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!