Friday, January 31, 2014

Release News & Double Cover Reveal

Exciting things are on the horizon, and we're kicking them off with a couple of amazing cover reveals! One of the reveals is for Raine Thomas' upcoming release, Return of the Ascendant. Let's start by sharing the scoop about exactly where Raine's new book will appear...and reveal that cover, too!

Raine is collaborating with bestselling authors Kristie Cook (me!!!), Lynn Rush, R.K. Ryals, and Rachael Wade on a boxed set featuring 5 full-length Paranormal New Adult Romances. How exciting is that?? The set, titled Curses, Fates & Soul Mates, is launching on February 17th, and the authors are putting out a call to bloggers who are interested in participating in the launch tour.

To participate in the LAUNCH TOUR, please click here.

The authors are planning a fun and innovative launch, including a Facebook party, huge giveaways, pre-orders and more! Outside of blogging, there are other ways you can join in the fun. The authors have created a Facebook group called Souls of Indie, and the aforementioned FB party will run from 2/14 to 2/17. Click the link and ask to join the group so you don't miss out!

If all of that wasn't enough to convince you, how about this gorgeous cover for Curses, Fates & Soul Mates designed by Robin Ludwig Design?
Incredible, right? One of the unique aspects of this boxed set is that Raine is opting to release Return of the Ascendant exclusively in the set upon its initial release. That's right, Raine Thomas'll have to get it in the boxed set first!

Without further adieu, let's find out more about Raine's book and check out the beautiful cover designed by Regina Wamba of MaeIDesign...

Return of the Ascendant Blurb
Expecting to enjoy another typical college night at a frat party with friends, Kyra Vaughn’s plans derail when she’s almost killed…twice. Her savior, a tall, sexy stranger who calls himself TaeDane, claims that he’s the personal bodyguard for the Ascendant of Alametria. She’s convinced he’s crazy.
Especially when he insists that she’s the Ascendant.
With dark enemies hunting her down, Kyra has no choice but to trust her supposed bodyguard. Ty vows to help her remember her past and return her safely to Alametria, but someone seems intent on interfering, challenging his abilities at every turn.
As Kyra’s memories emerge, she remembers that Ty is more to her than he’s let on…much more than he’s allowed to be. She’ll also discover that there are many things about her planet and herself that she’d rather forget. In the end, she’ll have to make a choice: cling to the life she knows, or risk it all to become the person she’s destined to be.

And now, the big reveal!

We hope to see you all at the Curses, Fates & Soul Mates party!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Real Story of Indies & Income

There have been all kinds of survey results circulating recently about how indie/self-published authors are "really" faring in comparison to their traditionally published counterparts. Mainstream media reports that self-publishing isn't all it's cracked up to be - the majority of indie authors earn less than $1,000 or $500 a year (depending on the source survey). The funny thing is that no authors in the many groups I'm a part of - including big names and not-so-well-known ones - were ever a part of these surveys. The most common question has been, "Who did they ask????"

You see, we're doing a lot better than they want to make out (and "they," most likely, is comprised of the legacy system - the Big 5 publishers, agents who cling to the old ways, their avid supporters, and mainstream media). They're correct in saying that only a small handful of indies have made the NYT Best-Sellers and USA Today lists or have made millions a year, but the same can be said of traditionally published authors. There are only a few superstars, but many thousands of midlist authors - those of us who sell well, but haven't hit the "big" lists. Here's what they're getting wrong, though: midlist indies make MUCH MORE income than midlist trad-pubbed.

Finally, someone surveyed indies and hybrids who are professionals, rather than hobbyists. Who are working their asses off, offering new products on a regular basis, and, well, making this a business. And who are earning a very good living. My hat goes off to Beverley Kendall who created the survey, collected and analyzed the results and compiled them into this informative report. If you're a writer, I highly recommend you read it. Wait, I take that back. I insist you read it. You deserve to know the real story.

In the interest of transparency, I'll share my numbers below. This is not to brag or to make anyone feel superior or inferior. It's to show that you don't have to be a NYT Best-Seller to make a nice living at self-publishing. In fact, I haven't even had a book on Amazon's Top 100 Kindle Paid list since 2011 (although in 2013 I made the Nook, iBooks and Kobo Top 100 lists - for iBooks, the Top 20 list). I started from scratch; I was never published by New York.

You'll see that I fall in the second highest group in the survey for income in 2013. I also have fewer titles out than everyone else in that group, but I'm working on that this year. As is consistent with the survey, income and unit sales increased in correlation with both number of books given away (the first book in my series has been perma-free since mid-2012) and number of titles available (note that although I added 5 titles in 2013, 3 of those were the holiday short story collections released at the end of the year).

One last thing I need to share: I have what many indies call a "vested partner." For most authors who are lucky enough to have such a partner, this is usually their spouse. However, I could never work like this with The Man, so I have Chrissi. This means that I don't personally earn every bit of what I'm showing here. As most indies do, we have an LLC, and this is what the LLC brings in. We don't publish any other authors and don't offer any services (at this time), so this is all based on my books' sales. We also had no capital going into this. Our arrangement is no different than a husband-and-wife team who created an LLC to publish her/his/their books - we're just not married. Just thought I should share that.

Okay, finally, the numbers:

Self-publishing is not a bubble that's going to burst, although it will likely level off. Most importantly, though, the hype surrounding it is not a lie. It's not a get-rich-quick scheme that will make anyone off the street tons of money within months. But as you can see, putting in your time, working your ass off and taking calculated risks - just like for any business - pays off.

Bottom line: It's a great time to be a writer. Whether you go traditional, indie or hybrid, you have more viable opportunities than ever.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Cover Reveal - Crux by Miranda Kavi

CRUX (Aurora Lockette Series 2) by Miranda Kavi
Cover Artist: Mae I Design and Photography
Release Date: January 29th, 2014
#CRUX #MirandaKavi #CoverReveal #TBRList

I’ve been captured by the Shyama.

 They’ve revealed their origins… and mine.

 I will escape, I will live, and I will see Gavyn again.

 After the Shyama brazenly kidnap Aurora in a crowded Las Vegas Casino, others in the Organization soon go missing. Her friends, family, and Gavyn sink into despair as hours pass into days with no leads, but Gavyn refuses to give up the search.

 During Aurora’s captivity, she learns the terrible truth of the identity of the Shyama and her own kind. Worse yet, the Shyama have horrible plans that will destroy everyone she loves.

 Aurora needs an army to stop them. But first, she has to escape…

Start the Aurora Lockette Series with BOOK 1 – FLEE for only $.99! -

Author Bio –
Miranda Kavi is a romance and paranormal fiction author. Her books have been listed on the top 100 best seller lists on Amazon and I-tunes. She has worked as an attorney, an executive recruiter, and an assistant in a biological anthropology lab. She loves scary movies, museums, and is hopelessly addicted to chocolate. She lives in Houston with her husband and daughter.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Blogger Appreciation

Just when I was starting to feel caught up for the New Year and actually felt productive yesterday, life happened again. Everything that should have been easy yesterday became quite the long, drawn-out process, throwing me way off schedule. And then...I get the call from my son that he'd been in an accident. If you're a parent, you know how you dread "the call" since the first minute you hold them in your arms. This one was minor, thank God. And I thank God profusely that he and everyone else involved wasn't injured. As much as yesterday and last night sucked as we started adding up the financial costs and other consequences, at least we weren't spending our time in the ER.

So, anyway, my afternoon was blown to bits yesterday, which has put me behind again today. Which means, I don't have a blog post written. Luckily, there is this really awesome event going on over at Facebook that I'm more than happy to pimp.

If you're a blogger or an author or both, please go check it out ( And do it NOW! Although the official event isn't until Feb. 10, there's already all kinds of fun happening. This is a great way to discover new-to-you bloggers and authors and to make all kinds of new friends. On the actual date, there will be some amazing giveaways and more fun to be had.

Go join the event and be sure to "Like" and follow any blogs and authors that catch your eye. And have lots of fun!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Un-stifling Creativity

I caught myself doing something absolutely horrible the other day, and it made me wonder how often I do it without realizing. So I've been paying more attention for the last few days and am appalled at myself. Now I wonder if I'm the only one or if others have fallen into this same self-defeating trap. Before I can tell you what crime I've been committing, let me explain a little about the life of an author.

These days, whether self-published, indie published or trad-published, being an author is a business. If we don't think of ourselves as a business - with all of the financial management, marketing, customer and vendor relations, and everything else that goes into running a company - our careers will fail. We're not just writers. Yes, we must spend the majority of our time writing and creating, but there is much more to what we do than that. We must wear a lot of hats. We must juggle a lot of tasks and activities, and we have to manage our time carefully. This is even more true of self/indie published because we have added responsibilities that our publishing houses and editors don't do for us. Throw in household duties, children, school, and for many, day jobs, and it's easy to see how important time management is.

