Happy Halloween!

Tomorrow is the most wonderful of holidays. I really enjoy Halloween. It’s so fun to see the kids get dressed up and all of the spooky decorations. We even decorated this year—the first time ever! I’ve always wanted to put up decorations, but it was hard in Wyoming because they would blow away. For about a week here in Nebraska we had to bring the decorations inside because the wind was howling.

My plan is to add to my decorations every year. At one point, I’d like to create some zombies out of old clothes and have them laying in the yard. I think that will be super fun. We can probably stuff them with leaves—there are plenty blowing around! But for the first year, I decided to start slow.

In celebration of Halloween, three of my ebooks are on special for 99 cents. Today is the last day you can get them, so don’t delay! Have a fun, safe Halloween!

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.

Find it on Amazon.

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.

Find it on Amazon.

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.

Find it on Amazon.

To Use Auto Twitter DMs or Not

Social media is such an amazing thing. It allows us to connect with people all over the world and share our opinions and our work. As authors, it gives us the potential to find new readers and connect with other writers.

There are so many people on Facebook and Twitter.  If you aren’t on social media in some capacity, you should be. 

Of course, because there are so many people on social media, it’s easy to get lost and buried in the vast amount of posts. Not to mention, analytics (especially on Facebook) often work against you. Even if you have tons of followers, the vast majority of them probably won’t see your posts.

So, as a way to stand out, you might be tempted to send new followers a DM on Twitter. You can even automate the process so it happens right after someone follows you. This allows you to send more information about where they can find your books or you on the Internet.

However, you might be annoying people more than you’re helping yourself.

Several years ago, when I first started really getting into Twitter and using it to build my platform, everyone was using DMs. If I followed 10 people a day, I probably received 8 DMs. Most of them were from authors, and I found myself confused by some of the messages they were sending.

I get that you want to stand out from the crowd, but sending followers messages like

“I’ll gargle acid if you don’t buy my book!”
“Buy my book so gnomes won’t come to your house and kill you while you sleep!”

How are those supposed to sell your book?

Thankfully, I haven’t gotten any like this for a while, but every so often, I still get DMs. Most of the time, they are links to Facebook pages or pages to buy whatever it is the person is selling (authors aren’t the only ones who use DMs). Once, I got a hilarious joke.

I’ll be honest, I might open your DM just to see what you have to say, but I often don’t keep it unless there’s something in there that I think is going to benefit me. Is that awful? Maybe, but I think it’s the mindset of the vast majority of the population. I enjoy helping my fellow authors out, and I don’t mind you telling me about your books, but if you expect a sale, I need to know that it’s worth my hard-earned money and time. More often than not, just sending a link to the buy page isn’t going to do that.

For the most part, the DMs have toned down and aren’t so weird, but some people still find them pretty annoying. There are articles that explain why you shouldn’t send auto DMs and gives you some ideas of things you can do instead. As I said, I may open the messages and see what you have to say, but rarely—very rarely—do I click on the link to buy what you’re selling.

In addition, I find it incredibly annoying when someone sends me an auto DM under the guise that they are not sending an auto DM. I’m sure you’ve seen these. They ask you a question like they are interested in getting to know you. Several times, I’ve responded to these questions and never received a reply. That hurts my feelings. I was truly hoping to make a connection with someone on the other end.

Oh! And then there are the DMs that require me to verify that I’m a real person so that I can follow someone. I get it: being spammed by autobots and people offering to get you 5 million followers is annoying, but so is having to verify that I’m a real person. It’s only one click, but that one click takes times away from my day, and most of the time, I’m not willing to click it.

Auto DMs are so loathed, it may hurt your chances of gaining new followers. If someone is afraid that you are going to send them a message, they might scroll right past you. There are other ways to get followers to click on your links or find you on Facebook, and it’s not in an auto DM. That info should be in your profile so that people can click on it if they want. I know that you don’t have a lot of space, which means you’ll have to be creative in how you present your work.

And, technically speaking, you shouldn’t be using social media to sell your stuff; you should be using it as a way to connect with others. Sure, you can tell them that you’re a writer and share links to your books or let them know when things are on sale, but you shouldn’t be shouting “BUY MY BOOK!” because that doesn’t work to sell books.

As an author, you want to be seen and get your work into the world. Using social media gives you the opportunity to connect with potential readers and fans and other writers around the world. For the sake of their sanity and to increase the potential of getting new followers, perhaps it’s time to think twice about using auto DMs.

Slow Down, Life! I Need to Catch Up!

OK. I’m over this being busy thing. I need time to regroup and catch up on writing. It’s been too long since I’ve been able to sit and work on my own stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been working on my stories when I can, but I need a block of time—a week, or at the very least, a few days—so I can finish edits. It’s driving me crazy to feel so far behind!

And it’s not only in my writing that I’m lagging, it’s everyday life. My house is a mess and my laundry needs to be finished. I’ve been trying to stay caught up, but it’s a never-ending process. It doesn’t help that I’m super tired and have no motivation.

Because I’ve fallen behind, I totally forgot to announce the winner of the Stuck in a Good Book Blog Hop. It was Jana. Woot! Woot! Thank you to everyone who participated!

Despite the fact that time is getting away from me and I’m woefully behind, there have been a few fantastic occurrences that happened recently. I got to spend time with my mother-in-law last weekend, which was fabulous. The boys were so excited to see their grandma. We took a trip to the zoo and had a chance to relax and visit.

I’ve had a few bites on narrators for the audiobook of Life After the Undead, so (hopefully) that works out better this time than it did last time.

Halloween is right around the corner, so there’s that to look forward to.

I keep hoping that things will slow down so I can catch my breath and get caught up. I didn’t post all last week because I’ve been so far behind. Life keeps getting in the way. You’d think by now I’d be able to figure out how to work around these obstacles, but it can be incredibly difficult and draining.

From here, all I can do is move forward. I’m keeping my head up and hoping for the best. I’ll do what I can when I can. Eventually, I should get my tasks accomplished.

No Matter How You Feel About Yourself, Someone Out There Thinks You Are Amazing!

Being an author can be tough. We often spend a lot of time by ourselves in fantasy worlds talking to imaginary people. While those people might be more fascinating and better conversationalists than certain individuals in the real world, they are still fake.

As authors, we spend a lot of time working on our stories and creating something we hope people will enjoy. It takes a lot of courage to put our work (and ourselves) out into the world because there’s always the possibility that someone will hate it and tear us down.

Of course, we’ve learned to grow a thick skin and not take bad reviews or rejections personally. We know that publishing is a business and that the decisions are made on whether or not they are going to make a company or agent money, not about how they feel about us personally. Of course, on occasion, that doesn’t make rejections sting any less.

If you’re like me, given enough time and rejection, you’ll start to feel weighed down. We all deal with rejection differently, but we all deal in some way. You might question whether or not you’re doing the right thing and if creating stories is worth the hassle and heartache.

But I’m here to tell you that no matter how many rejections you get or how low you sink, there are still people in the world who think you are amazing!

I don’t doubt that you have readers and fans who enjoy reading your work. Focus your energy on them, not on making people happy who aren’t ever going to be happy. And if you’re feeling really down in the dumps, a great way to feel good about yourself and your writing is to talk to kids.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t write kids’ books or middle grade or young adult novels, being a writer is enough for them. They think it’s super cool that you get to put words on a page and create new worlds. Don’t believe me? Schedule a time to read to some kids at your local library or at an elementary school and see how they react when you tell them you’re an author.

I don’t doubt that they will be full of questions and wonder what types of books you write and how you started writing and where you get them published and if you make money from them and where you get your ideas. Some may even tell you about the book they are working on.

You may feel inclined to tell them the truth about how hard writing is and how it can suck the life out of you, but when you see the optimism and hope on their faces, you won’t. You’ll remember when you had visions of greatness and were encouraged by someone you looked up to, and you’ll find a way to be a great role model.

All the questions they ask will remind you of why you started writing in the first place. You’ll feel inspired and excited. You might even leave with a smile on your face and a renewed reason to write.

Life’s Terrifying Moments

There are moments in a parent’s life that test their coping skills. In general, they aren’t good moments. They aren’t watching your child make a touchdown or bring home a 100% on a science test. No, they are generally moments where someone gets hurt.

They are awful moments.

They are scary moments.

They are moments that make you want to lock your children away in the house so they can’t get injured.

I had one of those moments last week.

On Friday, my youngest and I had a half day, so we were hanging out at home enjoying our freedom (well, he was enjoying his freedom, I was working online). It was a rainy day, so it was perfect weather to stay inside.

At one point, my youngest decided he was going to go see if a friend could play. I told him I didn’t really want him riding his bike on the wet streets, but he assured me he wouldn’t be gone long. Since the friend’s house wasn’t far, I relented, then I went back to work.

My phone rang a while later. It was the friend’s stepdad telling me I needed to pick up my son. He’d run into the camper trailer and had bumped his head.

I didn’t think much of it. I assumed it was an injury that I’d put some ice on and all would be well. I debated walking over, but then decided since it was raining and I probably had to bring the bike home that I would drive.

Nothing prepared me for what I saw.

There was definitely a bump on my baby’s head, but it was about the size of a softball. I did the one thing a parent isn’t supposed to do in this situation: I freaked. As you can imagine, that scared my youngest and he instantly went into panic mode. I wrapped him in a hug, trying to calm him down, but my heart was in my throat and the only thought running through my head was: “Get to the hospital. NOW!”

I hurried my boys into the car, then ran by the house so my oldest could grab my purse. I needed the insurance card. As soon as possible, I was down the road on my way to the emergency room. We couldn’t get there fast enough. The rain increased, coming down steadily, so I didn’t want to speed and hydroplane. I swear I hit every red light, and there aren’t a ton on the route I took.

The entire time I was driving, my son was slowly losing his mind. He was absolutely hysterical, screaming and crying that he didn’t want to get stitches. He asked me multiple times if he was bleeding, and he was slightly on his nose. At first, I told him he was, but it wasn’t serious, then when he kept asking, I told him no. Concern caused goosebumps to form on my skin. Something wasn’t right. That increased my desire to get to the hospital.

There was a moment of silence that was then followed by sheer terror. I was holding my child’s hand, and he grabbed my arm and squeezed as tightly as he could. That was followed by panic that he was going to have to have surgery and him telling me he was scared.

I did another thing a parent isn’t supposed to do in this situation: I told him I was scared too. And I was petrified. Nothing about the situation was normal. Again and again he asked if he was bleeding. Over and over I kept saying that everything was going to be fine—the words were there to comfort both him and me, but they didn’t do much.

Finally, I made it to the hospital. Holding my son’s arm, we headed into the emergency room. We went to the admissions desk, and the process was too slow. My child continued to scream and cry. He was also shaking from the cold and shock. I wrapped my arms around him to comfort and warm him, but also because I didn’t want to let go.

A nurse collected us and took us to a room. She was calm and kind. She commented that she had no doubt he had a concussion, and I motioned at her to be quiet. The diagnosis upset my child. He didn’t want to be hurt. He answered all the questions the nurse asked. He knew his name, my name, his brother’s name, and his dad’s name. And then he asked about 800 more times if he was bleeding. Then came the concern about why he was missing two teeth (they had fallen out naturally weeks before).

He was taken in for a CAT scan to ensure that there was no bleeding on the brain or that his skull wasn’t fractured. An ice bag was placed on his head. My oldest and I stood next to the bed, holding on to each other as tight as we could. Both of us were fighting back the urge to cry.

It didn’t take long for everyone to calm down once we got to the hospital, but fear and worry hung thick in the air. The scans came back negative: no bleeding on the brain and no skull fracture. But the concussion diagnosis stuck.

My son at the hospital. He was wet because he fell in a puddle after running into the trailer.

We stayed in the emergency room for several hours. The nurses kept him under observation for a bit because his stomach was upset and they had given him some medication. Part of that—I don’t doubt—was for my peace of mind. As long as we were at the hospital, if something happened, I knew my son was in good hands.

Eventually, my youngest was ready. He wanted to be at home in his surroundings. We headed out, a lump in my throat and fear prickling my skin. I had been fighting back the urge to break down the entire time we were in the emergency room. I had to hang on a bit longer.

As soon as we got home, the dogs got to work making sure my youngest was comfortable and under constant surveillance.

No parent ever wants to see their child get hurt, and it’s heartbreaking when they do. I don’t know how I kept it together to get him to the hospital (and, honestly, I didn’t do that great of a job remaining calm), but I guess we all do what we have to do to get them the help they need.

I’m so thankful that kids are resilient and bounce back quickly. After a long, terrifying, and sleepless night (for me; my son slept soundly), the next day was full of hope. My son wasn’t completely healed, but he was on the road to being himself. 

My youngest on Saturday morning.  

We’re lucky that we have a Concussion Management Center in town, and my son already has an appointment to see the doctor. I’m amazed and grateful for the care he received and will continue to receive, and I’m positive he’ll make a full recovery.

What to do When You Hit the Sales Slump

At some point in your writing career, you’re probably going to see your sales numbers go down.  It could be a gradual decline or a sharp falloff in sales.  No matter what happens, keep in mind that it’s not the end of the world.

The decline happens whether you’re repped by an agent and published by a Big 6 Publisher, an indie author, or self-pubbed.  It’s just the nature of the beast.  Oh, sure, there are always those who defy the rules, that never seem to see a decline in sales, but it’s not true.  At some point, the amount of sales on a particular book or books will slow down.  Some are just lucky enough to have several books that constantly bring in the big money

On average , most of us probably won’t see the sales that J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, and R.L. Stine have enjoyed—but that doesn’t mean you should give up on your pursuit.  They had to start somewhere, just like you did.  There’s always hope.  There are a few things you can do to help alleviate the depression that comes with hitting the sales slump.

1. Write more books.  One of the best ways to increase sales is to have other titles readers can choose from.  Keep putting out the best work you can and grow your fan base.

2. Market and advertise.  Having people know about your work might increase their desire to buy it.  Get out and let the world know about your book(s) and give readers a reason to buy it.

3. Become a speaker.  You’re an expert in something, whether it’s creating characters or developing new worlds or using a semicolon properly, and you can (and should) share your knowledge with others.  Develop workshops and presentations to help others become better writers.  Become a panelist at conventions and conferences.  Heck, do something as simple as read at your local library.  It doesn’t matter what you do, just get out there and do it!

4. Stop obsessing about the numbers.  This seems like an incredibly simple task to accomplish, but it’s much harder than it sounds.  Trust me, I know.  I have access to the analytics for several of my books, and I check them way more than I should.  I also check my ranking on Amazon way more often than is probably healthy.  If seeing your numbers change upsets you, then stop looking at the numbers.  There are so many other things to look at on the internet.  Better yet, get back to writing!

5. Write more books.  This can’t be said enough.  You’re a writer because you love to write, so write.  Don’t worry about sales, they’ll come with time. 

It can be hard (and depressing) to deal with declining sales, but it happens to everyone.  Do you have any other tactics you employ so you aren’t focused on the numbers?

How Much Can Readers Ask of Authors?

As authors, we ask a lot from our readers. We ask them to buy our work, enjoy it, and then leave a review. It doesn’t always happen this way, but most times it does, and it’s amazing. Even if the reader doesn’t like our work, we’re still happy that they read the book.

But can readers ever ask anything of authors?

Of course they can.

They can ask us to write the best book in our abilities. They can ask that our books take them to faraway worlds and introduces them to new and interesting characters. They can ask that we make them feel when they read our book. As an author, I’m sure you’re more than happy to supply this to the reader.

But can readers ask for more?

Can they ask for free books? Both ebooks and signed paperbacks?

Recently, I had an interaction with a newsletter subscriber. I was doing a giveaway for some of my books, and this person sent me an email to tell me about a terrible time they were having. They were losing their house and having all kinds of other issues, so they explained that I could make their day a little brighter by sending them some of my signed paperbacks.

I consider myself a kind person, and I had some extra books floating around that were copies from an old publisher. The business has since closed down, and the cover information was out of date, but the interior information was the same. Since I wasn’t going to do anything else with the books, I sent them to this particular individual.

When I sent out my next newsletter, I was having another giveaway from my Life After the Undead series. They were leftovers from the publisher that closed, but—again—the interior story was still the same. Again, I wasn’t going to do anything with them, so I wanted to get them into the hands of readers who might enjoy them.

The same individual messaged me again to let me know that the books I sent a month before had been confiscated when all of their possessions were repossessed. They asked if I could kindly send more books because they were still struggling and having a difficult time.

I didn’t have any other extra copies floating around my office like I had before, and I became suspicious of their intentions. They wanted me to forgo the giveaway and just send them the books, but I wasn’t willing to do that. I wanted to be fair to all my readers—especially since this person had already received copies. They then asked if I would be willing to send pdf versions of the books I had previously sent.

At this point, my suspicion increased further. In the emails, the person kept repeating that I should “have compassion” and help them out in their time of need. I had thought I had been compassionate and kind previously when I sent the first set of copies. Plus, why would anyone repossess books?

I went with my gut instinct that something was off with the situation and decided not to send either the pdf versions or more paperback versions. Is it possible this person was telling the truth? Absolutely. But it’s also possible they were selling my work on the internet.

This is one scenario of readers asking for something that seemed weird and off, but not all encounters are like this. I’ve had others ask me for books—friends, family, fans—and if I could swing it, I’ve sent them copies. If I couldn’t, I sent them links to where they could buy them.

In general, I don’t think it’s weird for readers to ask for things from an author. After all, you never know what the answer is until you try. And, honestly, it’s really cool to get books that have been signed by the author.

However, as the author, you have the final say with whether or not you want to send readers what they are asking for. You have to judge whether or not their intentions are noble or whether they are asking too much of you.

For the authors out there, have you ever had any of these types of requests? How did you go about handling them? How much is too much for a reader to ask of you?

I would love to know what you think! Please feel free to post in the comments or shoot me an email if you’d like to share your story privately!

Stuck In A Good Book Blog Hop

Thanks for stopping by my blog! Before I tell you about the books I’ve been stuck in, I want to let you know what I’m giving away. I’ll be giving away a signed paperback copy of my book Wucaii (open to U.S. shipping only). For a chance to win, comment with a book you’ve been stuck in!

Have you even been stuck in a book so amazing, so emotional that you couldn’t put it down? What about a book that you wish you could get sucked into the pages and live in that world forever?

I have. There have been several books that I never wanted to end. These have included some Star Wars books, books by Piers Anthony, books by Michael Crichton, books by Christopher Pike, and a host of others.

Follow the rest of the blogs in the hop to find more giveaways and other good books that people have been stuck in!

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Pembroke Sinclair's books on Goodreads
Life After the Undead Life After the Undead
reviews: 55
ratings: 100 (avg rating 3.64)

The Appeal of Evil The Appeal of Evil (The Road to Salvation, #1)
reviews: 38
ratings: 63 (avg rating 3.54)

Wucaii Wucaii
reviews: 32
ratings: 35 (avg rating 4.11)

Death to the Undead Death to the Undead (Sequel to Life After the Undead)
reviews: 20
ratings: 39 (avg rating 4.23)

Dealing with Devils Dealing with Devils (The Road to Salvation, #2)
reviews: 22
ratings: 32 (avg rating 4.00)