Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Taking Risks

As authors, we constantly take risks. From the moment we send out our first query to an agent or publisher, we risk them saying no. Once our book is published, we risk readers hating it and getting bad reviews. For some people, these notions can be debilitating and stop them from ever trying. But for some of us, it’s par for the course. No matter who you are, there will be people who love and hate what you do.

We are willing to take the risks because we love to tell stories. And part of loving to tell stories is wanting to see those stories in different mediums, including on the big screen and on TV.

I was thinking about this the other day, and I thought it was rather ironic. The vast majority of us authors would love to see our books turned into movies, and yet, we are always distressed about how movies are nothing like the books, and in a way, inferior. It’s quite amusing to think about.

What I think the real draw of seeing our stories on the big screen is all the money we’d make, especially if we get merchandising rights. No, I’m kidding—although that is probably part of it. I think the real draw is introducing our story to a new audience. It’s seeing how others view our work and what they take away from our worlds. It’s seeing them being inspired by something we created.

Movies and books are two different mediums, and things can be done in movies that can’t be done in books and vice versa. Sure, I compare books and movies all the time, but that’s an unfair comparison—it’s not comparing apples to apples. Now, I try to look at each medium in their respective rights and understand why the director made the choices they made, but it can still be upsetting when I feel the movies stray too far from the book.

Seriously, doesn’t it seem weird that authors would want their books turned into movies at all?

Again, I think it boils down to wanting to share their story.

Authors take yet another risk when their work is made into a movie or TV show. It could be a resounding success or fall completely flat. Audiences could either love it or hate it. But that is the world of storytelling.

I’ve been trying to get my young adult zombie book into the world of movies and TV shows. A few years ago, I pitched Life After the Undead to several different agents and producers. Nothing came of it, but I met an incredibly nice indie producer who gave me some fantastic advice. The most important of which was that zombie movies aren’t selling right now. Producers are steering clear of them, but I didn’t let that dissuade me.

Within the last year, I decided to try my luck at having Life After the Undead adapted for TV. That involved posting my pitch on a site called TV Writer’s Vault. I researched this site for a long time before finally deciding to take the plunge. The reason for my hesitance was the fact that it costs.

As authors, we’re always told that if something costs to do, it’s not worth doing or it’s a scam. I went into this believing that to be true. After reading about the site and asking questions, I still don’t know for sure, but I told myself I had to take a risk. Besides, someone has to fund the site’s overhead and keep it running, why shouldn’t it be us writers?

So far, nothing has come of having Life listed on the site. A couple of production companies have looked at it, but nothing more. I Googled the companies, and they seem legit, so I’m happy they took the time to look over my proposal.

Maybe I’m not getting any action because I’m pitching a zombie show. I will continue to love the zombie genre, but the rest of the world might not. I’m fully aware that producers have to take calculated risks and go after projects that are going to make them money. Personally, I feel like I have more freedom when it comes to being creative because my livelihood doesn’t depend on my work—I get to create just for the sake of creating, and the royalties are a bonus!

By nature, I’m a cynical person. I always think the worst is going to happen, which means when something good happens, I’m usually surprised. But at the same time, I’m well aware that nothing is going to happen with my books unless I take some risks. While the fantasy of a producer stumbling across my book, falling in love with it, and offering me money to make a movie is a wonderful thought, the chances of it happening are slim. The chances of me getting my book turned into a TV show are slim, but they increase slightly by me putting my work out there.

At the end of the day, even if nothing happens, I can at least say I tried. Sure, taking risks is risky, and the potential for something bad to happen increases, but so does the chance of something good happening. I’ll never know which one it will be unless I take a chance.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Easter Recovery

I hope all of you are recovering from your chocolate bunny and tons of food hangover. I also hope you had a fantastic time hanging out with friends and family this weekend. I know I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Well, I enjoyed most of it. I’m over this house nonsense. I think we finished our last big project this weekend, so I should be able to recover over the week. We had to replace some doors. I’m more than certain that there’s a rule in the universe that says no home improvement project can or will go right on the first try. It’s a stupid rule.

I did have a chance to watch a movie with the boys (Monster Trucks), and they were able to dye Easter eggs with their cousins. We also had a fantastic Easter Dinner with my in-laws. I ate so much I thought I was going to pop!

What kinds of fun things did you do for Easter?

With a little luck, I’ll be able to work on more edits this week. Edge of Humanity is so close to being ready for the editor. Of course, we’re still waiting for Humanity’s Hope to come out, but that should be any day now. Any day now. If nothing else, it will be sooner rather than later.

I’m looking forward to being a little lazy this week. I’m hoping to catch up on some of my shows. I’m pretty far behind on most of them. I’m also looking forward to getting back into my schedule. I thrive so much better when I have my schedule.

Here’s to the beginning of a great week and getting things accomplished!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Branding, Marketing, and Trying to Sell Things

For the past month or so, I have been working at my local paper as an ad rep. In essence, my job is to sell ad space in the newspaper to local businesses. It’s one of the most challenging jobs I’ve ever done.

