Monthly Archives: February 2013

5 Easy Ways to Help a New Author

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With my book release coming up in a couple weeks, I’ve had several people ask me the best, most awesome question in the world: “How can I help?” (Wow. Thank you for asking!) Buying a book isn’t the only way to support an author, and these days, you don’t even have to do that. Here are five easy ways to give an author some love:

1) CHOOSE THE BOOKSTORE. If you choose to buy the book, get it at the bookstore. Why? Well, of course there’s nothing wrong with buying books or eBooks on Amazon and other online sites. A sale is a sale, and the author usually makes a higher percentage off of eBook sales than hard copy ones. So yes, online are great. But if a book doesn’t do well at a bookstore, the publisher won’t have any reason to keep printing it–which means the author is suddenly thrown into a dark state of book limbo.  

2) ASK FOR IT. If you do go to the bookstore to buy the book, and they don’t have it, ask the manager when the book will come in. If he or she gets enough requests, they will give in and purchase it. (And if they do have it, turn one of the books so that customers can see the cover and not just the spine. Thank you.) If you don’t want to shell out the cash, ask for it at your local library.

3) REVIEW THE BOOK ONLINE. This is a biggie! It’s not hard, it only takes a couple minutes, and it has a HUGE impact on sales. Give the book a positive four or five-star rating on Amazon, then copy your review onto Goodreads and Barnesandnoble.com. Many readers make their buying decisions based off those reviews, so if a book isn’t rated, it gets passed over.

If you want to go the extra mile and you have a popular blog or website, offer to interview the author or review the book on your site. (Believe me, she will love you FOREVER.)

4) SHARE THE WORD. The book business is a cutthroat one–50-60% or more of a publisher’s books don’t even make a profit. if a book doesn’t do well right out of the gate, the publisher may write it off as a loss and turn their attention and resources elsewhere.

That’s why social networking and word of mouth are so important in the publishing business. Repost the author’s book giveaway on your Facebook page, or retweet links to their book reviews. It only takes a second, but that action can expose the book to hundreds of fresh eyes. If you’re not an internet person, tell friends and neighbors about it, or let them see you reading it. Be creative.

5) Subscribe to the author’s social networking sites: blog, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, or whatever they are using to promote their book. It only takes a second, but every little boost in their numbers shows future publishers that they are building a following, which makes future books possible. Yes, it really is that important to publishers. (And you can always unsubscribe if the promotions get too annoying. That’s the great thing about the internet, right?)

 In a world where bookstores are closing their doors and anyone with a few thousands dollars in spare change can publish a book, it’s really really REALLY hard to get a manuscript accepted by a publisher. I thought my work was done at that point. Boy, was I wrong. More is expected of today’s authors than ever before. 

Luckily, my fellow authors and I have our fantastic friends and family members to help us out. Thanks again for your awesomeness, and happy reading!

Can you think of another way to support an author? Post it here, and don’t forget to follow my blog. 🙂

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The Insecurity of Imperfection–Do you do this too?

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I had somewhat of an “out of body” experience last week. On Friday, my husband came home from work and complimented me on how clean the house was. Sweet, right? But then something really strange happened. I knew it was true, that the house looked great. And my brain also knew that I had worked really hard to make it that way. But for some reason, my “yeah, but” syndrome took over. My quick response was, “Thanks, but I didn’t get the laundry finished. I’ll have to fold it tonight.”

My poor husband’s smile froze on his face before I realized what I’d just done. My “yeah, but” had been a compliment-killing reply, something that grabbed hold of a sweet, well-meaning comment and tossed it into the trash. 

Does this sound familiar? When someone gives you a compliment, do you believe it and thank them for their kindness? Or do you instantly think about the ways that compliment isn’t true? I can think of a dozen examples–like when someone said I looked nice that day, and I instantly thought about the giant zit on my cheek. Or the time when my son’s teacher said I was a good mother because I read with him so often. Was it a hint, a sly way to slip in a recommendation? Or had she truly, honestly meant to give a compliment?

For some reason, this has been on my mind a lot today. Perhaps my “yeah, but” syndrome isn’t humility, but insecurity. Maybe it’s the result of being an oldest child, a people-pleaser, or just the fact that I’m a mom and worry about everything.

I remember comparing myself to the top students of my high school classes, wondering how to get better scores next time–forgetting that I was in the top 5% of the class already. There were times when I started things–track, soccer, music lessons, art, and writing–but quit when the road ahead started to look too rocky and difficult. If my performance wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t worth trying. Has some of that insecurity leaked into my adulthood?

Or is the “yeah, but” syndrome something more, a habit so ingrained in my personality that it will take a lifetime to pick apart?

It’s taken motherhood to teach me that, no matter how well-put-together my children look, or how clean their rooms are, there will always be imperfections. If I’m going to overcome the insecurity of imperfection, maybe now is the time–before it leaks into my children’s lives as well. When my friends go out of their way to pay me a compliment, perhaps my response shouldn’t really be about me at all. Perhaps it should really be about them–about making them feel that their kindness was received graciously.

This Friday, I will probably deep clean the house again. And, if I know my husband, he will try to give another compliment. I pledge to believe that, yes, the house does look fantastic. I pledge to forget about the things I couldn’t quite get to, and I also pledge to thank him for his sweet words. 

And if I’m really brave, maybe I’ll save the laundry for another day.

