There’s something to be said for giving things away.

2990442570529604352-account_id1When I decided to give away the ebook version of BloodLust, I thought it was just a cool way to say thank you to all those fans who have no interest in posting/following, or such.  I figured I might get a few new fans from the people who stumbled upon the sale.

Instead, I’ve been the one winning.  Having new readers contact me to say they really liked it, or others who let me know that they’ve never come across a story like this?  It gives me that push to keep writing the rest of the books I’m working on.

I guess it’s the little things.  A little validation, a little appreciation, or even a little heckling from people who prefer their fantasy without science, mayhem, murder, or adult themes.  Just knowing that strangers out there are reading my books?  Well, it’s still surreal.  It still feels… good.

And it’s surprised me, a bit.  I honestly thought this was my way of giving back, yet my fans have once again managed to make me feel humbled, flattered, and awestruck all at the same time.  The entire SHP publishing team has put so many hours into getting these books out to the public, unsure of the reception they’d get, but it looks like doing something a bit different has gone over a lot better than we thought.

shp-logo-orangeSo thank you, my readers, for showing me the beauty of GIVING a gift.  I’ve gotten a lot more back – in just one day – than I expected.  And to the crew who bust their butts to get the editing, covers, formatting, beta reading, promotions, AND marketing all pulled together: you’re the best publishing team any author could ask for.  No matter how many times I yell, scream, or tell you that you’re wrong, I still appreciate all that you do.

All of you have convinced me that this author’s life is pretty damned good.  Now back to writing!

 

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In the spirit of the Holidays

books-xmas-tree-450wI have a present for my fans.  I hope you like it.

For the last decade, I haven’t celebrated Christmas.  As a business owner, it’s always a horrible time of year (until now).  The selfishness of the holidays shines through, leaving those of us struggling to make a living on our own caught between holding up the holiday spirit and going broke.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “Well, I’ll make it up next month, but I need to buy my kids some presents – do you mind?”

Now, I’m a caring and generous person.  My husband says it’s my greatest fault.  I don’t mind, not really.  Not until my own family starts to suffer.  Unlike so many others, I rack up credit card debt paying the utility bills because my expected income just got “postponed” for Christmas.  It’s the downside of a luxury market, and I knew this going into it (and into my previous job) but it still leaves my feelings for the holidays a little bleak.

Until this year!  For the first time since 2007, I not only have money when I expected to, but have a little bonus holiday stash set aside.  This is all because of my fans!  So many of you have shared my work, liked an ad on facebook, shared a book sale, or re-tweeted one of my series.  A year ago, I was a newbie author, thrilled to be making a little spare cash from these stories.  Today, I have lights up on my house, a tree with presents under it, and plans for an amazing New Years celebration.

I still don’t really celebrate Christmas.  I celebrate the winter holidays.  After so long, it’s become a tradition for us to relax on Christmas day and give gifts for the New Year.  It’s our way of saying goodbye to the past and looking forward to upcoming opportunities.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t love the idea of Christmas.  Knowing I am finally in a position to enjoy it?

Well, I kinda want to do something back for the people who have brought me this far.  All of my fans – whether they bought one book, picked up a freebie, or read every single work I’ve ever written – deserve a little something.  I don’t have much to give, so I’m giving you a sale.

Starting December 21st through December 25th (yes, Christmas Day) BloodLust will be free.  Pick it up for yourself, give it as a gift to a family member (you know, the one who just got that new kindle?) or send it to the people you work with.  They don’t need to know it was on sale!  Share the series, get your own copy, and spend that dead time while you’re waiting for the kids to pass out, the turkey to cook, or the football game (do they have that?  Sorry, I don’t follow football) to end.  Doesn’t matter what you plan to do, here’s a free book for supporting me!

But wait, that’s not all!  (I always wanted to have a real reason to say that.)

The rest of the series will go up for just $0.99 in the USA and £0.99 in the UK.  On December 22nd, it will be Instinctual, Rise of the Iliri #2.  The 23rd will see Defiance, Rise of the iliri #3 go on sale, and on Christmas eve, December 24th, Inseparable, Rise of the Iliri #4 will also be just $0.99 or £0.99.  That means that if you haven’t started the Rise of the Iliri series yet, you can buy the entire thing for just $5.96!  Trust me, that’s a LOT of reading for six bucks.

Sadly, Amazon only offers sale prices to the two stores.  I keep hoping my other international friends (Hey, Canada… I’m looking at you!  Australia, I haven’t forgotten you either!) get these options soon, but I’m not going to hold my breath.  To make it up to you, Kitty Cox and I have decreased the price for the Gamer Girls series in all marketplaces.

And I know this isn’t much, but I don’t know most of you.  I only know what you’ve done for me – read my books.  I can’t just hand you a thank you card.  I can, however, make it a little easier to get a few more books in your library.

All too often, we authors get in the mindset that our readers owe us.  We beg you to review the books, harass you to share the word, and pester you with listings for our upcoming novels.  We honestly don’t mean to, we’re just that excited.  So, think of this as my way of saying thank you.  It’s not much, and I know many of you have read these books already, but if you wanted to own them permanently (as opposed to Kindle Unlimited) or decide to gift them to others, dropping the price is the least I can do.

I hope this makes your holidays a little happier, because you all have done that and more for me.  I can’t remember the last holiday season I was this happy.  You all are the best fans an author could hope for.

 

What my fans want

salryc-on-horsebackTenacity, Rise of the Iliri 5, is ready for release (available now for pre-order, releases December 24th).  Now, I’m on to the next book, working to clean up the mess that is the rough draft of Iliri 6.  Halfway through the read-through, I had this massive epiphany.  I wasn’t reading ONE book, I was reading two.

This meant I had to make a decision.  Did I cut the fluff and focus on streamlining the story, or did I break the book in half and organize it a little better?  Knowing the good arguments for both, I took to social media.  On Facebook, my most interactive fans all said basically the same thing: more is better.  I’m listening.

And so, what was intended to be a single segment of Sal’s quest to defeat her arch nemesis (prejudice, the Emperor, herself, society… all of the above?) has become a major deviation.  I spent last night tweaking the scenes, lining everything up in an order that made a whole lot more sense, and have almost 10k words in the places I want them.

That may not sound like much, but there’s almost 100k words sitting in the MS that are waiting for their place in line.  Thanks to the miracle of modern writing software, a change like this is so much easier than it used to be.  There’s a lot less cutting and pasting, and more dragging and dropping.  I move chapters, scenes, and chunks around until it flows nicely.

I can also spread out three days into about a week, and add in the details that I always felt were missing.  Those Anglian soldiers talking to the civilians?  It’s a major part of the story, so deserves a little more than a one line mention.  A chapter would be nice.  Cyno’s amma?  Zep’s relationship with his parents?  Audgan getting comfortable with how he fits into the pack?  I’ve always thought those were things that needed more time, and now I have it.  Plus a few more tidbits that were left hanging after Sal moved on, like that adorable little bookstore in Prin.

This change means that I have about a week’s worth of writing ahead of me to make new content – and then a couple of weeks of editing it all to flow smoothly.  Oddly, it already feels better to me.  The thoughts aren’t as hectic and jumbled (which was my main concern).  The plot is flowing in a sensible way.

And when I’m done, my alpha readers will get to voice their opinions on it.  If they don’t demand some major change, I’m hoping to have this one ready to go in 2 – 3 months.  Say a February release?  That’s what I’m working for, at any rate.

Plus the paperbacks.  I’ve got the team working on bringing the Rise of the Iliri to physical copy.  Many people prefer to feel a book in their hands, so we’re going to give it to them.  With the weather pushing us back indoors, a lot of “behind the scenes” type stuff is happening, and I hope it’s exactly what my fans want.

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Impressing the Fans

reading-1223519I hear it happens to everyone.  We get to a nice and comfortable point in our career, and then start to wonder if we can ever get better.  What once was good enough suddenly seems to have problems that are insurmountable.  Clawing at the back of our minds is that fear our fans will start to hate us.

For me, I think that’s the biggest worry I have.  I adore my fans.  The more I learn who you people are, the more I want to give back.  I want to make you read the book and fall in love, scream in fear, and cheer when the hero wins.  But what if I don’t?

Now, I’m well aware that not everyone will love my books.  That would be impossible!  Some have gay people in them, other are set on a world where the main population descended from Africa.  Sometimes, my characters cuss.  In the case of Riley, it’s excessive!  Someone is going to be upset by those things, and pretending like they don’t happen just isn’t in my nature.

window-1879550.jpgBut the people who do?  The idea of disappointing you all is one of my many nightmares.  It’s the pressure that drives me to stay up late doing one last read-through before sending the book out to be published.  You’re the reason I push to write a little faster, a lot better, and keep that beloved series churning out as fast as you can read them.  I spend hours wondering if the plot is good enough, unique enough, and can the characters move you enough to be worthy of those who are willing to BUY my books.

I like to think the answer is yes.  From my sales, I believe it is.  And yet, I still have moments where I’m like, “this book is complete crap and I have to start over!  My fans deserve so much better!”  (Usually wailed at the top of my lungs like the world is ending, but hey, they never said authors weren’t overly dramatic.)

But that also means that when I get it right, I know it.  Some books just feel so good when I make it to the end.  I know people will lose themselves for at least a day (and probably won’t be able to put it down).  We often joke about the Auryn effect with my beta readers.  They have to plan ahead so they don’t pick up a new book without enough time to make it to the end.

adult-1867751.jpgAnd then, sometimes I don’t.  Every so often, I end up with a story-stopping mistake.

Tenacity was one of those examples.  Something about it felt off, but there were still good parts.  I sent it out to my most trusted readers.  They sent back their opinion.  Things stuck here.  They weren’t right there.  Overall, there was potential, but it was lackluster.

And that’s not at all what an author wants to hear!

So I made it better – and sent it back.  Then I made it better, and better still.  I took the advice, my intentions, and the knowledge of what comes next, and mashed it all up.  Then, after a month of delay, the final result is…. page turning.

But I’m going to have to read it one more time before I let it go.  The release is scheduled.  The fans are waiting.  Me?  I’m terrified that I might let my readers down in some way, yet can’t stop thinking that I nailed it this time.  The last concern I had about the story has been fixed, the typos should all be gone (ha!  Right.  As if that happens), but I’m still terrified that I will let down the people who helped me go from a wanna-be to a successful author.

I guess that’s a fear that I’ll never get over.  Here’s hoping that it only makes me a better writer.