Snippet Saturday #5 … or is it #4?

I’m so confused as to what to call last weekend’s Saturday! Let’s just say that one didn’t count and this is officially SS #4. :)

Only a couple hours more for the cover wars poll!! Let me know which cover you’d like to see on AHW6!

It’s been brought to my attention that I’m giving away a LOT of story with these weekly posts. I know I know, that’s kind of the point isn’t it, but I want there to be something interesting for when you actually DO read the story itself. So SS will continue as ever, but with slightly less words. I know, sad face. :(

“You didn’t want to come, did you?”

My statement was pure conjecture, but he nodded. “We aren’t safe out here,” he said over the rumble of the motors. “I don’t know why Rashid or Lucas would agree on an outing like this.”

The exact same thought had been bouncing around my head all day. We were isolated out here, caught in the middle of nowhere. “Lucas said the trip had been given as a gift, and we’d be rude to say no.”

“That’s what he told me too.” Jeremiah scowled at the sandy view. He looked uncomfortable, which was something I didn’t equate with the big man. He was always in control, kept an iron fist on his life, but the last few days had stripped him of that.

**

My breathing came in little gasps as he let himself out. I stood still for several minutes, afraid that if I moved, it would be to run after him.

*Would that be so bad?*

I didn’t know any more.

Part of me wasn’t sure whether my defiance was a result of self-preservation, or a way to punish him. Except, now I didn’t know whom I was punishing more, Jeremiah…or myself. I craved his touch, needed him with every breath in my body. Being around him brought out the best and worst in me; as much as I wanted him, I feared what would happen if I gave in. All I knew was that, this time, I wouldn’t survive it if he rejected me.

The last time I’d bared my feelings, he’d walked away, leaving a crack on my heart that I still had no idea how to fix. How could I even consider trusting him with that power again?

And would he even want me when he knew my secret?

😀

Three more days!

Only three more days until the release of “Anything He Wants 6: Castaway”, which continues the story of the novel and serials! Yesterday I took the first steps, uploading the book to iTunes. Unfortunately, Apple takes the longest to approve a book for distribution, so it might not be available on Monday like the rest. As soon as there’s a link however, that will be posted to you all.

Hugh Howey posted an excellent writing guide to today’s publishing world. He says everything I’ve noticed myself, so if you’re an aspiring author looking to publish in today’s market, this is an excellent introduction to today’s world of publishing. 😉

I got the MOST AWESOME VIDEO EVER today in my inbox: my newest niece/nephew’s sonogram!!! 😀 😀 😀 My sister didn’t want to know the sex but the doctor was 99% sure she knew, so now all is family are making guesses and trying to decide what colors and toys to get. I’m so excited; my sister is due in July right during RWA Nationals (which I will be attending), so if you are me and I’m a little distracted, that’ll be why. 😉

Right now the Dude and I are heading down to San Diego to pick up a refrigerator that my sister is giving us. I’ve always loved that coastal city, but holy crap driving through Los Angeles is almost not worth it!! While I’d love to live in SD, I don’t think I’d be heading north out of town too often… 😉

Cover wars!!

*~*~*

Alright, I need your help!! I’ve got two awesome covers that I can’t choose between, and since this will eventually be your story (FOUR MORE DAYS!!!), I want your opinion!!

Cover number 1:

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Cover number 2:

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*~*

Crunch time is upon us!! Let me know which cover you like and whichever one has the most votes by Saturday night wins!! 😉

No Snippet Saturday today, but…

This week has been full of many non-writerly things, so I apologize for not having new material to show off in that respect. May I, however, introduce the cover for the next AHW serial, Anything He Wants 6: Castaway!! 😛

 

image

 

I’m pretty pleased with the final result, courtesy of Cover Magic. While its a slight change from the previous covers, I grew a little tired of seeing the same stock images on other books and wanted a cover that told a story. 😀

Thoughts? Comments? Hate it, love it? 😉

EDITED TO ADD: Hmm, not much excitement about the cover. Glad I gave myself enough time to go back to the drawing board if necessary, thanks for all the tips and thoughts!! 😀

A day in the life

Heh, I can’t seem to start this post. 😉 First impressions and all that (opening lines suck anyway lol).

