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I’ll admit it, I stalk all my review sites. I can’t resist reading what readers are saying about my books. I do searches of my books every once in a while to read kind bloggers who discuss my books. Of course I fly high with favorable reviews and try to absorb any criticism as best as I can. I get such a thrill when I see that I have a new review and hold my breath as I read it. I especially like seeing which lines from my books get highlighted on Amazon. I have to say I enjoy this part of being a writer more than my sales reports. I didn’t write to make money, I wrote because I was inspired and it’s amazing to me when others have enjoyed the little world I created in my head. I don’t know if traditionally published authors follow their feedback as closely as indie authors do, but I would guess that reviews and ratings mean more to indies always in search of validation and reassurance.

There are so many things you can say to a writer that can bring tears to their eyes and make them feel like it’s all been worth while. Yet the one that fills me with so much pride is the compliment that they would read anything I write in the future.

That says to me that they didn’t just enjoy the characters, the plot, or the subject, but that they enjoyed my storytelling and style. This gives me so much confidence since sometimes I worry that I might not create such loveable characters in the next novel after my series or the subject just captivated people and if I switch to a different genre they won’t follow me. The one thing that will most likely remain constant is my storytelling style and, if they said they enjoyed that, then chances are they’ll enjoy the next book.

Thank you to those readers who have said that. It fills me with so much reassurance that I’m doing what I should be doing.

If you’re an author, what compliments have meant the most to you? If you’re a reader, what’s the best compliment that you’ve ever left a writer?

 

It’s sad to see that I’m only managing to blog on these once-a-month Indie Life occasions, but with a rambunctious seven-year old boy, an early terrible two-er, and another baby on the way, I find that I only get to write in small little spurts throughout the day. I don’t know why I keep thinking that I’ll get to write so much during the summer. Now if I was a big name, traditionally published author I could hire people to take care of my little ones so that I could finish my last book asap, but alas, this is the plight of many indie writers struggling to finish books along with another job.

So these are the stolen moments I try to grab throughout the day in order to make slow (but steady) head-way on my final book in the series:

I wake up with my laptop right beside my bed. I try to get a good fifteen minutes in before anyone is aware that I’m awake. It’s enough time to check all my accounts and answer any important emails.

I keep my laptop nearby for those rare moments the kids settle down and watch something on the TV. I try to jump right back in where I left off the night before. Even if I add only a paragraph I feel it’s progress.

When I’m driving around, taking the kids to programs, I always have my iPhone with me to jot down notes. This is a great time for brainstorming and thinking little details through. Some of my best thoughts come through in these busy moments.

When my one-and-a-half year old naps, I try to get my seven-year old occupied with a craft or book so that I can get at least an hour of writing in. Some days are more productive than others :)

During doctor’s appointments (and there have been a lot of them lately!), I bring my research books along with me. I always have a pen handy to write notes directly in the margins.

Unfortunately, with the late night fireworks recently, my kids’ sleep schedule has been thrown out of whack and they’ve been going to bed near the time I collapse. I’ve been trying to move it slowly back every night since that is another time I can get a good hour of writing in (if I turn the TV off that is).

The weekends can be even more chaotic since we try to get out to enjoy the east coast summer. I feel guilty staying inside while my kids are being kids. I may take a half-hour here and there, but I try to stay focused on my family.

So this is why my books take some time. Not only do I spend a lot of time researching and plotting out the whole storyline, but with only an hour here and an hour there, it’s a wonder I even get books finished at all!

The new baby will be due in the early fall and I know that even these hours will be reduced to fifteen minutes here and there, but every paragraph that’s written is progress and it will get done if I keep working on it. Of course I wish I could magically stop time to write to my heart’s content, but this is the reality of the part-time/sometimes/not-enough-time writer.

What about you? Where do you steal some time to write?

(Clothing optional)

My latest venture in self-publishing has been something I never thought I’d attempt. If you told me that I’d be creating audio books years ago I’d laugh and show you how I haven’t even figured out my iPhone yet. I first saw a discussion about creating audio books on the Kindlebord’s Writer’s Cafe forum (where I get on all my self-publishing information). I clicked on the thread only out of curiosity and was surprised to hear indie authors report how easy it was to create audio books and if you’re not putting one out you’re leaving money on the table.

My impression was that you needed to be tech savvy to create one or have a lot of money to pay someone else to make one. I knew a few indie authors that narrated their audio books themselves but knew that would never be an option for me. However, these much clever indies had found a site called ACX that helps indies produce their own audio books much like Createspace and KDP have made self-publishing ebooks and print books so simple. I decided to make an account and clicked every tab I could find to answer all my endless questions.

My biggest problem was that I worried my unusual reincarnation fantasy would not make a good audio book due to the fact that I would have to find one very talented narrator who could pull off different accents, different genders, and different ages in a believable way. Yet, what did I have to lose if I put a sample up? So I picked out a few pages of each life from my first book for folks to audition for.

A few weeks went by without any auditions, but then my project got selected for a stipend. I had no idea what that was at first but found out that it is an incentive program that ACX puts on certain books for producers and narrators. Not only will they get the 50%-50% royalty deal, they also get $100 for every finished hour of audio book paid by ACX. Well, the auditions started rolling in. The very first audition I listened to floored me. Completely not what I expected, this narrator took the book in her own direction and I loved it.

What to do now?

Well, I had to read more information on the site about how I make an offer and I was sure to read all the fine print about making an audio book with ACX. I decided I would go with the 50%-50% royalty deal, the exclusive distribution option with ACX that yields more profit for me, and had to select the date I wanted the narrator to complete the first fifteen minutes and the date the whole project should be finalized. Since there was a stipend attached, it was important to see when the stipend time was up since they grant them for only a few months at a time. I checked when mine was up and made sure I gave extra time for my narrator to complete it.

Well, she unfortunately responded that she was busy with another project at the moment and wouldn’t be able to finish it by that date. I was so disappointed and wondered if everyone would sound terrible next to her skill. I listened to a few more auditions and learned that I definitely didn’t like strong accents and glaring voice changes for different characters. The first narrator showed me that subtle was the way to go.

Finally, I got a message from a producer who was interested in my project and gave a list of narrators that worked for him with samples of audio books they’d completed. I picked Jessica Peterson out immediately since she read similarly to the first narrator that I’d heard. The producer had her read my sample and I made the offer which they quickly accepted.

He got to work right away and kept me informed of all their deadlines. It was so nice to work with such a seasoned professional. Since I was so inexperienced it was wonderful to have someone guide me through the whole process. He asked me to go through my whole book and pick out any words that might have difficult pronunciation. Usually there might only be a few words that need to be clarified, but with all my historic names, places, and things this took me a very long time.

An unexpected benefit to making an audio book was soon found out when the narrator found typos (a few missing words here and there). Which was shocking since I’ve had this darn book edited by at least six amazing editors! But since she had to read each word aloud I think it truly cleared up any of those last pesky typos.

The most important step is approving the first fifteen minutes, until then you can walk away from the deal without any penalty. Make sure you like everything: the sound quality, the vocal choices, the pronunciations before this stage since after you approve you’ll have to pay the narrator to end the project if you don’t get along. My first fifteen minutes was wonderful except for the fact that I forgot to specify that my main character begins old and at a certain phrase becomes much younger. It slipped my mind and I felt terrible to tell them that they wasted five minutes at the end since it had to be changed. They were gracious and went back to the studio to change it and I didn’t approve it until it was just the way I wanted.

Now it was definitely happening and I had faith in my producer’s and narrator’s abilities. They finished before the deadline and I listened to every word before I approved the final creation. I had to scramble to get my cover designer to make a square cover for the audition since they would not allow the cover I use for the ebook (so it’s good idea to get that done ahead of time).

It took much longer that I thought before the audio book was up for sale on Amazon (four weeks). I even sent an inquiry on why it was delayed but apparently that is the normal time it takes. I saw that the price was set at $19.95 (they set the price based on how long the audio is), but I wanted to be sure to get the Whispersync deal on there since it gives a huge discount to those who have already purchased the ebook (and since my ebook is free, I hoped it would increase sales). I wrote to ACX and requested the option and after a week the discount was available.

Infinite Sacrifice-Audio Cover(Click here for the link to the audio version)

So there you have it, an audio book was created by someone who never thought they could manage it. I’ve already had a few emails letting me know how much they enjoyed the audio book and were wondering when book number two will be out. I went to work on getting that one made and requested a stipend on that book so I could continue to use the same producer and narrator. They actually granted me the stipend and my producer is up for the project, so now I’m busy looking up all the hard to pronounce words…

Self-publishing is truly an adventure.

indielife7

(Check out other inspiring indie authors’ blog posts by clicking on the icon above)

I just wanted to share with you all a wonderful gothic thriller by my beta partner, Sara Kjeldsen. I might be biased here because I got to watch Sara mold this gothic beauty into perfection, but she has truly created a delightfully haunting tale. And if that cover doesn’t grab you immediately, the fantastic price of FREE will!

Followed’s book description:

Adeline assumes that her life is on track when she befriends her spirited governess, Julia, followed by her ex-midshipman cousin, Gabriel. But when her great aunt passes away after revealing a terrible secret, she is torn away from Julia by her new guardians.

After their home in Bath is set aflame, Adeline and Gabriel flee to the woods. Separated from Gabriel after being chased down by a strange horseman, Adeline is then approached by a madman and is given an ultimatum to follow him – or to die alone in the forest.

I was drawn in immediately by the cover’s promise of a creepy tale and couldn’t put the book down until the last page. Followed is the kind of book where you not only have an interesting cast of developed characters, but the actual setting is one of the most important characters. The old mansion and the primal woods truly create a fantastically eerie and haunting atmosphere. I felt like I was there in that mansion following the characters down the secret passageways, riding along on horseback beside them, and wandering through the creepy woods. I enjoyed all the twists and reveals that kept me turning every page. I can’t get enough of stories with death-bed confessions, secret rooms, scandalous diaries, and restless spirits.

If you love gothic thrillers with a pinch of mystery, you will love Followed. The ending has enough closure to be satisfying, but there are still plot threads left hanging to keep the reader eager to read on. I love books that hint at little mysteries that promise to be big reveals later down the road. I can’t wait to see where Sara goes with the next book in series (and I’m so happy that I’ll be one of the first people who can take a peak at it:))

If you wanted to try Followed out for yourself, you can find the new release here FREE (and hurry since I don’t think it will be free for long!)

 


So I’ve joined a fun and supportive blog hop that celebrates independent authors that requires you write one post about anything self-publishing once a month. If you’re interested in reading some of today’s posts or joining up as well, click on the icon above.

I came across a fascinating blog post on Kboards from a best-selling, formally traditionally published author, Elisa Beth Naughton. If you have the time, you can read it for yourself here. Otherwise, I’ll try my best to summarize.

Naughton opened up about the struggles she had when she was traditionally published where she used any meager profit she made for her own books’ publicity and claimed a negative income on her taxes (even being on the best-selling list). She brings up the fact that she was so focused on the prestige of being traditionally published that she was unaware of the poor contract she signed for her books. Many times, authors will trade many of their rights and profits just to say that they’re traditionally published. As soon as she got some of her book titles back, she decided to follow a few of her successfully self-published friends and dove into indie waters. She admits it took some hard work to get her books noticed again, but is now claiming possibly seven figures this year on her income tax from self-publishing alone!

She admits that self-publishing isn’t for everyone (and I’m sure having her name well-known prior to self-publishing helped her immensely), but she makes a great point by saying that she is so glad she writes in an age where authors have these choices. It is so important to realize that self-publishing allows every author that choice.

If you don’t get represented by an agent, you have a choice.

If you don’t get picked up by a publisher, you have a choice.

If you don’t get offered a great contract, you have a choice.

If you don’t make much profit off your traditionally published book, you have a choice.

If you get your books backlisted, you have a choice.

Self-publishing gives us all a choice, even if you do decide to go the traditionally published route.  It’s in every author’s best interest to support indies so that they always have a potentially profitable alternative out there (and hopefully publishers will become wary of this and offer better deals to keep their authors happy).

