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Friday, December 5, 2014

"Toby and Harry" in Thirteen Stories by Us

Thirteen Stories by Us cover
A group of authors, most of whom became acquainted through the Accentuate Writers' Forum, banded together to create an anthology of suspense/horror stories for Halloween. All stories were donated, with all the proceeds going to help two author friends who are having some really difficult financial times.

The idea was conceived by Melissa Dawn Ingham, and the volume edited by Catherine A. MacKenzie. It's entitled Thirteen Stories By Us. Not surprisingly, it contains thirteen stories! Twelve are meant to send a shiver or two down your spine, and the other is a quirky love story.

My story, "Toby and Harry," is included. I'm really happy to see it in this grouping. I intended it to be a subtle horror story, but perhaps it was too subtle to stand on its own. Some people have mistaken the genre and ended up really confused about what I was trying to say. All I was trying to do was be a little scary! So this is a perfect fit.

For a longer review of the stories in the volume, see Review of Thirteen Stories by Us.

The book is available in paperback or e-book, at Smashwords or Amazon.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Paperback Versions of Anastasia Raven Mysteries

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All four Anastasia Raven mysteries are now available in three volumes as paperbacks! I gave in to the Amazon giant and did this through CreateSpace which was quite easy to use, actually.

Although I've had good sales with the e-books it all seems more real with physical copies in my hands!

For a limited time you can get all three for only $30, plus $4 media mail shipping to US addresses. This is a savings of $3 off the cover price, and if you are in Michigan, I'm even paying your tax for you (an additional $1.80 savings). These will be signed copies. This offer will be good until November 1, 2014.

Email me, or tell me in a comment that you are interested.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Would You Dare?

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In 1986, I wrote a book of short biographies of twelve outstanding Christians, targeted for young people. Most recently, I'd been printing these on my computer and fastening them with a comb binding.

Thanks to Print On Demand, I'm working on formatting these into a paperback, which will look much better, and still be very reasonably priced. It's taking quite a bit of work to get the format correct, but I should have these books ready in time for Authorpalooza in Big Rapids on November 8.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Blog Talk Radio with Dellani Oakes

I was featured on Red River Radio, Dellani Oakes Tea Time, on April 14, 2014. Other guests were Debra Ann Fisk and JoMarie DeGioia, who both write romance and romantic suspense. Co-host was Karen Vaughn.

There are a number of interesting questions about the writing process posed to each of us, and we also each read an excerpt from one of our books.

If you want to hear part of News from Dead Mule Swamp, read by me, just listen in, and it begins at minute 43.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Read an E-book Week at Smashwords

For one week, hundreds of books at Smashwords and other retailers are discounted or free. They offer all the popular formats, plus pdf, rtf, and in-browser options.

The idea was launched in 2004 by "Rita Toews, 61, a soft-spoken mother of two and grandmother of one, who sits at the center of the ebook universe for this week.

"Operating from a spare bedroom in her home in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada with her cat Lola by her side ("Every author needs a cat," she says), Ms. Toews is the creator and chief ringmaster of Read an Ebook Week, an annual international celebration of ebooks that kicks off its seventh season this Sunday March 7.

"Read an Ebook Week brings together ebook retailers, publishers, authors, device-makers and untold thousands of readers who join in this international literary event of ebook discovery, and yes, gluttony.

"Since the event takes place in cyberspace the only measure I have of its success is the traffic on the Read an E-Book Week website, which grows each year. Occasionally a participant will contact me and say - "I had over 2,500 visits on my website during Read an Ebook Week." That's nice to hear.

"For this one week only, publishers and authors offer thousands of original ebooks for free and at deep discounts to encourage book lovers around the globe to give ebooks a try."

Visit the official Facebook page

Two of my books are discounted for this week. See Joan H. Young Author page

[some text taken from interview with Rita Toews by Mark Coker at the Huffington Post]

Monday, February 24, 2014

Bury the Hatchet in Dead Mule Swamp- Available!

Bury the Hatchet in Dead Mule Swamp

Bury the Hatchet in Dead Mule Swamp is book four of the Anastasia Raven mysteries. Here's the blurb:

Anastasia Raven opens a box containing a bloody hatchet, apparently sent as some sort of warning to her friend Cora and Cora’s ex-husband. When a hacked-up body is discovered in the Petite Sauble River at the small village of Jalmari, everyone is stunned at the victim’s identity. Continued puzzling discoveries just don’t add up. Ana discovers herself agreeing to participate in a zany conspiracy with a tall and handsome man.

The ebook is available for purchase now, only $2.99- less than a good cup of coffee!
Barnes and Noble

Sunday, February 16, 2014

How to Write a Book Review

This is just going to be my take on how to help authors you like sell more books. This is not going to tell you how to write a thousand-word analysis for your English class.

Why should you do this? Books with a number of reviews have clearly been read. Whether people liked them or hated them, a group of reviews is an indication of sales. And people love to associate with winners.

1. WRITE A REVIEW Point one- people aren't going to know what you think unless you do write one.

2. SHORT IS FINE Your book review does not have to be long. You don't have to spend an hour of time and agonize over every word.

3. WRITE IT SOON If you review a book within a few days of reading it you're more likely to remember what you thought and felt, which parts moved you, and which parts didn't.

4. BE HONEST Don't give a four-star book five stars. If you look at popular authors, not all of their books will have five stars, not even most of them. A good solid four-point-something stars is wonderful. Personally, I wish the systems had ten start, or half stars. I like to keep five for the best of the best, but a number of books could easily be 4.5.

5. COMPARE WITH LIKE WORKS Don't knock a thriller because it's not literary fiction, or a cozy mystery because it's not complex intrigue. For example, I read a review of a book today that gave it only one star because it was formulaic woman-in-jeopardy. Well, that was the genre. Of course it was going to have that scenario.

