Saturday, January 20, 2018

The Production of a Book aka Book Cover Follies

To say the least, finding good stock photos of POCs is not an easy thing to do. The variety is slim and me, well my expectations tend to be weak and low. With the first version of this cover I was awed by the beauty of it. The actual manuscript was soaking so there were certain aspects of it that I did not take into account. (I'm a panser so a lot of details are often blurred and not drilled into my brain until the 3rd or 4th editing pass) It was in the 4th pass that one specific detail really stuck me: The main character, Herra is described as having a dark chocolate skin tone... Did the cover I bought match that? Nope. I went back and forth and back and forth, contemplating if it mattered, would the readers mind and could I live with it? And then there was the thought about me needing a new cover.

Seriously, I spent months worrying over it. Then, I realized something. I am the self publisher of this piece and l am not the type to do many versions of a work. The complete production of each product needs to be at least 85% of perfection in my opinion, because I want to consider it finished (and move onto the next world). Suffice it to say, I went in and ordered a new cover.

Is this what Herra looks like? Damn close! Oh and is that what Arune looks like? Let me tell you Syneca Featherstone nailed the clinging possessiveness of that one to a Tee!

Writing is my greatest hobby. Always was and always will be, but as I step deeper into the self publishing realm I realize that I can't take my willy nilly/ impulsive draft writing stance into the final stages of production. I have a very critical, analytical side and its what I use when editing. It's like putting on a different hat, and well...that's what I need to use more of in the production stages.

Note. I do not say marketing stage, because before others being pleased with the final product, I have to be pleased with it. So that's why there is a new cover for "Be My Shadow."

The Old Cover

Friday, March 11, 2016

Writing Schedules and Upcoming Projects

Some writers can tell you what their working on and what the release days for those projects are way in advance and be accurate about it. Me, not so much. I have tried to and been just about the biggest flake in the box, but well I do have a very rough schedule and it goes like this:

* Finish up "The Matriarchy" a short monster piece for submission to an open call.

* Finish up "The Provider" a MM Paranormal novel about a single father trying to make a life for his cubs while getting a little love for himself.

* Keep working on "Night Bites 4: Snake Ma" a 99 cent short about a woman searching for something other than a meal.

* Edit and get ready for submission: "Be My Shadow" a SF Novel about an Intergalactic Soldier and her scheming, possessive prince.

* Keep poking at "Dem Ole Ways" my zombie novella.

* Get outline started for the next and last Guardian book.

While there may be those who think that I have relapsed back into WoW (World of Warcraft)-- I am still sober and working. I still have a touch of the ADHD and all it takes is a juicy open call to throw a wrench into my project plan, the missions are still there and I have been busy (On days when the day job isn't whipping my ass). A version of the above chart is on my note sheet and I am trying to stick to it somewhat.

We shall see though as I am a sucker for distractions.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

My Superpower...Supporting Authors!

I'm waaaay late in talking about this but it has been on my mind to confess for some time. While I suck ass at promoting myself, I think I do a pretty good job of supporting my colleagues. I get enthusiastic about works that I enjoy and their creators and truly I am vibrant when I talk about their characters, plots and writing styles. I feel its my obligation to write reviews and give shoutouts where they are due. When folk ask me about my material, I tend to go into a catatonic state but ask me about what I just read and I can give an hour long speech. Suffice to say that I am an avid reader with a serious weakness for Horror, Dark Fantasy and Paranormal. (Woot- Guess who is just starting the SNAFU series? This chick) Okay, getting distracted by the awesomeness- anyway this past year I was so privilaged to be able to help in the creation of a Halloween party for diverse writers of...yup, Horror, Dark Fantasy and Paranormal!!

Now, I don't know about anybody else, but book fairs, book festivals, well communities of color don't tend to have a large speculative presence, if at all. Finding scary books (and no I am not talking about gangster lit although much of those are far more frightening than any slasher, monster or psychological thriller) is next to impossible. Seriously, I attended a book festival a while ago and I stopped in front of a stand with gorgeous flashy covers. The publishing representative in front of the booth asked me what types of books I was into. My but she was so cheerful as she went into what types of genres her company provided. Then I opened my mouth and said "Horror, Paranormal, Science fiction." Yeah that smile vanished quicker than a vampire at dawn.

So me and some friends, all of us speculative fiction writers decided to band together and plan an event focusing on AOC (Authors of Color) who wrote darker more fantastical works. Now before the event, I had encountered a few writers that fit the bill but once the announcement for the party went live, my short list blew up. I was introduced to a slew of writers and their works. Being able to bring them together was a challenge but so worth while as I saw that there really was an audience for diverse terror and spectacles! The party was a blast. Prizes were given out. Games were played. Interviews were displayed. Wanna see? Colors in Darkness

Okay, so not wanting the party to end, it was announced at the end of the festivities that there would be a Facebook group, called Colors in Darkness, to kind of keep the networking going, to reward those readers seeking something different and to provide a united front. Did I promote my work? Yeah but what really excited me the most was the joy of the other authors who participated and the multitude of new reads I got introduced to!

Often, and in the past I have to say that I...well I kinda felt self-conscious and secretive about the works I read and wrote, but being in similar company has ignited a flame within me. There will be a 2nd Annual Halloween party and even though its months off I'm still coming up with ideas! I want to create a newsletter, a promo brochure, do interviews and the like, but by networking I can see that others are doing their thing to spotlight the cause, such as the Black [African] Speculative Fiction Writers "Directory": Fantasy, Horror, Science Fiction, Paranormal Kindle Edition!.

Although I do get excited when I have a new release, the joy at seeing a community come together, emerge and grow is so much more fulfilling.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Still Swimming in the Land of the Lost...But Afloat!

I haven't blogged since 2014. I know because I checked. It's downright shameful, I know. But I've been in school. Self-Education school. This year was the first time I decided to dip a toe into self publishing and yes, they are very deep waters. I will tell whoever asks, that the waters are neither calm or easy to navigate and I have made so many errors that it isn't funny. Bad editors that either don't respond back to emails or who are inconsistent, check. The intricate technical science of formatting, check. The utter quandaries of pricing, markets and marketing, check, check and check. Now you should know that I did not go into this whole self-publishing thing, thinking it would be easy. I knew I would have a great deal of challenges and I still do.

The Why? Why would a writer decide to self publish? Personally, at first I wanted deals. I saw several authors posting their 99 cent deals, their freebies and their countdowns and they were getting access to a good deal of readers. Myself included. I was snatching up deal after deal for my kindle and I wanted to have a horse in the race. So, tentatively, I dipped my toe into Amazon's KDP with a three part series called 'Challenging the Dark.' Each one was 99 cents. I made the covers myself and had some editing done. They were shorts and fun to write and gave a bit of an insight into my crazy mind for anyone wondering if they should check me out. I got a few reviews, and that experiment was successful, I think. By being in the KDP select program which calls for exclusivity, I only needed to format the book for Amazon.

Okay so then, I looked back on my WIP (works in progress) pile and noted my problem child. I have several novels in my WIP pile but the one that demanded my attention the most was a cursed piece called "Love Stoned." It had been accepted by one of the big publishers, held there for two years. Then it went on to two rejections and when I did decide to self-publish it and pay an editor, well she flaked so hard on me that I became traumatized and paranoid. From there it was still some doom to be had. Now, I KNEW that doing a full length novel was going to hurt and it did. But even outside of the editing, I had and still don't have a clue how hard it can be to deal with 300+ pages. Anyway, I got the book ready and then attempted formatting because I wanted to throw my net just a bit wider than Amazon this time. As before, the only easy part of the process was choosing the cover art and yeah, even then, the study of back matter came into play.

My first attempts at formatting made me want to throw my keyboard into a wall and give up. But a friend turned me on to a fabulous formatter who whipped that novel into beautiful shape for both print (Createspace) and digital. Well, by then I was doing the running man and thinking I just maybe able to do this thing. I posted out for early review reads, put up advertisements and was all ready for release. Then...nada. Not one pre-review was returned. I got a few responses from blogs asking for a copy but no reply. I did and still do see sales though. So a few lessons in marketing were soon learned, like the price was not right, the importance of ads and well, I still don't know how to get reviews but I'm trying and I am not in despair.

I go back and forth with the whole, was I being arrogant to think that I could do this by myself thing, and for the past year while I have been studying the hows just as much as the whys, I do kinda realize that the process can be empowering. Don't get me wrong, I'm from the old school where a writer could be just that. Nobody loves cranking out work and seeing a paycheck more than myself. I do not like marketing, promo or technical formatting and I am no saleswoman. But those days of a writer just writing are kinda gone and I so wanted to see the book as close to completed as I could get it...for me. So if I am guilty of something, I suppose it would be selfishness. I wanted the book in my hands. I do not make a living as a writer but I now have such mad respect for those who do and especially those capable of sucessfully wearing the self publishing hat because there are many caps beneath it.

Any way, at the beginning of the year, I threw down the gauntlet. No new material until I can up the stack of WIPs littering my hard drive. I still have two more to go...okay five but for the most part I have been true to that goal. I have chosen to go back a bit to the publishing companies for now. I have one WIP that just got contracted and another that I will begin to farm out for a contract, but learning about self-publishing, taking time out to figure out the processes, to try, to succeed or fail, has been beneficial I believe and so with the coming of 2016, I believe I have the option of both and that I can do both...okay so maybe not with another work over 100 pages but who knows...

Whoa is 2016 gonna be fun...

Sunday, June 29, 2014

A Writers Life and Continuing Education

Cougar is always a good distraction when I have no idea what I need to do next.

I always said that if I won the lottery that I would go for my Master’s Degree, maybe even a Doctorate but only if I hit the lottery. Advanced degrees are highly expensive and in the field that I would study: English or Creative Writing, that wouldn’t be the best investment in a sure future that I could make. Why? Because I’m paranoid. I make no bones about holding onto my day job, my security and my sanity. Oh I dream of being a Best Seller but I don’t dream of starving or going into debt in the pursuit of it and my luck...well, I am contributing heartily to my 401K.

So, I pursue my obsession in the best and easiest way I can, I practice writing frequently. Sometimes it’s a daily pursuit; sometimes I skip a few days. I search the internet looking for tips and tools, market trends and promotions opportunities all in homage to this craft that I love, writing. Putting words together to weave a tale, sculpting words to make visions and inspire emotions. Obsessions… Who needs classes on being a writer? There’s the library, the internet, lots of books that you can read independently.

I will tell you that to me being published is almost the same as having a certificate of higher learning. Of course it isn’t but still…it’s pretty damn close. However…I am currently sitting at my desk after having finished my morning word count, and I find myself thinking, self you really should be doing something more, for instance:

• Isn’t there a book you should be promoting

• Isn’t there an Outline you should be revising

• Shouldn’t you research a few sci fi publishers for that current WIP you are working on

• Your grammar and mechanics skills are rusty, look up some books to work on that

• Don’t you have a newsletter that is late

• Why are you working on a SF work when most of your ‘brand’ is Paranormal

• Shouldn’t you do some updates to your writers expense report

• How about a plan to get a few short stories and novellas onto Amazon to get more name recognition

Yeah so those are only at the tip of the iceburg, before the headaches start. I have been writing for a while (a long while) now and while I don’t regret signing up for continuing education at a University, I swear I regret thinking that diligence and tenacity were all that I needed.

I’m a writer and some say that I am prone to be introverted but I say that I’m an introvert that happens to write. It has occurred to me that much of the confusion, frustration and ignorance that I have about my writing habit is because I had purposefully considered only one thing, the act of the craft while turning a blind eye on the one thing I could use. Socialization. Active learning. Cranking it out is important sure but I am certainly not prolific enough to have an agent, handler or promo team to allow me to just...crank it out.

I bet writer’s conventions, seminars and workshops have educational tracts that I could benefit from, tips and information that could relieve some of the anxiety I have as a writer, that could bolster the strength of my prose, my brand and maybe even the way I market myself… because although some might believe that all you have to do as a writer is to write….They would be soo wrong.

