Search

Frankie's Wining Room

Drinking wine while writing, reading, crafting, and whining

Month

January 2016

C.G. Powell Hy-JINX

Today, on the blog, we’re highlighting author C.G. Powell and her new book Hy-Jinx. It looks like a good mix of smexy, detective-thriller and fantasy. She’s also the gal who started the Book Swag Shop, which I love!

Being an officer on the Miden District Police Force is not all it’s cracked up to be—particularly when your partner is a total jerk.

When the chance comes along to move up in rank and lose her partner, Armindy Jinx doesn’t think twice about it, especially when she finds out that she’ll be looking for the detective she’s been fantasizing about for the last three years.

Undercover and in over his head, Detective Afintae Daedrik has spent the last five months trying to take down an intergalactic sex slave ring that’s responsible for a rash of kidnappings in the Miden District. Just as he’s on the cusp of finding out who the big boss is, he’s surprised to find Officer Jinx cuffed to the arrival table.

Desperate to stop the sex slave kidnappings, Armindy poses as bait to draw out the big boss. Embracing the sexual fantasies that await her, including the ones about Afintae, isn’t so bad—that is, until the head honcho shows up, and things go from fulfilling a curiosity to dangerous in the blink of an eye. Can Armindy and Afintae hold it together long enough to nail their culprit, or will this risky business be the end of them both?

Buy for only $.99 during release week!

Amazon / Nook / Kobo / iBooks / Smashwords

christine


Christine Powell Gomez (AKA- CG Powell) started writing in 2011, after much consideration, she decided that indie pubbing was the direction for her. Since then she has never looked back, Christine has written books and short stories in the paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and erotica genres all with a twist of romance.

Advertisements

Lesson Learned – Series Bible

There has been a lot of talk on Twitter lately of Series Bibles. When reading series,  readers can tell the authors who use them and those that don’t.

So what is a Series Bible?

A Series Bible is what you, the author, use to keep things straight in your head. It’s a dictionary of characters, descriptions, cars, locations, terms, plot threads that didn’t quite get closed, foreshadowing thoughts that didn’t bloom.

So how do you keep all that straight?

I’ve tried journals.

The problem with journals for me, was that they lacked organization. There were lots of sticky notes and tabs and highlights and taped-in pages. It was a mess for me!

This could work for you, though! If you need a paper journal to jot down your notes, do it! I would recommend having different sections and keeping it as organized as you can!

I’ve tried story boards.

This worked out really well! I could organize it, re-organize it. It was color-coded, which is important for me, and I could easily find what I needed.

Except when I was out. This approach worked well if I were at home all the time, but I’m not. I write when I can, which means it happens at lunch, at supper if I’m treating myself to fallafel, or to a coffee.

I tried a Word document.

That helped me with my mobility, but I had a hard time organizing it. It was just a jumbled pile of pages. I have a lot of details in some of my series; a lot of characters to keep track of, names, places, dates.

When you’re writing, and you need that one piece of information right then, you have two options. You can blow through it and catch it later, or you can pause, dig for it, and continue.

The problem with blowing through it and “catching it later” is that you don’t always remember what you were supposed to catch unless you flag it. Highlight it, put a comment on it, something! If you do that, then blowing through it is a great option.

I don’t do that because it reacts adversely to to my OCD. I keep seeing it and I just can’t IGNORE it!

So I needed something that was mobile, but something I could organize well.

It finally tried an Excel doc.

A lot of people are afraid of Excel, but for this, you’re not doing anything that’s scary. There are no formulas…*thinking*…and that’s really what scares people about Excel.

I have several tabs. My first tab is my Quarter Outline.

First off, I set up my columns.

I look at what needs to happen in my structural plot and my character plot and jot down where it’s going to happen.

This helps me keep track of what came up during my brainstorming events.

Then I start on my chapter outlines.

These are filled in and completed after I’ve written the chapters. As you can see, it’s set up very similarly to my quarter outline, but at the left, there are some additional columns with ratings.

I keep my eye on flow this way. When things are dropping down to 1 – “I’m asleep!”, I get concerned. However, this is a romance, so it’s kinda okay that there isn’t immediate plot. The characters and the setting are rated pretty high (I feel excited and engrossed), so those structural elements are carrying the story through the first chapter. By the end of the first chapter, though, the plot jumps up to a 5 because I land a foreshadowing of the inciting incident.

Next is the character tab.

This tab is so important. I always forget what color of eyes my characters have. Hair, sometimes, too, but eyes…always!

If there are other elements you need to keep straight – maybe they wear one jacket all the time – jot this down here. You may remember that detail in book one, but as soon as you enter into book two, trust me, you’re going to forget.

Next is my definitions tab.

I do a lot of world-building because I write a lot of fantasy. There are some series that have very little here, like the Demon Talker Series, but most of them, this tab is very busy! You should see the one for The Hands of Tarot!Wow! That one was amazing!

Even if you just have “Granny’s grimoire”. Whatever. If you gave it a name, put it here and show how you emphasized it, spelled it, and used it.

Last is Notes.

This can be anything. I throw in things that need to be carried over into the other books. As you can see from this snippet, I’m keeping track of how different characters curse.

But further down, I’ve also listed a few things that need to be carried through from The Dustman, which had NO Series Bible. Recreating this is painful! I literally thought I’d remember everything in this one, and there’s a lot that I do!

The things I’ve forgotten? How old is Nali? What is Nick’s favorite color? What subject is Nali struggling in? What color are Telfgar’s scales?

These are just silly things, but digging through The Dustman to find these simple answers is ridiculous.

There’s no limit to what you can have, though. For Devices of War, I have a tab for each language because we speak in those sometimes. I also use that as the place to put Arabic names in case I get a new character. Also, ship lingo. It’s hard to keep it all straight, so I have a tab for that.

Conclusion

You can use whatever method that works best for you. But I recommend you do it! Stay organized and on top of your Series Bible! It’ll help you be a more productive writer!

2015 In Review

2015 happy new year design art
2015 happy new year design art

Well, as far as 2015 goes, it didn’t suck. It really didn’t. My writing kinda did. Oops. I didn’t get a lot of writing done and then I launched a failed experiment and a dud, trying to get it out too early. Yeah, as far as writing goes, 2015 was kind of a crap year for me. I struggled.

Hard core.

But I was getting the rest of my life together and that has to count for something. I have a better job. I’m succeeding at as well. I’m in a relationship that’s adding a lot of quality to my life. My finances are in better order and things are being dealt with. Finally. Because writing makes Frankie less bitchy. No joke.

Going into 2016, I’ve got to get back on the writing and succeeding at publishing bus. I have to. Right now, it’s kind of a really expensive hobby, and that’s not acceptable. I don’t suck at this writing thing. I’m just not awesome…enough to matter. I have to figure out a way around that. And I will. I have a writing schedule that allows work time–because paying the bills is a must–and family time. I’ve also trained the new family to allow writing time

I have a publication plan that’s not nearly as aggressive as I’m used to. That kind of killed me this year anyway. Can’t write aggressively with a 50+ hour a week job and a family. Sorry.

Some people can. I’m sure. Not me. I’ll get more books out there. Get them promoted.

Hopefully, they don’t suck and people can actually enjoy them. That would be awesome. I want to keep doing this. I want to keep writing. I want to keep publishing. But…I’ve seriously got to figure out how to be good at it, or at least, better. So…that’s what I’m going to be working on next year. Well, starting on this week. Whatever. Anyway.

So, that’s the 2015 recap! It didn’t suck. 2016 shall be better!

Creative’s Too Creative: Be Consistent

 consistency-is-key

You should never fear being creative. There are challenges to it. It confuses the crap out of your readers for one thing. When they finish reading one book, they’re notorious for wanting to pick up something similar to curb that “Good Book Hangover.”

One of the things that helps when you find yourself eccentrically creative is to be consistent.

Keep all your information straight. 