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5 Reasons DISSENSION is better than TWILIGHT

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I recently snatched up an advance copy of Adrienne Monson’s vampire novel, DISSENSION. Those who know me will raise an eyebrow at that, because I’m a huge critic of vampire novels (even though I have seen every Twilight movie made…don’t judge me).  I couldn’t help but compare DISSENSION to Stephanie Meyer’s take on vampires, and I’ve decided that DISSENSION is a better read for five reasons:

#1: Leisha could beat up Bella any day. And probably Edward, too.

Leisha the vampire loathes herself, but it doesn’t stop her from getting what she wants. Yes, she’s pretty, and the guys love her–at least, until they realize their mistake. But unlike whiny, teenage Bella, Leisha is a kick-butt survivor who doesn’t need a man to feel complete. She also feels more realistic with a deep inner strength AND human-like weakness, and it’s a refreshing combination.

#2: A rich, fascinating vampire history

The history of vampires in TWILIGHT fell flat for me. I wanted to know more about how they had come about and what it meant for the human race. In this area, DISSENSION delivers. I loved the African culture references as well as Leisha’s former life, which made her pain all the more real. 

#3: Immortals vs. Vampires

DISSENSION also brought in a new element, the Immortals, who are sworn to destroy the vampire race. Throw in a love interest, and you get a really captivating story. It was nice to get away from the werewolves and into a more plausible conflict between two very old and equally powerful races.

#4: DISSENSION has better action.

I often skip the action scenes in books, because I’ve trained for years in martial arts and nothing so far has seemed realistic. Stephanie Meyer’s “rip off their heads and burn them” fights got old really quick for me. Adrienne Monson at least changed the action scenes up, and they felt more emotional and urgent. And one thing to note: 

No glittering vampires.

#5: The underlying theme of DISSENSION is more meaningful.

TWILIGHT is basically a love story, no matter how you look at it. It has elements of other things thrown in there, but that’s the substance of it. DISSENSION has more of the human story in its themes of sacrifice and betrayal. It is the heart-wrenching, down-to-earth and gritty tale of a woman who fights for what she believes is right–even if it means fighting against herself.

DISSENSION comes out February 23rd. You can find it wherever books and ebooks are sold. Thanks for Jolly Fish Press for the advance copy, and I wish Adrienne Monson the best of luck!

http://www.adriennemonson.com/

http://jollyfishpress.com/

The “Bad Boy” fantasy: Are you guilty too?

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Hurray, quiz time! First let me tell you that I failed this quiz, big-time. We’ll see if you do any better. Before we get started, I’m going to assume a couple things here: first, that you’re female, and second, that you’re in a steady relationship of some type.

Ready? Here goes.

1) Describe your guy. (As in husband/boyfriend/significant other)

2) Now describe the type of guy you enjoy reading about or watching on TV.

3) Are they the same?

Oooh. A sizzling question, isn’t it? This has been on my mind since I read an awesome blog post on the “bad boy” in YA lit (see it here: http://michellewittebooks.com/2012/04/danger-of-the-bad-boy-fantasy-in-ya/).  

The truth is, I’m soooo beyond guilty here. I grew up reading about the dark, mysterious, and dangerous boyfriend that eventually got won over by the innocent and naive protagonist. Often, the guy could easily hurt her, or worse, but somehow she “tamed” him into the perfect boyfriend. Voila: dark, dangerous, and sexy, yet polite and sweet. (Yeah, right!) Can you think of any books that fit that description? A few? Like, half of the teen books in the bookstore? I know! How did this happen?

The scary thing is that love triangles are really common in teen lit right now, and they usually involve a girl trying to decide between a genuinely good, caring guy and a tall, dark, and dangerous one. Which one does she usually choose? And what does this mean for the poor guys who always finish last? 

It took a rude awakening for me back then to realize that they types of guys I liked fantasizing about (and still do–I love YA lit) were the opposite of what I needed. In real life, guys like that end up in prison for attempted kidnapping or putting their girlfriends in the hospital. In real life, the type of guy you want is so incredibly, unbelievably different from the fantasy. It’s the reason my husband usually pauses the movie and says, “Do girls really go for guys like that?” (I try to keep a straight face and say, “Some do, hon. But definitely not me.” *Wink*)

Luckily I eventually came to my senses and snatched up my husband before another lucky lady could catch him. He’s not the type to wear black leather and whip out a machine gun longer than his arm, but he is still fiercely loyal and protective of me and our three kids. And at 5’7″, my hubby will never play pro basketball. But he can sure do a mean load of laundry. And let me tell ya–when he tells me to go lay down for awhile, and babysits the kids while he finishes up dishes–whoa, Nellie. There isn’t a fictional character in outer space that could top that (although at times, Han Solo could come close. Nah, I’m just kidding).

The other day I noticed that my seven year-old’s school notebook was littered sloppily with dozens of “I love Connor,” and when I strained to read it, she closed it quickly. Age seven, people! I guess it’s never too early to start emphasizing the qualities she should look for in a man (or first-grader?). And even if she falls into the fantasizing trap that I did, at least she should know that it is, indeed, just a fantasy–that there’s a huge cavernous cliff between the bad boy she will read about and the type of guy she wants. 

What are your thoughts? Did you pass the quiz? Please comment below, and if you like this stuff, please click Follow at the top left. Thanks!Image