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Glimpse at Ten Tiny Breaths by KA Tucker and a first-look at my next book!

19 Dec

Hey everyone!

Holy cow!  Can you believe there’s only six days until Christmas??  And me without my shopping done. Sigh.

I wanted to share a couple of things with you today– so excited about both!

First, my awesome friend K.A. Tucker just released an amazing book.  I haven’t read it entirely yet because I’ve been buried in my writing cave, but I’ve looked through it- and it looks amazing.  It must be- because as of this post, it is ranked at #73 on Amazon.  That’s HUGE.   Check it out….

Ten Tiny Breaths

TEN TINY BREATHS Synopsis:

Kacey Cleary’s whole life imploded four years ago in a drunk-driving accident. Now she’s working hard to bury the pieces left behind—all but one. Her little sister, Livie. Kacey can swallow the constant disapproval from her born-again aunt Darla over her self-destructive lifestyle; she can stop herself from going kick-boxer crazy on Uncle Raymond when he loses the girls’ college funds at a blackjack table. She just needs to keep it together until Livie is no longer a minor, and then they can get the hell out of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

But when Uncle Raymond slides into bed next to Livie one night, Kacey decides it’s time to run. Armed with two bus tickets and dreams of living near the coast, Kacey and Livie start their new lives in a Miami apartment complex, complete with a grumpy landlord, a pervert upstairs, and a neighbor with a stage name perfectly matched to her chosen “profession.” But Kacey’s not worried. She can handle all of them. What she can’t handle is Trent Emerson in apartment 1D.

Kacey doesn’t want to feel. She doesn’t. It’s safer that way. For everyone. But sexy Trent finds a way into her numb heart, reigniting her ability to love again. She starts to believe that maybe she can leave the past where it belongs and start over. Maybe she’s not beyond repair.

But Kacey isn’t the only one who’s broken. Seemingly perfect Trent has an unforgiveable past of his own; one that, when discovered, will shatter Kacey’s newly constructed life and send her back into suffocating darkness.

**Warning – This is a Mature YA/New Adult book. Contains sex and violence**

KathleenTucker (2)

About the Author:

Born in small-town Ontario, Kathleen published her first book at the age of six with the help of her elementary school librarian and a box of crayons. She is a voracious reader and the farthest thing from a genre-snob, loving everything from High Fantasy to Chick Lit. Kathleen currently resides in a quaint small town outside of Toronto with her husband, two beautiful girls, and an exhausting brood of four-legged creatures.

I had the pleasure of getting to know K.A. at the Decatur book festival this summer and she is truly an amazing person- hilarious and sweet.  You should definitely look her up and get to know her.  You won’t regret it!

Blog: http://www.katucker.blogspot.ca/

Website: http://www.katuckerbooks.com/

Author Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/K.A.Tucker.Author?fref=ts

Novel Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/TenTinyBreaths

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kathleenatucker

Novel Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15990969-ten-tiny-breaths

Author Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4866520.K_A_Tucker

Okay… now the second thing.   Autumn Review has a first-look at my next book, If You Stay today.  Woohoooo!!  I’m so excited about this book and I really hope that you will love it.  Please note that it is intended for mature readers.  You can check out the excerpt here. 
Have a great day, everyone!

The Great Indie Pricing Debate

4 Jul

This is a topic that my friend Wren and I bicker over like old women.  What is the best way to price our books as Indie authors?   You can read her latest argument on this debate here.   And if you want to hear mine, keep reading…

Amanda Hocking revolutionized the e-book world. We all know that. She turned it on its ear and that’s a great thing- I honestly believe that all industries should be shaken up from time to time to keep it fresh.  However, she also created a trend and an expectation in the indie world:  That all e-books from new authors should be $.99.  It wasn’t just her, you understand.  People who read about her success started pricing their books at $.99 and the whole situation snowballed.  It is to the point now, where I firmly believe that readers aren’t going to pay more than a buck for an unknown author’s work.

There will be exceptions, of course.  But my opinion is that as unknown authors, our sales are not going to boom with even 2.99 pricing.  Not with a first book, anyway.  We have to price our first book low, to draw readers in and prove to them that we have what it takes to entertain them.  And I will be the first to admit that even as an author myself, I’m the same way. I’m leery to try out a new author who charges the same prices as top-shelf proven authors.   

I’m not going to make a habit out of sharing my sales numbers, only because I think that like any good marriage, there should be some mystery involved.  However, I’ve done some experimentation with my own books in order to test my theories on this issue.  So to illustate my findings, I’m going to share my numbers with you today. 

Every Last Kiss was my debut novel.  It came out on April 21, priced at $.99.  In its first week, it sold 28 copies.  In its first full month (May) it sold 271 copies.   In its second full month (June), it sold 1,258 copies.   That is quite a growth curve. 

Comparitively, I priced my second book, a stand-alone novel titled Princess, at $.99 cents for its first week and sold 22 copies.  I then raised its price to $2.99 and sales for the entire month of June were 44. 

My second book in the Bloodstone Saga came out on June 25.  I priced it at $2.99 out of the gate, since it was the second book in a series.  I felt like I had already ‘proven myself’ to readers with Every Last Kiss and because of that, I felt that it was safe to raise the price on Fated.  It sold 112 copies in its first week (the last week of June).  

July sales.  Since July 1 (3 full days of sales), Every Last Kiss has sold 180 copies, Fated has sold 88 and Princess has sold 4. 

What does all of this mean?  To me, it means that my pricing strategy is working.  Pricing Every Last Kiss low has allowed readers to get to know me.  Paying a buck for an unknown author isn’t a risk and so many readers are willing to do it.  I proved myself with that book, and now readers are willing to come back for seconds with Fated.   Princess’ sales are slow… whether it is because it is a stand-alone book or a less desirable genre (Contemporary Fiction), I don’t know. 

But here’s something else.  My degree is not in literature.  My degree is in business.  So, I have a creative mind coupled with a business head.  And I was taught to capitalize on any advantage that you might have in any given market.   As indies, our biggest advantage that we have over our colleagues from the big publishers is PRICE.  We don’t have the huge overheads that the big guys have, so we can afford to price lower and still make a profit.   On the flip side, our biggest disadvantage is VISIBILITY.  Authors from big houses have the luxury of being stocked on shelves at Barnes and Noble and being marketed by marketing teams.  By pricing low for a first book, Indies can take advantage of Amazon algorithms to try and gain some visibility.  So, that is what I’m doing.   And so far, it seems to be working for me.

Are $.99 sales sustainable?  I have no idea.  Regardless, I enjoy the feeling of knowing that so many new readers have my book in their hands.  I have no idea if that would have happened if my debut hadn’t been priced at $.99.   I’m realistic enough to know, though, that someday, that pricing stragegy may not work for me anymore.  But the good news is, that being an indie, I can be flexible in nearly every aspect of my book business.  If I need to, I’ll raise my prices.  And then if I need to lower them again, I can do that.   As indies, we’re free to do whatever we want and that’s the beauty of being an indie writer.  Yay Indies!  :)

Character Cards: My Writing Process

21 Jun

Okay, so several people have asked me lately… How do you write?  How do you come up with ideas for your books?  How do you keep the plot straight while you are writing it?

The short and honest answer is… I don’t really know.   That’s not helpful?  Okay, I’ll try to explain a little bit better. 

I definitely think that the writer’s mind works differently than the average bear (or at least, my husband thinks so, anyway) because we tend to think about things from a different angle.  I always find myself wanting to get to the root of stories that I hear– determining WHAT a person was feeling before they got to a certain point, etc.  (Have you ever watched the show, Snapped?  I have tons of fun analyzing those characters…) I guess that’s because I’m a character writer.  I almost always think of my characters WAY before I think of a plot.  I know everything about them LONG before I know what will happen to them… and I’m talking what kind of underwear they wear and if they are right or left-handed.

After I dream up a character, I think of what I want to happen to the character- and how I want him or her to end up.  The middle is the hardest part for me… all of the details that get that character from the beginning to the end. 

How do I keep my story straight along the way?  That is one area in which I do make notes.  I know, I know.  I’m a notorious Pantser.  I don’t typically write from an outline or if I do, it’s a very skeletal and loose one.  But I do make notes.  If I don’t, I will contradict myself a hundred times during the story and we can’t have that.  Consistency is key.  One of the best ways that I monitor myself in that regard is that I make Character Cards and keep them in a little index card box.  

On the front side of the card, I list the character’s physical attributes and if I can find one, a picture of someone who looks similiar to the character that lives in my head.  On the back side, I list details about the character.   This is a picture of Lachesis’ Character card:

 

 

 

 

                           Front                                                                                           Back

These cards just give me a visual reminder of who my characters are.   I also keep a notebook (a real paper and pen notebook, not a software program) in which I scribble notes so that I don’t forget them.  I tend to do this a lot in the middle of the night.  It’s a good thing I’m an insomniac or that would get really annoying.

My plotting process is fairly simple.  I let my mind wander to generate ideas and then I write them down.   Done and DONE.   If you’d like the perspective of a writer who goes into MUCH greater detail during this process, check out my friend, Wren Emerson’s post on outlining. Yikes.  That makes my head hurt just to look at it.  But, it works for her. 

So, there you have it.  My very simplistic method of keeping track of my ideas and characters.  It’s easy and brief, but it works for me. 

 

My Opinion on Ratings and Reviews

10 Jun

For some reason, and I don’t know exactly why, I feel the need to talk about ratings and reviews today.   Maybe because as writers, we obsessively check our ratings, reviews and rankings every day. All of us do it… we can’t help it.  It’s a compulsive need that comes bursting out the moment that we are published. 

Because writers put so much of themselves into their work, they (we!) tend to take it very personally when someone doesn’t like their work, or worse, when someone HATES it.  What I want to say today, to my fellow writers, is that you shouldn’t.  Don’t take it personally.  Every once in a while, there is someone out there (a crazy person or two) who does make it personal and they hate your work so much for some strange reason, that they literally stalk you with bad reviews on everything you do.  I’ve seen that happen to people, unfortunately, including a personal friend a while back.  There are crazies out there.

But for the most part, reviewers are readers who take time out of their busy days not only to buy your work and read your work, but they take time to tell other people about it.  And that’s a great thing- even if they don’t love your ‘baby’ as much as you do.  Ratings and reviews, as my friend Wren has pointed out many times, are like currency to writers.  Word of mouth is our bread and butter- our most effective marketing tool.

I’ve been lucky so far.  I haven’t gotten a really hateful review (knock on wood!!).  So far, I’ve gotten one 3-star rating and one 1-star rating on Goodreads, but neither person said anything negative.   The rest have all been 4’s and 5’s with glowing, awesome, amazing reviews and I feel so blessed.  

At the same time, I know that I will get worse reviews at some time in the future, because reading and writing is subjective.  Different people like different things.  And that’s okay.  (Easy for me to say right now, right?  Please remind me of this in the future when I am crying because of a bad review….)  When you get a random bad rating or review, just grit your teeth and go on with life. 

In my opinion, and no, you didn’t ask for it, but this is my opinion anyway… this is how I interpret the 5-star rating system.

  • 5Star= Your work is so breathtakingly awesome that there is no way the reader can think of that you could have improved upon it- it was just THAT good.
  • 4Star= Your work was super good and they totally loved it.
  • 3star= Your work was..’eh’ to them. They didn’t love it, they didn’t hate it.  It was okay.
  • 2Star= Your work was really not good for them.  Something about it was totally not working and wasn’t hitting their buttons. Or if it was, it was pushing the wrong ones.
  • 1Star= They thought your work was total crap.  Or they really hated your topic.  Or they hated your writing style.  They definitely hated something.

But this is my mindset.  You should pay attention to what you get the MOST of.  If you get mainly 4’s and 5’s, you’re okay.  You cannot please the entire world- if you try, you really aren’t pleasing anyone, because your work will be so lukewarm and vanilla that it won’t be appealing.  

If you start getting tons of 3’s, you might want to doublecheck your work and see how you can make it better.  Maybe your plot doesn’t carry enough of a punch or your voice just isn’t definitive enough.  Check it out and find what isn’t clicking.  

And if you start getting more 2’s and 1’s then anything else, you really should reevaluate your work and it might not be a bad idea to have other people evaluate too.  You’ll need to determine if the plot need revamped, or if it need editing, etc.

But if only a few people rate it badly, try to put it out of your mind.  Those people are in the minority of the readers who have read your work. Everyone else loved it, so focus on that.  Keep your chin up, keep doing what you do— which is writing because you love it.  Because you can’t imagine going through life without it. 

And to the readers… the lovely, amazing, wonderful people who take time out of your busy days to read our work and comment on it… THANK YOU.  Seriously, thank you.  We do notice and we do appreciate it.  In fact,  the first thing I do every morning (well, after I get a cup of super strong coffee, that is) is check my rankings, ratings and reviews.  I know. That’s pathetic.  But as writers, we can’t seem to help ourselves.  We’re neurotic like that. 

But you, our readers, are the main reason why we frantically get out of bed and sprint for our computers at 2:00am when we think of a better plot twist.. or why we mull over storylines during a church sermon or when the rest of our families are swimming and having fun in the lake and we’re sitting on the beach with a laptop… or why we stay home from a dinner out in order to re-write chapter four… or… well, you get the picture.  Our readers are a big reason why we do what we do.

But also, we write because it’s like breathing to us.  We love it and we can’t imagine life without it.  We’re writers, that’s what we do.  We do it for ourselves, we do it for our readers, particularly the ones who  love what we write as much as we do.  Remember these things the next time you get down-in-the-mouth about a bad review.   Don’t take it personally and whatever you do… Just. Keep. Writing. 

 

A Little Chat about Sequels…

23 May

So… I’m writing the sequel to Every Last Kiss.  And it’s hard.  Really hard.  Don’t worry, I’m pushing through it, but why is it that a sequel is so hard?  I mean, as a writer, you lay all the ground work in the first book of a series.  Why should the second book be harder?

Why you ask?  (You didn’t, but I’m pretending that you did)  Let me tell you.

First, I have to reintroduce my characters and the backstory so that new readers who might not have read Every Last Kiss (I know, hard to believe, right?  Kidding) will not be lost.  But I have to do this in a way that doesn’t bore the rest of the readers who read the first book.  Hurdle one.

Hurdle two… I’ve gotta let my characters grow… a little, but not too much.  I have to leave room for even more growth in the next book.  And that’s hard for me because I want them all to be perfect little characters RIGHT NOW.  I love them. And I want their lives to be easy and smooth. But as you might guess, that can’t happen.  I”m sorry, lovely characters.  I’ll make it up to you in book three. Maybe.

Hurdle three… Everything’s gotta be bigger in a sequel.  The stakes need to be higher, the conflicts need to be more… conflict-ier.  And no.  That’s not a word.  But I’m a fiction writer- I lie for a living. I can totally make up a word if I want to.   Point here is that I have to remember to put more oomph into this book.  It’s got to be bigger on every level.

Hurdle four… I have to release more information about the unrevealed mysteries from book one, but still leave enough mystery to go around for book three.  I think this is the hardest of all. 

So, to recap, writing a sequel is really hard.  Like, pull-your-hair-out-by-the-roots and bang-your-head-against-a -steel-door hard.   But I love it.   I wouldn’t have it any other way.  If it were easy, then I doubt the end results would be worth much, right?  That’s what I’m telling myself, anyway.  And I’m totally rocking it.  I just started writing chapter eight and let me tell you, you’re in for some surprises. 

And hey- while I’ve got you here, I just want to say THANK YOU so much for the outpouring of support and just all-around awesome reception that I have received from you guys for Every Last Kiss.  It is like music to a writer’s ears to have readers take time out of their busy day and send a note, telling me how much they loved my book.  It makes all of those middle-of-the-night writing sessions totally worth it.  Thank you.   From the bottom of my heart. You guys are completely awesome. 

And while I’m thanking, I also want to thank my girls, Wren Emerson and Michelle Leighton.   Thank you for the ranting sessions and brainstorming and late night texts and really, just for being great friends.  I really appreciate it. 

And if you guys haven’t checked them out, stop reading this and go do it– they’re awesome writers and you will love, LOVE  their work!

Everyone have a great week!!

How to Support an Indie Writer

15 May

Okay, well first, we need to ascertain… What IS an indie?  Basically, an indie writer is someone who has chosen other routes of publication besides with the “Big Six” in the publishing biz.  (The Big Six are:  Hachette Group, Simon and Schuster, HarperCollins, MacMillan Publishers, Penguin and Random House).  These are the BIG guys- the WalMarts of the publishing world.  They have very deep pockets and a LOT of clout. 

There are a million smaller publishing houses out there, as well.  And tons of self-pubbed authors, too.   These guys are lumped together as Indies.   It always cracks me up when people say that so-and-so “went Indie”.  It reminds me of the phrase, “goin’ rogue”.  I feel so rogue-ish.  But honestly, there are a million reasons why someone chooses to “Go Indie”.   The publishing world is changing as you have seen with the folding up of Borders.  Obviously, the big houses will still be there and like I’ve said before, that’s a good thing.  Agents, editors and the big houses consistently set the bar of perfection for writers.   

 But with the boom of smaller publishing houses and self-pubbed authors, things are changing.  Readers are getting a really awesome opportunity  to decide what it is that you want to read and love.    Indie authors play an important role in giving you that opportunity because there are so many awesome indies out there– you will definitely be able to find exactly what you are wanting to read. 

But indies write as indies for a cost.  We don’t have the super-million-dollar-marketing teams behind us.   Small publishing houses can’t give us millions of dollars to market. We must do it ourselves.  And also, the big brick-and-mortar stores (Barnes and Noble) won’t let indie authors on their shelves because smaller publishers can’t afford to give them the refund option (selling back books that don’t sell).  Therefore, Indies do all of our selling online- on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com, etc.  We work tirelessly to market our own work. 

I should probably mention right here that yes, there are some indies out there that probably shouldn’t be releasing their work to the public just yet.  It hasn’t been edited well or formatted well, or maybe it hasn’t even been written well.  It happens- I’ve bought indie books like that.  And if that happens to you and if you wanted, perhaps you could gently suggest to them either by email or in a review, that they hire a professional editor, etc.  But don’t skewer them or turn it into a verbal abuse contest like we’ve seen lately.  That’s just not productive for anyone.  We’ve seen horrible blow-ups online in the past few months that were just down-right ugly.

But let’s get back to what to do if you come across an indie writer that you love.   There are things you can do to help their careers.  My super-talented friend Wren Emerson (her debut novel is coming out very soon.  And you will luuuuurve it.  You can learn more about Wren here) made up this list of ways you can help an indie author, whether you are a reader or a fellow indie.  It’s an awesome list and so I thought I would include it today.

“So you read my book and you loved it. How can you help my fledgling indie writing career and show your support of my book? Let me give you a list of ways.

  • Word of mouth- The best thing you can do for any product you love is tell your friends. Tell them in forums, on your blog, Twitter, in person. Any way you can communicate your love for something works great.
  • Write a review- Reviews are like currency for indie writers. It let’s other potential readers know that people are reading and enjoying the book and makes it easier for them to decide to buy the book. You can post a review on your blog, the book seller’s site (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc…), reading sites like GoodReads. Or cross post your review on all of them. It’s an awesome gesture and so so SO helpful.
  • Rate, tag, and like my book on Amazon- Amazon has a bizarre way of ranking books that nobody seems to really understand, but doing things like tagging or rating a book only takes a second of your time, but helps get the book into the hands of the people who will most enjoy that type of book.
  • Give me feedback- If the book doesn’t work for you and you don’t want to hurt my sales with negative feedback, but you don’t feel like you can give honest positive feedback, please know that I’m open to hearing whatever it is that you want to say about it. I want to know what’s working or not. I am not the temperamental artist type so don’t fear my crazy wrath. And if you have nothing but good things to say, feel free to let me know that too. I’ll never turn down a little feel good.
  • Offer to host me on your blog- If you really love the book and you feel like I might be a good fit for your blog readership, ask me to do a guest post or an interview. I won’t say no and we both get something from the partnership- I get access to your readers and it’s a day that you don’t have to come up with a post of your own. Wins all around! Yay!
  • Put an excerpt of my book in the back of yours- Have a new book coming out and think that the first scene or two of my book would appeal to your readers? Shoot me a note and we’ll work something out.
  • Recommend the book- This goes along with the whole word of mouth thing from way up the list, but it bears repeating. If you see an opportunity to recommend my book to someone who will enjoy it, it would help get the word out. Book bloggers, reading groups, friends and family members. A sincere recommendation can sell a book to almost anyone.
  • Read books by other indie authors- If you like my book then buy books by other indie authors. We’re all in the same boat as we struggle to promote our books. Buying a book from an indie not only helps them pay the bills, but it gives them a sense of validation to know that someone wants to read what they’ve taken the time to write. Buying indie helps to support our little community and without my indie writing friends, I might not have even heard about indie publishing.
  • Buy the book- If you truly loved the book and want to show support, buying the book would help out a lot. Of course there is the money that I’ll see from your purchase which is awesome and appreciated, but buying the book has the additional benefit of raising my rankings on the site where you buy it, which will increase my visibility to other buyers.
  • Gift the book to your friends and family- Gifting the book not only counts as a sale (which benefits me as stated above), but it also introduces my book to a new potential fan who can then do all the things in this list.