Today, I’ve been more focused on the business of writing than on writing itself. *sigh* The jury duty thing is on recess until next week, but instead of adding more words I’ve been working at the business end of things. I’ve spent most of my day messing with the website (blog posts have been exported over, hooray!), coordinating with my cover artist, poking at my editor, trying to get my CPA to tell me a smaller tax number (*find my happy place, find my happy place…*), etc. This evening I’ve been replying to a backlog of Facebook, Twitter and blog comments (I do read them all and try to respond to everyone!), and stressing a bit over Snippet Saturday since most of the week has been focused less on writing and more on day-to-day matters. The next few scenes of AHW7 are pretty fun though, so hopefully I can get through this tax stuff enough to write that in time for tomorrow. 😉

I figured any avid blog readers might want a heads up: my website has been sitting unused for way too long, and this week I’ve made the decision to begin transferring everything here (not that there’s much) over there. The beautiful Lex Valentine of Winterheart Designs helped me design the template, and I’ve been slowly filling in the various pages. The blog is up and running however, a mirror of here, and soon this WP site may redirect to the website directly. I’m still figuring that part out, but I’ll be using the website more often now for day-to-day activities. :)

I’m really excited for March 18 to come around, but also really nervous. Much of that trepidation is typical artist nerves, where I worry if anyone will love me my story. A good portion however is also worry that things will go wrong, or I’ll upload the wrong file, or my editor/cover artist/computer won’t get me the final [fill in the blank] in time, leaving me to look like a total schmuck.

You know. Nervous. 😉

So I’m going to try and get some good words in tonight. Tomorrow the Dude’s nephew is getting baptized, which means I have to worry about looking nice for pictures. Somehow, I don’t think my normal writing attire of flannel PJ bottoms and sweatshirt are gonna cut the mustard here. 😛

Remember this date!!

Ladies and gentlemen, set your calendars!

Monday, March 18th, the next #AHW serial “Anything He Wants: Castaway” will be released to all major ebook retailers!!!

I just received the first concept cover for the new serial and OMG, pretty!!! Can’t wait to show it off!!

Now to work on the next part, set for an April release. 😀 😀

Snippet Saturday #3…er, Snippet Sunday?

Contrary to what people might think, I didn’t forget about Snippet Saturday! I just…put it off for a little too long? I’ve had a busy week, not the least of which was making the decision to begin releasing the serials again, so have been editing, figuring out cover art, and various other life decisions (like, w00t, finding a house!). There hasn’t been as much new writing as I would have liked, but I hope what I have is juicy enough to make up for the otherwise lack of content! 😉

*~*~*

From the AHW6 bonus story:
Lucy. He couldn’t even say her name without gasping for breath. All he wanted to do was tear apart the car, make it give up its secrets, but that would do no good. Impotent rage beat through him; there was nothing he could do until he knew more. His men were good – he wouldn’t hire anything less than the best – but they needed time and even another minute was too much.

Every decision of the day came crashing down on him at once. How he’d left Lucy alone in his bedroom; ignoring the calls to his phone; being so arrogant as to believe the danger was past. He was a coward, running from three little words. Now look what his stupidity had wrought.

Lucy. He could still smell her on his skin. She’d given her trust, shyly admitted her true feelings for him, and he’d thrown her to the wolves. God…

He couldn’t breathe. While his men were focused on the limo, Jeremiah moved around the far side and struggled for control. Forcing himself to take deep breaths, he clung to the door handle, leaning his forehead against the window. His fists tightened as he sucked in air, the wrenching emotion in his gut almost too much to bear. Her face filled his vision; those big blue eyes radiating a confidence in his character Jeremiah never even realized he needed. Gone. All gone.

*~*

“What are you doing in my room?” I demanded as I moved into the large living room.

Lucas raised a glass to me. “You have a bigger suite than ours,” he said lightly, gracing me with a trademark grin.

I rolled my eyes, not in the mood to deal with either man. “You two can head to your own rooms,” I snapped, folding my arms. “I need to take a shower and change clothes.”

“Great, I’ll join you.”

I couldn’t do anything more than stare in shock, but Jeremiah stopped pacing at his brother’s glib statement. “Loki,” he growled, clenching his fists.

“You know, I can always tell when you’re angry,” Lucas said, pointing at his brother. “It becomes ‘Loki this’ or ‘Loki that’, which I think translates to ‘I want to wring your neck.’ No, seriously, tell me I’m wrong.”

*~*

Crack!

My hand smacked across Jeremiah’s face, stopping whatever he was about to say. The blow startled him; Jeremiah blinked down at me a few times before releasing my arms. “Do you feel better now?” he said, lips pursing into a thin line.

My slap had been from a bad angle, with barely any force behind it. The callous disregard in his tone fired me up again. “No,” I answered, and, balling up my fist, I threw my arm into a hook, landing right in his jaw.

Former indie author Jamie McGuire penalized for self-publishing?

