Friday, May 29, 2015

News Updates

A couple of news updates...

First, Dying Embers is still at 99 cents - but only until Sunday night/Monday morning.  Then the price will go up to $2.99.  Now's your opportunity to get $2 off. 

Second, the paperback copies of Accidental Death are here.  They look lovely.  A Goodreads contest should start Monday - I'm just waiting for approval from the Goodreads people. 

Third, if you've read Accidental Death, I would love it if you would post a review.  I have one at Amazon UK and Goodreads, but regular Amazon is kinda lonely.

Fourth, the ad at Ereader News Today did its job and got Dying Embers into the bestseller rankings in my category (Kindle/Mystery, Thriller, Suspense/Crime/Serial Killers) which seems to be getting me some nice residual sales.  At the height, I hit #9 on the above list.  As of the ad going live, I've sold 219 copies that I know of.  (Some expanded sales outlets don't report for up to 60 days.)  The majority of that was on the day of the ad, and I assume the sales since have been residual from the ad and from hitting the rankings. 

Fifth, I heard from the cover artist for Wish in One Hand.  I should see a mock up of the cover concept soon.  Then we'll go back and forth a bit if things need tweaking.  I can't wait to see what he's done.

Got any news or updates to pass along?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Research Distraction

Writers are easily distracted.  I mean, it kind of goes with the territory, don't ya think? I think our brains are wired to notice all the shiny, pretty things. Only the most hardcore and committed among us (I'm not one of them) can keep our mind on the task in front of us for protracted amounts of time.  I can think of a few, but I think they're the exception to the rule.  And the worst distractor - when it comes to writing (and not the rest of life which is full of shiny, pretty things) - is research.

Research is necessary part of writing.  Obviously, we write about all sorts of things we cannot necessarily have personal experience with.  And then there are the things we do have personal experience with, but we want to make sure we're writing it right, or saying it right, to give readers a richer experience.  Needless to say, research - while necessary - can certainly take us away from the task at hand.  Whatever that task may be.

Yesterday, I got distracted researching something from Dying Embers - which is already out and people are buying it and reading it, so this isn't even something I NEED to research.  It was phrasing I had used that a reader had a question about.  And then I had to know where the phrase originated and perhaps how it got inserted into my lexicon.  :shrug:

This morning, I got distracted looking for something to talk about on this blog.  All I wanted was a psychological disorder that might lead one to a life of crime.  Instead I followed the rabbit down this path and that path... Did you know there's a study linking psychological disorders and traumatic brain injury?  Oh, and that anti-social personality disorder is now called 'sociopathy'?  And that according to Slate, 'abnormal is the new normal' and they're totally okay with that?  And there's something called Avoidant Personality Disorder - which I'm pretty sure I'm in recovery from...

Ahem.  Where was I?

Ah, yes, the research distraction.  I've had many a time when I was writing along nicely, churning the words out, when some tiny aspect of the story needed a little research.  I spent an unmentionable amount of time researching big, white dog breeds for Wish in One Hand, for instance.  (Research combined with a personal interest is the worst.  Decided on the Kuvasz, btw.)  Coming back to the writing after that is sometimes hard and occasionally, the whole writing session can be derailed due to one little thing, which leads to another little thing, which leads to another little thing until you start out researching varieties of wild mushrooms because the gal who found the body was trying to teach a client which ones are edible and which are poisonous, and you find yourself hours later looking at YouTube videos of cats.

One thing I've learned to do, and what the hardcore, committed writers seem to do, is instead of going off to chase the rabbit, you put a placemarker in the writing - and then keep writing.  When you edit, you do the research then, so as not to interrupt the flow.  And lord knows, for me, there's usually no editing flow to interrupt.  Of course, that only helps when you're actually in the writing groove.  If you're doing something else, and the research bunny hops in your path, you're pretty much screwed.


How do you deal with distractions?  Have you ever started out looking up one thing online and then followed the rabbit down a twisted path?  Where's you end up?

Monday, May 25, 2015

ROI: How Do You Know Your Marketing is Working?

ROI = Return on Investment.  Which basically means how much money are you making from the money you already put in.  (Bear with me here, I only took one business class in college and that was pre-accident, so the majority of that sucker is gone and what I do know is self-taught.)

Simply put, you pay $15 for an advertisement, you should expect to at least get that much back and, if all goes well, see profits over and above that $15. 

In order to make $15 from a $2.99 ebook, you need to sell about 8 books.  Sounds simple, right?

It is for the most part.  Especially if right after the ad appears, you see 8 books get purchased.  What makes it a little sticky is when you don't see 8 books fly off the proverbial shelf.  You see 2.  Then the next day, you see 3. Maybe you have a couple dry days and then the weekend hits and you see another 4 books sell.  You've hit your advertising goal of breaking even, but how can you know for sure if the ad brought you those sales or if those readers found your book another way?

Throw in the fact that you also did a Twitter campaign and maybe a free ad also rolled out or a reader talked about your book on their blog or you got a nice new review, and you're pretty much toast for having any actual data from which to base your next advertising purchase.

Oh, you could do the annoying thing and try to poll your readers.  "Where did you find out about my book?"  But I think only a few readers actually answer polls, so it skews the numbers.  (And I'm totally not a fan of polls or statistics because they can be skewed so many ways, they're hard to depend on.)

To put it more into perspective, I ran a couple free events this month - one before Accidental Death launched and one after.  Pre-order sales were flat, so I'm pretty sure my 'before' event didn't get the folks clamoring to read my book.  The 'after' event hit and that day was pretty much crickets, but then Friday, sales shot up to a record high (record for me - which wasn't high by anyone else's standards, I think, but it worked for me).  Since it was also 'launch week', I did some FB things and Twitter things, so I'm not really sure exactly what made the sales soar.  Hell, it could've been that people were waiting until Friday to buy my book because that's when their paycheck hit their account, so they had fundage to buy the book - which would account for the slow rest of the week. :shrug:

Today, I'm scheduled to have a paid ad in the Ereader News Today for Dying Embers.  (Long story as to why I'm pimping DE instead of AD here.  I might go into that another day.)  Since Dying Embers is currently 99 cents, I will need to sell roughly 85 books to break even.  The hope here is that sales of DE lead to sales of AD (of which I would need 15 sales to cover the cost).  I'm also hoping Friday's sales of AD lead people to buy DE, but that's neither here nor there. 

And then there's the fact that DE is now available through most other distribution channels, and they don't give real time numbers on sales, so I won't know if the advertising worked there for like 60 days...

See what I'm saying?  How does one know when the marketing is working?  As long as the sales are there, something is working. right?  There's the old phrase 'time will tell', but I doubt it's telling me what I need to know. 

I guess I'll just have to keep writing the next book and the next book and the next book, and let the sales sort themselves out.  (Still, the business person in me wants a better metric...)

I'd do a poll right now, but I'm pretty sure if you're here, I know how you discovered my books.  If you're new here, though, tell me how you stumbled across me and my books.  The data might be skewed, but skewed data is still data.  =o)

Friday, May 22, 2015

True Crime Has Tainted Us

I really watch too much true-crime TV.  Hubs and I both do.  Case in point:

I was at the nearest gas station on Wednesday, getting my lottery winnings (don't be too excited, I didn't hit the jackpot or anything) and picking out some other tickets to try my luck on.  An older lady walked up next to me to turn her scratch offs in and buy some more - hey, it's a local pastime.  A young guy walked up shortly thereafter to pay for gas.  We were all just being amiable, as people usually are at the local gas station - when the young dude exclaims

"Oh man!  That chick just messed up her new Camaro!"

We all turn to look and see a woman in a new black Camaro slowly pulling away from the red concrete poles she'd just backed into.  She gets out to look.  Another guy who'd recently been inside the store walks up to her and they both gaze at the damage.  Then she gets into the driver's side and her guy gets into the passenger side.  They pull away just slowly enough for me and another gal to get the license plate number, then they jump onto the highway and speed off - blowing the stop sign at the intersection.

The dude who originally saw the accident pays and then goes back outside to his vehicle.  I and the other lady go back to choosing scratch off tickets.  A couple minutes later the gas guy comes back in and says his wife saw the whole thing.  The car had a red scrape down the side and she said they hit the gas pump.  More kerfluffle ensues.  And I head on my merry way.

When I get home, I relay the story to Hubs.  And that's when the true crime speculation comes into play.  Why did they speed off - blowing a stop sign in the process?  Why was she backing up right there in the first place?  Was the guy casing the place?  Had they already committed a crime someplace else?  Was it a simple case of pump and run where they didn't bother to pay for the gas they'd pumped?

Stolen car?  Stolen credit card?

No insurance?  No driver's license? 

Wanted in another town for some heinous crime???

Simple case of 'god, I feel stupid and don't want to face anyone in the store'?

I swear, we aren't normal anymore.  LOL

Yesterday, I was back at the gas station, claiming my winnings (yeah, still not a jackpot, but it bought lunch at KFC), and I asked the gals if they caught the culprits.  They didn't even bother calling it in to the police.  Nothing was damaged.  The red concrete poles have been run into so many times, it's hard to tell if they sustained anything new and even if they had, they aren't really worth making an insurance claim over. 

We'll never know exactly why the pair tore away from the scene like the sheriff was hot on their trail.  But they did pay for their gas before they left, so that's something.  ;o)

Do you wonder about stuff like we do?  What would you have thought if you saw the same scene I did?  Or am I just overly tainted by true crime television?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Write What You Know, But...

In the writing world, there's this simple statement we're all supposed to follow:

Write What You Know

So, since what I know from personal experience is probably pretty boring to the rest of the world, I took what I knew and I embellished it, added to it, and fictionalized it.  What came out became Accidental Death.

I took the wild imaginings of the wife of a city manager and put them on paper. And I had some wild imaginings. Especially after one of Hubs' acquaintances died of a heart attack.  Thus Jillian and Scott's backstory came to life. 

When a local man was found dead in his garage from an apparent suicide, I began to wonder how easy it would be to commit a murder in a town where the police weren't that well trained and weren't exactly inclined to investigate crimes.  And thus the plot was born.

When my own neighbor almost accidentally killed me, my daughter, and Kira cat, by allowing her guests to run their RV all morning next to my house where the tailpipe was pointed toward my less-than-sealed laundry room - a piece of the pie fell into place.  (Fun day.  Lucky for me, I noticed I was getting woozy and that the house stank of exhaust.)

And the book that would eventually become Accidental Death was born.  

This is the book that comes closest to 'write what you know', but...

Everything I knew has been changed to suit the fiction.  None of the residents of Serenity are based on the residents of the town where I lived.  I took pieces from all the people I've ever met where their pieces might fit into this scenario.  I used snatches from this person and bits from that, added some stuff, twisted some stuff, and created the characters that populate my book.

Because that's what writing fiction is.  It's making stuff up in your head and putting it down.  Otherwise it's memoir.  Or loosely veiled non-fiction - which is totally not my style.  (Despite the one agent who wrote across a rejection letter years ago - for a totally different book - that I ought to write non-fiction and if I did he'd be happy to look at it.)

Oh, and Jillian is not me.  And Scott is not Hubs.  I played with real bits from us to make them more real, but in the end, they're their own people and so are we.

How much of your favorite writers do you suspect is in their writing?  Or do you think it's like Alfred Hitchcock, who had cameos in the movies he made?  (Stephen King does it, too, but Hitchcock did it first.)