I have a FB page that I devote to Author Tools. I call it the Author’s Bar, because from the few conventions that I have attended many introvert authors seem to conspire there, myself included, to tap that Dutch Courage needed to socialize. Have I been attending the wrong cons? Possibly. Do I socialize with authors there? No. Am I uncomfortable with parties and costumes and swag showers? Kinda yeah. And to be perfectly dour, I find myself longing for lecture rooms and group circles where text is torn apart both for content and context, where trends are explained with flow charts and attack plans are detailed for success. But the amount of author gatherings with classroom formats are few and far between. (If I am wrong, please post some links to the bar)

Why, I wonder when writing is a very serious and ever changing profession. Sure I am a decent self-learner and I make my word counts, but in other areas I find myself doubtful.

I’m not writing this blog to influence a writer into conventions or higher learning, but simply to reveal what I am searching for and hope one day to find. So, if you know of an event that could benefit me or person’s like me, by all means use that comment box.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Human Race...At The End of The Day!

I don’t have common sense but I do so enjoy ‘Loving Day’ and the spotlight it shows on yet another petty matter that humans use to keep us from progressing further in science, politics and advancement of the species as a whole. Interracial…Race has several meanings, such as:

1. a contest of speed 2. to transport or propel at maximum speed 3. a family, tribe, people, or nation belonging to the same stock 4. a category of humankind that shares certain distinctive physical traits

My favorite however is:

5. an actually or potentially interbreeding group within a species; also : a taxonomic category (as a subspecies) representing such a group

Um...Humans!!The come in many appetizing shades!

Why shades should even be an issue isn’t a mystery to me, I do believe in racism and I know that it exists. The why however, is the bigger quandary. Humans come in hundreds and hundreds of shades, they have similarities on the surface and beneath however not one of the so-called races (a family, tribe, people, or nation belonging to the same stock) is incompatible with another, hence the definition of race as a fundamental ‘interbreeding group within a species,’ is apropos.

That would be the simple way to consider the notion, debate or observations of interracial love but even in this day and time, humanity stumbles over the concept. There are dark and light shades within every race, Chinese, Indian, Native American, African, Europeans. And yes, unfortunately there are caste systems in which a person is either elevated or suppressed due to skin shade. So for those who think it is ridiculous for a person to date someone of a various colored groupings, I have to wonder what they would think if they were ostracized for dating someone of a different shade.

Perfect and perhaps not known example within the African American community: “I don’t date high yella men.” “I don’t date dark skinned girls.” “I don’t mess with brown –skinned women…” It may sound ridiculous, but I have heard those statements and more. I’ll give you the fact that we all have preferences, and I believe that that should be stated as such. A dark-skinned person with a light-skinned person could be considered interracial. Sound ridiculous.

But wait, what about a variance of beliefs, or a difference of culture and custom assigned to a race? What about generalized political affiliations, culinary differences, ideologies…If these are the struts that bolster the framework of race as a source of pride and empowerment…stability even, consider the stagnation of that might occur if any so-called purity could ever be attained. I mean no harm to those who seek what they know and are familiar with, but to ridicule or insult the pairing of two human beings with differences, negate the opportunity for unification stagnates within a group in solitary and prevents fresh and opposing experiences that might be more similar than either party knows.

There is a term, ‘variety is the spice of life,’ and human beings whether they know it or acknowledge it or not, are the product of such an idea. The idea of genealogy and tracing our ‘roots’ has become such a popularity now that there are paid services for the pursuit. Such research often shows variety in our backgrounds.

Now it may not be as poignant as you can obviously point out the white folk in your family, there are several Irish faces in my family tree, a couple of Native Americans, a few Scotts but mainly African descendants.

I consider myself a Black American not because of my background, and certainly not in any negation of the fundamental fact that many or most of are mixed. It's simple and it's the closest description I can come to that defines me in the environment that I was born into. That’s also what I check on the census form when it comes around. It’s easy, simple and requires almost no explanation at all of the scientific fact that interracial unions are not only possible but have occurred since the dawn of time. Many races, cultures, perhaps persons of various religions went into me!

I do so enjoy ‘Loving Day’ or shall I say ‘Keeping it Real’ day if only for the opportunity for people to reflect upon the fact that we are all the same species. Just because one person may be a different, color, culture, shade of ideological set, doesn’t mean that we are incompatible for loving, and that goes for straight, bi and homosexual folk. You're human, damnit.

Hungry aliens won't discriminate, so why should we?

Human is human. The sooner we realize that the sooner we can get focused on real issues, like poverty, discrimination, advancements in science, health and technology. All this separation and flag waving is just moot the MAN...who I am probably related to several generations back, so...

Happy Loving Day Human. No matter what race, culture, color, creed or shade you are.

And Now On To The Really Fun Stuff

Click Here to Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway!

Click Here to Go back to Hop Master List!!!

Finish the Loving Day Hop by visiting Author: Rae Lori

Want a Preview of the Prizes? Check these Out!


Visit the following author and reviewer pages to learn something new or win a prize or two!

Sydney Arrison eBook copy of Bad Tabby: A Night Kitty Quickie by Renee Luke and Café Mocha by Vivienne Diane Neal

Koko Brown Reader’s Choice of an eBook from author’s backlist & ARC of yet to be released Taken

Sam Cheever eBook copy of The Biggest Poser (EPUB, MOBI, PDF)

Shyla Colt $10 Amazon Gift card AND eBook copies of Dual Desires and Keys to Heaven

Alexa Day eBook copy of Illicit Impulse and swag

Stacy-Deanne eBook copy of Bruised

Dahlia DeWinters Reader’s Choice of an eBook from author’s backlist

Lena Hart eBook copy of historical anthology, For Love & Liberty

Roslyn Hardy Holcomb eBook copy of IR historical Stolen

M J Kane eBook copy of A Heart Not Easily Broken

Mya Lairis $10 Amazon Gift Card

Rae Lori $20 Amazon Gift Card Choice of 1 book from author’s backlist Choice of 1 of 3 Sandra Kitt IR eBook (The Color of Love, Close Encounters, Between Friends)

Fiona McGrier Choice of the following eBooks: The Reluctant Bride, Two For Tuesday or Prophecy of the Undead

Lisa G. Riley eBook copy of Friends and Lovers Series: You are Mine and a Mighty Good Man

Roxie Rivera eBook copy of Sergei, Sergei II and In Jack's Arms

Romance Novels in Color $10 gift card to Amazon or B&N

Keisha Robertson $10 Kobo gift card

Eve Vaughn Really cool prize

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Holding a Book Signing With an eBook - Sam Cheever (Special Guest Post)

There's no doubt about it, ebooks are quickly becoming the new favorite for much of the reading public. Sales for digital media continue to climb, becoming an ever larger segment of the market. This is good news for ebook authors, creating much potential to build our sales and name recognition. During this exciting time, we writers are challenged to find new and better ways to promote our work. Digital format makes that effort both easier and more difficult, depending on the venue.

Promoting digital media online is natural and most of us embrace it, using loops, chat groups, and social networks to get our books in front of a ravenous buying public. But one area that continues to stump us is how to do book signings when the book isn't in paper and ink. This is probably the most often asked question by newly published ebook authors. It can either be viewed as a challenge, or as an opportunity to be creative. Guess which way I'm gonna go! #:0)

Preparing for an ebook signing is fun. First of all, if you want to put something in the buyer's hand you have a couple of choices. You can either put your book on a memory stick to sell at the signing, or provide some type of printed media with links for shoppers to take home and think about, thereby taking the heat off of them to purchase the book on the spot. If you’re dealing with a techno savvy buyer, you can offer cards with the book’s QR code and blurb for scanning later.

I like to load my content on memory sticks that represent either my brand or the book they contain. The small icon on my website and all printed author material is a red heart. With this branding in mind, I keep a ready supply of red, heart-shaped memory sticks that I load with book trailers and sample content for fans and contest winners. This idea works great for a book signing too. Along with the book you’re selling, you can include first chapters and trailers of some of your backlist or free reads. Tell shoppers the extras are on there when you offer it to them. Anything extra you give the reader increases your chances of pulling them in and enticing them to buy more of your books.

