The Reality of Starving for your Art #writing #survivablewage


You want to be a writer, and you want to earn a living, so you’re going to spend the next year or so creating your pièce de résistance and set it loose on the world. After many hues and cries at the marvelous beauty of your work, you shall then move to Paris (or insert your country of choice) to a lovely little artist studio and begin your life as an Artiste. For this is your dream.

Ready for a reality check? If not, stop reading now, because this is going to hurt.

First, huge congrats on getting a single book completed and out, regardless of publishing route you’ve chosen. Not everyone can claim such accomplishments.

Second, before you dash off on your trans-continental journey, you may want to start the second book, and perhaps make plans for your third title as well.

Third, whatever you do, DON’T GIVE UP YOUR DAY JOB. Not yet, and (brace yourself) probably not for many, many years to come.

Short of being a miraculous outlier, your first, and most likely, fifth and maybe sixth book are NOT going to earn you enough to keep both a roof over your head and food on the table. They might keep you in coffee, though.

Yes, there are those who’ve managed to snag their brilliant star and be dragged in the glorious trail of rocketing to the top from the get-go, but they are very, very, very, very few and far between.

Let me share a couple of statistics, because as much as my relationship with numbers is “complicated”, those digits are hard to argue with…

There’s an article by Author Earnings that did an in-depth study from Feb. 2014 – Sept. 2015 regarding author earnings (CLICK HERE) that provides some interesting insight. They started their study with 200,000 authors and close to a million different titles and their data collection program was only able to capture between 35% – 50% of all ebook sales at the time of the snapshot. (Bare with me, I just want to put this perspective.) In order to maintain an accurate study on long-term sales, they pulled out what they called “one-hit wonders” or “i.e. authors whose author earnings from Amazon-bestseller-listed Kindle ebooks were not above a $10,000/year run rate in at least 2 different quarterly snapshots out of our 7.” Do you know what that 200,000 author number dropped to?

Any guesses?

Yep, 5,643 authors were left, a bare 2.8% of the original pool of candidates. These are the success stories because they earn at least $10,000 per year. No, I didn’t leave out any zeros. That’s $833.33 per month, $192.30 per week, $27.40 per day.

Granted, this is barely scratching the surface of author earnings, because this just looked at Kindle and Amazon, not across the board (iBooks, Smashwords, etc.), but if you’re hoping to make writing commercial fiction your “day job” or what most of my writer friends call, “the job that pays the bills”, you’re in for a challenging journey. I wish you all the luck.

And that’s not the only challenge you’ll face. A recent article (The Plot Twist: E-Book Sales Slip, and Print Is Far From Dead) from The New York Times, tried to paint an even more grim picture on ebooks. Let me tell you a secret, they’re a bit lost, since they’re looking at traditionally published authors who are charging $14 for an ebook. (I know, stop laughing so hard, no one can hear over your guffaws.) What this article can provide, is insight into the highly competitive world you’re about to dive into, and maybe serve as a warning to figure out how you’ll rise above the tide of incoming writers. You need to set yourself apart–have a unique, strong voice, compelling characters, and create a compelling world readers crave to visit.

Even more of an eye-opener, I can think of at least five NY Times best-selling writers that still have a day-job because (gasp) their fabulous books don’t make enough to keep their families. Advances or royalties, it will take a lot of shiny to keep you in the life you’d like to be accustomed to.

For those who follow my posts, you know earlier this year I was laid-off my 18 year “job that pays the bills”. For the last eight months, I’ve focused (when not submitting resumes for “day jobs”) on my writing. It has been both rewarding and discouraging, and I can attest the journey is daunting. There is no doubt, if you decide to publish any piece by yourself, your job just gained teeth. After putting out my collection of short stories independently, I’ve got the bite marks to prove it.

Thankfully, I recently accepted a new “job that pays the bills”, so my writing can continue to be a way to feed my artistic soul, and not carry the extra burden of supplying shelter and nourishment. Still, I wouldn’t change the past months for anything. While it allowed me a chance to see if I could make my writing take the place of my “day job”, it also taught me that yes, with a lot (we’re talking a couple of years) of dedicated work, it probably could. Unfortunately, I don’t have the luxury of years, months was pushing it. It did cement my leaning to stay a hybrid author, to split my writings between small publishers, myself, and eventually larger publishers. Whatever avenue works, I’ll be trudging alongside my project.

I haven’t shared this information to discourage you, but to help shine the light of reality on your dream. That glitter you see on the edges, those are yours to gain, but it’s going to take, and work. LOTS and LOTS of work. If you’re in this for cash, babe, you’re in the wrong art. If you’re in it to share those voice in your head, welcome to the word-filled battlefield, we can always use another warrior.

Fight on!

The Pay Off of #BookMarketing, Part III: Getting New Readers Hooked #bookpromo

Gather round class, we’ve finally hit the last week of dissecting my summer marketing experiment. After three months of offering my first book, Shadow’s Edge, as free to readers, what happened?

Let’s start with sales ranks. The graph below shows my sale rank on each book from end of May when the free status “unofficially” went into effect, through the end of August. August is on top, then July, then June, and the end of May. Sales ranks are along the bottom, so the short the line, the better.

Month Rank

Now, I’m going to share an image with the same information for just June. The days are along the left, and sales rank along the bottom. Again, shorter the better. You’ll note that Hunted By The Past followed a pattern: each week it cycled up and down the sales rank, higher earlier on, lower later on. You can’t even see Shadow’s Edge because it ranked 181 at the beginning of June, and ended at 5400.

