Backstage Soundtrack

With a little less than a month until Backstage is released, I figure it’s about time to share the soundtrack that helped inspire it!  Every time I come up with a new idea for a book, one of the first things I do is make a playlist of music to listen to that serves as a soundtrack that I listen to while the book plays out in my head.

You can find the Soundtrack to Boy Band here.

Note: I do not own any of these songs, nor am I profiting from them in any way.

  1. “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk the Moon
  2. “Little White Lies” by One Direction
  3. “Roller Coaster” by Bleachers
  4. “Ordinary Day” by Vanessa Carlton
  5. “Something Great” by One Direction
  6. “Good Girls” by 5 Seconds of Summer
  7. “The Great Escape” by Boys Like Girls
  8. “Don’t” by Ed Sheeran
  9. “Manhattan From the Sky” by Kate Voegele
  10. “Drag Me Down” by One Direction
  11. “Headphones” by Matt Nathanson
  12. “Disconnected” by 5 Seconds of Summer
  13. “Perfect” by One Direction

Backstage will be available on December 8!  Make sure to enter my GoodReads Giveaway for a chance to win signed copies of BOTH Backstage and Boy Band!

GIVEAWAY!

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After Formatting, After Editing, After Death

Tomorrow is the day.  The next book in the Cemetery Tours series, After Death, will be available!  To share a little secret with you, the Kindle eBook was available last night, but then I was told that there’d been a technical error with the file and I had to take it down.

Cue every author’s nightmare.

Any other day, if you asked me if there was anything I didn’t love about what I do, the answer would be no.  But there are moments, like last night and half of today, when the self-doubt and unforeseen glitches start getting the better of me.  This is a fun business and I love it so much and I love my books and characters, but the act of publishing itself can be very stressful.  There’s already pressure on authors to write books that people want to read, but formatting and making them look professional and seeing to it that there are no (or as few as possible) typos or uneven lines etc, etc…  It can be overwhelming.

I want to be an author.  I want to write stories for the rest of my life and I want readers to enjoy those stories.  I think that no matter what we pursue, there will always be a bit of stress, a bit of fear, especially if we really want everything to work out.  And hopefully, it’s worth the risk.  Risks have to be taken in life.  Otherwise, we’d never evolve.  I hope that I’m taking the right ones.  I like to think that I am.

That being said, I really hope that you all like After Death and that all of the issues have been taken care of.  I know no matter what that I’m going to keep writing.  I have to keep writing.  I truly believe than any author who puts their work out there, especially those of us who are independent, really don’t have a choice but to keep writing.  Let’s face it, I could be making a heck of a lot more money doing a heck of a lot less work.  But I love my books and I love my characters and most of all, I love my readers.  I hope this new book is everything you deserve and more.

On a totally unrelated note, here are some really pretty autumn pictures from my trip to the Arboretum last Friday.

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I also took pictures of my books.

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For Independent Authors

As a human being, I have several shortcomings.  I’m not a very good listener.  I hate taking other people’s advice.  I’m stubborn.  I hold grudges.  I have a hard time taking anything seriously.  And that’s just to name a few.  If there’s one character trait I take pride in, however, it’s that I am very protective of the people that I love.

I’m not going to name names, but yesterday, one of my indie writer friends experienced cruelty concerning her books for the first time.  Now, we’ve all had naysayers and bad reviews and the snobbish “Oh… You didn’t want a REAL publisher?” comments.  But when it’s directed at me, I can handle it.  Yeah, it hurts.  Yes, I’ve cried.  But whatever.  It’s no big deal.

When it’s one of my friends, however, I get angry.  Not so much with bad reviews, because honestly, we all get them.  It’s part of the whole writer thing.  But personally attacking someone, not only for writing what they love and what’s in their hearts, but for doing so independently?  That’s not okay with me.  This person accused my friend of forcing people to buy her books, attacked the content without even having read it, and then went on to belittle those of us who publish independently, all the while singing her own praises in the tech writing industry.  And hey, I think that’s a great career.  We need technical writers and they do excellent work.  But we also need independent authors.

I’ll never understand why independent movie makers and independent songwriters are seen as “cool and edgy and dedicated and so, so, so talented” (which they are) while independent writers continue to fight the stigma of “lousy writers who can’t get signed to a real agent or publisher and are so desperate to get their book out that they do it all by themselves.”  Isn’t that a little… I don’t know… stupid?  True, not every independently published book is a masterpiece, but neither are several traditionally published books (I won’t name any here, but you probably know which ones I’m thinking about).

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  The independent authors I know do not publish out of vanity.  We don’t do what we do to get rich or famous.  If that’s all we wanted, trust me, we wouldn’t be writing books.  Independent authors write because it’s what we love.  We love telling stories.  We publish because we feel like those stories deserve to be shared.  Publishing a book by yourself is a LOT of work.  Don’t ever think for one minute that what independent authors do is easy.  It’s not.  But we commit to that work because we truly believe we have something worth sharing.  Trust me, we wouldn’t go through all the trouble otherwise.  It’s not an act of selfishness or pity or desperation.  It’s simply an act of love.

That’s why I have so much respect for my fellow independent authors.  Although this is an incredibly supportive community, we’re the ones who take on these tasks and set out to publish on our own.  We don’t have the advantage of multimillion dollar companies or first rate marketing teams.  We have ourselves and the people we love supporting us.  And you know what?  I’d take that over a fancy corporation any day.

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Let the Good Times Roll!

This will be my last update before Monday, and it’s going to be a short one because I still have so much to do!

This weekend, I’ll be participating in IndieVengeance Day, which includes readings and book signings.  I think it’s going to be awesome.  If you’re in the Dallas area, you should definitely check it out! http://indievengeanceday.com

I have a lot of other stuff I’m working on also, but I’ll tell you about that later.

While I’m gone, keep in mind and spread the word that there are still a few days to enter my GoodReads Giveaway!  I’m giving away 2 signed copies of BOTH of my books in honor of Halloween and I want you to win!  Yes, YOU!

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/109579-between-worlds

Busy Busy Busy

As an indie author, I’ve found that there are two kinds of busy.  There’s the kind that all indie authors are all the time.  The kind that is not very active, but it is constant.  Indie authors always have something that they can be doing.  That doesn’t necessarily mean that we always do what we’re supposed to do (I personally spend way too much time on Pinterest…), but there is always something there.

Then there is the active kind of busy.  That’s the knd where we actually have engagements lined up, specific things to be working on, to be honest, it’s kind of like being back in college.  Those weeks are a lot of fun, but they don’t occur as often.  This is going to be one of those weeks, and I am so, so, so excited about it.

Friday and Saturday, I’m participating in an event I attended last year as a fan, not as an author.  It’s called IndieVengeance Day and you can read all about it here: http://indievengeanceday.com

I’m really excited about the two-day event, but before I can get to it, I still have a lot to do.

I was lucky enough to have been asked to read through my friend Jeanne Skartsiaris’ new book, Snow Globe.  I’ve been going through and making notes (I’m going to write a small blurb for her! Neat!), but I really need to finish that up.

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You can find Jeanne on GoodReads here: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7425985.Jeanne_Skartsiaris

I’ve also mentioned before that I was asked to give a presentation on ghost stories at the Colony Public Library on October 25.  I was so honored and excited to be asked, and I’ve been putting a lot of thought and research into figuring out exactly what I want that presentation to be.  Well, around 5 AM on Saturday morning, it finally came to me.  I am so excited about this presentation.  It’s going to be awesome.  Now that I know what I want to do, it’s time to buckle down and get to work on that as well.  I’ll tell you more about it after I actually give it.  I want it to be a surprise!

So yeah, lots of good, fun things are happening.  Cemetery Tours has been selling really well this month.  I have a lot of people signing up for my GoodReads giveaway.  Speaking of, don’t forget to enter! https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/109579-between-worlds

And of course, on top of all of that, I’m still hard at work on my two current WIPs.  Cemetery Tours 3 is a lot of fun.  It’s a little more complex and complicated than the first two, but it’s also very colorful and I think it’s going to be good.  It better be good, or I’ll have to keep rewriting it until it is!  My goal is to release BOTH books in 2015.  That will mean a lot more hard work, but it’s so completely worth it.

I hope y’all have a splendid Monday!

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To Read List

I have a problem.  It’s one that I’m sure plagues several authors and reading aficionados and it’s one that will only go away with time, commitment, and lots of relaxation.

I simply have too many books on my to-read list.

Technically, I have a never-ending to-read list, but my immediate to-read list is getting a little out of hand.  These are all books that I’ve obtained from fellow authors (in no particular order).  I always try to bump indie-authors up to the top of the to-read list because I know how important reviews are and I love being able to help them in any way that I can.

The Soul by S. R. Carrillo (http://permashift.wordpress.com)

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Born Broken by TJ Wiltshire (http://tjwiltshire.com)

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After Life by Daniel Ionson

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This Crumbling Pageant by Patricia Burroughs (http://planetpooks.wordpress.com)

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Surviving Life by Jeanne Skartsiaris

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Moon Tears by M.M. Frische

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Take 2 by Linda Bolton

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Support your local and independent authors!  And other artists as well.

Meeting the Authors and Discovering Witches

This last weekend was super.

It began Saturday with a book event at the Colony Public Library called Meet The Authors.  Several local authors gathered at the library to meet with readers (and each other), spread the word, and maybe sell a few books.

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While getting the sales and spreading the word about my books is always great (and very appreciated), my favorite part is always meeting and connecting with readers.  I met one girl who turned out to be an aspiring writer.  She thought it was so cool to meet people who’d actually written books and could hold them in their hands.  She even let me read the beginning of the story that she’d been working on.  I felt so cool and honored that she would trust me with that!  Definitely the best part of the experience.

I also talked with a mom and her daughter about Harry Potter for about an hour.  The girl eventually looked at me and said, “We’ve talked more about Harry Potter than your books.” That tends to happen.  I’m pretty sure I Tweet more about Harry Potter than I do Cemetery Tours.  That might not be the best marketing strategy in the world, but I’m a fangirl at heart.  I can’t help myself.

I also came home with several new books: Surviving Life by Jeanne Skartsiaris (fun fact: her half brother is Ed, Carol’s abusive husband in The Walking Dead! I’m sure he’s quite a nice fellow in real life), Moon Tears by M.M. Frische (she also writes children’s books; her first is called Miss Muffet & Bitsy and is totally adorable), Take 2 by Linda Bolton, The Empowered Woman by J. Nicole Williamson, and This Crumbling Pageant by Patricia Burroughs.

Finally, at the end of the day, one of the men who ran and coordinated the event asked me if I’d like to come back for an event around Halloween and give a presentation on ghost stories and sell some more books!  I am so excited, I can’t even tell you.  I’ve already begun planning out what I’m going to say (Hamlet, anyone?).

All in all, I’d say the Meet The Authors event was a huge success.

I spent the rest of the weekend reading A Discover of Witches, the first in the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness.

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May I just say that I LOVED THAT BOOK.   Oh my goodness, it was magical.  I loved the characters, (especially Matthew, whom I pictured as Richard Armitage), I loved the setting, and I really loved how Harkness created such a beautiful and compelling story using so many different elements: magic, science, history, alchemy, religion, literature, romance, mythology… It was one of the most intricate and intelligent books I’ve ever read and I can’t wait to read the next two books.

My own Witch’s Familiar really enjoyed the book too…

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What are you reading this week?

Answers Part II: Publishing

Hi, everyone!  It’s Friday!  YAY!

Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, here are the answers to the publishing questions that you asked!  Thanks again to all who stopped by to comment!  You supplied me with a couple days of great blog material!

Publishing

Does it matter if your book is traditionally vs. self vs. hybrid published?  

In a perfect world, I’d say no.  I’ve read independently published books that were infinitely better than some traditionally published books.  Then again, I’ve read independent books that were incredibly low-quality.  Even if the story was decent, the editing may have been poor, or the formatting sloppy, and unfortunately, that makes a huge impact when reading.  Having a great story and being able to write well is only half of what publishing is really about.  When you go the traditional route, a big company takes care of all of that for you.  When you independently publish, it’s all on you.  That was my main goal in publishing Cemetery Tours.  I wanted people to read it and think that it had come from a big publishing house.  That means professional cover, studying traditionally published books and their formatting, ISBN, PCN, bar codes, etc…

Did you try traditional publishing before you went the independent route?

I did for about a month.  I queried a handful of agents, but after being rejected and/or never hearing back from them, I decided to go the independent route.

What made you decide to self-publish?

I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t try very hard with traditional publishing, but I’ll also be the first to admit I am not a patient person.  I believed in my book and I wanted to get it out there.  I figured I could either waste months waiting around for something I was not guaranteed, or I could take matters into my own hands and publish my book the way I thought it deserved to be published, with care.  Independently publishing also means I own all the rights to my book.  It is mine and mine alone.  I love my book.  I think it’s a good story with great characters and I am proud to be able to say that I wrote it.  That’s something I never thought I would achieve, since I used to keep all my art and writings strictly to myself.  I would willingly share Cemetery Tours and it’s sequel with the world, though, and in the end, I think that’s what makes independent publishing so worthwhile, because it truly is a labor of love.

Is there a special meaning behind the name of your company, Wind Trail Publishing?  

Not a special meaning, per se, but I was very careful and deliberate when coming up with the name.  I wanted it to be something that I would be willing to stick with for the rest of my life, since I do plan on this being a lifelong career and not just a passing fancy.  I also wanted something that reflected my location (Texas) and something I held near and dear to my heart.  I ultimately decided on Wind Trail because of my experience working as a camp counselor.  I love hiking trails, I love wind in my hair, I love being outside.  I value freedom very highly, and I never feel freer than when I am out in nature.  I’m also proud to be able to say I designed the compass logo for my company.  I sketched it out, at least.  Ben, my graphic designer, put it into the computer since I’m like, the least tech savvy person ever and I have no idea how to do that.

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What was your publishing experience like?

In a word, intimidating.  I had a few people offer me guidance and words of wisdom, but for the most part, I learned most of the stuff on my own, probably because I’m not a very good listener.  I don’t know why, but people talk and I just don’t understand what they’re trying to tell me.  It’s a lot easier for me to read and learn for myself than to have another person guide me.  I’m a very visual learner.  There is also a lot of decision making involved, and that’s something that no one can guide you on, because you have to make the best decision for you and your book and what you want to accomplish.  Now, looking back, it all seemed like a lot and it seemed like everyone was trying to tell me different things and oh my gosh, I’ll never get it all done and get published, but when you simplify the process, take out all the advice that other people offer you, and just do what you know you need to do to get your book out there, it’s really not that bad.

Essentially, you need…

A cover, both front and back.

ISBN (go to https://www.myidentifiers.com for ISBN and Bar Codes.  My advice?  Buy ISBN in bulk.  I own 10 and it’s a great investment)

PCN (go to http://www.loc.gov/publish/pcn/ for everything you could possibly want to know)

Copyright

Formatting

What do you do to promote books other than Twitter and Facebook?

Oh, book promotion, you glorious pain the butt.  To be honest, my book has only been out since September, and although it’s done fairly well, I still can’t quit my day job and move to Fiji.  Twitter and Facebook are great tools, but honestly, I think I’ve found the most success here on my blog.  It’s a great way to connect with readers and fellow authors.  Review swaps are also fantastic!  You get a new book and an honest review for yours.  Right now, I’m working on getting my book into libraries and independent book stores, but that means investing a lot of time and money into copies of the book while at the same time preparing my new book for publication, which is a task in and of itself.  GoodReads is one of my absolute favorite websites for book promotion and for meeting new people.  It’s like Pinterest for books.  Pinterest is also a great promotional tool.

(GoodReads/Shameless self promotion: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18470430-cemetery-tours)

I’ve read about the importance of newsletters, but I’ve yet to figure out how to really accomplish that.  Reviews are so, so, so important, I can’t even begin to describe it.  My goal is for Cemetery Tours to have 50 reviews by the time the sequel is released in June, and I only need 14 more, so I think I can make it happen.  I hope I can, anyway!  There are several website, also, that offer promotional services for a fee, but let’s be honest here, some of us have student loans to pay off and if we can save a buck and do it ourselves, then that’s what we’re going to do.

I hope this has been somewhat helpful and enlightening!  Thank you all for your questions and if you have any more, please don’t hesitate to ask!  I’ll always try to answer to the best of my ability!  Have a great weekend!

Ways to Help Your Indie Friends

You know exactly who I’m talking about, don’t you?  That one, the really weird one, who isn’t married, might not even be dating seriously, may have been in school forever, works odd jobs, and is absolutely hell bent on writing books or making music or taking pictures.  Yeah, I’m talking about that friend.  If you are not “that friend,” chances are, you have one or one of your friends does.  

Indies come in many forms.  Some of us are authors.  Some are musicians.  Some are artists, graphic designers, photographers, screenwriters, or filmmakers.  But see, we all have one thing in common.  We have found something that we love so much that we are striving to make a career out of it, even if that means going it alone.  Crazy?  Yes, perhaps we are.  But I think anyone who’s ever made an impact has been at least a little off their rocker, or else they wouldn’t stand out.  

If you have one of these charming and yet mildly insane people as a friend and you’ve been wondering just how you can help them make their dreams come true, well, here’s your lucky day!  Presenting…

Ways to Help Your Indie Friends!

1. Offer Encouragement!

As a friend embarks on his or her journey to indiedom, they are going to encounter a lot of helpful and positive attitudes, but they will also encounter a lot of negativity.  If I had a dollar for every time I heard,

“You’re getting a Masters in Humanities?  What are you going to do with that?”

“I get that you want to write, but what do you want to do for a job?”  

