Wednesday, February 29, 2012

On Writing for Teenage Boys

Sometimes I think I have a 16-year-old boy living inside my head. That would certainly explain my weakness for pizza and raunchy humor.

I've heard some women say writing from a boy's perspective is difficult. For me, it comes naturally. I'm not sure why. Maybe because I was always a tomboy who preferred boy books to girl books as a kid. Maybe because I spent so much time hanging out with guys when I was racing stock cars. I actually prefer to write from a boy's POV and think it's far easier than it would be to write from the POV of a girly-girl.

Why do I think it's so much fun to tackle a guy's perspective? For one thing I love playing with subtext, and boys have this elaborate dance when it comes to expressing their feelings. Girls can come right out and say what they mean, but guys have to beat around the bush. They communicate their emotions through their actions, which are often gruff, crass, and sometimes flat-out disgusting. They speak in opposites to get a point across. By the end of a scene in which two guys show they care about each other, the reader feels as if she's really worked to get that emotional connection, silently urging them on the whole time.

From a writing standpoint, YA boy books are awesome. But from a marketing standpoint YA boy books are a tough sell, something I find ironic, since I've recently seen so many book bloggers talking about how much they like the male perspective and are looking for something fresh. And it's not just book bloggers. Teachers, librarians, and parents are always on the hunt for good boy books.

With all this boy book love, you'd think they'd be a fairly easy sell. So why is it so difficult for these stories to find an audience? New York will try to convince you it's because boys in high school don't read, and if they do, they stick to adult sci-fi and fantasy. But the question is whether those boys are in that position because they don't want to read, or because there aren't enough YA boy books out there for them. It's a vicious circle. One I think the traditional publishing industry has created. With no YA books for these boys to buy, they find other genres to read. New York sees them reading other genres and says they're not interested in YA, so they don't acquire YA boy books.

On one level, this opinion is just a hunch, but this hunch played out when I spoke to the owner of Cover to Cover Books in Vancouver, WA. She said she'd be happy to stock my titles due to the distinct lack of books for older teen boys. Mothers bring their sons into her store for reading material, and once they outgrow Louis Sachar and Rick Riordan they have nowhere to turn but to the science fiction and fantasy shelves. She used to feel comfortable directing them there, but in recent years the upswing in sexual content in these books has left her hesitant to suggest them to boys in their early teens.

So what can be done about this? I'm not really sure, but one step we can take is for the teachers, librarians, and parents who are trying to promote reading to team up with the authors who want to write books for this audience. The fact that people like John Green and Jay Asher have achieved popularity writing YA boy books proves there's a market, but a book needs to get visibility to succeed, and that doesn't happen easily for small press and indie authors.

I've researched blogs that promote reading for boys, but only a handful exist, and half of those don't supply contact information for submitting book review requests or offering giveaways. I've done searches for various boy-centric Twitter hashtags, and there's little activity. An opportunity exists for these groups to work with authors-especially indie authors who have the freedom to do giveaways and other promotions-but so far I don't see that happening.

The answer I've come up with as a writer is to put together a promotional group, similar to the Indelibles, for authors of YA boy books. If you write in this sub-genre, please contact me at webfootracer AT Comcast DOT net. If you're a blogger, teacher, librarian, or parent concerned with promoting reading among boys, or if you know of organizations that might like to get involved, I'd love to hear from you, too. Let's try to forge a symbiotic relationship that's a win-win for all parties.

~ Lisa


In addition to being a YA author, Lisa is a retired amateur stock car racer, an accomplished cat whisperer, and a professional smartass. She writes coming-of-age books about kids in hard luck situations who learn to appreciate their own value after finding mentors who love them for who they are. You can connect with her though her blog, The Tao or Webfoot, or buy her book, Running Wide Open, at any major online retailer.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Magic Within


That's what I've been calling The Book of Lost Souls, the book that started my path to publication. I’ve always loved to write. I’ve always loved the way imagination and words blend on a page, the way they transport a reader to faraway worlds, or right next door, where witches live. From the time I was very young, books were an amazing world to me. There was no greater joy than going to the library with my mother whose love of books knew no measure. When I was very young, my mother read to me every night. As I grew older, we’d talk about the books we were reading.

Even as a young child, I knew I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. But, writing wasn’t what paid the bills. I got a regular job and life went on, although I still dreamed of writing. My father always told me to believe in myself and to never give up on what I firmly believed in. A few years after his death, I took up writing again. My mother, who was now ill and who had moved in with my husband and me, was happy to read what I wrote, or to set the table in order to give me a few more minutes of writing time.

And so I wrote and edited and revised. Just before the book was ready to send to agents, my mother died. I set the book aside. Writing was too painful, too full of memories.

