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.