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New Year, New Reads 99 cent Book Sale

Who’s looking for some great reads for 2017? Well, look no further than some 99-cent reads from a multitude of authors. I have a few discounted books, so check them out! If you received a new reader for Christmas, this is the perfect chance to fill it up!

Amazon is a bit particular about running discounts, so both Wucaii and The Appeal of Evil are available for 99 cents in the U.S., but Life After the Undead and Dealing with Devils are available for 99 cents in the U.K.

It has been 500 years since Aelana has been home, and a lot has changed in that time--including her. As a half-dragon, half-human hybrid, she has been traveling the universe destroying worlds. Both anxious and excited to return, she wonders what she will find. Her memories of home are filled with pain and loss, especially for her first and only love. She knows he won't be there, but will his memory? Will her anguish remain? 

What waits for Aelana on her home world? Find out in this exciting urban fantasy novel by Pembroke Sinclair.

Katie wants to invest her heart and soul in love, but she may lose both to Hell. 

Katie, a senior in high school, is torn between loving the "good" guy, her childhood friend Wes who makes promises he doesn't keep and abandons her when she needs him the most, and the "bad" guy, the new kid at school Josh who is also a real demon from Hell. Katie wants someone who pays attention to her and puts her first, but what is she willing to give up to find him? 

Find out in book one of this thrilling young adult paranormal romance by Pembroke Sinclair.

Dating a demon has its advantages, like helping deliver souls to Hell. Wait...what?

Katie's world has been turned upside down. She's fallen for Josh--despite the fact that he's a demon from Hell. Wes is finally out of her system and her life. Convinced she can change Josh, she sets out to make him a better person, only to find out things aren't as simple as she'd originally thought. For one thing, Josh has Katie help him deliver souls to Hell, and she kind of likes it. And to top it off, other more powerful demons are battling for her soul, and revelations from the past could change the course of her life forever. 

This is book two of the thrilling young adult paranormal romance by Pembroke Sinclair.

Seventeen-year-old Krista must quickly figure out how she's going to survive in the zombie-destroyed world. 

The one advantage humans have is that the zombies hate humid environments, so they're migrating west to escape its deteriorating effects. The survivors plan to construct a wall at North Platte to keep the undead out, and Krista has come to Nebraska to start a new life. 

Zombies aren’t the only creatures she has to be cautious of—the other survivors have a dark side. Krista must fight not only to live but also to defend everything she holds dear—her country, her freedom, and ultimately, those she loves. 

Join Krista in her quest to survive in this thrilling apocalyptic novel by Pembroke Sinclair.

Check out these other authors for more great books!

1. Patricia Lynne  7. Francis Mandewah  13. Neal Roberts  
2. Tui Snider  8. Rochelle Campbell  14. Paige Warren  
3. Christine Rains  9. Jemima Pett  15. Kenna McKay  
4. Tyrean A Martinson  10. Mary Pax  16. Pembroke Sinclair  
5. A.A. Chamberlynn  11. Diane Burton  17. Kandi J Wyatt  
6. Connie B. Dowell  12. Jessica Coulter Smith  18. tara tyler  

To Give Free Books or Not to Give?

A while ago, I read a post from another author about free books. In it, this particular author was upset by the fact that they had sent out free books in the hopes of getting reviews but hadn’t yet received any. They were indignant that after making their book available, the reader couldn’t uphold their end of the bargain. The author vowed that they were never going to give away free books again.

I sympathized with the author. I had been there myself. To get our work out into the world so people can see it, we have to have reviews. But there are a lot of us unknown indie authors, so we have to solicit reviewers or pay review sites to read our books. It’s time consuming, frustrating, and it can get expensive. And that’s not even mentioning the fraudulent sites out there who just want to steal our money.

I also understood the amount of time and effort this author put into their work and the need to be recognized and paid for their creation. The vast majority of us authors have dreams of becoming the next Stephen King or J.K. Rowling. We have thoughts of being able to quit our day jobs and focus solely on writing. We fantasize about what the movie version of our book will look like. I know I do. However, those dreams come crashing down on us when we barely make enough from our book sales to buy a cup of coffee.

The debate on whether or not an author should give away free books is ongoing. As you can imagine, there are those who believe in free books for all, while others think it cheapens the field. Honestly, I understand both sides of the argument. Personally, I am more than happy to give my books away for free. Well, not always, but every once in a while. Although, it took me a while to reach this conclusion. Like the author at the beginning of this post, there was a time when I was never going to send out free books ever again!

Let me explain. Like the author at the beginning of this post, I would send my books out to readers or reviewers for free in exchange for a review, only to have them not post any reviews. Without said reviews, no one could find my books, so I wasn’t making any sales. No sales meant no money, and I blamed it on the fact that readers just wanted a free book.

However, as time went on and I got more books under my belt, I saw the value in giving books away—but it took me re-evaluating what success meant to me. I came to the conclusion a while ago that I will never be able to retire on my book earnings. And you know what? That’s okay. Just because I’m not going to be a millionaire doesn’t mean I’m going to stop writing. I write because I like to write. I really enjoy telling stories. And I really like when people read those stories.

And there’s nothing wrong with readers wanting free books. I’m a reader in addition to being an author, and I like free books.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy making royalties off the sales of my books, no matter how small they may be. It lets me know that my work has value and that people are willing to pay for it. I will continue to sell my books, with an occasional free giveaway. My point is that once in a while, it’s nice to treat people to a free book because it gets my work into the hands of readers who may not have thought about picking it up.

Do I expect a review out of it? Absolutely not. I’m terrible about leaving reviews for books—even ones I really enjoy. However, I’m really good at telling my friends and family about books that I enjoyed, and word of mouth is just as good at getting others to read as a review is—maybe even better. My hope is that readers do the same for my books.

When it comes down to it, it’s the author’s choice about whether they want to give their books away for free. Again, I totally understand why some don’t want to, and I don’t fault or blame them for making that decision. For me, though, I like to introduce new readers (heck, even old readers!) to my stories, and I think giving them a copy is the best way to do that.

December is in Full Swing

It’s here, friends. We can’t get out of it now. December is upon us, and with that, Christmas is right around the corner. This is a great time to curl up with some cocoa, a blanket, and watch some holiday movies.

Now, if you’re anything like me, you’re not going to settle for any holiday film. Oh, no. It has to be special. It has to be horror.

But don’t fret! There are tons of Christmas horror movies out there to keep you satisfied. Here’s a few.

Black Christmas - the original is linked, but the remake isn’t terrible.

Rare Exports (I still haven’t seen this one yet, but it’s on the top of my list!)

And sooooo many more. Have you seen any of these? Which are your favorites? Do you have any Christmas horror movie recommendations?

Looking at the Bright Side

Friends, I’m going to be honest, this past month as been a real challenge. I’ve been trying to rediscover my confidence and keep the depression from debilitating me. I’ve sent out so many resumes, I feel like I’m holding my own ticker tape parade.

The job application process reminds me a lot of the publishing process. Three-fourths of the time, I don’t get any response from the places I email. If I’m lucky, I’ll get an automated message that says they’ve received my information, but that’s usually all.

One place I applied to sent me an incredibly passive-aggressive email. I had been on the fence about whether or not I was actually going to apply. I found the posting on a job board site, and it raised several questions in my mind. I went to the company website to find the answers, but they weren’t there. I decided that I would shoot an email to their address. All I wanted to know was if they had a minimum/maximum amount of work they expected to be done every week, how I would get paid, how I would choose my assignments, and a question about a stipulation they had in their contract (which was mentioned in the job posting).

What I got back was mind boggling.

The person basically commented that if I had sent in my resume, and if it had looked promising, they would have sent me a document that answered all my questions. They then said that they didn’t understand what I was asking with my minimum and maximum question, so they weren’t even going to bother trying to answer it.

The tone of the email irritated me, and if they were just going to say things like that, why would they waste time emailing me at all? I emailed back, apologized for forgetting to include my resume, and included it then. I’m fully aware it was a moot point, but still. As you can imagine, I’ve heard nothing back. But at this point, I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

For another company I applied to, I made it to the second round, and they sent me an email with information about the next steps I needed to take. In those steps, it mentioned that I had to pay $50 for a background check. Now, I knew a background check was involved, it said so in the job post, but I was confused as to why I had to pay for it. The company is reputable, I Googled them and did my due diligence, so I figured I would send an email and ask.

A week later, I received an email asking if I was still interested in the position because they had not received a response from me. This one came from a person (I assumed because it had a name in the Sent From line, as opposed to a generic HR email), so I responded and re-asked my question. A week later, I received a response that my account had been deactivated because of lack of activity.

This whole process has been so frustrating. I’m fully aware that we are in December and that Christmas is right around the corner, so I’m sure most companies don’t want to hire anyone right now. They want to be able to spend time with their families, but if they can get everything in place, they can start looking at new hires after the New Year.

I know I need to be patient, and I’m doing my best. One of the things that is helping me keep my head above water is thinking about all the good things that are happening right now.

One of those is being able to spend time with my boys. They have asked me several times to join them for lunch at school, and I’ve had the time to go. I know that won’t last for long, so I’m taking advantage of the opportunity while I can.

I get to be totally immersed and involved with their sports. My mind isn’t wandering to how much work I have to do when I get home. I just get to be with them. Which also means I have time to veg out and watch TV with them at night.

I’ve had time to write. This has been instrumental in helping me feel better. When I get super frustrated, I get to maim, kill, and devour people in my story. It really aids in reducing stress. I’m on Chapter 8 of the second book in my new young adult zombie novel, and I’m really enjoying where the story is going. It feels so good to be creative.

I’ve been in contact with the publisher about the cover for Humanity’s Hope. I’m not exactly sure what I want, but working together, I think we’re going to come up with something amazing. I can’t wait to see what it is.

I’m this close to having the biography done. After inputting a few more edits and getting another proof of the book, that baby will be done. It feels great to know that it will soon be out in the world.

Yes, times have been tough lately and I’m in a dark place, but there are shards of light trying to break in. I’m doing my best to let that light in and focus on the good things.

Anxiety and Horror Movies

I live with anxiety. In a nutshell, what that means is that randomly my brain decides I need to get anxious about something. It can be the most mundane thing in the world (for example, I’ve had panic attacks while standing in line at Walmart to pay for my groceries), but my brain turns it into a crisis. There are varying degrees of anxiousness, from an electric feeling to nervousness to full-blown panic. And I have no control over when these feelings hit.

Here are some examples of my anxiety:

My family and I used to live in a house on a fairly busy street. The boys’ bedrooms were at the front of the house, and every winter I had visions of someone losing control on the icy streets and slamming into the front of the house while my boys slept.

My friend and I had the opportunity to go to the AWP conference a few years ago when it was in Seattle. We were sharing a hotel room, and it was on the 27th floor. When we entered, my friend went to look out the window, and I told her to get away from it. I had visions of the glass falling out and her being sucked to her death. (For some reason, in my anxiety-induced fantasy, there was a pressure difference between the hotel room and outside.)

I never go into any building without knowing where the exits and bathrooms are—you just never know when you’re going to need one or the other.

I also have anxiety dreams.

One time, I had a dream that my youngest son had been bitten by a zombie. Before he turned, we decided to give him the best day ever—whatever he wanted to do, he could do. When his time was up, I had to take him out into the yard to deal with him. I’m sure you can imagine the anguish I was going through.

When the boys were still babies, I had a dream that I had taken them to Walmart. I set the carrier on the ground next to my car while I loaded the groceries in the back, and my oldest decided he was going to take that moment to run around the parking lot. I chased after him, and while I was trying to catch him, a monster truck pulled into the parking space next to my car and ran over my other son.

These few examples just scratch the surface of what my brain comes up with. Sure, I can tell myself that everything is going to be all right and that it’s only in my brain, but when my body releases the adrenaline and other chemicals, all I can do is ride the wave until they subside.

Anxiety isn’t logical, and I spend a lot of my day having a horror movie play inside my head. It’s stressful to think that I have little control over what my own brain does. So, with all of this happening, why in the world would I want to be a horror author or watch horror movies? You’d think I got enough scary stuff on my own.

The answer to that is actually quite simple: control.

While I can’t control my brain going to the worst-case scenario in most situations, I can control what I watch. I know that a horror movie is supposed to be scary. I know that there are going to be jumps and scary creatures. I know that what I see on the screen is fake.

When it comes to horror, I get to pick what I watch. I’m a huge fan of creature features, slasher films, and zombie flicks, so they’re top on my list. There’s a comfort in knowing that these movies are predictable. Even though they still might cause me to jump, I know it’s coming. I can’t say the same about my anxiety. I have no idea when it’s going to strike.

Horror movies help me deal with my emotions. They don’t stop the anxiety from happening, but if I’m going to be anxious, I at least want to have some control over it. That’s also why I write horror. It gives me a chance to project my unnatural and illogical fears onto the page and have someone overcome the ordeal.

Anxiety is hard to live with. It can be debilitating. It can make me feel out of control—especially of my own mind. But when I get the chance, I like to take that control back and be anxious, panicky, and afraid on my own terms.

Happy Thanksgiving!

For all of you who are celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow, I hope you have a wonderfully amazing day!

Thanksgiving is my second favorite holiday, right after Halloween. I love celebrating food. I mean, seriously, what can be better? Aside from spending time with friends and family and reflecting on everything that we’re thankful for.

I know it can be hard to see the bright side when things have been so bleak, and I’m fully aware that the holidays can be a stressful time. But I encourage all of you to take a moment—no matter how brief—and think of one thing that you’re happy for. Maybe it’s just getting out of bed—it doesn’t matter—some days that’s an accomplishment all in itself, and I’m proud of you for taking that step.

After you think of that one thing, try to think of another. Then, go stuff yourself full of turkey and all the other wonderful foods and have a fantastic day!

Life Changes in the Blink of an Eye

For the past few months, I’ve been struggling to find time to do anything besides work. Then, like that, I have nothing but time. So what have I been doing with my new-found time?

Well, I go through a range of emotions on a daily basis—from anger to sadness to hurt to annoyed to worried to acceptance—sometimes in multiple cycles. I’m trying to stay optimistic and look at the bright side, but it’s been difficult to do. I worry a lot about what the future is going to bring.

