Jacqui Murray has put up three new reviews, and Murder in Plane Sight is one of them. Head on over to her site and check them out!
The countdown continues! I’m both excited and terrified at the prospect of my first book going out into the world. The inevitable insecurities are careening through my mind:
- OMG, other people will read my book!
- Oh. My. God. Other people will read my book 😮
- Will they like it? Will anybody like it?
- All those people at work who already bought or will buy my book–what if they don’t like it? Will they still talk to me? (yes, I know it’s a totally unfounded fear 🙂 )
- What if nobody likes it?
- How am I supposed to write book 2 and market this one at the same time?
- How do I contact bookstores to have them carry my book?
- Where is my press kit? My publisher said they were putting one together.
- What about a newsletter? Oh man, I should have put a newsletter together already.
- When will I get my printed books? Will I get them by the first weekend in April for the Writers’ Institute? *unintelligible grumbling*
- I have to schedule author events. When? Where?
- This is scary. What was I thinking?
- I’ll be fine. I mean, every author has to learn the ropes, right?
- Seriously, things will work out.
- Damn snowstorm. A-frickin’-gain. When will it end????
Hoo-boy. I know all writers go through this with their first book. Heck, probably with every book. Deep breath. Everything will be fine.
My Muse drops a stuffed duffel bag beside the back door to my office. His blond hair is sunbleached, a counter to the bronze of his skin. His well-worn jeans and hiking shoes don’t quite work with the muscle shirt emblazoned with a surfing gator and “Spring Break” in eye-searing orange and green. He hangs a red hoodie on the coat tree.
“Where the hell have you been?”
He flashes his crooked grin. The skin around his eyes is noticably lighter than the rest of his face. “Enjoying some sunshine.” He makes a show of opening the door once again and looking over the yard. “And sand. You know, not that cold white stuff outside.” He shuts the door. “You do realize the equinox is in two weeks.”
“Your point?” We’re supposed to get another 6-9 inches of snow this weekend. Ugh. “Don’t you have some pull with Mother Nature? I mean, you being a Muse with a capital ‘M’ and all?”
He sits on a corner of my desk. “Naw. Besides, she’s got her own agenda. Last I talked to her, she was planning, and I quote–” he makes air quotes–“‘weather experiments’.”
Gulp. “Um, why don’t you tell her she can send Spring on stage. I think Winter needs a vacation.” Although this week was the first week in over a month where it didn’t snow, like, every other day.
He combs his short hair back with his fingers and chuckles. “Yeah, well, she can be really sweet, but when she’s in a mood …” He shrugs. “Anyway. Are you ready for the release?”
“You mean besides not being able to actually hold my brand-new novel until who knows when? Oh, and no press kit yet.”
“You got your website going, though.”
“Yes! Finally! And I linked it to my blog. And my blog has a link to my website.” About flipping time, too. One would think someone who worked in IT for as long as I did would have been able to finish it sooner.
“Maybe so, but you never did a lot with web stuff. You did more basic programming and regular troubleshooting.” He loops an arm around my shoulders. “You did fine, love. Now, let’s see what kind of wine and chocolate you stocked up on. I might have to make a run.”
I have to say I’m glad he’s back, even if I’m not writing just now. I have workshop handouts to finish, and blog reading to catch up on. Sorry I’m so far behind, but I’ll catch up.
You can find the link to my website at the top of the page, or right here: Julie’s Author Website. It’s nothing fancy; I’m taking Dan Blank’s advice about keeping it simple. I’ll have to do some tweaks once the book comes out, and make sure I add the audiobook when it comes out on March 19, one week after the book.
I’ll be hunkering down during yet another snowstorm. Then rain next week. As if the 6-9 inches over the weekend won’t be enough.
Stay tuned! Stay safe! And keep writing!
Today I’m helping celebrate Jacqui Murray’s latest release, the first book of her Crossroads series.
The book is set in prehistory, when human survival depended less on brute strength and more on outwitting predators. Did those early humans have a way to explain their luck when they managed to survive until the next day?
Survival of the Fittest hints at a spiritual side to man. Is that accurate?
Scientists have no idea when man’s spirituality started. Because 850,000 years ago (when Xhosa lived) is considered prehistory—before any sort of recorded record—there’s no way to tell. Survival of the Fittest offers one speculative theory of how that could have happened.
Five tribes. One leader. A treacherous journey across three continents in search of a new home.
Chased by a ruthless and powerful enemy, Xhosa flees with her People, leaving behind a certain life in her African homeland to search for an unknown future. She leads her People on a grueling journey through unknown and dangerous lands but an escape path laid out years before by her father as a final desperate means to survival. She is joined by other homeless tribes–from Indonesia, China, South Africa, East Africa, and the Levant—all similarly forced by timeless events to find new lives. As they struggle to overcome treachery, lies, danger, tragedy, hidden secrets, and Nature herself, Xhosa must face the reality that this enemy doesn’t want her People’s land. He wants to destroy her.
Chapter 1 Excerpt:
Her foot throbbed. Blood dripped from a deep gash in her leg. At some point, Xhosa had scraped her palms raw while sliding across gravel but didn’t remember when, nor did it matter. Arms pumping, heart thundering, she flew forward. When her breath went from pants to wheezing gasps, she lunged to a stop, hands pressed against her damp legs, waiting for her chest to stop heaving. She should rest but that was nothing but a passing thought, discarded as quickly as it arrived. Her mission was greater than exhaustion or pain or personal comfort.
She started again, sprinting as though chased, aching fingers wrapped around her spear. The bellows of the imaginary enemy—Big Heads this time—filled the air like an acrid stench. She flung her spear over her shoulder, aiming from memory. A thunk and it hit the tree, a stand-in for the enemy. With a growl, she pivoted to defend her People.
Which would neverFemales weren’t warriors.
Feet spread, mouth set in a tight line, she launched her last spear, skewering an imaginary assailant, and was off again, feet light, her abundance of ebony hair streaming behind her like smoke. A scorpion crunched beneath her hardened foot. Something moved in the corner of her vision and she hurled a throwing stone, smiling as a hare toppled over. Nightshade called herthose of Leopard.
But that didn’t matter. Females didn’t become hunters either.
With a lurch, she gulped in the parched air. The lush green grass had long since given way to brittle stalks and desiccated scrub. Sun’s heat drove everything alive underground, underwater, or over the horizon. The males caught her attention across the field, each with a spear and. Today’s hunt would be the last until the rain—and the herds—returned.
“Why haven’t they left?”
She kicked a rock and winced as pain shot through her foot. Head down, eyes shut against the memories. Even after all this time, the chilling screams still rang in her ears…
Title and author: Survival of the Fittest by Jacqui Murray
Series: Book 1 in the Crossroads series, part of the Man vs. Nature saga
Genre: Prehistoric fiction
Cover by: Damonza
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice, a columnist for TeachHUB and NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Quest for Home, Summer 2019. You can find her tech ed books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning
Hey, lookie here! Check this out–fellow blogger Marcia Meara is revealing her upcoming release. Also, make sure you visit Marcia on her blog, The Write Stuff, where you can find all Marcia’s other books and check out her posts.
Jake and Dodger are at it again,
accompanied by their boss, the archangel Azrael.
I am so excited, I can hardly stand it. Once again, Nicki Forde Graphics Design has come up with a cover that does exactly what I wanted it to do. It provides a great-looking image that clearly links the second novella in my Emissary series with the first one. And it does this by putting Jake’s big, red-and-white semi front and center, angel wings and all, but with a completely different background.
In The Emissary 2: To Love Somebody, Jake and Dodger travel both coasts of Florida, day and night, working their emissarial magic wherever they find souls in trouble. For me, the palm fronds over the truck, the ocean in the background, and the moon shining down are perfect.
I can’t give you an exact release date for The Emissary 2: To Love Somebody yet, as I still have a few more tiny odds and ends to finish up, including the blurb. But I’m 99.9% sure it will be available within a week or two, and I’ll have more to share with you then. In the meantime, what do you think?
My heartfelt thanks to all the wonderful bloggers who have helped me share my new cover with the Immediate World! It’s lovely to be part of such a supportive online community, and every single one of you is special to me. Thank you!
NOTE: This is not a stand-alone novella, so now’s a good time to grab the first one. You can read it in an evening and be all set for The Emissary 2. You’ll find The Emissary 1 on Amazon HERE.
I’m thrilled to help my wonderful blogging friend, Mae Clair, with today’s cover reveal for her second Hode’s Hill novel, End of Day. If you haven’t read the first one, Cusp of Night, what are you waiting for?
Release Date: January 15, 2019
Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Supernatural Thriller
Publisher: Kensington Publishing • Lyrical Underground Imprint
The past is never truly buried…
Generations of Jillian Cley’s family have been tasked with a strange duty—tending the burial plot of Gabriel Vane, whose body was the first to be interred in the Hode’s Hill cemetery. Jillian faithfully continues the long-standing tradition—until one October night, Vane’s body is stolen from its resting place. Is it a Halloween prank? Or something more sinister?
As the descendants of those buried in the church yard begin to experience bizarre “accidents,” Jillian tries to uncover the cause. Deeply empathic, she does not make friends easily, or lightly. But to fend off the terror taking over her town, she must join forces with artist Dante DeLuca, whose sensitivity to the spirit world has been both a blessing and a curse. The two soon realize Jillian’s murky family history is entwined in a tragic legacy tracing back to the founding of Hode’s Hill. In order to set matters right, an ancient wrong must be avenged…or Jillian, Dante, and everyone in town will forever be at the mercy of a vengeful spirit.
End of Day can be read as a stand alone novel or as a follow-up to book one of the Hode’s Hill series, Cusp of Night.
End of Day is available for pre-order through this link
and available to add to your Goodreads to-be-read list here.
Connect with Mae Clair at BOOKBUB and the following haunts:
Please welcome my guest today, Staci Troilo. Staci has just released the last book of her Medici Protectorate series (and I am so bummed, but there is the Nightforce Security guys, which is a spinoff written by Staci’s alter ego (well, one of them 😀 ) Kiera Beck). If you haven’t checked out the Medici series, you’re missing out.
And now, heeeere’s Staci!
Hi, Julie. Thanks for inviting me here today. I’ve been crazy busy writing guest posts for my latest release, Tortured Soul, the fourth and final installment of the Medici Protectorate series. As I was about to compose my piece for you, my muse interrupted me. I’m sure my original idea for a post would have been a good one, but I think you’ll like our conversation better. At the very least, you’ll get a kick out of this, since I have you to thank for introducing us.
I’ve transcribed our chat for you:
I’d watched him come in the door. He’d risen at dawn and had been doing some form of martial arts in the yard for over an hour. Now he stood in the doorway, his broad, bare chest glistening with sweat. Dark hair, damp on the ends, curled at the nape of his neck. He sipped from my “This Might Be Wine” bottle, his Adam’s apple bobbing as he guzzled the water.
Had to be water. No one built like that drank wine after a workout. Certainly not Mr. Perfect. I had to admit, I might. Okay, I confess—my morning drinks of choice are coffee, mimosas, and Bloody Marys, in that order. Which isn’t really a problem, since I seldom workout in the morning. Nor am I built like a Roman deity. (I’m starting to see some uncomfortable correlations.)
“Cara, you’re staring. Again.”
“Sorry.” My cheeks heated as I dragged my gaze up to his and forced myself to blink. And swallow. “Did you want something?”
“You’re supposed to be working.”
“A ha!” Is it bad that I feel perverse glee when he’s wrong about something? “I can’t write right now. I’m working on marketing materials and guest posts.”
“I didn’t say you’re supposed to be writing. I said you’re supposed to be working.”
And just like that, my glee evaporated. “I was. Until you interrupted.”
“If you were working, why were you staring out the window?”
Because my eyes were tired, my brain was mush, and I’d been admiring the view. At least until he came inside. “I was just thinking.”
“You’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately.”
“You’ve been doing a lot of exercising lately.”
His lips quirked.
My face flamed hotter, and I looked away—back to my blank computer screen.
He pulled on a t-shirt then dropped onto the sofa beside me. Close. Really close.
I inhaled deeply. To my surprise, he smelled good. Like pine and sandalwood and something sultry and exotic I couldn’t name. Seriously? After an hour flailing about in the summer heat? I vented the breath with an audible sigh.
He touched my arm. “You always sound so tortured, cara.”
Wonder why. Shifting in my seat, I knocked his hand away. My skin tingled where it had been.
“So, tell me. When you’re not fantasizing—”
“I don’t fantasize. I ponder. Plan. Prepare.”
“And now you protest too much.”
“Hamlet? Queen Gertrude? What, were you Shakespeare’s muse, too?”
His jaw ticked and his gaze heated, but he didn’t speak. Still, I thought I heard an answer in his silence.
Given the circumstances—given his qualifications—I should probably give the guy a little more respect than I had been.
“Anyway.” I cleared my throat. “Julie has talked to me about marketing and publishing. In some ways, it’s tough for writers who write mashups or multiple genres.”
He wasn’t challenging me. Rather, he seemed genuinely interested. Apparently the business side of writing was outside his area of expertise. Never would have guessed there was something he wasn’t good at.
I reached for my mimo—er, my coffee—and nestled into the corner of the couch. “Well, if you’re going to be a multi-genre author, you’ve got some decisions to make. Are you going to try to maintain only one identity and segment your mailing list? Or are you going to write under multiple pen names, having one identity per genre? There are pros and cons to each.”
“And you chose to use multiple pen names?”
“Only recently. But that’s because of a policy at work.” He knows all about my job at a publishing company and the requirements that came along with it. He doesn’t know what the company is doing for me, though. “The marketing director there is helping me manage these different personas, and we’ve developed names and identities for each imprint that works for the genres I write in. Before that, I wrote only as ‘me’ and tried to target different segments of readers when I released different types of novels. And I was mostly on my own with marketing.”
“Either way sounds exhausting.”
“You have no idea.”
He took another drink. “Is there a way to make things easier?”
“Marketing takes time no matter what kind of author you are. Single- or multi-genre. One identity or many. Unless you have someone doing it for you, it’s not easy. But one of the easiest ways to target the right readers is to categorize your book correctly.”
“Cara, correct me if I’m wrong, but you aren’t self-published. You don’t have control over your books’ categories.”
“That’s true of most of my books. But not all. I have a few self-published titles. I learned through trial and error on those. Lately, I’ve been asking questions and watching what my publishers chose for me. Watching what the top authors in my genres are doing.”
He leaned back against the cushions, and I got another whiff of him. It was more than a little distracting, so I sat up straight then bent over my laptop.
“What are you doing?”
“Pulling up Amazon’s site. I wanted to show you a few things. For starters, look at this. All these authors have multiple categories listed.”
“That makes sense.”
“Yeah, but you’re only able to add two categories and seven keywords when you upload on KDP.”
“So how did they get other categories?”
“You have to request it. Email the helpdesk in KDP with the exact path you want, and they’ll adjust it for you. You have to have the exact words, though. And don’t just rely on their options. If you look at your competitors, you can see paths you want that Amazon doesn’t offer. Copy them and ask KDP for them. That’s how you get the categories Amazon doesn’t organically offer. You have to be exact and specific.”
“But how do you know which categories to select?”
“Look at this.” I pulled up the categories for Hideaway by Keira Beck—one of my pen names. “See how ‘New Adult’ is one of them?”
“I’m not blind, cara.”
Yeah, neither was I. That was part of the problem. I turned back to the screen. “That’s definitely not a book about college-aged people, which is what NA was originally defined as. So I asked my publisher about it. They said the category has morphed to mean ‘includes unmarried sexual partners’ and has nothing to do with an age group. Other than the characters aren’t teenagers. If you want to place your book in the proper categories, you need to ask questions of people who might know more than you.”
“Another thing is to make sure you go as deep down into the categories as possible. The more specialized and specific you can get, the better chance you have at finding your targeted readers.”
“And of course, you need to look at what comparable authors are listing their works as. Keeping an eye on them and what they’re doing helps you stay on top of your game.”
“You sure do a lot of looking at other things.” He tipped the bottle up and drained it dry. Never took his gaze off me, though.
I drained my own drink then scampered into the kitchen for a refill. It was really warm in the house.
“I think I’m going to shower then head to One Ugly Mug to watch the game.”
My mind kind of blanked at shower.
As he walked past me, he leaned down and whispered in my ear. “Don’t dawdle, cara. You’ve still got a lot of work to do.”
Truer words never spoken.
So, as you can see, my newly-acquired muse has made himself at home. And we’re learning from each other—learning some really interesting things.
It’s hard to pick categories for books. I noticed my publisher chose different categories for my eBook than for my paperback and hardcover. Probably trying to maximize exposure. At the end of the day, I stand by the four rules mentioned above.
- Ask questions when you don’t understand.
- Request multiple keyword streams from Amazon, particularly ones they don’t offer that you can copy from other authors.
- The more specific and specialized the categories are, the better chance you have at finding your ideal readers.
- Always stay apprised of what comparable authors are doing.
Do those things, and you’ve won half the battle. Properly positioning yourself will entice Amazon to put their vast promotional machine behind you.
The other half requires developing relationships with your readers. Somehow I think my muse knows a lot about that particular subject. But I don’t have time to have that discussion today. I have promotional materials to write.
Protection is safety. Until it stifles.
After months of clandestine battles, the Brothers of the Medici Protectorate finally know who is responsible for the assassination attempts on the Notaro family, the secret descendants of the Medici line. And they’ve never faced such a formidable foe.
Roberto Cozza–Coz–faces this new reality with surprising pragmatism. His powers may make the difference in winning their covert war–if only he can master them in time. It would just be so much easier if he could get his emotions under control, but neither his Brothers nor their charges are making things easy on him.
Toni Notaro appreciates the security provided by the Brothers, but she knows she has her own role to play–and it terrifies her. She is the missing link in Coz mastering his emerging abilities, yet she struggles to bridge the gap between what he needs and what she can offer.
As the Brotherhood hurtles inexorably toward the climactic final showdown, Coz and Toni must find the strength within themselves and each other to master the secrets of his powers, or risk death and defeat for all they hold dear.
Author Bio and Links:
Staci Troilo writes because she has hundreds of stories in her head. She publishes because people told her she should share them. She’s a multi-genre author whose love for writing is only surpassed by her love for family and friends, and that relationship-centric focus is featured in her work.
It does, but it doesn’t. It’s the “is this really happening” feeling that makes you want to pinch yourself to make sure you aren’t dreaming.
I sent my edits in, looked through the new paperwork my editor sent me, and stared, in dumbfounded silence, at a list of all the things I need to do before the book comes out. Yikes.
And I finally got a release, er, not really date, more like timeframe.
My debut novel, Murder in Plane Sight, is due to be released in March, 2019.
*looks at list of stuff to do before release*
Ho-ly shit. How am I going to do this and work on Book 2?
*reviews mental list of writing friends that do it and shakes head in amazement*
A few days after I sent in the latest revision of my manuscript, I got the first mockup of the cover. Wow. Granted, I had mocked up a dummy cover with my own idea, so what they sent resembled the one I cobbled together, but to actually see it, with my name and the title and everything, makes this whole thing even more real.
A pair of hands weigh my shoulders down. Strong fingers squeeze reassurance. “This is where you wanted to go, love.” My Muse, standing behind me at my writing desk, leans over me and peers at my computer screen. “Remember your ‘100 things to do before I die’ list? Publish a novel is on there. Pretty high up on the list, too, if I recall.”
Going to Hawaii is on there, too, along with Germany. Checked those off a long time ago. “I know. It just … doesn’t feel quite real yet.” I turn in my chair to look up at him. “Where have you been? It’s, like, oh-my-god hot outside. No surfing?”
He leans back on my desk beside me, hands braced on the smooth wooden top. “I thought you said you were starting a NaNo project in July. The what, third or fourth ‘first draft’ of Book 2, right? I figure I’ll get you going on that. Besides, it’s hotter than the Amazon jungle out there.”
He’s right. The humidity index where I’m at in MN right now is higher than in the Amazon. Our local news has delighted in sharing that little tidbit. “I’m still working through the outline. And did you see this list?” I shove the list of tasks at him. “How am I going to do all that?”
A crooked grin eases across his face as he sets the list aside. “You know you already have some of it done.”
“The parts I have done aren’t what worry me. It’s all the other stuff I know I have to do, like a newsletter. And a press release.” It’s a good thing I bookmarked Staci Troilo’s posts about author media kits. “I’ve been paying attention to what the other authors I know are doing. It’s kind of overwhelming to think about it all. I don’t know how they do it.”
“One step at a time, love.”
“All while I’m working on Book 2? Time is the part I’m worried about.” And getting Book 2 written, revised, and polished for publication; I know that will happen sooner than I expect, because stuff like that always does.
“You’ll do fine. I’ll be sticking around; Mr. E is helping Mae with her new series, so he’ll be busy for quite a while yet.”
Not that it ever stopped him before from going on a pub crawl with my Muse. “It just doesn’t seem real. Not yet, anyway.”
“It will soon enough, love.”
Everything is moving forward. The line edit of the manuscript is next on the list, along with finalizing the cover. I’ve got a few suggestions before that happens. Once I have a cover, I’ll feel much more comfortable starting promotional stuff. All while working on Book 2–sheesh. So, I’m thinking a six-month sabbatical in a mountain cabin or on a tropical beach–wait, mountain cabin is probably better. No way to laze about in the sun there 😀
I also have to work on my website/blog, so at some point things will start to change here. Or get monkeyed up as I try to figure out how to do it. I’ve been paying attention to various posts by my writer friends about websites, and newsletters, and media kits, so I’ll be gleaning information. Thank you ahead of time to all those authors for discovering what works and what doesn’t, and sharing that knowledge with the rest of us.
I was happy to hear the release would be in March–that’s before the Writers’ Institute next year. I’ll be there, and I’ll be able to show off a real book this time. It’s a fantastic writers’ conference; if you’ve wanted to check out a conference but still aren’t sure, you can’t go wrong with the fun in Madison (except blizzards, but on the bright side, the blizzard during this year’s conference was the first one they’d ever had, in 29 years!). Save the dates! (psst, rumor has it they’ll have a super keynote speaker next year, so get on their mailing list for updates 🙂 )
Enjoy your weekend! And if your weekend is extended due to the holiday (in the US), enjoy the extra days. Stay cool and keep Writing!