Wednesday, May 25, 2016

What's in a Name?

Like Shakespeare said, 'a rose by any other name would smell as sweet', but I offer you this.  If a rose was actually called a schmerpdoodle, it wouldn't be nearly as poetic.  "My love is like a red, red schmerpdoodle." Umm no.

Romeo didn't care that Juliet was a Capulet, but you never actually hear her mentioned as Juliet Capulet. Which kinda doesn't trip off the tongue, imo.  (It's the rhymy end thing - et and et.)

Thinking of the names used in popular culture, would Will and Grace have been as successful if they were Mortimer and Eugenia?  Would Hannibal Lecter have been as scary if Harris had called him Burt?  Would Rose on the Titanic been as lovely if she was Myrtle?  Would Thomas Magnum P.I. have been as sexy if they'd called him Thomas Lipschitz? 

For that matter, would Jane Eyre have been as excellent a MC if her name had been Bertha Butts?

As you might've guessed, I'm stuck trying to think of a name for the heroine in my latest SCIU novel.  Hell, I can't even think of a title yet.  But for me, titles come AFTER I've started the book, and I can't start the book until I know who I'm writing about.  What is her NAME??? 

My first thought was to call her Grace.  But Dying Embers' MC is Jace.  Too same-same.  Then I had the idea to name her Ginny, but I already have too many J sounds in my heroine names - Jace, Jo, Jillian.  Plus, my villain's name starts with a G.  Then I was going to name her Megan, but I couldn't see her as a Megan.  Then I got the idea to name her Kara.  Kara is good.  It was one of the top girl names for 1980, which would make her 36.  Then I went about looking for a last name.  The problem with having a name that ends in a vowel is when you say the full name, you often end up blurring them together. Kara Toliver ends up sounding like Carrot Oliver. 

Yeah, I'm probably overthinking this.  The real crux of the issue is that I don't know her well enough.  Usually, the character pops into my head fully formed and her name comes along with her.  J.C. 'Jace' Douglas popped right in there.  And it took me like two seconds to make the JC stand for Jaylinda Charlene.  I could actually hear her mother calling her in my head. 

As an aside, the JC actually stands for the first initials of my parents' first names. Kind of a nod to them, if you will.  You know, I don't think I ever told Mom that...

Anyway, I'm still not sure what I'll be calling her.  When I find it, I'll know.  And until then, I have writing to do whether I like the name or not.  I can always use 'Find'/'Replace' later.

What are some memorable character names you've enjoyed?  Any that you really thought fit the character?  Any you would've renamed if you had been the writer?

Monday, May 23, 2016

Discarded Cover Ideas

Some of my covers are done by professionals - Dying Embers, Wish in One Hand, In Deep Wish, Up Wish Creek.  Others I have done myself - Accidental Death, Bloodflow, Fertile Ground.  When it came time to do Fertile Ground's cover, though, I wondered if I could do it myself or whether I'd have to pay someone else to do it.  So I started playing with a few ideas and came up with this...

It had the elements I was looking for - the women, the city of Detroit... But, umm, yuck.  Try again...
Little better.  Still yuck.  Try again... Flipped her around.  Nixed the skyline. Added more women.
Meh.  Ditch the entire concept and start over.  (Which is harder than it sounds because it means losing all the man hours I put into building that concept, but if it must be done, it must be done.)  Try again...
Better, but something is still wrong.  And then it hits me.  That doesn't have the same feel as the cover for Dying Embers, and it's supposed to be part of a series.  Series books should at least have the same cover feel.  So, I took the idea of Dying Embers...
And created the cover for Fertile Ground:

Finally achieved the look I was going for.  Simple. Clean. With a similar feel to the other book in the series. 

It wasn't easy, but it was worth it. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

Inexpensive Marketing Venues - Revisited May 2016

Hi again.

It's been a couple months since I did a marketing venue post, so I thought I'd put this out again.  Here's hoping I remembered everything.  If you have anything to add, leave a comment and share with the rest of the class.  ;o)

New Stuff:

Facebook paid ads - You set the dollar amount you want to spend, the length the ad runs, and the people it reaches, so your mileage will vary.  This one isn't exactly new, because I've done these before, but since I've never talked about them, I thought I'd put them here.  Frankly, I can't say for sure I've seen any sales from doing this marketing, but it's getting my books in front of hundreds of faces, so that somebody down the road may think 'hey, I've seen her books before' and buy something.  One can hope.


Freebooksy (Written Word Media) - varies - Looks like they accept Free ($40-$200), under $4.99 ($25-$100), and New Releases ($399-$999).  This one is on my radar, but I haven't tried them yet.
Update 5/20/16: I tried Bargain Booksy. Got a few sales.  Not quite enough to pay for the ad, though, but product awareness is always a good thing.

eBooks Habit - $10 - under $2.99 books.  They do have a 'free' option but without guaranteed placement, so I assume you won't know if or when your ad will go up if you don't pay. Also on my radar, but haven't tried them yet.
Update 5/20/16: Still haven't tried this one yet.

Robin Reads - $35 - This one was recommended by a hybrid author friend.  Haven't tried them myself, but she spoke highly of them.
Update 5/20/16: I have an ad placed with them for May 29th for Dying Embers. It was $40. They only accept ads for books with multiple reviews and DE is the only book that qualified.

The Fussy Librarian - $10-$16 - books with more than 10 reviews averaging more than 4 stars and costing less than $5.99.  I have an ad set to go live with them on 2/23/16 - for Dying Embers.  I'll update after that.
Update 5/20/16: I tried an ad for DE with them. Crickets.  But my ad wound up under the fold.  I don't think 'suspense' is their target market. Or maybe it's just me.

Authors' Billboard - $5 - they accept only .99, free, or new release titles.  You fill out the form and pay before Tuesday and the ad will go in the newsletter for Friday of the following week.  You can submit an ad every thirty days per book.  No data on this one yet.  Seems legit.  Newsletter looks good.
Update 2/8/16: After some bobbles with this the first time, the ad went up for Wish in One Hand, and everything was good.  Didn't see any sales, though.  I'll probably try this with another book when I have one that meets their criteria.
Update 5/20/16:  I have an ad running with them today for Fertile Ground under their New Releases section.  It's just the cover with a link, so I'm not expecting huge things. 

Omnimystery News - pricing depends on what you want to do (a month long ad is $49, but there are free options, too) - not really caring what price your book is, but it needs to have a suspense, thriller, or mystery element.  I've done cover reveals and book excerpts here (free) and those seem to do okay.  I've also done the $49 thing and haven't seen much uptick.  Newsletter is link heavy, but informative.
Update 5/20/16: I have a book excerpt coming out with them for Fertile Ground on the 27th.  Fingers crossed.

Nothing to add:

ReadCheaply - Free (for now) - they accept only .99 or free titles.  Fill out the form and they'll let you know which date you'll be on.  (Usually, I get first available within my chosen timeframe.)  You get one ad every thirty days - regardless of titles.  With this one, though, they only take blurbs of less than 300 characters (with spaces), so you might have to tighten that up a bit.  I did this one back in October for Dying Embers' .99 countdown and saw no measurable jump in sales.  I did this again last week for Wish in One Hand and saw a nice little jump.  Newsletter looks good.
Update 2/8/16:  Apparently they have a bobble with their form. I tried to submit for BloodFlow and got the error that I had to wait 4 months.  They have a thing where a single title can only go up once every 4 months, but I never had an ad for BF with them.  I submitted one once, but they rejected it based on the 30 day thing.  Then I submitted one for Accidental Death. The day the ad was supposed to go live, they sent me what I assume was supposed to be a copy of the ad for approval, but the email was blank.  I wrote them, they wrote me telling me it was my browser, I wrote them back after I did all the things they suggested. Long story short, no ad.  And now I have to wait until each of the books drops off their time limit thing.

eBook Deals Daily - $5 for each target (i.e. $5 for Kindle, $5 for Nook, $5 for UK) - only accepts .99 or Free titles.  I haven't tried this one yet, but I've got it on my to-do list.  The newsletter, etc. looks fair.  A lot of links, but not many covers.
Updated 1/5/16:  Ran an ad through them for WIOH.  Not sure if I saw any sales from it, but it looked nice.

Goodkindles - $19.95 or less - doesn't really care about pricing, but obviously needs to be available for Kindle.  For the $19.95 option, I got my book on their site permanently, a listing in their newsletter, and the option to bump my ad to the top after 30 days.  Everything looks good.  Not sure of the sales gain here.

Indie Author News - a lot of options so contact them for their rate sheet.  I did this once, but I can't remember which option I chose.  I think I ended up with a sidebar ad and didn't see any sales from it. 

Every Writer's Resource - $10.  Permanent. They say their ads are free, but then you have to wait for a spot and there's no guarantee.  You pay them $10 and they pay attention. Professional looking full page for your book. Not sure what sales this has brought me, but the listing is there forever, so who knows. 

Kboards - different options for different things (the link goes to their 'bargain book' promo page - $20)  I did the 'book discovery' promotion ($15) twice.  Once for Dying Embers back in February.  Crickets.  And again for Wish in One Hand.  Again with the crickets.  But I have heard Kboards can be an amazing place to advertise.  Not sure why my experiences haven't been amazing.  Maybe you need to be active on the Kboards forum.  Maybe it's not the target market for my books.  :shrug:

Ereader News Today - check out their rate sheet. It's dependent on your genre and the cost of your book.  The books have to be discounted in some way, and they're more favorable to free or .99 books.  I did a Suspense ad for Dying Embers and a Mystery ad for Accidental Death.  Both gained me upwards of 100 sales each, so it was worth the cost.  However, ENT is extremely picky about who gets to advertise with them, and it's not always clear exactly what they want.  Dying Embers had more reviews when they accepted the ad than Accidental Death, but AD only had 3 reviews when they accepted it.  However, I can't beg an ad for Wish in One Hand, which has 5 Amazon reviews.  Even after I changed the cover. So who knows?

Monday, May 16, 2016

Official Worldwide Release! Fertile Ground is Live!

Hey Everyone!

It's time!  The long-awaited second book in the SCIU  (ETA: Serial Crimes Investigation Unit) series - Fertile Ground - has finally arrived!  When I first wrote Dying Embers, I hadn't intended it to be the beginning of a series, but as I tried to get it published another suspense idea popped into my head that would dovetail nicely into the SCIU world.  This book is not a direct sequel - as in there's no Jace or Ben.  We're not following them this time.  They've had their story and they're living their lives and catching bad guys out of the Dallas headquarters.  We'll just leave them to it.

This book is about Teri Buchanan and her fight to overcome the scars of her own attack as she hunts down a serial rapist turned killer.  Director Walter Graham is there by phone, and Lynn makes a quick phone appearance as well, but for now, that's all there is for them.  Let's see what Teri can do.

Fertile Ground is now available for your reading pleasure wherever Kindle books are sold.  Which is like Amazon, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia... Germany... Italy... and a bunch of others that I could linky-loo for you, but then we'd be here all day.

Without further ado, I offer you...

Friday, May 13, 2016

Snippet of Fertile Ground - SCIU #2

Hey All!  I'm going to be away from the computer most of the morning, so I thought I'd leave you with a bit of my upcoming suspense - Fertile Ground (SCIU #2)... 

The woman strolled past Adam toward the produce aisle, the essence of her fertility wafting through the air like a perfume. He waited until she stopped to squeeze the cantaloupes before he followed. The fruit she fondled couldn’t be nearly as ripe as she was, but by all appearances, the melons were more attractive.
Today she wore her hair pulled back in a tight, unflattering ponytail, and her baggy clothing hid her as well as any camouflage. But he saw the female for what she was. A perfect vessel he’d spent weeks carefully choosing. Whether in this butt-ugly guise or when he’d first seen the girl with a simple dress flowing around those shapely bare legs, the essence of her femininity called to him. He wouldn’t need to actually look at her. Not for long, anyway. Finding these women attractive had never been a requirement. He only needed to get inside and plant his seed. Then he could be done with her. For now.
Nine months down the road, she’d bear a child in his image. They all did. And that’s all that mattered.
Seven weeks ago this girl had simply been another prey animal passing through his hunting grounds. She’d claimed his notice then, but he’d already had a target in mind. Since then, he had insured the other girl would be draped over the porcelain, proving that her womb bore his fruit. Time to move on to this next vessel.
When the brunette squeezed a tomato to test its ripeness, he smiled. Even as dedicated to his mission as Adam was, he could spare a moment to appreciate the irony. Most likely the girl didn’t possess the self-awareness to know how ripe her own body had become.
Fertile ground. Like the others. And exactly like the others, she couldn’t be bothered to keep track of her cycles. Women never watched for the signs. They never bothered to understand God’s rhythm or His plan for the female of the human bond.
Only Adam understood the Lord’s intentions.
“Be fruitful and multiply,” he said on a whisper of breath as the girl painstakingly chose a half dozen apples, placed them carefully into a bag, and gently set it in her cart. Those meticulous hands would someday hold his son.
A soft smile crept over his lips as he imagined his boy’s sturdy legs taking their first steps. The toddler’s smile of too-few teeth would express the initial joy of becoming a man and leaving the life of an animal behind.
For the first few years, children were little more than the monkeys some claimed mankind descended from. Adam knew better. The beginning of a man’s life amounted to a test. He could choose to crawl like an animal or not. Walking upright signified the passage from base creature into the greater ideals of God’s plan.
Adam’s sons would know their true place in the world. The women could raise them through those monkey years. Time enough to claim them once they joined the human race. Once they became men.
“Excuse me.” The shy voice was so close he jumped. “Oh! I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you.”
He steeled himself against the annoyance welling up. Pasting on a deprecating smile, he tilted his head. “Not a problem. I was trying to decide if I want salad for dinner tonight.”
“It’s just that… Do I know you from somewhere?”
This wasn’t the first member of his herd to recognize him. Sometimes, he let them stumble across him on purpose. It made the hunt so much more exciting. Gazing at her carefully, he pretended to try and place her face. “Were you at the protest on campus a couple months ago?”
Her lush mouth split into a wide smile filled with the perfect teeth he hoped were natural. “Right. Over at Eastern. I figured that was you. Funny running into you here.”
“I was thinking that exact thing myself.” Enough people populated the metro-Detroit area they never would’ve crossed paths accidentally, but letting her think his appearance was a coincidence or fate played into his plans.
“Do you live near here, too?” Her green eyes narrowed under sculpted eyebrows. “Weird that I haven’t seen you before.”
“I travel around the area for work. I happened to be driving by on my way east, saw this place, and got the idea to grab something for dinner.” The words dropped smoothly from his mouth. He’d spoken the same lies too many times before for them to come out as anything but natural. Of course, it helped that they weren’t total falsehoods. He did travel for work and he was hungry.
“I live a couple blocks from here,” she said, nodding in the general direction of her apartment. He pasted a surprised look on his face, as if he hadn’t spent the previous night in her backyard watching her.
“Small world.” He grabbed a tomato and a bag of lettuce. “Well. Gotta get back on the road. It was nice running into you.”
“Sure. Next time you’re in the area, look me up.” Her words sounded friendly enough, but he knew she didn’t want to see him again. None of them wanted to.
But they all did.

I hope you enjoyed it.  I expect this to be available for purchase on Monday, May 16th... Yep, this coming Monday.  And it won't be set for pre-order this time, so you'll get it when you one-click it.  Yay!

Monday, May 9, 2016


As I spent part of this weekend formatting Fertile Ground for publication, I thought I'd spend some time this morning talking about continuity... a word I'm having a tough time typing this morning, so bear with me.


Fertile Ground is the second book in the SCIU series.  While I was formatting it, I knew I wanted it to have a similar look to the Dying Embers manuscript.  After all, I went through a lot of effort to have continuity in the covers, so I should also spend some time making certain the look of the insides flows.  (I did this for the Once Upon a Djinn series, too, I just didn't think to talk about it until now.)

Continuity... The titles and author name should have the same font, the same font size, and should be the same with regard to italics and bold.  As should the chapter headings.  And copyright verbiage (with the exception of the year - if your series titles were published in different years).  If you have acknowledgements, those can differ in wording, but not look. 

I also put a little 'Special Note' at the bottom of the same page about 'this is the second book in the series and if you want to know more about the other book, go here' with a link to the newly created SCIU page on my blog. 

If you have a certain thing you use for scene breaks in one book of a series, you should use the same thing for the scene breaks in every other book in a series.  I used ~~~~~ in Dying Embers, so I used that in Fertile Ground, too.

At the end of the book, I put the same About Author page in both books and then added a page about the SCIU series and a blurb from the other book. 

What does any of this matter?  Well, I'm not exactly certain.  I hope that when someone reads one book, they'll hop over to read the other and a certain continuity between the two will be a welcome thing for the reader.  I think it also might add a professionalism to the series.  :shrug:

You tell me.  As a reader, do you care?  As a writer, do you bother?  Or am I just wasting my time when I should be getting this into readers' hands?

Friday, May 6, 2016

Worldwide Cover Reveal and Blurb - Fertile Ground (SCIU #2)

No consent required.
Adam Wyte has been nothing special his entire life, but everyone will remember him once his mission is complete. His diabolical plan to sow his seed and reap sons is so far along, no one can stop him now. And his carefully chosen list of women will help him—whether they want to or not.  

Justice is essential.
With the shadow of Jace Douglas’ success hanging over her, Agent Teri Buchanan transferred away from the S.C.I.U. headquarters intent on proving she’s as good as the next woman. And if moving to the Detroit branch also lets her bury the memories of her own attack, even better. When her first assignment means hunting down a serial rapist turned killer, she can’t let her fears interfere with her job. Even if she ends up confronting a need to carry out more justice than she ever received.

This is not available for pre-order yet.  I plan to have this loaded to Amazon on the 16th.  I'll get the Goodreads listing up for it a little later today.  (Update: It's loaded at Goodreads.)

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Distracted and Uninspired

Hey all.  I realize from the title of this post, y'all might be coming in here thinking I'm in trouble.  I'm not.  Or that I'm depressed.  Not that either.  I'm actually feeling pretty good, which is why it's easy for me to realize I'm distracted and uninspired.  What to do about it?  No clue.

Distracted:  The Kid is coming for a visit starting Saturday through next Friday.  So, I've been cleaning like a madwoman.  Not that she'll care if the house is messy.  Lord knows she's seen worse from me than the regular state this house is in.  There are just things that I need to do and what better time to get them done than now.  Her visit provides the perfect impetus to do those things I've been putting off - like polishing the cabinets and washing the floors. And painting the bathroom. 

The political stuff is definitely distracting.  Ugh.  It doesn't matter who ends up winning, as a country, we're pretty screwed.  But I've thought we were pretty screwed before and we're still here, so I'll hold onto that thought and hope 4-8 years of whoever doesn't send America too far down the path.

Fertile Ground is due to be released this month.  That's a major distraction.  Frankly, this book scares me.  The subject matter is sensitive and in this easily-offended world we occupy, I could catch a lot of flack.  But it needed to be written, so I wrote it.  And I'll send it out into the world as soon as I get over myself and get the damn editing finished.

Uninspired:  I haven't written new words in forever.  Every time I sit down to write something new, nothing happens.  I can't even force myself to write crap.  Bleh.  I think part of it is the distractions. 

This morning over at the Killer Chicks blog, JB Lynn posted asking "What inspires you?"  I couldn't think of a damn thing.  She has some really great examples.  Her pictures were certainly gorgeous and they were definitely good for the soul.  I don't get inspired that way, though.  Dark shit inspires me.  Weird shit inspires me.  Beautiful things can certainly go a long way toward filling my soul and bolstering me, but inspire me to write?  Ut uh.

Okay, here's a little example...  Back when my romantic life sucked hard, when I was in one really bad relationship after another after another, I wrote romance.  Now that I'm in a happy place in a truly awesome relationship with a wonderful man, I have no interest in writing romance.  No internal conflict for me = flat romance writing.  I can hint at it.  I can tease it along.  But the big HEA?  I have one, but I can't write one.  :shrug:

Some of my biggest inspirations have come when something pisses me off.  And maybe I'm just not pissed off enough right now.  I don't know.

Anyway, no worries about whether the distractions or the lack of inspiration will effect the publication schedule.  Fertile Ground will be out this month.  Up Wish Creek will be out in August.  And I'll have all this fixed or filed away for finishing Natural Causes for the Fall release. 

I'm just communicating where I'm at right now.  Which is nowhere near producing new words. 

What's distracting you lately?  What inspires you?

Don't forget to stop back by here on Friday for the worldwide reveal of Fertile Ground's cover and blurb. 

Monday, May 2, 2016

What's Going On

I got my newsletter out yesterday.  If you didn't get one, check your spam folder.  If you still didn't get one, and you know you signed up, let me know.  If you haven't signed up for a newsletter, shame on you.  Just kidding.  But you are missing out on some 'subscriber only' stuff.  Like a first look at the cover and the blurb.  And chances at an early copy of my latest books or free swag.

I'll release the cover and the blurb worldwide on Friday.

My final round of edits came back from AWE last night.  I read through her edit letter and it all seems good.  I have plans to get Fertile Ground ready to publish by the 16th - whether I set it for pre-order so it goes live on the 26th or I just release it into the wild like an eagle who's been held captive, I don't know.  Either way, I hope it's maiden flight doesn't result in a crash.

I have a winner for my Goodreads contest for a copy of In Deep Wish.  I'll package that for shipment today, along with a book for my editor (I'm such a slacker) and a copy of Dying Embers for an injured police officer in TX to help with his recovery. (He likes mystery, suspense, and crime, so I offered to send a book.)

I need to order postcards for Fertile Ground and create new bookmarks.  If you want one of my old pre-'Fertile Ground' bookmarks, let me know. 

I feel like I'm forgetting something.  Not surprising, since forgetting something is a natural state for me. 

Anyway, have an awesome Monday and stop back on Friday for the cover reveal for Fertile Ground.