Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Two Outta Three

I'm an early adopter. This is both a good and a bad thing. Or it can be.

I was one of the first people to join Kindle Worlds. It's an Amazon property that allows you to sell licensed fan fiction. The royalty structure is based on the length of the work and their rules, but it's a decent way to earn some extra change.

And I do mean 'change'.

One of my novellas recently sold three copies. My royalties on those three copies combined is a cool $1.92. It's $1.99 to buy. So I get around $0.60 a sale. About a 32% royalty. Again, not bad, especially if you're selling lots of copies.

These little novellas are quick and fairly easy for me, plus I don't really talk about or market them ever. People seem to stumble upon them.

Also, these are eBooks only and won't accept a lot of fancy formatting. Even some of the formatting I normally do for Kindle freaks out Kindle Worlds. Downside? It's a Kindle Exclusive. You can't upload those works anywhere else for sale. It's all in the fine print agreement.

So, two outta three.

I'm working on polishing off a trilogy for The Vampire Diaries called Dead Ringer. The main premise behind it is what if Elena Gilbert had a sister? Twist... said sister looks very much like her but isn't a doppelganger. Also, said sister knows about Elena, but Elena knows nothing about her.

The first novella, Splintered Shadow, takes place at the beginning of Season Three, starting with Elena's 18th birthday party. The timing works since (spoiler) Elena's biological father died at the end of Season Two. This is the reason that her half-sister comes to town: to find out what happened to John Gilbert.

I just put the sequel through the beginning of the vetting process today. There's relief, excitement, and then panic ("Oh, shit, I need to finish the third one!"). 

So, trilogy is two-thirds complete with Blind Betrayal. Which means I have a few seconds to take a deep breath before I dive back in.

Lost Love will be book three. Hopefully out by early this summer. Book One made it to market in January and Book Two will be live any time now.

If you want to know more about Dead Ringer, look below!

Friday, February 16, 2018


Of all my published works, I think Sole Survivor has probably been redone the most. It's tricky getting the first book in a series right. Not to mention the dual storylines.

There's Lisa and Jackson. A marriage on the rocks. Deadly secrets.

Then there's Kat. A college student on a mission to solve a cold case that started as an assignment and became an obsession.

It's time for a revamp. Maybe even a face-lift for the cover. Either way, it's a perk and a problem for me.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Writing Workshop: Self-Publishing Formatting

In my last post, I mentioned that I teach Writing Workshops. Well, this week is all about self-publishing so I thought I'd share one of the documents I created for it. I'm going to work on a more in depth version for the future, but this is skipping the top and not necessarily beholden to a single distributor or program (that's a future post).

Self-Publishing Formatting Tips

Formatting tips:
  •          Separate documents or save files for ebook and print (and it helps to keep one file that’s just the text file just in case)
  •           Take your time. Relax. Maybe do one thing at a time, like add the header formatting, then take a break and focus on other bits.
  •           Don’t forget to include “front matter”. It will vary depending on the distributor. Read through their guidelines. “Front matter” is the copyright information as well as the title page.
  •           300dpi image for cover – size depends on the requirements of the distributor – bigger is better and remember a lot of eReaders only show black and white, not color

  •           eBook formatting can be done in Word
  •           Strip all the formatting first – copy/paste entire text into a Wordpad/Notepad (not Word, but the plain text pad) document to strip all formatting. Copy/paste the text from Wordpad into a new Word document. (Known as “going nuclear”)
  •           Styles are your friend in Word when it comes to formatting. Create one for chapter headings and one for main text at a minimum.
  •          Basic settings for paragraphs in eBooks:  start with “normal” and then “modify” to:
    •    Single spaced lines
    •    Times New Roman, 12pt font
    •    .3” first line indent
    •   For first paragraph to make text appear flush:  .01” special first line indent (make this a separate style)
  •           Header text is good around 14pt – can use another font like Arial. Stay away from kooky fonts
  •           Add space of 30 or 40pt both before and after header to keep spacing even and give it a small barrier between the chapter title and the text
  •           “insert > page break” at the end of each chapter
  •           Do not add page numbers or headers to an eBook  - text needs to be flowable.
  •           Italics, Bolding, and Underlining can all be directly done on specific pieces of text – they don’t need a style unless you prefer it.
  •           Glyphs as paragraphs breaks add a professional touch to your ebook, but can be tricky to pull off since you’re almost inserting a picture into text rather than a symbol.
  •           Table of Contents are required and need hyperlinks. There is a two-step process – first you have to create the links within the pages (highlight the chapter heading, “insert >bookmark”, name it) and then in the TOC (highlight ‘Chapter One’, etc, “insert > hyperlink > place in this document > your creatively named link from step one”).

  • Can be achieved in Word with patience and lots of work (there’s lots of tutorials online including: https://jamigold.com/2015/06/formatting-from-manuscript-to-a-print-book-with-ms-word/ and https://selfpublishingadvice.org/production-6-tips-to-help-indie-authors-format-prints-book-with-word/ and a video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7FzvtxK686c&t=1s )
  • Adobe InDesign works well if you have a non-formatted version of your work (do not use the same file as you did for eBook or you will be very, very sad). (More on Adobe: https://helpx.adobe.com/indesign/using/creating-book-files.html )
  • Look at a print book to help with this stage.
  • You should have page numbers and header/footer. This is a professional looking tip.
  • What you see is what will print. You can use fancier fonts in print, but keep them readable.
  • Don’t have too many fonts going on: three is good in general (one for title, one for headings, and one for main text)
  • 12pt font is usually good for main text
  • 14-16 or higher pt font for headers
  • Add space before and after chapter titles
  • Generally, do not include page numbers or header/footer on the first page of a new chapter. Chapters usually begin on the right page. This might mean adding blank pages (also without page numbers/headings) to get it correctly balanced.
  • Your left and right pages with have different headings. For example, the left might be your name and the right the title of the book. Page numbers can be in the heading or on the bottom of the page.
  • Section Breaks are important for print formatting in Word.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Future Plans

I've not been blogging for a while. I've also not been writing as much.

I've always written while having a job and often while attending college. But I wasn't really prepared for the exhaustion from chronic illness coupled with a promotion at my job. Most days, I come home and crawl into bed under the covers.

My mind is always going, but sitting down at the keys and actually "working" eludes me.

For the past year, I've been hosting "Writing Workshops" at my job. I've been at this over a decade now and information was hard to come by and understand when I was starting out. Not to mention that self-publishing had a really bad wrap as vanity press (which still exist, BTW).

Then the recession hit. Borders closed. Publishing changed.

Self-publishing has become more and more viable depending on the person. And depending on their goal.

I enjoy helping guide others and share information and wisdom learned from years of doing. I'm even considering creating some $0.99 eBooks or so with tips and tricks.

In the meantime, I'm using my spare time to correct past works piece-by-piece. New formatting. Typos and errors re-corrected. New paperback editions. New eBook editions. Possible combo issues.

If you're ever south of Annapolis, MD, maybe you'll stop by one of my workshops at the local library. :)

Sunday, January 17, 2016

2016 Releases

Last year didn't exactly go as planned for releases.

That's why this year, I'm airing on the side of conservative.

JCA  Novels:
There will be at least one full-length novel release this year. This will be a J. Carter & Associates novel. As for which one it will be, I'm not sure.

It could be Clear Line of Sight, which is focused on Marc Pearson and photographer Serena Bradley. I've been working on this story for a long time - it was originally a NaNoWriMo novel back in 2009, but Kat and Aidan kept interjecting themselves into the story. I pushed it to the back burner in order to concentrate more on Kat and Aidan.

Mock-up cover art.
The other strong possibility is Double Agent. I've been wanting to introduce Miranda Brennan, Kat's twin, for a long time. In fact, I pretty much know everything about her character and have since early on, similar to Elektra DeFlair.

Miranda is a fascinating character. She was the firstborn daughter, but given up in favor of Kat by their mother. She was adopted by a family that already had several kids. But they were different than the Winters family who later took in Kat. I won't say exactly how, but I will say Miranda has a lot more in common with Aidan than she does with Kat. Speculate about that as you will.

I made a decision to focus on Aidan's background before we delved into the relationship between the sisters, which is why Breaking Point preceded Double Agent. Miranda and Katherine's struggles continue throughout the series as evident by Blown Away.

The J. Carter & Associates series has always been about family at it's core. It is about relationships and the ties that bind people together - blood ties and otherwise. Aidan is running from his family. Kat is ignorant about her family. Lisa is bent on protecting her family. Jackson is discovering a family after having lost his own. The people who work there are a messed up and mixed up family, but they are a family. Marc is the big brother that Kat always wanted. He's the brother that Aidan never had. Jackson is the father Aidan always wanted. Kat had a family. She had parents and a sister who loved her once. But she also has her JCA family. Her real family.

Early on in the planning process, I tried to figure out how to keep Lisa in the series. Originally, she lived on and Kat became close to her. But the more I learned about Katherine, the less I could see her forgiving Lisa for giving her up. In time, yes. But they would never have been close because Kat had been betrayed before by Scott. To pretend that Lisa, Jackson, and Kat could be a perfect, happy family would have been disingenuous to the characters.

JCA Novellas:

Last year, I planned to release a 3-in-1 novella collection (in print for the first time!) and the third J. Carter & Associates novella. However, I've run into complications with the plot and I'm holding off work on Dead on Arrival at this time. Realistically, I can see it being released after Double Agent since the plots echo each other. It also might feature a character death or two.

Blood Ties Series:

I encountered lots of problems with Kindle Worlds this past year. Lots of problems. While these problems on the surface appear corrected, I am still hesitant to finish the series. I lost a lot of steam while handling various publishing issues. That being said, I dearly love this series and I do plan to continue it. It will not be as fast in releases as the Duality Trilogy was.

Mock-up cover art.
However, Stronger than Blood (the second book) is in progress and I hope to have a release date and cover copy to share soon. I have about six or more books planned. I think about a third of NaNo writing was related to this series.

Ideally, I would like to publish two more novellas from this series this year - one in the spring and another again in the fall. They have each run longer than the Duality ones in word count, far exceeding the planned length of approximately 15,000 words.

Releases In Review:

At least one full length novel from the J. Carter & Associates series will be released this year. Depending on the novel, I will publish the next novella, Dead on Arrival, either late this year or early next year.

The Blood Ties series hit a speed bump but is on track for one to two releases this year (Spring/Fall).

Other Plans:

I'm revamping the website and it will be moved to a paid address once I complete the updates. That's right, no more adding the ".webs.com"! I don't have a timeline for this yet.

I encountered some formatting issues with Steal You Away, at least on Smashwords. I'm in the process of updating and reformatting the entire file. Once it is uploaded, I will also update Amazon, Nook, and the print version as/if needed.

The new formatting is gorgeous, but time consuming since I had to completely strip the file of all formatting - including every chapter header, every italic, etc. My brain can only take so much at a time.

Happy New Year!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Edits and Upcoming Releases

Camp NaNo began on Wednesday. I set a moderate goal for 25,000 words after crashing and burning back in April. So far (as of this post, at least) I'm on track to finish.

While I'm jumping headlong into a sequel, I'm knee-deep in edits for Blood Ties #1. The Blood Ties series will likely be at least four 15,000 or so word novellas - maybe longer. They will be Kindle Worlds exclusives like the Duality Trilogy I wrote last year.

I'm hoping to release the first two in fairly quick succession. The fun part is that much of what I'm cutting from the first one fits better in the second. The difficult part is finding the balance between past and present scenes as well as the family parts and Liz's current relationship. 

While I work on that series, I'm also busy plotting the next three novels in the J. Carter & Associates series. 

The order is not yet set in stone, but here's the working theory:
#4 Clear Line of Sight
#5 Double Agent
#6 Life Support

Clear Line of Sight is Marc's chance to shine. When he saves Serena Bradley from a shooter, he uncovers a plot to kill the photographer. Now they have to go underground while Kat and Aidan try to figure out why she's a target. Kat and Aidan are meant to take the backseat after the events of Breaking Point to give them a chance to heal and decide what to do with the bombshells dropped on them.

In Double Agent, Kat finally comes face-to-face with her twin sister. But Miranda Brennan has an ulterior motive...she wants Kat's life. It's one seriously twisted sibling rivalry that I've been planning since Sole Survivor

Aidan is lying in a coma in Life Support after a car accident. His wife and infant daughter are missing from the crash site. Then Katherine wakes up in another state in the arms of another man. (Hooked yet?)

With any luck, there will be a new JCA book this spring (2016) with one a year after that. I have a working title and plot for the next novella (a possible fall 2015 release), but the early scenes aren't coming together as well as I had hoped. The working title is Dead on Arrival and it picks up where Blown Away left off.

However, I am working on the cover art for a three-in-one eBook and print edition of the three novellas. It will be the first time the novellas will be available in paper! Yay!

Now, it's back to work I go!

Friday, January 2, 2015


Let's face it - I'm not the most active blogger.

I could say that a resolution for 2015 would involve more blog posts. But I won't.


Well, the best reason would be for me to write more novels. The other reason would be that I forget to blog and then bam, it's been six months.

Fret not, dear readers. I will still occasionally blog - in the erratic style to which I'm sure you've all become accustom to.

Now, the topic of today's post is the third book in the J. Carter & Associates series. This book has been more of a headache than I anticipated. While writing Fatal Target, my head was chock-full of ideas for Breaking Point. Then I finished Fatal Target and the ideas dried up. Woops.

Honestly, I over-planned for 2014. I think I had six releases planned. Guess how many actually got done? (One. One whole novella.)
This novella, right here.

I was simply burned out and wanted nothing more than to sleep. Then when I wasn't sleeping, I stared at a blank page. Or, even better--worked on anything but Breaking Point. That's how Blood Ties came about (more on that later).

What's wrong with Breaking Point? My last major, complete 50K+ draft was written in 2008. There was no simple way to rework it, given that the previous two books were nearly complete rewrites of previous drafts. There were also two main characters in the draft we have yet to see in the series, who had to be written out. The tone was also lighter in some aspects.

Okay, cut the characters. Done. Well, next problem - how to make this a complete story then? Those characters contributed to some conflict in the third act. So I trashed the third act. You can see where this is going.

The villain remained. How Kat and Aidan met the villain and how Kat ended up taking a swim changed. Two scenes that stayed mostly the same were her abduction and her near-drowning. Even who rescues her changed.

One fun change was the introduction of Gwen DeFlair. We've seen Jesse DeFlair (a creepy cameo in Fatal Target) and we've heard about Patrick and Elektra DeFlair since book one. Gwen is one of my favorites because of her connection to Aidan. Like Kat, she's underestimated because of her gender. She's the child of a powerful figure, who happens to be a sadistic monster. Unlike Kat, she has siblings. She wasn't raised alone - she was protected by her brother. Gwen's the only girl in a sea of brothers and was born and raised in a man's world.

Final cover art!
Gwen plays a big role in Breaking Point. In order to put her in her role, there was another complication - how to get Aidan into trouble and keep him from saving the day.

All I can say is - he's gotta lotta mommy issues.

Thanks to the maze of drafts, health setbacks, and everyday life, I'm proud to finally announce the eBook release date of January 25th, 2015 for Breaking Point. I sincerely think it will be worth the wait. I scrapped a lot of words and reorganized, reedited, and read, then reedited again and rewrote some more in order to make it the exciting book I hope you'll all enjoy reading.

Kat's story takes a backseat as we learn more about Aidan and where he came from - and why he's so determined to protect Kat.

I can't wait for you guys to (finally) read it!

Switching Gears

Earlier I mentioned Blood Ties as one of my diversions. My last blog post mentioned the Duality Trilogy I wrote under the Kindle Worlds imprint. Blood Ties is a saga also set in The Vampire Diaries world. Blood Ties is about the bonds between family. It's the story of the Salvatore family from the 1860s to present day with one major addition - Elizabeth, Stefan's twin sister, and the only person to survive the Battle of Willow Creek and her brothers' bloodlust. Left alone in 1864, devastated by the death of her family, Elizabeth marries to save the family estate. In 2009, Lizzy Salvatore befriends a human historian writing a book on the Battle of Willow Creek while Damon terrorizes their home town and Stefan falls in love with a doppelganger named Elena.
Book One

Over the decades and into centuries, the Salvatore siblings fight and often separate but they're still drawn together by the blood they share.

I've been doing a lot of researching and planning for this series, plus some rough drafts on FanFiction.Net as preparation. It's part historical saga and part romance.

Thicker than Blood is the first part, tracing mainly the 1860s from Katherine's arrival to Elizabeth becoming a vampire, along with modern-day Lizzy's budding relationship with Sam and reuniting with both her brothers in Mystic Falls. I have an arc of three-to-four titles planned. I hope to announce a release date for the first novella soon.