Wednesday, August 16, 2017

That Ah Ha! Moment When Writing and Utterances Excerpt

Happy Wednesday, everyone! Yes, I missed two days this week, but it was for good reason. I'm not only getting ready to leave for London and the awesome Chapter.Con, but I've also been writing Utterances! Today, I'm going to share the details of the book once again and a little snippet from further on. Grab your coffee (or tea), and let's get going!

PSA: This blog will be mostly silent until August 28th. I have a big surprise for you all on 8/24. Keep your eyes open for that post.

Yesterday, I had an ah ha! moment with my WIP. Here I was, struggling with the next big step in the book, and I hit upon the idea to just let the characters go with the flow of the story. I discovered they're smart and resourceful.

My characters are also pretty funny.  

Favorite quote:  "If crazies come a knockin’, guns come out a cockin’."

I started the day at 37k words, and I ended with 42.5k. Win!

Do you ever have that moment in your novel writing where you're just like I'VE GOT IT! and things flow?

Title: Utterances
Author: Jo Michaels
Genre: New Adult Paranormal
Length: TBD
Release Date: 2017

Blurb:
Simone spent the last two years by her cancer-ridden mother’s bedside. Taking care of her was the number one priority. When Mom suddenly goes into full remission, Simone is left bobbing in an unfamiliar ocean with a young man named Tristan. What happens next is the stuff of fairy tales—and nightmares.

Shocking, heart-wrenching, and insightful, Utterances will make you question everything you thought you knew about self-sacrifice. Award-winning author Jo Michaels pulls reality and the paranormal together in a way never before seen, intensely examining what we call the human condition by diving into the innermost workings of one young lady’s mind.

~~~~~~~~~

Excerpt (unedited) Chapter 14:

When the doc finally left, he was as white as his coat and moving fast.
Simone sat on the floor and watched as the fabric billowed in the breeze.
“Alexandra, honey?”
“Yes ma’am! Coming!”
Mrs. Shandy smiled. “Oh, good. I thought you’d done gone and left me!”
“No way, no how. We have a story to finish.” Simone dropped back in the chair, opened the book to where she’d left off, and continued.
That afternoon, she left a little early, with three chapters done, and decided to go to Tristan’s house to surprise him. On her way to Shady Pines, she’d texted him, but hadn’t said she had the evening off. After checking her makeup in the mirror—a new addition to her wardrobe thanks to Mom saying how tired and old her daughter looked, she started the engine and shifted into reverse.
It was twenty minutes before she got to his house, and she started to second-guess herself on the way up the driveway. He’d been off school that day, and she hadn’t pestered him to hang out. If he found out she’d been off work…
His truck was in the driveway, so she parked behind it and got out, suddenly nervous.
As she moved toward the door, she kicked herself for being impulsive. He was sure to ask questions she didn’t have answers to. She knocked three times and waited, a cold sweat breaking out on her forehead and palms.
He opened the door, his eyes got wide, and he stepped out, keeping hold of the handle. “Hey. What are you doing here? I thought you had to work.”
“Well, I knew you were out of school and had the day off work today, so I thought I’d drop by and surprise you.” She smiled, but her hackles rose. Something about the situation wasn’t quite right, yet she couldn’t put her finger on what.
Rather than pull her into a hug, he closed the door and grabbed her arm, guiding her off the porch toward her car. “How about I come to your house in a little while?”
“Um, why can’t we hang out here?” It was getting weirder, and he was being pretty obvious about wanting her to leave.
“My, uh, mom isn’t feeling well, and I wasn’t expecting company.”
She jerked her arm out of his grasp, turned, and sprinted toward the house, throwing open the front door and rushing in, looking everywhere.
He was half a step behind her, yelling at her to stop.
A gorgeous, long-legged brunette with barely any clothes on was passed out on the couch, whisky bottle still in her hand. There was only one word to describe her: flawless.
Simone stared, her mouth dropping open. Every fiber of her being went into shock then flew into blind rage. Her world tinted blood red. She rounded on Tristan, spit at him, and bolted.
Words were being shouted at her, but all she could hear was the fury screaming at her to leave and not come back. Ever. Once in the car, she jammed the key into the ignition, turned, shoved the car in reverse, and spun around in a perfect one-eighty. Tears gathering in her eyes made the driveway blurry, but she managed, somehow, to make it to the base of the hill before she had to pull over.
There was another driveway about fifty feet up the road on the opposite side, covered with a lush growth of leafy branches that would hide her car, so she gunned the accelerator and pulled up far enough to avoid being seen. Once sure no one had followed or seen her, she shut off the engine and curled into herself, letting the tears loose. She cried, she screamed, and she beat the steering wheel with her palms until they hurt.

