We talk about villains, plots, the Kindle Scout campaign experience, sequels, and more.
Hey, everyone! We just held a Kindle Press Author chat! Feel free to check out the readers' questions and our answers:
We talk about villains, plots, the Kindle Scout campaign experience, sequels, and more.
Cliffhangers are polarizing. Most readers don't like them, and many writers utilize them as cheap ploys to try and ensure sales of the following novel in a series.
Yet, my novel, Die By Night, has a cliffhanger ending.
I debated long and hard on this. I promise; I did. I knew that there would be frustrated and negative reactions. As a reader (and even as a viewer with movies/TV) I've been angered/upset/saddened by cliffhangers too, especially when the following novel is not out yet. All of my friends know I hate surprises.
So why did I write, what you must consider to be a hypocritical, cliffhanger ending? It sounds crazy, but the characters do dictate some of what I write. I have a vision of what I think should happen next, but sometimes they get all theatrical and demanding, and I cave to their whims. Seriously though, I'm not the type of writer who plans everything out and then refuses to deviate. I'm too freeform for that.
SPOILERS for Die By Night:
I always planned for there to be more to the story than Gavin taking Natalie to Scotland. If the book had ended with a simple, easy, battle between the Weres and the vampires, I would have been phoning it in. It would have been easier, but anticlimactic. I realized that their story deserved more "epicness" than that. Natalie always believed there had to be more Weres than just those that resided in Scotland, and she's right. Those Weres are interesting too, and they'll get their time in the sun now.
I apologize to anyone who was disappointed that the storyline was not resolved, and that Natalie and Gavin did not end up on better footing before the last page. But if they had, would there have been a point in a sequel? And the sequel, though not originally intended, has some great scenes, scenes that the creator in me couldn't let go. Gavin and Natalie's story will be better for it.
Every reader has a right to their opinion. You should express it, because we writers do read them, and you and your rates/reviews do matter to us. There is no wrong way to feel about a novel. The whole point of publishing is to share your ideas with others, and sharing is a two-way street. I thank you for sharing your opinions and thoughts.
My other novels do not have cliffhanger endings, so feel free to read them without that worry. I will work steadily on Live By Day, so that your questions can be answered.
I don't want to capitalize or extrapolate on tragedy. This blog post is solely to say, I'm horrified by both events that occurred in Orlando, Florida over the weekend. As a community, as a region, as a country, and as a world, we all need to provide the respect these victims deserve. This shouldn't be a battle about sexual orientation, race, religion, gun control, or anything else. I know those discussions need to take place, however the hatred and rancor that has been evident in many comment sections on articles about the shootings is just unnecessary. I believe that we need to remember those who were taken away far too soon and mourn them as people. They had families, they had friends, they had talent, and humor, and so much more.
They loved and were loved.
I mourn the victims from Pulse and Christina Grimmie.
My email came yesterday. I cried --- tears of joy, people! If you nominated me, your emails should have gone out this morning. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
I had promised some people a blog post about the process, and I think it's only fitting that I write it now with the end results revealed. So, if you're an author considering a Kindle Scout campaign or a reader curious about it, here it is:
The first thing you need to do is make sure your work is the best you can make it. I discuss it more below, but you could have a million nominations and not be chosen. There were some books on the hot and trending page for the entirety of their campaign that I nominated but were not chosen. Your manuscript needs to shine. It needs to have a good premise, be marketable, and be well written.
The second thing you need to do if you're considering a Kindle Scout campaign is to read the contract. You're about to sign something, create a legal agreement that will go into effect the minute you're chosen (if you're chosen). You need to read it carefully, word-by-word. I did this and saw nothing that raised any flags. Kindle is asking for the digital and audio rights to your novel. You keep the print rights. There are caveats, of course. If a certain amount of royalties are not made within a certain amount of time you can have the rights revert back to you. Likewise, if Amazon does not create the audiobook within a certain amount of time you can request those rights back.
But let's get down to it: I'm not a lawyer; I'm an author. You didn't come here to read the legalese spiel. Heck, there are even websites devoted to translating legalese into plain English. That's right, Legalese is essentially a language at this point. The point is - there's a contract; read it.
Once you've accepted the contract and weighed the risk vs. reward, you may come to the decision to embark on your Kindle Scout journey as I did. You need friends now. All of the friends you've ever made since grade school, and all of their friends too.
Does having the most number of nominations and page hits ensure you're chosen? No. You could have the most nominations and page views in the history of...ever and still not be chosen. However, having that attention does help. I have to give my mom special credit. Gayle Jones became the best campaign manager I've ever seen. She contacted people, helped me with flyers, distributed flyers, got other people to distribute flyers, sent out emails, posted Facebook posts, and wanted to go out into the neighborhood. She was a walking signboard for my campaign and is my biggest fan. Love you, Mom! :)
Once you've gathered your friendbase, you need to expand. That means going virtual. Before you start, you should have a website and author Facebook account to start. A Twitter and Instagram account can only help your cause (I have neither). You can try Facebook ads, Google ads, and newspaper ads (if you're feeling nostalgic). Hopefully you're already involved in the author, blogger, and reviewer community. If not, start building relationships. I have to give special thanks to Platypire Reviews. Check them out here: http://www.platypire.com/ Their Facebook page is also awesome, filled with comedic posts and fellow authors with which to connect. They let me takeover the Facebook page for a day and have been great!
Overall, the formula for success in a Kindle Scout campaign is similar to self-publishing or publishing with a traditional publisher. Write, edit, polish, design, plan, and market.
Thank you again, everyone!
Brace yourselves and get ready; this is a rant post.
This past weekend I heard a song from a coworkers iPhone. It was one of the worst songs I have ever been subjected to. It was a rap song, which is a genre I hate on principle already. The song is called "Ain't Worried About Nothin" by French Montana. I don't recommend it.
First off, what the heck has happened to music?! It's no longer worthy of even being called music. Everything is either completely juvenile and ridiculous, pointless, repetitive, or auto-tuned to the point you mistake the "singer" for a robot or Siri.
Repetitive - Case in point: "Ain't Worried About Nothin." Let's digest this song, shall we?
The song is based mainly on the phrase in it's name. French really, really wants you to know that he "ain't worried about nothin." And really, why should he be? He's a rich rapper! It's easy to say that "money don't mean nothin (nada)," when you've got millions of it. Just sayin'. Anyway, back to that main 4-word phrase. French is determined that you know about his lack of worries, so he feels the need to include that phrase 48 times in a 508 word/3 minute and 32 second long song. 48 times! I did the math on this. And these stats mean that on average, for every 1.65 words in the song, that 4-word phrase is inserted. So, in essence, French can't even get one word out without reminding you that he doesn't have a single worry. As I said, I heard this song at work, and towards the end of the hook, playing for the second time, I was ready to commit murder. Not to mention the rest of the lyrics. The song is full of the n-word, which I believe is disrespectful regardless of the speaker/singer's race, violence and the mention of (illegal) guns, expletives, a possible drug reference, and a vague objectification of women. There's really not much to like about this song, yet it peaked at number 63 on the Billboard Hot 100, and though I couldn't find a record of the number of downloads, even one download is too many. Oh, and if you thought it couldn't get any worse, the remix will feature Miley Cyrus.
Juvenile and Ridiculous - "Mean" by Taylor Swift, "My Humps" by Black Eyed Peas, "As Long as You Love Me" and "Boyfriend" by Justin Beiber, "Call Me Maybe" by Carly Rae Jepsen, and much more
The winner of the most juvenile song written and performed by an adult has to go to Taylor Swift with "Mean." Now, to be fair, this song does portray a good message. It would be the perfect ringtone for every elementary school student or even great as a theme song for recess. The problem is that Taylor Swift wrote this song about how she was being bullied. Does bullying happen even in the adult world? Yes, it does and it's an awful fact of life. It shouldn't happen. However, I think there are better anthems that could be written, rather than one that comes off more whiny and pathetic than strong and independent. I do love Taylor Swift and she gets a bad rap on a lot of things, but it's deserved on this particular song.
My beef with "My Humps" is self-explanatory. The song is titled "My Humps." Enough said.
"As Long as You Love Me" falls into the ridiculous category. It's annoying when children sing of things they know nothing about. Granted, I'm a writer who writes about things I couldn't possibly know about, such as alternate universes, marriages, bearing children, and super-powered beings. I can do that because I write fiction. Justin Beiber, for all intents and purposes, sings his songs as if he knows what the heck he's talking about. In one of Beiber's early songs he sang about offering a ring (marriage) to some girl and he was about 13 at the time. Then, in "As Long as You Love Me" and "Boyfriend," Beiber sings such lyrical gems as:
- "Smile on your face even though your heart is frowning (frowning)"
- "I'll be your Hova, You could be my Destiny's Child on the scene girl"
- "I got money in my hands that I’d really like to blow, Swag, swag, swag, on you, Chillin' by the fire while we eatin’ fondue, I don't know about me but I know about you"
Nice use of personification, Justin! These lyrics make me cringe, but I guess I have to be understanding as he was probably trying to complete a figurative language assignment for his tutor and create a hit all at the same time. This is assuming that Beiber even writes his own lyrics, which isn't likely. I also find it ironic that he sings of being faithful ("I just want to love and treat you right" and other references in different songs) when he's cheated on his gf Selena Gomez multiple times.
Auto-tuned - "Friday" by Rebecca Black, most of Katy Perry's music, most of Ke$ha's music, and all of Kanye's "music"
To be fair, "Friday" was widely criticized and hated. Lately though, people have softened their stance on Rebecca Black and the song, thanks in part to support from stars such as Katy Perry, and Rebecca's continued Youtube presence. Even I can admit that Rebecca Black is not near as obnoxious as one might think from her first poorly conceived single. I'm still not a fan, but the girl is young and fame is irresistible beacon to many.
Don't even get me started on Kanye.