Selling digital copies of your book in a bookstore can be complicated. If your signing is in a bookstore, it might be easier for you just to provide a free chapter of the book and send them to the website to buy the entire book. But many conferences now allow and even encourage writers to sell their own books at book signings.

An alternative to a memory stick is printed media of some type. My recommendation would be a first chapter booklet. You can create first chapter booklets very easily, either producing them yourself or working with your local printer. Make them as attractive as possible, include the cover on the outside, and autograph the books. Make sure to include your website and the buy URL on the booklet. Even if the shopper thinks she is taking the booklet just to be kind, she's very likely to give it a quick read and you have a chance to draw her in. Other alternatives are postcards and/or cover flats if you have access to them, but I like the chapter booklet because it gives readers enough of a taste to get them hooked, improving the chances that they'll buy the book. This is the same concept Amazon uses to great success with its book samples.

Always include signed bookmarks, trading cards and/or business cards for readers to take home. If you can, provide candy and/or some little trinket (pens, magnets, etc.) for them to take with them. And, if possible, offer some kind of visual. If you have a book trailer, bring your laptop with you and play the trailer in a loop during the signing. Or, if you have a good voice and a dramatic flair, provide audio of you reading a chapter in your book. Be creative. For example, if your book involves cooking, provide a recipe card with a great recipe on one side and your book's title, blurb, and buy URL on the other side. Yoga? Include a favorite yoga position on the card, with an explanation for what it does to improve health or, if your book is erotic, how it increases sexual prowess. Your book is about a murderer who loves crossword puzzles? Create a crossword puzzle online, using things that appear in your book as the clues, print it out and offer it to them, with your book info on the back of course! You get the idea. Just be creative.

Don't forget to include your website on everything, so potential buyers can go check you out when deciding to buy.

One last thing you should think about is a contest. Put together a small, sparkly gift basket and place it on the table next to you. Provide slips of paper for shoppers to fill out with their email addies so you can notify them if they win, and require them to take a chapter booklet for the chance to win the basket. Include a box they can check on the slips of paper, to be included in your newsletter mailings... What? You don't have a newsletter? You might want to consider starting one!

The key, if you haven't figured it out yet #:0) is to give potential readers a reason to stop by and see you, and offer them something they might enjoy, rather than just hawking your wares to them. Most of this is stuff you would do even if your book was in print, but the gist of what I'm telling you is that book signings with ebooks can be a lot of fun and very effective. You just need to step outside the box and get creative. With the plethora of ebook readers available and a growing hunger for digital media, the books will sell themselves. All you need to do is give them the venue to do it! Happy Sales!

Sam Cheever's Latest Work
The Biggest Poser

Available April 18th from Musa Publishing

May the biggest liar win. Or die trying!

Personal trainer for the ever popular, Lose it! reality show, Jillie Maxwell is up for the most important award of her career. And she’s competing against the biggest b-eye-itch she’s ever met. Fortunately for her, she has the sexiest man alive in her corner. Problem is, each and every one of them has a dirty little secret that could tank a career.

For the contestants, the race is on to lose the most weight and win everything. For the staff of the popular weight loss show, the clock is ticking to the culmination of their lies and the possibility of losing it all.

Will the Biggest Poser win? Or will the lies just grow and grow until they sink the whole show? Only one thing is certain. Whatever happens, it’s gonna be an entertaining ride!



Sam's published work includes 50+ books of romantic suspense and fantasy/paranormal. Her books have won the Dream Realm Award for fantasy and The Swirl (interracial romance) Award. They've been nominated for and/or won several CAPAs, have been nominated multiple years for “Best of” with LRC and The Romance Reviews, and have won eCataromance’s Reviewer’s Choice award. Sam is published with Musa Publishing, Changeling Press; and Ellora’s Cave. She also publishes as Declan Sands, writing m/m fiction, and under her own imprint, Electric Prose Publications.

In real life, Sam lives in a cabin in the woods with 13 dogs and one husband. A self-proclaimed dog-aholic, Sam insists she's holding at 13...maybe... Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Blog | About.Me | Amazon Author Page