~~~~~~~

Uh oh. Looks like our couple is in a bit of a pickle, huh?

Hope you enjoyed that!

My fingers are crossed I find the time to give you all a post tomorrow about something I discovered while browsing Facebook. It's interesting, and it's infuriating. Ha! Way to be vague, Jo!

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Friday, August 11, 2017

Readers, Sensitivity, and Mob Mentality - How Much is Too Much?

Happy Friday, good people of the blogosphere! Today, I'm on yet another discussion. There are several things that have popped up over the last few weeks about right and wrong things to put in a book. Get your coffee or tea in hand, your typing fingers ready to respond, and let's get going!

We all have opinions, right? I plan to open discussion on both sides of the board with this post, and I won't be standing on either side of the fence. You all know me too well if you've been around here a while. I like to hear what you think, I'm going to try my best not to influence you with my own words, and I enjoy the verbal exchange of ideas and viewpoints.

*****That being said, please be nice when you comment. This is my blog, and I won't tolerate hatred, calling-out, or vitriol here. Got it? Okay. Let's move on.

There are a number of books that have been released lately that have spurred some pretty serious reader blowback. To be 100% transparent, I haven't read any of them. My work has revolved around writing my own book, and it's been emotional enough.

But I've seen posts and discussions on Facebook, and I know the titles of the books under fire. No, I'm not going to share those, either. If you want to know, you'll have to do your own research. This post isn't about that.

For centuries, books have been the catalyst to change in many countries. If you don't know the history, do a quick search. There isn't enough space here to discuss them all, and you should be informed. But what I'm seeing now deals directly with what the authors write.

Incest, racism, hate.

Those are the topics under fire.

From my reading experience, either an author is trying to change your way of thinking, trying to bring to light something that's horrible that needs to have light shed on it, or they're trying to tell a story that has nothing to do with their own thoughts or beliefs (a true escape).

It's difficult to tell the difference sometimes, but that doesn't stop me from reading books I don't know what's inside of. This thing where authors have to disclaim horrifying details of their books in the blurb is unsettling.

Why?

Because the things that bother one person, won't bother another. We see this with all the reviews from all the books everywhere. Some people loved the Harry Potter series, and some folks wanted to burn all the books for promoting witchcraft.

See what I'm saying?

I can see labeling it 18 and up, but I'm talking about all the other things. It's worrisome that someone might just grab a book and "read" it only so they can trash it in the review later on and have that little verified purchase ribbon to back their words. But I'm backsliding.

Anyway, the problem here isn't just that labels are being applied, because I know at least one of the novels under fire was labeled, but that it's expected in the first place.

Who are we to know what someone else is going to feel when they read our books? How are we the authorities on how something we've written will be comprehended by the reader? 

Authors may be the worst people to add warnings to their books, but then, so might readers. What some find intense, others will merely scoff at.

Let's discuss by the three topics above then.

Incest.
This isn't a new trope used in books. It goes way, wayyyyy back to novels published in the 70s even. Before you go bananas, let me say, I can see both sides of the issue here. 1) It's something that happens in real life, ergo, it can be applied to a book for real-world additions. 2) It's disturbing to read about, and the fear is there that it'll incite someone to do something they hadn't considered before. It's a touchy subject, to be sure. If an author writes about it, does that mean they're encouraging it, bringing light to an ugly, or merely writing a story?