Thanks for the list, Wren.  Sooo many ways you can help Indie authors.  I know I speak for all of us when I say THANK YOU for reading our work.  We appreciate it.

Are you a Plotter or a Pantser?

28 Apr

Apparently, I’m a Pantser.

Not sure what that means?  I wasn’t either when I first read that today… when my friend Wren called me one.   But then she explained and you know what?  She’s right.

When I write, I pretty much fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants.  A Pantser.  Of all the names I’ve been called in life, I guess that one’s not so bad.  Especially because she was right. She suggested that I explain my writing process, since it is so much different from hers and she blogged about her own today.   So, here you go.

I get an idea.  A kernel, a tiny grain.  Usually when I’m doing something lame like doing the dishes or cleaning the bathroom or taking a walk.  It usually pops into my head when I’m doing something calming or monotonous.  And it’s typically about a character.  I’m very much a character writer.  I start with a vague idea of what personality that character will have, what personality attributes and it grows until I can see his or her face in my mind.  The more I think about it, the better I can see it, the more I see what kind of person he or she is.

The plot comes second for me.  I start thinking about what kinds of trouble/adventure/angst/drama/love/hate/relationships that character would get involved in. 

And then I start writing. 

And that’s it.  Sort of. 

Because, like my friend Wren pointed out… since she’s a Planner (as opposed to my “Pantser”), she sits down and plots out every single thing that will happen in her novel.  Before she writes it.   That’s like… unfathomable to me.  I mean, how does she know what kind of person her character is going to evolve into if she doesn’t let it organically develop?   Right? 

But her way has benefits.  Because since she knows where her plot is going to go, she can work tiny details into her storyline as she goes along.  Me?  I have to go back and add them in later, after I have developed the story line.  Do you know what that means? 

Revisions.  A lot of them.  A LOT of them.

Wren puts in all of her work at the beginning… hours of note taking, plot outlines, etc.  Me?  I get an idea and run with it.  But I spend hours going back and adding details as my characters grow.  She puts her work in on the front side and I put mine in on the back.

I’m not more creative than she is, and she isn’t more organized than I am.  Actually, she’s pretty darn creative and I’m pretty dang organized.  It’s just the way we’re wired to write.  I need to let my characters grow so that I can get to know them and she needs to lock everything down before she starts.

But I’ll tell you something.  I tried it her way last night.  I sat down and sketched a rough outline of the first five chapters of the sequel to Every Last Kiss.   And it wasn’t so horrible.  It gives me a guide to cling to as I go along, which will probably make my writing faster… making me more prolific.   And meaning… wait for it… LESS revisions.  Hallelujah!   So, I might try it a little more.  From time to time.   I know myself, and I know that I won’t always be patient enough to do it.  I’m going to want to start off at a break-neck pace so that I can get my ideas down onto paper before they disappear.  

 And that’s okay.  We all do what works for us because basically, what it boils down to is… neither way is right or wrong.  It’s just what kind of writer you are.  And it takes all kinds.

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