One of the things I’ve done to try and cope with the situation is look at it like a rejection. As an author, I’m used to getting rejections. I’m used to people telling me no. While it’s distressing for a while, it usually motivates me to pick myself up and move on. I can mourn the rejection and be upset by it, but it doesn’t define me. It’s not who I am, and it drives me to prove that I can be so much better.

It helps looking at it from this perspective, but my self-confidence and self-worth have been shaken. My pride has been wounded.

I’m not one to sit around and do nothing, but there’s only so much I can do right now. I’m doing what I can and hoping for the best. If you want to send some good juju my way, I’ll happily take it.

So far, I’ve gotten up every morning and worked out, then showered and got on the computer. I’m trying to keep a schedule so I don’t fall into a funk. I feel like I should take this time to clean parts of my house that never get cleaned, but I’m working up to that.

Since I have so much time on my hands, I’ve been able to get through edits for Humanity’s Hope and get those sent back to the editor. It felt good to do something productive. Perhaps I can use that momentum to make up for the last few months and get some more writing done. Perhaps this is a good time to look into marketing and PR.

Above all else, I need to keep my head up and realize that this doesn’t define me. Rejection of any sort doesn’t define me; it only makes me stronger and more determined. Sure, it’s tough and I might cry every so often, but I can’t give up.

“Everything Happens for a Reason”

I’ve never been a fan of this saying. It always felt so passive to me. Like I was resolving myself to whatever had happened or was going to happen.

But I think I was looking at it wrong.

Unfortunately, things happen in life that we don’t have any control over. We can’t stop the sun from rising and setting, and bad and good things will occur on a daily basis. But we don’t have to watch it happen passively. We have a choice in how we act and react to the situation. In the end, we might not be able to change anything, but we can do what is best for us.

I’m not talking about the election in this post. While I know that will be the focus of the next few days (weeks or perhaps even months), my focus is on a much smaller, more selfish scale. I can’t change what happened with the presidency. The only thing I can do anything about is my own life.

Life is tough. It throws us curve balls and tests our will. It pushes us down over and over and over again. But the true test is whether we get back up. Sometimes, the fight isn’t worth it. We don’t always have to be able to face the challenge. Sometimes we don’t have the energy or the means. And that’s okay. We’re not going to win every battle. The older I get, the more I realize that it’s important to pick my battles and do what I can to make a difference in my life.

I try to be the best person I can be and instill those values in my kids. I try to make my small part of the world what I want it to be. Right now, my goal is to be happy. It’s been a long road full of bumps and detours and the world crashing down on me, but now I have an opportunity to change. I think this is where the above saying comes into play. I think this is my sign to be spurred into action. It’s my chance to find something better and rediscover what it means for me to be happy. Will it be easy? No. Will there be challenges and worries and stress along the way? Of course. But I’m going to do what I can.

On a lighter note, I’ve been working on edits to Humanity’s Hope. The other day, I was at the point with corrections where I was like, “This isn’t half bad. Maybe I’m not a terrible writer!” It’s helps to have an amazing editor make suggestions on how the book can be better.

I don’t know when the book will be out—more than likely it won’t be before the end of the year—but I’m getting that much closer. I’m working toward the end. It’s a great feeling, and it helps me feel accomplished. 

November Already?

Where did the time go? I didn’t have time to fully prepare for Halloween, and now Thanksgiving is right around the corner? Insanity!

I hope you all had a great Halloween. We did. I took the boys trick-or-treating with their cousins and one of their cousin’s friends. They go soooooo much candy. We should be good for a year.

The night after Halloween wasn’t exactly a fun time. My oldest left his candy bag on the couch, so two of the dogs got into it. The third dog didn’t because he was in his kennel while the rest of us went to basketball practice. I got to spend the rest of the evening running the dogs to the vet so they could induce vomiting.

It was a good thing they went, however. Siggy, my little 22-lb Corgi, had eaten chocolate and some gum, which could have possible had sorbitol in it. I had no idea that was poisonous until the vet said something.

I’m hoping the rest of the week goes a bit more smoothly. It’s only Wednesday and I’m already exhausted.

How did your Halloween go? Anything fun and exciting happen?

I Have to Make Time

A couple of weeks ago, I was filling out an interview for a blog site. One of the questions asked what books I was currently reading, and—sadly—I had to answer that I wasn’t currently reading any books. Things had been so crazy busy, I honestly didn’t have time.

I felt a small bit of my soul die when I typed that. After all, I’m a reader; I always have been. I love being able to escape daily life and go to another place. I love living experiences through other people’s eyes. That’s also why I write. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a lot of time to do that either.

After typing those words, I told myself that something was going to change. No one was going to give me time to read, I had to take it for myself. So I did. And let me tell you, it makes a world of difference.

So, to answer the question of what I’ve been currently reading, I’ve been revisiting my teen reads. You may recall a blog post I did about finding inspiration in reading these texts, well, I’m still looking for it.

It seriously brings back a lot of memories and makes me feel so good to read these books. It gives me ideas for my own. It gives me the chance to escape. And because they are short, it doesn’t take me long to breeze through them. I’m just really enjoying my reading time again.

The most recent book I finished was The Eternal Enemy by Christopher Pike. At the back of the book are pages that recommend other authors. I’ve always known they’ve been there, but I didn’t pay too much attention. For some reason, one author drew me in. Have you heard of Richie T Cusick? I hadn’t, although she apparently wrote a bunch of Buffy books.

Anywho, I decided to check her out, so I picked up The Lifeguard. I’m not finished with it quite yet, but I’m really enjoying it. I’m definitely going to check out her other books.

It’s no secret that my life has been crazy busy lately—mainly because I keep telling you about it. It’s tough, and I’m trying to find a balance, but I’ve realized that I have to make that balance; no one is going to give it to me. I’ve started with getting back into reading, and the next step is getting back to writing. I think it will help improve my mood that much more. And trust, it’s been a super sh*tty mood.

What have you been reading lately? 

Attack of the 14 Nights of Halloween Giveaway

It's that time of year again. The days are getting shorter, the air is getting cooler and the nights are getting spookier. Yes, it's time for tricks and treats, goblins and ghouls, chills and thrills and huge amounts of sugary sweets. But at the Laughing Vixen Lounge blog it's also time for the 5th annual Attack of the 14 Nights of Halloween Giveaway. Join Laughing Vixen Lounge and our bewitching co-hosts The Kids Did It, The Mommy Island, Herding Cats and Burning Soup, The Hopping Bloggers, Mama Smith's Reviews and Women and Their Pretties for a spooktacular Halloween event.

Enter to win a $250 Prize Pack filled with goodies from 10 wickedly fabulous shops. All shops are offering Gift Cards or your choice of item(s) so there will be something for everyone. Many of the shops have items perfect for any book lover along with lots of unique, handcrafted and custom designs to choose from.

Visit the Laughing Vixen Lounge blog daily during the giveaway for the Halloween Movie Marathon. Test your movie knowledge with the Guess the Movie Game. Then try to solve the Murder Mystery Scavenger Hunt, if you dare! Each event will get you daily entries in the giveaway plus a special giveaway for the Scavenger Hunt. Find full details for these events HERE.

As a horror author and horror fan, I have so many horror movies that I enjoy this time of year. I don't know if I can list a favorite, but here are some I've seen many, many times and still enjoy:

A Nightmare on Elm Street (the series)
Friday the 13th (the series and the remakes)
The remake of the Halloween movies
From Dusk til Dawn
Any zombie film--but especially Zombieland, Night of the Living Dead, Day of the Dead, Shaun of the Dead, 28 Days Later, World War Z.

What's your favorite movie?

After leaving a comment with your favorite movie, be sure to enter the fun by the Rafflecopter widget below. To experience all the games, movies, shop features, giveaway info and all around awesome fun make sure to stop by the Laughing Vixen Lounge blog HERE

The giveaway runs October 18th - November 1st and is open worldwide to anyone 18+. 1 winner will win the Prize Pack and 1 winner will win the Scavenger Hunt Prize Pack. Laughing Vixen Lounge is responsible for all giveaway details. Click HERE for full details.

The World Won’t Come to You

You have to go to the world.

Writing a book is hard. For days, weeks, months, years you dedicate your time to your work. You pour your heart and soul into it, shape it into what you want it to be, put words on the page that reflect the ideas floating around in your head.

And then, the day it gets published, it’s the best day of your life! There’s a mix of emotions, from relief to fear to excitement to dread. But underneath it all, there’s accomplishment. All your hard work and dedication paid off.

But you’re far from done. Anymore, the author is expected to take part in promoting their work—especially if you’re mid-list, indie, of self. And promotion is not really where any of us want to be. We want to be back in front of our computer or with our pen and paper creating the next work. The euphoria of getting one story out is still with us, and we want to keep riding that wave for as long as we possibly can.

When my first book came out in 2009, I thought for sure all I had to do from there on out was continue to write. I was convinced that since my book was in the world, readers would come flocking in droves. The movie offers would come flooding in. Unfortunately, the reality was different—much, much different.

It took me several years (and several books) to realize that the world isn’t going to come to me. I have to go to the world. And that takes a lot of time.

I’m not very good at promoting myself. I always feel like I’m gloating or bragging when I talk about my work. In fact, more often than not, if I’m in mixed company and someone mentions that I’m published, my face turns bright red and I have a hard time talking about my books.

But the thing is, as authors, we’re the best people to promote our work. We know it inside and out, we get excited about it because we know our characters better than anyone. And that excitement can be infectious. If we can get others just as excited as we are, then maybe they’ll read our work. So why is it so difficult to do?

It’s hard. I know. It takes a lot of time and dedication. Even doing blog posts or posting on social media takes time—let’s not even talk about doing readings or presentations or attending conferences. How in the world are we supposed to find time to write with all of that extra stuff going on? Especially since the vast majority of us also have to work full-time jobs! There’s not enough time in the day.

But that’s why you have to make time. These past few months, while I’ve been learning a new job, I’ve let my book promotion slip. I haven’t had time to do much of anything except some Twitter and Facebook posts. I’ve done a couple Facebook takeovers and guest posts, but not much else.

With the way the publishing industry has changed, anyone can be an author. There are literally millions of books out there. But that’s not a bad thing. Having more to read and more choices for readers can be overwhelming, but as long as they’re reading, I’m happy. But how do you stand out from everyone else? You have to put yourself out there.

I’m not saying I’m a pro or that I even know what I’m doing when it comes to promotion. But I have learned over the past few months that it is easy to fade away and get lost. You don’t always have to be out there yelling, “BUY MY BOOK” because that won’t work—it’s nice to sell books, of course—but you need to be out there being engaged and talking to people. Find others who share your interests and start chatting.

Personally, I love talking horror, and I haven’t been able to get onto my favorite horror sites and read the latest news. That makes me sad. I miss that connection. As much as it embarrasses me to talk about my books, I miss being around people who like to read and who want to talk books—even if they are mine.

I need to change that. I need to get myself back out there. It’s tough, for sure, and it takes a helluva lot of time, but it’s worth it. Don’t wait for the world to come to you, go to the world. Show the world how passionate you are about what you do and they’ll share in your enthusiasm.

I Have to Find My Happy

My oldest finished his football season on Saturday. It wasn’t a good season. The poor kids didn’t win one game. It was kind of mind boggling because there were only two teams, and they practiced together, but once they got on the field, one was way more dominant than the other.

On the whole, however, it didn’t bother my son. There was one game he was bummed out because they weren’t playing the way they were supposed to, but otherwise, he just enjoyed being able to play.

Even after losing his championship game on Saturday, he said he didn’t care. He is excited for next season and can’t wait. He had fun, he enjoyed playing, and that was all that mattered.

I am extremely proud of him for having that outlook. It would have been so easy for him to throw his helmet and say he was never playing again. He could have crossed his arms, threw himself on the couch, and cried. But he didn’t.

Watching my son react that way reminds me how important it is to look at the good things in life and just have fun. So often, the world weighs us down. We get caught up in drama or a crappy job or whatever and let it rule our lives. We stop being happy and just go through our days.

The older I get, the more I realize how important it is to be happy. Life is so short. Granted, there are always responsibilities we have to take care of, but they shouldn’t drag us down. They shouldn’t be the only thing we have to look forward to.

I’ve been in a rough place for a while now, and sometimes it’s hard to see the good or the fun. But it’s out there. If my son can see it through defeat, then so can I. I just have to look a little harder.

Creatures in Need: Indie Authors and Bats

To make a donation, go to my Crowdrise page!

Tier 1: $1-$10 - ecopies of:

Tier 2: $11-$20 - Tier 1 
    ecopy of:        signed paperback copy of:

Tier 3: $21+ - Tier 1 + Tier 2 +
signed paperback copies of:

The Bio is Almost Done!

Last week, I got the cover for the bio. If you didn’t happen to see it on Twitter or Facebook, here it is again.

My friend created it for me, and I think she did an amazing job. You know what that means? The book is this close to being done. I expect the proof to show up any day now. After it’s approved, it will be ready for the world. It’s so exciting to get this book done!

There’s always that moment of bliss when a book is ready to come into the world. I have a sense of accomplishment, that all my hard work paid off. It’s amazing. I ride that wave for a while, then I move on to the next project.

And speaking of next projects, I actually found some time to work on the zombie book over the weekend. That felt really good too. The progress is going slowly, but at least it’s progress.

Don’t forget next month I’m doing my Creatures in Need fundraiser. My friend created a logo for me for the t-shirt. You’ll get to see it as soon as the campaign starts!  Don’t miss out on some amazing books and a chance to help some amazing creatures!

One Step Closer

Over the weekend, I got the biography formatted for both Kindle and paperback. You have no idea how good it feels to have that step of the process completed. It means the books is one step closer to coming into the world.

There is something so satisfying and magical about seeing the book on the screen. It makes it feel real. There are a lot of photos in this book, so it’s awesome to see how they lay out on the page. I can’t wait to hold the proof in my hand! I bet it’s going to smell a-m-a-z-i-n-g.

If you’re curious, the book is called A Rancher and a Warrior: the Life of Dale Robinson in Wyoming and WWII and here’s what the book is about:

Lance Dale Robinson dreamed of one day owning his own ranch. Born and raised in a small town in Wyoming, ranching was all he’d ever known and it was all he ever wanted to do. But on his way to achieving that dream, WWII got in the way.

