Monday, March 30, 2015

Trying New Things

In the interest of mixing things up a bit and trying new things, I'd like to devote a post each week to another writer or a book or a series of books I enjoy that maybe might be overlooked or underrated or whatever.  I know the following here isn't huge.  I'd like to rectify that, but I can only do what I can do.  Having said that, though, maybe my little blog will do someone some good someday.

To that end, I'd like to take a moment and plug a series that really hasn't been getting the attention it should be getting.  You may all know my friend, JB Lynn, and her awesome Neurotic Hitwoman series, but did you know she also writes a Matchmaker Mystery series.  She spun it off the Neurotic Hitwoman universe, but only the character, Armani, is a fixture in the Matchmaker Mystery series, too. 

Anyway, her third book in this new series is coming out shortly, and I think you all should give the series a try.  It's fun and quirky with romance and mystery and pets!  I love the characters and the writing and they're just good books to lose myself in from time to time. 

The first book is The Mutt and the Matchmaker.  The second is A Match Made in Mystery.  And the soon-to-be-published book is Catnapped!  Good stuff all the way through.

So, if you're in the market for a fun read, give JB's Matchmaker series a try. 

Oh, and before I forget, speaking of new things, if you scroll back up to the top there, you'll see a new tab.  Click it and it takes you to the sign-up form for my newsletter.  I promise not to mailbomb you or be annoying.  Just news and updates and contests and junk. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Making a Few Things Clear

I got into an interesting discussion with a reader the other day that showed I should probably make a few things clear for the reading public.

1)  Dying Embers is entirely a work of fiction.  I made all this shit up in my head and while I may have borrowed a few minor character traits from people I've met in my life-travels, they're scattered throughout and no one character has any resemblance as a whole to anyone I've ever met.

2)  I have never been cheated on.  I've only been married once, and my husband is so totally faithful that even when some ass started a rumor, I laughed my ass off.  The only cheating I ever encountered was that one dude in college who slept with a chick at a party when he was supposed to be my boyfriend.  I dropped him like the sack of dirt he was, but I never cared enough about him to even wish him dead.

3)  I have never killed anyone.  Not that I haven't thought about it, and my imagination does run wild, but I do know right from wrong, and no matter how much some people may deserve a little payback, I would never follow through.  Hell, people, I swerve to avoid running over frogs.  The only thing I kill with any amount of glee are brown recluse spiders.  Those suckers deserve to die.  And venomous snakes. 

4)  Neither Jace nor Emma is modeled after me, or anyone else I know. 

If the story you read makes it seem like I've been there, then thank you.  That means I've done my job as a writer.  And yes, while the common mantra in the writing community is 'Write what you know', it isn't the case here.  I make shit up and write it down.

I hope you all enjoy the shit I've made up.  I'm having a blast letting my imagination run wild and then sharing the stories with you.

Oh, and I almost totally forgot!  Deb Salisbury and DL Hammons need to email me (besanderson at gmail dot com) your snail mail addresses so I can send you both bookmarks - just cuz.  =o)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Pavlov's Writer

Taking a break from Wicked Wednesday today to discuss something else...

Long long ago in another life, I was a psychology major in college.  (Yeah, yeah... let the jokes commence - later.)  And something struck me the other day.

Ever heard of classical conditioning?  You know, Pavlov and his whole drooling dog shtick?  That.  Anyway, part of it has to do with intermittent reward or punishment and, if I remember correctly, how when the reward or punishment isn't consistent it can actually increase the behavior.  (After a certain time of being consistent, that is.)  Think of it as a child wants a candy bar at the store, and you say no, so he screams and you give it to him.  The next time maybe you say no three times but still give in and give him the candy bar.  The next time he will scream his fool head off until you give in.  If you stay strong through, you can decrease the behavior until it becomes intermittent.  But the one time you give in, that behavior comes back stronger than before.

That's a simplification, but you get the gist.  And I have a point.  Here it is...

When I first launched Dying Embers for sale, I checked my sales data constantly and I was rewarded consistently.  Soon, the rewards (sales) became inconsistent, but I still checked the data constantly.  Over this last week, the rewards dropped off entirely and thus, my checking the data dropped off to once a day.  (Cuz really who needs that depressing data staring at you throughout the day?)  Then I checked my data yesterday morning, and I had a sale!  And the constant checking behavior swooped right back.  :eyeroll: 

Like Pavlov's dog, there I was drooling away, waiting for my next reward.  

Does any of this ring a bell?  :smirk:

Seriously, though, ever experience this?  What's ringing your bell? 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Decisions and Changes and Ignoring Advice

Hey all.  I had some epiphanies over the weekend that I said I'd share today.

The first epiphany was the big one.  But I'll get to that in a minute.

First off, even though I have loved the title 'Wrongful Termination' since I thought of it way back when, something about it has been bothering me.  It doesn't quite fit with the story.  That title implies events not in evidence in the story.  So, despite the fact that I have been working with that title forever, have covers with the title, my editor already has the book, and I've talked about that title ad nauseum, I tossed it out.  The book will now be known as Accidental Death. 

Another epiphany came when I was trying to take a nap and the premise for that book's sequel slapped me upside the head.  And it makes more sense for it to be called Wrongful Termination.  Tada!

Then as I was trying yet again to get into this rewrite for Fertile Ground, I realized the problem.  I was trying to fit a oddly-shaped peg into a square hole.  Frank does not belong in this book.  I love Frank.  I think he's an awesome secondary character.  But I never meant for him to be a hero.  So, despite the advice of several dear friends, and maybe the expectation of some readers, Frank will not be getting his own book.  Or at least not this one.  Rick Jensen will remain the hero.  I'll just have to make him less of a douche.  And having decided that, last night's rerere-write went really well.  I was actually excited about working on this book again. 

Now, for the big epiphany...  As much as I love having input from family and friends on my writing, I ultimately have to decide what my books are all about.  This is one of the great things about self-publishing.  I can write my books my way.  I kinda forgot that.  It doesn't mean I don't still need your help and that I won't ask for advice.  I just have to choose to do what's right for me and my stories. 

Speaking of help, maybe all y'all can do a gal a solid.  I'm having trouble coming up with a zippy tagline.  I want something that jumps off the cover like 'Revenge is better hot' (which also looks awesome on a bookmark).  What I've come up with so far is...

Murder is never incidental.
Random acts of homicide.

Something to go on the cover underneath the title.  Here's a quick blurb I threw together that might help you think of something...

Detective Dennis Haggarty doesn’t want to go to Serenity, Colorado and help mourn a brother-in-law he never met.  He sure as hell doesn’t want to face his baby sister after years apart.  Finding a corpse outside the memorial service certainly won’t make matters better.  Even worse considering the local authorities believe the death was accidental. 

Too bad Dennis doesn’t believe them.

Now he has to follow a string of unlikely deaths to find the person behind them.  All the clues point to the city manager’s widow.  If only Dennis didn’t feel like he was falling in love with his main suspect.

(Yeah, it's lame, but I'll make it better.  Right now, it's just to give everyone an idea of what this book is about.)

And I'll pick one commenter - whether I choose the idea or not - to win a signed 'Revenge is better hot' bookmark from Dying Embers. 

Oh, and here's the cover I'm currently tweaking:

Friday, March 20, 2015

Crime Fighter Friday - Yolanda McClary

I don't know if any of you watch Cold Justice on TNT, but I've got a girl crush on these two women who go around the country trying close cold cases and bring murderers to justice.  This week, I'll focus on one and next week, I'll focus on the other.  I love them both equally, but someone had to come first. 

Yolanda McClary.  She's the law enforcement side of the duo.  (Kelly Siegler is the prosecutorial side.)  She's a former crime scene investigator from Las Vegas.  Yes, she is the real CSI - and is the basis for the red-headed gal on that show.  She totally rocks the red hair.  And she investigated over 7000 crimes in her 26 years with LVPD. 

She's gritty and tough - the way a cop ought to be - but she's sensitive to the victims' families and while she does have a heart of gold, it's clad in steel. And she's smart as a whip.  Naturally. 

Heaven forbid anything should ever happen to me or mine, but if it did, I know I'd want her investigating the crime. 

She kicks ass.

If you're interested in more about Yolanda, follow her on Facebook.  I do, and I love her posts.  She kinda makes me feel better about all the crime in the world because I know she's out there trying to solve it.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Wicked Wednesday - Bonnie and Clyde

Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow...  What to say about them that hasn't already been said a million different ways.  Simple.  They were crooks.

Yeah, pretty obvious, I guess, but when I say crooks, I mean crooks.  They weren't movie stars or folk heroes or anything one should probably aspire to.  They weren't Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty cutting a dashing figure through the early 20th century.  Hell, they weren't even people you might, maybe, be able to kinda elevate to a Robin Hood status if you squinted and tilted your head sideways.  The majority of the people they robbed were small shop owners and the majority of the people they killed were officers of the law - men trying to protect the citizens who later romanticized their killers.  Bonnie and Clyde were crooks.  And scum.

And romanticizing scum doesn't sit well with me.  (Don't even get me started.)

Anyway, let's look at the facts.  Bonnie Parker was a smart girl who went as bad as a rancid peach.  Maybe it was because her father died when she was little.  Maybe her mother didn't love her enough.  Whatever it was that sent her down the path of criminal behavior, it stuck and it stuck good.  Perhaps she was just a sucker and got pulled down a bad path by a manipulative sociopath...

Like any good sociopath, Clyde Barrow seemed to enjoy the criminal lifestyle.  One might even say he was pretty damn proud of himself.  Until the law caught up with him.  Then he cried his way out of it, lied about being part of it, and generally made a whiny ass of himself.  So basically, he was only proud around his gang, and only a leader when his feet weren't to the fire. 

Some hero. 

So when you look back at this duo and their gang of thugs, don't do it through the Hollywood lens.  These two weren't anything worth celebrating.  They were just wicked.

Monday, March 16, 2015

A Meeting at Corporate Headquarters

The other day, the CFO (Hubs) and the CEO (Moi) of B.E. Sanderson Publications (again, not a real company name, nor the one I would pick for an LLC if I ever went that way) sat down for an impromptu meeting.  The CFO called the meeting at approximately 7am - as he is usually way more awake than the CEO.  Since the CEO hadn't had nearly enough coffee and the secretary (also Me) wasn't inclined to take notes, there will not be a blow by blow of the deets.

Sales were discussed. For a breakdown of that report, go here.  Marketing strategies were on the floor briefly.  A production schedule was outlined as follows:

Expectations are that we will put out four books this year - at or near the quarters (i.e. March, June, September and December).  Book one is already out - Dying Embers.  Book two is at the editor - Wrongful Termination.  Book three is in production.  Book four will be contingent on whether Wish in One Hand gets picked up by Baen.  If it does, then the fourth book will be another suspense.  If it doesn't, then book four will be the first in my urban fantasy series - with the second and third books in that series coming out next year.

Then we sidebarred and talked about the potential of losing readers because of the genre switch from suspense to urban fantasy.  It was decided in order to prevent that, we will leapfrog the genres - putting out the UF in December, and then another suspense in March, UF in June, etc. 

It was at that point the CFO pulled the COO (also me) aside to ponder how exactly new books would fit into the schedule when the production team (also me) would be busy with getting the already-written books ready for publication.  The COO provided assurances and talked about production schedules and pointed out ways to make the production floor more efficient.  The CFO was not convinced, but agreed to hold off naysaying until he could see how this year went. 

Then a discussion of finances ensued.  The budget for this year looks good.  The expectation is to have the first three books funding the next book at least by the time it's ready to go into production.  If that isn't feasible, the financing issue will be revisited at that time.

The meeting then adjourned, and the CEO made the CFO breakfast.  ;o)

I hope you enjoyed that peek into the business aspect of self-publishing.  I wrote it that way to be funny, but also to underscore the fact that this is a business.  At least, if I hope to be successful, I need to approach it that way.  Money going out, money coming in and customers I have to think about to keep that money coming in - so I can continue to provide the product they want. 

Any questions?

Friday, March 13, 2015

One Month-iversary and Numbers

Hello, Everyone, and Happy Friday the 13th: Part 2.  Since I published Dying Embers on the first Friday the 13th, that makes this exactly 4 weeks since it went live and the book's One Month-iversary.  Yay!

Here are the hard numbers for that month from my handy-dandy Excel spreadsheet):

I moved 400 copies.  By moved, I mean 400 copies are now in some reader's hands available for them to read.

Of the 44 I'll get paid for:
22 of those were straight Kindle sales in the US.
2 were straight Kindle sales in the UK.
17 were Kindle Unlimited 'borrows' where the person read at least 10% of the book.
I sold 2 print books through Createspace, and one print copy by hand.

I gave away 356 free e-copies during that time. This makes for some interesting numbers:

315 copies went to US Kindle readers
25 copies went to UK readers
8 went to Canada
4 went to Germany
2 went to India
1 went to Japan
1 went to Brazil

I'm international!  Yay!

On the more soft numbers, I've had two people tell me they bought the book through B&N, but I won't see those numbers until the end of March report.  I've also heard from another person that they bought a hardcopy through Amazon UK, but that hasn't hit my reports yet.  Additionally, I have no way of knowing how many people borrowed the book through Kindle Unlimited - until they actually read the books they borrowed.  :shrug:

I have six 5-star reviews at Amazon.  Over at Goodreads, I have seven 5-star reviews, one 4-star review, one 3-star rating, and one 2-star rating - giving me an overall average of 4.4 stars.  

For a debut novelist that ain't bad.  And just so you don't thinking I'm sitting back on my laurels, waiting for the cash to roll in, I'll be sending my next book - Wrongful Termination - to the editor tonight.  (Or tomorrow morning if today gets away from me.)

I hope those numbers help anyone who might be thinking of getting into this self-publishing thing.  Like they say on the stock-trader commercials - yada yada not indicative of future earnings - and like on the car commercials - your mileage may vary.  For everyone else, I hope this was at least interesting.  

So anyway, thanks again for all your support.  It's really been a wild month and I couldn't have done it without you.  :hugs:

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Wicked Wednesday - Lavinia Fisher

According to legends and rumors, Lavinia Fisher was the first female serial killer in America.  I don't know if that's true.  I don't even know if the legends have any basis in reality.  If they're true, she was one sick lady, and if not, they make for one hell of a campfire story.

You see, Lavinia and her husband were innkeepers just outside Charleston, SC, and like so many sickos before them, they saw an opportunity to make some extra money beyond the fees for staying at their place.  It's said that they killed upwards of a hundred travelers - mostly men, I think - in order to keep their money and belongings.

From the accounts I read, John Fisher didn't seem like any criminal mastermind.  One report had him begging and crying and praying as he was led to the gallows.  No, I think if any of this is true, Lavinia was the driving force. Supposedly very lovely with a charm about her, she would draw the men in and then John and his gang (maybe two other guys) would do the killings. 

Several of the rumors say that Lavinia went to the gallows in her wedding dress.  That part's been refuted, but what a story!  Some say she had plans to marry the devil after her death.  Others say she wore her wedding dress to entice the onlookers at her hanging.  Now, that's pretty wicked.

Whether her story is true or not, she was certainly somehow who inspired fear and loathing - even long after her death.  There have been books written about her, movies made, episodes of crime shows based on her. 

Definitely an interesting story.  And with that I'll leave you with her supposed last words: "If any of you have a message for the devil, say it now for I shall see him in a moment."

How's that for creepy?

Monday, March 9, 2015

What's Up With Me?

Whoa, where did the days go?  Sorry I totally missed Crime Fighter Friday. 

Anyway, it's been almost a month since Dying Embers was officially available for sale.  Hardly seems like a month has gone by. 

First off, thanks to everyone for making my debut launch special and for not leaving me hanging without any sales or reviews.  You guys are all awesome.  I'll do an actual wrap-up of numbers on Friday - when the real one-month anniversary hits. 

If I continue at this rate, book sales are not going to make me rich by any definition of the word, but it's better than the last ten years of nothing special.  Finally, it's all on me.  Come kudos or raspberries, I did this. 

Just so you know, I'm hard at work polishing up another book to send out into the world. This one is more mystery than suspense, but I think you'll still enjoy it. Right now, let's just say it's about a big-city detective who goes to a small town to comfort his recently-widowed sister, and discovers a dead woman outside the funeral home.  The more he looks into what they've ruled an accidental death, the more he finds the town has had a rash of 'accidental deaths', and being the man he is, he can't stop himself from investigating--even when the locals don't want him to. 

Again, thanks for your support of Dying Embers, and I hope to have something new for you soon.  (Hoping for 6-8 weeks from now.)

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Wicked Wednesday - The Roermond Witch Trials

Yesterday afternoon, a friend of mine mentioned that she was distantly related to someone who was accused of being a witch at Salem.  I'm related to one of the jurors at one Salem witch trial, so we had a little fun there.  Later, as I was thinking of what to write about for Wicked Wednesday and scrolling through my bookmarks when I stumbled upon a bit of information I discovered years ago (researching another book) about the witch trials in a place called Roermond.

Roermond took place in what was the Spanish Netherlands with the first recorded trial in 1522.  They were big on the witch thing back then in that particular place, so that wasn't the last.  Several more took place between 1525 and 1611.  But the biggie was held in 1613. 

Not much is known about the trials.  Most of the information has been lost to time.  But, from what I can gather, 64 witches were arrested and accused of causing all manner of things they couldn't possibly have done.  (Like every other witch trial in every other place.)  Of course, it didn't help that at least one of the accused 'confessed'.  Yeah, I bet they did.  :eyeroll:

Over the course of a month, the good people of Roermond burned two witches a day until all 64 were dead.  There's nothing about how the awesome burgh of Roermond suddenly became free from strife afterwards, of course, but those things rarely make the news.

Funny.  You'd think that after supposedly killing around a thousand people and six thousand critters, someone would've noticed how much healthier everyone was.  Then again, if they were witch enough to kill, they should've had some magic to get them out of being killed themselves.  Strange how that works. 

Anyway, if that ain't wicked, I don't know what is. 

Have any of you ever been accused of something you didn't do? 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Marketing Monday

Since marketing seems to be the hardest hurdle for writers to leap, I thought I'd continue with the theme of the past Monday and talk a little about marketing again.  (And please note, I'm still too new at this to know if any of it will actually help me gain sales.  I've heard it can, but I have no data to back that up.)

First things first - making the book free.  Here's an excellent article from Elizabeth Spann Craig on the subject: The Impact of Free Promos.  Based on what I'd already read on the subject, I had planned on making Dying Embers free.  Hell, that was half the reason I signed the book up for Kindle Select - because the Select program let's you set the book for free for 5 days over the course of your 90 day period (in a row or one at a time or whatever).  I'd read that setting your book to free can help increase sales.  (I know, it sound anti-intuitive, but if other writers are selling books and doing this, what can it hurt to try.) 

To that end, Dying Embers is free for today only - 12:00am 3/2 thru 11:59 3/2 - so if you haven't got a copy of your very own yet, go get one.  Read it.  Review it if you're so inclined.

Which leads me to reviews.  Having them helps sales.  And as of this posting, I have 4 awesome reviews over Amazon and Goodreads.  I didn't solicit them - and I will never pay for them.  That's not cool. 

Which leads me to another marketing thing I have going on tomorrow - Kboards.  They have something like 80,000 subscribers and for a mere $15 they're running my book on what's called their 'Book Discovery Days' promo.  It'll be there along with other books, of course, but for that price, I couldn't pass it up.  That'll be up at 4pm Pacific tomorrow.  (After free day is over - unless Amazon screws something up and makes my 'day' longer.)

But don't let me forget what I have going on today!  A friend of mine messaged me the other day asking if I'd like to guest blog - pimp my book, etc.  I wrote a post and sent it over.  So today, I'm guest blogging at the homeplace of Laura Bickle - writer of awesomeness for adult and YA markets.  I've stalked... err, followed Laura ever since I read her urban fantasy Embers years ago.  And we became friends.  Now, I'm not advocating going out and making friends so that they'll pimp your books for you.  I am advocating going out and making friends the natural way, and one hopes that they'll like you enough to offer to pimp your books.  But I've been slowly making friends since I started this blogging thing in 2006 before I ever dreamed of being brave enough to self-publish, so your mileage may vary.

Anyway, like I said, I'm not sure how effective all this marketing will be, but as of this morning, around 40 people have a copy of my book.  That's 10 more people than yesterday and the day is early.  And if only a fraction of those people review it or chat it up or want a hardcopy of the book for their very own, it'll be worth it.  I think.  Maybe. 

Time will tell.  And I will share as much as I can along the way.