Pointless - anything sung by Miley Cyrus (both pre and post Hannah Montana)
I've never appreciated Miley Cyrus. She can't act, she can't sing (her voice is nasally), and she seems genuinely clueless about reality. The whole twerking craze is making me lose my mind. I've seen way more of Miley's butt than I ever cared to. "We Can't Stop" is her latest effort. The music video is headache inducing and has viewers everywhere questioning whether or not they were drugged without their knowledge before watching it. Miley feels the need to rub herself all over anything that moves, and most of what doesn't... Everything she's released lately ("Can't Be Tamed" anyone?) has featured the same non-message: she will do whatever she wants, and you had better not dare try and tell her differently. She just smacks of arrogance. She's her own idol and clearly worships herself. That's fine. To each his own. The problem is that she is everywhere right now! She's hard to avoid.
The point of this whole diatribe is that I miss the old music, back when it had meaning and was used to express real emotion and truth. I encourage those who like real music and lyrics to check out Kacey Musgraves (if you like con
Disclaimer: I do not truly "hate" the people "dissed" in this post, nor am I a "hata." Yes, I am fully and admittedly jealous of the money the idiots I've complained about in this post make. I know I can never hope to make the amount money they make in a minute if I had a dozen hardworking lifetimes. All ridiculously spelled, text-speak, hate comments about how judgmental I am will be tolerated, but not enjoyed. Thanks for reading!
There’s something so inviting and daunting about a blank page; there are so many possibilities, both for invention and failure.
Writing soothes the soul, but sometimes, sometimes it just hurts.
The title comes from When a Heart Breaks by Ben Rector. The shame of it all is that inspiration is all around me. I have tons of new music that really compels me to do something. I found a new couple to root for and aspire to, in Hart of Dixie's Wade and Zoe. And I'm having some turmoil in my own life. Yet, despite all of the confusion, frustration, and reluctant hope, I can't seem to accomplish anything. I keep pushing everything off. If I don't try, I can't fail. I know, I know. It's a defeatist attitude if I've ever heard one. Meanwhile, life is steadily chugging forward, without me, without a concern of whether or not I do anything. I can't write. I'm not really dreaming. I'm just so stuck and I've been that way for a while.
And now as I listen to When a Heart Breaks on repeat and hope that:
"Then confusion and the doubts you had
Instead it seems like a false prophesy that no one has the good sense to ignore. I can barely compress my thoughts into words for the blog and yet, it's the most writing I've done in months. Maybe I expect too much. For sure I'm torturing myself. It's all heavy sighs, and staring longingly into space. I'm hoping to dream again, even if it's only at night.
You know, I think I've had a revelation. I'm a victim of Peter Pan syndrome. I'm paying bills, have a college diploma tucked under my belt, watching my friends get married and start families, driving a new car, worrying about insurance and other people's expectations of me, and suddenly it feels like my opportunities are over. I want all of my options available to me again. I want to have ignorant bliss for just a little while. It's so utterly selfish but I don't cringe. The truth isn't always flattering or pleasant because sometimes the truth is harsh and ugly and sometimes it's neither. Sometimes the truth is just that, empty facts with no meaning and no feeling.
I don't watch Spongebob anymore. That makes me a little sad.
So, like many others, I've always had this image in my head of how a woman having a fainting spell would look. I had this picture of a delicate woman fluttering her hand to her forehead and then the handsome guy swooping in to sweep her in to his arms. Yeah, that's not how it happens.
I've been knocked unconscious before in a really unfortunate experience with a volleyball in fifth grade...but I digress. Last night, I passed out, fainted, blacked out, conked out, zonked out - yes, I swooned. I felt unstable leading up to the event, and there was this huge roaring in my ears as my vision dimmed and narrowed...but then that was it. Next thing I know, I feel a firm grasp on either arm, then nothing again, then I'm sitting in a chair with a group of concerned coworkers around me. Someone caught me, yes, but I wasn't aware of it to be able to appreciate the possible romanticism that was promised by nearly every historical romance I've ever read. No, instead it was confusing, scary, and kinda embarrassing.
The one good thing is that I didn't hit the floor, which was the one saving grace of the entire episode. I can't even imagine the trauma of landing on the floor both to my honor and my vulnerable head. Anyway, the point of the story or (fainting) episode, is that fainting is not romantic and it certainly is not glamorous. Good to know if you plan on writing in a vulnerable moment for your heroine with her hero. I mean, if you want to stick with the tried and true, and pretend you don't now have the real facts of swooning, you can of course. But, if you want to show the truth, well it'll be a short moment for your heroine, as she won't be aware for most of it. Not to mention, your hero might decide to grab your heroine under the arms for proper leverage, as dead weight is supposedly extremely heavy and hard to maneuver, instead of sweeping her off her unsteady feet.
Take the knowledge and do what you will with it. As for me, even if a future fainting spell equaled incredible romance with my future soul mate, I still would not choose to experience passing out, blacking out, conking out, zonking out, losing consciousness - again.
I have a blog! Here is a spiel I wrote in third person pretending to be a big shot: