Sunday, October 30, 2011

#ROW80 More Progress in My Marketing Education

If you're going to be different,
embrace your inner tiger
I am focusing on this #ROW80 on somewhat unconventional goals. I succeeded in breaking my habit of stalking my sales numbers. That's a big breakthrough.

Originally, I wanted 30,000 words by October, but I had to go back to my roots. I am not a full-time writer. I can't be for another 2.5 years. I have a daughter who is 28 months old. I AM a part-time writer. And I need to repeat that over and over again. Also, my book lineup changed. So a novel I wasn't planning on working on until next year is suddenly next in the docket.

I also have a mentor in Melissa Foster. I am lucky. Very lucky. Melissa takes the time nearly every day to check in with me, see how I'm doing, and we encourage each other. She is a vast wealth of knowledge, and the best part is, she helps me be the best author I can be, not just a carbon copy of herself. We are both similar in how we tackle anything and everything in the world, but we look at things very differently. Yesterday, a marketing opportunity came up and I was very proud of myself for passing on it. It was only $25, but the amount of work involved wasn't something I was committed to doing. Melissa let me know that for where I am, it made perfect sense to pass on it and that's something that took her a lot longer to figure out.

Melissa and I (plus some other awesome ladies she knows) are working hard on bring the WoMen's Literary Cafe up and running. This weekend I was knee-deep in webform field configurations on Drupal. And I still have some more work to do. Yeah. That was one of the biggest reasons I passed on the aforementioned talents and time are better spent on the WLC. Some people know me as that "out-of-the-box" girl, and I am! We're going to take those fun things like #TrickorTreat4Ebooks and make them free or dirt cheap for authors to participate in. I'm a huge believer in sweat equity!

And on those lines, I needed to step up my Twitter game. I have many great posts here and two on my reader site (it's going to get some much needed TLC in the near future) and I just started automating Tweets. I was very resistant at first, because well, it feels a little like cheating. But the reality is I don't have all of the time other writers do, so I NEED to use every tool available judiciously. That's important. For $5 a month I can bulk upload tweets with I will probably do a more in-depth post on this. But basically the rules are:

  • No duplicate tweets in one file
  • No more than 50 messages per file
  • Tweets must be in increments of 5 minutes (on the 5 minute mark, so 07:10, 07:15)
As a very methodical person, I realized I could do a maximum of 4 hours of Tweets if I took advantage of every slot. But that's spammy. So I think I'm going to tweak that. I created an spreadsheet, custom formatted the date block, set a Data Validity control on column B for no more than 100 characters, and the third column is for links. You're supposed to use quotation marks around each field, but I found it works without it and they just screw up my links sometimes if an extra one slips in. So when I export to a CSV (and only the active sheet will, so I use my other sheets in the file for frequently used links and to set up the next cycle of tweets (so I can make sure if I need to promote like an article or somethign, I can make sure it runs every 8 hours or 12 hours etc.).

Exporting to CSV it looks like this:
30/10/2011 13:35,My latest #ROW80 update:More Progress in My Marketing Education,
30/10/2011 14:15,The satire in Veggietales makes me chuckle. That and Silly Songs With Larry.

I don't use commas in my Tweets because it will mess up the Tweet (maybe THAT'S what the quotation marks are for...). And I don't use up every spot. I also put in non-link Tweets. The nice thinking about this is I can schedule days in advance and actually take a day off or two from Twitter without losing momentum. I'm using to make sure I follow everyone who follows me. :)

So that's the latest. #TrickorTreat was a rousing success and on Tuesday, I'm part of the COME BACK TO ME book launch which will be HUGE. It's the first promotion by the WLC and make sure if you're interested in being part of future promotions Melissa and I put together you register at (It's WoMen's Literary Cafe, for both men and women. We're going to be reaching out to readers, reviewers, authors, bloggers, editors, agents, and other publishing service providers to make a positive community where if we all work together, we can do anything!). In about two weeks the details of our next promotion will come out, including ways to coordinate marketing efforts together for free.

A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby. CANCELLED is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords WIP: PAST DUE A nurse, crippled by debt, takes a part-time job in medical investigation only to find the man she's dating is a fraud!  (status: outlining)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Book Sales and Marketing, It's a Numbers Game

Today is the fourth day of the Trick or Treat for Ebooks promotion. But I want to talk about what happened on the second day, when the lovely and wonderful people at who also own Kindle on the Cheap sent out the link to a potential audience of 10,000+ (based on their Facebook likes). Within one hour, the clicks on my link went from 59 to 126! Our total linky tool exposure grew by 1,000 views.

There's more data. I'm a geek and track as many things as I can. I happened to reconfigure my Google Analytics right before the hit, so this was fascinating. In the span of 1 hour, 67 people visited my Madame Elizabeth's Fortune Tent. The average time spent was :45 seconds. :) So, even the people who did not buy the book were exposed to my plot line. The main blog for the promotion had a total of 191 visitors in that one hour time frame. Now, my link received 67 clicks, but the links appear in a random order to each visitor, so some links were clicked a little more, some fewer. All of the links are disguised, so a visitor can't say "Oh, I only want Elizabeth's book."

