One Hit Wonder


Not that I have had a hit (yet), but I am already experiencing the difference in creating your first public creative work versus your second.  I am not surprised there are so many one hit wonders out there. 

Essentially, I wrote the first book for no one but myself, and maybe a few friends.  I solved each question and dilemma with gut check of what felt right for me.  I created the story I wanted to read and I am amazed how much I still like reading it.  I still don’t cringe and wish I had made it any different.  

My first love, about first love.

That was all before I entered the world of self-publishing and books reviews and genre discussion boards.  Opinions on writing to sell books and trends and over-saturation are in my head and hard to completely ignore.  There are other voices in my head now, critiquing each choice and it is more difficult to hear my own voice, my gut check, through the others.

Don’t get me wrong, writing is still a blast.  I really do get to day dream, then write it down and call it a (fledgling) career.  But I am also spending part of my day marketing book one, and sometimes having a hard time finding the right audience, the right blog reviewer, the right words to explain the unique, creative story I made.  I find myself doing a lot of “well, it’s not this, and it’s not that, but it has a little of this and a little of that.”  Sometimes comparison is the only way to describe something new.  I want to say, “just read it, then you’ll get what I’m saying.”  Marketing my unique voice has its unique challenges.

Of course, that is part of the benefit of having a book two.  Hopefully I will already have an audience who read book one and understand my unique voice and look forward to book two.  

If you lose touch with your unique voice when creating that second book or album or painting, you lose the audience that fell in love with your work in the first place.  You become a one hit wonder.  

Thank God it’s spring because walking has become an important part of my creative process.  Walking seems to help me clear the “you really should’s” out of my head:  you should follow trends, you should have your second book ready to be released immediately after your first, you should add some vampires, zombies, astronauts or angels to your new adult romance.  

My gut tells me I should write to please me, that my unique voice has a place and purpose.  Time to get back to writing and listening to it.

Calling Names (The story behind my book title)

To celebrate my 2nd anniversary of publishing I’m re-posting this explanation of where my very-long but so cool title came from. If this piques your interest you can enter a Goodreads Giveaway to win a signed copy. Follow this link and sign up to win your copy.


 

After almost three weeks on Amazon, I am starting to get some feedback on the contents of my novel, but more on the cover and the title.  When it comes to the literary world of Amazon your book will be judged by its cover and its title.  My cover is courtesy of the fabulous Kim and Kitten and Deranged Doctor Designs, the title is my own creation.  So, how did I decide on it?

For most of the time that I was writing, the novel was simply labeled Ben and Carrie on my computer.  I knew I couldn’t stick with that. Not only is it really unimaginative, it also tells you nothing about the story except that there is someone named Ben and someone named Carrie.  Not exactly intriguing enough to make you want to plunk down $2.99 to find out more.

One of the themes in the story is tribe or groups.  I’ve written a few posts here on my blog already about this concept.  I am fascinated with the idea of social groups, how innate they are, how they are formed, why we join them or leave them, and how they both divide and connect us to others.  Exploring those ideas was one of the main reasons I placed the characters in high school (and a little of  junior high).  That is a key time in life when people start to choose who they want associate with and be associated with.  For some it is a conscious choice, for others, it is more of a hit-or-miss chance meeting.

Burnouts, geeks and Jesus freaks are names kids use to define themselves, create separate identities, and connect with others who share the same moniker.  The names are short hand for (stereotypical) characteristics that allowed me as an author to build my characters more easily. In the beginning of the story, lines are clearly drawn between the groups but those lines start to fade and become less clear as the characters grow and mature.

The title grabs your attention because most of us remember these groups in high school or similar ones.  We had preppies, nerds, burnouts, goody-goodies, jocks; all derogatory terms meant to divide and define.  There was almost always a price to pay for crossing over the divisions, moving away from your group.  But some, like Ben and Carrie, were willing to cross those lines, because that’s the other thing that happens in high school: a love story.