So, to see Shadow’s Edge on it’s own we have these nifty charts. The breaks are days I biffed recording the rankings:


Cool, uh? Unfortunately my publisher and I can’t get actual numbers on Shadow’s Edge, but obviously people were picking it up since a handful could cause a jump, and enough were downloaded to keep it above the 10K rank.

Now, here’s what convinced me this whole experiment was worth it. The chart below shows a comparison of how many books I’ve sold since their release dates against how many were sold during end of May and June. I won’t have July and August numbers until November.


And that’s just The Kyn books. This means, when readers picked up Shadow’s Edge, they were engaged enough to continue with the series, and that was my main goal from the beginning. I was so excited when I saw this.

Next time you’re wondering, is it worth it to offer my precious for free? Feel free to use this information to help make that decision. For me, the increase of sales on my other books was worth luring them in with my first one.

An additional note to this campaign: I timed this promotion to end a month before I released a collection of short stories in the Kyn world (Tangled in Shadows). My hope is that my new readers will be eager for this book and the buzz will continue to grow.

Will I do a similar promotion in the future? You betcha, but first, I need to make sure there are enough books on the shelves to make it work.

If you’re heading out on the marketing route, I wish you all the best. For those who’ve traveled it before, share your adventures in the comments below. We are always open for suggestion.





Journey through #BookMarketing, Part II: How To Spread the Word #bookpromo #bookadvertising

Good morning, class. Every settle down, and let’s pick up with part two of our marketing experiment. Last week, we laid our ground work, mapped our road and ensured our supplies were stocked and ready to go. Today we’re going to chat about the wild, wild world of book advertising. 


Stop groaning, shhh. It’s all right. Before we dive in, remember, there are many, many options out there willing to spread the word of your fantastic piece of fiction. Some will request a reasonable price, others will fleece you. When you’ve finalized your list, run it through your author friends, get their opinions, as chances are one or more of them have had experience with some of the names on your list. 

First and foremost, I essentially planned my own blog tour, but it does require time and effort to plan, but it’s free. I did offer to host others, which allowed me to bring fun guests to my place while I was out and about. If you’re short on or don’t want to be bothered, there are companies that will do that for you. Here’s what I managed to do on my own:

  • June        26 posts
  • July         14 posts
  • August    12 posts

Then there were the book listings and ads. The prices on these can range from free to $200+, depending on where you’re going. Each site has different requirements. Requirements can range from x amount of reviews, price discounted, if it’s free or not, etc. The bigger ones limit you to advertising your book with them once in a timeframe (i.e.: 1 time in a 90 day period). Be sure to understand the requirements before you pay for anything.

I knew my first book, Shadow’s Edge, was going to go up free from June 1, 2015-August 31, 2015, which left me with a set timeframe for ads. I had a long list of advertisers I wanted to approach. I spent days checking their requirements and getting feedback through various writing loops. Some worked, some didn’t. I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty, but keep this fairly high level and stick with my highest returning ads and my next highest.

I did try for Bookbub as that was not only my most expensive option ($170) but most recommended. However, they turned me down, multiple times. They are not easy to get to, and if you can, I’ve been advised to take advantage of their reach.

HIGHEST ROI (Return on Investment): these didn’t cost me a fortune, but I saw a marked increase in my sales ranks after they ran, so I would recommend them.


Now Free Kindle Books and Tips came out the same day as the promo started, so I can’t say for sure they’re behind the sky rocket to the top, because day 1 I was out multiple listings and new to the free groups, so anything could’ve happened (Mars sunk into retrograde, and Pluto decided to hitchhike to the Dog Star). These are affordable places I would say to give a shot if you’re up for it:

I used the following ones for their free listings, but couldn’t tell you if they really helped or not.

  • E-Book Lister
  • Content Mo
  • The E-Reader Cafe
  • Indie Book of the Day
  • New Free Kindle Ebooks
  • People Reads
  • eBooks Habit
  • OHFB (
  • Awesome Gang

Other areas I utilized:

  • Banked ads at The Romance Reviews (TRR)
  • Banked ads at The Romance Studio (TRS)
  • Romance Forever monthly ads at $3/month

The last thing I used to help spread the word were Goodreads Giveaways. Since I have four books out in the Kyn series, I had four months of giveaways. Each month I gave away 3 autographed print copies of each title.

  • June      Shadow’s Edge 609 people entered
  • July       Shadow’s Soul   463 people entered
  • Aug       Shadow’s Moon 144 people entered so far (as of 8/21)
  • Sept doing Shadow’s Curse (so go enter while you can!)

After the giveaways, here is how my books looked on Goodreads:


Shadow’s Edge:

  •   4.25 avg rating
  •   67 ratings
  •   20 reviews
  •   added by 569 people
  •   470 to-reads

Shadow’s Soul

  •   4.33 avg rating
  •   27 ratings
  •   8 reviews
  •   added by 308 people
  •   273 to-reads

Shadow’s Moon

  •   4.40 avg rating
  •   15 ratings
  •   6 reviews
  •   added by 106 people
  •   86 to-reads

Shadow’s Curse

  •   4.20 avg rating
  •   5 ratings
  •   1 review
  •   added by 28 people
  •   12 to-reads

Hunted by the Past

  •   4.33 avg rating
  •   12 ratings
  •   5 reviews
  •   added by 109 people
  •   -1 to-reads (uh, guess someone changed their mind)

Overall, do I believe it’s worth it to use book listings and giveaways? Yep.

Next week I’ll share the sales ranks and units sold, so you can see what all of this created. Until then, good luck!

If you have anyone or any place you’d like to suggest for marketing, please do so in the comments. The more areas we can reach, the better our books can do.

Delving into #BookMarketing, Part I: Donning the battle gear #bookpromo

I promised when my summer marketing experiment finished, I’d share my discoveries with you. For those of you interested in the mysteries behind book marketing, today’s post, and the next couple will focus on what happened. Tiny disclaimer here: keep in mind, every author’s journey in marketing varies.

Alrighty then, class is now in session. Let’s begin.


First background: I have four books in an Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance series called The Kyn Kronicles. The first book, SHADOW’S EDGE, was published October 2011. Every year since, I’ve managed to release between 1 to 2 full length (300+ pages) novels each year. Here are their publication dates (to give you an idea of how long they’ve been out):

  • Shadow’s Edge           October 2011  
  • Shadow’s Soul             June 2012
  • Shadow’s Moon           May 2014
  • Hunted by the Past      August 2014  This is the first in my Paranormal Romantic Suspense second series, PSY-IV Teams
  • Shadow’s Curse           January 2015
  • Tangled In Shadows    September 2015
  • Touched by Fate          early 2016 release  PSY-IV Team #2
  • Marked by Obsession  late 2016 release   PSY-IV Team #3

I’m sharing this information so you can get an idea of my writing schedule. Your books are the most important part of any author’s marketing plan. Granted, I write series, which helps with my planning, but you can do the same with single titles as well.

My plan was to give away the first book, SHADOW’S EDGE, for free from June to August. Three months. My hope: gain new readers, boost sales on the remaining series, get readers hooked on my new series. This wasn’t an easy decision. For most authors or any artist, the idea of “giving away” what we worked years on makes us cringe. However, any artistic endeavor that earns money is more than art, it’s a business. After four years and five books, I decided to use the lure of a free read to get new readers to come visit my world.

As an avid reader, free is risky. Sometimes you score big, sometimes not so much. Still, it gives the reader a chance to learn if they’ll like your voice. I knew when I discovered new authors, I’d turn around and go purchase the rest of their books until I devoured every single one. Then I’d pace until the next release came. Generating that same excitement was my hope with this summer promotion.

First, you need groundwork before embarking on a massive marketing campaign.

  1. Set a realistic goal for your writing. This does not mean whipping yourself bloody if you didn’t hit 10K words yesterday. My brain would be slime if I tried that. My very, very best in four years was around 5K, and I had to pull a disappearing act from my family to accomplish this. Instead, I have a daily word count goal, I do my damnedest to hit. By “daily”, I mean five out of seven days, because warning: life will interfer. My set goal (now) is 1500/day. Sometimes I go over, sometimes I manage 200. As long as I write, it’s a win.
  2. Have more than one title out. Again, this is my opinion, but if I tried this marketing experiment back when I only had one book, it wouldn’t work. As an avid reader, I can assign a few reasons why marketing is more successful when you have more than one book on the shelf. First, it shows your readers that you’re committed to giving them more. They invest their time to visit your worlds, and they want to make sure it’s not a short county fair ride versus a week long cruise. Second, having more books out gives you a more visible result of your efforts.
  3. Cultivate relationships with other authors/readers/bloggers. This is CRITICAL. The writer/reader community is hugely supportive, but you have to reciprocate the kindness. This means, offer to exchange/host other authors at your blog o sphere, so when you’re ready to announce a sale or release, you have a built-in network for free promotion. Keep in mind, you’re trying to entice new readers, so instead of doing a “buy me” post, share a personal post: writing tips, writer’s life, how you juggling your many hats, or how you do research for your stories.
  4. Along this same line, create a group of unique posts to share. Mix up the excerpt, character interviews, and cover reveal posts with the personal ones. Do interviews, but don’t use the same answer (word for word) each time. Decide what kind of posts you want to provide, so when you’re reaching out to other blogs to help spread the word, you can tell them your post options. Makes it much easier if the host can pick what works best for their audience from your Post Menu.
  5. Make sure your live links are reflecting correctly. Before you kick it all off, make sure all the links to your books are right: right price, right place, right cover.
  6. Track yourself. Thanks to my previous day job, Excel is my preferred tool for tracking my schedule. For this campaign I tracked which blogs I was at, when, their url, what post type to send and any special requirements the host may have. I then had a section for book listings, paid and free. Yep, there are both, which we’ll cover in a future post. My spreadsheet included tabs to track rankings as I kept straight where I was and who I was with. It also allowed me to come up with my unscientific graphs you’ll be seeing in the next couple of weeks.
  7. Go forth and spread the word. Once the prep work is done, be sure you visit where you’re being hosted, thank your host, reply to your commenters and help spread the word via Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pintrest, and carrier pigeon.

Now that you’re ready to rock-n-roll, we’ll go into book listings and ads next week, and dive a bit into sales ranks.

If you’ve survived the marketing wars, feel free to share your experience, because I’m barely scraping the tip of the ‘berg here.

Divas of Romance Join Labors of Love Hop #LOLHop #giveaway #romance

From sweet to dark, divas of romance work their fingers to the bone for your reading pleasure in the Labor of Love Bloghop from 9/4-9/6. Come join me and enter to win a Kindle with new, heart-pounding titles just for you!
2015_8 Labor of Love hop_D2 copy

Happily ever afters only come after heart-breaking work, and this Labor Day weekend, we are celebrating our written labors of love by giving our readers a chance to win a brand-spankin’ new Kindle with our personal bests. That’s right, you could win all of our books! Aren’t you excited? We are! So here’s your chance, just click the link below to enter our giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

While each story I create is close to my heart, I’ve decided to share the first book from my Paranormal Romantic Suspense series, PSY-IV Teams, HUNTED BY THE PAST. The PSY-IV Teams (think ‘cypher’ teams) evolved from love of suspense with military leanings, but I couldn’t escape my need for the unusual abilities, so my heroes and heroines face external and internal danger on multiple levels. As if I’d make it easy on any of my characters to find their happily ever after…


Sometimes death is the only way to out run the past…

Changing the past is impossible, a fact ex-marine, Cynthia Arden, understands all too well. Struggling with the aftermath of a botched mission, a panicked phone call brings her home to face a killer’s game. Unfortunately, the distracting Kayden Shaw returns as well, the one man she thought would stand by her, until he chose his job over her.

To survive, will Cyn risk her heart or lose the man she loves and her life?

My head pressed against my knees, while my arms wrapped around my shins, holding myself together so I wouldn’t shatter into unrecognizable pieces. I squeezed my eyes shut, gasping against the heavy, hot air. God, it hurt. So much so, I wanted to scream. But I couldn’t. Screaming would solve nothing. It wouldn’t bring Kelsey back. Wouldn’t chase Ellery back into hell where he belonged. Wouldn’t make anything right. Instead I had to suck it up and play Ellery’s sick game. And now he had Kayden in his sights.

I have no idea how long I sat there lost in the unlit spaces of my soul. There were lines I’d told myself I’d never cross, but at this particular moment, when grief and rage combined into an unforgiving storm, I would have crossed every single one in exchange for Ellery’s destruction. Options I would have never considered played through my mind, tempting me to step a little deeper into the shadows. It wouldn’t be hard. I’d learned quite a few things in the military.


The sound of my name snagged me from tumbling over into the moral abyss. A touch stroked over my spine, stopping the unconscious rocking motion I’d adopted. I blinked my eyes open, only then noticing the tears weighing down my lashes. Kneeling next to me, Kayden, face etched with concern, eyes watchful, waited until I focused on him. “Don’t.”

“Don’t what?” My question came out hoarse.

“Don’t go down that road, you’ll get lost.”

I held his gaze, unable to answer, not caring how eerily well he read me. Part of me didn’t give a damn anymore, too much rage, too much guilt, too much pain; all of it coalescing together until it swallowed me whole.

He reached out and brushed away the lingering tears. “You take that road and you’ll lose Kelsey forever.” He curved his palm against my cheek. “You’ll lose yourself, and then he’ll have won. The price is too steep.” There was no judgment in his voice or his expression. Instead a hint of some hard-won knowledge resonated through his words like a bell, spreading until they chased the whispers of vengeance leading me toward the edge.

“I’m not sure I care anymore,” I whispered, meeting his gaze without flinching.

“You care or you wouldn’t still be here.” He watched me. Under any other circumstances I’d be dodging the intense eye contact we shared, but at this moment, I feared the loss of it would send me tumbling into the yawning pit before me.

Have I got your attention? Good, because the second PSY-IV Team book, TOUCHED BY FATE is coming early 2016 from MuseIt Up Publishing, so go get HUNTED BY THE PAST while you can!

And because I don’t want your To Be Read pile to wither away over the holiday weekend, one lucky commenter will win an e-copy of SHADOW’S EDGE, the first in my Urban Fantasy series, The Kyn Kronicles. Whatever shall you comment on, you ask? Well, let’s celebrate your greatest accomplishment! Just post your favorite accomplishment in the comments below and I’ll announce our winner on 9/7.

2015_8 Labor of Love hop_D2 copy

Thank you for join joining our Labors of Love Blog Hop. To see who’s participating, click the link below and work your way through our participating authors: 

*Thank you for joining us and we apologize that we seem to be having tech issues with the Linky Link. If it doesn’t work, please see complete participating authors list below.

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Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

What’s the Plan Stan–Cover Reveal of Upcoming release and news #newreleases #UF

Hey my loyal followers, I have a new release coming September 22nd, a collection of Kyn short stories called TANGLED IN SHADOWS and it’s available for PRE ORDER. Even better? It’s only 99 cents! It contains three new stories, plus the previously release WRAPPED IN SHADOWS that was part of the THINGS THAT GO BUMP FOR THE HOLIDAYS anthology. Curious? Good, may I present:


Tangled In Shadows

In a world of intrigue and shadows, tangling with the monsters can leave its mark…

Step into the world of Jami Gray’s Kyn with this collection of short stories, and discover why readers are disappearing into this exciting, Urban Fantasy series.

Wrapped In Shadows, .5 (previously published in Things That Go Bump For The Holidays)

The magic of the holiday season can be hell…

Elite Kyn, Gavin Durand and Raine McCord, are called in to investigate the aftermath of a Christmas engagement party gone horrifically wrong, only to face an unexpected gift.

Submerged in Shadows, 1.5

Treasures from the deep come in all shapes and sizes…

Forced on an unwanted vacation, Raine soon discovers that boredom is the least of her worries when danger washes ashore, bringing unexpected complications. 

Masked by Shadows, 2.5

Nothing is ever easy…

For Gavin and Raine the job is simple, deliver a package to an interested party in New Orleans. Yet even the easiest job can mask unexpected challenges.

Ensnared by Shadows, 3.5

Deception leaves a tangled web…

Ryuu Kern, Motoki Pack’s Second, is no stranger to sticky situations, but when delectable Division Agent, Iliana Krychek, comes to him for help, it will take more than claws and teeth to untangle a deadly web of deceit.

Available for PRE ORDER at all of the following:


Plus, just in time for the holidays, the first four Kyn novels will be available in one volume. Yep, all four books in one. Promise to share cover and info once it’s all finalized.

However, this isn’t the end of my news. For those who love my PSY-IV Teams, the second book, TOUCHED BY FATE is currently in midst of edits and should hit shelves in early 2016. I’m currently in the midst of the third book. MARKED BY OBSESSION and hope to hand my precious bundle over to my editors near the beginning of the year. Fingers crossed we get a late 2016 release date. So 2015 will be the year of the Kyn and 2016 year of the PSY-IV Teams.

I must give a huge shout out to all the fabulous authors who came and kept my blog site from collecting cobwebs over the summer. If you missed any of the posts, feel free to go back and check them all out. We had some really great books come through our humble abode.

All right, my Muse is flicking her whip impatiently, so I must return to wordsmithing. Wishing you all a wonderful week!

Uncover #YA @AuthorEricPrice and his award-winning, UNVEILING THE WIZARDS’ SHROUD #fantasy

Greetings and welcome back. Today we are honored to question chat with the elusive Eric Price, wordsmith behind the award winning, young adult fantasy UNVEILING THE WIZARDS’ SHROUD (CLC’s Best First Novel 2014). We’ve offered him a goblet of mead and our best victuals to help keep him occupied as we endeavor to unravel the mysteries of his mental journeys. Without further ado, I give you Sir Eric Price…

If you were to hold a dinner party for six, who would you invite and share at least one question you would have for each? 

Annie Wilkes-Why didn’t you like Misery’s Child? 

Hannibal Lecter-Do human brains really taste like chicken?

Marla Singer-Is this my week to go to the brain parasites meeting or yours?

Alex (“Your Humble Narrator” from A Clockwork Orange)-When you’re ready for the old ultra-violence, is it really that horrorshow to make the red red kroovy flow from your droogs?

Michonne (The Walking Dead)-Can you recommend a good swordsmith?

Jack Torrance-Would you like a cocktail?

I thought about inviting Bellatrix Lastrange, but if you consider the movies, I already had one character played by Helena Bonham Carter. I didn’t want to get confused.

Whether we’re plotters or pantsers (outlines not needed), creating our stories takes us on very memorable journeys. Sometimes we may be part way through before we realize some major aspect of our story is just not working (plot, character, setting). Have you ever hit this sharp, pointy snag and if so, how did you escape? Were you battered and bruised or a bloody mess?

In a lot of ways, this is how Yara came to join the cast of Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud. I had written the book and submitted it to Muse It Up Publishing. They rejected it but gave me some suggestions to improve upon. If I did, they’d take a second look. Well, in the time since I had written it, I had an idea for a story with Yara that took place in the same world as Unveiling.

I started rewriting Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud taking into account the suggestions and adding a little about Yara so readers would have some introduction to her when I wrote her book. I intended to introduce her in the first chapter and bring her in again at the end of the book; but, as so often happens, especially for those of us who don’t outline every single plot detail, she decided to tag along for the whole book. I’m glad she’s there. She’s one of my favorite characters. Her book, The Squire and the Slave Master, comes out soon.

–Been there, done that, have secondary characters who’ve managed to finagled their way into their very own story to show for it.

What’s the one genre you won’t ever try and why?

Erotic Romance. I have no interest in reading it, and I believe in reading the same genre(s) I write. I wouldn’t sit down to write a steampunk novel having never read one (though, I intend to read one soon). For the most part, I don’t even like sex scenes in the books I read. I prefer the way Stephen King typically handles the subject: a little foreplay in one paragraph; in the next paragraph everything’s finished and we’ve moved on to bigger and better things. (The pun may or may not have been intended.)

–If I may offer a suggestion for your introduction to Steampunk, consider Jim Butcher’s Cinder Spires.

What is some of the best advice you were ever given?

Rewrite don’t revise. It’s a lot of work, but it makes the final manuscript much cleaner than cutting and pasting; plus, it helps weed out wordy sentences. When you’re up late trying to finish a few more pages, you realize a lot of the words you’ve used aren’t needed.

What is the best advice you can share with others?

Write your own story. Don’t try to write the next Harry Potter, or Divergent, or whatever. Those stories have already been told. If you’re going to spend the time writing, write something new. Oh, and trust your editor(s). They have the same goal as you, to make your book the best it can be.

–Best advice ever, Eric!

Now, as the blood pudding makes its way into the dining hall, we proceed to our ironshot list. Ready? Aim. Fire…

Blades, guns, fists or feet?

Blades for the coolness aspect. Though, like Indiana Jones, I’d choose a gun if my opponent has a blade.

Favorite Fairy Tale of all time?

Peter Pan. I just read it again a couple weeks ago. Well, I listened to the audio book, but that counts.

Three titles and their authors sitting on your nightstand/bookcase/table/floor waiting to be read?

Stephen King’s Revival

Chuck Palahniuk’s Beautiful You

Dmitry Glukhovsky’s Metro 2033

Greatest one liner of all time?

I think the greatest of all time is Tom Cruise’s line from the end of Risky Business, you know, the one about what you’ve got to say sometimes. But since I don’t want to turn off any readers with foul language, I’ll use my second favorite line. This one from The Princess Bride: “I’m not a witch, I’m your wife.”

–For your next visit, we promise no stone throwing will commence if foul language is involved.

Sarcastic witticism, Southern sweetness or Geeky disdain?

Like I care. Oh, I guess that answers the question.

Strangest item currently taking up space in your writing cave?

The double decker couch from The Lego Movie.