Racism.
This also isn't a new topic. I could list several books that were racist in nature, but they've become literary classics all the same. I can, again, see both sides of the issue. Do you want to see through a racist's eyes? Get their viewpoint on things? How their brains work? Maybe. Maybe not. 1) Racism is something that's real. It's a serious problem, but it can be used as a mechanism to show what might be in a racist's mind, giving others a unique insight. 2) It's bothersome to read, and it may fuel the already present racist heart of another, making them think of doing something they'd only considered before reading it. Again, what was the point of the author writing it?

Hate.
This applies to genders, races, siblings, government, etc... An older than time topic. Dystopian worlds were borne from hate of a ruling class or laws. You could also say hate applies to books with rape in them. Both sides have weight. 1) Hate is a true problem in our society, and shining a spotlight on it can be used as an effective fuel for the proverbial fire in a novel plotline. 2) Reading about a character hating on people from any walk of life is hard, and it may, again, reinforce that the reader's mindset is the correct one. Do we care about the point if the book makes us uncomfortable?

Historically, we're strongly influenced by books (again with the search recommended above), but does that mean if we read about it, we're going to act on it?

Has the fine line between reality and fiction blurred, or are we just more attuned to the crossovers now? Do the disclaimers even matter at that point?

What bothers me most about all of this is the mob mentality that's taken hold of the world. When someone writes something that's not considered PC, they're attacked by backers of the antis. While I believe in having an opinion and stating it, isn't that what reviews are for? Why do we feel the need to attack the person (in public, no less) behind the words without understanding (or caring) what it was they were trying to say? Is that really the case, or is something else going on here?

Is this censorship?

I'd love to hear your thoughts and opinions on the matter. Remember to be nice and don't name authors or books directly. This isn't a bash-fest.

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Value of Words - How Cheaply are Authors Willing to Work? Boxed Set vs. Individual Novel Sales

Happy Wednesday, everyone! I know it's the middle of the week and all, but today, I'd like you all to get your brains cranking. There are some things I'd like your thoughts and opinions on, and we're gonna crunch some numbers (you all know how I love that)! If you're ready, get your typing fingers ready, your coffee in hand, and let's get going!


I know you've all seen the huge boxed sets floating around the book world. Sixteen books for just under a dollar sounds pretty dang good, right? Well, it is. That's only around six/seven cents per book. Each novel included is usually around 60k words, so that means a word is worth 0.000001 (or one penny per ten thousand words [math: .99 divided by 16 divided by 60,000 multiplied by 10,000]). One hell of a deal for your reader, right?

Now, let's look at the typical full-length novel. They're priced between $0.99 and $5.99. If they're from a big five publisher, you can bet they'll cost a bit more (say $7.99 to $12.99). We'll say those books are the same length as the ones above, and I'll give you the cost per word for a few (gapping so this post of numbers isn't quite so long). At $0.99, a word is worth 0.0000165 (or $0.17 [rounded up] per ten thousand words [math: .99 divided by 60,000 multiplied by 10,000]). At $5.99, a word is worth 0.00009983 (or $0.99 per ten thousand words). And, at $12.99, a word is worth 0.0002165 ($2.17 per word). To readers. This isn't what you make. Stay with me.

I don't know about you, but I write about 2k words per hour. Most of the people I know do 1k or 1.5k per hour, and others do even fewer than that. Let's figure out how much authors are making per hour selling their books, shall we?

At a rate of 2k words per hour, selling a 60k word novel in a boxed set will put the author making less than one penny for every five hours of work put in writing the book (0.00066 per hour). A 60k word novel should take 30 hours to write at that pace. Few of us work 5 days a week, so we'll say two weeks. You would've made a whopping $0.02 for your two weeks (or 30 hours) of labor for each sale (because you don't make the whole $0.99 on a sale, it's more like $0.32 -- divided by 16 people -- divided again by 30 hours). Less than a penny for all that work. But then there's another (at least) four weeks of editing and proofreading that take another (let's say 6) hours. Your pay just got cut. You're now at $0.00055 per sale per hour because you're at 36 hours of work without adding words (goods) to the value of your time.

But wait!

You paid to get into the boxed set, likely paid for a cover and an editor, and you pay for marketing, right?

Before you get into the "it adds up over time" clan, let's really crunch those numbers. Stay with me!

Let's say your buy-in for the boxed set was $200 (just FYI, this is on the low end). Your cover was another $200, and your editing was $2k. Marketing also cost you $200 (being reserved here).

You're up to $2600 at this point just for the extras.

Your end number for each sale is $0.02. You have to sell 130k copies of that boxed set to break even. You haven't even "made" a penny yet because you pre-spent the money to get into the set and market. But then there's dear Uncle Sam...

Now, if you look at the average novel outside of a boxed set, the author has to sell only 8,125 books to break even if their book is priced at $0.99. They'll make $0.09 per hour per sale once they've covered their out of pocket costs (left in the buy-in as it could be used for other things). At the higher payout of 72% and a book priced at $5.99, the author has to sell only 618 copies to break even, and they'll make $0.50 per hour per sale afterward.

Of course, readers want the boxed sets, but how cheaply are we, as authors, willing to work? What would you buy, nearly 1M words at $0.99, or 60k at the same price?

Are we screwing ourselves?

Are these boxed sets undervaluing our time?

Talk about it!

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Nominations are Open for the First Annual OIBF Awards!

Happy Tuesday, everyone! I have the most exciting news for you all today. No intro. Get your typing fingers ready, and let's get going!

As you may know, the first annual Ozarks Indie Book Fest is happening October 19-22 in Springfield, MO. If you'd like to pick up tickets or an author table, here's the links you need: OIBF Website  ~  OIBF Tickets

Reader tickets are just TEN DOLLARS per day, and you can choose Friday or Saturday. If you purchase a thirty-five dollar ticket (which includes the awards and such), you'll be automatically entered to win dinner with several best-selling authors and the OIBF 2017 keynote speakers.


That being said, it's time to nominate your favorite authors' books for awards! There's only one caveat to winning: They must be present at the book fest to win.

If you want to nominate, you must be logged in with your email address, and you only get one shot at the form. Once you hit submit, that's all she wrote. You're done. Here are the categories (you get one nomination per category, and it cannot be yourself):

Best Indie Publisher
Best Editor
Best Formatter
Best PA
"Author of the Year (Aug 2016-Aug 2017)"
"Best Debut Author (Aug 2016-Aug 2017)"
Best Anthology
Best Book Cover
Best YA Book
Best NA Book
Best Hero/Shero
Best Villian 
"Best Overall Book Series (Has to be a complete series)" 
Best Fantasy/Paranormal Book 
Best Inspirational Book 
Best Contemporary Book 
Best Romance Book 
Best Mystery/Thriller Book 
Best Horror Book 
Best Dystopian Book 
Best Sci-Fi Book 
Best Children's Book 
Best Historical Book

Here's the link!

How awesome is that? Anyone can nominate anyone except themselves. If you have a large or enthusiastic fan base, get on it!

Did you fill it out? Will I see you at the conference?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Monday, August 7, 2017

5 Things to Make You a Happier, More Productive Human and Writer

Happy Monday, everyone! I hope you all had a fantastic, relaxing weekend and are looking forward to the week ahead. I have so very much left to do in order to be ready for Chapter.con, but I have it worked into my schedule for next week. Yay! But that's not what this post is about. Today, I'd like to give you a quick list of ten things you can do that will help you become a happier, more productive individual. Ready? Grab your coffee, and let's get going!

1. Take Care of Yourself
This might be the single most important thing you can do. If you're not functioning at 100%, you're doing yourself a disservice. Need a mental health day? Take it. Trying to find a way to not go crazy every day? Find an outlet. Do something for you each and every day.

2. Stop Stressing About What Other People Think
If there's someone you don't want to interact with, stop. No one should own you or your mental space. Don't let those people eat your time. You have more important things to do.

3. Schedule Yourself
New to the blog? You can find my tips on scheduling here. An old hat? Y'all know exactly what I'm talking about.

4. Let Things Go
Don't let others' actions nag at you, and don't beat yourself up over mistakes you've made. Apologize and move on. If that means moving past that person, go back and read number two. Let it go. Sometimes, "it" is a person.

5. Write (or be Creative) at the Same Time Every Day
This way, your muse knows when to show up. If you're asking her to pop her head in on odd days, chances are, you'll end up staring at a blank screen (or canvas) pretty often, not knowing where to go next. And if it's not working, go do something else for a minute then come back, but don't give up.

Got anything to add?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Friday, August 4, 2017

Paperback Giveaway on the IBGW Blog

Happy Friday, everyone! Nothing says lovin' like a paperback, am I right? Let's get into the deets of the book, and then I'll provide you with a linky to the OP and the giveaway. Get those clicking fingers ready, and let's get going!

Title: Snow
Author: Mikayla Elliot
Genre: Paranormal Fantasy
Length (print): 224 pages
Buy Link (paperback): Amazon - $8.99 (as of this post)

Blurb:
Taken from all she has ever known and loved, Neva finds herself swept into a world of vampires where she learns she will determine their future. Yet she quickly discovers she is the target of a vampire, Zachariah, seeking to stop her from altering the vampire lineage. She must decide which path she will take while trying to protect the family she left behind, and discovering a past she cannot escape.

This book was edited by Karen Robinson, proofread by Jennifer Oberth, and formatted for print and digital by Gaynor Smith (all of INDIE Books Gone Wild).

Here's the link to the post and the entry form on the IBGW blog today:

ENTER HERE

What do you think? Sounds like a pretty groovy book, eh?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Chapter.con London - 2 FREE Tickets to Saturday Signing Available

Happy Thursday! As you all may know, I'm headed to London to not only celebrate my fortieth birthday, but also to attend the first annual Chapter.con! Each of the authors have been granted the ability to give away three tickets. Here's your chance to snag one of the other two! Get your clicking fingers ready, and let's get going!



There are three things you must do to be eligible:
  1. Join the group, Heading to Chapter.con on Facebook
  2. Give my Facebook page a like or a follow
  3. Enter the Rafflecopter below where it will ask you to do those things listed above hehe
There's a bonus entry option!

Ready? GOGOGO!! Here's the entry form:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

I hope to see you there, even if you don't score a ticket with me!

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Beware the Distribution Arms if You're in KU

Happy Wednesday, everyone! I know I'm late, but I'm HERE, and that's what matters. My schedule fell on its head today. haha! But still managing to make time to get in here and blog. Today, I'm going to talk about something that happened to a friend of mine. We can all learn from it, so get your coffee and let's get going!

So, for a long while, my friend had her books wide (being distributed to all vendors everywhere). She decided to pull her books from wide and go all in with Amazon KDP Select. This enrolled her stories in Kindle Unlimited automatically, and she started getting paid by the Global Fund pot for pages read.

Everything was going fine for a good, long time, until one day, she discovered her titles had been pulled from Select. There was no email telling her why. Nothing.

She freaked out (wouldn't you?).

You see, this friend of mine is always on the up and up. She's done everything by the book and to the letter of the rules. So, when this happened, she was completely taken aback.

After a LOT of digging around, she discovered those titles that had been pulled to go into Select were available via one of the distribution arms of a popular distributor.

No, I'm not going to say which one. That's not what this post is about. I'm just issuing a warning here and showing you how you might want to delve more deeply if you're pulling from wide distro to go into Select.

Let's move on.

These books weren't pirated. Amazon doesn't yank your books for that. They were legitimate arms of distributors that simply neglected to remove a title that was no longer available.

Needless to say, she's still fighting it. No one at Amazon will get back in touch with her, and last I heard, she was planning to reach out to the distributor to see if they could help.

But the damage is, sadly, done. Her royalties for pages read have come to a screeching halt, and she doesn't know when or if she'll be able to get back into Select. When Amazon bans you, it's usually for at least a year.

So, there's one situation to be hyper aware of. If you pull your books from wide, be sure you check everywhere before clicking the "Enroll this book in KDP Select" button. She thought she did, and it's really messing up her money right now.

Have you heard of something like this? Anything strange happen to you?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Being Put in Impossible Situations

Happy Tuesday, everyone! Well, the kidlings here in Ga are back in school, and that means Mommy can finally concentrate on things she needs to do without interruptions. While my child is good about not coming into my office when she knows I'm working, she's still a kid. Sometimes, she just can't help herself. But yay to being back on track. This post isn't about all that, however. Today, I'm going to talk about something I hate: being put in an impossible situation. Ready? Let's get going.

My definition of an impossible situation, for purposes of this post, is one where if I do one thing, I look like an ass, and if I do the other, I compromise my core values, allow myself to be deeply hurt or disappointed, or let people take advantage of me. Either way, as you can see, it's lose/lose. As you read, keep that in mind.


I've had sessions with counselors in which I'm told I have a very good sense of self-awareness, but that I need to be firmer with people. I should tell them when they hurt or disappoint me. For example: I know what it was that hurt me and why, but I can't bring myself to address it with someone else because I'm afraid of hurting them even though they've hurt me already. Oftentimes, I find myself commiserating with characters I see in movies that do stupid stuff, those folks that no one but me seems to understand, and I end up feeling badly for them.

Why is this?

Well, while talking out a situation one time, it was pointed out that I'm a giver with a very high core value of integrity, and while I never believed I expected anything in return, that wasn't quite the case.

I believed that if I gave and was honest, I would get loyalty in return. Now, loyalty isn't friendship. A true friend is there because they genuinely like the person you are and respect you. Loyalty, however, can be earned and independent of friendship. Someone who is loyal doesn't necessarily have to like you.

I hold people to a very high standard of behavior that includes respect of me and my time along with a few other things I have a hard time compromising on.

Let me clarify: I don't do things so people do things in return for me. That's not what I'm saying. I'm saying I give, and what I want in return is respect, thoughtfulness, and to not be put in impossible situations.

Here's one:
My son tells a friend they can stay over before asking me. I just took the kid all over town for school shopping, and I have three other kids in the house besides him. I'm just not in the mood to deal with someone else's child. I say no. He stands there and begs me, says he already invited the kid, and begs me some more. For every no, he has a reason it will work out, and he refuses to call the kid and tell them they can't come.

Okay, now I'm in an impossible situation. 1. ) I can either call the kid's parents and tell them the kid can't come, or 2. ) I can give in and be miserable all night. Several things eat at me about both of those options (please know I realize we'll all react differently to these things--these are my opinions and feelings--they may not make sense to you): 1. ) This option makes me look like a terrible parent (an ass) who can't keep their kids under control and it disappoints another child who might have been looking forward to something. It also has the likelihood of ruining the other set of parents plans they may have made with the expectation their child would be gone for the night. 2. ) If I give in to my kid, I reinforce that he can beg and get his way. Worse, I allow him to have control over me. I would be tired and grumpy, and I'd have yet another mouth to feed, another kid to clean up after, and another someone in my house (this alone causes me stress).

There are so many of these examples that I could throw down here, but I'm not going into all that. Today, I'm trying to get you to think about yourself and maybe even your characters' situations. It can be cathartic to write about people who behave in a different manner than you, but be careful to dig deeply and show why the character is the way they are to your reader. If you'd just read the beginning, without understanding why I reacted the way I did, you probably would've said that you'd stick to your no and be done with it. Hell, maybe you'd still say that. But this is showing you what it might be like via the inner turmoil of another.

I hate disappointing people or making them feel badly about something they've done. I also can't stand being selfish. It eats at me. So, when it comes to me standing up for myself, oftentimes, folks have no idea they've hurt me--even when it's deeply--because I move forward and pretend like everything is okay (this is especially true if they can't see me--if they can, they'll see the tears, but I'll insist everything is fine unless pushed, and then I tend to explode because I'm trying really hard to keep it under control--lose/lose) or I end up just ignoring them because I know I'll hurt their feelings if I say something.

My issue is that I expect other people to be as careful with my feelings as I am with theirs. This is what I refer to as loyalty.

I'm working on it.

What are yours? What do you think of the above? Do you have this issue? Do any of your characters? How did you show it?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo