Wednesday, April 30, 2014

So You Want To Do A Signing....

So the 30th of every month you will be seeing (or rather reading) me, Adrianne James.  I have been with the Indie Ignites since the beginning but have been lacking in the posting department. So, from this day forward, at least once a month you all will get to know a little more about me and my experiences as an indie.

For today’s post, I thought I would go into a little about signings. How to prepare for them, how to behave at them, and how to make the most of the readers that are there. I have only been to a few, but I have definitely seen an improvement in not only sales but online followers and fans in general after each one. I am sure there are other methods of preparing for a signing, but this is what I have done and what has worked well for me.

First thing’s first, you need to either organize a solo signing or find a big author signing to be part of. There are a few Facebook groups dedicated solely to author events around the country and some even have lists of worldwide signings.

As for local signings, find anywhere and everywhere that will have you. I have been to my local book store that is supportive of indie authors (that also has my paperbacks on their shelves), I am doing a local car show and swap meet that is a staple in my town every year, and I will be doing another local event that celebrates the founding of our town and the small businesses in it. Next week I will be going back to the book store to set up yet another signing and heading to the library to see about a signing there. The more people see you, the better. And I have found that when a reader meets you in person, when you are someone they can say lives near them/in their town/they went to high school with/however else they know you, they tend to promote you even more if they enjoyed your books.

Okay, so now you are all set to do a signing. WOOHOO! Now what? Do you need a ton of stuff to give away? How many books should you have printed up to sign? OMG ALL THE MONIES YOU ARE GOING TO MAKE!!??!

Yeah, let’s take this step by step. First, pat yourself on the back for having the courage to do a signing. Dude, the first one is super nerve racking. Will they like me? Will I sell anything? Will I make a giant ass out of myself? What if I spill my lunch down my top and have to sign books with spaghetti sauce all over my boobs? If you can sign up for a signing despite the fears, you my friend, are kick ass.

For your first signing, I wouldn’t go overboard with swag (the term given to goodies authors hand out for free). Keep in mind that besides bookmarks, most paper products end up on the floor or in the trash. Unless you put a code for a free or discounted book on it. Readers love those. Seriously, they are like gold at signings. Readers tend to like swag that they can actually use. Pens, note pads, hand sanitizer, chapstick, shot glasses. But don’t think this means a ton of money. Some swag can cost you, others don’t add up to much when you think of it as advertising.

You can get good quality bookmarks and other printed materials from,,, and many many others. For smaller giveaways I use,,, or a few others. There are a ton of companies out there for you to choose from. Google is your friend in finding the coolest things to give away with your NAME and your BOOK on it. Do not forget that these nifty giveaways aren’t just because you are freaking awesome and love gifting people with cool stuff, but because you want them to remember you.

A banner is also a good idea. Especially one large enough for people to see from far away. It can be for you as an author or for a book or series specifically. You don’t have to have one, but they are a nice addition to any signing.

Books. You want to know how many books to bring right? Well, first things first, WHERE are you signing? Is it a small event or a large event? Do you have a huge following that knows you will be there and will want signed books, or was this an impromptu signing that you had little to no time to promote for? All of these matter in the amount of books you bring. But realistically, you will only need between 5 and 10 of any title unless it’s a brand new title, then I would go up to twenty for a large signing. 

So now you have your signing set up, your books and your swag. Now it’s time to PROMOTE yourself and the signing! Let people know you will be there. If the signing is a larger event being run with other authors, there may be graphics already designed that you can post. You can chat with other authors going and set up a cross promotion. But most importantly, don’t forget to let your readers know you will be there. If it’s a local signing, tell anyone and everyone you talk to about it. Seriously. If you are going out to dinner, tell the server. At the gas station filling up? Ask the attendant if they love to read. You can even print off a few flyers for the small event and hand them out around town.

Okay, time to take a breath. Are you ready to head to your signing?! IT’s TIME!

Always arrive early. Not too early that you are an inconvenience to the host of the signing, but never and I mean never arrive late unless there was some serious life or death situation going on. If you happen to get caught in traffic or whatever other reason could hold you back, make sure you have contact information for the person in charge to let them know what is going on. There is nothing that will turn readers off more than an author they have been waiting on to show up late without a solid reason. Some readers will drive hours to see you, at least make sure you tell them you care about them by being there on time.

So there you are, sitting behind your table with your books proudly on display, your swag out for readers to take and a gazillion (seriously, bring a ton) of pens at the ready to sign some books! But person after person just walks by. How do you get them to come talk to you? SAY HI! Talk to them first! Wave and engage them. Be proactive. Put a smile on your face. Be welcoming and inviting. Introduce yourself, ask them questions, be friendly. Not everyone will read what you write, but they just might remember you later when they are talking to someone who does.

Also, be able to explain your books with a single sentence or two each. You will only hold their attention for so long. Prepare this ahead of time. It is NOT as easy as it sounds. It took me days to figure out my single sentence pitch for each book but it is doable. If that sentence intrigues them, they will ask for more.

Most importantly, make sure they leave with a smile, even if they don’t leave with a book. Making an impression is so important.  More important than the actual sale in my opinion. Signings are about more than selling books. They are about getting yourself out there. You want people to hear your name and say, ‘Oh I’ve heard of them’. You will gain more online followers, who will then hopefully comment and share your posts and their friends will see them, thus introducing you to even more of a readership.

Most of all, have fun and be yourself. Every signing after the first one is a cake walk :D

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Behind the Scenes of Publishing with JC: On Stress

Welcome to the second edition of a new monthly feature here on Indie Ignites: Behind the Scenes of Publishing with JC. Expect to see some more cool stuff from our awesome contributors in the coming months. We're working on revamping the blog in ways that encourage us to get you better content more often.
This feature is where JC talks about her experiences in publishing and all that entails. Everything from writing to becoming a full-time author, you'll get an exclusive peek into JC's adventures, and hopefully, you'll learn something along the way. Or at the very least, you might find yourself laughing at her ridiculousness. Because with JC, that's kind of a given. And now that you've listened to JC me talk about herself myself in the third person long enough-- here it is.

I debated whether or not to talk about this because it’s a little more personal than I like to get. I want to keep my posts relevant to what’s going on in my life as well as informative and potentially helpful for writers who have found themselves in a similar situation.
Those closest to me are aware that I’ve been under a massive amount of stress the last few months. Everything from travel to moving to starting back with classes to dropping classes to quitting a job to dealing with the repercussions of quitting said job to classroom issues to book issues to… everything.
And… I haven’t always handled it so well. I have probably been more frustrated, more upset, and more determined to get something done in the last month than I have in my entire life. And still, most days it seems like nothing is getting done. New issues are constantly popping up, and I’m being sent on another wild goose chase, and next thing I know it’s two hours later. And that’s two hours of my day that could have gone to doing what was actually on my to-do list instead of whatever the latest emergency is that’s cropped up. But it doesn’t matter because it’s already happened and I just need to move forward, right?
Only, that’s not what’s been happening half the time.
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t deal well with certain stressors. My brain shuts down and I get to a point where I can’t even process what I’m doing in that moment let alone what I should be doing instead. When I reach that breaking point it’s usually after someone’s asked me, “How’s that book coming along?”
Um. Would I have crazy-eyes if it was going well, Mom? Really, would I?
I don’t know how other indie authors or small business owners’ deal with the stress and expectations of running their own career, but I’d love some tips. Because right now, I’m in the trenches and I’m running out of supplies to keep me alive for the foreseeable future. Right now, I’m so far behind on my current project, that’s already past due, that I’m not even sure how much I care anymore. Emotionally, mentally, and almost physically, I’m giving up. I want to throw my hands in the air and say, “I give up!” to the entire world. But I won’t.