191 visitors to main blog. 67 clicked my link. That's a 35% conversion rate. Many ad programs would kill for a third of viewers to ACT (convert). In this case, they clicked my link (and they also clicked the OTHER links, so really it's compounded exposure). I also happen to know how many sales I received. According to my statistics on, 8 people clicked Madame Elizabeth's crystal ball taking them to my Amazon purchase page. How many bought the book? 2 on Amazon. I had two other sales on BN and the link to my book there was featured on the blog post on

This was one hour and a fluke to tap into such an established network of readers. But, the 35% conversion rate tells me that this was a great match up of what our promotion was offering and what the people clicking the links were looking for. And some authors might be upset about 2 sales for 67 clicks. I'm not. Remember 8 people went to my Amazon site, so that's another potential 6 later sales if they downloaded a sample. 2 people bought right away, so that's 25% of the people I got to click three links and finally land on my Amazon page impulse bought my book. Not too shabby.

Huh? 3 Links? Yep, a reader had to click the link on Facebook or blogs promoted by This took them to the main page of the blog hop ( Then, the reader had to decide to click on one of the links in the blog hop, and each reader had a random configuration of the links. Then, once they landed on my blog post, if they wanted to buy my book, they had to click another link to get to Amazon. Generally, the fewer links you can have between pitch and purchase page, the higher your conversion rate.

This is why it's a numbers game. You can't feel bad about low conversions, MOST ad campaigns do not have high conversion percentages. I know this because I just came from working in the SEO/online marketing area of writing. There's a reason why advertisers even calculate CTR (click through rates)/ 1000 visitors. It's because it's such a small percentage. You can Google information on conversion rates, but this was a great article about conversion rates from 2010. 10% is usually an over-the-moon ad campaign. This is important if you're putting money into advertising. You need to have an idea of how many people will SEE the ad, calculate 10% of them will click on it, and then only 10% of that number buying the book. And you'll probably see this roughly time and time again.... a review site with 300 followers, 30 probably check out your book, 3 probably buy.

So the more you can promote your book and put yourself out there in front of new audiences the better. This is key--flogging on the same venue or channel won't help. Definition of insane: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. This is how it builds and the more blogs and tweets you have going out about your book from all different directions the more you'll get RTs and invites to other blogs. It's kinda like a snowball rolling down the hill, you pick up more snow with each rotation. Most of us start with a single snowflake though, so be patient, it's a VERY tall hill. :)

I wrote this on Tuesday night, and thought an update might be in order. 2 things have happened... when the promotion was featured on, other groups became willing to share our link with their readers. Exactly. Snowball. :) Our total page views of the Linky Tool has risen to 5400, and every blog participating has had over 200 clicks. A few are approaching 300 clicks! Oh and my sales? I went from 2 sales Tuesday night to a total of 7 sales on Amazon (19 for the month) and another 11 sales on Nook (14 for the month). :) I have officially sold more books this month than I did last month, and I didn't pay a single penny for this promotion. I am over the moon on a broom about how successful #TrickorTreat for #Ebooks has become.

A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby. CANCELLED is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords WIP: PAST DUE A nurse, crippled by debt, takes a part-time job in medical investigation only to find the man she's dating is a fraud!  (status: outlining)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

#ROW80 #TrickorTreat for #Ebooks And More

Beep. My resting HR right now is 102. I know, I know. I'm a jittery mess. Why? Because like an idiot, I drank coffee after 5 PM. At 7 PM. From Starbucks. A whole grande that was more coffee than pumpkin spice latte like it was supposed to be. And that was my second cup of the day when I'm only allowed half of a cup a day (Not doctor's orders or anything, but my own. Caffeine and I do NOT get along. Jitters and UTIs. Pretty much all not fun). And before you fuss at me about my heart rate, I've been meaning to get that checked out. Honest. But we moved, and I published a book, and I need to get my car an oil change. I mean sheesh, why do you think I WEAR a watch with HR monitor on it all day? A rousing conversation gets me into the 120s-130s. Walking? BAM I'm near my max HR for cardio.

Like I said, I'm going to get that checked out, but we still have to transfer over Tricare.

So it's 3 AM at my house and I'm killing my #ROW80 posting because I know I'm not going to be up early in the morning. Thank goodness the hubby is still home, and after he slept in yesterday until 11, I think this Mom deserves a sleep in.

Heart rate and coffee insomnia aside, I have very exciting news.

1- I am not checking my sales everyday anymore. This has cut down on my stress as a writer considerably. YAY!