Favorite supernatural creature?

Werewolves—because I’m sick of vampires.

We offer Eric our humble thanks for coming over and sharing. If you’re looking for a wild ride that will make you wish to be younger, check out Eric’s UNVEILING THE WIZARDS’ SHROUD now, so you can pick up his upcoming THE SQUIRE AND THE SLAVE MASTER arriving in September…

Literary Classics International Book Awards - Young Adult Award Winning Book

Literary Classics International Book Awards – Young Adult Award Winning Book

The award winning Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud (CLC’s Best First Novel 2014) chronicled Yara, Owen, and Cedric’s quest to revive King Kendrick from a dark, magical spell. After the adventure to save King Kendrick, for Yara, everyday life has grown monotonous. The dull work of learning her father’s blacksmithing trade, and the pressure from her parents to decide what she plans on doing with her life, has her nerves so stressed she snaps at her father’s slightest teasing.

Lucky for her, a surprise messenger from the castle brings the king’s request for her to join a collaborative mission between the Central and Western Domains of Wittatun to stop a recently discovered slave operation in a land to the west. King Kendrick and Owen want her to accompany the mission as a secret weapon disguised as a squire.

She has to keep secret not only her magical abilities from any possible traitors, but also her gender. The people of the Western Domain have a superstition prohibiting girls from sailing. But a chill wind carries the distinct odor of sabotage. Can one girl survive to destroy an evil rooted much deeper than mere slavery?


     Opening the door, she paused to size up the tall, well-built man who stood outside the yard gate. His hair had grown out since she had last seen him, and it looked like he hadn’t shaved for a week. He wore gloves, but she knew underneath, the palm of the right one looked black and charred.

     She sprinted and threw herself into his arms. “Owen! How are you?” She pulled away to look at him. “What’s this on your face? Dirt?”

     “Yeah, it’s dirt. I thought I should match you.”

     Her face grew warm. How much filth must cover her? She hadn’t cared to take time to freshen herself for a messenger, but she would have had she known his identity. It must have something to do with their time apart—they used to spend almost every day together—but as the official heir to the throne, each time she saw him, he somehow looked different in her eyes. More noble. More royal.

     He smiled and wiped at a smudge on her cheek. “Did I hear you say something about getting married?”

     “Oh no! Father loves trying my nerves. I don’t want to talk about it. Why are you here?” And how much of the conversation did you hear?





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You can find Eric meandering around the following social locations:

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When the writing is done, it’s Not The End with Sara Jayne Townsend #editing #writing #mystery

Give a warm welcome to fellow MuseIt Up authoress of mystery, Sara Jayne Townsend.

Not The End

By Sara Jayne Townsend

From the age of ten, I dreamed of being published. It took me nearly 30 years to get a novel contract. In the early days, when it was just a dream, I always imagined it being the acceptance as being the ‘happy ever after’. When the first novel contract finally came – a couple of months before my fortieth birthday – it was, literally, a dream come true. But it didn’t take me long to realise that it was not the end of the story – it was merely the beginning.

Nowadays, finishing writing a novel is not as straightforward as it used to be. Finishing the first draft is still an achievement for me, and something I tend to mark with a celebration, like a nice bottle of wine. But it doesn’t mean the novel is finished. Not by a long way. First there are many other drafts to go – usually at least another two before I’ll even consider giving it to my beta readers. Following their (often brutal, but always fair) criticism, I will pull the manuscript apart and rebuild it, for at least another two or three drafts. Then, finally, it might be ready to submit, and if I’m lucky I find a publisher to take it on.

But that’s still not the end. Most publishers I’ve worked for go through at least three rounds of copy edits, sometimes involving significant plot changes. After that, a couple of rounds of line edits, which generally just pick up typos or grammatical nitpicks.

And then there are the galleys, which is the last chance to proofread the book before publication, and it never fails to astound me how many basic errors get picked up in this final stage, even after several pairs of eyes and at least seven readings. Letters and even words are missing. Punctuation is wrong. On one occasion, I noticed that a character who had gold framed glasses in the first half of the book suddenly had black framed glasses in the second half of the book. Several people had read the manuscript by that point, and no one had picked it up before.

But there comes a point when you have to let go of the book and release it out into the big wide world. I make a point of not reading my own novels once they’ve been published. Firstly, by that stage I’m sick to the back teeth of my own story, having read it far too many times already, and secondly, I’m afraid that I’ll pick up more errors and by that point I won’t be able to do anything about it. Frankly I’d rather not know, once it’s in the public domain, what’s still wrong with the book.

All this demonstrates the importance of editing, and not just of your own manuscript. Self publishing is a viable option these days, but if you go down this route it is essential to invest in a professional editor. No matter how many times you go through your own manuscript, you miss things. Editing services can be expensive, but they are an essential expense for the self-published author. Getting a second opinion is vital, and the very least that is needed. Ideally a third or even a fourth opinion is required as well, but once you’ve gone through the editing process, recruiting a couple of well-read friends to serve as proof readers may suffice.

Once upon a time I thought that the publishing contract would be the end of the story. Over the years I’ve learned that it’s only the beginning.

Brava, Sara Jayne! There is no way to expound enough on the many, many reasons why editors are the superheroes behind writers. I’d be lost without mine! 

All right my loyal followers, ready to unravel a new mystery? Then you don’t want to miss out on Sara Jayne’s DEAD COOL!

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They were dying to be famous. And someone was prepared to kill for it…

Actress Shara Summers has settled in London and is “between jobs” when her Canadian ex-boyfriend David sails back into her life, begging to her to fill the backing singer vacancy in the up and coming band he’s about to go on a European tour with.  Short on funds and auditions Shara reluctantly agrees, but tragedy strikes at the opening night party when the band’s charismatic front man Dallas Cleary Anderson falls to his death from a hotel window.  It soon becomes clear that Dallas did not fall, but was pushed.  His arrogant and confrontational manner means there are no shortage of people who wanted him out of the band permanently – but who would resort to murder?

Click below to pick up your copy of DEAD COOL, Sara Jayne’s follow up to DEATH SCENE at MuseIt Up Publishing or any fine e-book retailers.


If you want to start at the beginning, don’t forget to check out the first in her amateur sleuth series, DEATH SCENE:

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Sara Townsend (34)

Sara Jayne Townsend is a UK-based writer of crime and horror, and someone tends to die a horrible death in all of her stories. She was born in Cheshire in 1969, but spent most of the 1980s living in Canada after her family emigrated there. She now lives in Surrey with two cats and her guitarist husband Chris. She co-founded the T Party Writers’ Group in 1994, and remains Chair Person.

She decided she was going to be a published novelist when she was 10 years old and finished her first novel a year later. It took 30 years of submitting, however, to fulfil that dream.

Follow Sara on Amazon or Twitter , and learn more about her writing at her Website and her Blog.

Time to Grill Tierney James and Get Swept Away #RomSus #politicalthriller #newreads

Welcome back everyone! It’s Thursday and we’re going old school style with an author interview. Grab your drink of choice and some Oreos and settle in, as we follow Romantic Suspense wordsmith, Tierney James, into a maze of loyalty versus love and grill her under the searing light of Jami’s inquisition…

Thrillers & Suspense

As children we tend to have an idea of what we want to be by the time we’re ten. Before you decided to pursue the artistic dream of being a writer, what did you want to be and why?

From a very early age I wanted to be a part of the space program at NASA. I was the only little girl sitting in the back of the room with the boys listening to John Glen orbit the earth. Later I was lucky enough to get his autograph as well as several other astronauts of that first seven. I even applied to the astronaut teacher program without success. I attended Space Camp for Educators and later became a Solar System Ambassador for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab. Sometimes I still turn on the NASA channel just to hear the voices at Mission Control talk to the guys on the International Space Station while I’m doing other things. I find it comforting.

If your character(s) came with a warning label, what would it say?

“Dangerous when activated.” Even some of my female characters are lethal. Maybe their warning could be something like “Every day is the time of the month.”


Personally, I tend to be a bit on the introverted side so the thought of being in the actual presence of one of my favorite writers makes my heart race, my knees shake and tangles my tongue (yes classic fan girl behavior). Who could reduce you to such a level and how do you imagine your initial meeting?

I once met Steve Berry, thriller writer, at a writing conference. He was very friendly and approachable. Every time he walked by me and said “hello” I was afraid I’d slip in my drool. I think if I got to meet Brad Thor or James Rollins the reaction would be similar although I have practiced in front of the mirror of what I’d say. Both authors responded to a Facebook post once and I sat in a daze for an hour. I hope I would be dignified and charming at our first meeting. I could always collapse later into a blithering idiot.

–It’s so nice to know I’m not the only one who turns into a staring goober when faced with fantasticness…


What’s some of the funniest/sweetest/strangest things you’ve heard from your readers?

When Winds of Deception was released in June I had an online release party. Some of my guests had very clear ideas of what they wanted my characters to do in book 3 of the series. A few of them even argued about the best way to deal with an element of sexual tension brewing between several of the characters. For a while I wasn’t even part of the conversation. It was hilarious. I realized then that the characters I’d created were as real to them as they were to me.

–And that’s one of the best moments a writer can have, knowing our characters are just as real to our readers as they are to us!

What’s the one genre you won’t ever try and why?

I probably will never write Erotica. I’m not saying I haven’t read it. I know authors who are wonderful at creating this. The reason I won’t write it is because so much of what I’ve read or started to read is what I call abuse. I don’t understand the concept and don’t want to. My life is storybook not anything like what their characters demand.

What is some of the best advice you were ever given?

Join a writing group. Once I did that many people jumped on board to encourage and support me in my endeavors. They gave me the confidence to experiment, fail, succeed and shine. These are the groups or organizations in which I belong: Ozark Romance Authors, Sleuth’s Ink, Sisters In Crime, Thriller Writers of America.

–I’m with you on this. After spending seven years with a great critique group, I found I needed move into  new group and joined Desert Rose RWA. There’s something about having that connection to others facing the same questions we face every day.

Share if you dare, one of your favorite research experiences. Did you join a ghost hunters group? Did you step outside your comfort zone and into the wild world of your characters?

One of my novels involved a Biblical Archeologist which I thought would play a major role in the story. He did not. However, I was already taking Hebrew lessons to get me in touch with my inner Indiana Jones. I also got my Conceal and Carry license so I would be familiar with guns. That was fun! Of course the instructor thought it ridiculous that I wore hot pink ear protectors and eye protection. My husband was embarrassed.

–*laughs* At least your gun wasn’t pink. I did threatened my Knight in Muddy Armor to go with purple for my chosen firearm. We’re still in discussions.

Now that the tough part is done, on to our bullet round. Three…two…go…

Blades, guns, fists or feet?

I will have to say guns and feet. Feet because I used to take karate.

Favorite Fairy Tale of all time?

My favorite fairy tale would be Cinderella. A tough chic makes it on top!

Three titles and their authors sitting on your nightstand/bookcase/table/floor waiting to be read?

Code of Conduct – Brad Thor

The English Spy – Daniel Silva

Rise of ISIS – Jay Sekulow

Greatest one liner of all time?

“I’ll be back!” – The Terminator

Sarcastic witticism, Southern sweetness or Geeky disdain?

There was a family in my parents’ hometown in Tennessee who piled everything in their yard and on their porch. So when things got messy around our house or in my room, my mother would say, “Looks like Jett’s back porch.”

Strangest item currently taking up space in your writing cave?

Probably the strangest item would be a child’s rocking chair I keep filled with books to read.

Favorite supernatural creature?

A fire breathing dragon, of course!

Huge hugs and thank you to Tierney for coming over and visiting. You don’t want to miss out on her latest release: WINDS OF DECEPTION, so check it out…


Tessa Scott believes her encounter with Ex-Delta Force Captain Chase Hunter, a year earlier, can finally remain in the past. After she arrives in Washington DC, Enigma enlists her help when they uncover a plot to assassinate both President Austin and the Prime Minister of Israel. To complicate an already volatile situation a hurricane moves toward the nation’s capital creating the perfect opportunity to stage an attack.

Lines of loyalty begin to blur as Tessa confronts life and death events that could change the course of the United States. Complications arise when Tessa is faced with the knowledge her uncle plans to take revenge for Israel’s 1967 attack on the USS Liberty and its lost crew members. No one knows that a powerful member of the government is behind the conspiracy, and Tessa and Captain Hunter join forces to halt the violence against the most powerful men in the world. She must ultimately choose between her love of country or exposing the truth against Israel.

The growing attraction between Tessa and Captain Hunter creates an emotional storm, adding even more dangerous consequences to The Winds of Deception.

Tierney James 2

Tierney can be found:  WEBSITE     TWITTER      FACEBOOK   PINTEREST

Tierney has been in education for over thirty years. She recently stopped teaching World Geography for a nearby college to pursue her writing career. Creating a workshop for beginning writers, speaking at schools and serving as an officer in the writing group Sleuths’ Ink, are some of the work she does when not writing. With the creation of Winds of Deception, Tierney is now working with one of the crew members of USS Liberty in hopes of obtaining the Medal of Honor for him.

Besides serving as a Solar System Ambassador for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab and attending Space Camp for Educators, Tierney has traveled across the world. From the Great Wall of China to floating the Okavango Delta of Botswana, Africa, she ties her unique experiences into other writing projects such as the action thriller novel, An Unlikely Hero, the first in the Enigma Series. Winds of Deception is the second in that series. Living on a Native American reservation and in a mining town for many years fuels the kind of characters she never tires of creating.

Besides teaching and writing, Tierney enjoys family, gardening, reading and music. Other pursuits involve learning Hebrew in hopes of incorporating the knowledge in a future Engima Series. She likes to research and sometimes that has involved learning new skills, such as being certified with various weapons.

She has settled in the beautiful Ozarks, but there’s never a dull moment in Tierney’s life. And that is just the way she likes it.

Navigating High School Dilemmas with Mary Waibel’s THE BOYFRIEND PROJECT #YA #YAROM

Everyone settle down! It’s time for class! You, yes you, with the loud music, turn it down and listen up! Today we have the talented and lovely, Mary Waibel, sharing her YA Novella, THE BOYFRIEND PROJECT. Take it away, Mary!

Romance, High School Style
A Guest Post by Mary Waibel


Thanks so much for hosting me today, Jami! Now let’s talk romance-high school style.

High school is a time of great change. You’re moving from a kid to an almost adult, and experiencing all the responsibilities that go along with the change. School, friends, sports, and family and all vying for your attention.

When I look back at it, I don’t know how I managed to fit studying in between sports practices, band rehearsals, church, and family activities.

And, then there’s the dating scene.

I did all my dating in college, but that didn’t mean I sat home every Friday night. Nope, I’d hang out with my friends and watch movies, or wander the mall, or go roller skating. We had always had a blast, but I remember wondering why I had lots of guy friends but no boyfriend.

For some, like me, catching the eye of the guy/girl you like is the hardest thing imaginable. Not knowing what to wear, what to say, or how to act normal around the one you like can become an all consuming fear. And sometimes well meaning friends make the situation worse than it needs to be.

Not to mention, what if the person you like is a good friend? Is it worth risking friendship for the boyfriend/girlfriend thing?

What’s a girl/guy to do?

Questions like these led to the creation of The Boyfriend Project, the first book in The Boyfriend Novella series. Whether it’s being in love with your best friend, or choosing between two guys, or swapping spots with your twin, these tales of teen love, and all it’s angst and craziness, look on the dating scene with a mix of humor and heartfelt emotions.

Sound like your kind of read? Then give The Boyfriend Project a try.

Samantha Jones’ world revolves around her neighbor, Jordan Kingsley. In fact, her boyfriend broke up with her because of the time she spends with Jordan. Sam longs to move their relationship to boyfriend/girlfriend level but there’s a problem. She’s afraid to ask him out because he’s one of her closest friends.

When her BFF, Emery, suggests using advice from her favorite romance novels, Sam reluctantly agrees. But will she find herself worse off than the heroines of her beloved stories?
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Watch for a new novella in the series later this year! 
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About the Author:
YA author Mary Waibel’s love for fairytales and happy-ever fill the pages of her works. Whether penning stories in a medieval setting or a modern day school, magic and romance weave their way inside every tale. Strong female characters use both brain and brawn to save the day and win the heart of their men. Mary enjoys connecting with her readers through her website: