Thursday, June 30, 2011

Guest Blog with Susan Ee - Why I Chose to be an Indie Author

When I finished writing my novel, Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days, Book 1), I had a good feeling about being able to attract an agent and a major publisher. It's a dark fantasy about an angel, a kick-ass girl and the end of the world. What's not to love? :)
But instead of querying agents and trying for a traditional publishing deal, I chose to be an indie author. This was a big surprise to me and to others who know that I’ve worked hard for years in preparation for a traditional writing career. I studied writing through the Iowa's Writers' Workshop and Clarion West. I've had stories published in magazines and anthologies like Realms of Fantasy and The Dragon and the Stars. I even had invitations by two respected agents to submit a novel based on the quality of other writing they'd seen.
So I’ve been asked why I chose to go indie. Here are the factors I considered.
Wild West Ebook opportunities - I love finding opportunities that the chaos of a new industry can bring. I love the nimbleness it offers--make a mistake, you can bounce back within hours rather than years, so I feel a lot more free to try different things. You can find ways to forge a fresh path because all the potential paths are fresh. Once the industry matures, those paths will have already been forged and many of them will be closed off to newbies. For someone like me, it could be a golden opportunity to find an audience faster and possibly grow it for longer than I can in the traditional publishing world.
Now vs. later - "Angels are peaking now." This statement by a friend haunted me for months. Although I don't know if angel stories are actually peaking, it's a certainty that angels will not have the staying power of vampires. Since it can easily be 2 years from the time you finish your book to the time it is offered to the public by a traditional publisher, who knows what readers' interest in angel stories will be by then? I know there's interest now. In epublishing, the time scale is more on the order of 1 or 2 months from the last polish of the book to the first offering to the public. This was a major factor for me.
Marketing - this was the one area that would have won me over to traditional publishing even if all the other factors pointed toward going indie. If I was sure that a traditional publisher would do serious marketing on my behalf, I would have been knocking on their door, begging them to take a look at my manuscript. But the more I looked into that possibility, the more I realized that's probably a pipe dream. New authors have to market their books and somehow rise above the noise. That's all there is to it.
Competition - as a new author in bookstores, what are my chances of successfully competing against the big authors with marketing budgets ten or a hundred times bigger than mine? Not very good. But as an indie author of ebooks who can undercut publishers, I have a fair shot at getting my book noticed among other indie books with similar marketing budgets.
Did I make the right decision?

Angelfall has been available for a month and it’s been a wild ride. It has gone as high as being #48 on the bestseller list for Kindle Dark Fantasy and somewhere in the 50's for Kindle Fantasy Series. It's currently ranked #1 in top rated Kindle Dark Fantasy, #1 in top rated Kindle Fantasy Series, gone as high as #1 in Kindle's hot new dark fantasy releases and #7 in Kindle's hot fantasy series new releases. But it's also fallen off these lists all together, with some of them coming back and some of them not.
It's an emotional roller coaster watching it go up and down and hopefully back up again. Is this better than how it would have been through a traditional publisher, assuming I could have gone there? No idea. Who knows what will happen after the first month?
I do feel that in order for it to be a fair comparison, I should actually wait the 1 1/2 - 2 years it would have taken before my book would have come out through a traditional publisher. How many books will I have sold by then?
Although it’s still too early to tell, I feel that it was probably the right decision to become an indie author. Why? Because if the traditional publishing route is not the clear choice, then I’d rather ride the crest of the changes in the industry with all my rights to the Angelfall series intact. The industry is changing every week. Who knows what the landscape will look like by the time my second or third book comes out? It’s possible for me to move from being an indie author to a traditionally published author. But it’s extremely unlikely that I can move my series from being traditionally published to being indie published without having to wait many years before I can buy them back.

I expect to have a better idea of the overall picture by September. Angelfall is on the to-read list of a fair number of book bloggers. I expect the bulk of the reviews to come out sometime around August. So far, there have been five blog reviews with all of them giving Angelfall 5-stars. I'm thrilled! But I'm also terrified at the expectation this causes. :)  By September, I should be able to see the impact of the blog community and have a better idea of the long term picture.
So I invite you to come back then for an update if you're curious. And in the meantime, may I suggest that you check out Angelfall? :)

Warmest wishes,
Angelfall on Facebook
Susan's blog

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


I am way overdue to list some winners!

First off the winner of the Midsummer's Eve Giveaway is... Judy! Congrats, Judy, on winning your $10.00 gift card from Amazon!

Second, the winner of the Splash into Summer Giveaway (winner's choice of Woman of Honor or Knight of Glory or Champion of Valor) is...  Carina L. Tai! Congrats, Carina! I'll email you shortly.

I still have to pick a winner of my 400 followers contest. Hopefully I will sometime today and update this post.

If you didn't win, don't despair! I hold lots of giveaways and you can still go around and leave comments on my Champion of Valor blog tour until the end of the month to win the entire Kingdom of Arnhem series as well as swag.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Book Review - Destruction from Twins and Four Hundred Days

Lor Mandela

"Lor Mandela - Destruction from Twins" Book #1 in the Lor Mandela Series

Through the selfish acts of a twin enchantress, the world of Lor Mandela is sentenced to its untimely death. Only one can save it--the appointed Child of Balance, Audril Borloc. All hope seems lost, however, when shortly after her fourth birthday, Audril disappears without a trace. Audril Borloc must be found! When a group of Lor Mandelan spies travel to Earth in search of the little girl with black hair and bright blue eyes--traits that on Lor Mandela are exclusive to the ruling Borloc family--they instead find sixteen-year-old Maggie Baker. While the age difference between the girls is obvious, Maggie has the Borloc traits--evidence enough for the desperate spies. Suddenly, Maggie's mundane existence is transformed into a thrill ride of twists and turns as she begins bouncing back and forth between her hometown of Glenhill, Iowa and the strange and diverse lands of Lor Mandela. Amid battling a ferocious two-headed beast, being abducted by a lawless clan of Shadow Dwellers and falling head over heels for the son of an evil warlord, Maggie soon discovers that her blase reality could be the REAL fantasy, and that the fate of Lor Mandela may depend entirely on her.

My review - Destruction from Twins is a powerful, riveting read. Author L. Carroll sweeps you away into a fully real fantasy world and does not let you go until you reach the end.  The world building is top notch. Destruction from Twins has everything - characters you can't help but cheer for, diabolical monsters, magic, plenty of action and adventure, and romance too. So many twists and turns, you can't help but turn the pages. And the ending - what an end! I couldn't turn to the sequel fast enough!

Book # 2, "Lor Mandela - Four Hundred Days", Coming July 15!

When Audril, the heiress to the Lor Mandelan throne, sneaks away to Earth to save one of her dearest friends, she finds that a power hungry tyrant from her own world has begun systematically obliterating towns and cities to get her to turn herself over to him. On Earth, she meets a wildly eccentric old lady named Teedee Venilworth whose imaginary butler/fiancé supposedly holds the key to her success. But how can someone help if he doesn't exist? Could it be that creatures who dwell in shadow are not exclusive to Lor Mandela? Book number two in the Lor Mandela Series, Lor Mandela – Four Hundred Days, is an action-packed whirlwind of intrigue and fantasy. Join the extraordinary characters from the first book, (both the good and the evil), as they traverse the haunted corridors of Alcatraz Penitentiary, travel via portal to an ancient castle on the cliff shores of Ireland, and meet a foreboding race of mystic warriors known as the Solom. Soar on the back of a large horse-like creature to the Northern High Forests and discover that on the picturesque world of Lor Mandela, your friends can become foes, your enemies your allies, and just because someone dies, it doesn’t always mean that they’re dead.

My review of an ARC - The ending of Destruction from Twins left me dying to read Four Hundred Days, and author L. Carroll did not disappoint in the slightest. Again, I was swept up into the story. What I loved most about L. Carroll's writing is how real the characters are. Each one is different and unique and you can't help but fall in love with them. I loved that Tabbit and Lortu had a major role to play in this book. Good or bad, they are all multi-dimensional. One of the things I love about fantasy is that anything can happen and this book follows that to a T. Again with the twists and the turns, with plenty of backstabbing and not knowing who to trust, this book is even more action-packed then the first one, and I hadn't thought that could be possible. And once again the ending just leaves you dying to read more. L. Carroll, you have a fan in me.

I received this as a review copy from the author. This did not in any way affect my review. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Guest blog with Steph Haefner on Inspiration and Midsummer's Eve Giveaway Hop

I had the pleasure of meeting Steph at The Write Stuff conference two years ago. She's great fun and an awesome writer so when she was looking for blog tour hosts for her latest story, I offered my blog up. Take it away, Steph!


I think all artists need inspiration. Whether they be painters, sculpters, musicians....and, of course, writers.

Yes, there are times when an idea just springs up from out of no where, and that's fantastic. That's happened to me several times. We'd be driving around town and a random billboard ad will spark my brain. I usually have to write those ideas down right away or they'll be lost forever!

But many story ideas come from my personal emotions and incidents from my past, both good and bad. I write mainly romance, and without some form of inspiration, I don't think I could write it....or at least not write it well! It would be like me trying to write a story about climbing Mount Everest. I've never done it...will never do it. There's no way I could write a story about it and have it be even remotely believable.

But romantic stories....oh yeah! I've got lots of inspiration! And not only for the sexy sensual scenes, but the tenseness and longing...the heartbreak, too.

My newest release, Soap Dreams, is about a woman who isn't really happy with her current life, still not over the heartache she'd endured a decade earlier.


It’s never too late to start over.

Robyn Miller is perfectly happy in her immaculate home, playing stay-at-home mom and devoted wife. That is, until she's channel surfing one day and sees her high school sweetheart Derek, acting in a lead role in her favorite old soap. Watching Derek's show becomes her secret pleasure...and brings back memories best forgotten. When Derek's mother throws him a big celebration in town, Robyn tries to avoid seeing him, but ends up in his arms for a dance.

Derek has finally hit the big-time, but he hasn't found happiness. He regrets losing Robyn, and his show's ratings are falling. He longs to get her back in his life--both personally, and as a writer on the show. Those love scenes she used to dream up were Emmy material. Knowing her marriage is a sham, can he convince her to follow her dreams and give the show--and him--a shot?

Now, this is not to say I am unhappy with my life! Lol! But the inspiration did come from a time when I was reminiscing about the past. I think our past can sometimes play a big role in the actions we take in our current life...the what ifs can haunt us...or make for great story ideas!

Wherever your inspiration comes from, use it for all its worth!

Thank you Nicole for having me today!!! All commenters will be entered into a drawing to win a fabulous Grand Prize at the end of my Blog Tour! The winner will receive a signed copy of A Bitch Named Karma (US only...sorry!), and digital copies of both Paradise Cove and Soap Dreams! I'd love it if you left your email address! It would help me a lot!!


And the Midsummer's Eve Giveaway!

Thank you I Am a Reader, Not a Writer for hosting this blog hop!

My prize?

A $10.00 Amazon giftcard!

To enter, you must be a follower and leave a comment. +1

For additional entries:
Spread the word (through your blog, FB, or twitter) +1 for each, leave a link in a comment
Click on my Champion of Valor blog tour page. Each comment that you leave along the blog tour is +10
If you aren't sure what book to buy, why not pick up Steph's Soap Dreams or one of her other works?

Oh and before I forget, click here for the full list of participating bloggers on the hop.

Monday, June 20, 2011

In Which I Beg for Forgiveness

I know I've been an awful blogger lately and I'm so sorry! I promise I'll be better, I swear!

Tomorrow, I'm going to have a guest blogger (a good friend of mine, Steph Haefner) and another contest!

Don't worry, I haven't forgotten about the other contests and giveaways I had. I'll pick winners for them and announce them next week, which is when I'll return to my normal blogging schedule of M-F at 7:30 am. And I'll post some pictures from my vacation to San Fran (which was what started my whole blogging slump in the first place.)

As for the Champion of Valor blog tour, I forgot to mention another stop where I talk about love in the Middle Ages.

I'm going to not close out the Champion of Valor blog tour until the end of the month so if you haven't had time to visit the tour stops and leave comments to try to win some swag and the grand prize of the entire trilogy of the Kingdom of Arnhem, you still have time.

So what's new with your guys? What have I missed?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Poessession Virtual Launch Party!

I love Elana Johnson and I love her debut novel, Possession!!! You can read my review over it here. I loved it, suffice to say, so i you haven't read it yet, you should go and buy yourself a copy. You will not be disappointed. And today is her POSSESSION Virtual Launch Party!!! I'm just a little excited, can't you tell???

The details:
1. Today.
2. All day.
3. There will be a post here on her blog for a prize package. You'll have to comment and follow to enter.
4. There will be 3 giveaways on Twitter, at random times during the day/night.
5. We'll be tweeting with the hashtag #POSSESSIONparty for the prize packages. Watch the thread for the giveaways to begin and end! Winners will be drawn from that stream.
6. A keynote speech via vlog on the fansite.
7. A live chat on the Simon & Schuster UStream channel at 7 PM Mountain time (9 PM Eastern).
8. A forum where you can ask questions--every person who asks a question will be entered to win some amazing prizes! We're talking Skype chats for your book club, your classroom, and/or your writer's group. And songs that inspired Vi, Jag, and Zenn. And book prize packages! And swag! Lotsa swag.
9. Since POSSESSION is out, the forum is the place to talk about it! The characters, the world, and the ending. You know you want to talk about the ending...

I already won a copy of Possession earlier this week (I had to pass on the ARC that I read) but I would love to win some swag too! Are you going to support Elana today? You know you want to!

Monday, June 6, 2011

It's All Fun & Games Blogfest!!

It's great to finally be back to blogging. I took some time off because hubby, the boys, and I went on vacation. I'll give more details about that tomorrow as well as catching up on my blog tour and starting to award prizes for various contests. But for today, it's all about fun and games.

I'm big time into RPGs. Love them! I haven't had much time to play lately (read: no time at all) but that's what I would play.

1. Shining Force - Awesome, awesome game! I played this when I was in grade school and I can't tell you the number of times I've beaten it. To replay an RPG really says something although this game doesn't take as long to beat as most of the others.

2. Diablo - You pick your class - warrior, archer, or mage. I was always a warrior. You travel through a church, catacombs, even Hell to destroy vermin and filth and the devil, to try to rid the world of them. Very addicting, there are more games in this series, and the graphics become ridiculous.

3. FF7 - Who doesn't love the Final Fantasy games if you love RPGs? Although I must confess, I've never beaten this one. I bought the PC version, and there was a glitch and it always froze at one spot. Nearly broke my heart. But the characters are wonderful, the storyline amazing, and I just plain love this game. Out of the series, I've beaten 1, 2, 5, 6, 9, and 10. I also really enjoyed 9.

If I had to pick a game that isn't an RPG, I would add Parchessi to the list. My mom taught me the game when I was little, and I've played it with her and my siblings countless times. Game of chance and yet strategy.

Thanks, Alex, for a really fun blogfest!