When I was querying agents (and my dream agent actually was interested!) I probably would have accepted anything to just get published. I’m so glad that I did go it on my own for the very reasons that Naughton points out:

“I get to write the books I want to write, the way I want to write them, and I get to release them when I want…not when a publisher can fit me into their schedule. For me, self publishing is a perfect fit and no matter where I go from here, it will definitely be part of my career plan.

Of course, this all seems fabulous and it sounds like I’m making tons of money, doesn’t it? But you have to remember that I wrote for ten years without making a penny. Three plus of which as a published author. If you add up what I’ve made self publishing and divide it by ten years, trust me, it’s not much in the long run. But the growth potential is there, and that’s what keeps me going. There was a time not long ago when I was pretty sure I was going to have to go back to teaching because I wasn’t making any money writing. I was even looking at job postings online, trying to find a science position in my area. Now that’s all changed. I get to keep doing what I love. I get to keep writing the books readers love because of self publishing.”

I’m so happy that Naughton has found such rewarding success in self-publishing, especially after working so hard for all those years. I’m definitely content with my small successes at this point and thank the universe everyday that I had this option available. My series would never have been published and there are many fans that have thanked me for writing them.

Options are always a wonderful thing :)

On Thursday, New York Times best selling indie author, Dave Wolverton / David Farland’s teenage son was critically injured in a longboard accident. Ben and his family were life-flighted to Las Vegas where Ben has since been in a medically induced coma. He has had multiple emergency brain surgeries to attempt to control the swelling in his brain. The problem is his family did not have insurance and they are worried about the extraordinary cost of such a traumatic injury.

You can see more of this story at http://www.gofundme.com/BensRecovery.

I don’t remember seeing David Farland on the KBoard Forum, but he’s been a successful indie author for quite a few years. I’m usually leery of donating to unknown causes, but this story touched me so much that I looked into David Farland’s books. He has many high-rated fantasy books and a couple writing instructional books.

One in particular caught my attention, Million Dollar Outlines, and I started reading it immediately.

Bestselling author David Farland has taught dozens of writers who have gone on to staggering literary success, including such #1 New York Times Bestsellers as Brandon Mull (Fablehaven), Brandon Sanderson (Wheel of Time), James Dashner (The Maze Runner) and Stephenie Meyer (Twilight).

In this book, Dave teaches how to analyze an audience and outline a novel so that it can appeal to a wide readership, giving it the potential to become a bestseller. The secrets found in his unconventional approach will help you understand why so many of his authors go on to prominence.

Or you could check out his other instructional, Drawing on the Power of Resonance in Writing. I picked this one up as well :)


All successful writers use resonance to enhance their stories by drawing power from stories that came before, by resonating with their readers’ experiences, and by resonating within their own works.

In this book, you’ll learn exactly what resonance is and how to use it to make your stories more powerful. You’ll see how it is used in literature and other art forms, and how one writer, J. R. R. Tolkien, mastered it in his work.
So if the story pulls at your heart-strings a bit and you need to help with your outlining or resonance, you will feel wonderful purchasing his books knowing that it will go to help this young man recover. Win, win. And if you don’t think your outlining or resonance needs any help, check out his amazing fantasy books. Here’s the link to his many books.

Please feel free to share/tweet/reblog this and have a restful Sunday!

I’m happy to announce that the third book in the Infinite Series, Infinite Loss, has been released!

InfiniteLossCoverWeb

Book Description:

With lessons and lives of sacrifice and devotion behind her, Maya must continue the journey into her next incarnations as a young and passionate Lakota warrior on the Great American Plains; the dashing British spy Major John André, fighting the tide of a great revolution; and the desolate master of the macabre, Edgar Allan Poe.

Each life is touched with love but strained by unbearable grief. Maya must experience life’s most trying lesson…the devastation of loss.

I want to thank you for your support and interest in my series by reducing the ebook from $4.99 to $3.99 for the first two days. I truly appreciate all the encouragement and this is my way of thanking you each personally.

Infinite Loss is now available at these locations:

B & N

Amazon

Amazon UK

Smashwords, Kobo, Itunes, and Sony will be up shortly. The print version is not out yet. I will send another notification when it’s released.

To those of you that have left reviews for Infinite Sacrifice and Infinite Devotion, thank you so much. I look forward to hearing what you all think of Infinite Loss! Enjoy!

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