On average, I would say more than half of the people I talk to would rather stick white hot needles in their eye. I’m not a pushy person; in fact, most days I question my ability to do this job at all. I’m not shy, but I’m not going to make anyone buy ads from the paper. But to watch how business owners act, you’d think I had devil horns and a pitch fork.

I try not to let it deter me. After all, my goal is to help these businesses be successful, but to do that, I have to get them to part with their money—and no one wants to part with their money unless they know that it’s going to be worth it. They want to know that they are going to get a return on their investment.

I don’t blame the business owners for wanting a return on their investment. That’s the name of the game: spend money to make money. And it’s their money, so they can do with it what they see fit.

When it comes to marketing, I can talk the talk. I’ve been marketing my books for a long time, and I’m always looking for ways to improve. I wouldn’t say I’m an expert in marketing—far from it—and I know there’s always more that I can do. Like the business owners I deal with, I’m pretty shrewd when it comes to spending money. I don’t have a lot of it, so I have to be careful where I invest.

When it comes to marketing, there are so many different options out there—and it’s hard to know which one is going to be successful and which one isn’t. When it comes right down to it, what works at one point in time might not in the future and vice versa, and there’s no way to know—unless you take a chance.

If you read any kind of marketing articles out there (and there are tons), they all have advice on what you should be doing. Write a blog. Get a Twitter account. Have a Facebook page. Get on Instagram. If you’re like me, you’ve done all that (with the exception of Instagram. I have a Pinterest page, but I’m terrible at posting on there).

The nice thing about these sites is that their free. At one time, I think they were novel and really helped businesses and authors get their message into the world. But like everything, they’ve grown—to the point where it’s super easy to get lost in all the other posts and messages that people put on these sites.

And let’s not even get started on Facebook and their analytics. If you have a business or author page, you are aware the FB limits the amount of people who view your posts—and it’s because they want you to pay for people to view them. If you pay, then they expect you to pay all the time, so there’s no way you can win.

Twitter is so busy. I refrained for a long time before posting on Twitter because I was afraid of getting lost. And I’m sure I do, along with thousands of others who are Tweeting. It’s chaos in 140 characters.

Blogging can be just as difficult. Once you write a blog, you have to get people to read it. Which brings you back to the marketing conundrum.

Advertising in print media can be expensive. But at the same time, people expect ads to be in papers.

There’s no magic bullet when it comes to marketing, and each medium has its share of pros and cons. However, if there’s one truth when it comes to advertising it’s this: if we are trying to sell something, we have to advertise.

Social media and print media get your information in front of different audiences. While there may be some overlap of who sees your posts in both places, more often than not you’re targeting different demographics, but how can you tell if you’re actually reaching an audience?

That’s where the marketing game gets tough. You can’t. Unless someone specifically tells you they saw your advertisement, you have no idea if your plan is working. On Facebook and Twitter you have analytics so you can see if people are interacting with your posts, but you have no idea if that interaction turns into sales.

Marketing is an incredibly frustrating pursuit. And marketing is different from branding, and advertising is a tool of marketing. The whole thing gets convoluted and confusing. It’s no wonder most business owners/authors don’t want to mess with marketing.

But we have to. If we want an attempt at being successful, we have to put ourselves out there. And just because there is no clear-cut way for us to know if Twitter or Facebook or blogging or ads in a newspaper are working, we still have to try. In the long run, it’s better than doing nothing.

My new job has forced me to look at my own marketing methods and scrutinize what I’m doing. I think a lot about how I am viewed and treated when I go in to a business to sell ads, and I can’t help but think the consumers out there feel the same way. I imagine they’re thinking, “Oh, great. Here she comes again trying to sell me one of her books.” And then they try to hide or act busy—anything so they don’t have to interact with me.

It’s hard. We want people to know how wonderful our books are and get readers to read them, but consumers, like business owners, don’t want to part with their money unless they know they’re getting something of value in return.

I wish I had an easy answer for a way to fix the problem, but I don’t. It’s like shooting in the dark and hoping to hit something. Every so often, we get lucky. The one thing I can offer is to not give up. Keep trying new things, revisit some old attempts and see if they make an impact now.

Another thing I can tell you is this: make a connection. It’s not always about selling things, it’s about forming relationships. Don’t always talk about your books or whatever it is you’re trying to sell, talk about other things—your passions, things that make you happy or ask your consumers what they’re passionate about and what makes them happy.

The hardest thing I do as a writer is marketing. I’m trying to get better and looking for different ways to get my name out there, but I’ll be honest, it’s exhausting. Still, if I keep at it, I’m sure my efforts will eventually pay off.

Monday, April 10, 2017

New Adult Scavenger Hunt - Coming Soon!

NewASH Banner 6

Hello Everyone! Hope you are excited as I am, because we have less than three weeks until the Spring 2017 New Adult Scavenger Hunt begins!

Here are the Spring 2017 #NewASH teams:

The New Adult Scavenger Hunt begins at Noon Eastern Time on Wednesday, April 26th and runs through Sunday, April 30th. For more information, visit

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Reason Things Have Been so Crazy

First of all, thanks for being patient with me while I get things together. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it’s amazing to me how quickly life can change—and change it has.

In the past few months, it’s been a roller coaster of emotions for me. Most of the time, I was waaaaay down in the dumps, but there were a few high points. I finally felt like things were getting back to normal, then my spouse got a promotion and was moved to another dealership. Which means the boys and I will also be moving soon.

I’m excited about going to Nebraska. I’m ready for a change. This is an amazing opportunity for all of us. The boys are going to finish out the school year here, then we’ll be on our way. That decision was also based on the fact that we have to sell our house—and that is where my stress has been coming from lately. It’s a lot of work getting a house cleaned and ready to put on the market.

As you can imagine, working on my house has cut deeply into my writing and social time. I’ve been exhausted and out of sorts, so mornings have been a struggle to get up and get ready—there’s been no way I’ve had time to post to my social accounts. That’s going to change soon…

Technically, at this time, the house is done enough. There are just a few loose ends to tie up, but the house is ready to be shown. Keep your fingers crossed we get an offer!

There will still be some stress, but it won’t be as much as before (I hope!). I’ll get some time back (I hope!), so I’ll be able to get back to writing and doing posts. Once we move, there will probably be a short time when I take a break again, but it won’t last long.

Thanks for bearing with me!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Taking a Break

Hey, friends!  With all the craziness that is happening in my life at the moment, I've got to take a break.  I've tried to keep up with my social posts and blogging, but I keep falling behind.

I won't be away for long.  I just have to get things in order!  Now would be a great time to get caught up on some other reading. :)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Off Kilter

This week marks the third week I’ve been at my new job, and I’m still trying to get a schedule down. It doesn’t help that I took a trip to Nebraska over the weekend or that I had a presentation 3 hours away on Tuesday. I’m not complaining about either of those—they were fun—but they’ve thrown me off.

For those who know me, I thrive on a schedule. It gives me a sense of control and helps ease my anxiety. I can be flexible if I need to be, but it’s not exactly natural for me. I like to have a schedule so I can get my work (whatever it may be) done in a timely manner. Deadlines are a source of stress for me—even self-imposed ones that I can move if I really want.

This week has definitely been a challenge, and I’ve apparently been a little stressed out. I’ve had nightmares twice this week and I haven’t been sleeping well. In addition, I haven’t been writing. I feel out of sorts, unable to focus, and completely overwhelmed.

Things will settle down soon (I hope), and I’ll get back on track. I just need my schedule back…

So, as I mentioned in the first paragraph, I took a few trips this past week, and I tried something a little different: I downloaded some audiobooks. I always think about doing that, but then I totally forget when the times comes. Well, this time I made sure I remembered. I’ve listened to audiobooks before, just not in the car.

Here are the books I “read”:

I have been reminded why my boys like to be read to. It’s nice to be surrounded by the words and drawn into the story by the narrator’s voice. It’s also nice to be able to get through so many books in such a short amount of time.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love holding a book in my hand and reading in my mind, but it is a treat to listen to a book too—especially if the narrator is good. It’s really nice to listen to books when I’m in the car because it keeps me awake and gives me something to do.

What are your thoughts on audiobooks or schedules?

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

What is a “beta reader”?

There are a variety of steps when it comes to writing, and depending on the author and the story, it can take hours to years before that story is complete. The first step, of course, is the writing phase, which consists of putting words on the page. After that comes editing, which can go through multiple drafts and versions.

Once the author has finished editing the story and has it at a place that they are fairly content with how it reads, it may be sent to a professional editor, or it might be sent to beta readers—it depends on what the author wants to do. Beta readers, like editors, will read the story and look for ways to improve it. They may look for plot holes or character mistakes or issues with grammar and punctuation, but unlike an editor, they might not be professionally trained.

Beta readers are an important step in the writing process because they help the author perfect the story before it is published. For me, most of my beta readers are individuals who have read my work before and know what to expect, and I trust that they will let me know if something has gone awry in the story. Beta readers are important because as readers, they have insight into stories that reflect what the reading public wants to see. Editors have that ability too, but I trust editors and beta readers for different reasons.

How does one become a beta reader? Well, I don’t think there’s any trick to it. I chose my beta readers because they are dedicated fans and have read all (or the vast majority) of my work. Beta readers can also be reviewers (I have one who is). It just depends on what the author is looking for.

The most important part about being a beta reader is having constructive criticism and getting back to the author in a timely fashion. We’re all busy people, I totally understand that, but remember that the author is biting her nails waiting for you to get back to her with suggestions on how to improve the story. And the way to do that is to tell the author what you liked best about the story, what was confusing or unclear, and perhaps suggest ways to improve it.

The author may not take all of your advice or suggestions for the next round of editing, but I speak from experience when I say we deeply appreciate the time you took to read it and comment. For me, if the reader doesn’t understand what I’m trying to say in my story, then I’ve failed. I want the reader to enjoy what I’ve written and be inspired and/or moved by it.

The relationship between the author and beta reader is a close one. It involves lots and lots of questions and a little bit of nerves. You’re seeing work that probably isn’t close to perfect, so the author might be afraid of how you’re going to react. But the goal is to find ways to improve the story and make it better, and it’s a big responsibility to be part of that process.

Are any of you beta readers? What has been your experience with the process or author relationship?

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

What the What?! The Numbers Are Going Down?

You know you can’t help it. You know you keep track of how many followers and friends you have on social sites, and you know when they go up and when they go down. And when they go down, all you can think is: oh, my gosh! What did I do?

When you’re an author and you have a newsletter, that obsession with numbers becomes even bigger—especially when you get an email that specifically tells you how many subscribers and unsubscribers you have.

How do I know this? Because I’m guilty of it. I watch the numbers on my various social sites and I get the emails that tell me how many people have subscribed or unsubscribed to my newsletter. But I don’t let it get me down.

I’m sure that it should bother me when people quit following me or don’t want to read my newsletter any longer. After all, the more people following me, the more potential readers I have and the more opportunity I have that they’ll buy some of my books. More followers means a bigger audience.

The reason it doesn’t bother me is because I don’t let it bother me. I could spend a good portion of my day wondering what I did wrong to make someone stop following me and trying to figure out ways to get them back, but I just don’t have the time. And maybe they don’t have time either. Maybe their day is chalked full of happenings and they don’t have time to read my tweets or my Facebook page or my newsletter. And that’s totally okay.

Throughout the day, we all have to pick and choose what we’re going to expend our energy on. I only have so much, so I choose not to worry about why someone stopped following me. It makes me a little sad, but at the same time, I only wish them the best.

I consider myself incredibly lucky to have the friends and fans that follow me, and I look forward to adding more in the future. Hell, maybe I’ll even win a few deserters back. There will always be those who stop following me for one reason or another, and that’s fine. I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing because that’s what I have the energy for.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Things Are Looking Up

Last week ended on a high note. I finally got another job, which I start next Monday. It’s not a stay-at-home position I was hoping for, but it will pay the bills. The boys and I have made me being in an office work before, we can certainly do it again.

I received word that Life After the Undead is a finalist in the Wishing Shelf Awards. That was pretty exciting, and it made me feel fantastic! I’m looking forward to the feedback I get from the kids. I can’t wait to see what they liked/disliked about the book. After all, readers are the reason I write.

Speaking of readers, I received the ARC copy of Humanity’s Hope over the weekend. I’m currently looking for reviewers, so if anyone is interested, please shoot me a message.

I’ve been making progress on Edge of Humanity. There’s still a lot to do, but it’s getting closer. I’ve had some ideas pop into my head for some new stories, but I told them they had to go away. I already have a list of projects I need to work on.

I’ve been struggling quite a bit these last few months, but it’s nice to feel like there’s finally a light at the end of the tunnel. I knew the bad times wouldn’t last forever, but when I was in the middle of them, they dragged me down quite a bit. My schedule is going to change, but I’ll learn to adapt.

All in all, I’m looking forward to the new adventure that will be my life. Normally, I’m a planner and I like to have things laid out in front of me, but that hasn’t seemed to be working out so well. Now, I’m just going to see where I go. There’s a sense of freedom in that decision—and a lot of fear that I’m trying to overcome. I’ll let you know how things go.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Slowly Making Progress

Well, I finally got Edge of Humanity typed. I’m now going through and doing the next round of edits, which takes just about as long as the initial step. Since the story is still bare bones, it needs fleshed out, so there’s still a lot of writing to do.

My original plan was to do two chapters a day, but life has decided that’s not going to happen at the moment. It’s been a major struggle to do any work on the story. I’ve gotten through Chapter 5, but there’s still a lot of work to do.

Not that I have a deadline for this story. Heck, Humanity’s Hope isn’t even out yet. Telling myself that doesn’t really help with my motivation. Humanity’s Hope will be out at some point, and I prefer to have Edge of Humanity waiting in the wings, but I just can’t find the desire.
It won’t last forever. Soon, I’ll get my butt back in gear and get to work. I just need a little break right now.

If you missed the cover reveal for Humanity’s Hope, have no fear! I’ve included it in this blog post. I’m really thrilled with how it turned out. I think it look mahvelous!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

How I Became Hooked on Hunted

I never had any intentions of watching the show Hunted on CBS. I saw the trailers, but it didn’t appeal to me. 

I got sucked into the show because of my oldest son. The TV was left on CBS the night the first episode aired, and he was all into it. He had to go to bed before it was over, so he asked us to record it for him. We did, and we ended up watching the rest with him. From there, I’ve continued watching every episode.

In a nutshell, nine teams of two are sent “on the run” in a designated area in the South. They are considered “fugitives,” but they are just average Joes who are taking a chance at evading the Hunters. The Hunters are then tasked with finding these “fugitives,” and they have an arsenal of high-tech gadgets at their disposal and years of experience hunting people down.

From the beginning, my entire family has found themselves yelling at the TV for the decisions the fugitives have made and what the Hunters are doing. There’s an emotional investment in wanting the fugitives to get away but also in wanting the Hunters to make a catch. It’s so much fun to watch and so frustrating at the same time.

I think what I find most appealing about this show is that it reminds me of a horror movie. The fugitives are in a no-win situation. They don’t have the same expertise or technology at their fingertips as the Hunters do, so in a way, they are doomed to fail. As an audience member, I don’t want them to fail, I want them to succeed, but like the characters in a horror movie, they often make stupid mistakes.

Take for instance Matt Sundberg and Christina Zapolski. To evade the Hunters, their plan was to get to their parents’ house and have them help hide them. They were nervous about their vehicle being spotted, so they decided to take a bus. To get the bus ticket, they used the ATM at the station, letting the Hunters know exactly where they were headed. Since they were on a bus, they were trapped and had no control over when they got there, so they were captured.

Another example is Sentra Tran and Thu Tran. They had it made. They had gone completely off the grid and were hiding in the woods, where the Hunters would never be able to find them. They made it for 14 out of 28 days undetected, then got caught because they came back into town for Taco Bell. TACO BELL! Ugh! It was so frustrating.

The list goes on and on. There are still some runners on the run, and I’m holding my breath that they will continue to make smart decisions. I get it, though, I really do. Like characters in a horror movie, the fugitives on Hunted are put into a highly stressful situation that is outside of the norm. They aren’t used to being hunted, just like characters in horror movies aren’t used to being hunted, so they are doing the best they can with the situation.

The Hunters, like a horror movie killer, are focused and patient. They aren’t stressed. They don’t have to worry about surviving; they just have to worry about finding their prey—and they are calculating and patient.

As with a horror mvoie, it’s easy for me to sit on the couch and yell at the screen and tell the fugitives that what they are doing is ridiculous—just like it’s easy to tell a character not to go into the basement in the dark by themselves. But it’s in vain because we all know they are going to do it anyway. It gives the audience a sense of empowerment and superiority because if we were in that situation, we would definitely do it differently.

But like a horror movie, we can’t ever truly say how we would react until we’re in the situation. The Hunters, like movie killers, are counting on us doing something dumb. That’s how we get caught.

As I watch the show, I can’t help but wonder if they are giving away too many secrets about how fugitives are hunted. It feels like if someone really wanted to learn how to evade law enforcement, they would get some great tips from this show. However, it’s cool to see how technology has become so ingrained into our every day that we barely notice it anymore or that it is literally recording our every move.

All in all, the show is awesome. I truly don’t believe that I would do any better than the runners on the show, and I applaud them for trying. I’m rooting for those who are left, watching with bated breath that they stay focused and smart, but I’m also hoping the Hunters get their fugitives.

It will be interesting to see if there are future seasons of Hunted. I would like to see them travel to various places around the country because each area will offer its own set of challenges for both the Hunters and the Hunted.

Has anyone else been watching the show? What are your thoughts?

This is my youngest during one episode of Hunted erasing his electronic footprint.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

My Books’ Worth

How do you decide what a book is worth? How do you put a value on the time, blood, sweat, and tears that went into your work? It seems impossible.

I’ve been incredibly lucky to work with some amazing publishers and to have the honor of having several books in the world. When the publisher had my books, I never had to worry about how much they cost. I left that up to the publisher to decide. Do I know how they did it? Nope. And I never asked. I figured they knew what they were doing.

I’m sure there’s a whole science behind deciding how to price a book. I’m sure it’s based on what other books in the genre are going for and what readers are willing to pay, in addition to how much it costs to produce.

When it came down to self-publishing my books, I had to figure out how to price them. And trust me, I had no idea what I was doing. Sure, I could have calculated how much I spent for editing and covers and figured out what the best return would be. Thankfully, Amazon has a handy dandy calculator that helps me figure out how much the book costs to produce, so it gives me a base for what I should charge for each book, then it breaks down how much royalty I’ll get for each price. I can make my book as cheap or as expensive as I want.

Of course, the other aspect of this equation—the unknown part—is how many books will actually sell. You can do all the equations in the world to figure out the optimum price for a book, but if nobody buys it, you’re left with nothing.

A few weeks ago, I talked to my grandfather-in-law, who told me about all the people who had bought his book and told him how much they enjoyed it. He told me I needed to charge more for the book so I could make more money. Currently, it’s priced at $8.00. I told him I wanted everyone to be able to have access to it, so I didn’t want to charge an overly large amount. He agreed with that, but he also thought I should be compensated for my time and effort. I agreed with that, but then it goes back to the question of how do you figure out what that is worth?

Royalties are nice. It’s nice to get paid for all the effort that went into writing my books. And I could absolutely charge a lot for them—as much as I wanted. Would readers pay it? Maybe. But when I was pricing my books, I wanted to make them accessible to everyone.

The vast majority of my books are young adult. And if teens are like me when I was younger, I didn’t have a whole lot of money. Often, I had to decide between gas and fun stuff, and gas for the vehicle usually won. Dang me needing to get various places!

When I was figuring out how to price my books, I took into consideration Amazon’s calculation of how much it costs to produce, then I priced it so it was still affordable. Does that hurt my royalties? Probably. But I had to make the decision of what was more important: money or readers. I picked readers.

I honestly can’t tell you how others decide how to price their books; I’ve never asked. However, if there are any authors/publishers out there who would like to share their process, I’d love to hear it.

In the end, I did what I felt was right for me and my books. I know it isn’t what everyone will decide, and that’s totally fine. It’s not easy deciding what a book is worth.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Valentine's Day Giveaway!

We're spreading some Valentine's Day love with a giveaway full of chocolate, books, and pretty things! 

To enter fill out the Rafflecopter then hit the comments and tell us about something YOU love. Your favorite author, book, or blog. Tell us about your true love, your kids, your best friend or your pets. Anything you love. We want to hear about what makes your heart full or just makes you smile.

Enter the Giveaway!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Second Book in the Saving Humanity Series is DONE!

Last week, I finished handwriting the second book in my latest young adult zombie novel series. Yes, you read that correctly: handwriting. I handwrite the vast majority of my books. There’s just something magical about putting a pen to paper. I really enjoy writing that way.

However, on the negative side, it does have a tendency to make my wrist hurt. But, at the same time, typing can do the same thing. I guess it is just destiny that writers will end up with carpal tunnel. Hazard of the profession, I suppose.

When I transfer the story to the computer, it’s an editing step. I usually add and delete as I type the story out. Each chapter gets its own file, which is then printed out. I edit those chapters, then combine the chapter all together. Then, there’s another editing step—or several. I would like to tell you how many editing steps it goes through, but it honestly depends on the story and what it needs.

It can be tedious and time consuming. However, the hard part has been done. The bones of the story have been put on the page, and editing is my chance to flesh the story out.

I can’t tell you how incredibly excited I am to have this story done. To be honest, I didn’t think I’d ever get it written. My life had taken such a crazy turn for a while there, I didn’t know if I’d have time to work on it. Then, I didn’t feel like writing. There were times I literally forced myself to pick up my pen and write. It sucked, but then after a few minutes, I got into my groove. That felt really, really good. I didn’t realize how much I needed to escape into my fantasy world. It helped put my real world into perspective.

I’m sure you’re wondering what the title of my new work is. Well, if you’re subscribed to my newsletter, you already know (speaking of my newsletter, if you haven’t signed up, you should. I’m doing a special offer for subscribers for the month of February). If you don’t subscribe, you’ll just be learning it now. Are you ready for it? The second book in the series is called Edge of Humanity.

The first book is Humanity’s Hope. Here’s the blurb for it.

Caleb, a 17-year-old boy, survived the zombie uprising, but he didn’t come out of the ordeal unscathed. He’s been scarred—both mentally and physically. The rest of humanity is trying to rebuild, to make the world normal again. Caleb is trying to return to a normal life also, but after all he’s seen, after the loss of his family and friends, the transition is difficult. The darkness that led him down a path of self-doubt and self-harm keeps trying to creep back into his mind.

Things only become worse when he discovers he’s immune to whatever makes a zombie a zombie. Fighting zombies was predictable. He knew what to expect. Fighting humans is volatile. They are malicious and treacherous. They won’t stop to get what they want, and Caleb has to figure out exactly what that is.

*Trigger warning: attempted suicide

Humanity’s Hope should be coming out any time in the next few months. I don’t have a definite date yet, but I’m not worried. It’s going to happen, and it’s going to be amazing! I’m having a cover reveal on the 17th, and I can’t wait for you to see what it looks like. I really, really like it.

And speaking of covers, I promised to let you know when Finding Eden’s new cover was done. Well, it’s finished. I really like this one too.

It has been another great week related to writing. I like it when that happens. It inspires me. It makes me look forward to editing Edge of Humanity. It’s going to be fun.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

A Great Week Related to Writing

Friends, it’s only Wednesday, but I have to say this has been a great week related to writing. So many magical and wonderful things have happened. I’m giddy with excitement!

First on the list is getting new covers. It has been raining covers in my world this week. The only one I can share with you at the moment is the new cover for Coming from Nowhere.

I’ve also re-released this book, so if you are interested, you can find it on Amazon. This is some of the other exciting news for this week. I’m also re-releasing Finding Eden. It’s a long story why I’m self-publishing these books, but I’m really excited to be able to have control. I like having control.

Finding Eden will also be getting a new cover, but it hasn’t been finalized yet, so I can’t share it with you. Don’t worry, you’ll know when it’s done.

I also received the cover for Humanity’s Hope. However, we’re planning a cover reveal, so I can’t share that with you yet either. I know, I know. It’s not nice to tease. I want to share it now too. It’s freaking amazing!

My friend (hi, Tamara!) and I are going to be co-authoring a work together. We met about it yesterday, and we’re both excited to get started on the project. All I can really tell you right now is that it’s going to be sci fi. I’m not trying to be obtuse, we just don’t have all the details worked out yet. We both love this genre, so we thought it would be the most fun to create a story in. I’m finishing some things up, then I’ll get to work.

So, speaking of finishing things up, I’ve been making a lot of progress on the sequel to Humanity’s Hope. I’m hoping to be done with the very rough draft by the end of the week. It’ll still take a lot of editing, but at least I’ll have something to edit. It feels so good to be making progress on this project.

Humanity’s Hope is getting closer to publication. As I said, I have the cover, and the text is going to the next stage of editing. I don’t know how long it will take, but I’m still hoping for an early 2017 release. Again, you’ll know when it comes out.

I’ve also received some amazing reviews for my work. One of them was for A Rancher and a Warrior, but Amazon took it down. Here’s what is said:

Intertwining history and a family saga, this book informs and delights. A man of many talents, Dale has survived WWII, although not unscathed, and goes on to flourish as a rancher and consultant. Well documented, the book focuses on Dale's contributions to the cattle industry and the state of Wyoming. Filled with archival gems, this book celebrates and honors a rancher and a warrior.

The other two were for Wucaii. If you’re inclined to check them out, you can find them here and here.

All of these amazing developments have got me jazzed. I’m riding the wave of creative excitement and can’t wait to see where the rest of the year takes me.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Seriously, Zombies Are Fun

Lately, I’ve been working on the sequel to Humanity’s Hope.  I’ve been making some really good progress. As of this blog post, I’m ready to start Chapter 15. At one point, I wasn’t exactly sure where the story was going, but after some brainstorming in the shower, I figured it out. I’m super excited where it’s headed.

There are so many fabulous things about zombies, but I think my favorite is the fact that they are fictional. This is great in many aspects, including the fact that we don’t have to fight them off on a daily basis. But the other point of this is that I can make them be anything I want. And that’s exactly what I’m doing in my book.

I’m super excited to get the words on the page and get this first draft done. Sometimes I lament not being able to write faster or that I can’t hook the computer up to my brain and think the story, having the words magically appear on the screen. Sigh. One day, maybe. Until then, I’ll just keep doing it the old fashion way.  

Humanity’s Hope should be out some time in the beginning of the year. I’ll let you know for sure. Until then, I’ll give you a little teaser of what you can expect. Enjoy!

One Nation Under Zombies

Caleb sprinted across the dirt road. His leg muscles burned. He was barely able to get his feet off the ground. The backpack slammed into his lower back with every step—the straps dug into his shoulders. As he approached the low wall, he slid into a crouch, turning so his back would contact the stones first. The pressure of the backpack pressed into his ribcage—squeezing the air out of his lungs. He pressed his lips together and let the stream flow out of his nose. He tried his best to keep it silent—a task that proved difficult with every pant. His lungs screamed for air. He wanted to draw in large, gasping breaths, but they would be too loud and attract unwanted attention. The undead were just on the other side of the wall, unaware of his presence, and he intended to keep it that way.

Caleb’s gaze drifted back to the road and fell on his sister, Nina, and Len, his chemistry partner from school. They ran toward him as fast as they could with their heavy backpacks that hunched them over. Or perhaps it was an attempt to make themselves smaller, so they were less noticeable—Caleb couldn’t tell. They slid up to the wall on either side of Caleb and attempted to control their breathing.

This was a terrible place to hide—they all knew it. It was too open, too exposed, but there weren’t any other choices. The squat wall was right at the edge of a fallow field, across the dirt road they had been traversing in the hopes of finding civilization. They found the wall in a vast, rural landscape. The three of them were lucky there was something. They had come around a bend in the road and up a small hill, and there they were—zombies—shuffling aimlessly through the countryside. Caleb had to suppress his shocked gasp. They came out here because the urban areas had become too dangerous. There were too many zombies. The supplies had either been pillaged or were too difficult to get to. The country was supposed to be their hope, their salvation. So far, it wasn’t. The farmhouse was still ways away, about 50 yards. At least that was what Caleb assumed. He was horrible at judging distances. It didn’t matter anyway. With the zombies in front of them, the house was as accessible as another planet. But they couldn’t stay out in the open, either.

The look on Len’s face reflected the turmoil Caleb felt inside. His eyes were wide, his face red from exertion. His head was cocked to the side, his jaw muscles tight. The look asked: “What do we do now?” Caleb had no answer.

When they set out that morning to look for food, they had told themselves the zombies had been confined to the cities. Why? Because they had to believe something. They had to think there was still a chance.

Caleb lowered his gaze to the ground. There was no way to respond to Len’s silent question. They just had to wait it out—make their move when they got the opportunity. Caleb glanced over his shoulder at his sister. She slumped against the wall, her legs sprawled out in front of her, her chin resting on her chest. His stomach tightened as he took in her pose. She wasn’t going to be able to move quickly from that position. She needed to be ready. Yet, he felt for her. What was the point of being ready if it meant they had to keep running? His legs shook underneath him as he held his crouch. It would have been such a relief to plop onto his butt and take the weight off his legs. He could’ve placed his arms around Nina’s shoulders and pulled her close. They could have relaxed in their misery. Instead, he gently backhanded her arm. When she looked at him, he thrust his thumb into the air. With an eye roll and deliberate movements, Nina moved into a crouch, removing the gun from the back of her waistband.

Caleb focused on the weapon in his hands. It was there so often, it was like an appendage. He rarely noticed it anymore. But neither of the guns would do them much good; there weren’t enough bullets to take out the threat. Even if they fired their remaining rounds, all it would do was draw more zombies to their location.

Caleb turned his attention away from his gun and stretched up to look over the wall. As soon as his eyes broke the surface, he scanned the area before sinking back down. His heart pounded against his ribs, his throat tightened. An undead lumbered close to the wall—too close. One wrong move or sound and they were spotted. He licked his lips and felt the sweat slide down his spine. If they stayed quiet, the zombies would keep moving. They just had to wait it out.

A low, soft grumbling filled the air. At first, Caleb wasn’t convinced he’d heard it. It was so low, he could have imagined it. He had hoped he’d imagined it. But then Len wrapped his arms around his midsection and squeezed. The rumbling grew louder. It was hard to hide the sounds of hunger. Caleb’s eyes grew wide. He shifted his stance so he could explode onto his feet.

The rotted hand reached over the wall and swiped the air between Caleb and Len. There were no other options. All of them sprang to their feet. The crowd of rotting flesh was converging on their position. Caleb extended his arms and lined up his sights. The crack of the gun echoed loudly in the country air; the corpse slumped onto the wall. All three of them jumped over the wall and ran toward the house. The path took them directly toward the zombies; they had to be fast enough to get by them.

Caleb’s extremities tingled with adrenaline, his footsteps thumped rhythmically on the hard, dry ground. He sucked in long gasps of air, but his lungs still burned for oxygen. He caught glimpses of the other two out of the corner of his eyes. The undead drew nearer. Their arms outstretched, waiting to snag their prey. Caleb zig-zagged across the field. He ducked under a pair of arms, then shouldered a zombie out of the way. Its bones crunched against his shoulder, teeth gnashed close to his ear, driving him forward with more urgency. The house grew larger with every step he took. Almost there.

A short yip followed by a grunt sounded behind him. He risked a glance over his shoulder. Len stumbled then fell. Caleb’s heart leapt into his throat. He skidded to a stop, turning to help his friend. Caleb was about to step toward Len, but he was stopped in his tracks. The action caused him to lose his balance. His arms flailed through the air to keep Caleb from falling over. An incessant, strong tugging kept him from moving forward. He turned to see Nina jerking on his backpack. Her eyes were wide and glistening with tears. She bit her bottom lip and shook her head violently. Caleb glanced again at Len, who reached for Caleb, his mouth open in a silent plea, tears running down his cheeks. Caleb reached toward him. Len’s plea turned into a scream as a zombie bit into his calf. A dark ring of blood stained his jeans and grew larger. Another zombie latched onto the fingers of his extended hand. The crunch as it bit through his bones rattled in Caleb’s skull. He pulled his hand into his chest.

Caleb turned at that point. There was nothing more he could do. His sister grabbed his wrist, and they ran into the house. They took the stairs two at a time and headed into a bedroom on the right. After closing the door, they scanned the area, checking under the bed and in the closet. Clear. His sister collapsed face first onto the bed. From the way her body shook, Caleb could tell she was crying. He leaned back until his pack connected with the door. His legs gave out, and he slid to the floor. Pulling his knees to his chest, he wrapped his arms around his head and tried to disappear into himself.

And then there were two.

Monday, January 16, 2017

And the Winner Is...

The winner of my giveaway, a signed paperback copy of Wucaii, is Holly Biggs.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Comfy Cozy Reading Weather Giveaway Hop. I enjoyed reading what you're looking forward to the most in 2017. I hope all of it happens for you and you have a fantastic year!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Bio is Finally Done!

I haven’t done a formal blog post announcing this, so here it is!

The biography that I wrote for my grandfather-in-law is finished and now available for sale. You can find it on Amazon. It was an honor and a pleasure to be able to write this for him.

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.

This is the story of Dale's life in Wyoming and in WWII.

I’m also looking for reviewers, so if anyone is interested, please send an email to pembrokesinclar @ hotmail . com (remove the spaces) and let me know if you prefer mobi (for Kindle) or a pdf.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Whole Collection

A few weeks ago, I posted a photo of the bat my mom knitted me on social media, and it got a lot of attention. I then posted a pic of the Baby Groot she made, and that went over pretty well too.

I thought I would share with you all of the creatures my mom has made me and my family over the years. They mean a lot to me, and I love that my mom makes them. Enjoy!

The sweet, sweet bat she made me. I was trying to figure out what to name it, and I decided on Ratu.

Adorable Baby Groot.

This is Lucinda the dragon. She sits on my bookshelf.

This is Pembroke the hedgehog. I've had him for a loooooong time. I've always wanted a pet hedgehog, but I don't really want/need another thing in my house to take care of or clean up after, so this was my mom's solutions to owning a pet. It works out well.

As many of you are aware, I'm a zombie fan, so my mom knitted me a zombie. This guy travels with me when I do my presentations. As you can see, he comes apart. He's part of a larger set where you can mix and match body parts with other zombies.

After I got my zombie, the boys wanted zombies of their own, but they wanted kitty zombies, so this is what my mom made.

I look forward to getting other creatures from my mom. They are so fun. Which one is your favorite?

Monday, January 2, 2017

Comfy Cozy Reading Weather Giveaway Hop

It's that time of year again when the weather gets questionable and the best thing to do is to curl up next to the fire with a good book.

If you're like me, that means a good story about the apocalypse. For this hop, I'm giving away a signed print version of Wucaii (open to U.S. shipping only). To be entered into the drawing, leave a comment telling me what you're looking forward to the most in 2017--and don't forget to leave me a way to contact you! The winner will be announced on the 16th. 

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.

Thanks for participating in the blog hop! Don't forget to check out the other blogs!