But, the stories in my head wouldn’t let up, and so after a few years I started writing again. This time, I wrote about a teen witch named Ivy and her life in a small town, and I quickly fell in love with the story and the eclectic group of characters. I think of it as Buffy meets Harry Potter. When I typed the last line, I actually felt a pang of sorrow—I didn't want to say goodbye. Ivy and her story became The Book of Lost Souls, and after polishing it up, I sent it off to agents. Plenty were interested and requested the full manuscript. Unfortunately, most of them thought the book was too light. Too cute. Too Disney. They offered to read whatever else I had, as long as it was darker. Darker sells! Or so they said.

So, after two revisions for two separate agents that eventually didn't pan out (they said the book still had a lighthearted feel to it that wouldn't appeal to publishing houses), I set The Book of Lost Souls aside and started working on an outline for a much darker book.

It was around this time that the economy began to collapse—hard—and I was given the pink slip on Friday the 13th, right after I had completed a project that saved the company $400,000 annually. Say goodbye to eighteen years of loyal service! Suddenly, writing a darker, more dystopian book about the afterlife on top of losing my job seemed too much to take. Still, I recalled my father’s wisdom of believing in myself even when no one else did. I wrote and finished the next book, Don’t Fear the Reaper, in about seven months.

Still unemployed despite literally hundreds of applications, I began to worry we would lose our home or deplete our savings before I found a job. My career in IT was gone—off shored as they call it. I also wondered if I’d ever see any of my books published. I was so close to getting an agent so many times. Agents wrote back: You’re a strong writer. Or, The Book of Lost Souls is a great story and is well-written, but it’s not for me.

Nearly every morning, my inbox was filled with rejection letters from jobs and agents, yet I tried to stay positive. I kept repeating my father’s words to believe, to never give up. For every rejection, I sent out twice as many applications, twice as many query letters. I just tried harder.

I had been querying Reaper for about three months when I got an editorial letter from one of New York’s biggest literary agencies who'd had The Book of Lost Souls for nearly a year. A year! But, the letter was so enthusiastic about the story and my writing that I sat down and made every last revision they suggested. I turned it in and waited. Months went by. In the end, they rejected the story—not because they didn't love it, but because in the year and change they’d had the manuscript, another client had submitted a proposal for a story about a teen witch. Conflict of interest, they called it.

And that was that. My novel, the book that was finished, was dumped for someone else’s book that hadn't yet been written. Somewhat angry and depressed, I set The Book of Lost Souls aside. Again. By now, I was at the end of my rope. I was still unemployed and out of unemployment benefits. The only work I could find was the occasional short-term computer job, some tech writing gigs, or dog-sitting. Nothing full-time, and certainly nothing we could count on.

If the near-miss with Super Agency wasn’t enough, I found myself running into similar situations with Don't Fear the Reaper. Now, agents were saying, Too dark! But, you're a talented writer and we'd love to see other work. Or, You’re capable of incredibly incisive scenes—the opener is still one of the best things I read all year. And, my personal favorite, In this economy...

It was then that I learned about self-published authors such as Karen McQuestion and Amanda Hocking. I decided to go indie as well, starting with The Book of Lost Souls. What did I have to lose? A lot if I didn’t figure out a way for our household to stop hemorrhaging money. The only problem? I had no idea where to start. I sent an email to Ms. McQuestion, in the hopes she could point me in the right direction. She was so incredibly kind! Not only did she reply, she sent me a wealth of information on self-publishing. Today, she shares all that information on her blog. I’m incredibly grateful to her.

I got a cover I could afford with the help of another indie, Sam Torode. Two editor friends went over my work. Finally, I formatted the book and the rest is history. I uploaded The Book of Lost Souls in early March, and it’s been getting consistently great reviews ever since. As for being too lighthearted? I receive emails all the time from people who love that the book is funny, upbeat, and clean.

Within my first five weeks of self-publishing, I hit three best seller lists on Amazon. Me. An indie author without a publicist or a big agency or publisher behind them. Just me, my computer, my loving husband, and the devotion of two dogs at my feet.

And the other, darker book? After some revisions, Don't Fear the Reaper debuted in late September 2011. On its first day, the book reached lucky #13 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases, Children’s Fiction, Spine-Tingling Horror.

I’m only sorry that my parents aren’t here to see this. I took my father’s advice and my mother’s faith and reinvented myself. I still dog-sit and take on small computer jobs and tech writing gigs to help keep us afloat financially. But one day, I hope that my hard work will pay even more of the bills. Until then, I’m at peace with the way things are.

Henry Ford once said, “If you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.” Great advice. And so, The Book of Lost Souls, the book that nearly wasn’t, became the little book that could. I’m a firm believer that hopes and dreams are something to hold onto and fight for. Believe in the magic that is you. Keep your dreams close, and set your imagination free.

I’d like to dedicate my section of this anthology to readers everywhere—words alone cannot express how much I appreciate you believing in me. You’re every bit as much a part of the magic as Ivy herself.

So, thank you, Dear Reader. Sincerely. Because, every author with a story to tell writes with you in mind.

Find me on my blog







Friday, February 24, 2012

It's All About ME . . . Or At Least It Should Be

A couple weeks ago I hit rock bottom. The stress level in my life had pressed so hard against my sanity, that I completely shut down, retreated from all my internet responsibilities and stopped writing. I was so overwhelmed that I even pulled back from friends and family. Sooo not like me.

I didn't sleep, but stayed in bed all day. I didn't eat. I cried for no reason. Depression, you say?  Yeah, just a bit.

It had been coming on for quite some time, but I'd somehow managed to hide it until our family dynamics changed and I found myself not only taking care of an almost-eighteen-year-old son with autism (with severe behaviors) and a 75-year-old mother-in-law (with advanced dementia). I could handle my son . . . barely, but to add another responsibility was just too much.

I cracked.

And in a desperate attempt to gain some control of my situation, I folded in on myself. NOT GOOD.

So here I was, having my own kind of pity party, not letting friends in, family pushed away, wallowing in the muck, when I began to reflect on my life. Okay, maybe the fact that I'm about to turn 50 had something to do with that too, but the point is, I discovered something. After 26 years of marriage, helping my husband run a restaurant for most of that, taking care of two boys with disabilities, losing one at 23 to a heart defect, and spending every moment taking care of everyone else . . .

I forgot to take care of ME. I forgot to LOVE me. And I never put me FIRST in anything.

How could I possibly care for others when I'd been neglected? How could I show love for those around me when I didn't even love myself?  And most of all, how was I going to put myself first, when I'd always been second or third or tenth?

The answer isn't easy and it certainly won't come all at once, but today I took the first step. I went to a doctor who specializes in Bariatrics (weight loss). They drew blood to check all the important stuff like cholesterol, blood sugar, thyroid, etc. They did an EKG to check my heart. You  name it, I was checked out from head to toe.

And then they got to the stuff that was a little hard to stomach. *gulp* I stepped on the scales. (Not revealing that number. Nope. No way) Then they figured my BMI (body mass index). EMBARRASSING. Took all my measurements. ICK!  And I sat through a 45 minute presentation on how I can become a healthier ME. Pure torture, because I found out what I'd been doing wrong all these years and why I'm so unhealthy.

Like, DUH!

There's a whole list of things I need to work on, some physical, others spiritual and very personal, but taking this first step, to be healthy, has made me smile. And I haven't done that for a long while.

My favorite quote from today's presentation?

"Nothing will change . . . unless there is change." (think about it)

How are you treating yourself these days?  Anything you can do to show yourself a little LOVE?

~ Christine


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Looking into the Dark

Thinking of a blog post is never easy. In fact, until last week I had absolutely no idea what I would write about. You all may not know this about me but I'm intensely shy. I suffer from severe stage fright. It's ridiculous, I know. Still, it's a part of who I am and I worried that whatever I had to say would fail to meet the expectations of this wonderful group that I'm lucky to be a part of.

Fortunately something happened last week (and not the my-laptop-broke something) that provided inspiration.

I've been blogging on my own blog A New Kind of Ordinary for almost a year now. At some point during this time, my blog became a book blog. It was a natural transition given my profound and undying love for the written word. I've posted reviews on my blog regularly along with other content and never really thought my opinion was affecting anyone. I wrote mostly for me because I love to talk books.

Various PositionsHowever, last week I received not 1 but 4 pieces of hate mail. Now, I've deduced that these emails are related since, well, they all showed up in my inbox on the same day and they all made reference to a positive review of Various Positions that I had posted to Amazon that morning.

I'm a writer. I can take constructive criticism. I've conditioned myself to handle negative reviews. As a reader, I've realized that not everyone will hold the same opinion that I do about any particular book. Yet, these emails were hard to stomach. Mostly because they weren't constructive and they had little to do with my actual review. These ladies had no problem with how my review was written. They made it quite clear that the problem they had was with my promoting and praising a book that they deemed inappropriate for a young adult audience.

I've seen it before all over reviews on Amazon and Goodreads where people declare a book is not YA simply because it doesn't meet their standard for a young adult book. Various Positions has received a lot of comments like this. But really, who are we to judge? Can we really determine what is YA based upon our own personal experiences? If so, then Various Positions, in my opinion, is most definitely intended for a YA audience. Albeit a more mature YA audience but a YA audience nonetheless.

BreatheI always indicate in my reviews when books include themes that may be considered offensive or inappropriate, i.e. swearing, sex, drinking, violence, abuse. These women however didn't think this was enough. They kindly (*cough* *laugh*) demanded that I remove my review. They couldn't understand how any decent person, especially a 30 year old woman who no doubt had children of her own, could laud a YA novel filled with what they called perverse themes. They went so far as to accuse me of promoting underage sex. They claimed that people like me and sites like mine were the problem. That I lured in a young adult audience and presented them with pornographic material. They even insulted my as-yet-unreleased debut novel, Breathe, which addresses dark themes all its own.

Reading these emails, which I did multiple times, I concluded that these women must have not read the book in question. If they had, they would have seen my review for what it was: a positive assessment of a beautifully written work of art.

Since they hadn't, their argument was limited to name calling and bullying, expecting to shame me with their outrage.

After running the gamut of emotions, I finally figured out that I didn't care. My blog is family friendly. Yes, I write and review some books that are dark, edgy, or intended for a mature YA audience, but I always warn readers and allow them to make the decision to read or not to read on their own.

As a reader and a writer, I'm okay with sex and violence in YA literature. I'm okay with drinking and swearing and abuse. And no amount of bullying will change my position. Because somewhere out there someone is experiencing some or all of these things.

I don't condone these things but I won't denounce them either. It's life and some teenagers are going to drink and have sex whether or not they read certain books.

Yes, Various Positions tackles some edgy themes. The main character, Georgia, talks a lot about sex and fantasizes about her ballet instructor, and loses her virginity when she's drunk at a party to some boy she barely knows. But here's the thing, no one has the same young adult experience. Not everyone's teenage years are filled with rainbows and sunshine. Some of us have to deal with dark things too early.

Some of us lose our V-card in the back of a truck with some guy we're not even sure we like when we've had too much to drink. And while we can't remember saying no, we sure as hell didn't say yes. And we blame ourselves. We think that maybe if we'd been smarter, we wouldn't have been alone and drunk with a boy in the first place. If we hadn't worn that shirt or if we hadn't shared that first kiss. We feel alone and confused and we don't realize that we aren't the only ones experiencing these emotions.

Pieces of UsI will never reject dark themes. I will never relent to bullying. I will never change the stories I write regardless of the number of hate-filled emails I receive. I can't because you can't tell me that there's not a confused teenager that can't be helped by the issues addressed in books like Various Positions or books by Laurie Halse Anderson, Kelley York, Cheryl Rainfield, Ilsa J. Bick, or Margie Gelbwasser. You can't tell me that there won't be someone helped by my books.

I write for those kids.

The ones that remind me so much of me at that age. And I pray that what I, and other authors who look into the dark, have to say offers them a comfort the world oftentimes cannot.



Monday, February 20, 2012

An Underlying Purpose

With so many authors and books out there, it is no longer enough to merely write a great book to stand out and be successful. We must have a platform from which to build our success, but what does that really mean? Of course there’s blogging, Twitter, Facebook, and all the social networks in between. They’re important and I recommend doing whichever ones work best for you. However, there is a deeper, underlying thing that must be part of the pillars of an authors platform. It’s the easiest, and often hardest, thing for each of us to do.

Deep within an author’s being there is something that drives them to write. The hard part is, many don’t even know what it is, it simply is. Much like a muse, this deep inspiration is elusive and unseen. But there is an easy way to discover it. All one has to do is consider what they’re passionate about and the root of this muse will be revealed. For example; I’m passionate about leaving a better Earth for our children than the one that was left for us. It is reflected in most of my writing in some way, no matter how small.

I never thought to connect the two until I realized one could help the other. It was one of those a-ha moments that made me want to smack my forehead. Now, a portion of the proceeds from my debut novel go to my favorite organization that protects endangered species. Authors don’t have to apply their passion quite so literally as this but as long as they are aware of it and allow it to breathe into their work, chances are their novels will benefit from it.

“We find a purpose to which we are sworn, or answer the call of death’s dark horn.” ~The Book Of Counted Sorrows (a non-existent philosophical book made up by Dean Koontz ‘from’ which he adds quotes to the beginning of many of his older novels).


Friday, February 17, 2012

What is Success?

Success takes on many forms. And it means something different to each of us. For some authors, this may mean a five- or six-figure deal with a traditional publisher. It might mean landing an agent. It might be the moment the writer hits a milestone number of sales: 100, 1K, 5K, 50K. 

Nothing gives me greater pleasure than to witness the success of my author friends as they reach the milestones they've set for themselves. When I see their joy, their excitement--it's an amazing thing to witness. And each of them takes joy in even the smallest of feats. This is critical for a writer. Every small success must be treated with respect and honor. Writing is an arduous business to be in, and it's marked by failure and rejection every part of the way. Rapid success and quick wealth is only enjoyed by less than one percent of the literary population. So you can see just what we're up against.  

As an author, my definition of success might be unusual, because I've already hit my greatest milestone in my mind's eye. A milestone that I've dreamed of since I was seven years old: I finished my first novel, Artemis Rising. No, I'm not talking about publishing it--though Spirehouse Books did publish that book this past September. I mean I finished it: researched it, wrote it, edited it. For some, that process can take place in a matter of months, and then they're on to the next project. For me, that first novel...well, it took me ten long years to complete. And it was by far one of the most difficult things I've ever done. 

Artemis Rising had the most complex storyline I could conceive of. The research resources were few and hard to come by. The story was based on two different myths and most of the time it felt like a giant puzzle I was piecing together while blindfolded. Somehow--perhaps by magic and lots of amazing writers groups--it all came together in the end. 

But that journey, you see, and every failed attempt along the way, that was the true success. I learned everything I know writing that book, and I wouldn't trade that time and energy for anything. No matter what sales come today or in the future, I've already made my goal and wrote a book I'm proud to call my own. And now I'm armed with the knowledge to write another. Here's hoping it takes less than a decade this time. =)

A couple tips when talking with authors

When an author shares the news of a success, no matter how big or small, honor it with a kind word of encouragement or a congratulations. You never know how much work went into making it to that milestone. It always surprises me when strangers ask how many sales I've gotten. To me, it's a bit like someone asking how much you make for a living. Rather than asking such a question, ask how the writing is going. Ask whether the writer is working on a new project. In other words, ask about the journey, not the destination.

If you're a struggling author, be careful of comparing yourself with other authors. It will lead you to demean your own successes. Never do that! Your success is your own. Revel in it. Dance on tables and scream at the top of your lungs. Your journey is unlike any other. Be content with what you've achieved.  

Cheri Lasota’s first novel, Artemis Rising, is a YA historical fantasy based on mythology and set in the exotic Azores Islands. Currently, Cheri is writing and researching her second novel, a YA set on the Oregon Coast. Over the course of her sixteen-year career, she has edited fiction, nonfiction, screenplays, and short stories for publication. Cheri also has twenty-four years of experience writing poetry and fiction. Learn more about Artemis Rising at or buy it at

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

On eBooks and Indie Writers

I finally got a Kindle in June of last year. Yeah, I know. Kinda late to the game. When I first told my family I was the proud owner of a new e-reader, I had to do some apologizing. You see, my mom got a Kindle a year or two before. And I Publicly Lamented.

"Oh No! What are you doing?" (Cries) "That's not a book! That's not how you read books! It will never last!" (Insert weeping and gnashing of teeth.) "It's the end of civilization as we know it!" (Falls onto couch and sobs.)

Needless to say, I came to my senses. And while I still lean toward print books, I have to admit that my Kindle is filling up pretty quickly thanks to publisher sales and new indie titles.

Since I've become a Kindle owner, one thing I've noticed is that the titles I'm reading are diversifying. I still read 75% YA, but now I'm buying indie books that I might not normally read otherwise, because the summary looks enticing and/or the price is right. Last year, I read 34 books. Nine of those were ebooks. So far, I've read nine books in 2012. Seven of those are ebooks. Do you see where I'm going with this?

The thing I love most about epubbing is that I'm in complete control of the whole story. What many writers fail to realize about "New York" is that, once your story is accepted for publication, it's not YOUR story anymore. An editor will go in and ask for changes. A copy editor will ask for changes. A graphic artist and sales team will sit down and come up with a cover that they think will make the book saleable (whether you like it or not). . . . And that's not necessarily a bad thing. I have nothing against "New York." That's just how they operate.

The best thing about reading indie authors, though, is that the story is 100% their own. No one tried to fit them into a cookie cutter category or cram their story into a mold to follow a "trend." My stories are 100% Katie Klein, and, while I realize not everyone will enjoy them, at least I know the story I wrote is the story that was in my heart to tell.

This has never been more apparent to me than after reading the new IN HIS EYES anthology.

(Begin Shameless Plug)

Sixteen stories from sixteen authors from sixteen different guy narrators. No two stories are the same. No two stories are even CLOSE to being the same. Each is its own unique creation, full of heart and imagination. And "New York" might stick its head in the sand and pretend not to notice this little Indie Revolution, but, while they're doing that, they're missing out on some insanely gifted writers.

But that's okay, because stories that were previously overlooked are now making their way into the world. This leaves me, the reader, with more titles from which to choose. More options. And let me tell you: there are some real gems out there.

IN HIS EYES is FREE on Smashwords. Even if you've shied away from Indie titles before, I dare you to download it and not find a new book to add to the top of your TBR pile.

I Dare You. :)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Ladies: Takin' Care of Business

Being that I have the post the day before Valentine’s Day, you’d think it would be the perfect opportunity to come up with something very lovey dovey. Well, I’m not that kind of girl. Today we’re gonna talk all about ladies. Yeah, that’s right. Strong ladies.

I was recently introduced to a show on PBS called Downton Abbey. While there are many reasons to watch it, as it’s a great show, I came away from it thinking about women and our roles in society. The three sisters on the show, Mary, Edith, and Sybil Crawley, are coming of age in England in 1912. Their struggles on the show, while fictional, are a very important reminder to women.

I think we as women often forget that for our mothers, grandmothers, and great grandmothers, the world was a very different place. The Crawley sisters really were not given the credit or the options of doing anything for themselves. If anything, their main value is what they can bring their families by marrying well. Their parents are pretty much parading them in front of every wealthy man in the country. A little further into the show, I was happy to see the girls start to find their way and become a little more independent.

My readers seem to appreciate my approach to the strong female characters. My fictional ladies know what they want, are independent, confident, and don’t have to rely on men, or anyone else, for the most part. I think many of The Indelibles can claim the same regarding their female characters. That's not to say they don't have fierce love for their family and friends. It's important to be balanced!

Here are a few other strong female characters that I admire:

Hermione Granger/Harry Potter Series: She’s a true bookworm, but is proud of her intelligence and uses it to help others. While sometimes hard on herself for breaking rules, as she gets older, she gets a little less cautious and more adventurous, as we all know.

Katniss Everdeen/The Hunger Games: Katniss is the ultimate bad ass. She hunts and takes care of her family and is brave to boot. How many girls do you know that would volunteer to join a death match?

Emer Morrisey/The Dust of 100 Dogs: She’s a reincarnated pirate on the hunt for her long lost treasure. Emer knows how to protect herself. Be sure to hide your swords.

Kendra Sorenson/Fablehaven Series: She has some special fairy-given gifts that give her powers some extra kick. Kendra isn’t afraid to get down and dirty and fight off gross demon baddies.

So Happy Valentine's Day to all my strong ladies out there!


Friday, February 10, 2012

Creating a New Buzz Word: Entrepreneurial Author

Self publishing is hard. It is like running your own business. You do all your own finances, marketing, writing and more.

So I'm coining a new title for us self published or indie authors - just to get away from the negative stigma of the phrase "self published".

Entrepreneurial Author.

Now I personally LOVE running my own business but also recognize it may not for everyone.

I feel like I play all the roles that I played when I started my own marketing business and more. This will give you an idea of what you will have to do if you decide to take this journey. 

Writing Side (this one is obvious)
  1. Writer - Not a big shocker here. This one is a given :) I guarantee you will do this but it will not be your biggest task. Even if it should or if you want it to be. Finding time to write once you publish is HARD. And as a self pubber - momentum is the key so you have to find ways to keep your name out in front without being obnoxious. So you have to write faster and smarter.
  2. Editor - In order to not spend thousands of dollars - you need to be even better at editing. Then you need to use your money wisely and find a good copyeditor or you will pay for more than one.
  3. Plotter - You need to grab your reader in the first page. Or as a self pubbed author - you wont get any sales. People are stricter on self pubbed authors so get them immediately.
Publishing Side (this one is expected)
  1. Designer - You need to know what looks good for a cover as well as ads or swag or marketing materials and what doesn't. Placement, fonts, and copy. Whether you pay someone or not - you need to KNOW what concept you want and how to define quality design. If you know photoshop, you are even more golden because you can do some things on your own. So learn it if you can. It will save you time and money.
  2. Copywriter - You need to know how to write good jacket copy unless you want to pay someone
  3. Formatter - Unless you want to pay someone to format.  You will have to format in several different ways, depending on what ebook format you need (epub, mobi, pdf, paperback etc). I think I did four for Untraceable and 3 for On The Bright Side.
  4. Researcher - Self publishing is hard and there is so much to learn. You need to be able to get online and find answers to your own questions as well as find questions you should be asking yourself. There is not a detailed guide anywhere. Just bits and pieces. You also need to be keeping up with the ebook/digital market.
  5. Typer - I wish I could type faster, If you are a "pecker" (keep it clean) then take lessons.
Business Side (these may surprise you)
  1. Budget - You could spend money all day trying to get your book out. Giveaways, swag, ads, covers, etc. So you need to come up with a budget and prioritize your (limited) funds (if you even have ANY :). There is absolutely NO way to do self pubbing for free.
  2. Channel Account manager - You need to manage all your author accounts online. Right now with paperbacks and ebook formats - I probably manage and check at least five different sites a day including B&N, Amazon (2 different ones for PB and ebook), Smashwords, as well as all the places Smashwords delivers to (kobo, ibooks etc) - you need to know what your book is doing and check the information. 
  3. Inventory - You need to know what you are selling and keep track for your numbers to reconcile records.
  4. Accountant - You need to be able to figure out what you should be getting paid from each place. This requires spreadsheets and daily counts.
  5. Lawyer - You need to follow up with pirates who are posting your book for free downloads and send legal letters. (trust me this happens more than you think). You also need to follow up because they won't.
  6. Marketer - You need to know how to get the word out about your book, have the time to do it, and follow up. This includes understanding your target audience and how to reach them. This is a daily thing that is very time consuming. It includes attending chats, blog tours, giveaways, checking for ad sites, RTing people who are nice enough to tweet about your book. etc. You also need to know what you are doing for marketing - swag, book trailers, signings, etc
  7. Social Networker - You need to keep managing all your social networks and stay out in front of people (without being obnoxious.) blogs, twitters, facebook. etc. This is also daily. 
  8. Interviewee - You need to be able to fill out tons of requests for interviews, reviews, and more. And you need to find a way to do them quickly while still giving fresh information
  9. Advertiser - You need to know what ads you can pay for, what ads are free, and which ones are most effective. This requires looking at free sites and searching for sites to sponsor. Knowing which have good returns and which don't.
  10. Publishing Rep - You need to reach out and try to set up PR related activities. You need to write and drop multiple kinds of press releases to different audiences. Contact media for articles/features/ and interviews. Create your own press kits
  11. Supporter - You need to support others in their journeys. It is not all about you. And this takes tons of time as well. If you do not support, don't expect any in return.
  12. Agent
  13. Project manager - When you have cover designs and editors and more than one book going on - you have to manage to a budget and especially to a timeline. You will be managing several different projects at once and they will all be at different stages.
  14. Sales - You have to be out there selling (overtly and covertly) without being cheesy about it. You also have to watch overexposure because it can backfire on you. It is a delicate balance.
  1. Problem Solver - Problems come up daily whether it is your numbers disappearing at amazon, or a blogger who forgot to post an interview, or a price discrepancy. They come up every day.
  2. Self Believer - Indies get rejection too. And it hurts. You have to move on and find those who support you instead of chasing the ones who don't.
  3. Thanker - You need to thank and reciprocate those people who support you.
  4. Multi-tasker - I shift all day long between these roles. It's exhausting.
  5. Panicker - you gotta be able to work while you panic. Crying is allowed but your fingers must never leave the keyboard. ;)
  6. Night owl - it is when you catch up.
  7. Psychologist - i have to talk myself down off a ledge every now and then. Of course I do live in a one story so not too bad. :)
All this along with mother, friend, wife, cleaner, laundry doer, cooker, dog walker, appointment maker.

Last on the list - To find a way to only sleep 6 hours a night and not be a total bear (still working on this one)

Basically, indie pubbing is like running your own business - all by yourself. So all the things a business would do - you would do. It's Entrepreneurial Authoring.

I think that is it. But I'm too brain dead to remember.

What do you think?/ Do any of these surprise you?

If you can think of another one, please add it to the comments. :)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

My Big Bang Theory

A few years ago, my neighbor called me and asked if I'd watched that new show, The Big Bang Theory. I hadn't even heard of it, so she just giggled and told me I had to watch it. The next night, my engineer hubby & I watched it and nearly died laughing. We know Leonard, Raj, Howard, and Sheldon in real life. These are our people and we embraced the show with open arms.

But here's what annoys me - I get Leonard's obsession with Penny. She's pretty, and perky, and girly. That's what every guy wants, right?

Is it?

I don't think so. While I loved the interplay between the guys on the show and understood every nerdy scientific joke, I detested Penny. I spent too many years as a teen falling head-over-heels for nerdy guys who would only put me in the friend category because I wasn't a cheerleader. Or pretty. Or perky. Or girly. That sucked.

I've come to love the show more, though, as they introduced Bernadette and Amy Farrah Fowler (played by Mayim Bialik - who I worshiped in the early '90s when she played Blossom). Now these were girls I could relate to. They're funny, quirky, and totally nerdy. Finally some of these guys were getting some action (though if you watch, you know Sheldon & Amy's relationship isn't exactly normal) with some pretty cool girls.

But I still felt bad for Leonard. He continued to be hung up on Penny, who, in my opinion, always treated him like he should be grateful she bothered to date him. This season, as they slowly find their way back to each other, I see the playing field leveling. Leonard finally has a bit more say in their relationship, which I LOVE. He should! Just because he's the nerd and she's the hot girl doesn't mean she's better than he is. I think Penny's starting to realize he's more than just her nerdy next door neighbor that she can toy with, which I do find kinda sweet.

So, tell me, how do you feel about the nerdy guy dating the hot girl? Should the hotter person have more power in the relationship than the nerdy character? Would you like to see more of the nerdy girl with the nerdy guy? Or are you cool with whatever?



Monday, February 6, 2012


Only one week left until Cupid makes his rounds. Are you hoping for chocolate, dinner, flowers, great love stories? We can help with that last one.

This Valentines Day,
The Indelibles bring you a one-of-a-kind young adult anthology. Sixteen original short stories, all from the point of view of our favorite male characters - some are old flames from our novels and some were dreamed up especially for this anthology.

Let these imminently crushable, swoon-worthy guys show you what romance looks like – in his eyes.

The contributors to In His Eyes include award winners, frequent “Top 100” placers, and hot 2011 debut authors.

Sounds good, huh? Add In His Eyes to your TBR list on Goodreads
Stories included in the Anthology:
Surprise, Surprise by Stacey Wallace Benefiel, author of Glimpse: Half the women in Melody's family can see the future, which makes it nearly impossible for Raleigh to surprise her. What's a guy to do for Valentine's Day when his girlfriend is always one step ahead of him?

First Kiss or First Kill? by C.K. Bryant, author of
Bound: Love isn't always rainbows and kittens, sometimes it can be downright deadly. (A deleted chapter from Bound.)

Shattered by Ali Cross, author of
Become: James and Desi use each other in an effort to cling to the darkness in each of them, but in the end they discover that love changes you. (A chapter of Become from James’ POV.)

Before by Jessie Harrell, author of
Destined: When a younger Eros is exiled to a land that doesn't believe in the Greek gods, he finds the first love of his immortal life. Read Eros' first person account of his romance, and heartbreak, in the time before he met Psyche.

The Qualm Before the Storm by Karen Amanda Hooper, author of
Tangled Tides. Yara Jones doesn’t want to be a mermaid. Treygan doesn’t want to be the monster who turns her. You can’t always get what you want. (A short prequel to Tangled Tides.)

Unspeakable by S.R. Johannes, author of
Untraceable: When Mo sees a strange girl in the woods, he follows her. He soon realizes they are both in a dangerous position and might not get out alive.

In the Beginning by Katie Klein, author of
Cross My Heart: Seth is falling hard for Genesis Green, but the guardian angel is determined not to interfere, until an accident changes the course of their lives forever. (A short prequel to The Guardian.)

A Chance Encounter by Cheri Lasota, author of
Artemis Rising: Finnian's eyes hide a terrible secret. But a girl on the train home, the girl in tears with a secret of her own...She sees right through him. A scene from the upcoming novel, Echoes in the Glass.

Family Bonds by Heather McCorkle, author of
The Secret of Spruce Knoll: A Halloween party filled with teens who can channel energy and use it to kill, what could go wrong? For Spruce Knoll fans who are dying to read more about Fane.

Getting Closer by Lisa Nowak, author of
Running Wide Open: Megan is smart, hot, and an upperclassman—in other words, way out of Cody’s league. So why did she choose him? (An excerpt of Getting Sideways.)

The Almost Assassin by Laura Pauling, author of
A Spy Like Me, releasing Spring 2012: Malcolm tries his hand at the family business but his conscience and a beautiful "spy" may be his downfall.

Mind Games by Susan Kaye Quinn, author of
Open Minds: Raf wants to take Kira—the only girl in school who doesn’t read minds—to the mindware Games, but his friends have other plans. (A short prequel to Open Minds.)

By The Firelight by Elle Strauss, author of
Clockwise: When Nate McKenzie asks an unpopular girl to dance on a dare, he's in for the time of his life.

A Very Alien Valentine’s Day by Magan Vernon, author of
How To Date An Alien: After surviving confinement and an intergalactic war for his human half, Alex, now he has to live through the biggest challenge of them all: Valentine's Day.

Aligned by RaShelle Workman, author of
Exiled: A half-Eternal boy and an Eternal girl must free millions of tortured souls from a creature whose been feasting on their pain and suffering.

Want to help us spread the love? If you'd like to review In His Eyes, or help us spread the word with a release announcement, cover reveal, etc., please email us or leave a comment with your email address so we can make you an honorary Indelibles cupid. (Plus, we'll love you forever.)

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Hope for Love: First Crushes

Every February I can't help but think back on old crushes and first loves. Those loves that caused the most joy and the most pain.

I could never forget Patrick, who stole my heart in second grade. His blonde curly hair and blue eyes, made him the perfect match for me, a blonde headed, blue eyed girl. We even got to walk home together. He lived just up the street. He never knew I liked him. There was no way I would have ever told him. That would have been too embarrassing. And guess what? I saw him just the other day at a book signing. And you know what? He's an author, too.....
Then came the crush that seemed to linger forever. Nathan. I'd tell you his last name, but who knows, he could be reading this. I better protect the innocent.  Oh, I fell hard for that boy, and it wasn't just me. Everyone loved him. Any girl that breathed in our elementary school or the near vicinity couldn't help but be drop-dead in love with him.

The horribly terrible and yet most lovely thing about it all was that he lived near me and attended the same church, so, not only did I see him every day of the week at school, but on weekends, too.

But honestly, the worst part was that the most beautiful girl also lived near us and went to church with us. I never had a chance, really. But, I never let the dream die. Even when they got together, the two most beautiful people in my world, I had a hard time swallowing it. Surely one day he'd see the error of his ways. He never did. He just got more luscious and more amazing, while I kept on wishing. He did occasionally talk to me, but in truth, I was on a completely different level socially than he was. I was on the bottom rung, while he stood on the top. Yep, I still have neck problems from looking up at him. I have seen him since I moved away. I saw him at Lagoon, an amusement park in Utah a few years ago.
We're forty now and guess what? My heart jumped.

Do first crushes and loves ever die?
Who was your first crush and have you seen him lately?