Monday, May 18, 2015

Release Day! Plus!

Hey all!

It's the O-fficial release day for the Kindle edition of Accidental Death!  (Yes, just the Kindle edition.  I selected the Kindle Select program without thinking and now it's too late to back out.  Sorry about that.  I really did mean to let this one go across formats.  :kicks self so you don't have to:  The print book isn't ready yet.  Soon.)

The 'Plus!' is that it's also my 45th birthday today.  :Insert virtual balloons and streamers:

I scheduled my release today on purpose.  Releasing this book is like my birthday present to myself.  Yay!  So, go eat some cake, buy a neat book about a series of accidental deaths in a small town that probably aren't so accidental, and celebrate my day with me. 

Pretty cool, huh?

Murder doesn’t happen here.
Serenity is the safest, little town in Colorado. But residents are dropping like flies. No big deal. Accidents happen.

Or do they?

Detective Dennis Haggarty came to town to comfort his recently widowed sister, not investigate a homicide. However, finding a corpse means he can’t avoid doing his job—especially since the local authorities are determined to disregard the facts. Delving deeper, he finds a string of deaths everyone wants to ignore even when all the evidence points to murder. Lucky for the detective, only one person in town has means, motive, and opportunity.

Too bad he’s falling in love with her.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Books, Books, Books... I'm Addicted

Hi.  My name is B.E. and I'm addicted to buying books.  I've been to my dealer twice in the past week.  She knows what I like and she has the goods, baby.

I thought I had the habit kicked.  Lord knows, I have enough books already... heh, as if... and if I started reading what I already have and read them straight through at my usual rate of 100 a year, it would take me probably 3-6 years to read them all.  (With time off for good behavior.)

True, I haven't read many books in the past month.  This always occurs when I'm getting ready to launch a book.  But now that Accidental Death is out there, I have time.  Time to read.  Ahhh.  (Unfortunately, that phrase brings to mind that episode of The Twilight Zone where Burgess Meredith is the only man left on Earth and has all the time in the world to read, but then he breaks his glasses. :shudder:)

Anyway, there's this little bookstore near here.  Used books.  A favorite fix for my addiction.  Old used books.  :sniff sniff snort inhale passoutfromecstasy:  I picked up three Mickey Spillanes, a copy of The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett, two Ray Bradburys, and an author I've never heard of but whose post-apocalyptic premise sounds awesome.  They're on the shelves with the haul I got last week from my dealer - the first three Dragonlance books, a couple SF by Sarah A. Hoyt, and... and...

You know, the first sign of an addict is an inability to remember the details of their last hit. 

Another sign is when you're on your way somewhere else, but you see your dealer and then the other errands get forgotten.  Like stopping by the library where I had planned on donating a copy of Dying Embers.  The library will still be there next time I'm in town.  Too bad I have to pass the book shop on the way there.  Every freakin' time.

Of course, I don't actually need to go anywhere to get my jones on.  Amazon one-click gives me the rush I crave - just not as sweet as holding a used book in my hand.  I picked up a couple books there last week, too.  Night Shift by Silver James, and Hit and Run by Allison Brennan and Laura Griffin.  I was treating myself.  Too bad, that's where the bender originated.

And this morning, I get a notification that a book I had my dealer keeping an eye out for arrived in the store yesterday after I left.  Crap.  It'll take tremendous willpower not to drive down there today - even though it's a book I've already read and have in Kindle format.  It's just one of my favorite books, in the original cover.  I just want it to have on my shelf, so I can pet it when I want to.


Hi.  I'm B.E. and I'm a book buying addict.

The first step, or so I've heard, is admitting you have a problem. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


I'll try to make this quick.

1)  Dying Embers is in the Kindle Unlimited program for one more day.  If you belong to Kindle Unlimited and want this for free, get it today.  If you're not, or you miss today, it's available for 99 cents at least through the month of May. 

2)  I will be looking into making this book available at other outlets besides Kindle.  Give me time.

3)  I have the final proofreading edits for Accidental Death and will be working on them today.  With all luck, I should have this available for pre-order today or tomorrow.  Which means the ecopy will definitely be available on Monday, May 18th.

4)  With any luck, the print copy of Accidental Death will be available by the end of the month.

5)  For those newsletter subscribers who will receive a PDF advanced copy (one of the perks of being a newsletter subscriber is getting these kinds of opportunities, btw), I'll have those out by the end of the week.

6)  Hubs and I went fishing yesterday - which was awesome and just the brain break I needed.  However, sitting on the rocks and cement has left me a little achy in the back and hips, so I'm moving slow and I'm a little cranky.  I keep forgetting this body will be 45 on Monday, so I do things like I was still 25, and then it spends the next few days reminding me I'm not a kid anymore.  To which I reply... =op

Other news and updates as they come. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Statute of Limitations? WTF?

As you all know, I watch a lot of true crime.  I was stunned a while back during an episode of Cold Justice when the ladies were hampered because they needed to be able to prove 1st degree murder in the case or it wouldn't go anywhere.  Why?  Well, in New Mexico, the statute of limitations for 2nd degree murder is 6 years. 


Six years. 

So, if you kill someone in the state of New Mexico, if you can keep the body from being found, or keep the authorities from coming after you for the crime for more than six years, OR you can plan a murder but make it look like it was a random act and then hide it, you're home free.  Congratulations.  You killed another human being - but because you didn't plan it and you hide the crime well - you get a free pass. 

Friday, Cold Justice did an update show.  The officers and detectives in that particular cold case are working hard to get the statute changed.  The House in New Mexico voted to change the statute.  The Senate didn't.  WTF?  In what world does this even make any sense?  Lobbyists for the defense attorneys?  Cutting costs in the judicial system by trying fewer cases?  :shrug:

So, I went online and searched for how other states handle this.  I mean, surely, it's just New Mexico, right?  Sadly, no.  Oh, all of the states have no statute of limitations on 1st degree murder.  Many others include 2nd degree murder in that.  But not all. And I'm like 'someone lost their life, but after a few years, it's okay?'  Seriously, WTF? And don't get me started on the SOL* for rape and child abuse.

Flash forward to last night.  A woman in L.A. was murdered back in 1985.  Her killer was a female officer with the LAPD.  Somehow :scoff: the case wasn't investigated properly until 25 years later.  They used DNA to nail the chick, but... BUT... when the family tried to sue the LAPD for not doing their jobs, they were told the SOL had expired in 2000.  YEARS before the officer was even tried for the crime.

Now, in some cases, there's a loophole there.  The SOL can run out, but you get a grace period for actually finding out a crime has been committed.  For instance, in Michigan, the SOL for medical malpractice is 5 years (or it was), but you get 6 months from the date of discovering the doctor screwed up if you don't find out until after the initial 5 years has passed.  It's not something they make widely known, but it's there. (Again, or it was.)  Apparently, there was no such loophole in CA, so the family of that poor woman got screwed by the LAPD, and then screwed by the state of CA. 

See, this is why I love Wyoming.  There's no SOL for any crime up there.  Now, if only they were warmer and wetter, I might've thought harder about living up there.

I'm actually okay with SOL for some misdemeanors.  I mean, a kid steals a pack of gum and thirty years later, they get punished for it?  That seems silly.  Still, the store was out money, so maybe even after thirty years, restitution should be paid.  I don't know about the little shtuff.  I do know that murder - first, second, manslaughter, vehicular, involuntary - is murder.  Someone lost their life and there should be some punishment for that at some point along the way. 

Of course, I also think 'attempted murder' punishments are totally bogus - especially when the only reason it wasn't MURDER was because the person they tried to kill was too tough to die. So they get a lighter sentence?  Feh.  I've seen too many true crime shows where the victim only survived through sheer will, but their attacker benefited.  That's bull.  But that's me.

What do you think?

*Funny, the acronym for statute of limitations is the same as the acronym for shit outta luck.  Which is what the victims of these untried crimes are.

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Big Reveal

Hello, Everyone!

As promised, here it is - the final cover for Accidental Death:

Not bad for something I created myself, eh?

And here's the final copy for the back cover:

Murder doesn’t happen here.

Serenity is the safest, little town in Colorado.  But residents are dropping like flies. No big deal. Accidents happen.

Or do they?

Detective Dennis Haggarty came to town to comfort his recently widowed sister, not investigate a homicide.  However, finding a corpse means he can’t avoid doing his job—especially since the local authorities are determined to disregard the facts.  Delving deeper, he finds a string of deaths everyone wants to ignore even when all the evidence points to murder.  Lucky for the detective, only one person in town has means, motive, and opportunity.

Too bad he’s falling in love with her.

Barring flood or Armageddon, I've promised to have this book live on May 18th and I will do my damnedest to stick to that promise.  (At least for the ebook.  Print may take a little longer.  We'll see.)

Sorry for making you wait, but I'm trying to build suspense here.  Did it work, or did you just find it annoying?

Oh, and Accidental Death is listed at Goodreads now.  Go Want to Read it.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Weaselly Wednesday - Elderly Man Fights Back

In the news this week, some numbnuts tried to rob a 95 year old man after he exited a pharmacy in Massachusetts.  The robber tried to snatch his wallet, but the old guy fought back - beating at the would-be thief with his cane long enough for some help from a passerby.

The WWII vet is quoted as saying his wallet was full of "...all sorts of stuff it would have been wicked for me to replace."

You tell, 'em!

It takes really low scum to rob the elderly in the first place, but a WWII vet?  The robber should be ashamed of himself.  And I hope all the other robbers point and laugh at him now because he got beaten with a cane.

Luckily, the man who put himself in harm's way to protect our freedom so long ago wasn't hurt by this weaselly coward.  They really need to catch this dude before he hurts someone.

If you want to read the story, go here.

Speaking of weasels, Emma is still wicked, but now her story is on sale for 99 cents.  Get all the mayhem at a fraction of the price.  Click the Dying Embers cover image on the top right of this blog.  If you already have a copy, send one to a friend.  Revenge is the gift that keeps on giving.  ;o)

Monday, May 4, 2015

A Sale, A Little News, and A Series Review

First things first... Dying Embers is on sale for 99 cents right now.  Spread the word.  Snag a copy for yourself.  Gift a copy.  Anything you can do will be greatly appreciated. 

Secondly, my maiden newsletter went out on Friday.  Did you get yours?  It has fun stuff in it and a giveaway and news. 

Next, I'll be letting the world know about the cover and the blurb for Accidental Death on Friday - when it goes live on Omnimystery News.  If you don't subscribe to them, though, don't worry.  I'll post it here, too.  

Finally, I know you're probably fans of suspense and junk, since you're here, but I'm a cross-genre reader.  To that end, I'd like to point you toward a SF series I've been enjoying.  I haven't read them all, and I'm way behind, but still I do love every installment I've been able to get my hot little hands on.

Mike Shepherd's Kris Longknife series.

Kris is the daughter of the Prime Minister, she's the heir to a family fortune, and the grand-daughter of a war hero and a corporate hero.  But rather than be a princess, she wants to fly.  So she's in the Navy - piloting ships through the galaxy. 

In Mike's own words: "The Kris Longknife saga is the story of a young woman coming of age during a time when things are falling apart and discovering that maybe humanity still does need heroes."

Damn straight!

Kris Longknife kicks ass, takes names, and still manages to be snarky.  I love her.

I've read the first four and just snagged the fifth this weekend.  Squee!  Now if I just had time to read.