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Happy Thursday! Snow is gone, sun is actually shining right now. And my husband’s 5 month old kitten is full on toddler mode. LOL

So, something happens to me on Twitter. Talking with other authors, publishers, and friends, it happens to them a lot. And it’s those annoying automated direct messages we get whenever we follow someone new.

I’m about to be blunt. To me, those things are the literary equivalent of an unsolicited dick pic!

Look, we know you’ve got a book out. Or do covers. Or have a blog. We took the five seconds to scan your brief description. But to then send me something that’s little more than ‘BUY MY BOOK!!!’ is annoying. Really? You’re so lazy that you can’t say hello like a real person? You’re too busy to bother connecting with your readers?

You’re so full of yourself that you honestly think I’m going to buy a book when you’ve done nothing more than shove the link at me? Before I’ve had time to say hello to you?

In this age of social media, the key to selling books isn’t to scream about it all day long. It’s not a used car lot where you’ve got to wheel and deal and try to constantly put the product in front of readers. We get it. You wrote a book. You’re proud of your accomplishment. It’s up for sale.

But I want that buy link shoved in my face about as much as I want to see your anatomy. Which I don’t.

Give me the chance to learn who you are. Say hello, ask how my day’s going. Have an actual conversation with me. You’re a writer! Words are your thing! Use them!

Develop a real connection with potential readers instead of spamming them.

BB

Hey everyone!

I’m snowed in today. LOL. Seattle got a rare blanket of white last night. Hubby made it to work, but getting from our neighborhood to a main road was interesting. If there’s no pressing need for me to go anywhere, I’m waiting for it to melt. Power is still on, meaning we have heat and internet. Yeah!

There’s a cold hard fact to being an author that most people don’t realize. Even most writers don’t have a clue until they put a book up for sale or sign with a publisher. And that there’s absolutely NO direct path to success and sales.

You’re going to be bombarded with ads claiming to know the ‘secret’ to getting good sales. Treat it like you would any other spam and get rid of it. Plain and simple, they want to make you spend big bucks to see little or no lasting success. Unless you count them growing richer as they suck you into the process.

Being an author is tough. It’s work. 99% of us are NOT ‘special snowflakes’ that get their every whim catered to because they make money left and right. You have to be willing to face that fact. Want a lasting career? Don’t be a jerk, stop pretending you know everything, and do the work. Roll up your sleeves, dig a trench, and keep trying.

At one point, I was looking at a career in performing arts. My degree’s actually in technical theater, specifically props and stage management. We’ve all grown up with the stories about how hard it is to become a star in Hollywood. Thing is, it’s JUST as hard to get to the level of Stephen King as an author. I know that. And I’m willing to do the work to get myself there. I believe in my writing. I stay positive. I work with people instead of demanding I be given special treatment.

Get over yourself. Stop imagining that you should be shielded from the reality of the job you claim you want, and get to work. Put in the time to make a solid foundation to your work. Try new things to promote that are free before investing thousands of dollars in a promotion that has no guarantees of getting you enough sales to recoup the investment.

Don’t just sit back and expect money to come pouring in because you wrote a book. Because that’s simply just not how it works.

BB

Good evening everyone!

I thought about posting earlier today. To be honest, this has been formulating in my head for a couple of days now. Work happened (still love my job, even on days where it’s insane), and I’ve been feeling like crap since I woke up. The one downside to working from home. There’s no one else to make sick, and no one cares if you’re swaddled in blankets. So, you tend to suck it up and get stuff done even when your body’s telling you to stay in bed. LOL

I’m not going to discuss politics tonight. Not really. The election is over and done, we have a new President. Even if it’s not the person I voted for, I will respect the office he holds. What bothers me the most right now is the fear and ignorance that’s tearing the country of my birth apart.

America was never meant to be a nation that followed a single faith, or turned away those in need. The brave individuals that left everything behind to create a new life in this land did so because they felt they had no other choice. They were being persecuted for their faith, told they couldn’t live the life they did because they were ‘different’.

Others feared them, out of ignorance.

