I WRITE NAKED!

Welcome to the first hump day of the month, also known as the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, hosted by Head Ninja, Alex J. Cavanaugh. And co-hosted by yours truly this month, along with Sheena-kay Graham, Julie Musil, and Mike L. Swift.

IWSGHEADER

Now, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. Did my title catch your attention? I’ve come to understand that the best writers don’t always have the best titles, but the most successful ones do. The truth is, we DO judge a book by its cover, and the cover and title go a long way into making a novel an instant best seller.

Titles for your blog are no different. A blog is a writer’s platform, and you need catchy titles if you want to stand out above the rest and entice readers to click on the little link you post to your Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest pages. Last year, one of my most popular posts was “Girls Gone Wild Spring Break.” I bet most of the people who found the post were sorely disappointed when it recounted my adventures with my two daughters during our spring break; which included a shopping spree, a Shell Factory outing, and a trip to Sea World and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Hogsmeade--Welcome home, Jamie Ayres!

Hogsmeade–Welcome home, Jamie Ayres!

Another popular post in 2013? “Getting Lucky.” Again, not at all what people were probably searching for (it was about a 99 cent Kindle sale my publisher did around St. Patrick’s Day). I didn’t realize how many hits those posts received until I got my “Year In Review” report from WordPress in December. I was stunned! I thought my most popular posts would be revolving around my debut book release of 18 Things. It got me thinking about clever headlines, and the one you see above was instantly born in my mind when thinking of my Feb. IWSG post.

But then I also thought, is the kind of traffic attracted to my blog due to those misleading headlines really the type of traffic I want? I want to drive authentic interactions to my blog. This isn’t a numbers game for me. In fact, it’s not really about me at all. It’s about being part of a community of writers and readers. Still, it was too tempting to not write today’s headline of “I WRITE NAKED!” The truth is, I write in my pajama’s into the wee hours of the night, but I wanted to experiment and see if this ends up being my top post for 2014. For the record, I hope it isn’t.

Still, it never hurts to be original and catchy and bring a little scandal to your blog, as long as it actually ties in to what you’re posting about. Eye catching headlines have kept The National Enquirer in business for 88 years! Not that I read the supermarket tabloid, but staying in business for 88 years is something to be noted. Even if their content is lacking in truth, it doesn’t stop customers from impulse buying the tabloid in the checkout line because of their catchy titles pasted on the front page! And I figure out of all the ways to attract people to your blog, a catchy post title is probably the easiest. And I do want to attract people who wouldn’t normally stop by my blog. Hopefully, I’ve made my post interesting enough to hold the curiosity that got them here.

And maybe if they like my voice in the post, they’ll check out my novels, too. Maybe my books will inspire them. I’ve always hoped my books would not only entertain, but serve as a reminder that we are significant to God. We are not forgotten. He collects our tears in a bottle. And going through hell is worth it if it leads us to the place God has. I’ll never forget the fan mail I received after someone read 18 Things, telling me that the message in my book kept her from suicide. I’ve already received a similar message from a girl after reading 18 Truths, and it’s only been out a week. That’s what makes writing worth it for me . . . not the money (oh, just writing that made me LOL!) or star ratings or the reviews or the Amazon sales rankings.

Thankfully, I don’t have to write naked to make a difference, but a catchy title never hurt anyone, even if visitors were stopping by in hopes of finding pictures of topless spring breakers. One of my Facebook friends posted this as their status update just last week: “I find it horribly ironic that the turdnugget that stole my credit card info and went on a spending spree signed himself up for christianmatch.com, catholicmatch.com, and a porn site.”

People are always searching. You never know what your catchy title could lead them to!

What about you? Got any catchy titles I can steal? Hahaha! A big, supersized THANK YOU to Alex for letting me have the honor of co-hosting this month 🙂 If you haven’t checked out Alex’s book, Cassa Fire, the Kindle ebook is on sale for 99 cents right now!

P.S. The 18 Truths blog tour is in full swing! If you’re interested, I visited J. Keller Ford’s blog on Monday when she asked me how I tap into my YA side when I write. And yesterday I visited Lindsey Loucks to talk about my favorite YA book couples. The Rafflecopter is still up too–you’ll find it at the top right corner of this blog ^

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IWSG- NaNoWriMo

In my first novel, 18 Things, the main character writes a life list of eighteen things to do the year she’s turning 18 at the suggestion of her therapist who is trying to help her overcome the grief of losing her best friend.

Writing a novel was at the top of my own bucket list, something I wrote after my cousin’s son was diagnosed with leukemia. I never meant for my novel to turn into a trilogy, never meant to start another career as an author. I simply didn’t want my life to end with a bunch of things unchecked on my to-do list.

I’ve enjoyed this journey I’ve been on since the summer of 2009, but it’s been a series of trade offs. Finding balance between writing and everything else going on in my life has been a challenge. And I’m sure you’re all nodding your head along to my words . . . if you’ve even had time to read this far!

My sequel, 18 Truths, is all finished and will release on January 28, 2014. So I decided to use November (National Novel Writing Month) to try and write my last installment in the trilogy, 18 Thoughts. This is the first time I’ve attempted NaNoWriMo, and I think I’m doing well so far with a total of 20, 727 words. But the writing is bittersweet. I honestly don’t know if I’ll pursue publishment again once the trilogy is complete.

There are simply too many other things on my to-do list that I want to cross off, and I’m finding there aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish them all. Of course, that doesn’t mean I’ll stop writing. That would be like someone telling me to stop breathing. And I’m not saying I’ll never publish another novel . . . maybe I will in ten years or so after my youngest spawn has left the nest. Maybe by then I’ll have so many adventures to write about, I won’t ever be able to stop. We’ll see.

What about you? How do you balance the demands of your muse with the demands of every day life? Participating in NaNoWriMo this year?

We all have a book in us waiting to be written . . . it’s never too late to add it to your to-do list! And if you do, please visit the Insecure Writers Support Group to help you on your journey. We post the first Wednesday of every month!

Buccaneer Blogfest and IWSG

IWSG–Royalty Reports

Buccaneer Blogfest and IWSG

Writing is work. It’s work I’ve happened to greatly enjoy over the past 3 1/2 years, but it’s still work. If writing is work, publishing a book is hard work. Since January, I’ve come to know how much time, energy, blood, sweat, tears, attention, heart, and soul goes into publishing a book.  I’ve had my own limits tested with the publishing of 18 Things, my debut novel.

Since my release, it feels like 90% of my writing career is researching, marketing, promoting, socializing, facebooking, blogging, tweeting, speaking, drinking coffee, ect . . . and about 10% actually writing. So when I got my royalty statement at the beginning of May that stated I’d only sold 16 copies in April, and I actually owed my publisher money (AFTER all that work?!), I’ll admit I felt like throwing in the towel.

So I took a break. You might’ve noticed I haven’t blogged since the last IWSG (or maybe you didn’t, since it seems like I only have like 5 fans, lol). But I didn’t just take a huge break from social media, I took a step away from the shiny object, A.K.A. 18 Truths, my WIP, and debated if I should even finish the trilogy.

I broke the cardinal rule: Write every day. When you’re passionate about writing, following that rule isn’t really an issue. But life can place a lot of demands on us for our time and attention . . . with the end of another school year coming to a close (I’m a teacher by day) and all the culminating activities for my two kids, I’d just lost that loving feeling for all things related to writing this past month.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I didn’t become a writer to make tons of money, just like I didn’t go into teaching with that in mind. I wasn’t wearing any rose-colored lenses, expecting my debut novel to land on the New York Times Best Sellers List. But I did expect to get paid something.

So why even continue doing this? If it’s money I want, I can easily get a part-time job this summer waiting tables and probably make more money in a week than I have in my last four months as a published author (just FYI, the reason I owe my publisher money is because I bought 4 boxes of books from them). While I pondered this choice, I joined a book club with some of my fellow teachers and we choose to read The Power of a Positive Mom. It’s funny how God knows just what we need. Not surprisingly, my last three chapters have been about the power of a positive attitude. Chapter 9: The Ladies’ Pity Party (Don’t Accept the Invitation). Chapter 10: Attitude of Gratitude (Creating a Thankful Environment). Chapter 11: The Challenges of Life (Learning to Grow through Difficult Circumstances).

After my attitude adjustment, I’ve started writing again.  I’ve had to take the profit motive off the table to get myself back in the saddle. Because of the talents God has given me, I’m looking at my book as a gift to the world to empower people and see where God leads me. And it’s the belief I had all along . . . I just forgot about it for a little while.

It’s been 12 days since school ended, and every morning I wake up, brew my coffee, head to my writer’s table, and kneel in prayer to ask for God’s guidance. 90/10 still seems like a relative percentage, because I’m convinced that life is ten percent what happens to me and ninety percent how I react to it. Author and teacher Chuck Swindoll said that, and I wholeheartedly agree with him!

Another lesson I’ve come away with from all this? Write what’s in your heart. I know you’ve all heard, “The story of your heart won’t be published. It’s only for you.” I disagree. I think things get put on our hearts for a reason, and we should listen to those promptings from the universe. With 18 Things there were times I didn’t listen to my heart, and I regret it now. I won’t make that same mistake twice. And I guess that’s the silver lining of not being a bestseller yet (notice I said yet, I’m still holding onto hope!). I don’t have anyone beating me over the head demanding that I write a certain thing or in a certain way.

So what about you? Throw yourself any pity parties lately? Join Alex Cavanaugh and his ninja army once a month for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group . . . maybe we can help turn things around into a positive party 🙂

Oh, and if you are one of my five fans out there, maybe you’d be interested in this video I posted in response to Kimberly Gabriel’s middle schoolers asking me some questions about my book!

 

 

 

 

IWSG–Author Appreciation Day

Wow, I can’t believe it’s May 1st already! That means only 3 weeks left in the school year *squeeee* Sometimes I think us teachers are more excited for summer than the students, lol. This first Wednesday of the month also means it’s time for Alex J. Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group.

It’s been 98 days since my debut novel, 18 Things, released. 98 is a lucky number for me since it’s the year hubs and I tied the knot 🙂 But I’d say the thing I was most insecure about these first 3 months is what others would think of my book. Most of my reviews on Amazon and Goodreads have been 4 or 5 stars so far (thank you, Jesus *wipes forehead*), but as my publisher submits 18 Things to Books-A-Million and Barnes & Noble for in-store distribution, I sure could use some more reviews! So it seems perfect that Susie Levine is hosting a great blog hop to celebrate authors! Here’s what I read about it on Krystal Wade’s blog today:

huganauthor

Without the ratings, without the few sentences from a happy reader, it makes it harder for a new reader to come along and snatch up the book. How many times have you seen a book on Amazon and not purchased it because it didn’t have enough reviews?

Here you’ll find a link back to her original post and the sign-up code.

Make sure you write a review for a book you’ve read, loved, and never mentioned to your friends or family or Goodreads. Post it on your blog. On Amazon. On Shelfari. Wherever you like to rant and rave.

Authors are sometimes insecure and in need of a pick-me-up. So hug them!

Buccaneer Blogfest and IWSG

I admit I usually star my books on goodreads, but I’m not great about leaving comments. I just went back and updated some of my more recent books to include some kind words, because they go a looong way 🙂 My publisher just sent me two surveys from my book this week, and I wish the readers would’ve posted it somewhere, because they were positive *YAY!* Instead, I’ll share them with you here:
“Great book…very impressed. I normally call the twists early, but this book surprised me. Very refreshing! Can’t wait for the next one!”
“I read a lot of books. YOUR BOOK I got lost in right from the beginning. I couldn’t put it down. It’s now one of my favorites. I can’t wait to read 18 Truths. I love the characters, plot, the quotes in each Chapter, and the flow of the story.
I would love to get this book in hardback, because I think you will be a future Best Seller.”
Awww, pretty cool, right? I seriously appreciate each and every review, even the ones less than 4 stars.
One new release you might want to check out and leave a review for is KIYA: Hope of the Pharaoh by Katie Teller. Click on the link to learn about her awesome blog hop!
Kiya-Facebook-Cover-PNG8

You can now buy it on Amazon and Kobo! To celebrate, here’s a quick excerpt from the book:

A smirk spread across his face and he chuckled.

“You are amusing. I hope you let the Pharaoh see that.”

“Oh, I will.” I smiled. “Once I no longer feel he may throw me to the crocodiles for it.”

He folded his arms and grinned at me.

“He needs someone who can make him laugh. He lives a very tiresome existence and never has a moment to relax.”

“Do you wish me to oblige?” I asked.

He nodded. “Oh yes, Kiya. Make him love you, make him hold you in his highest regard. That will humble our Great Queen and remove her from her station, so she no longer feels she and her daughters have a right to the throne.”

I sighed. “Well, I can do my best, but I am not as pretty as many, or as young.”

“But you are honest, and he will appreciate that among all the liars he is faced with every day.”

*Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it?!?

And before I go, I just have to brag on my 12yo daughter for a second. Since the last time I blogged, she was awarded First Place for Level 2 entries in the WHOLE STATE OF FLORIDA for the Letters For Literature essay contest. She even won $100 with it! I’d love to share her essay about Lauren Myracle’s book, Thirteen, but it’ll have to wait until after the national judging is over. Keep your fingers crossed for her!

Oh, and if you’ve read 18 Things, you know all about my fictional band, Cantankerous Monkey Squad. My talented friend sang the spoof of the “Good Riddance” song I put in the book: “Ode to a Septic Tank.” Hope you enjoy a laugh, and if you do decide to post a book review, I hope you didn’t think 18 Things was crap! Hahaha . . . .

Guest Sharon Bayliss Shares Her Road to Publication!

Today I have the extreme honor of letting my publishing sister, Sharon Bayliss, take over my blog. A contest on her own blog this past May is what led my editor to 18 Things! Sharon, I’m forever in your debt, and you can stop by any time! Don’t forget, Sharon’s book, The Charge, and my book, 18 Things, are both on sale in the Kindle store for 99 cents until Saturday! Thanks to our publisher, Curiosity Quills Press, for running this wonderful promotion!

99 cent Lucky Book Sale

Take it away, Sharon . . . .

No one could call me an overnight success. I’ve been chasing my dream of publication for fifteen years. Granted, I have had a lot of distractions during that time, college, marriage, children…you know, life in general, but I always returned to work on my goal of publishing a novel.

I am proud to say that on March 2, 2013, my dream came true. I published my debut novel, The Charge, with Curiosity Quills Press.

So how did I finally get it done? 

In 2009 I started writing the novel that would eventually become The Charge. It went through so many drafts and total overhauls, early beta readers can only barely recognize the final published result. In the summer of 2011, I did my first round of serious querying. I went the “normal” route of querying agents. I had a few positive moments, some blog contest wins and an occasional positive query reply, but overall, the query process was soul-draining and ultimately unsuccessful.

Fortunately, I wasn’t thwarted. After rewriting my query almost fifty times (yes, I counted), I finally realized and accepted that the query wasn’t the problem. There were problems with the basic structure of the story.

So, I essentially started over. And this time, I write the query first. When I felt like I had an awesome query after only a few tries, I knew I had finally figured it out. 

I got to work re-writing the story and when I was done, it just felt different. I knew I had gotten it right. I had two amazing beta readers look over The Charge. They made some excellent suggestions and I went to work on yet another significant revision. 

One problem my beta readers pointed out was that The Charge didn’t fit well into the YA genre (which was where I had been querying it) because my main character was 18 and out on his own. I agreed, but aging him up or down proved difficult. Read more about my journey to discover the new adult category in the article, “18-Year-Old Characters are Strictly Prohibited.”

Despite the categorization problem, I felt excited and confident about The Charge, so I set out to query agents again and entered some contests. And…

Still nothing.

Although I felt like I had made significant strides and was very proud of The Charge, the general consensus from the agents was, “no.”

I didn’t want to shelve The Charge, but I was discouraged and decided to at least move on to something else for a while. So, I wrote a completely different novel (but that’s a whole other story). I was feeling very excited about this new novel and was about to start querying it, but then something unexpected happened.

The publishing industry moves slowly and I’m not very patient. So, I had moved on before The Charge had really gotten a chance. I hadn’t thought about The Charge in a while, and then I learned that it had made it through the first round of the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Competition. Then, a month later, The Charge became a quarterfinalist. I didn’t move to the semi-finalist round, but I did win a very positive Publishers Weekly review.

My success in the ABNA contest made me rethink everything. The expert judges and the Publishers Weekly reviewer thought it was great! The agents who read my query may not have fallen in love, or thought they would have trouble fitting it into the correct marketing box, but that didn’t mean the book wasn’t worth publishing. So, with my renewed confidence, I tried something new, I queried small publishers directly. And since small publishers were open to the “New Adult” category, I was able to query it in the category it really belonged in.

It didn’t take long at all for me to get some full requests, and in about a nanosecond in publishing time, Curiosity Quills Press made me an offer. I have to admit, I was thrilled but also discombobulated. Things had happened quickly and not the way I had expected. I had no agent to help me negotiate the contract. Even after lots of research and consulting with friends, there was no way to be 100% certain that I was doing the right thing. But my gut told me it was the right thing to do, and I know I made the right choice.

My journey to publication was long and often painful, but I believe it all happened for a reason. Nothing worth doing is ever easy.

Thank you for inviting me to your blog, Jamie, and for all your support along the way!

*My pleasure, Sharon! I bet you’re wondering what The Charge is about after that post. Here’s the blurb:

The Charge Cover copy

When King of the Texas Empire kidnaps Warren’s brother, Warren embarks into a still Wild West to save him. On his journey, he makes a discovery that changes his life forever—he and his brother are long-lost members of the Texas royal family and the King wants them both dead. 

He gets help from an activist Texan named Lena, who’s itching to take on the King and happens to be a beautiful firecracker Warren can’t stay away from. Convincing her he’s not one of the bad guys becomes harder when a mysterious energy stirs in his body, turning his brain into a hive of emotions and memories—not all his own.

A legacy of violence is not all he inherited from the brutal Kings of Texas. The myth that the royal family possesses supernatural powers may not be myth at all.

Gone are the days when choosing a major was a big deal. Now Warren must save his brother and choose whether or not to be King, follow a King, or die before he can retire his fake ID. 

*You can visit Sharon’s blog to learn more about her, and to enter our $75 Amazon gift card giveaway 5 of us are doing to say thanks for spreading the word about the 99 cent sale, woot woot!!

So, have you had the chance to read The Charge yet, or adding it to your TBR list? Interested in the $75 gift card (well, duh, who wouldn’t be, right?!) Stop by tomorrow . . . I’ll be highlighting another wonderful book participating in the 99 cent promo!

❤ Jaim-O

IWSG: Spread the Love

Did you know my debut novel, 18 Things, released on January 24th?! If you did, then my six-week blog tour was a success:-) If you missed my last post of the tour, you can check it out here. You know I LOVE lists, so it’s no surprise I wrapped things up with one! If you’re thinking about querying, you don’t want to miss it.

So what now? I probably should get to all that writing of an actual book that I neglected to write guest posts instead. But first, I want to share the love, baby! The heart of the IWSG is to share and encourage and I think these things fall under both, in addition to making you cry, but no worries . . . there’s a good laugh at the end if you stick around! *Thanks to Elodie for bringing Chad and Bridget to my attention*

Buccaneer Blogfest and IWSG

First: Chad Morris

Chad is in a hospital, being there for his nine-year-old daughter as she recovers from surgery to remove a brain tumor. As the mother of a nine-year-old daughter myself, I can’t even imagine this. Obviously, he can’t promote his book release, but we can! We can give him the book launch he deserves. If you feel inclined, please mention his book on Twitter, Facebook, on your blog, on Pinterest, ect . . . .

The Inventors Secret

Book Blurb for The Inventor’s Secret:

Imagine a school in the year 2074 where students don’t read history, but watch it happen around them; where running in gym class isn’t around a track, but up a virtual mountain; and where learning about animals means becoming one through an avatar.

Welcome to Cragbridge Hall, the most advanced and prestigious school in the world. Twin siblings Abby and Derick Cragbridge are excited as new students to use their famed grandfather’s inventions that make Cragbridge Hall so incredible. But when their grandfather and parents go missing, the twins begin following a trail of clues left by their grandfather. They must find out where their family is, learn who they can trust, and discover what secrets are hidden within Cragbridge Hall.

Abby and Derick soon realize they are caught in a race with a fierce adversary to discover their grandfather’s greatest secret–a dangerous discovery that could alter both history and reality.

Second: Bridget Zinn

Bridget’s debut novel, POISON, releases in a week. Sadly, Bridget died from cancer in May 2011. Being published was her dream, and her husband and friends would appreciate some love in helping her dream become reality. Her husband set up a website that talks about the ways you can help.

poison

Book Blurb for Poison:

Sixteen-year-old Kyra, a highly-skilled potions master, is the only one who knows her kingdom is on the verge of destruction—which means she’s the only one who can save it. Faced with no other choice, Kyra decides to do what she does best: poison the kingdom’s future ruler, who also happens to be her former best friend.

But, for the first time ever, her poisoned dart…misses.
Now a fugitive instead of a hero, Kyra is caught in a game of hide-and-seek with the king’s army and her potioner ex-boyfriend, Hal. At least she’s not alone. She’s armed with her vital potions, a too-cute pig, and Fred, the charming adventurer she can’t stop thinking about. Kyra is determined to get herself a second chance (at murder), but will she be able to find and defeat the princess before Hal and the army find her?

Kyra is not your typical murderer, and she’s certainly no damsel-in-distress—she’s the lovable and quick-witted hero of this romantic novel that has all the right ingredients to make teen girls swoon.

Third: Krystal Wade

Krystal is the one who turned my dream of publishing a book into reality. She keeps insane hours and answers every email I have in record time. She’s not editing books anymore so she can devote her time to writing, and right now you can “buy” the first book in her trilogy for FREE!!! But today is the last day of this promotion, so HURRY!!!

Wilde's Fire

Book Blurb for Wilde’s Fire:

Katriona Wilde has never wondered what it would feel like to have everything she’s ever known and loved ripped away, but she is about to find out. When she inadvertently leads her sister and best friend through a portal into a world she’s dreamed of for six years, she finds herself faced with more than just the frightening creatures in front of her. Kate’s forced to accept a new truth: her entire life has been a lie, and those closest to her have betrayed her. What’s worse, she has no control over her new future, and it’s full of magic and horrors from which nightmares are made.

Will Kate discover and learn to control who she really is in time to save the ones she loves, or will all be lost?

*I think all of these stories sound pretty awesome, don’t you?

I’m looking forward to reading them with my twelve-year-old daughter.

Speaking of my first-born, she started a new blog with her four best friends this past weekend while they were having a slumber party. If you write middle grade, you’d be wise to give them a follow, and they’d be forever grateful in return!! Kaylee even wrote the first post about tips for surviving middle school! That post is the first thing that will have you laughing, or at least it did for me!

Staying with the topic of daughters, I must share this Father of the Bride video Ellen posted yesterday. No, it’s not a clip from the movie . . . and even though that flick is one of my favorites, I must say that this video tops it for me! Get ready for your second laugh!

*So how’d I do? Did I make you laugh or cry or both?

 

Ninja Captain’s Cover Reveal and the REAL Olga Worontzoff

When our head ninja captain of the IWSG asked his army of minions to reveal his latest cover, of course I jumped at the chance! Alex does sooo much for everyone in the writing community, and I’ll  never be able to do enough to pay it forward! But here is a small token of my appreciation for everything Alex . . . .

CassaStorm by Alex J. Cavanaugh

http://alexjcavanaugh.blogspot.com/

A storm gathers across the galaxy…

Byron thought he’d put the days of battle behind him. Commanding the Cassan base on Tgren, his only struggles are occasional rogue pirate raids and endless government bureaucracies. As a galaxy-wide war encroaches upon the desert planet, Byron’s ideal life is threatened and he’s caught between the Tgrens and the Cassans.

After enemy ships attack the desert planet, Byron discovers another battle within his own family. The declaration of war between all ten races triggers nightmares in his son, shaking Bassan to the core and threatening to destroy the boy’s mind.

Meanwhile the ancient alien ship is transmitting a code that might signal the end of all life in the galaxy. And the mysterious probe that almost destroyed Tgren twenty years ago could be on its way back. As his world begins to crumble, Byron suspects a connection. The storm is about to break, and Byron is caught in the middle…

CassaStorm by Alex J Cavanaugh

Release date: September 17, 2013

Science Fiction – Space Opera/Adventure

Print ISBN 9781939844002

E-book ISBN 9781939844019

*Isn’t it super cool! I can’t WAIT to get my copy this September:-)

And now,  I have another special Friday treat for you. If you’ve read my bio, you might recall that like my main character in 18 Things, I have grandmothers named Gay and another named Olga Worontzoff. Thankfully, I’m not named after them like my MC, lol! Anywho, my mom visited my GG (A.K.A. Olga Worontzoff) this past week in New Jersey and delivered my signed copy to her!

Olga with my book

She’s a youthful ninety-five year old, and she phoned me to say I added years to her life with this honor & she’s gonna be on the Smuckers Jar at 100 for sure (that’s my daughters’ goal for her, HA!). Isn’t that great?! She’s inspired me so much . . . I’ll have to share her real life romance story on my blog some day, but for now I’m just gonna frame this picture and keep it on my desk:-)

Enjoy your weekend!! Any special plans? I’m off to my annual local Southwest Florida Romance Writers conference. I’ll blog about what I learned on Pk Hrezo’s blog on Monday! In the meantime, if you’re on Facebook this weekend, I’d really appreciate a ‘Like‘ on my Author Page! Thanks peeps<3

A Valentine Treat with Marisa Cleveland and the 18 Things Tour Continues to Sweep the Blog Nation;-)

HaPPy*Valentine’s* Eve!!! And oooh boy, do I have the perfect gift for you!!! A book, of course . . . would you expect anything different from me?
 
Today marks the release of the Debut Novella for Marisa Cleveland, a very sweet kindred spirit who I met through my Southwest Florida Romance Writer’s Group. She is now a recovering high school teacher turned writer and agent extraordinaire, and she was kind enough to read my manuscript for 18 Things soooo many times that it made her head spin faster than if she’d starred in The Exorcist.  
 
Here’s the scoop:
 
Marisa Cleveland’s novella, The Valentine Challenge, debuted from Entangled Publishing! Join the celebration by visiting participating blogs and commenting the answer to this question: In your opinion, what’s the sexiest part of a man?
 
Between now and February 28th, Marisa’s super secret judges will browse the blogs and choose up to three winners to receive Valentine goodies!
 
No purchase necessary, but a Like on Amazon is always appreciated!
 
Title: The Valentine Challenge
Author: Marisa Cleveland
Publisher: Entangled Publishing (Flirt)
Genre: Contemporary Romance Novella
 
Valentine Challenge
 
Book Description:
When Stacey Bradford’s hot boss convinces his company’s board to close her best friend’s flower shop – days before Valentine’s Day! – Stacey declares war.
 
Intrigued by Stacey’s devotion to her friend, the hearts and flowers holiday, and belief in true love, Marsh issues a challenge – prove love exists or deliver the closing documents to her friend herself.
 
Stacey never could resist a challenge, but when Marsh makes Valentine’s Day the deadline for their deal, Stacey must decide how far she’s willing to go…for love.
 
Author Bio
Marisa Cleveland loves to laugh, hates to cry, and does both often. As a writer, she writes. Every day. Perhaps because she married her best friend, her adult romance novels focus on playfully naughty relationships developed through friendship and family-oriented values. She loves to connect with writers and readers.
 
Author Links
Website and blog: www.marisacleveland.com
 
Super Amazing Participating Blogs:
 
*WHat R U wAItiNG fOR?! What do you find sexiest in a man? *cough cough, please keep it PG-13 since I write for young adults*
 
Oh, and incase you missed it, here’s my guest post on Talynn’s Ink in the Book blog about my sweet first kiss and my inspiration for writing love stories.
 
And today, I’m visiting England on Rebecca Bradley’s blog, where she asks me this question: How Do I Fit It All In? You can comment on either blog through Friday for a chance to win a copy of 18 Things:-)
 
Well, I’m off to help lead Youth Group. Hope you had a very happy Over-the-Hump Day! Mine was full of many firsts: TV interview on The Morning Blend, Library Event, then my first Author School visit with some 8th graders who were one HUGE batch of Awesomesauce. I’ll tell ya allll about it later.
 
HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY<3

Champion In The Darkness and 18 Things Blog Tour Continues . . . .

First things first . . . I’d like to give a shout out for my author buddy, Tyrean Martinson, and the first release in her brand new YA Christian fantasy trilogy (how CoOl is that?!), Champion in the Darkness – The Champion Trilogy, now available on Amazon for only $3.99! What a deal!!!
 
Champion in the Darkness Cover 
 
Clara is younger than most trainees, but she is ready to hold a Sword Master’s blade. While visions and ancient prophecies stand in her way, they also offer a destiny unlike any other. Clara is aided by a haunted mentor, Stelia, whose knowledge of their enemy Kalidess is both a bane and a blessing. As evil threatens their land, Clara and Stelia must find the strength to overcome the darkness!
 
DOESN’T THAT SOUND A*W*E*S*O*M*E?!?!
 
And in other news–my 18 Things blog tour continues. Here are the stops since the last time I posted, in case you missed the links on Twitter or Facebook!
 
Joylene Butler decided to post her own 18 Things despite missing the blogfest. I say, better late than never!
 
Sharon Sant had me answer this question: Why I Love YA
 
The Autumn Review was nice enough to give me a shout-out and  post an excerpt (Have I ever mentioned that book bloggers are my heroes?!)
 
And today I’m kicking back with an interview with my main characters, Olga and Nate, on Nancy S. Thompson’s blog
 
*Only 8 more stops to go! Now, how is this affecting my sales? Hard to tell . . . it’s 188,098 in rank for paperback on Amazon and 59,815 in rank for the Kindle. So, could be loads better, but it also could be worse!
 
Thanks for all your support! I’ll see you around the blogosphere this week, and don’t forget to check out Tyrean’s new release *throws confetti*
 

IWSG–Do I Have the Magician’s Secret?

When my YA debut novel, 18 Things, released to instant best-seller status on Amazon on January 24th, many people emailed me asking what my secret was. Sure, my sales couldn’t rival those of Stephen King or anything, but as an unpublished nobody, the sales were pretty awesome! (Psst . . . here’s an insider tip  you may not know. Have your buds buy your book AND also a bestseller of a similar sort (something huge like Stephen King) to get Amazon to recommend your book alongside theirs. Didn’t know this until after release day. DOH!)

Anyway, the answer is yesss, I do know magic . . . because I know all of YOU! The first important step I took to success? Immersing myself into the blogging community at the start of 2012. Now, I’ve had this blog since August 2010, but I didn’t give it the love and attention it needed until I made it my 2012 New Year’s resolutions (ha! sometimes those things do work!) So, I thought the Alex J. Cavanaugh’s IWSG was the perfect place to share my journey . . .

Buccaneer Blogfest and IWSG

So, first thing’s first: I truly appreciate EVERY reader who bought my book, even the ones who hated it and gave it two stars. I appreciate you taking the time to give me honest feedback, and it’ll make me a better writer. I know I can’t please everyone, and honestly, my book won’t be for everyone. About that same time I took that leap into the blogging community is when I finally embraced that God had given me a gift besides teaching to empower young people. And the good news it, every teenager that I’ve heard from so far *fingers crossed* has absolutely loved it. They are my target audience, so if I’ve inspired them even a little, that’s my success. I could care less about best seller status . . . I only wanted that to push it to a place of influence to reach others. I took profit off the table a long time ago. Not that I wouldn’t like it. I’m a teacher by day, and Lord knows I could use some extra cash. But if that’s truly what I was after, I would’ve gotten a part-time job a long time ago. It would’ve been less work for way more money. But like teaching, writing is my PASSION. I take it very seriously that people are inviting me to entertain them every time they buy a book.

But let me say this to people asking me how I did it and assuming I’m quitting my day job soon because I’m rich: DO NOT assume that once you write a book and it trends in the top 100 on Amazon in a few categories that you will become rich and famous. Amazon is being stingy with my exact figures, and all I have is how many ebooks were bought on release day . . . somewhere between 120-150. So my cut is anywhere between $245-$340. I’ve already given that much away in charitable contributions. So nope, not in it for money! Still, not bad for one day’s sales, if only the trend would continue!!  *BTW, if you didn’t know, which I didn’t, Amazon’s cut is a 30% commission. Here’s what I watched unfold with tears (of joy) on January 24th:

 

overall sales ranking on amazon 

For one night, I was ahead of John Grisham. This blows my mind!

 

beating James Patterson

And I’m under James Patterson–my literary hero! Here’s hoping his success rubs off on my book:-)

 

18ThingsNewRelease

And #3 in Hot Releases for Paranormal-now THAT is beyond the scope of normal scientific understanding.

Now, I was bummed my paperbacks weren’t available release day like they were supposed to be, because I spent a lot of time organizing this Book Bomb event on Facebook. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check it out here. I have no clue how many paperbacks I’ve sold so far . . . hopefully another 150 since 313 had RSVP’d to my Book Bomb Event (the paperbacks became available the next day, Jan. 25th). But turns out, paperbacks are more of an advertising thing, not profit, especially with other physical retailers. So yeah, beginning to see why Amazon is so appealing to authors from a business side of things. Still, my goal is to get my books into the hands of READERS, so I’m not taking it off of B&N.  But just Fyi, my print sales from B&N leaves me with about seventy-five cents per sale. Yes, I did say CENTS. After 3 1/2 years into this writing business, do you see now why I say it’d make more sense to just get a part-time job at the Outback restaurant or something if money is what I was after? (I say Outback b/c when my hubs worked there in 2005, he brought home more money than I did as a teacher that year!!)

But hey, seventy-five cents a copy is still better than the 3 years of rejections I had piling up. Every book bought is validation . . . every 4 or 5 star review is another validation . . . I’m on the right path. This is what God had in mind for me from the beginning:-) So what if I have no money? I’m rich in spirit, faith, love, family, & friends! You all are truly the magic!!!

But my realm of influence only spreads so far, since I’m not rich and famous. So you might be wondering what will I do now to get my sales up? Because of right now as I type this post, I’m #45, 681 in the Kindle store and #74, 434 for paperbacks on Amazon. Yep, not exactly trending in the top 100 anymore! Well, I feel like I’ve done my part. I did a bucket list blogfest the week leading up to release, with a giveaway of 18 donated prizes *thanks again, peeps!!!* That was helpful in spreading the word. Now I’m on a blog tour with 18 stops, which goes until the end of this month. Here are the most recent posts since last Wednesday’s blog, incase you missed the links around Twitter and my Author’s Facebook page:

Stop #6: Gwen Gardner’s blog: My guest post on writing paranormal: Do You Believe What You Write? I share my real-life story about a time I met an angel, so check it out!

Stop #7: Jennifer Eaton’s blog: Where the Little Blue Lady from outer space interrogates interviews me *highly amusing, IMHO*

Stop #8: Marcy Blesy’s blog: Interview focusing on a first time author’s perspective *Marcy interviewed me on HER release day for her new book, Confessions of a Corn Kid. She didn’t even tell me it was her release day until afterward–how’s that for selfless?!

Stop #9: Amy Kennedy’s blog: 18 Things You Should Know About Writing *things I WISH I would’ve known when starting out!*

9 down, 9 more to go! The other thing I did was sent out a press release. I only got 2 responses so far. Here’s an article from the Grand Haven Tribune. Grand Haven is the wonderful community where 18 Things is set. If you’ve never visited this small town during the summer, add it to your bucket list!

And soon I’ll be going on a local news show called The Morning Blend. What else? Hmm . . . my first local library event is next Wednesday, as well as my first school author visit! I’ll be a part of two book festivals coming up–one in March in the Fort Myers area and another in April in Orlando. I’ll be happy to blog my experiences afterward and tell you if I think it was worth the effort. In the meantime, I’m contacting YA book blog reviewers. Three have already agreed to read and review. I love these girls better than coffee and cakepops!! They provide an enormous service to us little authors, for the love of reading! LOVE it!

Sorry this post was longer than usual, but inquiring minds were asking me. Now I’ve probably crossed the line of TMI (as usual).

Do you have any strategies for magic that I left out?!

Have your read 18 Things yet?

One thing I will caution against is don’t read the whole book waiting for the paranormal. It’s only like 10% paranormal, and it has to do with the God aspect. I didn’t choose the categories on Amazon, and have no idea how those appear, but I was still extremely grateful to be trending in them. But if you only love reading purely paranormal books, then 18 Things isn’t for you. I think it’s still a decent book (although, some people would argue that point!), and if you felt cheated, the sequel is 90% paranormal to  make up for it;-)

OH! One more thing before I return to working on my next book . . . my CQ partner in crime totally surprised me with this book trailer. I didn’t even ask anyone to do it, but she did because she is awesome. Seriously, if you look up awe*some in the dictionary, Courtney Worth Young’s picture is next to it, in all her HP Geek Glory:-) Enjoy!!!