2- I finally realized why I've been dragging my feet and dragging my feet on PAST DUE. It's getting the back burner. I know. It's sad. But it might get a few stirs and spices sprinkled in while it simmers. I'm seriously thinking about making it a short story to practice. Here's the problem with PAST DUE, as I explained to my Muse handler, my mother in law. It lacks conflict. Oh Jill makes some bad decisions. She has bad things happen to her. But it's too much of this happens so Jill does this and then this happens and Jill does that. There isn't a real dilemma, meaning Jill is never between a rock and a hard place and must do something about it. The WIP has great characters and promise. I just don't have a true dilemma for her other than getting out of debt, but that's a little broad, and she has no ending! I can't slap one on there, so until she figures out what her story is, I'm not going to beat myself up about writing it or not writing it.

So what does this mean? Well fans of CANCELLED will be happy. It means the sequel to CANCELLED is up next instead of starting it next summer. And according to the parish at the Redemption Baptist Church in Devine, TX, I'm to perform a miracle and somehow finish it yesterday. :) Johnathan is now getting three books all to his lonesome self: CANCELLED, SERVED, and APPROVED (maybe POSITIVE). The outline for SERVED just fell, plop, into my lap today minus subplots, but those will come. And pieces of the third are there.

3- My first ever promotion Trick or Treat for Ebooks is going fantastically! I politely asked the people at Authors on the Cheap on Facebook if they wanted to share the promotion (by politely, I did not just blare it on their wall. I used the Contact Us form at If you have a book published and aren't using this resource, you should. Read the NOTE on the Authors on the Cheap Facebook page for how to format and share you Nook and Kindle links with them once per day for one book. They use this pool to fill many walls on Facebook tailored for specific Nook reads and have blogs for Nook and Kindle users.

When the link was shared last night, within one hour everyone's link click numbers doubled! And the best part? People are saying it's fun, it's different, and will there be one next year. I couldn't have asked for a better response than that, but I'll also take the 150+ new eyeballs that clicked and saw my book information and the 5 people who have bought a copy in the last 48 hours. And this is only Day 3 of 7!

Finally, one big shout out to my author friends part of a massive, 36 author $.99 sale to celebrate Melissa Foster's new book, COME BACK TO ME, Nov. 1 through the 3rd. Melissa Foster is an AMAZING author who reaches out to every single author she meets, whether you have 10,000 Twitter followers or 100 followers. Many of us in #ROW80 know and respect her, and if you'd like to help out, please, come November 1 we need tweets directing readers to

Don't forget to visit my other friends working on their goals the A Round of Words in 80 Days (#ROW80). Leave some comment love please.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Querying a Book Reviewer Part 1

Here's what I'm doing. I'm going to write the best tips and tricks I can think about to query a book reviewer. I'm asking those who comment/read the post write their own best practices and put the link in the comments. I will add their link to the bottom of this post so we can crowd source the best ways to reach out to book reviewers.

Querying Book Reviewers

The first question many authors have is "Where do I find book reviewers?" This takes some detective work. Try searching a couple of terms in your search engine of choice

  • [Your genre] book blog
  • [your genre] reviews 
  • indie book reviews 
  • book blog tour 
  • indie book blog tour 
Any other similar search tags you can find, use them. I like to keep a notebook and pen or a notepad file open as I do this. When I find a link to a book blog that I think will be a great fit for my book, I copy and paste the link into the file so I have a running list of places to query.

A few sneaky places to find book reviewers? Check out pages for book reviewer conferences. Yep. Sometimes they will put together a list of links from the participating blogs you can just go down and find the right blogs for you. Another place is an existing book tour for another author. Not all of those blog stops will be open for public submissions, especially if the author paid for a blog tour. But it's absolutely worth a shot. 

Submission Guidelines. 

You're not done. Once you have a list going, and this is where paper and pen can come in handy, I like to jot down the submission requirements quickly. Some won't take an ebook, so I can scratch them right off the get-go. I also like to write down one or two reasons why I like the blog site, either a review I enjoyed or a piece of information from the About Me section. There is a reason for this later. 

Set Aside Query Time. 

It takes time to politely and professionally query a book reviewer. Could you write out a form email? Sure. But most genres have a finite number of great book review spots and when was the last time you took action or clicked a link on an email you could tell went to a hundred people? You are asking a book reviewer to volunteer his or her precious time to not only read your book, but write a review. How would you like to be asked to do that task? In a form email or personally? I feel it is the later for most people. 

This is where the specific reasons I liked the blog site come in handy. I always start with a personalized subject title, usually funny. I always THANK the reviewer for taking time to write reviews. Trust me, a free ebook is not enough incentive, do not act like it is. Absolutely no one owes you a review, not even if they get a free book. Why? Because it takes hours of work for each review, and most of the "free ebooks" are a couple of dollars. Even in compensated terms, this is less than a minimum wage job. 

After a greeting, I explain in two or three sentences why I think my book would be a great fit. I use my one sentence pitch of my book, and if you do not have one of these, make one now. It's a great way to instantly get someone interested in your book. I have a few variations, but the basic one is this: 
A robotics engineer engaged to his business partner has a previous one-night stand reappear. Pregnant. And it's his.
Remember, you are using up the reviewer's time, brevity is a must. I close with another thank you and explain I can send the book in any ebook format he or she would prefer (if it's not clear from the submission page). I have also explained I am a do-what-I-say-I'm-going-to-do-author and commit to being present the day of the interview/review/guest post to answer comments. And I answer every single one on the day it runs, but that's another post.

I DO NOT SEND THE FILE UNSOLICITED. Why? There are a few reasons. First, you are a strange email address. Do you open emails from strange addresses with a paperclip on it? Probably not in today's world of viruses and malware. Second, it's rude. It presumes the reviewer will want the file, and judging on the size, could be an inconvenience to the reviewer checking email on a smart device. Third, it encourages more communication. If a reviewer is interested, trust me, he or she will let you know! This gives you another chance to be gracious and nail down dates, giveaways, and anything else the reviewer needs from you (such as links, cover pics, and author pics).

Make sure you ASK them to review the book. I know, this sounds silly, but it's Sales 101. You need to have a line similar to: I would like you to consider CANCELLED for review on sitename. Many authors I'm sure write a nice little email, describe their book, and then forget to ASK the person to review the book! An ask usually goes right before the final thank you.

So there you have it, that's how I approach book reviewers. I take on only 3-4 a week because I'm very serious about not letting anyone down. I hope others include their best tips and maybe a piece about the pros and cons of reviews/interviews/guest posts.

A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby. CANCELLED is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords WIP: PAST DUE A nurse, crippled by debt, takes a part-time job in medical investigation only to find the man she's dating is a fraud!  (status: outlining)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Importance of Fiction in Social Issue Awareness

One of the most circulated promotions of self-publishing I hear is the variety of voices that can now be heard, without a "gatekeeper" silencing them. This week, that idea finally hit home for me. As a self-published author, I CAN bring awareness to any issue I want. In CANCELLED, I very lightly touched on the joke of fathers' rights in custody fights. The joke is that in practicality, they have no rights, except to pay all of the bills unless, and this is a big unless, the mother is found to be unfit. Do I hit the reader over the head with this fact? No, I slip it in as an accepted reality.

The latest book of a writing colleague, TRAFFICKED, is far more upfront about the social issue she wants the reader to learn about: sex slaves. Sibel Hodge is getting rave reviews on her fictionalized diary of an Eastern European woman caught in a sex slave ring. And if you thought this was a sensationalized issue, think again. This morning the Associated Press ran the following headline: Malaysian Police Rescue 21 Ugandan Sex Slaves.

As an author, the freedom of exposing society ills in the more palatable format of fiction comes with a heavy responsibility as well. How do you know you are giving the issue justice? In my case, I've personally witnessed the prejudice of the family courts against a father. But, I am not a man, and I am not a judge. I could just as easily ruin the good I hope to inspire by messing up factual information, misconstruing circumstances, or even offending my readers.

Right now I am still working on PAST DUE and the book is very much growing each day in clarity and maturity of plot. One of the biggest "chews" I have (aspect of the book or a character that I'm "chewing" on in my mind) is the older sister's functional eating disorder. A functional eating disorder? Yes.

We all have seen the after-school specials and the cautionary tales of the men and women who have died from anorexia and bulimia. Unfortunately, it's been my experience with friends and loved ones with these disorders that they are a little too good at controlling it that they don't qualify for a doctor's or facility's care. That doesn't mean they aren't still hurting their bodies, in irreparable ways sometimes. Or that living with them at they go through this isn't still maddening. You go through stages of feeling sad and wanting to help them, playing that understanding family member, until you get to that point where you feel manipulated and start being ugly because you feel like the person is doing it on purpose. I also have the unique position as someone who HAD a battle with anorexia during one of my husband's deployments. I know what it feels like to play the mind game with myself of "How long can I hold out on food?" because I was so upset about how out of control other aspects of my life were. 6 years later, my husband STILL will ask me what I had to eat today, in a completely caring and non-judgmental way, even though I haven't had such an issue since.

But just because I have oodles and oodles of life experience with the issue, I am still cautious. What if the way I write it comes off as trivializing eating disorders? Or the way I write it lets readers with an eating disorder feel validated? As this moment in time, I don't intend for there to be any massive consequence for the character, other than her infertility is blamed on the years of abuse she put her body through. This is my choice, because in my experience with multiple friends and family members struggling with this condition is that they don't get to the point of a massive consequence. There is no rushing them to the hospital, there is no organ shut down. There is no fainting. There is just the glaring at them and being angry as they sit and eat a bowl of red wine vinegar with a spoon instead of a meal because it's a "great for digestion." Or arguing with them over not eating, constantly.

I am not suggesting we write stories with just the intent of preaching a message. But as writers, how do you take on serious issues affecting your characters? Do you even take the time to consider the ramifications or just let the material develop organically? Would love to hear in the comments section!

A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby. CANCELLED is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords WIP: PAST DUE A nurse, crippled by debt, takes a part-time job in medical investigation only to find the man she's dating is a fraud!  (status: outlining)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

#ROW80 Self-Publishing Slow Down For Me

This is going to be a difficult post. Because it's not something I want to admit to myself. One of my very, very good friends is writer Melissa Foster. She's amazing; as a business woman, writer, mentor, and friend. And lately...I've missed something very important she's been trying to tell me.

Elizabeth, there is no deadline. 
I never wrote when my children were younger.

You see, I got caught up in the instantaneous nature of self-publishing. Now. Now. NOW. NOW! Sales are now. Tweets are now. Reviews are now. Everything that happens is just about available in real time and you can easily drive yourself sick with erroneously thinking, "I must stay 100% on top of all of this!" I have a family that just moved 900 miles. I have a stepson taking on his first year of middle school. I have a husband who is starting a brand new role at work. I have a two-year-old who begs for Mommy time.

I don't have a publisher breathing down my neck. I don't have a a financial mandate to write, but taking on too much, too fast is draining my family's resources. I don't have infinite energy to take on writing full time, running my family's household successfully, and not drop dead in the process.

I am taking a step back.

But first, let me confess something in case others need to recognize this in themselves...I was spending from 8 AM until 4 PM online almost constantly to watch for new email, tweets, and Facebook updates--anything I could respond to immediately to self-delude myself I was being "productive." I told my daughter too many times in the last three weeks that "Mommy is busy, I can't hold you right now." That last one makes me feel VERY guilty. I am going to blink and she is going to be saying "Mom, see ya for Fall Break." [sorry to get all Cat Stevens on you] And most of all, I haven't felt enough fulfillment throwing myself into writing full-time because I've neglected so many other areas of my life to be a social media stalker. And that is ending. I was never meant to be a full-time writer and this isn't the first time I've had to dial myself back.

I am not quitting. :) I'm not a quitter, not by a long shot, and I LOVE writing. Non-fiction, fiction, marketing copy, you name it I type it, baby. I have a few more marketing obligations for the month of October and beginning of November. But no more ON 5 days a week and weekends. Being sick this past week showed me 3 days of no social media isn't going to make or break my sales. At all.

I have a very exciting project with Melissa called the Women's Literary Cafe and I feel a very strong calling to focus my technological skills there. Yes, I also have a second book to write. But it's not coming out in February anymore. It might come out in March. It might come out in April. And I don't fear Amazon suddenly shutting down the opening for self-published authors. Worst comes to worst, I will query a small press, or seek representation, or slap a handy-dandy e-store on my web site and sell my books and my friends' books directly (It's nice to have a hubby with a Master's in IT).

I don't know exactly where this leaves my ROW80 goals. I was on the right track with them, but I need to rethink them a little. I enjoy my camaraderie with other authors, and will still be participating. But it might not just be writing goals I talk about. :) And I'm going to slow down, before I "sizzle and fizzle" myself out. (Little inside joke for anyone who's read Cancelled ;) )

A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby. CANCELLED is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords WIP: PAST DUE A nurse, crippled by debt, takes a part-time job in medical investigation only to find the man she's dating is a fraud!  (status: outlining)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

#ROW80 Check in, Striking While It's HOT!!!

This check-in I get some snazzy, silver stars! I didn't get much done on my outline, but I did talk about it. It's part of my process...I talk my story line out with trusted friends and family until the story is very clear in my mind. I finally feel I'm in that place. I am surprised by how the romantic story line is already taking a a bit of a step back. But I don't think it's a bad thing.

I also received some AMAZING news!!!! I am officially part of the cloud of Mark Williams International Direct Publishing. It's a new company run by authors, for authors. The idea is that Mark Williams and his core group of authors have done very well in the UK markets. By authorizing them for temporary distribution rights in the UK, France, and Germany markets for a 80-20 split in my favor, it gives my book more of a chance in those markets. For example, Mark can list CANCELLED with Waterstone's, the UK equivalent of BN (and I actually looked into listing there last month until I realized I could not). There are many other benefits as well in pooling with a group of such fabulous authors of Tonya Kappes (who has a NEW RELEASE today, Happy New Life), Cheryl Shireman, and Sibel Hodge just to name a few in the cloud with me! Economies of scale is a very real thing, and I'm learning we all do better when we put our books together, instead of acting like we're all competing for one reader.

Now... the FUN! This past weekend remember how I took the long weekend off to spend it with my kids? Well here's some photos from out Apple Picking Adventure!
   I feel so refreshed and recharged! I also did not check my sales figures to the point of neuroses these last few days, so again making progress there.

