writing. All in all it's been quite a whirlwind experience, and I hope to release many more books and see how e-publishing goes for everyone.

Promotion seems to be the toughest part for indie and traditionally published authors alike!  Thank you for taking the time to share your story with us and best of luck with your novel, Laura! :)

If you haven't, definitely check out Laura's blog or Flyday over at Amazon.com.  What really impressed me was the way Laura effortlessly interweaves timelines through the story.  Definitely worth a read, especially at $2.99!

Also, if anyone here is an author and would like to guest post, I'd like to make this a regular thing on this blog :).  I'd love this to be a place where writers share their stories, both their writing journey AND their fiction! 

Shoot me an email if you're an author--I'd love to have you!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Holy crap burgers...

I just saw the almost-finished cover art for LEGACY OF THE EMPRESS, and I am over the moon!!!! :D

The colors are beautiful, the artwork rich and almost Tolkien-esque... just wow.

I can't wait to be able to show you all the finished product, but I just had to pop in and say how excited I am.  This is a great day.

What's going on with you guys?  I'd love to hear what made your day today! 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Guest Post: PJ Jones, Author of ROMANCE NOVEL

Today we have a very special guest poster:  P.J. Jones, author of the twisted spoof ROMANCE NOVEL!  I met P.J. while goofing around on the Kindle Boards talking to other authors, and something about her cover... struck me.... and I just knew I had to hear her story!

So, without further ado, take it away, P.J.!

From Tragedy to Parody, the Birth of ROMANCE NOVEL…by PJ Jones

A little over two years ago I’d become too tired to read, too sick to write and in too much pain to take care of my family. I was worse than a walking zombie. More like a sleeping zombie. Doctors couldn’t figure me out, so they just loaded me up on pain killers and anti-depressants. Whatever was attacking me seemed to come and go, and for a few brief days every month, I’d get these strange bursts of crazed hyperactivity. I was a zombie on speed. And during those short respites of wellness, Romance Novel was born.

It’s amazing how a writer can discover her funny bone when wallowing in self-pity. The first scene came to me when my husband had taken us on a trip to the coast, hoping that a change in environment would improve my condition. I don’t quite remember how it came about, but on the drive down, I frantically wrote a crude love scene on scraps of paper. I had no idea what to do with the scene, but I knew that somehow it had to go in a book.

I showed it to my critique group the following week and they laughed hysterically. They told me I must complete the novel. And so I wrote. By August of ’09, I, not my doctors, discovered the root of my illness, and after finding doctors who actually knew what they were doing, we began successful treatment.

By November of ’09 Romance Novel was finished. The only problem was that no publisher wanted it. Before my illness, I’d already published a few ‘real’ romance novels under other pen-names and thought I still knew the romance industry well. But what I didn’t know was that none of the many agents and editors I’d queried had a twisted enough sense of humor.
So the book sat, and sat, until my critique partners convinced me to self-publish through Kindle and Nook. The self-publishing model is fairly new, especially to someone who hadn’t been keeping up with the market. But I dove in headfirst and haven’t regretted my experience. From day one, I had my fingers crossed that romance readers and writers would ‘get it’. And get it, they have! I’ve already gotten two fabulous reviews from respected romance review sites and many more emails and reviews from readers wanting more from PJ Jones. None of my other published books were this well-received.

I’ve posted the love scene that started it all below. But before you read it, I’d like to leave you with this thought - if ever your life takes a nosedive right into the bottom of the toilet, remember that laughter really IS the best medicine. PJ

Becca:  So true, P.J. :)  I love hearing how your [s]crazy[/s] awesome book came about!  Now, let's get to that love scene....

Smella glared at him while tapping her foot. “Are you going to kiss me passionately or what?”

“Yes, of course.” He sat up and grabbed her in a passionate embrace, thrusting his tongue deep inside her mouth, moving it about for a reasonable amount of time, until his pants felt so tight, he worried he’d bust a seam. Pulling back a few inches, he looked into her heavy lidded eyes, noting with satisfaction how she panted and swooned. “How’s that?” he asked.

She brushed the sleeve of her tweed coat across her passion-soaked lips. “Gawd, did you have onions for dinner?”

“Sorry.” Snake winced, wishing he’d laid off the salsa when he’d eaten those fish tacos. “Do you want me to brush?”

“No,” Looking like she had her own dirty little secret to share, she toyed her fingers while playfully biting her lower lip. “I haven’t washed my delicate blossoming flower in over a month, so now we’re even.”
“That’s disgusting!” He gagged, releasing Smella’s shoulders. He was so disgusted, that a tiny amount of bile projected into the back of his throat.
She flopped back into her bean bag. “Women hardly bathe in medieval times,” she huffed.
“It’s 2011,” he corrected.
Smella sat up and jammed a finger in his chest. “Are you going to point out every historical inaccuracy in this convoluted story-line?”
“I guess not,” he grimaced while wondering if three condoms would be enough to shield his penis from her skanky crotch.

Grasping his hand, she placed his palm on her ample breast.
That seemed to do the trick, because Snake had already forgotten what had him so grossed out just a few moments earlier. All that mattered was that he had a boob in his hand.

Leaning over, she rasped into his ear in a sultry voice. “I’m going to faint next time you kiss me. That’s your cue to carry me into the bedroom.”

A thing of rare beauty :). 

Click HERE to sample or purchase ROMANCE NOVEL for $0.99, or to get to know P.J. better, check out her blog:  Unicorns, Tampons, and Other Girly Things.

Thanks so much for coming, P.J., and best of luck to you!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Things To Be Grateful For

Last week was a pain in my bum, with Blogger issues, work issues, having to do nasty yard work... I was cranky.  And I hate being cranky.  Which then made me crankier.

So, I thought I'd start this week off right by listing some things that made me really happy over the last few days :).

1)  I got a seriously awesome review for my short story WRITE OR DIE from a total stranger!  It's title was "Remove one note, and there is diminishment, Salieri," so already I was excited because I LOVE the movie Amadeus.  Mozart rocks.  Seriously.

This kind gentleman wrote:  "A great read. It leaves you wanting more but you realize it's perfect. You want more detail but realize if you close your eyes and just wander around the room it's all there, neat, nothing out of place. Highly recommended."


The great thing about this review is that this is a short story that I've worked on for literally years.  I'd write most of it, give up, then finish, then give up, then re-write, then quit, then try to find a market for it, then get confused because it's a modern day ghost story and where the heck do you even send that?

This review made all of that confusion completely worthwhile.  The reviews for that story are the first feedback I've gotten, and fill my heart with something akin to... purpose?  Like, all of that worrying and work finally paid off in something people enjoy :).  That makes me incredibly happy.

2)  I set a goal, and I met it!  I wanted to add another, longer short story called "Heartless" to the short story collection NO REST FOR THE WICKED by this weekend.  I worked on new cover art (pictured above), edited my story, ran it by some betas, formatted, obsessed, uploaded, and finally the new two-story version is up for sale on Amazon and Smashwords. 

I'm proud of myself for creating something I believe in, in a a timeframe I set for myself :).  Small victories are sometimes the sweetest.

3)  I've found a group of book lovers who are incredibly kind, generous, and helpful on the Kindle Boards.  Whether you are a traditionally published author, and indie publisher, or just a book lover, this group will take you under their wings and steer you toward wonderful reads.  They helped me with cover art, my descriptions on Amazon, and frankly, just have fascinating discussions about some of my favorite books.

Whenever I find a group of people online who act like a small town, I want to share.  It's rare for a forum to be full to the brim with such lovely people who care so much about books.  Thank you, Kindle Boards!

So, my question to you is:  What made your week?  What turned an ok day around and made it great? 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

What's in a Name?

How do you come up with names for your characters?  And when you come up with them, how do you make them believable?

I recently watched the movie Gentleman Broncos, which I highly recommend to anyone who has ever:

a)  Been homeschooled
b)  Been to a local writer's workshop for young people
c)  Had a Writer in Residence at your school

Seriously.  This shit is so accurate I had tears streaming down my face while I was watching it.

There is a scene pictured above where the famous science fiction author at the writers' workshop, Chevalier, describes to a group of young writers how to create "believable" fantasy/sci fi names.  Chevalier has been lecturing them on how if you add "anous" or "ainous" to any name, it becomes... magical, when one small girl raises her hand.  She says that she has a troll in her book named Teacup, and Chevalier chastises her because it's not believable enough.

"It's just that I'm...as an author, picturing myself as a troll mother. I have just given birth to a litter of troll cubs, they're covered in placentia, pawing at my many teats, for this vital, life giving collostrum... Now I'm not thinking...hmmm...Teacup, am I?!"

Fair enough, Chevalier ;).  Fair enough.

My question to you is:  How do you come up with names for your character, and how do you keep them from edging into the ridiculous, like Harry Manchester, Werewolf Bounty Hunter?

What's your secret formula?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

What Makes You Buy a Book?

Today, I read a great post by my new hero J.A. Konrath over at his blog, and had to share.

He discusses marketing and promotional tips that have worked for him, as well as dispensing this great advice:

"What are the last ten books you bought, and what made you buy them? Use those techniques to sell your books to other people. Do what works on you."

I'd never thought about self promotion that way, and I felt like facepalming when I read that.

It's so deceptively simple, but brilliant.  We're all our own audience since we're writing what we love to read, right?  So what makes us buy books?

I'd love to hear your thoughts :).

What was the last book you bought, and why did you buy it?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

One of the Most Chilling Things I've Ever Read

Is this article in Harper's....  http://www.harpers.org/archive/2003/03/0079525

It's a long read, but absolutely worth it.  As a Christian, it scares me to my core.

What do you guys think about this?  Have you heard of "The Family" before this article?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Patience is a Real Bitch

Everyone knows the motto of publishing is "Hurry Up and Weight," but I'm finding lately that patience is something I'm still struggling with.

I'm impatient about how long it takes me to finish a project.  I'm impatient about keeping my day job.  I'm impatient about waiting the 48 hours for my short story to show up on Amazon...  It's ridiculous the things I'm impatient about!

Hell, I'm even impatient about how long it takes me to blog sometimes.  I want everything yesterday, but I know that to achieve my dreams, or even order my coffee, I must get better at waiting.

Just as I was pondering how to settle down and work on my patience, I received an email in my inbox from Freedomtomarry.org.  As some of you know, I'm very passionate about equality for the LGBT community, and try to help out fighting for the right to marry. 

The email showed an elderly male couple, and said the following: 

Richard and John ... just celebrated 61 years together as a couple, and they desperately want to marry in New York. After 61 years, haven't they waited long enough?

So here I am bitching about how long it's taking to achieve my dreams, and here is a sweet old couple who have waited 61 years for the right to marry and are still waiting today. 

It sort of puts things in perspective, doesn't it?

Even while we struggle with patience, there are those whose lives are constantly about waiting for the world to change for the better.

It's people like Richard and John that humble me and teach me patience by example. 

Here's there video if anyone is interested in spreading the word about this couple:  http://freedomtomarry.org/JohnRichard

My question to YOU is  How do you stay patient when chasing your dreams?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

No Rest for the Wicked is Free For a Short Time!

My short story, No Rest for the Wicked, is getting a facelift soon, so for a short time, I'm making it FREE on Smashwords.

If you'd like a copy, you can download it here for free!  You can read it on your Kindle, Nook, Sony, or even your PC or iphone.

I've written another Veronica Grim story and am just getting it ready for publication.  This first one was short, 1000+ words, so the second story, Heartless, will be for sale as a bundle with the other for .99 cents.

Get it while it's hot :).  Thanks, All!

I hope everyone's having a good weekend!