This should be a no-brainer. Really. When you’re doing anything, you should keep all your facts straight. But let’s face it, when you’re writing a story, there’s a LOT of stuff to keep straight, and that’s if you don’t change anything major!

When you’re writing something creative, you’re usually building a new world. Not always, but a lot of the time. Some readers–and by some, I mean a lot of them–have a really hard time surviving outside of their buckets, their comfort zones. So, being consistent is imperative.

This includes how you describe unique elements in your world.

Take Dream Killers for example. We teleport via Place and sometimes we use the other person’s Who as our destination point. Not always, though because not everyone can follow a Who, and a Who can only be traced if it’s been collected.

My error was in defining Place and Who in different ways before the initial definition took roots. I failed to make a consistent foundation before branching out.

Some people got it. Some people really, really got it and loved it. But out of 25 reviews that were originally promised, I received 7. I was IM’d 5 times by people telling me that they were confused even though it was well-written. The world building elements and the “lingo” were too confusing. And I had 3 people IM me to let me know that it was “beautifully written, but too unique.”

I can’t ignore those numbers. Something went wrong, and I think it was the fact that I didn’t sit down and define my lingo at the get-go well enough for them to feel I was consistent with it, even though I was.

Keep your launches coming and timely. 

I gotta say. This is one thing I struggle with. I’ve started my own publishing company. I have a business plan. I need to update it with a few changes I’ve made at the end of the year, but

I’m taking this serious.

The thing I can’t allow myself to forget is that after a reader finishes my books, especially if they liked them, they’re going to want something similar. I don’t know anyone out there who writes the kinds of stories I do. I’m sure they’re out there. I can’t believe in a world this big that I’m the only one. I’m not. It’s mathematically impossible, I’m sure. But I haven’t found them.

That means I have to provide those books. That means I have to create a schedule and stick to it. I have to plan it into my budget (which is something I have to do anyway with the fact that this is a business, not a hobby). The readers have to be able to count on me, especially since I’m a nobody in the book business. I actually had a review–great review, btw–tell me I was a nobody in the book business. Kinda of a reminder of how small a fish I am in this giant ocean of books. I digress.

If I say I’m going to launch a book in October, I have to do that.

Otherwise, what few readers and fans I have will leave no matter how much they enjoyed my books.

This is probably why several of the big authors that are household names became well-known after they’d had a few books out. This part of the consistency is tough.

So, what are you going to work on? 

For me, I have to figure out how build the foundation (without info-dumping, which I loathe) before throwing my readers into the pool.

Being Unique is Like Being Space Junk

In the last post, we discussed if there’s such a thing as too creative? The answer, apparently, is yes. But why? Why wouldn’t readers want something wildly different? Why wouldn’t publishers jump on incredibly unique stories? Why is it that when a unique, wonderful, beautiful book hits the market, we don’t get MORE of them?

A majority of them simply don’t survive.

Being wildly unique is a gamble for the author/publisher. 

While it’s awesome that the author was able to find that odd niche that makes them unique, it’s hit or miss on whether or not people are going to get it. It took J.K. Rowling how long to become a hit? I don’t even remember hearing about the books until, oh, I don’t know, a couple years before the first movie came out. And then, it was one of my friends who mentioned them and was like, “Yeah, it’s a kids book, but it’s cool. Not something I’d typically read, but we’re a few books into it now and the kids have grown a lot. I like it.” But she said this with a shrug and a frowny face, so I wasn’t really sold.

In J.K. Rowlings’ case, she wrote a series of books in an age group I didn’t read. My kids did, so I might have gotten into it through them. As it was, I…well, I think I did pick them up once, but put them down because there weren’t dragons, dogs, horses, or princesses in them and my girls weren’t “into boys” yet, or even acknowledging they existed.

Ms. Rowlings’ gamble was that her type of story would most likely appeal to children. The world she created, the characters she shared, even the plot as dark as it got, was perfect for kids. Her writing style made it highly palatable.

Of course, it made it highly viable for readers–and a few non-readers–of all ages to slip into her stories as well.

But for a long time, I’m willing to bet Ms. Rowling was sweating it. What we forget is that time when she was still an unknown name and her sales really weren’t that awesome. She had to pick up speed and readers, and get people talking about Harry first. And that took time.

Genre’s are buckets where readers reside, a little like planets out in space. 

 junk600x410

When is Creative TOO Creative?

I wrote not one, but two unique series. Each one gets picked up by several people, but the number of readers who actually complete the books and then review are few. It’s actually pretty common for me to get a message that reads, “I really wanted to like this, and it’s beautifully written, but it’s just too unique.”

Seriously?

It’s not rare to find an author who is unique anymore. The market is flooded with ideas that are no longer being squelched  by the marketing machines who truly understand the market. There are a lot more fresh voices and ideas out there now than there was a decade ago.

Personally, as a reader, I LOVE that! I don’t see the point in shelling out $5-20 for a book that I’ve read before. Especially not when I previously invested that money the week prior on the same book, just a different name, different author, and different character names.

Understand I’m over-simplifying. I know that. I’m doing so to make a point, knowing full well that each story is truly different. Romances all have the same purpose and can sometimes feel like the same book, but they really are different. Same thing goes with paranormal/urban fantasy. They might have similar main characters, similar settings, similar plot elements, but they’re all different. 

la-bona-escola-no-asfc3adxia-la-creativitat-01

I, however, want something TOTALLY different on a regular basis. So, that’s what I wrote.

Funny thing, though. Those marketing machines that squelched new ideas and fresh approaches and stories understood one thing very well. The ravaging reader, that mass of people who ingest books like a drug addict, enjoy reading things that fall within their niche.

Each marketing book I pick up starts with, “Know your reader.” That means, find your genre, that box that has already been set up for you, and get to know what those readers want. And, people, it works. It works. But what happens when you write something that sits next to that box, but doesn’t quite fit in it?

In future posts, I’m going to explore marketing trends and how they work. I’m also going to explore how to make truly creative, unique and new ideas more appealing without having to repeat repetitiously–which drives me NUTS! And we’ll figure out how to create your niche…without losing your resolve or drive.

Because…oi. That’s tough.

Building Your Author Platform by Book Blogging…Yes? or No?

Last year was about me building my platform. I will say that it’s grown a GREAT deal!

However, some of my brainy ideas got “followers” who were merely numbers on Facebook, while other ideas drew actual people interested in my work!

My biggest brainy idea, I think, was opening a full-time review site. When I say full-time, I mean it. That thing required so much time and hard work, and it was a constant battle to get enough hits on the blog or even a comment. So much of the time I could have been investing in my own writing, I was working on other people’s posts.

I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. I met a lot of really fantastic authors this way, and you’d think that was platform building, at least. However, most of the authors didn’t talk to me again after I hosted them on my site, and when I asked for help promoting my books, they ignored me.

If you’re main goal/focus is to build your platform, being a book blog is not the way to go, IMHO. Here’s a few reasons why.

 

Button
In order to be on a tour (where the real hits and followers come from), a lot of the tour sites want to see a real review blog, not an author blog. The reason for this is because they want the touring author to be the main focus for that day. They realize all authors are trying to get some notice. It’s tough, but when you’re offering to sponsor an author on your blog, they need to be the center of your blog’s attention. So now, you’ve got TWO blogs to maintain, not just one.

If you thought you had emails before, now you have more! Signing up with blog tour companies does a couple of things. It keeps you in the current information stream as far as industry trends, cover trends, and what authors are out there. However, you still have to read all the emails!

Reading books you don’t like. This was the downside I didn’t appreciate. When a book goes on tour, the one thing you don’t want is a negative review. So, when you offer to review a book and you don’t like it, you have one of three choices. Write a review that isn’t awesome but borders on lying, write a scathing review (which several tour companies are telling you NOT to), or tell your tour company that you didn’t like that book. Just know that you turn down enough books, you will be taken off the blogger list. Or they won’t schedule you for books you sign up for. If you think being a book blogger’s hard, you should try coordinating a tour. Good grief! That’s a juggling act in an of itself. Those people work REALLY hard!

Staying on top of your calendar. In order to get the big hits on your blog, you’ve got to post regularly, and you have to post what’s popular. However, there are tour groups that don’t send you the materials until the day before, or those that send you three emails for one post, or, worse, those that forget about you entirely.

Stripping the joy from reading. I’ve got to be honest. I’ve lost the joy in reading. I pick up a book and I know in the first chapter how the structure, the plot, the character arcs, the voice, the everything is going to come together. I’ve always had that ability, but at least I wanted to enjoy the ride. Anymore, I’ve read so many books I didn’t enjoy due to weak structural elements, that I’m on high alert. Reading has become a job. The books you signed up to review (whether they’re good or not) take priority over the books you want to read.

Yes. I know. I should be able to read them all, but no. I have enough free time to read one or two books a week. No more.

Don’t be fooled by the copious amounts of whining. Being a book blogger has been a lot of fun! I deeply enjoyed being a part of all the tours I participated in. I had a lot of fun working with the authors who direct queried me as well.

However, a book blog takes a LOT of time, attention, and hard work. If you’re looking to build your author platform, there are other, better ways. I’ll discuss those in other posts.

Platform Discussions: Sharing Resources

Last week, I shared with you one of the biggest DON’T’s to do for author platform building. Today, I’m going to share with you the greatest thing you CAN and SHOULD do!

Team up with other authors with similar books!

You’ve all got different followers and your readers want to read works that are similar to what you write while they’re impatiently waiting for you to fill the void your book left behind. You know that feeling as a fellow reader. The Good Book Hangover.

I’ve tried this a couple different times. Previously, it didn’t pan out so much. All the authors got together in a Facebook group and we talked AT one another, trying to promote our book while ignoring everyone else. Guys! Promoting takes a lot of hard work! The thought of promoting OTHER people’s books ON TOP of promoting your own?! The only thing going through your head is, “I need more hours in the day! When am I going to WRITE?!”

SteampunkwithHeart

I finally discovered a group that was successful and it was successful because we all took a fairly genuine interest in each other’s books. Now, I won’t say we all had time to read each other’s books, but we enjoyed spreading the news about them and helping each other out. If you want to see what we did, go to Steampunk with Heart on Facebook.

There are a few key things to hit the Success Key.

  1. Don’t be an attention whore.
  2. If you post something about your books, post something about someone else’s as well.
  3. Post more about others, really, and the readers will be DRAWN to you. That really does work, guys. It really does. Be selfless and kind. It’s karma. It really is.
  4. Don’t keep looking at your sales stats. That will drag you back up to Don’t #1.
  5. Be genuine and for one week concentrate on helping the authors on either side of you instead of yourself, and in return, they’ll pay the favor back.
  6. WHEN, not if, the attention whore in your group raises his/her head, support him, but don’t invest too much time in it. He/she won’t return the favor.

Keep your events to one week! Its a long week, but with so many people helping out, it shouldn’t be too exhaustive. You can host Facebook parties, Twitter parties, giveaways, a blog tour, all kinds of stuff, but keep it to one week.

So, with all that said, this is a GREAT approach! It gained excellent results and here are a few authors you should check out! They’re fabulous ladies and gentlemen who teamed together to promote our steampunk themed books!

Hands of Tarot vs Fall of Sky City Launches

Originally published May 9, 2013 

It seems like everyone wants to hear how the re-launch of my steampunk adventure series is going. It was a terrifying move. So I’ll walk you through it and give you the real numbers.

Originally, I published the first book as the following:

Title: Hands of Tarot

Series Title: Hands of Tarot

 
She killed his father.
 
She imprisoned and beat him.And now she thinks he’s her trophy.Synn El’Asim will do almost anything to prove her wrong. But he’s only proving her right.Queen Nix awakened his Mark of power and inducted him into the House of Wands. She knew what she was doing. The son of the two most powerful Families standing against her is the ultimate prize.What she didn’t take into consideration was that maybe he was too strong for her.Maybe.
But the Families aren’t. They’ve been weakened and it’ll take a lot more than one young man with a powerful Mark to take on the Hands of Tarot.

The Response

No one knew what to expect with this book. The genre mash-up, while awesome and unique, doesn’t tell the reader what to expect. Each genre has their own set of rules. The unfortunate thing was that people picked this up thinking it might be a steampunk romance because that scene is HUGE right now. Unfortunately, when Nix is breaking Synn, she uses a few methods that are absolutely TABOO in romance. No details were given. I didn’t want to go there. I didn’t feel it was necessary. But because people picked it up as a romance, they thought it was “safe”, and thus were caught by surprise when Synn does a gloss-over of these events.

I love this cover. When Dawne first showed it to me, I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. But it didn’t do a great job of showing the reader to what expect. It shows the antagonist on the cover, instead of the protagonist. This is probably why people thought it was a romance.

Also, some people thought it was a how-to book on Tarot. I loved the play with the tarot card here, but it just confused the reader. That really bummed me.

The blurb was good, but not solid. It worked better as a teaser excerpt than a blurb. People read that and didn’t know what the book was about.

So with all that said, in the six months the book was active, here’s the sales stats:

SOLD: 7 

FREE: 501

TBR adds on Goodreads: 15

The free days were heavily promoted and I paid for some of that promotion. Also, that’s all five free days.

I also gave this book (3) blog tours, and they were BIG! And through all f that, I sold 7 copies. Granted, that doesn’t count the hard copies that I sold to friends and family. But all that hard work, and there was passible interest and I sold 7 copies.

The RE-LAUNCH

So I sat down with my BFF’s, Veronica and Cabbitgirl, and SistaPITA. Together, we came up with the idea that something was wrong in my marketing plan. They all agreed that this was probably the best book I’d written. It just needed to be presented better.

I gave it a new title, which was the scariest part! I got a new cover, which cost the same as the first one. I gave it a new blurb. Oh, and I gave it another round of edits. All in all, the investment was pretty small.

So, largely with SistaPITA’s help, here’s what we came up with:

Title: Fall of Sky City

Series Title: Devices of War Trilogy

 
skycity_fullIn a world governed by the opposing forces of the mystical House of Tarot and the tribal Great Families, Synn is caught in the crossfire. He witnesses the slaughter of innocent people, and the devastating murder of his father.This act awakens his Mark of power, a Mark greater than any the world has seen in a very long time.
 
 
Queen Nix thought she won a great prize when she destroyed Synn’s father, the leader of the strongest Great Families. She had no idea she’d be doubly blessed by capturing his son. 
 
However, before Synn can become her treasured weapon, before she can use him to bring the rest of the world to its knees, she must break him and bind his soul to hers.
 
She does her job with brutal brilliance. Synn’s mind is broken and his soul is seared to hers in an unbreakable bond. That doesn’t stop him from wanting to be free. She may have broken his mind and claimed his soul, but he will find a way to destroy her.
 
Experience a world of ships that sail the clouds and cites buried beneath the ocean, and survive the fiery battle brought forth by those who control the forces of nature! 

The Response

I had 441 people add it to their TBR when I launched the cover reveal. People were talking about it a month before I re-launched it! I had people asking me for review copies, where as before, I couldn’t pay people to take the book. I got three reviews posted before the official launch date, and the readers UNDERSTOOD what was going on! The new package was aimed correctly!

I set up one blog tour, not a huge one, but one. In the first WEEK here are my stats:

SOLD: 53

FREE: 1,077

I barely promoted the free days. I mentioned it on Twitter and FB. I asked Kathy at I Am a Reader to Highlight it and that was it.

Now, I realize I still have a loooooong way to go. It’s going to be an uphill battle with this book and this series. We’re in a difficult genre. This probably won’t be a million dollar book (not that I’ll ever have that, I know). But it’s finally got the right marketing plan, and it shows with only a week in.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