Now, about STRIKING WHILE IT'S HOT. My writing tip for this week is about making things happen right away. Got time to write? Take it. Receive an invitation to guest blog? Write it. By immediately seizing the opportunities before you as soon as they become available, a couple of amazing things happen:

  • Instead of feeling weight from tasks you have to do and haven't done, you feel momentum from the small things that are done and rocking and rolling.
  • Immediately jumping on an opportunity might make the difference between being a part of it or missing out. Sometimes, a deadline or interest level is unknown to you, so the sooner you get in the better. This past week, JA Konrath asked for guest blogs. I didn't worry if I'd get in or not, I just wrote one. Now, it turns out the response was so big that they might be turned into an ebook. Now, there are people wanting to know if it's too late to submit. See? I may or may not be in the ebook, I may or may not be selected as a guest blog post. But I KNOW my best work is in the pool of submissions, so I've at least got a shot. THAT'S STRIKING WHILE IT'S HOT!

So I plan to be on fire for most of the rest of the week. I'm taking the weekend off again because my husband is finally joining us in Connecticut after we've spent more than a month apart. Hmm, maybe this whole work my butt off, take the weekend off is a good idea!

A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby. CANCELLED is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords WIP: PAST DUE A nurse, crippled by debt, takes a part-time job in medical investigation only to find the man she's dating is a fraud!  (status: outlining)


Sunday, October 9, 2011

#ROW80 Checkin & the Amazon Sisters

Okay, I am on vacation with my children for the long holiday weekend. We're up in the Adirondack region of NY with my very awesome friend Kari from SC. Her family moved to NY last year, and my family moved to Connecticut last month. Between our two families, there are 6 children, aging 14, 11, 11, 6, 4, 2. Last night's highlight? The 2 year-old (mine) and the 4 year old, had tackled my 11-year-old to the floor. He asked the other 11-year-old for help (that's my friend's son who is my son's best friend) who deadpanned: "No. But I'll get the camera to take a picture." LOL

 So the kids are running amok, and I love watching them. We're going to church this morning and then taking the kids to pick apples and run around a corn maze. So this is my super positive thing about writing as a career. I can take my children on vacation, netbook in tow, and have 0 problems taking a break. :) If I was working outside of the home for my Mommy sanity, I would have to check with a boss for time off. Yuck.

I am getting clearer about my outline for PAST DUE. And I think there might even be a fourth book in the collection...APPROVED. LOL. But I need to get through PAST DUE first. Or, maybe SERVED is going to become PAST DUE. ;) But one bridge at a time. Sales, I have not been good and only checked at the end of the night. But that brings me to: THE AMAZON SISTER sites.

Amazon is actually four sites now.,, (German), and the brand new (french). When you go into the Kindle Direct Publishing interface, your sales are segregated by sister site. I know! I just discovered 2 sales this week on that I didn't even know about! When you click the link for month-to-date, prior six weeks' royalties, and prior months' royalties, there is a drop down box just above the results that you can change to see the results for the sister sites.

 Now, there's another aspect of the Amazon Sister Sites. This week, I received my FIRST UK review. It does not cross populate between and, or the other two. So, if you go to my listing, you can see I have one 4-star review from a very active reviewer who usually only like thrillers and crime novels. I am 100% over the moon that my book was enjoyed by someone who doesn't normally read romances! That is a great success in my book. On my listing, I have 12 Likes, 5 reviews, and multiple tags.

It is important to note, rankings, likes, tags, and reviews are individual to each country sister site. So, if you're wondering why you aren't selling in the UK, ask yourself, have you pursued any UK reviews? Are you sending people to tag and like BOTH listings?

I am also going to take a look at other books in my genre for those sites. There's a lot of room in that Product Description, perhaps I can emphasize that my story is about modern relationships in Washington, DC, the American capital city....

A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby. CANCELLED is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords WIP: PAST DUE A nurse, crippled by debt, takes a part-time job in medical investigation only to find the man she's dating is a fraud!  (status: outlining)


Thursday, October 6, 2011

#ROW80 #ROWnd 4 Goals and Inspiration

Last #ROW80 I took a book from a draft, through edits and formatting and published it. That's CANCELLED. I know the theme for this #ROWnd is "Rocking the #ROW" and there was a big party and celebration and it didn't click for me. I didn't know why. Last time I had a great time making a passport, an itinerary and tracking my progress. I have my inspiration for this round, even though it's a little dark.

I am dedicating this round of #ROW80 to the memory of Steve Jobs. His death is very much on my mind, and really try to use his way of challenging the status quo, sticking to my guns, and keeping my head down.

"We've never worried about numbers. In the market place, Apple is trying to focus the spotlight on products, because products really make a difference." - Steve Jobs
I will ONLY check my sales numbers at the end of the day. Not when I wake up and I'm looking for a little motivation. My motivation MUST come from somewhere else.
"That's been one of my mantras -- focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it's worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains." - Steve Jobs
30,000 words by Oct. 31, 70,000 words by Nov. 30, finished by December 9. That's the production schedule for PAST DUE. I don't do weekly goals because when I don't make my mark, it derails me too much. I personally do better watching my progress and feeling the freedom of making chunks disappear.

“It’s more fun to be a pirate than to join the navy.” - Steve Jobs
This is a little closer to home for me. One of my goals for this round of #ROW80 is remember who I am and what I'm doing. I didn't query agents because I knew my book wasn't ordinary. It wasn't going to fit in a certain hole. It'd be fun for readers who love romance and who love chick-lits. It'd be fun for readers who want to see a realistic woman make realistic decisions about the men in her life. So I need to remind myself of what's fun and stick to celebrating that I get to do what I love.

In summary:
* No checking sales figures except at the END of the day (for my graph)
* 30,000 words by Oct. 31; 70,000 words by Nov. 30; finished by Dec. 9 PAST DUE draft
* Celebrate one fun aspect of my career choice each check in.


A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby. CANCELLED is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords WIP: PAST DUE A nurse, crippled by debt, takes a part-time job in medical investigation only to find the man she's dating is a fraud!  (status: outlining)


There are times when you love the mailman. Today, I got my business cards, canvas bags, and decal for the car. I bought all of these through Vistaprint and splurged a little. I paid extra for another 500, so I bought a total of 1,000 business cards and I also splurged for glossy and a picture on the inside. Back in July I knew I was going to do this, and here is the execution...

I LOVE THEM!!! I spent about $85 on 1,000 (I got a deal when I ordered 500 to get another 500 for $9.99). I have lowered my book price to $.99 through the holiday season, so to recoup the costs, I would need 242 sales from this batch of business cards. That's one way to calculate the ROI. Another is this....

If I give out the cards to qualified people, people I've talked to about my book, they might buy my book. They might not. But I'm almost certain they will tell someone else "Oh, I met this author the other day." "Oh, who?" And maybe if they have the business card, there is something to jog the memory. Now two people see it. Or, let's say I give my business card, explain the book is $.99 through the holidays, and they buy it. If they like it, they will tell at least one other person. We just do.

So the cards may not result in 242 direct sales. But it helps to get my name out. And if I can leave them in the local Starbucks or library, even better. :)

This is what the inside says:
From the First Chapter of CANCELLED
Tastes of roof tar and rotten fruit filled Johnathan Michaels' mouth. A swish of his tongue couldn't remove the hangover breath from last night. Next to him, an unknown woman slept. Carefully, he nudged her, but she didn't move. Nudging a little harder, her body rolled to the left and liberated his arm. He sat up with mint green sheets tangled between his legs. Definitely naked.
Double checking her identity, his eyes followed past her mop of bottle-blonde hair, down the dip of her lower back, and finally rested on the pleasing rise of a fleshy curve. She looked familiar, but he couldn't place her. He settled on brushing his teeth and taking a shower.
Clean and fresh, he shook a sand colored towel over his head and broad shoulders. Ready to wake her up, yet another surprise awaited him: an empty bed.

A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby. CANCELLED is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords WIP: PAST DUE A nurse, crippled by debt, takes a part-time job in medical investigation only to find the man she's dating is a fraud!  (status: outlining)

How Apple Changed My Life

And my 2-year-old just pointed to the picture on the right and said "APPLE!" I hope Mr. Jobs heard that, wherever he is.

I am not usually sad when celebrities or other public figures die. Not like this. I am truly saddened that we as a world, lost Steve Jobs at so young an age. I am not an Apple enthusiast or really even a big fan of the products, but I've always been thankful for the innovation.

I'm part of the generation, maybe one of the youngest members, that remembers the day my family bought a computer. I was in 4th grade. But it wasn't my first exposure. My school had a cart in every classroom with a Macintosh II. Once a week our computer resource teacher would come in and I would furiously finish my work to be one of the first students done, so I could sit with Mrs. Burke. I didn't realize I remembered her name until just now. That's how strong the memory is. We used a piece of software that let us make a simple picture up to and add our "story" to the bottom. I was allowed to stay in from recess to write my stories because it was more fun for me than going outside to play.

Also when I was in 3rd grade, my Uncle Joe lived with us shortly and he had a Macintosh Plus. I used Paint Shop to make a poster for my room with ants crawling around the edges. In middle school, we used Macintosh Classics in computer lab to learn desktop publishing. Claris Works. It was a coral colored icon we clicked on and my first exposure to the miraculous word of desktop publishing. Not long after this, my family upgraded to Windows 95, with a brand new PC (our original one had Windows 3.1 on it).

I'm not like many other writers who have cutesy stories about writing journals, writing stories by hand etc. I typed my stories. Always. From my mother's Brother Typewriter to Notepad, then to MS Works. My summers were spent drooling over all of the information on our Grolier Encyclopedia CD and "assigning" myself reports. I wrote a two page report on how coins were made. I remember using the EARLY versions of the Internet, like Produgy and eventually AOL. My family didn't always have money, so my sisters and I would scour stores and neighbors for the "FREE" AOL disks to get a month for free. This was before a company could really tell if you uninstalled the software and reinstalled it, so you could keep getting months free. I've used the handle Ewizabef online since 1994.

I would never have been as proficient on a PC without my early years of exposure to Apple computers. Like I said, I was never an Apple enthusiast. When I left for college in 2000, I bought an old Mac PowerPC 7200 for $50 from a neighbor. It couldn't even go online. But I could type up my papers, and save them on a disk and print them out on a little printer. It's all I really needed. All of the cool kids had an iMac G3 or G4. And I was the resident "technician" everyone called on the 4th floor of Santoro Hall to fix a computer because "Liz knows about computers..." Did I mention way back when, I once printed the entire HELP file for DOS because I wanted to learn all of the commands? Oh my Dad was so mad I wasted all of the ink... LOL

I don't own an iPod, I owned a MacBook for a year of hell because it was a lemon (bought Christmas 2009). I run Linux, another Unix based operating system and close cousin. And I don't really want an iPad. But the fact that those products exist still impact my life today. Without the success of iTunes, I wouldn't have the other music store options that I use. Without the success of the iPhone, I wouldn't have a touch screen cell phone (that's not an iPhone). Apple has always been willing to be out there, in the front, and not always commercially successful. But just because I don't buy Apple products, doesn't mean I don't appreciate the company's forward-thinking and the influence it has on consumer electronics across the board. And most of that is thanks to Steve Jobs, and I'm very sad he's gone.

But I will think about his genius and guts every time I put in a Pixar film for my children. Every time I hear iPod used to refer to any MP3 player. Every time I use a touch screen instead of another input device. And years and years and years from now, I will be proud to explain the history behind the technology my grandchildren use and tell them about this great innovator who came up with technology to improve our lives even before we knew they needed improving.

A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby. CANCELLED is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords WIP: PAST DUE A nurse, crippled by debt, takes a part-time job in medical investigation only to find the man she's dating is a fraud!  (status: outlining)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Ereading Experiences in Germany

Okay... so I went down the rabbit hole a bit. I found this article:,,15423450,00.html  about reading portals in Germany. And now you will be so proud of me... I signed up for a profile on! Yes, it is a little funny I'm sure as I was using Google Translate. No telling what some of my answers will come out in German when they translate them from English. Thank goodness some things about websites are universal, so I understood what they meant about uploading my image and this warning, or at least how Google Translate put it: "By 
uploading the photos you certify that you have no rights of third parties, in particular copyright and 
portrait right, injured."

This is my profile:

Click on Marcel Proust. I'm not 100% sure what the German means, but it's basically answer these random questions and we will put one up randomly on your public profile on the bottom right. :) Some of the questions I couldn't answer because the translation was too vague. I'm nervous about my answer to "What great misfortune on you?" I hope they meant something along the lines of "What is the saddest thing to happen to you?" I was a bit personal there, revealing that I once lost an early pregnancy while my husband was out to sea for the military. I wasn't sure how well Navy deployment would translate.

There is supposed to be somewhere I can get them to identify me as the writer of CANCELLED. I was most interested in joining because they offer a way for readers to ask questions of authors as soon as they have them with their ereader and highlight text. I thought, well snap, what a great way to help foster global communication? My book is a modern, contemporary American tale, I'm positive there are colloquialisms and customs in the book that I take for granted as known to my American readers, but any German readers would be confused. Like, they might wonder where on earth are the sex scenes since I have a tendency to fade to black. To give a perspective on how prude our society is in comparison? The Book of the Day on the left side was Mindfuck. Yep. Just out there, here it is. :)

I'm going to spend some more time on the site, it runs basically like a Goodreads, but I think some users do speak English. It's a great learning opportunity for me, and I'm ecstatic to have found it. Signing up is not for the faint of heart, there is a little bit of guessing, even with Google translating the page for me in Chrome. German embedded in images doesn't translate. But I learned some new German words, like Bucher is books, Alle is all, and Autor is Author. How cool is that?

***BREAKING NEWS: I'm featured on Nathan Lowell Presents today! It's a fun feature about the time I killed my mother's rubber tree plant in an attempt to become a superball mogul. Please show some love with a little traffic and comments. :) ***

A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby. CANCELLED is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords WIP: PAST DUE A nurse, crippled by debt, takes a part-time job in medical investigation only to find the man she's dating is a fraud!  (status: outlining)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

September Sales for Cancelled

I am very proud of my release month! My original goal, way back when, was to sell 50 copies, releasing the beginning of the month. I didn't release CANCELLED until September 14, so I only had 16 days, not 30. I sold a total of 28 copies!!! Extrapolating that rate out, it was roughly 1.75 books on average per day, and if I had had 30 days, multiplied by 1.75, that would have been 52.5 books!

Here is what my sales looked like: