Sneak Peeks

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The way to a man's heart (and to the end of a manuscript, and to the beginning of a bedtime story...) is through the stomach.

Have you ever been rolling through your schedule, knocking off the to-do list, grinding forward, maybe not smoothly, maybe with effort, but you're getting there then all of a sudden it happens?


Or divergence of monumental proportion.

Momentum stops. Progress stops. Life stops.

That happened to me four months ago.

Wow. A third of a year. Gone.

What happened to me? Probably not what happened to you. No one died. I didn't lose my job or get divorced. No force of evil intruded on my world and stole my security.

No. I got nauseous.

Brief backstory- My husband and I were hoping/planning/trying for another baby. In fertility terms we're practically ancient, nearing 40. But, magically, in July, it worked! Pink line! Plans falling into place! Another check on the life list, progress!

Then a few weeks later I got nauseous.

Morning sickness is blah. I had it with my first pregnancy. It sucks, but you learn to just set your fork down when it strikes, take care of the call, and sit back down to finish your meal when it passes.

That's not what I'm talking about.

Most of us have heard about the English princess and her bouts of terrible morning sickness. Hyperemesis Gravitas. It can be deadly. It's a state of nausea and vomiting that is so bad it can be life threatening. Lucky lady was cared for in a private hospital till it passed four months later.

I wasn't a lucky lady.

I was diagnosed with HG almost immediately as my weight plummeted. I almost can't recall clearly how I made it through the last four months. Everything is washed in a sort of green haze. Literally. There's a color to the world that shouldn't be there. And certain words trigger a sort of PTSD type reaction. Like - caterpillar. Shiver. Things I experienced during my struggle to survive this all-encompassing urge to vomit twenty-four hours a day still haunt me and bring a phantom return of symptoms when mentioned.

Nothing exists beyond the center during this terrible illness. The queasy stomach and shivering muscles. I was medicated at all times, and it worked just enough to keep me out of the hospital. But it didn't do much for normal functioning. I could barely talk and read with my daughter, let alone play at the end of the day. And writing? A schedule? I am actually laughing as I type this. Seriously, it's a joke. There is no creativity. No desire to do anything besides curl around that rebellious center and attempt to smother it.

So, after I published FANGIRL_15 I basically fell off the face of the Earth. And that's why. I was nauseous. But the monster has finally passed and I've crawled back out of the third level of Hell. I received an amazing review of my Veil series by the judges of the Writer's Digest 22nd Annual Self-Published Book Awards. 4 out of 5 stars! Such an honor. And their invaluable critique ended with the judge's personal hope to read more in the series. Blew me away. Couldn't stop smiling for an hour.

I regret the time I lost, but I'm back on track. Wheeler and Sophie's story, the sixth novella in the Beneath the Veil Anthology, was slated for release in October, but that obviously didn't occur. My schedule is reset four months back. I foresee a January release, but I also believe this edition is worth the wait. I'll have a cover reveal soon, along with a sneak peek at book seven, Jekyll and Hyde's story.

Thank you to everyone for your well-wishes during this difficult time and for continuing to make Beneath the Veil Anthology so successful.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Cutter

Swing through the air,
Slice through the hair.
I don't care.
I don't care.
How deep is the brain?
Watch for drips,
Mustn't stain.
No more pain.
No more pain.
You can't break what I have broken.
You can't steal what I have given away.
There is no pleasure for you here.
Just walk away.
Walk away.

(Chloe Wright a.k.a FANGIRL_15)

Saturday, June 7, 2014


Chloe is in love with Lucien.

He’s enigmatic, compassionate, generous and intelligent. Likes classical music just as much as kicking ass and knows his way around a kitchen, though he’d never admit it. His Samurai swords are an extension of his personality and a lifetime of heartache has taught him to wield them unfailingly. He’s gorgeous yet humble and can’t see past his own scars.

Lucien feels deeply for his chosen family and is absolutely worthy of love.

Sounds perfect, right?

The only problem is that Lucien is a character in a novel.

The Dark Riders is one of the best selling paranormal romance series of all time, and it was destined to have eight installments, one for each of the brothers-in-arms. Lucien’s story was supposed to be book eight, where he’d finally find true love and live happily ever after. Except the writer died before his story was published. Worse yet, book seven was finished by some poser that thought killing off one of the main characters would bring a more modern twist to the finale.

Chloe is absolutely devastated by the news that one of her “friends” is dead and that the series is canceled. She has a quasi-nervous-breakdown at work and ends up falling asleep in the lounge. Her midnight escape from the locked office lands her in a deserted parking lot after hours where an unseen force has been waiting. Just. For. Her...

This supernatural assault strands her in an alternate reality where the Dark Riders are real and the horrible ending created by the publisher hasn’t happened yet.

Chloe decides that she’s been brought there to fix all of the storylines and tries her best to convince the monsters around her that she’s there to help. She ends up mangling their plots more often than not and now must race the waxing moon to find a way home before Lucien accidentally falls in love with her instead of his destined mate. The Fates are working against her as Chaos interferes and the truth about what really dragged her over threatens to destroy everything that Chloe holds dear.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Appeal of Misery, and Why I Want to Give an Agent the Heimlich Maneuver

     Who are you?

     Who are you?

     Unlike Brian, who came up with that awesome essay in response to Principle Vernon’s question in The Breakfast Club, I have yet to find the short and sweet version of novel description.

     Agent Obi Wan: What is your novel about? Make sure to “intrigue” me in one paragraph or less.

     Unpublished Author: Okay, let’s see...It’s about the universal nature of! The empowering, healing, transformative nature of true! It’s a reimagining of the creation story and theorizes why monsters really do exist... Ummmm... Boy meets girl on alien world?

     Agent Obi Wan: Unfortunately you have failed to capture my attention and I won’t bother reading your (clearly crappy) story. Thank you for your time.

     So, my attempts to woo an agent haven’t been quite that bad, but from the responses I’ve received I assume they’re pretty darn close.

     I have to admit, when it comes to describing a story I’ve written, I choke. Maybe because I’m so deep into the thing that I can’t make out the broader features anymore. I’m beneath the skin, no way to pull back and tell if my creature is pretty or not.

     What I’ve decided is that instead of continuing to bang my head on closed doors, I just need to find an injured agent. Nothing too serious, nothing that would keep them from, say, reading my novels while they recuperate or anything...

     See, I’ve had this fantasy of late, it goes like this: I’m in my hermit cottage in the mountains, á la Kathy Bates. Alone. And I see this little plane fall out of the sky, neeeow boom! I brave a howling blizzard to search for survivors and, low and behold, there’s one. The pilot, who just happens to be an über successful agent out for a spin in her new toy.

     I drag the unfortunate soul back to my lair...err...cottage and bandage her injuries. Alas, the storm has knocked out all radio communication.

     Do the phones work?



     NO! Ahem, no. We’ll just have to stick it out together for a few days. Don’t worry I’ll take care of you. Do you need something to read to pass the time?

     My manifesto would be happily dumped into her lap, after which I’d lurk around outside the door, listening for every gasp and giggle until (dun da daaaa!) she tells me I’m an incredibly brilliant writer and she’ll be crushed if I don’t allow her to represent me.

     Storm ends.

     Agent heals.

     Success and glory rain down on me. Huzzah!!!!

     Okay. That one miiiiight be a little farfetched, but I could totally randomly run across an unfortunate agent, choking on their chicken. People choke on dried out chicken all the time, right? And I’m sure that agents eat chicken now and then. So...

     A hungry agent will be eating their dried out chicken when, gasp! They start choking! Everyone is screaming and standing around with their iPhones, filming her demise while the helpless woman turns blue. Then I step in and, womp! Successful chicken ejector squeeze.

     “You saved my life! I’m eternally in your debt. How can I ever repay you?”

     Well, it just so happens that I have this novel I’d like you to read...

     Of course! I’ll begin it tonight!


     So I’ve written a few agent queries without success. Who hasn’t? You haven’t!? Well, let me be the first to tell you that it’s about an eleven on the difficulty scale. I’ve tried using bits of my blurbs. Nuh uh. I’ve tried mysterious allusions to the deeper subplots. Yawn. First person perspective on the action. REJECT. Focus on the romance. Nope. I’ve even considered stealing the awesome reviews people have written for my self-pub’d books and using those. I seriously love the way readers see the story as a whole, and also hearing what part meant the most to them. I don’t know if anyone else has gotten this before, but when you write something with all of these little subplots and details, and someone gets it, recognizes the big picture, even better than you because you have to be so hung up on each individual piece, it’s magic! It’s the best gift, to see your story through someone else’s eyes.

     So how can I tell someone what they’re going to find in my story?

     It’s a New Adult/Sci Fi Romance, complete at 94,000 words. In it you’ll find a brain, and an athlete, and a basket case, a princess, and a criminal...

     Just read it.

     Read it!

     Read it, or I’ll break it off!!!!

     What does it say about the stress of query writing when a person would rather perform life-or-death exploits than write another letter? Yes, ye virgin query-er, it’s that bad.

     By the way, I heard there’s a bungee jumping expose being held in the Grand Canyon next weekend. I’ll be there with a giant net if anyone’s interested...


Saturday, February 8, 2014

Self-Publishing Secrets

     I hope you aren’t here looking for the magic bullet of self-publishing success. The secrets I’m revealing here aren’t the how-to’s of self-publishing, because, seriously, there’s really no secret to that. Everyone and their grandma has a self-publishing guide on Amazon’s shelf. In fact, all you have to do is put “self-publishing secrets” in the title and it’s a guaranteed best seller.
     What I’m talking about are the real secrets.
     How much did you earn from self-publishing last year?
     How successful are those blog tours?
     How well do free promotions work?
Well, I’m going to tell you.

     The first thing I’d like to point out (and this is important for perspective, not just filler) is the fact that I am a hermit. Look back through my blog posts and Twitter feed and you’ll see that my offerings are sporadic at best. I’m not social. I’m jealous and guarded with my time. Even my dear family only sees me on a rare weekend when we all have magically synced schedules. To compound this genetic predisposition toward solitude, I was also born in the in-between age, when technology was becoming available to the yuppies and the rich kids that lived on the hill, but not everybody had seen a cordless phone yet. We didn’t grow up with technology. My TV was black and white as a kid (gasp!) because we were too poor to buy a color set, and black and white wasn’t totally abnormal at the time.
     You get the drift. I’m not comfortable with social media, THE NUMBER ONE tool for selling books.
     Strike one and two.
     The only reason why my reluctant approach to social media didn’t leave me with a third strike, dead in the water, is because I finish and publish my books. And the writing isn’t half bad.
I love writing. But not just any writing. I love writing about my worlds. My people that only I know and who I desperately want to share with others. Every spare moment that I can carve out for writing I devote solely to the creation of my novels. If I were to use that time to blog, or comment on other blogs, or chase bloggers for reviews, I wouldn’t have anything else to offer readers but blogs.
     But I decided that in 2013 I was going to give social media my best effort. Though I didn’t have the time for continual socializing, I was willing to invest in people who could, and try a (tiny) bit harder to be present myself.
     Here’s what I did-
I tweeted from my phone at least a few times a week.
I paid a company to take me on a blog tour.
I ran a Facebook promotion giving away a free iPad Mini.
I joined two Goodreads writer’s groups.
I subscribed to Netgalley for a month.
And I published five novellas in a series.
     How did all this work for me?
     If a person’s success using Twitter is measured by the amount of re-tweets and mentions they receive, then it was a dismal failure. I mostly Tweeted release details, and sneak-peeks at upcoming cover art. I also did short blurbs from cool scenes in my books in the hopes of sparking some interest in them.
     Everyone hates those. Wait, was that too sweeping a judgment? Okay, to be specific, I rarely got retweets of these Tweets, because, let’s face it, they’re basically ads and most people don’t like ads.
I also Tweeted about some writers and causes that I wanted to support, but my Tweets were clearly lacking the whipped cream and sprinkles that brings ya back for more.
     Bad Redhead Media gives some of the best advice that I’ve come across about using Twitter. Do I follow all of the amazing free advice she gives? No. Which is why Twitter doesn’t work for me. I’m a skulker, not a sharer. I read your Tweets. You don’t read mine.
     If you aren’t following Bad Redhead Media, do so NOW! She will deliver you from evil if you just obey…
     Here’s a link to her website
Blog Tour-
     One month, a couple dozen blogs, carefully prepared answers and blurbs, just watch the sales roll in. Right?
     I only have experience with one blog tour operator so I can’t speak for the entire species, but my tour was a rather dismal failure. The blogs that this company booked seemed to only run blog tours, one after the other, after the other, after the other… I can’t imagine what sort of following they have, maybe that’s actually what a lot of people look for? Natch. Not only was this promotion fairly generic looking, but most of the bloggers didn’t end up posting the interviews or other writing I provided. This may be the tour manager’s fault for not pushing it, or simply flakey bloggers, but it was disappointing and certainly not worth the money that I paid. I didn’t see any rise in sales to indicate a spike of interest from the blogs. Zip.
     But blogging does work. The key is finding people who actually like your novels and aren’t just accepting five bucks to paste you on their scrolling author page. When real people talk about you to their real followers, the response is boggling. A regular person wrote about my book, A Taste For Moonlight, on an average little blog last year and the boost in sales blew me away. I rocketed all the way to number three on Amazon’s best seller list and stayed there for over a month. Top 100, baby! Best feeling ever.
     The power of a single voice is far greater than you realize. I wish I knew who that girl was so that I could thank her. (Thank you!)
iPad Mini Giveaway-
     I also tried a Facebook contest to raise interest in my work, I’d heard great things about authors who gave away Kindles and such. (I’m laughing as I type this) Okay, how did it go?
I got 2,000 new likes on Facebook because of the like-gate on the contest. You couldn’t enter without clicking “like” first. Most of these people Tweeted about the contest for an extra entry, so for a month a couple thousand Tweets were flittering about with my name on them.
     Rise in book sales? New reviews? Tons of new Twitter followers?
     Nope. Not. At. All.
     The cost of the contest and the cost of the iPad Mini were definitely not returned. So funny and confounding, I’m still not sure why it didn’t work?
     My best advice on this one is, if you run a contest, find a way to make buying one of your books a no-brainer, like offering 50 extra entries for proof of purchase, or 100 extra entries for a link to a review of your book. And definitely do the like-gate if it’s on Facebook.
Goodreads and Shelfari-
     I joined a couple of their groups and did my usual sporadic participation. If you make friends and comment on posts often, you’ll keep your name on everyone’s mind. I notice people that regularly pop up in my updates and I remember them. Do people remember me? No. I don’t comment enough. I am a lurker, not a participator.
     I joined a fantastic group of authors on Netgalley called Patchwork Press. They allow authors to buy month-long spots for a VERY reasonable price (under 50 bucks) instead of forking over the hundreds a private membership would require.
This was a promising one. I got a couple of new reviews out of my month long trial on a single title. It apparently works best with newly/soon to be published works, but really anything that a fairly new or self-pub’d author submits might find success.
     This one was worth it.
     I’ve self-published five Paranormal Romance novellas for $.99 each, and three full length NA SciFi novels for $2.99 each on Amazon, and offer them on Prime. I also have the anthology of Par/Rom novellas as a single volume for $3.99. This one isn’t Prime and I have it for sale on Kobo, Nook, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.
     Most of my sales come from Amazon. I’ve sold only a handful of books on Barnes & Noble.
I believe I averaged between 30-40 hours a month on writing and the little I did with social media to promote myself. If you can devote more time to writing, it will doubtless pay off exponentially as long as all of the following “IF’s” are checked off.
     IF you use Twitter correctly and Tweet about more than your own books, and IF you blog regularly and find regular people who will blog about you, and IF you run giveaways for real fans, and IF you join book groups and participate often, and IF you subscribe to Netgalley and submit your book for professional review, and IF (the biggest IF) your writing isn’t half bad and you produce new work regularly, then you can reasonably assume you’ll do at least as well as I have by self-publishing.
     Now, I don’t know how these and the following numbers stack up with other self-pubs because most authors are extremely tight-lipped about such things. I know that for me, finally typing them is a bit daunting. My husband even asked me whether I was “really putting it all out there.”
     Yep. This is the stuff that I wanted to know when I began this journey. Mainly, how successful can you be with self-publishing? Now that I have this knowledge, I feel obliged to help the people who haven’t gotten here yet.
     So, (deep breath for courage) this is how the hermit did-

     My total sales in 2013 were $27,975.47 and the commission I received on that was $9332.91
     I sold about 25,000 books.

     Boom. There it is.