I don’t believe that it serves us in any way to give up. The greatest stories aren’t written about those who quit when the going gets too tough. It’s about the people who power through regardless of their obstacles. Classic adventure story structure calls for the hero to feel defeated at some point, but never to actually be defeated. The hero must rebound and realize that their journey is important and that the journey can’t be completed without them. Heck, even the sidekick doesn’t throw in the towel, and if Samwise Gamgee can accompany Frodo into the heart of Mount Doom and not ditch him, then I have zero excuse for admitting defeat.
While it feels like my life has been put into a blender that’s set to “crush”, I know that this will pass. Eventually, this class will end, the book will be finished, and every other petty issue will be resolved. What I try to remind myself every day is that I’m truly lucky to be blessed with these problems. I have a wonderful family, great friends, awesome career, killer sense of humor, adorable cats, a working Kindle, food on my table, and clothes on my back. I will work through this and I’ll figure out how to manage my stress better at some point. For now I’m giving myself permission to cry in the shower, eat too much candy, stay awake until 6 and then sleep until noon, and to be utterly selfish with my time. As fantastic as my support system is, none of them can take care of me as well as I can. If I’m not good to myself, then I can’t be good to anyone else—and this past month proves that. By allowing all of my stress to build up and to feel insurmountable, I’m telling myself that I’m not worth more respect.
Treating yourself well is respecting yourself. It sounds silly and simple, but it’s the truth. I’m going to be spending the next several days working as hard as I possibly can to finish this book and to keep up with my other commitments. But if something comes up and my efforts are suspended or delayed as they have been so many times these last few weeks, I’m going to try very hard to take a deep breath, tackle what I can, and let go of the guilt if I don’t finish it all.
If there’s one message I want my fellow authors and neurotics to take away from this post is this: you, and all that includes, is the most important project you’ll ever have to work on. There is only one deadline that is truly non-negotiable in life and that’s death. Everything else is subject to change. Don’t go making everything into something more important than it actually is. Love what you do and work hard at it, but recognize your own limitations. Accept that you’re not superhuman and during a breakdown you might end up watching a Duck Dynasty marathon unless your backside goes numb. Keep in mind that in the grand scheme of things, all of this stuff is petty and what really matters is how people remember you.
I try to live every day in a way that if it’s my last, then I’ll be okay with that because I enjoyed my life. Looking back on the past month, I don’t like what I see. I see a lot of misery, and anguish, and even some desperation over my life’s passion. And that is absolutely not okay. So something obviously needs to change over here, but it’s not an immediate fix to re-program your brain into not stressing about things that feel important. Evolution is a slow process, and that’s okay. Life will always throw us curveballs and we just have to do the best we can.
In the immortal words of Dr. Seuss, “Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Build a Better Blog with Me

In which I begin blogging about blogging 

Hi, Indie Igniteers, it's me, Stephanie! I'm going to be posting here on the 19th of every month and my next few posts will be about blogging. Mostly because my blog has been kind of
lately. So, in an effort to improve things, I asked the other ladies at Indie Ignites what they think makes a great blog. I'll pass that along to you guys here, and then next month I'll check back in and tell you about the changes I've made.

I'll start with the visuals:

Everyone agrees that a blog should look good. The font should be striking but readable, the colors engaging but not overwhelming, and you don't want it to be too busy.  Jessica L. Brooks said her blog pet peeves include  1) anything that freezes up my flashplayer and makes my internet crash (my Mac is only 5 years old but thinks it's 20), so a bunch of countdown tickers and things like that, and 2) font that is hard to read. 

Rachel Bateman agrees and had so many great points on the subject that I'm quoting her verbatim here: 

1) Clean design: I think a website needs to be CLEAN. This means there aren't a thousand things fighting to be seen at one time. Your colors work well together, and your background isn't overwhelming. Sidebars are a great place to display things you love, but don't put so much there that it will slow down your load time. Nothing makes me leave a website faster than one that is so cluttered it takes forever to load.

2) Readability: You may love the fun font you chose for your blog posts, but look at it objectively. Is it an easy-to-read font? In general, fun fonts should be saved for Headers and emphasis text (links, block quotes, etc.). Your primary text should be in a basic, easy on the eyes font. And while white-on-black (or other light-on-dark) websites can look really neat, and have the right feel for certain sites, if your blog is text-heavy, just don't do it. It puts too much strain on the eyes. A crisp light background with dark text is the best way to go. Finally, make sure your font is big enough to read without eye strain.

3) Easy Navigation: Make sure your menu is easy to find and navigate. Don't let your menu be a tiny list of links in the sidebar - it's too easily lost there. (A sidebar menu is fine, just make sure it's styled to stand out.) You don't need a hundred links in your menu; just keep it to the basics: About, Books, Contact, Blog, etc. More specific things can be sorted by tags/labels and categories - they don't have to go in your main menu. (Though it is perfectly acceptable to put something that is special to you in the main menu, even if it's not one of the basics - the idea is just to not clutter it with so much stuff that the menu is hard to read or cumbersome.) (Also, in this easy navigation category, what Jessica said about tags - USE them.)

4) Make sure there is an easy way for visitors to contact you. This is one of the biggest problems I see on author websites. Likely, if a reader is checking your site, it's not just to get info on your books. They are looking for a way to interact with you. So make it easy. I suggest not putting your email address on your website; instead, use a contact form that will feed to your email instead. If you don't want email, that's fine as long as you leave another way for readers to get to you - list and link your social media profiles. Make them easy to find. Readers are used to being able to interact with their favorite authors now.

5) Don't forget the "About Me" section! Why do people come to your website? To find out about your books, sure, but also to learn about YOU. They can do this through blog posts, sure, but we can't expect new readers to take the time to read through your archives. They need a quick easy way to find out about you. A short bio is fine, though I suggest if you put up your super professional bio, you also have something more casual and fun. People don't come to your site to read the same exact thing that's in the back of your book.

6) MAKE IT EASY TO BUY YOUR BOOKS. I know, we don't want to feel like we're pushing ourselves on readers, but let's be honest: what's the entire point of a website? To sell us in some way. So make it easy to sell. Have buy links up for your books, for sure on the book page and in the sidebar as well if you want (as long as it doesn't super clutter your sidebar to do so). If you make it hard for people to buy your books, they won't buy them.

7) Keep it updated. This is probably the hardest part, because even if you blog regularly, sometimes it's easy to remember to change the other things on your site, like the page that says your book is releasing three weeks ago (as an example). I suggest clicking through your own site about once a month to see if there's anything you need to update.

8) AND FOR THE LOVE OF YOUR VISITORS' SANITY, DON'T HAVE CRAZY POP-UPS OR AUTOMATIC MUSIC PLAYERS. Ahem. Just don't. You aren't going to convert any readers if they click away from your site immediately for something annoying.

You know how you want your blog to look. Now - how do you set it up? Do you go with a free one or do you pay a host to allow you to customize it?

Last year, I had a free blog Wordpress for my author pages with I but felt like I wanted  to personalize more. Here are some screen shots of my old blog, World's Oldest Fledgling:

It was sort of pretty, but lacked pizzazz and any sense that this was anything but a generic blog - it didn't look like my blog and its name didn't announce that it was my blog. (I went with the name "world's oldest fledgling" back then because that's what I felt like, someone who was just jumping out of the nest with no idea what she was doing). 

So I switched to a hosting service and more customizable blog structure, still going throughWordpress. Choosing a theme was tricky for me. I knew that I wanted it to reflect my voice or, though I gag a bit to say it, my "brand." Right now, based on my work that's out there, my brand would be light contemporary YA romance, and I found some really cute blog themes that would reflect this feeling perfectly, like "Pretty Young Thing." But the novel I'm working on now is not a light comic romance, so I knew I had to come up with something a little more flexible.

I asked the ladies for their advice. JC Emery had some great suggestions.  She said, "I purchased Genesis by Studiopress as my parent theme and Dynamik by CobaltApps as my child theme. t was $60 for Genesis and $80 for Dynamik... but I now have the ability to make my site 100% customized where I didn't before. And once I have a theme/style I like, I can export/save it and keep it forever. That way I can go in and change the look and feel of my site without ever spending another cent." She's working on jazzing up her blog, too, and we''ll share those results soon.

I decided to go with Themify's Funki theme, though I wasn't able to customize it as much as I had thought. I'm still playing with it, and below you'll find some screen shots of the new blog, though you won' be able to enjoy the super snazzy slider that runs photos from each blog across the top of the page. Here's a static image of it:

 You'll notice right off the bat that it has a blog name that actually tells you whose blog it is. Genius.

I'm still playing with layout, which I'll talk more about that next time, when I'll focus more on content. Because no matter how good your blog looks, you have to offer something people will actually want to read or they won't come back.

Until then, please share with us or your own tips on what makes a blog worth reading. We love to hear from you! 

Visit my blog, too, and feel free to make suggestions at Stephanie Wardrop, YA Writer. See you in June!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Professional Etiquette

I know this is ST's area of expertise--seriously, if you ever need the PERFECT appropriate outfit for any occasion, she's the Indie girl for you to ask--but I thought I'd take a minute to talk about etiquette. We all know the basics. Don't feed the trolls. Don't respond to negative reviews. Don't over publicize. But let's talk a little in depth.

We're writers. For the vast majority, that means we're also readers. But these aren't just authors any more, they are our colleagues. So you read a book and you don't like it. Do NOT leave a lengthy review detailing why you don't like it. Just check it off your list and move on. I don't even give stars if I can't give 3 or more. Because frankly, I don't want drama that comes with hurt feelings or fans who LOVE the authors I don't. Every book isn't for everybody--that's true when you get reviews as much as it is when you give. But let's all play nice in the sand box, ok?

Social Media Presence:
SOOOOO. We all have one. And that's great. It can be a lot of fun to connect with other authors and fans. And I get it--its your social media. You should be able to post whatever. But you can't. Can we just agree on that? I mean--you can but let's agree that it's a bad idea. Here's a few things I'd suggest you be aware of and avoid.
Politics: Unless you are writing a book about politicians, probably stay away from them. It's a hot topic and quickly devolves into fighting. And it's just not worth it.
Public rants: We all have bad days. We all have days where we want to curse and scream and flail like a five year old. But you are in a professional space here--and I promise that if you throw a public tantrum, people will remember. Your colleagues and peers, and readers. Don't be that girl.
Criticism: We are mostly Indies (And if we're not, we should maybe rename the blog...). We fight an uphill battle. For review and recognition, to be taken seriously, to sell. What we don't need to also fight is each other. So you didn't do a cover reveal. Or pre-release buzz. I might have opinions about that, I'll keep them to myself or have a private conversation. But publicly criticizing the way other people do or don't do things is tacky. And its hurtful, even when you don't intend that. We don't need to do that to each other.

No one wants to work with these people. The ones who think they're flawless and their words are amazing and that they can do no wrong. The ones who expect everything while giving nothing. They aren't fun--and they get a reputation for it. It's good to have confidence in yourself and your work. But do it with a dose of humility and the knowledge that you will never have it all down. There is always something more to learn. :)

Basically, friends, it comes down to this. You are a professional. For readers, agents, and other authors to treat you as such, you need to act like it. All. The. Time. So before you drop a status filled with random cursing or post a review about how unstructurally sound a book is--before you post about everything a publisher did or didn't do wrong--stop and think about it.

Keep it classy, y'all.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

This Quarter's Indie Ignites Releases and #giveaways

Welcome to our second installment of Indie Ignites' quarterly releases! We're pretty excited to share the array of books out in April, May and June. Check 'em out!


Prom and Prejudice (YA)
(Snark and Circumstance, #4)
Prom and Prejudice (Snark and Circumstance, #4)


Georgia Barrett is beginning to realize that her arch-preppie lab partner, Michael Endicott, is not at all the snob-hole she once thought. Too bad Georgia doesn’t see him for who he really is until he starts dating a poised and polished senior.

Georgia knows she should settle for his friendship, especially since telling him how she really feels would mean risking losing him altogether. But her heart tells her a chance at love might just be worth dropping her trusty shield of snark. And Georgia’s determined to find out.

Add to Goodreads
Purchase on Amazon

 The Billionaire and the Barfly (NA)
The Billionaire & The Barfly


Henry Maximus is a super-hero-loving geek and proud of it. He’s also a genius when it comes to business. It’s how he earned the title of CEO of Maximus Gaming … not to mention the billions of dollars in his bank account. Henry’s tried living the life of a bachelor, but a different girl every night has left him wanting more. Needing more.

Aubrey Vincent is in love with her job. She’ll love it even more if she lands the promotion that gets her out of her parent’s attic. She loves it so much that she has no time for relationships, not that she was ever very good at them to begin with. Aubrey is perfectly happy with the random, nameless men she picks up at the bar.
After a brief encounter with Aubrey on a business trip, Henry packs his bags and moves back to the small town where he grew up. Aubrey’s town. Aubrey attempts to find her way into Henry’s bed, while he tries everything to get into her heart. Will Henry’s plan to break down the walls Aubrey has built around her heart work or will his unbelievable million dollar offer scare her away?

Add to Goodreads

Purchase on Amazon

April 21st: 

White Hellebore 
(Heroes of Falledge Trilogy, #2)

White Hellebore (Heroes of Falledge #2)

After destroying Skull Krusher, Nicholas Adams thinks Falledge is safe and becomes a security guard at the museum, watching a valuable statue. Unfortunately, the Egyptian statue houses the soul of a scorned witch, biding her time to have her revenge on the descendants of her cheating lover.

Kiya the witch isn't the only new foe in town as the drug that created Skull Krusher has now transformed a scientist into yet another monster, forcing Nicholas to don his Black Hellebore mask again and save Falledge.

Nicholas has no help this time as Kiya gains possession of his love Julianna's body and brings the soul of Justina, Nicholas's high school sweetheart and Julianna's twin, with her. Despite himself, Nicholas is torn between the sisters. If he can't stop the fiends from taking over the world and destroying humankind, he'd never be able to find lasting, true love.

April 25th:

Stone of Destiny (NA)
(The Danaan Trilogy, #2)

Stone of Destiny (The Danaan Trilogy, #2)


Allison thought it was crazy enough when she found out her father, Liam, wasn't entirely human. But now she has to join his magical allies to unravel his former mistress's plans. Aoife wants to keep Allison's parents apart forever.

Despite Allison's efforts to keep Ethan, the only guy she's ever cared about, out of this supernatural mess, fate keeps throwing him back into the mix.

Will Allison be able to find the amulet that holds the enchantment Aoife placed on Liam and destroy it? Are Ethan' s feelings for Allison strong enough to endure the magic of the Tuatha De Danaan?

Add to Goodreads


May 1st:

Girl Lost (NA)
Girl Lost

Northern was supposed to be a fresh start—a place where people didn’t know who I was or how I had spent years in and out of mental institutes. People didn't know about my parents death or the island no one heard of. But when Peter sits next to me in lit class, I can’t stop the memories, and I don’t want to. He looks too much like the boy from the island, and despite my best intentions, coaxes my secrets from me.

He’s gorgeous, irresistible, a little mad, and completely lost—we are a pair of broken cogs in a world neither of us truly fits into. He is somehow gentle and fierce, heartbreaking in his devotion and savage in his defense.

When Belle, his best friend, shows up, pale and lovely and sick, Peter pulls away from me, a startling withdrawal. It’s a relationship that scares and confuses me. She is at times warm and friendly, and other times is violent and unpredictable.

Peter says that he wants me, but refuses to let himself get close. And there are secrets, surrounding both of us, that border on nightmares. As the memories close in, as Belle gets sicker and more violent, I’m torn between what is true and what I believe, and what this magical boy knows about my mysterious past.

Add to Goodreads
Check out a teaser, HERE

May 8th:

Rev (Adult)
(Bayonet Scars, #3)


We met him in Ride as the no-nonsense Sergeant-at-Arms of the Forsaken Motorcycle Club who disapproved of Ryan's choice to be with Alex, and again in Thrash as a man who few dare to challenge. Now, get to know Grady in his own words as he struggles to keep his club and his personal life from falling apart before his very eyes.

Everyone belongs somewhere. Even the misfits.

With the looming threat from the Mancuso Crime Family, the Forsaken Motorcycle Club is preparing for a war that could destroy them. Grady, the club’s Sergeant-at-Arms, knows that love makes you weak, and he has zero interest in adding to his liabilities-- especially now. He's already got his teenage daughter who keeps him on his toes and a beef within the club that could fracture his relationship with a fellow brother for good.

For Holly Mercer, her life is finally getting on track and the last thing she wants is trouble from her hometown’s resident outlaws. Keeping her nose clean is easier said than done, when suddenly she finds herself embroiled in club business. Holly might like the idea of being with a real-life bad boy, but even being in the same room with tough-as-nails Grady flusters her.

Add to Goodreads

Tur (NA)
(The Elsker Saga, #.5)


Inga Andersson is the envy of every girl in Asgard. On the surface she has it all -- great friends, a job as Odin’s personal fight choreographer, and a happy ever after with her realm’s hottest assassin. But when evil invades Asgard, her perfect world comes crashing down. Someone is planning to kill off the gods, and Inga’s best friend Ull is first on their list. With the Norse apocalypse a nanosecond away, Inga has to decide how she’ll spend her final moments of freedom. Because from the moment this battle begins, Inga’s happily ever after will be nothing more than a memory. 

Some things are worth fighting for.

add to Goodreads

May 29th:

Elsker (NA)
(The Elsker Saga, #1)


You don’t win the heart of an immortal assassin without making a few enemies along the way.

Kristia Tostenson prefers Earl Grey to Grey Goose and book clubs to nightclubs, but when she transfers from her one-stoplight town to Cardiff University in Wales she falls in love with Ull Myhr.  Her new boyfriend isn’t exactly what she was expecting.  He’s an honest to goodness Norse God - an immortal assassin fated to die at Ragnarok, the battle destined to destroy Asgard and Earth.  Kristia’s crazy visions are the only thing that can save their realms.  Her orderly life just got very messy.

Add to Goodreads
Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway, HERE


By Sun and Candlelight (YA)
(Flora, #1.5)
By Sun and Candlelight (Flora, #1.5)

Back in Ambrosia, Rowan and the Queen continue their efforts to thwart Oleander and Hawthorne’s attempts to take over the throne. Rowan sneaks meetings with Dahlia, his only light in a world of heartbreaking darkness and loss, with intent to inquire whether she plans to leave Shaver and make Ambrosia her permanent home. But when Hawthorne threatens upcoming contention and Rowan discovers the book of Jurisprudence (the Ambrosian book of the law), has gone missing, it’s evident there’s a traitor at Lennox. The more Rowan tries to keep Oleander’s men, the Townsends, under control and solve the mystery of the missing book, the more secrets he comes across. Until he wonders: Has his own personal need for Dahlia inhibited his ability to protect her? And what right does he have to ask her to choose anything other than what she feels true in her heart?

Told in Rowan’s point of view, By Sun and Candlelight (Flora, 1.5) gives you a new view into the characters and daily happenings at Castle Lennox and bridges the gap between If I Speak True (Flora, 1) and Open Thy Heart (Flora 2 -- coming this fall)

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Crush (NA)
(Bayonet Scars, #3.5)

by JC Emery (cover/details to come)

And that's it for now! 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

You've got to have friends!!

Hei hei, y'all. It's ST. And I'm here to talk about friends -- specifically, why they are absolutely, hands down, my favorite thing about the writing community.

My path to indie publishing wasn't the most conventional. Two of my books had a brief publication in 2013 with a now defunct small press. When I took back my rights, I had no idea how to go about publishing the books on my own. I was every single possible kind of terrified. So I turned to my writer-friends -- the ones here at Indie Ignites; the ones I met on the interwebs; the ones who were hiding in the foxhole with me, trying to figure out our next steps; and the ones who had successfully navigated the indie arena, and had scores of helpful nuggets to share. (Thank you Kristie Cook, for your amazing blog post that finally convinced me to give this a go!) Those friends were beyond generous with me. I truly had zero idea what I was doing (I still don't, really), and they gave me great advice. Some of the most useful tidbits I gleaned were:

(1) Don't attempt to make your own covers if you're not great at all things computer. (I'm not. It took me a year to figure out The Twitter. Facebook still confuses me.) I scored big time when I met Rebecca K. Sterling, and right here on Indie Ignites we've got Adrianne James and Jaycee Delorenzo.
Those ladies do what I never could!!

(2) Don't attempt to edit your own book if you're not great at all things big-picture, small-picture, and/or grammar. (Again, I'm not. Thankfully, my beyond generous, immeasurably loyal, spectacularly brilliant, once-and-future-editor Eden Plantz kindly agreed to re-edit my books after I re-wrote them for indie publication. God bless her from here to Asgard for everything she's done for me. She's not only one of the most honorable people I've met in this industry, she's one of the most brilliant editors around. At this point, I just nod and write what she says. I adore her.) II has editors in house too -- Rachel Bateman, Nicole Zoltack and Angi Black!

(3) Use super-simple-even-ST-could-figure-it-out sites like Picmonkey when trying to make promotional images. Work up to the harder stuff someday. (In my case there probably won't be a someday, but look -- I made this!!! Little ole technophobic me!!!) Then just try to walk away from Picmonkey and go back to writing, because that site is ridiculously addictive, and some days it's much more fun to play with images of cute boys than it is to try and hit your word count. Sorry, word count. I made another Ull.

(4) Read THIS book. The Indie Author Survival Guide. It hasn't answered all of my questions, but it's tackled a good number of 'em.

My friends have helped me more than I'll ever be able to tell them. They gave me the guts to take the leap into self publishing. They showed me the steps I'd need to follow to bring a book through production. They answered my rudimentary questions over and over . . . and over. And they devoted countless hours from their own personal time to make my books shine (thank you Eden!!), teach me about marketing (tackle hugs, Nazarea!!), explain that excessively addictive Picmonkey (that one's on all y'all), and lift my spirits on the days it all seemed overwhelming (the absolutely incomparable Stacey Nash and our fearless Team Elsker FTW!). The writing community is one of the most generous, thoughtful, supportive communities I've had the opportunity to be a part of. I only hope that someday I'll have the kind of knowledge that can help my fellow newbies out.

Now it's your turn -- what's the best piece of advice you've received about publishing?


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Choosing a book cover: relevance is a necessity

There are a lot of perks to being a self-published author, including having the freedom to decide every single aspect of your book. Though that control can make an author feel overwhelmed at times during the publication process, I've yet to meet an author who, at the end of the day, didn't love having total and absolute control of their work. 

The problem with all of that control, though, is that, sometimes we're so invested in the micro details, we aren't the best at stepping back and looking at it from a macro perspective. 

Last February, this arrived in my mailbox:

Seeing it small like this, the theme is probably a lot more obvious to you than it was to me as I walked back into my house; but for the sake of this example, take a gander at it for a moment, please. 

What stands out? Is there an overall theme or idea you pick up on almost immediately? Does the cover excite you and make you want to open it up and experience what's inside?

Here are the first things that went through my head (keep in mind I was holding the magazine with my left hand at the time):

1) This is a clothing magazine. M-o-o-c-h? What does that even mean?

2) Is... are... what does this have to do with Valentine's Day?

3) I don't understand the point of these mylar balloons...

4) What does the random balloon at the top stand for, this is delias... oh... it's an S...

5) S...mooch? Was this supposed to be Valentine-y? 

6) The backdrop is lavender. I don't get what's going on here. Is this for spring, then? What exactly are they trying to say?

Maybe I'm overanalyzing this, but at first glance, this very well could have been a magazine selling party supplies, not clothes for teenaged girls. I mean... delias carries some really adorable stuff (even dresses) and out of everything in their inventory, they choose those outfits? If I didn't find them exciting, imagine how my teen daughters were going to feel when they saw the cover! It was like someone threw a few different elements onto the cover and had better things to do, so they were like, Yeah okay... and called it a day.

Self-publishers, this is so important to remember: Your writing could be amazing, but the cover is THE first thing a potential reader sees. You need to make a good first impression and, not only that, but it's imperative that you draw on their curiosity to make them want to know what's beyond that cover picture. If done correctly, the title, readability of the font, focal point (the center, or mooch, for me on the magazine... though maybe some of you were first drawn to the S that I noticed way later?) and even colors that are your cover's theme can entice not only readers who normally read that genre, but readers who want to check it out simply because the cover has them intrigued.

You've spent a lot of time on that novel. It deserves a chance to be read. Do it justice by representing it properly. 

There are a lot of posts regarding book covers in self-publishing, but here are four I found interesting:

The Best Selling Covers in the Book World

23 Creative Book Cover Designs and Their Story

14 Tips for Good Kindle Cover Design

We've Got You Covered: 9 Authors' Tips for Brilliant Book Cover Design