“You know you’re never going to make any money, right?”  

Well, let’s just say I wouldn’t have to do the indie thing because I’d be so rich, I wouldn’t need a job!  There are people out there who will have no problem telling the aspiring author or photographer or musician that their ambitions are a waste of time.  As their friend, one of the best things you can do for your indie friends is to support them, encourage them, and most importantly, accept them for who they are.  

2. Like and Follow Things!

On social media, that is.  Facebook pages, Amazon pages, GoodReads author pages, websites, fan pages, Twitters, Tumblrs, Pinterests, I don’t even know how many things there are to like and to follow, but there are a lot!  Numbers MATTER. 

3.  Buy the Book/CD/Craft

Okay, so this part costs a little money, but more often than not, it is a truly worthy investment.  Sometimes, since you’re a friend, you might even get a complimentary copy.  I’m proud to say that I have bought several indie books, my graphic designer is an indie, I’m getting ready to do a photoshoot with an indie photographer, and I even helped produce my friend’s second indie CD!  Okay, it was like, $20, but still!  Technically, I can say that I’m a producer.  The point is I have never once regretted supporting a fellow indie.  If they have the guts and the drive and the passion to put themselves out there and get the job done themselves, then you can bet I’m going to support them.  

4.  Review, Review, REVIEW!

I can not stress this enough.  REVIEWS ARE SO IMPORTANT, especially for an indie.  The more reviews an item has, the more likely potential readers or listeners or customers are to take it seriously and consider investing their time and money.  My book, Cemetery Tours, currently has 27 Reviews on Amazon.  I’m thrilled, but at the same time, I’m working every day to make that an even 30!  A review does not have to be a long, drawn out analysis or give a full plot description.  It can be as short and sweet as two or three sentences.  

“Hey, I enjoyed this book because A, B, C.  Author did a great job.  Highly recommended.”  

That, along with a nice rating, is simply invaluable.  

5.  Spread the Word!

You don’t have to spam your friends or send out mass texts, but if you’re talking to someone about books or music, you could mention, “Oh hey, my friend wrote a book” or “My friend is a singer.  You should check them out.”  Give a shout out on Facebook every now and then.  Recommend the book or whatever to a friend you think might enjoy it.  Retweet stuff.  Little acts like that can go a long way in the indie world.  Word of mouth is the single most important marketing tool an indie can ask for. 

Now, in the spirit of crafts, books, and photography, here are a few of my shots from a project in Grad School.  

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   Enjoy the day, folks! 

Is It Summer Yet?

Today was my favorite kind of winter day; the kind where I can run around town in shorts and a T-shirt.  

Real winter with snow and icicles and gray skies is great for about a month, and fall is great for about three months before that, but unless it is September 1 – December 26, I do not like the cold.  When asked that age old question, “Would you rather be hot or cold?” my answer is always “Hot.”  I’ve heard the “But you can always add layers” argument a million times, but the thing is, I can tolerate the heat.  I mean, yeah, I’ve been overheated to the point of dehydration before and it’s no fun at all, but I hate being cold so much more than anything that heat’s managed to do to me so far.  It’s probably because I grew up in Texas where a “chilly” day is like, 75 degrees.  

Last night, I was working on a sequel and I got write a scene I particularly enjoyed and actually longed to experience myself.  I’m not going to tell you about it since, you know, it’s a secret, but I can tell you it involved kayaking and I love kayaking and I wish it was summer so I could be outside all the time and hiking and kayaking and swimming.  That would also work a lot better if I wasn’t an adult with grown up responsibilities.  Oh well.  Hopefully someday, I’ll find a way around that.  

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In other news, the #Plague is still running rampant throughout my sister’s old high school.  Needless to say, I did not end up attending their show.  I hate it because I’ve been looking forward to seeing it for so long, but I just can’t risk it.  It’s all over the local news here how 676 students and dozens of staff members are sick with it.  Yeah, that is a big NO THANK YOU.  

Also, Cemetery Tours ended up selling TEN copies in the last few days!  Oh my goodness!  That might not be a lot for a mainstream author, but for an indie, it is HUGE and I thank you all so much!  It’s also up to twenty-two exceedingly positive reviews on Amazon, so I really can’t thank all of you enough.  85 people have either added it or marked it as “Too-Read” on GoodReads, so I’m hoping that in the next month, we can raise that number up to 100.  In the meantime, I will be working furiously on finishing the sequel and getting it out there.  I hope you all enjoy it as much as the first one!  

Thank you all again and have a great weekend.  

And stay healthy.