6. GIVE YOUR REACTIONS You don't need to do a complete synopsis of the plot, and don't include spoilers. Do tell how the book made you feel.

7. NOTE WRITING QUALITY Did the author develop the characters? Did you feel as if you knew these people? Was there good detail? Was it believable? Of course, there may need to be some acceptance of twists of fate, lots of murders surrounding one person (if the book is in a series), etc. It is fiction, after all, not journalism. Unless it's non-fiction... in which case, you want honesty, engaging telling of the story, good backstory, etc.

So, support your favorite starving artist, or even a successful, well-paid author. We never get tired of hearing what people think.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Ahead of the Curve, But a Long Way to Go

I recently read an interesting article in Galleycat that compared the levels of income made by various types of authors. Their information was taken from Digital Book World. Here's the chart I found most interesting.

It might be a little difficult to interpret. The four bars are different types of authors. I'm not sure how aspiring authors make anything... but I suppose some people label themselves as aspiring even if they make a little money. The blue color is the percent of authors in each category that make nothing. As in $0.00 a year. Zero. One would expect that for aspiring authors. But look at the blue color in the Self-published bar. It's 20%. That's a fifth of all self-published authors who make not one penny from all their work. (And it's almost that many for traditionally published authors- getting a publisher does not guarantee money.)

Now look at that pukey-green color. It's the biggest band of color for the Self-published authors. It goes all the way up to about 78%. Now subtract out the 20% that make nothing, and 58% of indie authors make something, but less than $1000 a year. I guess that's ok if you want to write for a hobby, but it's not even a dent in any kind of income to sustain a person.

So the blue and green together show authors who make under $1000 a year. That is over 50% of traditionally published authors. That suddenly doesn't look so magical, does it. Those who are hybrids- use both self publishing and publishing companies manage to drop that to about 45%, but still not great. For complete indies it's almost 80%.

I think there's an error on the chart for the next band. The band-aid color is the next one up, but in the legend it's pale blue. I suspect the legend is wrong. So look at the band-aid band (who chose those colors, anyway?). This is authors who make between $1000 and $2000 a year. For indies, it's about 10%. And it's the band where I fit.

I'm very encouraged by this. Sure, I'd like to be higher. My goal at the moment is to be in the orange band, but I had no idea that I'm already doing better than about 80% of self-published authors.

Thanks to all my readers, editors, promoters, and fans for getting me there!

You can read the entire article at Most Authors Make Less Than $1,000 a Year: DBW

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Bury the Hatchet in Dead Mule Swamp out to Beta Readers

Bury the Hatchet in Dead Mule Swamp

I am delighted to be able to say that Bury the Hatchet in Dead Mule Swamp has gone out to my beta readers for this book.

What does a beta reader do? After an author has completed a manuscript and gone through it at least once looking for errors that need fixing, it should go to several people who have writing skills and critical reading skills. They will look for plot inconsistencies, things that are beyond belief, grammar and punctuation errors. And of course, those ever-present pesky typos.

I recently read a traditionally published book, by an author who has been on the New York Times Bestseller List. I was enjoying it immensely until about page 500. It turned out the entire plot twist hinged on the police overlooking a very critical and obvious piece of factual information from the autopsy. Bzzzzzz.

This is beyond suspension of disbelief. It made me feel as if I'd wasted all the time I spent reading. I did finish the book, it was near the end. A beta reader, or an editor, should have said to that author, "This just doesn't make sense."

So I hope my beta readers will be honest with me. Then again, if they think the story is too outlandish, I really don't want to completely scrap the manuscript. Let's hope they find it enjoyable without too many huge gaffes.

I'm thinking the book should be ready to purchase in about three weeks. Meanwhile, you can get up to speed by reading the first three Anastasia Raven stories: Smashwords or Amazon

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Ready to Begin the Harvest Ball

Bury the Hatchet in Dead Mule Swamp

It's not giving away any big secret to say that the climax of this book occurs at the Harvest Ball. Everything so far has been building toward it, and anyone reading the book will be sure to notice they are almost at the end. I'm finally ready for the big night to begin in Chapter 42.

That said, there's a lot that happens, so there are quite a few more chapters to write.

I was on a roll today, and didn't have any other work assignments or hours. I devoted the day to wordcrafting, and managed to squeeze out 3024 of 'em. For those of you waiting for this Anastasia Raven book, I hope you won't have to wait much longer.

Meanwhile, here's a sample from Chapter 40:
    I was showing the kids the backstage areas where they could change and make entrances and exits, when the lights went out. The dim recesses of the stage became murky with no windows located there, and the loud music ceased abruptly mid-song. The quiet was so welcome I realized my ears were ringing.
    “Sorry,” Mick called from the balcony. “I think our amps did that.”
    “I’ll take care of it,” hollered Todd. He motioned to one of the musicians, opened the door that led directly to the basement and said, “Th’electric panel’s down here. I’ll show ya’.” Raising his voice again, he yelled at Mick, “Ya’ might need t’ get an extension cord and plug those lights in a differ’nt circuit.”
    “Where can I buy one?” Mick yelled back. “I’ve used all ours.”
    “Jouppi’s Hardware,” Todd and I said simultaneously. “South end of Main Street,” I added loudly.
    I heard Cody scream “Geronimo!” from the hallway.
    It was just past one, and there were still hours to go until the Ball began, when the noise level was sure to be exponentially louder. I shook my head in hopes of stopping the ringing in my ears and the ringing switched to my pocket. It was my phone.

You can find the first three Anastasia Raven Stories at Smashwords or Amazon