He was a heavy machine gunner for Company H of the 313th Infantry. He landed on Normandy Beach 6 days after D-Day, and tells a story of wading through bodies like seaweed to get onto land. He was part of the Battle of the Bulge, where he was almost court-martialed for thinking his sergeant’s life was more important than his weapon. He received a Silver Star, a Bronze Star, and a British Military Medal.

When he returned home after his service, he went back into ranching. During his career, Dale worked with the University of Wyoming and Colorado State University to improve artificial insemination of cows. He traveled and lectured about the impacts that were being made in the process, and he helped advance science and ranching.

I’m still waiting for the cover, but I’m hoping to have the book ready sometime in October. You know I’ll let you know when it comes out.

Other than that, not much has been happening on the writing front. I was hoping to get some writing done on the sequel to Humanity’s Hope, but time has gotten away from me. Hopefully now that the biography is almost done I’ll have more time. I think I might have found the title for the book. However, I’m not sharing quite yet because it could always change. I know, it’s not nice of me to tease. Soon, friends, soon.

An October Fundraiser

When Booktrope was still in business, one of the best things they did (and they did a lot!) was allow us authors to take part in a Humble Bundle.

For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s a chance to get some cool stuff and help out charity. It originally started for video games, but they have expanded into the book world. It was amazing to be part of that.

Because I enjoy the premise of what Humble Bundle does, I’m going to do my own in the month of October. It will be called the Creatures in Need: Indie Authors and Bats campaign. There will be different tiers and you get to decide what you pay. The more you contribute, the more cool things you get, including signed paperbacks and a t-shirt. Half the money will go to indie authors and half will go to bats, specifically Bat Conservation International.

Why bats, you ask? Well, for a variety of reasons. First of all, it’s October, the holiest of horror months, and bats seem to be a good fit, especially for a horror author. They are also amazing creatures that do a lot for the world, including getting rid of insects and pollinating flowers, but they are very misunderstood and often villainized.

On a personal level, I picked bats because I have an unnatural fear of them. I am fully aware that my fear is unnatural, so I’m doing what I can to overcome it. This is a step in that direction.

I really hope that you will join me in my campaign and supporting creatures in need. If there are any authors or artists that would also like to get involved, shoot me a message using either the contact form on the side or through email at pembrokesinclair at hotmail.com.

Battling the Blues

Working at home has a lot of advantages. It means I have a flexible schedule for when the boys need to get to practices or appointments. It means I don’t have to put on real clothes (or shower or brush my teeth), although I do, every day.

But it also has a downside. Right now, as I go through training, all my time is focused on work. For the past month or so, I’ve worked way past 40 hours. My evenings are work, and so are my weekends. I haven’t had much of a life away from computer. I certainly haven’t had any energy (or time) to write.

It’s been really tough. One of the biggest downsides to working at home is that you’re never away from work. I don’t leave an office building and leave my work behind. It’s always there, waiting for me.

That, of course, is the challenge working at home—finding that balance between life and work. Sadly, there hasn’t been a balance at all recently. The scales are definitely tipped in favor of work. However, I’ve been assured by several different people that once I’m done with training, I will be able to have a life again. I hope so. I can’t keep going like this. I’m exhausted.

When I get this tired, I fall into despair. I feel like nothing’s ever going to change and I’m going to be miserable forever. It’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel when I’m in this mood. And I’m sure it’s there, it’s just waaaaaaaaay out in the distance. All I can do is take it day to day, so that’s what I’m going to do.

Despite the fact that I haven’t had a moment to put words onto paper (with the exception of a few blog posts), I have been making progress with some of my writing. For example, my grandfather-in-law’s biography has been sent to an editor, and I’m supposed to get edits back the first week of September.

I’ve decided that I’m going to self-publish that book. I’ve sent it to multiple publishers, and none of them are interested. Not a biggie. I totally understand. I could keep sending out queries and hoping someone eventually decides to pick it up, but my grandfather-in-law is 91. My husband and I talked about it, and we figured that getting the book out sooner rather than later is probably the best plan. I will keep you updated when it’s available.

I’m expecting Humanity’s Hope to come back from the editor any day now. I emailed it at the beginning of August. From there, I have no idea what the timeline looks like, but it will be one step closer. I’m pretty excited about that. Maybe it will encourage me to get to work on the sequel—assuming I can find time and keep my eyes open.

Back to School

Today is the boys’ first day back to school. I can’t tell you how excited I am! It’s only a half day, but I’ll take it. The past two weeks have been a bit challenging. The boys have been getting on each other’s nerves and fighting. And not just yelling fighting. Oh, no. Knock down drag outs. It’s been super fun.

The boys are excited to go back too. I’m letting them ride their bikes to school this year (I will be riding with them for safety), and they are super stoked about that. They got to get bike locks and everything. As I type this, they are outside preparing to go—even though we aren’t leaving for another 15 minutes. They were so thrilled they were going to skip breakfast! But I wouldn’t let them.

It makes me happy that the boys are excited to go to school. It makes it that much easier to do something they have to do. I’m sure as the school year goes on their enthusiasm will wane, but for right now, the new school year is exciting.

For me, it’s almost like Halloween. The thought of having a quiet house to get my work done makes me giddy. Hooray for school!

Publishers versus Self-published

Remember back in the day when it was a big deal to say you were self-published? Remember how people would look down their noses and harumph or snort? Remember how authors were viewed as less than real because they were self-published? Well, things have changed a bit from those days, and self-publishing isn’t as stigmatized as it used to be.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s still some who look down their noses at self-pubs, but it isn’t as bad as it once was. With more and more authors going that route, self-publishing is not going away any time soon.

Self-publishing changed the publishing industry. No longer was it a game of the “special” and the “elite,” anyone could put their book in the world. Some argued that was a bad thing because then the market was flooded with terrible, awful books. It cheapened the industry. But who are they to decide? Reading is a subjective business, what you think is terrible, someone else might really enjoy. It’s all about taste.

Then, there was the argument that in the rush to get a book out, authors would skip the all-important editing step and put out whatever they had. This may or may not be true. I’ve read some books in my day that were terribly edited, and they weren’t necessarily self-published. I’ve read books from big publishers and indie publishers, as well as self-pubbed, that had some issues in them. Mistakes happen. No one is perfect. So it’s not just a self-pub problem, it’s an industry problem. You as the reader have to decide if you can overlook the issues to enjoy the book—no matter how they were published.

I’ve never been against self-publishing, but it wasn’t something I thought about doing until recently. After Booktrope closed its doors, I couldn’t bring myself to try to find another publisher. The thought of sending out queries was daunting—and I was exhausted before I even started. I figured that since everything was already done, I might as well put the books back out myself.

I have to admit, it’s wonderful self-publishing your book. It’s nice to be in control. It’s nice to have the analytics at my fingertips. It’s fantastic knowing exactly how much I’m getting in royalties. It’s nice being able to decide when to put my books on special and to decide the sales price.

There is a downside to self-publishing, and that’s the cost. As an author, it’s important to make sure I put out the best possible work, and that means paying an editor to make sure my book is the best it can be, along with paying a cover designer to make sure my book looks good. I know how to format, I had done it in a previous job, but if you don’t know how, you’d have to pay someone to handle that for you.

That can get expensive. And there’s no guarantees you’ll make it back in sales.

In addition to expense, there’s also the time you have to invest. As a self-published author, you are responsible for putting your books up on the various sales sites. You can always go the route I went and just put them up at Amazon so you don’t have to worry about other venues. It makes things a lot easier, but it could potentially hurt you in sales.

Having a publisher, even an indie one like me, means that the vast majority of that stuff is taken care of for you. I don’t have to pay an editor or a cover designer because that’s part of my contract. I don’t have to worry about putting my books up on the sales sites because the publisher takes care of that.

But there are downsides there, too. I don’t get to keep track of my sales. I don’t get to see how much in royalties I get until I get a report. I don’t get to decide when to put the books on sales. Granted, I can mention to the publisher the times I would like to do that and we can work together to decide if that’s the best option.

However, another bonus of having a publisher is the support system that exists. There’s other authors, editors, cover designer, proofreaders, etc., who are there to make sure me and my book are successful. But you know what? That exists with self-published authors too.

There’s give and take when it comes to being a published author, and I have to decide what’s best for me—just like every author has to decide what’s best for them. Don’t ever knock someone for wanting to self-publish their book or if they decide to go with an indie publisher because everyone has their reason for doing what they do.

Zombie Movies Aren't Dead...They Aren't Even Undead

A while ago, I want to say at the end of 2015, maybe (I’m terrible with time), I was making an attempt to get Life After the Undead optioned for a movie. When Booktrope was still in operation, they partnered with a film agency, so I submitted my work. They rejected it, but I didn’t give up. I figured I would see what kind of options I could find on my own.

I found some small companies that produced movies and sent some queries. The vast majority of them didn’t write back, but one did, and was so helpful in answering my questions. Unfortunately, none of my work made it past the querying stage, and the wonderful, amazing owner of the company informed me that zombie movies are a hard sell and that no one is making them nowadays.

I was bummed about that bit of information. No zombies movies? What? Say it ain’t so! There were a few still coming out. This was around the time Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse was going to the theater, and then after that came Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. However, there hasn’t been much since. The appeal of zombie films has slowed down.

However, it hasn’t died. In fact, it’s not even undead. There’s still plenty of carnage on the horizon. First and foremost on that list is The Girl with All the Gifts. I had the opportunity to read this book, and it was a-m-a-z-i-n-g. I’m excited for the film.

And at some point, World War Z 2 is supposed to be coming out.

So, am I pissed that the producer told me they aren’t making any more zombie movies? Maybe a little, but film making, like publishing, is a for-profit business, and they want to take on projects that will be successful and make money. This was my first attempt at writing a screenplay, and if I learned anything from it, it’s that I suck. On top of that, I’m a nobody, so no one will take a chance on me.

But enough of the pity party. My point is that zombie movies are continuing to come out, and they are changing the genre. The creatures are evolving and changing, and that’s incredibly exciting. I can’t wait to see what they become.

I’ve Been so Exhausted

Well, it’s been a little over a month since I started my new job, and I’m enjoying it, but it’s exhausting. Of course, training for a new position always is. I keep telling myself that once I make it through this part, the rest will be smooth sailing.

Because I’ve been so tired, I’ve been neglecting doing other things in my life, like writing. The thought of using my brain to put words to paper either makes me want to fall to the ground to throw a temper tantrum or my eyelids get super heavy and I can’t move.


Over the weekend, I did manage to get some writing done. It wasn’t much, but it was better than a tantrum. I’m currently working on the sequel to Humanity’s Hope, which (as you may recall—but it’s okay if you don’t) is another young adult zombie series I’m working on.

I sent Humanity’s Hope to the publisher earlier this week, and I was told the editor should get started on it next week. We shall see how that goes, and as always, I will keep you informed about the progress.

Until then, I’m going to keep plugging along and doing what I can do. I hope you do the same.

Finding New Inspiration from an Old Source

After my publisher Booktrope announced that it was going to close its doors, I went through a really tough time. In some ways, I’m still going through it. I’ve questioned my legitimacy as a writer and have been wondering if it’s what I should be doing.

One of the things that has plagued my mind is that my books seem too short. I look at all these other books in the young adult genre—the bestsellers like the Twilight series, the Hunger Games, and the Divergent series—and they are these really thick, big books. Mine, on the other hand, top out at a little over 200 pages—if I’m lucky. Some are a tad shorter.

Am I doing something wrong? Should my books be longer?

I’ve attempted to make my books longer, but they end up being just words without meaning. Every word that is put into a story should further the plot in some way, but I find that I’m just sticking things in there to make the book longer. Surely, that can’t be the right way to do it either.

It was frustrating and disheartening. I was convinced this was why I would never be a well-known author with movie deals. I put down my pen (yes, I still write my first draft longhand with a pen and paper) and tried to figure out what to do. I also decided to go back to a source of inspiration that encouraged me to become a writer in the first place.

When I was in junior high and high school, one of my favorite authors of all time was Christopher Pike. He wrote these amazingly dark young adult books that I devoured. I decided to pick up a few again and reread them to see if they still had the same effect on me as they did back then.

There’s an inherent danger going back and rereading something from your past. It’s possible that time and experience will change how you view those stories, and they may not hold the same power they once did. In a way, you’re viewing them through a new set of eyes, and they might not be the same book they had once been.

This was absolutely not the case when I went back to read these books. They were still just as powerful and amazing as I remembered them being.

What Christopher Pike did when he was writing his books was start a new trend in YA stories. He didn’t back away from controversial teen issues like drugs, drinking, and sex—they were right there on the page (not in vivid detail, granted, but present nonetheless). He talked to teens on their level, he didn’t treat them like idiots, and they loved it. I loved it. I still love it.

I also loved how his books dealt with the supernatural and alien beings. They were horror without being in-your-face scary. His books encouraged and inspired the dark within me.

And most of his books aren’t much longer than 200 pages.

As I thought more about it, I decided that it’s not the length of the book that matters. A story needs to be told in however many words it needs to be told in. If it takes 300+ pages, so be it. But if it takes less, that’s fine too.

One of the things I enjoyed and still enjoy about Pike’s books is that I can read them in a relatively short amount of time. I can immerse myself in the worlds he’s created and get to know the characters, but I don’t necessarily have to spend a long time doing it. If I want (and I have) to finish a book in an afternoon, I can. And it’s amazing. They are the perfect afternoon getaway, then I have the opportunity to move on to another world or get back to the real one. (The latter is usually the case. I have a family to take care of.)

That’s something that can’t always be done with longer works. However, with longer books, readers have the opportunity to be immersed in these magical worlds for a lot longer. They aren’t confined to an afternoon, they are there for days or weeks—maybe even months. Reading is supposed to be escapism, and sometimes we readers don’t want to come back to the real world, so having a longer work fulfills that need.

There’s no wrong or right way to write a book. Well, there is, so I should probably phrase it that there are no rules to the limit on how long a story should be. If the story is only 200 pages, it’s only 200 pages. If it’s longer or shorter, it’s longer or shorter.