For me, this means compartmentalizing my days and hours. I plan my weeks and days ahead of time, scheduling my writing time, my business time, and my personal time (of course, when a deadline is soaring at me, all bets are off, but this is the ideal situation). Whatever "time zone" I'm supposed to be in, I try to keep my focus on that area, get things done, and move on. Otherwise, I can bounce all over the place from one task to another without actually accomplishing anything. And I can easily keep myself busy 18 hours a day without writing a single word, which is no bueno.

There is also the whole thing about needing to be more present. More in the now. We writers have this uncanny habit to drift off in the middle of conversation because our minds have gone to the story we're working on. We're "listening" to characters talk in our head and "watching" scenes play out in our minds. If you've ever been talking to a writer and see them get this glassed-over look in their eyes, that's what's happening. We don't do it because we're bored, and we certainly don't mean to be rude. We just can't help it - the voices in our head become louder than everything around us. But after many complaints from family, friends, and business partners, I've had to remind myself to be more present. To be a part of life as it is right this minute because I'll never get this minute back again.

So here's what I busted myself doing the other day: I let my mind wander away from the task at hand, which was organizing some business stuff (the professional term) and creating monthly and weekly to-do lists. You know, those things we do at the beginning of the year so we can be even more productive this year than we were last. Or at least, less chaotic than we were last year. Anyway, my brain had the nerve to go to other places, like to characters and stories and scenes I want to write, rather than focusing on what I was doing. That's not the crime, though. Ready to hear what I did that was so bad? Ugh. I'm embarrassed to even write this.

I told myself: "You can't think about that right now. It's not writing and creating time. It's business time. You need to focus on organizing this crap." And I immediately turned off the flow of creative thoughts before they really got started, and I focused on what I was doing. Turned them off like they came from a faucet.

This may not sound bad, especially to those who are OCD control freaks like me who think, Yeah, you should be focused on the task at hand. But it is really, really bad for creative types. Especially when this kind of thinking becomes so ingrained, we don't even realize we do it. We're subconsciously stifling our creativity! Or maybe I'm the only one who does it, so I'm stifling my creativity.

When I started paying more attention, I realized I do this throughout the day. Many times. A. Lot. In fact, whenever I'm not in the "writing time" zone, I cut off my thoughts every time they try to go to the story or characters, and remind myself to focus on what I'm "supposed" to be doing. This used to be impossible. My characters would talk to me all day long and at the most inopportune times, and I couldn't do a thing to stop them. I'd have to pause whatever I was doing to write down notes so I wouldn't forget everything when it came time to actually write. But somewhere along the way while juggling way too many things for one person, I've learned to completely mute the voices. I taught myself too damn well to be "present."

The bad part comes when it's time to write - when I'm "allowed" to be creative and let my brain go there. By then, I've stymied the flow so much that my creativity comes in trickles rather than gushes. It takes longer to get into the story and allow myself to be there. Sometimes the voices have been told to shut up so much that they do so permanently.

I'm not really sure what to do about this, because those other things still need doing, and they need focus if I'm going to do them right. My family and friends still deserve to have me fully present when we're together. But at least I'm aware of this criminal behavior and admission is the first step, right? I'm hoping that when I catch myself about to tell the voices to shut up that I can allow them to talk at least a little more, to start with. I think I'm going to have to make it a point - and forgive myself ahead of time - to drop what I'm doing and let my mind wander when it goes to story stuff.

I wrote this blog post two days ago, but Blogger was giving me a fit and I couldn't publish it. And in that time - in fact, on the way home from the grocery store yesterday - my mind began wandering and I let it. But then ... a brand-new character popped into my head, and then another, and then a scene. They have absolutely nothing to do with either of the series I'm currently neck-deep in, and I was easily tempted to tell myself to shut up, to not think about these intriguing people whose story I want to know, because I need to be thinking about Jeric and Leni or Tristan and Alexis. Not about sexy college dude answering his parents' door in jeans and no shirt and no shoes, and holding a baby ... or why he's holding a baby ... or who's on the other side of the door .... And I caught myself doing it again. Trying to cut off the creativity. So I'm letting myself go with this one while I can. Who knows what could happen with it?

So I apologize in advance if I get distracted with this new and shiny idea. For me, it's a good thing as I unlearn my tendencies to stifle my own creativity. No worries - Jeric, Leni and a new(ish) girl in The Space Beyond, The Book of Phoenix #2, are also talking quite loudly. And I will make it a point to not tell them to shut up, regardless of what I'm doing. And now I apologize in advance to everyone who knows me in real life. I'm a writer. What can I say? I will never be the normal you want me to be.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Naming Characters - and Other Things

Probably one of the best things about my job is reading the fan mail that lands in my inbox. Every single little note, even if it's just a question about the next book, makes my day a little brighter. I especially love to hear how my books have made a non-reader into an insatiable book fanatic. My other favorite type of fan mail comes from other writers, asking me questions and requesting any advice I can give. A common question is about naming characters...and other things I've made up.

Almost every name, whether for a character or something I've created, has a purpose. Ang'dora, for example, comes from "angel" and "dora," which means "gifts" in Greek - so the Ang'dora is "gifts from the angels." "Lykora" comes from "lykos," which is Greek for "wolf" and some variation of the Japanese word for tiger (which I can't find my notes on to tell you the specific word, although I can't type in Japanese symbols anyway, so it'd still be somewhat translated).

The character names in the Book of Phoenix series have very specific meanings, but if you haven't read the first book yet, explaining could give things away. I'll just say they're each named what they are on purpose. The secondary characters in the Soul Savers are either named because the meaning is relevant to that character or I've borrowed their name from someone I know who shares a couple of their traits.

The names for Tristan and Alexis, however, have the most interesting stories. Ever since Legends of the Fall came out (one of my all-time favorite movies), I've loved the name Tristan. I'd already had all of my boys by then, so it had never been an option for my kids. When I started writing and realized I needed to name the hero (I was a few scenes deep before I realized this), I didn't want to just name him because I liked the name. However, when I looked up "Tristan," I couldn't have been more pleased. "Tristan" is a derivative of "Drustan," which means "tumult" but altered with the Latin "tristis," which means "sad." That pretty much covered the Tristan of the beginning of the series.

Alexis was another of my favorite names. In fact, if I'd ever had a daughter, her name would have been Alexis. My grandmother's email address for years, which she'd created when I was pregnant with my second, had been based on "Alexis's great-grandma." When I didn't have a girl and we decided three under the age of three was enough, I knew I'd never have my baby girl Alexis. So, eventually we got a female Boxer and named her Lexi. That was the closest I had...until I started writing fiction again.

After writing those first few scenes and realizing I wasn't just playing around but had an actual storyline in my head, I not only had to name the hero, but also my heroine. I was already in love with her by then - she had become a part of me. But I wasn't going to name her "Alexis" simply because she was the closest thing I had to a daughter besides the dog. I knew even in those early stages when I was writing just for me that I wanted her name to mean something. I wanted it to be as perfect as possible for her character (while still being a cool name, of course). A name that meant "protector" or "defender" since that was her purpose in life, or, if I couldn't find that, something fitting to her personality.

So I went to the Internet and started researching baby names. Do you know how many sites there are - and how many are filled with viruses??? Ugh. It was kind of a nightmare at first. I didn't even know where to start except to look up names that randomly came to mind and hope that a) I liked it; and b) it came close in meaning. Quite unproductive! Then, luckily, I stumbled upon, which allows you to do a reverse-look-up - in other words, I could enter the word "defender" and get a list of names with that keyword in the meaning. I hoped and prayed and crossed my fingers that there would be a name I really liked, because I was beginning to grow weary of analyzing all of these names. I began to think that maybe it wasn't so important that her name mean anything relevant to her character...or that maybe I'd just continue to call her "she" and "her" until I had the patience to return to the research. After all, I was writing in first person, so her name didn't come up all that much.

So I entered "defender" in the field and clicked "Search." And I held my breath. When the list came up, I gasped, blinked, then probably squealed a little. I remember clearly that the hair stood up on my arms, and I just sat there staring at the screen for a while. What were the freakin' odds?

The very first name - and the only female name - that showed: Alexis.

There was a time I thought I didn't have a novel in me, and now I have 7 published books, with more coming. Many more. There was a time I thought I'd never have my Alexis, but, apparently, I'd been wrong about that, too. She just came in a different form than expected.

And that's what's so amazing about this thing called writing. Things come together in the most unexpected ways. Sometimes it's a little detail you throw in Chapter 3, although you don't know why, but it becomes something major when you're writing Chapter 20. Sometimes it's something weird you experienced six years ago that seemed to have no purpose, but you can draw on that memory when you're writing a particular scene. Sometimes it's something you thought you'd never have, but you do get it in your stories.

When I receive those fan mails from writers asking for advice, I'd always said first and foremost, "Don't give up. No matter how hard or insane it gets, if this is your passion, keep writing. Otherwise, a piece of you will die." I think I need to add to that: "Be prepared for the unexpected. The coolest things happen when you least expect them."