 

Free Week

It’s there!  Although my official drop date is tomorrow, my first novel, “Burnouts, Geeks and Jesus Freaks: a love story,” is already on Amazon today.  I wanted to make sure that everything was in place for the big day tomorrow.  And, I’ve already sold 4 copies!  I have no idea how they found me in the massive crowd that is Amazon ebooks, but, WOW.  

So, what happens tomorrow?  Well, the price drops, to FREE, for one week.  For my first five days on Amazon my e book will be offered for free.  From Tuesday 3/4 to Friday 3/8 I am offering free copies and asking for all those who get a free copy to give me something very valuable in return, a review.  

I’ve noted on here before and I can’t stress it enough, reviews are the golden tickets of e-publishing.  Reviews let people know what they can expect from the book and give potential readers some reassurance that they are buying something of value.  

If you are reading this post, please download a free copy of my book this week then PLEASE (please, please, please) give me a review when you are finished.  If you are really feeling ambitious, I could use a review in two places, Amazon and Goodreads.  

Today I am telling as many people as possible about my free offer.  If you are so inclined and think you have a few friends who would love a good love story, please share, repost, repin, retweet the news that there is a sweet, silly, smart-sexy story of first love and first lovers available for free for one week only.  

And, on the note about first lovers … my book is recommended for readers age 17 and older due to sexual content.  

Let me elaborate on that a little.  This is a romance with sexual content, not erotica.  The difference?  Well, erotica is written mostly for the sex scenes with a story wrapped around those.  If you are hoping for something close to 50 Shades of Grey, my book may disappoint on the number of hot scenes.  

The sex scenes in my book are part of the story and integral to character development.  They are also not a bunch of flowery euphemisms.  I don’t dance around sex scenes and allude to what’s happening.  I’m pretty blunt.  It’s my writing style.  (Just wanted to give you a heads up).  

So, there are sex scenes in the book, but also truly funny and truly touching moments.  I am really proud of the final result and I can’t wait to share it with all of you … for FREE … starting tomorrow … in exchange for a review … Please!

Sneek Peek at Burnouts, Geeks and Freaks

This is my second to last post before my book becomes available on Amazon on Tuesday (3/4/14).  Today I am passing out a free sample. 

First, a little synopsis to introduce you to the key players:

They’re burnouts – a little short on parents, money and plans for the future, but they’ve got each other and a whole lot of fun.  With a world of crazy at home, Carrie Gould needs them to keep her sanity.  To stay in their world she needs to keep dating the guy with the party house, which would be fine, if she hadn’t fallen in love with someone else.

He’s such a geek.  Ben Gorman is obsessive, smart, strong-willed and on the fast track to his dream of becoming an Army Ranger.  He’s also the only geek with a girl.  Joelle Welker is perfect for him; a self-proclaimed Jesus freak, who is dedicated to her beliefs and to building a future with Ben.  But those plans don’t include his neighbor, Carrie, or Ben’s dedication to her.

Their friendship started by chance.  Their love started with trust. 
And your sample:

          The first meeting of the Homecoming decorating committee wasn’t so bad. The theme was castles, which Carrie thought was sort of lame, but considering the school mascot was a knight and there was a bunch of castle decorating stuff left over from other events, it made sense. 
By the third meeting, Carrie wanted to bail. Joelle and her friends were also on the committee, and Ben must have told her Carrie went with him to Dutzow, because they went out of their way to talk bad about her and her friends anytime she was within earshot. Michelle Wagner noticed the tension and assigned Carrie to work with her and the preppy girls on decorating the stage. She assigned the Jesus freaks to the refreshment area, at the other end of the gym. 
Michelle turned out to be really fun to work with. She was nice to everyone and knew a lot about paint and fabric and decorating in general. Carrie felt kind of bad that she still didn’t want to hang out with her. She had her friends, and they would be mad if she did anything more than help with decorating. She didn’t want to rock the boat. 
The dance was on a Saturday night and set-up was the night before. Michelle told Carrie they would be working from after school till 9 or 10 p.m., so she asked MG to pick her up at 10 and bring her some clothes she could wear to Chuck’s. What she hadn’t planned on was Ben and his friends showing up to help. 
It was mind-boggling how unaware Ben could be of the tension between Joelle and Carrie. When he got to the gym and saw Carrie, he came over to say hi immediately. Out of the corner of her eye, Carrie could see Jesus freak #2, Laura, go running to make sure Joelle knew. Shit. Carrie hated drama.
“It’s crooked, you know.” 
“Doesn’t matter,” Carried shot back, “it’s not a real castle wall, Ben, no one is going to storm it.”
“It should still be straight.” 
Carrie backed up a few steps to see how crooked it looked. “You do realize you are the only one who will notice.” 
“I’d notice.” Pat, Ben’s best friend added. 
Carrie rolled her eyes. “Thanks for the help.” She turned Ben away from her wall and pushed him in the direction of Joelle. 
“Happy to be of service,” he yelled back over his shoulder as he walked away. 
Joelle’s reaction to seeing Ben was as sappy as a Hallmark commercial. She ran to him and jumped into his arms, squealing with delight. He gave her a big hug, then let go and turned his attention to the refreshment table decorations. Carrie turned back to her crooked wall. It was already 8:40 and she needed to hurry up if she was going to finish by 10 and be waiting for MG in front of the school. 
She had finished everything but hanging the big puffy purple and white things from the top of the archways. It was slow going because she had Pat and Wayne, Ben’s other friend, following her around, possibly flirting with her, but they were so bad at it, she couldn’t be sure. 
“Wayne, move.” Carrie needed to put the step stool exactly where Wayne was standing. He moved only slightly to the right, still too close in her space. For the sake of speed, she ignored him. With a big fluffy ball of tulle in her hand she climbed up on the stool then on her tip toes to try and reach the top of the wall. Wayne reached over to hold her in place, and her irritation at running late only compounded how much it bugged her that he was touching her waist. She still couldn’t reach the top of the wall. 
“I got it, Wayne. You can let go.” 
He still held on, so she climbed off the stool and stepped away from him.
“I didn’t want you to fall.” OK, he meant well, but he needed to go find Ben and leave her alone. 
That gave her an idea, one that would stir an already boiling-over pot, but she needed to both get rid of Wayne and finish. “Do me a favor,” she turned her attention to Wayne, “Go get Ben for me.” 
He was obviously disappointed, but he did it. 
“Still crooked,” Ben yelled as he walked toward her. 
She beat her head against the wall, almost knocking it over. Ben laughed. It really wasn’t that bad, but he knew his precision drove her nuts. “What’s up?”
“You,” she answered as she pulled him into place next to the step stool facing the wall. As she climbed back on the stool, she pulled him close to her. “Put your hand out for my foot. I’m going to get on your shoulders.” He looked at her like she was crazy, but did as he was told. She was always bossy when she was decorating, and he was used to it. 
She effortlessly perched on his shoulders and wrapped her feet around his back for stability. “Pat, hand me one of those purple thingies.” 
“This one?” Pat held up one of the puff balls.
“No, the other one,” Ben teased. Pat looked down at the pile of them, then realized they were all the same and laughed along with Ben.
“Gorman, you are holding up the show. Pat, purple thing.” Pat tossed one up to Carrie.
“You are so bossy when you decorate,” Ben teased.
“Well, if I wasn’t we’d spend all day getting the imaginary crooked out of the fake wall.” Carrie tied the ribbon that held the tulle in place. “Pat, another one. Ben, move down.” 

They continued down the line till there were only two tulle balls left. She couldn’t see her, but Carrie could feel Joelle’s stare burning a hole in her back.  Jealous waves rolled in from the refreshment end of the gym.

More to come starting Tuesday, March 4th!

Cover Reveal and Countdown

It’s tough, it’s pink and it’s perfect.   It’s the (reworked) cover of my first novel.  

The lovely Kim and Kitten at Deranged Doctor Designs spent hours upon hours learning about the characters and the story and then translating them into a cover that will hopefully stand out in the wide literary sea that is Amazon. 

It’s becoming a little more real everyday.  I’m almost finished with the final edit, which is good, because I need something to go with the cool cover.  And I’m making plans to tell the world (or as many people as I can) about it.  Which is strange for an introverted writer.  At the coffee shop where I had lunch yesterday I worked up the nerve to ask to put a flyer advertising my book on their bulletin board.  They not only agreed, but started talking about a possible book signing event – a very unnerving, but very exciting idea.  Luckily, I can put that on the back burner for now.  I have so much to do before I can even make a signed hard copy real.  

My countdown calendar hangs on the wall above my desk.  At twenty-five days out I have a cover and a novel, this is good.  Now for that crucial final element, readers.

  I realize that this story isn’t for everyone, so now I need to find as many of the people who will love it as possible and tell them about it.  

Who is it for?  It’s for those who love a love story, a happy ending.  It’s for those who like their love stories a little more gritty and real.  It’s for those who what a different love story, where the girl is not so sweet and the guy is.  It’s for those who want to remember high school, doing things you probably shouldn’t have, making the friends who will last a lifetime and for some, first love.  

In a nutshell, it’s sweet, it’s silly, and it’s smexy (smart-sexy) . . . and it’s almost here.

Available and an E Book March 4th on Amazon.  

Why I am Choosing to Self Publish


In a word; gate-keeping, but let me expand on that.
I loved the movie “The Help.”  I admit I didn’t read the book but the story told in both is inspiring and fresh.  Kathryn Stockett, the author, was rejected by over 60 literary agents before she found one who would help her get her book published.  She spent years, after her book was written, writing letters of inquiry to agents and fielding rejection letters in return.  What a frustrating, demoralizing process.  I have to give her huge kudos for tenacity.  I’d like to tell you that I wouldn’t give up; that I would continue to research agents, send out letters and pick myself up again after each rejection, but I would be lying.  
Kathryn Stockett inspired me to self publish.  The fact that wonderful novels are lying around under piles of rejection letters inspires me.  I can’t say I have a huge amount of faith in the gate-keepers of the publishing industry (or any industry for that matter).  My novel may be wonderful or it may be crap, but I want to let the public decide and the best news is that I can.  
There is an entire exciting industry that is growing up to serve those who want to bring their own writing to market.  It is relatively new, so it’s a little wonky and constantly changing, but it is also exciting and just so wonderfully democratic and creative. 
While I took a break from blog writing I did a lot of research into self publishing.  It was overwhelming and confusing at first (and kind of still is).  There is no clear path or best way to go about it, which is scary, and exciting at the same time.  I now have charts and notes on book aggregators, direct publishing routes, copyrights, editing, marketing, artwork.  All of these things could be taken care of by an agent.  On some days, that sounds fantastic.  I would love to have someone hold my hand through all this.  But more often, I keep reading and researching and find my own answers and feel that much more competent and confident for having done it.  I will make some mistakes in doing this, but they will be mine and I get to learn from them.  (Not unlike creating this blog.  I’m still trying to figure out Adsense.)
My novel is finished.  It is currently being copy edited by some awesome teacher friends of mine and beta read for story by more awesome friends (shout out of love to all my readers!!).  So far the reviews have been generally positive and I am encouraged to keep going.  Which is great, because the next step is really nose-to-the-grindstone dull.  I will make all the editing changes necessary then I will have to convert it to the correct format for e-publishing.  (It looks like this might involve taking out one of the spaces after every period in the entire 87,000 word document.)  Once I have the formatting complete, it will be available electronically through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Itunes, Sony, and even some foreign outlets.  I will also be able to order single hard copies (as will anyone who wants one, including bookstores).  
My Cover!  Created by me and my Art Director, Digi Phreak (aka Beau Gordon)
Then the really creative fun starts – marketing!  It will be up to me to get the word out that I have a novel available.  And that is another post for another day.  
For now I am just happy to be able to share my progress and lessons with you.  Writing is a lonely business.  Most days my office is only populated by me, my dog and the characters who live in my head.  Posts like these are my form of a staff meeting; where I update those who care on my progress.  And I say thank you for all your support and caring (which I would do with like a Starbucks for each of you, if you were here.)