Earlier this evening, during a break between edits for AHW6, I saw something on a Facebook page “What To Read After Fifty(50) Shades Of Grey” regarding Jamie McGuire, author of the indie (and now traditional) bestseller Beautiful Disaster:

** SPECIAL NOTE: Please Read This!! **

From Author Jamie McGuire:

I have looked into this as best I can, but being a Saturday, Amazon isn’t responding.

It appears that Amazon has sent a mass email to everyone who’s ever purchased the self-published version of Beautiful Disaster. They are encouraging readers to request a refund. When asked why they are offering this refund, Amazon customer service has given several different reasons, the most common is problems with content. THERE IS NO PROBLEM WITH THE CONTENT OF BEAUTIFUL DISASTER, and it makes no sense for them to encourage a refund for a book that has already been read and enjoyed 6+ months later, but that is the only information I have for now.

Customer service admits that if you do NOT get the refund, your copy of BD will NOT be affected. If you get a refund, they are offering to reimburse the $4+ difference it costs to purchase the $7.99 version, but what they aren’t telling you is that **I** am paying for every refund.

Last week, I sent an email to Amazon asking why the self-published version of my book is still experiencing returns. Returns are only allowed for up to 7 days after purchase. 6 months after the self-published version of Beautiful Disaster went off-sale my account was still seeing negative amounts for returns. I’m not going to assume the reasons behind this mass email, but it appears that Amazon customer service is now encouraging these returns.

I was not notified of this. This email has nothing to do with my publisher Atria books. If you do not get a refund, your copy of BD will not be affected. If you do, the refund will show as a negative amount in my Amazon KDP author account. Because BD is no longer available, this money will be taken out of my Providence sales.

In other words, this is very bad, and I have no idea why this is happening. Please do not return your copy of BD, and please help me spread the word to not return your copy of BD.

I will let you know what else I find out from Amazon. In the meantime, your support has brought me to tears. I love you all. ♥

Well, you can imagine my shock at reading this. While I have yet to meet Ms. McGuire, she and I were fortunate enough to share similar career choices around the same time when our bestsellers were picked up by (separate) publishing companies. I won’t lie, I found this story difficult to believe; Amazon surely wouldn’t be this stupid, would it? I purchased BD as an indie book in 2011, long before the author signed a contract allowing the novel to receive a wider, worldwide distribution.

Yet, an hour ago, this is the email I received in my inbox:

Hello from Amazon.com,

We want to let you know that the edition of Beautiful Disaster that you purchased is no longer available. You can order a new version that is now available here:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008JMKN4Y/

You can also request a refund on your original purchase by responding to this email. After the refund is issued, you will no longer be able to access this item.

Thank you,

The Kindle Team

*~*~*~*

Alright, be prepared for a long post, because I’m going to deconstruct this email for you, then educate you a little on how self-publishing works. If I go off on a tangent I apologize in advance; I’m a little worked up about this, not only on Ms. McGuire’s account but also on account that many people, myself included, have moved from the self-publishing world into traditional publishing. The two worlds, in many ways, don’t mix perfectly, but this is the first time I’ve seen such a confusing and underhanded attack on an indie author.

First off, let’s start with this line:
“We want to let you know that the edition of Beautiful Disaster that you purchased is no longer available.”
No longer available where? On my Kindle, or in the Kindle store? Because if Amazon decided to erase a story I’d already BOUGHT AND PAID FOR almost two years ago, I’m gonna get a little pissy. Nobody steals books from me – that’s a grave sin where I come from!!

“You can order a new version that is now available here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008JMKN4Y “
Let me tell you something kids: the new version is no different than the old version. Oh, I’m sure a few lines have been cleaned up, maybe some new front matter detailing which publisher is offering the “new” version, etc. But, let’s be honest, THE STORY IS THE SAME. Even the cover is the same one the book was graced with when Ms. McGuire signed the traditional contract. So, why do we need a new version Amazon? Please, enlighten me.

“You can also request a refund on your original purchase by responding to this email.”

Oh no they didn’t! Oh no, no no no. Amazon, didn’t you read your own rules and TOS? Don’t you understand how this stuff WORKS? Let me pull from the above statement by Ms. McGuire herself:

Customer service admits that if you do NOT get the refund, your copy of BD will NOT be affected. If you get a refund, they are offering to reimburse the $4+ difference it costs to purchase the $7.99 version, but what they aren’t telling you is that **I** am paying for every refund. Last week, I sent an email to Amazon asking why the self-published version of my book is still experiencing returns. Returns are only allowed for up to 7 days after purchase. 6 months after the self-published version of Beautiful Disaster went off-sale my account was still seeing negative amounts for returns. I’m not going to assume the reasons behind this mass email, but it appears that Amazon customer service is now encouraging these returns.

Alright, education time!! Sit around my chair kiddies and let Ms. Fawkes give you a little lesson on how self-publishing works. When an author and a book love each other very much, they… oh wait, wrong speech. *sheepish look around* Alright, other formats and ereaders not withstanding, when you purchase an ebook from Amazon, the sales is automatically (barring some lag from servers) calculated to the author’s KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) account. This, let me tell you, is an AWESOME service – a self publishing author gets to see in real time (!!!) how many sales they have.

There is a catch to this however, and while it’s in the reader/buyer’s best interest it has the potential to be abused by some people: when you purchase the ebook, you also have a 7-day window in which you are able to refund the book. If, say, there’s a formatting problem, or some other type of error with the file (or, in most cases, if the buyer just really dislikes the book), you have the option to return it for a refund. Most self-published authors learn to accept that they will have a certain number of returns. Such returns are par for the course, and normally not something we authors go around discussing because, as I guess you can imagine, wider knowledge can lead to wider abuse of this option. However, in this case, to understand why this is a problem, you need to know the root cause.

Like I said, this is a 7-day window, and once that window is closed the sale is final. Except, um, not in the case with Ms. McGuire. According to records, I purchased the original novel in spring of 2011, yet now, two years later, I’m being urged by Amazon to ask for a return so I can get the new version.

So, essentially, what’s going to happen is that Amazon will be logging returns via KDP in Ms. McGuire’s self-publishing account, giving her a negative number of sales. Negative sales numbers work against an author just like they would in any other business: instead of being paid for the sale, YOU ARE PAYING FOR THEM NOW. If Ms. McGuire has any other books for sale via KDP, whether under another pen name or this one, the negative sales from the unpublished, older copy of her book (WHICH IS NO LONGER FOR SALE!) will penalize positive sales for other stories. If not, and all the books she has available are no longer through KDP… That’s going to be one heck of a bill. Because the email I received went out to literally THOUSANDS of people who, in the last 2+ years, have purchased BD from Amazon. Before it was a bestseller through Atria Publishing, BD was a bestseller through Ms. McGuire’s own hard work.

*takes a deep breath*

I don’t know what Amazon’s goal is for this move. I don’t know how many returns Ms. McGuire has accumulated so far. I don’t know how Amazon will bill her for these negative sales. And I don’t know what this says about my own experience: I too sold my rights to another publisher, have left my previous stories unpublished, but had hundreds of thousands of sales before St. Martin’s Press took over my serials. What’s going to happen to people like me, or Amanda Hocking, or any of the other indie bestsellers who turned to traditional publishers so they could get wider audiences? The whole thing is pure and utter bullshit – Amazon should NOT have sent out that email, Amazon should NOT be putting their hands in our cookie jars previously purchased Kindle library. We indie authors had the rights to our stories at the time these sales took place; the fact that another entity holds those rights NOW doesn’t change THEN.

So if you receive any emails like this for a book you loved, from an author you care about, please disregard them. Do NOT return an indie book because you think the traditional publishing book might be “better”. I love my SMP editor, but even though she went over my previously-released serials we didn’t change much, if anything, about them except the copyright and legal script. Jamie McGuire deserves the same – don’t take money from her pocket, ESPECIALLY if you loved the book!! I couldn’t believe it when I saw the initial Facebook post about this, and REALLY couldn’t believe when I saw the above email in my inbox. Shame on you Amazon, this is totally beyond the pale!

ETA: Indie hangout Kindleboards’ Writer’s Cafe has a post already started about this with more logical information than my emotional response. Included is one person’s confusing response from Amazon when they DID return the book, as well as TOS guidelines quoted for posterity’s sake. It gets more and more confusing…

ETA2: Early this morning, I received another email from Amazon regarding Beautiful Disaster:

You may have received an e-mail from us yesterday stating that the edition of “A Beautiful Disaster” you purchased is no longer available. This e-mail was incorrect, and there is no action required to continue enjoying the book.

If you are having any problems with the book, please feel free to contact us by replying to this message, and we will be happy to help you.

We apologize for any misunderstanding our e-mail caused.

Sincerely,
The Kindle Team

From Ms. McGuire’s Facebook and blog posts, it seems all she’s interested in is moving past this and focusing on the release of her next novel. Amazon has a history of silence over controversial decisions, so we may never know what prompted the mass emails. Given the magnitude and how many people were emailed the original memo, this doesn’t seem like an over zealous employee but a combined, higher-level tactic, and it sucks that we may never know why or how this mystery started…

Freebie alert of AWESOME!!!!!

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HEE!!! I got the happiest surprise yesterday when a friend pointed it out to me that the first serial of “Anything He Wants” was FREE on Amazon! So imagine my surprise when I get an email from the publisher that the story is free on several of the ebook sites!!

Can we say Best Wake-up EVAR?! 😀

I’ve always been proud of part 1, it starts the story off with a bang (hah, literally!) and FREE is a fantastic way to get more eyes on the series!! *bounces all about* Yes, I’m really excited by this – I’ve been pushing St. Martins Press to get that first part free and they TOTALLY came through, and with so many different online retailers. According to the publisher, the sale should run until April 5. GLEE!! So if you know anyone you’ve been itching to tell but didn’t want to seem pushy, now would be a cool time to mention a free short story you happened to come across that might lead into this nifty book you read… 😉

FREE RETAILERS
Amazon US | Amazon UK

Barnes and Noble

Kobo

Apple iBooks

(Looks like the first story is also free in Amazon-Brazil, but as the individual serials were never translated the story is in English, not Portuguese. Sorry!)

If you find any other sites that list it free, let me know and I’ll add the links. *geeks out* I’m so stoked, and with part 6 coming out this month the timing couldn’t be more perfect! More details coming soon on THAT, I promise!!! 😀

Expectations, and AHW2 future plans

640px-Skyshow_Adelaide_2006

Expectations can be tricky.

For example, when I first published a short story titled “Anything He Wants”, I never expected it would start this rollercoaster journey through the realm of publishing. I figured, hey, a couple people might read my story and that would be cool – now it’s in languages like French and Portuguese, on shelves across the world. Wow! I never expected that I’d get such an awesome publisher like St. Martin’s to allow me to expand my audience, and yet that’s exactly what happened. I never expected people would be at all interested in a serialized novel, or be so excited about the sequel.

If I’d planned this whole writing thing…wow, I’d never have guessed where I’d be now! The journey has absolutely blown my mind so far.

I had some expectations on how the AHW sequel would be released, but I’m super excited to tell you that the continuation will be coming to you sooner than even I anticipated. Many of you know that AHW was originally released as a serial, or, in other words, a short story/part at a time. This allowed me to get the story out to you as I wrote it. My lovely editor Delta fixed and edited for me as we went, but essentially as I finished each part, I released it to you. I won’t lie, I really enjoyed doing this. Serials, or something very much like it, are commonplace in fan fiction, and I used to avidly follow my favorite authors with baited breath, desperate for the next part. AHW was an experiment to see if a format I loved was viable on the open e-market and, to my pleasant surprise, many of you seemed to enjoy it. So this time, I’ve opted to do the same thing: release each part as it’s finished, then later release it as a novel, both in electronic and paperback format.

Now, a promise to my readers before I go any further.

One of the mistakes I made the first time around was not being transparent enough that the individual parts would eventually be bundled together into a novel. I received many reviews, usually on the novelized version, about how people felt cheated that they’d bought each part of the series when they could have had the book altogether. So I’m going to tell you now, and will remind you in the coming months as each part is put forth: there will be a “novelized” sequel. Each of the individual parts released over the next few months will be bundled together into a “true” sequel, a complete paperback and ebook novel that you can, eventually, hold in your hands (or on your Kindle/Nook/Kobo/etc). So if the thought of having to wait for each part is too difficult, or you only want to pay for the story once, I totally understand. Please don’t feel pressured into buying each individual part as the novel WILL be available, hopefully as soon as this summer.

Another issue I feel obliged to discuss regarding each part: length. The very first serialized part of AHW topped the word-count scales at just over 8k words. Given that a manuscript page is roughly 250 words (Amazon’s ebook calculations are closer to 300 words per “page”), that was only 32 pages. Now, almost a year later, this length isn’t enough for me. The final serial released, AHW5, was a hair over 20k words, two-and-a-half times the length of the first part (~80 pages) and closer to a typical novella-length work like you see in anthologies. I am making a promise to you now that anything I put out story-wise from now on will be at least that long, if not longer. Cross my heart.

I’ve no doubt there will be some people who still don’t approve of this method, and I understand. That is why I’m being as up front as I can regarding the certainty of a novel at the end. AHW2 (which yes, will eventually have its own name lol) will be out in ebook and (in English, I’m not sure yet about the translations) print format by this summer. As we get closer to the end of the book and I know a bit more, I’ll be sure to announce novel release dates and other schedules.

*~*

I’ll try to answer any questions you might have in comments. As before, Facebook and Twitter are the best ways to get ahold of me, but I’ll answer any blog questions sent my way as promptly as I can. There is a good chance you may not see the paperback sequel in stores this summer but it WILL be available online.

Questions? Thoughts?