Now, as I write this, I’m starting to understand that fear. I’m not Christian. Never claimed here to be of that faith. Does that mean that I’ll be getting comments telling me to ‘go home’ or that I’m a murderer? I hope not. I was born and raised in this country. I’m not here illegally. Nor were my parents, grandparents, or great grandparents. Heck, on my dad’s side, the family’s been traced back to the second ship after The Mayflower.

But that doesn’t mean I should sit back and watch as my neighbors are attacked, denied an education, due process, or hauled away at night.

As an author, I’m in a strange spot. I’m certainly not famous enough for anyone to hire me to come to a rally and make a speech. My approach to the current crisis is one as a private citizen. I’m not about to tell potential readers that they’re wrong if they see something differently than I do.

We can write, though. We can take the need to do something and turn it into our stories. Send our characters through situations that make the reader think. Educate them on the realities of the world while we entertain them. Make them think that maybe Wiccans aren’t devil worshippers (I don’t know HOW many times I’ve been called that, LOL) because they read a book that presented it differently. Create a sympathetic and relatable main character that gets detained at an airport for no reason other than the color of their hair, or where they went on vacation.

We let our words bridge the gap between fear and reason. Between ignorance and enlightenment. Between love and hate.

BB

Hey!

Yep, it’s a Saturday. And, you know what, that’s just fine. The last week has been interesting on multiple levels.

You often hear people say that, after someone you love passes, you’ll know when it’s time to let go and move on. To stop grieving. This point is different for each person who suffered a loss, and who it was that died. I think I finally got there.

I spent time this week selling off some of my mom’s jewelry that no one wanted. I’m doing a more active search to find a legitimate buyer for a couple of books she’d had. And I spent a lot of time yesterday rearranging and cleaning my office.

My desk is now near a window, on the far side of the room, and not where I can actively watch the tv while I sit here. My focus has shifted. I’m no longer feeling like I’m treading water and waiting for the next shoe to drop. I’m regaining my sense of wanting to write, to promote.

One of the things that came to me during this transition is how well I interact with readers and authors here on this blog. I’ve tried gimmicky things – like the teaser Tuesday or Last Monday interviews. To be honest, that’s not what you guys like to get from me. Without question, the posts that are liked the most, shared, or commented on have to do with my thoughts on being an author. About book store signings, how to be a decent author that’s loved and not hated by readers, that sort of thing.

So, yeah. I’ve heard you. That’s not to say I won’t make an odd teaser post or anything like that. I may not even have a scheduled day to post. But what I do write here will be what matters to me, the message I think you want to hear.

Five years ago today, my journey began. I signed my first contract and ‘Daughter of Hauk’ began to go from words on a computer screen to a book you can read on your Kindle or put on your bookshelf. I have 18 titles out now. Goal for the year is to make that number 20. I have no illusions that the almost 300 followers here have bought all of my books. Most of you haven’t even bought one. I’m sure it’s on your ‘one day’ list. If it wasn’t, then why are you following this blog? LOL

If you want to know where to start, go with ‘Guarding Charon’. I’m immensely proud of that one and have hopes that it will be the book that gets me ‘found’ at last.

Five years that encompass 18 titles, the death of my parents, life changes for my oldest daughter, new pets in my life, a new career that I adore, and it’s all because of one event in my life that woke up my muse.

As I cleaned and moved things, I was cleaning up some emotional clutter in myself. Things that I put in front of promotion, in front of writing, in front of things I care about a great deal. My office is more open now. Muse is sitting on the windowsill to my right.img_0123

And I’m back to writing for me. For my readers. If I’m lucky, you’ll have my back and buy my books, write a review, tell your friends.

If nothing else, the last five years have taught me that this business isn’t all promoting and writing. There’s a lot of luck involved.

BB

THANK YOU!!! Your votes put ‘Guarding Charon’ into 4th place with the P&E poll for Best of 2016!!!

This week, I’m giving you a peek at Fin and her world! Enjoy!

            Thunk.

The sound of the arrow piercing the wild boar’s carcass seemed loud in the early morning silence. Fin lowered her bow. “Well, at least I hit it that time”.

“Your aim’s getting better. It may not convince a trained archer, but most won’t question your role with us. That should make things easier for you.” Alaric kept his voice low.

She reached over her shoulder and extracted another arrow from her quiver. Nocking it into place, she slowly drew back the string. “Easy hasn’t been part of my vocabulary for a very long time.” She let the string go, wincing as the string bit into her arm. “And fooling most of the people isn’t good enough.” Fin rubbed at her stinging skin as she watched the arrow fly. It landed in the ground at least a yard away from the boar.

“Come on, let’s go pick them up and try again.” Alaric motioned for her to follow him.

They kept their voices low as they passed the small tents where their companions slept. No sense in waking them up before dawn, not unless something showed up. The last few days had been tough on all of them. After the way they’d left Lorien, Fin still kept her ears open. She didn’t like the feeling of being chased. But it was better than being chained.

“Fin, relax. If anyone made out what you are in town, they’d have caught up to us by now.”

She shook her head, the red braid dancing down her back. “You know I can’t. The only reason I’m still free is because I don’t relax. If I relax, this happens.” She looked at him.

Fin watched as Alaric’s face turned momentarily to amazement as she flashed the true color of her eyes at him. The normal green was gone, replaced by the metallic gold that marked her as one of the Amari. She sighed.

“It’s beautiful, you know. They’re beautiful. It’s a shame you have to hide them. Even around us.”  Alaric’s voice was barely above a whisper.

“Yeah, well, hiding them has kept me out of chains for twenty years. It’s a habit now.” Fin bent down and picked up her arrow. “I read somewhere once there used to be thousands of us. Walking the streets, not hiding. I haven’t met another Amari for over ten years, not one who didn’t belong to someone.” A wistful tone crept into her voice.

Alaric’s hand on her shoulder made her look up. “You don’t have to hide around me. No one should be treated like that, ever. And I won’t let that happen to you.”

The look he gave her sent chills down her spine. Of all her companions, he was the one she talked to the most. Put all her trust in. Emile, Trystian, and Gwen were all there to protect her, hide her, and she knew it. But there was something about Alaric that told her his interest went even farther.

His focus changed to something behind her. She made sure her eyes were hidden again. That was the first bit of magic she learned how to do. It was the only thing that had kept her free for so long.

“In the camp!” A male voice called out from the surrounding brush. “We’re cold tonight. Can we share your fire?”

Fin hurriedly gathered the last of her arrows, then darted back to wake the others. Alaric’s voice carried across the small area. “Depends. Are you friend or foe? We don’t take kindly to those who would share our fire and try to rob us blind.”

Fin rushed into the first tent, shaking Gwen awake. A single finger to her lips was all the warning the dark haired woman needed. Slipping back out, Fin could see three men emerging from the forest not far from Alaric’s tall form. No armor, no uniform, but something wasn’t right about how they walked.

“Would we ask first if we were foes? Why not just rob you? Why give your pet time to warn the others?” Fin stiffened at the word the man used to describe her. Pet. That’s what a chained Amari was called. She dove into the second tent. Emile caught her within his embrace. “Shh. There’s no guarantee they know.”

Trystian was up as well, strapping his sword belt on. “Stay close. We’ll keep you safe.” The tall, bearded man reassured her before leading the way out of the tent.

“What pet? There’s none here. If that’s what you seek, you’re in the wrong place.” Alaric’s voice was even. It was always better to talk their way out of a conflict.

The first tendrils of light from the approaching dawn gave her enough to see what she feared. All three of the men approaching Alaric had chains dangling from their belts.

“Ah, that’s fine. Charlie here–” the leader jerked his head back towards one of his companions, “–he likes to pretend he can smell ‘em. Says they smell bad on account of being corrupted by that magic of theirs.” He kicked at the dead boar Fin and Alaric had used for target practice. “Seems to me this is what he was smelling.”

“Fire’s that way.” Alaric gestured towards the rest of them. Fin tried not to grip her bow too tightly. The others stood near enough to prevent anyone from reaching her, but far enough away to pull out their weapons if it became necessary.

“Much obliged,” the leader remarked as he motioned the others to follow. Fin watched the strangers approach, Alaric trailing close behind. Something wasn’t right about them. It went beyond the shackles.

Alaric raised his chin, calling out “We have guests.”

That’s when it happened.

The lead bounty hunter threw his fist back hard, knocking Alaric to the ground. Fin fumbled with her quiver, sending out the silent healing energy to her friend. Around her, the other three drew their weapons and prepared to meet the charging foes.

By the time she got an arrow nocked, they were too close. Fin retreated a few feet, watching the fighting closely. Her bow was ready, but she needed to get a clear shot.

Close combat always unnerved her. The stench of blood turned her stomach. Gwen was holding her own against the one named Charlie, and winning handily. When the first body dropped, Fin relaxed just a little. There weren’t many out there who could beat Trystian or Emile in one-on-one combat, because the two men didn’t believe in mercy. Just an expedient death.

An arrow buzzed past her ear, the fletching scratching her cheek. Spinning on her heels, she watched it sail past the man charging at her. He leaped to tackle her as she tried to raise her bow. Instinct kicked in, and she did the only thing she could think of to stop him.

She willed his heart to stop beating.

An anguished wail tore from her throat. Pain forced her to her knees and caused her to drop her bow. The body of her would-be assailant fell with a heavy thud in front of her. Fin grasped at her left arm, desperate to breathe through the searing agony rippling down her bicep. She’d killed him. Justified or not, she’d taken a life.

“Fin? Are you okay?” Alaric’s voice broke through the shock. She opened her eyes.

He knelt in front of her. A single hand gently brushed her hair from her face. Concern for her was clearly visible in his brown eyes.

“I…I killed him.” She could barely whisper the words.

finsmagic-with-quote

myBook.to/finsmagic

BB

So, yeah, it’s crunch time for the P&E polling. Voting shuts down tomorrow night, and ‘Guarding Charon’ has plummeted to 5th place.

Much as I want to win (and, trust me, I DO), it’s not the end of the world. It won’t make or break me as an author. It doesn’t translate into great sales or having Hollywood calling me for a movie deal.

It would simply make it so I could add ‘award winning’ to international best selling author. That’s it.

Everyone can write. All that takes is to pick up a pen or pencil, or sit down at a computer. Writing an essay in 5th grade? You’re a writer. Drafting a department-wide email? You’re a writer. Spending countless hours at a computer, revising, rewriting, editing, polishing, submitting, and publishing? You’re a writer.

Then, there’s that moment where you go from being a writer to being an author. It creeps up on you, slowly. It’s when you stop letting your ego get in the way and promote your book because you know you’ve got years ahead of you before you’ll be able to quit the day job. It’s when you realize that titles like ‘international best selling’ or ‘award winning’ don’t matter if people don’t know your book exists. It’s not caring if you only get enough in royalties over 3 months to buy a single latte at your favorite espresso stand and you find the time to write another book.

It’s that moment when the sales and titles and image in your head of what being a published author means fades away and you embrace the reality of it. The need to find time to write between loads of laundry or parent/teacher conferences. It’s being present during a softball game when you’re mentally adding dialogue and hoping you can remember it when you get writing time. It’s no longer being afraid to tell people you’re an author. It’s hanging up cards for your books on community bulletin boards and leaving them for staff at a hotel room on vacation.

It’s giving away copies to an exchange student you’re hosting that loves to read your genre. It’s learning how to email organizations and let them know you’re available for panels and guest slots at their conventions.

It’s sitting down and doing the work involved to grow a reader base.

Every single writer that’s ever finished a book thinks they’re going to be on the NYT best seller list. Or get a movie deal. Be wined and dined and wooed by conventions. Make money hand over fist.

