Tired and Tag (But Not Tired OF Tag)

Raise your hand if maybe giving yourself three months between book releases wasn’t the smartest idea.

**looks around**

**raises hand inconspicuously**

No—it’s cool, guys. It’s cool. I got this. It’s just a LOT. A lot of writing and reading and thinking and planning and I’m not even doing half of what I should be. I feel like I should pop Adderall and stay up all night so I can go to work all day and still get everything done. I’m not going to do that, because I’m not stupid, and I grew up in the 90s when there were *way* too many afterschool specials and public service announcements and even that one episode of Safe By the Bell when Jesse almost ODs on pills. So, yeah, I get it. Besides, pills aren’t really my thing. My thing is stress-eating my way through the Ben & Jerrys section at my local Walmart, so, the next picture I post, I might be the super-fat version of me from another universe. NO JUDGING. God willing I’m not, but we are talking about from here all the way to November, when the final book comes out.

After that, it’ll be a little better. I’ll still have to advertise but I won’t have to worry about completing the books, editing them, marketing them, (possibly paying for the marketing), DEFINITELY paying for the editor and formatting and cover design fees (and wondering where that money’s coming from) in addition to completing author interviews, setting up takeover posts and more. It was tiring just typing all that out (but I did it because I’ve got this. I’ve *yawn* got this.)

A little derail from writing:

Batman and I saw Tag. We also saw Solo last weekend, but I’d rather talk about Tag because IT WAS AWESOME! Just like Deadpool, but I was kind of obligated to focus on my book release at that time so now that we’re on a book release-free week/weekend, I have to tell you guys Tag was good. Maybe I’m biased because I watched it in a reclining chair in one of those theatres where you have to buy your actual “seat” (so very European of us) or because I was elbow deep in double-buttered popcorn. I don’t care. It was an awesome time and I’m pretty sure a lot of it had to do with the hysterical movie I was watching. Please go see it 😊

Not much going on right now besides all of the above and the movie I was able to escape to. Oh! Next weekend I’ll be going back to the shooting range to practice being a baddass some more. I meant to post about the first time I went, but that was like, four weeks ago, and the pictures weren’t terribly cute so I wasn’t wholeheartedly convinced to write about it. Plus, I forgot. I’ll do my best NOT to forget this time and to actually tell you how it went. I’ll even (try to) pose cute too. We’ll see.

Don’t forget: Creature Feature Anthology releases tomorrow. These ladies are fantastic, so if you’re shy and unwilling to commit to a full-length novel, an anthology of shorter pieces from three different authors might do the trick. Try it out. Try them out. You get THREE authors for the price of one and SEVERAL stories for the price of…one. Again, the answer is one. I don’t see how you guys aren’t jumping on this deal. It sells itself.

P.S. And a happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, HAPPY birthday to my dear friend, Stephanie!

CEO. OF EVERYTHING

It’s a scary thing when you realize you’re the CEO.

That’s right, baby. It’s me. I’M the CEO. Woop! Finally got that imaginary corner office…so…why isn’t this easier? And where the hell is my assistant? The minute—or the culmination of minutes—it took me to realize that no one was going to do this for me—write amazing books, market them, and live comfortably off my earnings—was both liberating and terrifying. (Mostly terrifying)

I try to keep my posts somewhat writing related and that was one of many epiphanies recently; I’m CEO of my own company (even if it’s just having five books on the market.) It’s me. Just me. I’ve had this thought before, but never with the oomph of the “CEO” title. Somehow, it makes it even more exciting/scary. But, as I keep shouting to myself, I got this.

As CEO, that means I’m also in charge of all marketing. Haven’t you seen me all over the place? No, you haven’t, because I barely do anything BUT I’ve put together two ads. What do you think?

 

Oh yeah *tugs suspenders” Drink in all that homemade goodness ($0.00 budget, remember?)

If you support me, my work, or know anyone who you think would enjoy it, I invite you to share one or both of these lovely teasers with them. It’s all about word-of-mouth, you know. I rarely pick up something because I found it and sank in on my own (Eleanor & Park) but because someone recommended it to me. 😉

Do you run your own side business or feel like the CEO of something? How do you handle it? Is it scary? Exciting? Both?

P.S. I saw Solo. Meh.

P.P.S. I stopped watching Hemlock Grove. Just couldn’t deal. I AM watching Westworld and Sunday night’s episode might be my favorite. Did you watch it? Do you know what I’m talking about? ARE WE PART OF THE SAME TRIBE? <—- (see what I did there).

Creature Feature Anthology: Featuring Joleene Naylor

Who likes a sale? (*raises hand*)

Who likes a sale on really awesome stuff? (*raises hand more aggressively*)

Who likes a sale on really awesome baddass stories from badass authors? (*THROWS MONEY AT QUESTIONER*)

Okay, good. I’ve got your attention:

Vampires… Werewolves… Monsters… They stalk our dreams and nightmares… the stuff of legends and fantasies…

Featuring short stories by Joleene Naylor (the Amaranthine series), Amber Naralim (the Monsters series), and Gabriella Messina (the Bloodline series), CREATURE FEATURE invites you to take a taste of the worlds these three authors have created, and the creature characters you will never forget. 

Okay, I haven’t had the pleasure of reading Amber Naralim or Gabriella Messina’s stories quite  *yet* (though I’m sure they’re amazing) but I was able to sneak a peek at one of Amaranthine-world-creator, Joleene Naylor’s and it’s AWESOME. First, if you haven’t delved into her series yet- what are you waiting for? And second, this story is a Jorick origin, which means you get to see how he became a vampire. Woop!

Jorick dreams of leaving his native country but, after poor harvests, he can’t raise the funds. When a mysterious foreigner arrives with a job offer – care for his animals and stay away from his house until sundown – it seems like easy money. Except, something is killing the herd one by one. When Jorick sets out to stop it, he’ll discover the horrifying truth about his employer and will have to decide: Is the money worth working for the devil?  

Want a quick sneak peek? You’ve got it! Take a look below:

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The following evening, Jorick didn’t meet Malick at the door. Instead, he ate a meager dinner, and readied for the night’s plan. Malick might not care what was killing the sheep, but he was tired of being outsmarted. How the thing could get in the barn was a mystery he must have an answer to.

And once I see what it is, I’ll kill it.

He loaded up a bag, grabbed a lamp and his musket, then headed off through the night. The walk was familiar, but strange. A heaviness hung around him, like invisible mist. Every breath he took was laced with some dark presence; a sense of danger. There was even a moment when he was tempted to turn around, but his stubbornness pushed him on.

Soon the barn was a hulking shadow in the distance.  As he drew closer, he saw the moonlight glint on the boards, on the roof, on the open door-

Open door?

He’d put the sheep away and locked everything up himself! He dropped the bag and quickly set to work readying the gun, filling it with powder, loading it, snapping the ramrod back in place. A breeze blew, the door swung, and he quickly used the lamp to light the gun’s wick. A quick blow, a flare from the burning rope and he started forward, the musket shouldered and ready to go.

The few moments between where he’d left the bag and the barn turned into aching long hours. He moved softly over late summer grass, his feet wet with dew. His heart hammered. His breaths were quick, rasping sounds that seemed too loud in the stillness.

He got to the door and pushed it gently with the barrel of the gun, pulling it the rest of the way open. Inside, the sheep were silent, though not bedded down. They stood, pale shapes washed in shadows, unmoving. A dark figure stood among them, large for an animal, hunched. Jorick aimed the musket and blew again at the wick. The light flared. In that momentary glow he saw Malick, bent over one of the sheep, his lips drawn back from fangs, a drizzle of blood down his chin.

In the shock, Jorick fired. The gun jerked in his hands and the smoke puffed past him. He saw the dark shape of Malick stumble back, followed by a roar more animal than human.  Jorick knew he’d hit him, knew that the damage would be severe – he’d seen the balls push bone out of wounds before. Still, he saw the dark shape lumber back to its feet, let out a second roar-

Jorick ran. The pounding of his heart drowned out Malick’s fury as he raced away, not bothering to grab his bag as he passed it. On he ran, until he reached his own home. Inside, he slammed the door and knocked the bolt in place, too exhausted to do anything but sag against it, gasping for air.

The wick burned his hand. He reflectively dropped the musket, but retrieved it quickly. His hands shook as he moved through the rooms to his store, as he tried to load the gun again, preparing in case the monster had followed him.

Monster.

In that flash of light, that’s what he’d seen. Malick’s long white hair fell around a contorted face, his pale beard stained scarlet with the lamb’s blood, while the motionless sheep surrounded him, silent, glassy eyes looking on, but not seeing.

No wonder he wasn’t worried about what killed the sheep. He knew what it was. It was him.

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Want to know what happens next? You’re going to have to grab your copy!

The good news is that Creature Feature has a special preorder price of $.99 until it’s release date (June 21st) when it goes up to $2.99. All proceeds go to the Book Born Children’s Christmas Book Fund, sponsored by Book Born Facebook group. (link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/bookborn/ )

Click here to pre-order on Amazon. Click here for everywhere else.

Aren’t you excited? We get to see how Jorick became a vampire. JORICK! Again, if you haven’t gotten into the Amaranthine series, what are you waiting for? This baby’s not set to come out for another two weeks so you have plenty of time. And with a pre-order sale of .99, you really can’t beat that!

Grab your copy of the Creature Feature Anthology for amazing stories from amazing authors like Joleene Naylor, Amber Naralim, and Gabriella Messina!

Straight To the Source, IWSG

I’ve been emailing a lot of book bloggers asking if they’d review my book. Since my current marketing budget is a whopping $0.00 (unemployed for 3 months, remember?) the options to get Better Than This out there is limited, but I HAVE gotten a lot of positive responses. 😊 Actually, I’ve gotten more responses than I thought which is 1) shocking and 2) extremely shocking since I didn’t get the same reaction when I did this for Arizal Wars. I don’t know if it’s the genre or the story or what but people are ACTUALLY EMAILING ME BACK which means I have to be doing something right—right?

Part of it makes me nervous. I’m asking people—people I’ve never met—to look at something from my brain and rate it. Rate it on the internet for EVERYONE to see. When I think of it this way, I shake my head and say no, no, no and ridicule myself for imagining something so scary. (I try not to do this.) Instead, I try to think of it as the humble beginning to building my (hopefully loyal and supportive) fanbase. That sounds way better.

Maybe once the paychecks start rolling in or I win the lottery or become the Duchess of Sussex, I’ll do one of those professional marketing tour things. They make sense and sound like a good strategy, but I planned three releases this year on a non-existent budget, so I’m going straight to the source. Reaching out to the readers directly because 1) it is literally FREE and 2) cultivating an authentic fanbase sounds like the first block in any successful author platform. 🙂

Now that that’s decided, onto the optional IWSG Question!

What’s harder for you to come up with, book titles or character names?

I don’t really come up with either—they’re just in my head. It’s like I look to my muse and she goes, “oh, you need that information now?” and boom. I have it. But, I think it takes longer for her to hand me the book titles. On average 😊

Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) is a monthly blog hop for writers at all levels to share their fears and insecurities in a safe and encouraging place. Please drop by and say hi to Alex Cavanaugh who started this nifty concept in bringing us all together.

They Write The Books – Alyssa Kelso

Time for ‘They Write the Books!’ which I *totally* used to do…and then fell off doing for a while…and am now BACK AT IT because getting the word out about new authors and books is awesome. Who knows? You may find your next favorite read 🙂

Today I’ve got Alyssa Kelso and her book, Dreaming of Fire.

First, a little Q and A to spice things up:

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am a wife and mother, the two best callings in my life. I love healing crystals and my essential oils. I am a fan of art of all forms, though I personally practice painting and photography. I crave Italian food on the daily, and I may or may not be marking my calendar down for the final season of Game of Thrones. Anyone else??

How did you get into writing?

I actually hated anything to do with writing and reading as a kid. But after I read, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, my life changed. Not only did I want to read more but I wanted to write more, too. So, my parents bought me a journal when I was in the 5th grade. It had Harry Potter on the cover and a popup flashlight in the spine. I have been writing ever since.

How did you come up with the idea for your story?

I was fifteen and daydreaming in math class. My thought was, “I wonder what it would be like to actually fall in love with the man of my dreams…” Then more thoughts came and I imagined writing a story about a girl who literally fell in love with a man she saw in her dreams.

Who are your favorite authors?

J.K. Rowling, Ellen Hopkins, Leigh Bardugo, Samantha Shannon.

If you could only recommend one book, which would it be?

Harry Potter, always.

*Bonus * What one person (living or dead) would you share a meal with? And why?

My late sister, Brianne. Brianne was stillborn, but I have felt immensely influenced by her spirit my whole life. I would absolutely love to thank her for looking out for me, and tell her how much I love her.

Excerpt From Dreaming of Fire – Now On Amazon:

A chilling chant fills the forest. The sound is so frightening, even the trees quake with fear.

“HiyaKay, HiyaKay, ite, ite. HiyaKay, HiyaKay, ite, ite.”

The words weave through my mind, catching hold of snatches of English and shaping themselves into words I can understand: Night King, Night King, rise, rise. Night King, Night King, rise, rise. Brianne blows out several more angel kisses, and they float toward the sky, illuminating the uppermost branches of the trees.  Terror courses through me as I spot the demons of my nightmares sitting and hanging amongst the trees’ shivering limbs. Their gruesome features come in various forms—scaly skin, beady eyes, claws, wings, horns, fangs, gruesome gashes, or spiked faces. Some have no faces at all.  

“Nightmares,” Brianne breathes. Setting her jaw, she lifts her wand and sends a ball of light toward me. The ball expands until it surrounds me in a white haze. “Don’t be afraid, Sienna. These miscreants love fear.”

  

Alyssa lives in Utah with her husband, daughter, and their fur baby. She has started her own collection of healing crystals and besides writing; she loves to express herself creatively through painting and photography.

You can connect with Alyssa on Goodreads, as well as these platforms-

Web: Alyssakelso.com

Twitter: @Alyssakelso21

Facebook: @allthingsalyssakelso

Instagram: @allthingsalyssakelso

The Case of CockyGate and Missing Reviews

There’s been a lot of craziness going on in the Indie world (in case you didn’t know. Which I assume you didn’t, since you’re not a self-published author. Unless you are, in which case, you probably know all about this. Recap for you!)

The first thing is this whole trademark thing. If you haven’t heard, an author by the name of Faleena Hopkins has successfully trademarked the word ‘Cocky’ in book titles, meaning no author—regardless of their publication date—is allowed to have that word in their title. It might not seem like such a big deal, but SHE TRADEMARKED A WORD IN A TITLE. So sorry, but I thought words were free for all of us to use? You know, to write and talk and communicate with. Is that not the case anymore? But, if the possession of a word in a title isn’t crazy enough, every other author who has that word in their title HAS TO CHANGE IT. LEGALLY.

(pause to really let that sink in)

You’ve worked for hours (and hours and hours) writing the thing, several more on imagining the brand/theme/colors, spent (even more) time and (lots of) money on cover design, editing and marketing, and now…what? You’re just expected to change it all? Because of ONE word?

But okay, let’s forget those who had to (or are in the midst of) changing everything for a second. Trademarking one word in the title isn’t really too terrible, right? Except that authors—now scared at the *possibility* of having to update their work—have come forward with their own trademarks. ‘Forever’ and ‘Dare’ and ‘Shifter World’ are all in the process of applying for trademarks. GUYS. What’s happening?!?!?!

The second other huge crappy thing is that Amazons is fucking us over. Authors, I mean. I considered going to KU (Kindle Unlimited) with my Arizal Wars series since I do absolutely no advertising and figure maybe I can score some page reads (KU pays by the page read, not the book purchased) and gain a little something there. Except, authors with LEGIT page reads are not able to access their royalties because Amazon’s saying they’re committing different kind of fraud like book-stuffing. Then a BUNCH of reviews went missing from like, a BUNCH of authors and they’re not sure if it’s a glitch or what. Regardless, losing reviews means less people’s opinions on a product which means (possibly) less interest from a potential buyer. And that’s the other thing—supposedly, Amazon is only allowing a ‘verified purchaser’ to leave a review, so if I lent you a copy of my book, you wouldn’t be able to review it there because you didn’t buy it. I don’t care who bought it, JUST REVIEW IT BECAUSE REVIEWS HELP US.

So those are the things swimming around in my head. That, and pushing BTT and writing/planning to market for BTN. And Deadpool. And maybe going to see Solo.

If you’re interested in following the “Cocky” situation, check out #cockygate. The RWA (Romance Writers Association) is even involved with the reversal of the trademark. This shit is getting super real.

What do you guys think? Big deal? Not a big deal? Having a lovely Wednesday?

So…What’s Next?

(The short answer is: I have no idea. Making this up one day at a time.)

The LONG answer is that I didn’t really think about what came next until last Saturday when my silly brain was like, ‘you don’t have to think about the next book until late July. It’s not set to release until mid-August.’ Then the wine was gone and the rational, smart part of my brain came back. In addition to, you know, FINISHING the book, I have to get it edited, get a book cover done and do some possible advertising (maybe even a blog tour? Or some ARCs this time??) Yeah, I don’t know how I thought I’d be taking it easy for the next month and a half when I set this schedule for myself—unbeknownst to myself (by myself 😉)

When I say I have to ‘finish’ the book, I mean it’s pretty much done but I’m combing through it until there’s nothing left that I want to change. Then I’ll contact my BETAs and once I get the green light from them, it’s off to the editor. The thing about this series is: they’re shorter books, each clocking in at around 65K words, so they’re quick reads…and quick writes. I thought I was being stupid when I decided to release them three months apart, but I think it works for this series. It’s pretty much one giant story broken into three segments and I don’t want to make (potential) readers wait too long. Hell, I didn’t wait. I jumped into book three because I NEEDED to know what happened once I was done with a solid draft of book two. Why should I hoard the story if it’s ready to be shared (after proper editing, of course)? That’s why I have the last two installments coming out later this year—there seemed no point holding onto them if they’re ready to go.

Oh!

I’m going to try really, really, REALLY hard to understand Google Docs and make a signup sheet, but in the off-chance reality sets in and my stupidity gets a hold of me, you can always shoot me an email or leave a comment if you’re interested in getting an ARC (advanced reader copy) of Better Than Now. One of these days, I’m going to get me some advanced readers and it’s going to be GLORIOUS. Absolutely glorious. 🙂

Until then, I’m off to create some shit and do some work. And clean out my wine rack.

It’s going to be a good summer 🙂