What it boils down to is I have to write the book I want to write, and that book is one that I would want to read and enjoy in an afternoon. Again, there’s nothing wrong with longer works, they obviously appeal to a lot of people, but they just aren’t my thing.

Is that the reason I haven’t reached stardom and have movie producers and agents knocking down my door? Maybe. It’s possible it’s also my subject matter. Maybe my stories don’t appeal to what the world is looking for in a book. But I’m fine with that. I’ve always been the type of person who marched to the beat of my own drummer. Since I was little, I’ve been told that I’m weird because I didn’t always follow the status quo. That doesn’t discourage me, in fact, it propels me forward.

Being different means I have a unique way of looking at the world, and I try to put those ideas into my stories. So I may never be famous, and that’s okay. There are still readers out there who enjoy my books. And that’s all I can ask for. I’m not going to betray who I am because it might make me famous. Again, I’m going to write the stories I want to write. That makes it more fun.

The Emotional Roller Coaster that is Writing

This is something I’ve talked about before, but I feel it bears repeating. Being an author is an emotional roller coaster ride. It is filled with highs and lows, and both of them can be extreme. But how do you cope when you’re in one of these moments?

Every author has their moment of being on top of the world. Whether it’s getting their book accepted by a publisher, reaching a certain amount of sales, or perhaps even getting a movie deal, something will happen at some time to make the author feel invincible. And this high can last for a long time—days, months, years, even. When things are going well, it’s easy to be inspired and motivated. I know that readers are waiting for my work, so I go out of my way to get it to them.

When things aren’t going so well, when it’s a low period, it’s harder to find that motivation and inspiration. This low can come in many forms: rejections, a bad review, sales not going as well as planned, whatever. If you’re like me, it just might be a cycle of your writing. Some days I’m highly motivated, others I’m not. On those other days, I might feel guilty about not getting any writing done, which pushes me into a low.

Getting through these times is a bit trickier. There doesn’t seem to be anything out there that inspires or motivates me. In fact, most things just end up pissing me off and making me wonder why I’m writing at all. So how do I push through?

I’m going to be honest: I don’t always push through. Recently, I’ve been in a low cycle. I’ve sat down numerous times to work on a story, and nothing comes. I can’t put words on the paper. So I don’t. I do something else. I pick up a book or watch TV or hang out with my kids. Sure, I feel bad about not writing, which then upsets me and I think that I’ll never write another book in my life and I’ll just fade into obscurity but what does it matter because no one reads my books anyway...and on and on.

But if nothing’s there to write, why force it? And I think that’s the important thing to remember. Writing for me is supposed to be fun, it’s supposed to be an escape. I’ve made peace with the fact long ago that I was never going to get rich off my stories. I’ve known for a while that I won’t find an agent and get published by a big house—and I’m fine with that. I’ve re-evaluated what it means to me to be successful.

However, when writing stops being fun, that’s when I need to take a step back. Highs and lows will happen no matter what. I’m an author, I’m an emotional and passionate person, and those emotional swings are exhausting. When I get tired, I need to take time to re-energize and recoup.

It’s okay to take a break from writing. It’s okay to be sad during the low times. But always keep in mind that they won’t last forever—just like the high times won’t. And I’m not going to say to keep the high times in mind, to remember how fantastic they sure, because, yes, they were wonderful and fantastic and amazing, but if you’re like me, when they aren’t there, it can be even more depressing. If you’re like me, you might think they are never coming back. I absolutely appreciate the high times and I hope to have more in the future, but sometimes it’s hard to see the forest for the trees.

Through it all, however, I am always grateful the for friends, readers, and fans that I have. Without you, I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today.

In the end, I’m the one who has to decide how to move forward. I’m the one who decides how deeply the highs and lows will affect me. The most important thing to remember is that I have to do what is best for me and what makes me the happiest.

How do you make it through the highs and lows?

New Adventures and New Schedules

Last week, I started a new job. It’s a work-at-home editing job, so it’s quite a change from what I’m used to. (I used to go to an office every day for work, and I’d have to dress nice. Now, I don’t have to shower if I don’t want to [although I normally do] and I can hang out in my sweatpants [heaven!].) I wanted a stay-at-home job, and I searched for a long time before I found this one.

Whenever I tell people I’ll be working at home, they usually have two reactions: 1. You’re so lucky. I want to do that and 2) I would never be able to get anything done at home. I’d get too distracted with other things.

It’s definitely been an adjustment. Working at home means that my kids are generally here with me. We’ve already talked about ground rules and times when I can’t be bothered, but it’s still a challenge—especially when the boys get bored and start messing/fighting with each other.

I’ve been trying to find things to keep them busy, such as chores, but that lasts for only so long. If anyone has any ideas, shoot them my way!

I generally don’t get distracted very easily. I’m a Type A personality, so I’m pretty good about getting to work and staying focused. I try to schedule my day so that I can get everything done and take breaks when I need to. One thing about working from home is that you never have to stop working. I could be doing something all hours of the day, so it’s important to find a good work/life balance.

And the company I work for is a big promoter of that. They are amazing about training and giving me the skills I’ll need to be successful, but they also encourage me to have fun. Some days I can’t believe I actually found this amazing job.

My writing hasn’t been going very well lately. Part of it is because of the schedule change, but the other part is just being too tired, which can be partly attributed to the schedule change. My brain feels like it’s in a fog, so when I sit down to put words on the page, nothing comes. I’m sure it’s just a phase. I’m sure once I get settled and get some rest, the creativity will flow freely. And if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.

All in all, I’m very happy with where I’m at right now. I know once I get settled in, this is going to be the best option for me, and I’m looking forward to it.

The Things I Do to Put Myself Out There

I always get nervous before I do a presentation or workshop. But recently, I discovered that the host can say one sentence and put me on the brink of panic. That sentence?

“We cater mostly to a geriatric crowd.”

Yes, this sentence was actually spoken to me before I was about to present. I almost lost my mind. Seriously. I had been scheduled to do my Women and Slasher Film presentation, and this was the crowd I could expect. What? I’m pretty dang sure the host saw the worry on my face because he immediately started trying to make me feel better. He said things like, “It’s going to be fun, don’t worry.”

“You’ll do awesome.”

“The purpose of the humanities is to introduce people to new things, so this will help them stretch their boundaries.”

I tried to let his words make me feel better, but I could tell from the look on his face that he wasn’t exactly convinced either. But at that point, there wasn’t much either of us could do. I was scheduled to go in a few minutes. As much as I wanted to, I couldn’t run away. Forty-two people showed up for that presentation.

I tried to keep my shakes to a minimum. I was given a podium to put my bottled water on, and I don’t usually use them because I have a tendency to pace, but I used it this time. I needed something to keep me steady. As I got into my speech, I began to relax. I had to pace back and forth to play the movie clips from the computer, so that helped loosen me up too. No one got up and walked out and no one yelled at me from the audience, so I considered that a win.

At the end, several people came up to me and continued to talk horror movies and told me how much they enjoyed my talk. It made me feel good. Participants also had the option to fill out a survey. Out of those who did, only three said they didn’t enjoy the presentation. And that could have happened at any event, not necessarily one that catered to a geriatric crowd. I considered that a win too.