An author knows how many years it takes to get even close to that list.They know that they can’t simply scream ‘buy my book’ or ‘leave a review’ all day long. They work hard to get every single sale, review, reader, or comment on their blog. They spend hours on Twitter or FB when they’d rather do other things, hoping to connect with even one person who might buy their book.

Because if they do, they may like it.

If they like it, they may leave a review. Or tell a friend. Or both.

Until then, an author keeps trying new things. Keeps posting on a blog, staying positive. A writer’s going to get mad, unsure who ‘stole’ their dream.

It wasn’t stolen. They decided to give up instead of work for it.

They weren’t tough enough to become an author. Are you?

BB

Okay, I need your help. Each and every person who follows this blog!

‘Guarding Charon’ is up for Preditors & Editors Best of 2016 as a scifi/fantasy novel. Right now, it’s sitting in 3rd. It’s hit the top spot off and on during voting, so I know it’s close. Which means every single vote counts.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Go to this site: http://critters.org/predpoll/novelsf.shtml
  2. Vote for ‘Guarding Charon’. It got listed twice, so be sure to hit the first one so we don’t split the votes.
  3. Enter your name, email address (you can vote once per email address), and do the captcha to prove you’re human.
  4. Go to the email you used and click on the link to make your vote count!

Solstice Publishing is in the running, too, for best publisher! Please help!

I’m done groveling and begging now, so here’s the teaser for the week!

Guarding Charon-001

“Mr. Dixon, is this a safe place to talk? After what happened with the limo…” her voice trailed off.

“Very secure and safe, I assure you. No one would’ve been allowed to come close enough to the plane to put any sort of devices on the exterior, let alone gain access to the inside. Bruce will not be listening in.” He smiled. “If you like, you can call me Larry. Mr. Dixon is extremely formal. ‘Stuffy’ is what your great aunt called it. We will be working closely for the next several months, getting the estate transferred to you. There is no reason to be formal when we’re alone.”

He leaned back, his face taking on a more serious appearance. “Grace, this is a hard thing to ask right now, but it must be discussed. You have the chance now to reinvent yourself, disappear in some ways. Amanda knows what Bruce tried to do, and how he was forcing you into a corner so you’d have to marry him. She was making plans to bring you to her home herself, when she passed away. If you want, everything is in place for me to create a new identity for you. A new name, new social security number, new driver’s license. We can get the paperwork started now, have it all in place by the time we arrive in Cavendish. I only need your permission, and a name you’d like to be known by.”

She stared at the bottle in her hand. To truly disappear, become someone else, would guarantee Bruce would never find her again. Even if she didn’t stay in Maine after her six months were up, he would never find her.

“What about my parents?” Her voice was hushed.

“They accepted a check. Enough to guarantee your father can retire; their debts are paid in full if they choose to do that. But the money is conditional that they tell no one where you went. They know it is likely they’ll never see you again, and traded the money for contact with you.”

Grace slouched in her chair. Her entire body shook. They abandoned her, cut her out of their lives forever, for money. She knew she should be shocked, upset. But she felt numb. “I think I need a drink,” she whispered.

She kept staring at the bottle of water in her hands, fascinated by the motion of the water as the tremors continued. Distantly, she heard ice hitting the bottom of a glass, followed by liquid being poured. It appeared on the edge of the table.

Shaking, she put the water on the table and grabbed at the glass. Amber liquid swirled around a giant ball of ice. Before she could stop herself, she downed the scotch. It burned as it traveled down her throat, numbing her stomach to match her emotions.

If they were ready to be done with her, then she would be done with them. “Let’s do it.”

“Very well. What would you like your new name to be?”

She stared at the glass in her hands. “Did she have any family with her last name?”

“No. She was the last Cross. Her sisters took the names of their husbands, and she had no brothers.”

“That’s it, then. I’ll be Amber Cross.” She raised her glass. “Here’s to new beginnings.”

He raised his as well, “To new beginnings, Amber Cross.”

Swallowing some more of the alcohol, she began to try and adjust to the new name. “So, this house. What’s it like? And why’d she choose me?”

myBook.to/guardingcharon

BB