Monday, January 26, 2015

Monday Mentionables: Where Story Ideas Begin

So I've been thinking about writing a Christmas novella (more on the reason for this later this week), but I really had no idea where to begin. I knew I wanted to set it in the town of Pine Point, because that's where my novel Summer's Song takes place, and if all goes well, this novella will be a precursor to a series set in that town. Beyond that, I had no idea who the characters were or what was going to happen to them.


So I was reading the Best Friends magazine over breakfast last week (put out by one of the biggest and best animal rescue organizations in the country), and I came across an article on people and their "pet soulmates" -- you know, those pets that somehow were more special than the rest, that you just knew would have a special place in your heart for all time.

And I started thinking.

What if my heroine is an over-the-top animal lover? What if the hero doesn't want anything to do with them?

And the ideas sprang from there. I've spent the last 5 years volunteering at an animal shelter, and I'm good friends with both the past and present managers, so I have a pretty good idea of what's involved. Besides, who doesn't love a feel-good animal story around the holidays?

So there you have it. I've written the first two chapters, and I have a general idea about the conflicts coming up, so while nothing's concrete, I have a much better idea of this story than I did a week ago.
And that, my friends, is where story ideas come from.


Friday, January 23, 2015

Friday Fun Facts: One Indie Writers' Income

TGIF! I have 2 great blog posts to share with you today, written by none other than one of my Passionate Kisses sisters, Jessi Gage. In the first, she chronicles her income of one title published through a small press and then re-released on her own, as an indie title. The results are truly stunning -- she made 3x the amount of money when she released this title on her own. She's a great author, so I'm not surprised!

In the second, she looks at her other titles along with the costs she put out to publish on her own (cover design, editing, formatting, marketing, other business expenses) as an indie author. Remember that publishers will absorb those costs for authors, which is why you will also make lower royalties with them. Please keep in mind that not all indie authors make this kind of money in their debut year -- some do, which is terrific. Many do not.

As with any endeavor, if you're considering venturing into the world of indie publishing, do your research first. And as part of that, read these blog posts!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Writers' Wednesday: How Many Beta Readers Do You Need?

Hi gang! Found this article thanks to a Twitter feed and thought I'd pass it along to my fellow writers. It's a good look at selecting beta readers and what to keep in mind when you're considering their feedback.

Write on!

How Many Beta Readers Do You Need?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Monday Mentionables: A Review of The Orphan Train

Happy Monday, everyone! Today's blog post comes to  you from Allie the reader rather than Allie the writer. One of the (many) books I got for Christmas was The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. Anyone read it? It's a beautiful story and a quick, easy read -- I highly recommend it. The book follows two heroines, Molly a 17-year old foster ward who ends up doing community service for 91-year old Vivan, who was an abandoned 10-year old in NYC when she was put on one of the "orphan trains" to the Midwest and her subsequent journey through 3 different adoptive families (two of which were pretty horrific). The connection between the two "orphaned" women is obvious but not done with a heavy hand, but what I liked most was this glimpse into history. I had no idea about these orphan trains or the circumstances these immigrant children faced if they lost or were cast out by the families in New York.

Anyone else read it?

Friday, January 16, 2015

Friday Fun Facts: I Figured Out Jutoh!

Okay, this subject line may not mean much to you, but Jutoh is a software program that allows writers to format their own e-books. Formatting is one of the many areas where I had NO experience or expertise when it came to indie publishing, and as many authors do, I sought out formatters and paid someone to format my books for me.

What does this mean? Well, e-books need to be formatted in a particular file depending on the retailer/publishing platform/e-reader device. Kindles use mobi files, Nooks use epub files, pdf files are useful for other e-readers, etc.

The advantage of using someone else to format is that you can use that time to write. You can also be assured that the formatting will be professionally done and that the files won't be rejected when you upload them for publishing.

The disadvantage is that you're always paying someone else to do your formatting, and if/when you want to update the book files (like putting new links in the back), you have to pay that person again. And again.

An author friend of mine recommended using Jutoh, claiming it was very user-friendly  (and reasonably priced at only $39). Well, I was nervous. I had reservations even after I tried it. But! Lo and behold, after a few hours of tinkering and reading the User's Manual, I was able to produce a formatted file all by myself! This is huge. This will save me money and give me more control over updating my books whenever I want to.

Mac users, apparently Vellum is a great program for you to use -- check it out here.

I haven't mastered Jutoh, not by a long shot. But I have hope that I will become more comfortable using it and will save a great deal of money in the long run by formatting my own books (a typical novella can cost anywhere from $30+, and a full-length novel, $50+ for formatting).

What about you? If you're an indie writer, do you outsource your formatting, or do it yourself? Do you have a particular program you recommend?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Writers' Wednesday: Two Ways to Tease

Happy Hump Day! Today's post is for writers: among the many marketing strategies out there is the "teaser" picture, a visual that usually includes a book cover and titillating quote to make readers want to know more and buy the book. I am THE WORST when it comes to any kind of artistic design, but fortunately, there are websites out there that make it easy for even people like me to create some decent teaser images. Two I've used in the past are PicMonkey and Canva.

Here's an example:

Thankfully, it doesn't usually take too much time to create these, and while it's hard to say what the overall effect is on readers/purchasers, it can't hurt to have a few in your arsenal of promo, right?

Try them might find them as fun as I do!  And if you have other websites you've used to create teasers, which do you like?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Monday Mentionables: A Sneak Peek at Setting Sail Today!

Happy Monday, everyone! I've posted an excerpt from SETTING SAIL, my brand new novella that will be releasing next month as part of the Passionate Kisses 2 boxed set, over at our Facebook page today. Stop by if you'd like to meet Jace and Pearl, the hero and heroine! 

Also, if you're interested in reading and reviewing this book, and you're able to do so and post your review on our release date of February 17, please let me know, and I'll send you an e-copy!