One of the things I really enjoy about giving presentations and workshops is that I get to meet new and amazing people. This was a really good lesson for me to not judge my audience beforehand. I never know what will appeal to some and not to others. And as far as horror fans go, they are numerous and diverse.

Most days, I’m not even sure why I do presentations and workshops. I have anxiety and social anxiety, so being in front of people is an incredibly scary prospect. Did I say scary? I meant terrifying. For days before the event, I’ll worry about it. My stomach will have both butterflies and knots. I’ll worry about all the things that could possibly go wrong. On the day, as I wait for the time to begin, I’ll feel like I’m going to throw up.

Then, as I start talking, all of that goes away. I become focused on my topic and excited to share my research with others. I ask them questions and expect them to be involved. I crack jokes and answer their questions. It’s not exactly a high that I get from doing workshops because I don’t walk out of there feeling euphoric. I just like to share my research with others, and I enjoy when they learn.

It’s a weird space to be in. Before I go in front of the audience, I always wonder why in the hell I’m doing it. I always tell myself that will be the last time, but then I find myself putting in proposals or sending out brochures. There’s parts I completely enjoy, and then parts that scare the sh*t out of me.

I’ve tried to figure out exactly why I put myself through that, and I haven’t been able to come up with an answer. Normally, I’m not one to back down from a challenge or let my fear dictate my actions—and believe me, I have lots of fears. I’m not trying to prove anything to myself, I just really, really enjoy talking about the subjects I talk about.

Perhaps one day I’ll have an epiphany that helps me understand why I put myself through this emotional roller coaster. When I find out, I’ll let you know.

There’s Always More to the Story

Last week, I explained to you what my rankings are and how they worked. I mentioned that I constantly check them like a junkie looking for a fix, but I don’t think you realize how bad it is. There are times when it’s automatic. When I’m not even thinking about it and I find myself on Amazon. I just shrug it off like it’s no big deal.

But I think it’s a real problem.

I’m going to be honest: I get bummed out when I check my numbers and see they’re on the rise. It breaks my heart a little bit when I fall out of the top 100. I expect it, sure, but it still has an impact. And it shouldn’t. Because if I think about it, they’re only numbers. They only tell part of the story.

Sure, it tells the part about sales and reads. Which can be important when figuring out royalties and that readers are actually reading my work. But these numbers don’t show what kind of impact the book had on the readers—whether good or bad. Reviews can do that, but not all readers review books. That doesn’t mean they didn’t like them, they just don’t write about it online.

And Amazon isn’t always the best place for reviews anyway. Especially since they took to policing comments and taking down those that may or may not come from someone an author knows. Goodreads is probably a better place to find reviews, but I’m terrible about getting on there. I really need to make an effort to get better about visiting.

The rankings numbers don’t show the messages I get from fans about how much they enjoyed the work or how worried they are about me when I go through a tough time. It’s amazing how much support I get. Some days, it absolutely blows my mind. It’s the best in the world, and I’m thankful for the love.

The numbers definitely have their place in the larger picture, but I put a lot of stock in them. There are days when they are the only thing that matters and if they’re high, something must be wrong. I have to remind myself that while this can be an important indicator of success, it’s not the only one.

When it comes down to it, it really all depends on what I want out of my writing and how I measure my success. I can be excited about low numbers, and I can be bummed out when they start to rise. But I must always remember that there’s more to the story. I have to realize that no matter if the numbers are high or low, they don’t—and shouldn’t—define me as a writer.

I’m working on cutting down how much I check my rankings. I feel like if I spent as much time working on a new story as I look at those numbers, I could be half down by now.

Still, I owe all of you readers and fans a big thank you for all that you do for me. As I always say, you’re the reason I write. Without you, what’s the point?

What’s All This “Rankings” Business?

If any of you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you know I’ve been talking about my rankings on Amazon quite a bit. You’ll also know I’m incredibly excited about the numbers, so let me explain a little bit about what they mean.

First of all, I have to say that the whole rankings business is a little complicated and not everyone agrees about how Amazon figures it out. Amazon is pretty tight-lipped about how their calculations, but there is some information out there. For a really good idea of what I’m talking about, you can read this article.

For the rest of you who want a quick and dirty version, here ya go.

In a nutshell, my books are compared to every other book on Amazon’s site and ranked according to sales. If you look at the following picture, which is a snapshot from a specific time, you’ll see that there is an overall ranking (Amazon Best Sellers Rank), which compares me to ALL Amazon books, then there are three categories beneath that. These categories are more specific to my book so that readers can find it easily and know if it’s something they want to read. This screen shot was taken for Life After the Undead.

From these numbers, you can see that I rank 33,882 out of ALL PAID Kindle books on Amazon. They separate books further into PAID and FREE. Overall, that number doesn’t look that fantastic. I mean, 33,000? Pffft. That’s 33,000 books ahead of mine. However, if you take into account that there are millions of books on Amazon, that number isn’t so terrible.

The three numbers beneath that are what matter the most to me. As you can see from the above photo, I am in the top 100 for my three categories. That means that out of all the other books that have the same classification, I’m pretty low on this list. When that happens, my books appears on another list that shows covers for all top 100 books. This helps potential readers finds my books and hopefully leads to more sales.

(Notice at this particular point in time for this particular category there are some R.L. Stine books around me. How freaking cool is that?)

So why is this so important? Am I that greedy that I have to make money on my books? Well, yes and no. It’s important because it means my books are getting into the hands of readers—and that’s the whole reason I write. And yes, I deserve to get paid for the work I put in, but I’m not going to be retiring any time soon.

Amazon ranks books based on sales, but it also takes into account how many reads are done through their Kindle Unlimited (KU) program. For those of you who don’t know what the KU program is, it’s a subscription service that Amazon offers. Readers pay a monthly fee to access books. They don’t have to purchase the books separately, so it works kind of like a library—but with a fee.

Authors within the program get paid by how many pages of their work are read. It averages out to be like .004 cents per page, but, if you ask me, it’s better than a kick in the pants. There are some rules to the program, such as if your book is enrolled, you can’t have it for sale anywhere else—it has to be exclusive to Amazon. That means no Barnes and Noble, no iTunes, no nothing. As an author, you have to decide if that’s worth it or not. Personally, for me, it is. My sales were pretty dismal on other channels, but the KU program gets it into the hands of readers. Again, the whole reason I write.

Depending on what authority you ask or what article you read, rankings are either down hourly or at various times throughout the day. In either case, they fluctuate. For part of the day, I might be ranking in the top 100, then the next part, I’m might not be. It all depends on how many sales and reads happen throughout the day. However, it also factors in historical sales. I’m not exactly sure how that formula works. And, to be honest, I don’t know that I really care.

The reason I get so excited about my rankings (and check them like an addict looking for a fix) is because I love seeing people check out my book. I love knowing that readers are reading it. It helps build my confidence and inspires me to keep writing.

Not all of my books get low rankings on Amazon, though they all get ranked. I’m totally fine with that. If my zombie books didn’t get the low rankings they have now, I would be fine with that too. In fact, for years they never made it this low and it didn’t impact me or my writing. However, it feels good to know they are ranking so low now.

One day, I will fall off the charts again. I will stop being in the top 100, and I’m totally fine with that. Until that day comes, though, I’m going to ride this wave and share my excitement with the world.