TOUCHED BY FATE is now on shelves near you! #newrelease #pnr #romsus

Mike! MIKE! Do you know what day it is? IT’S RELEASE DAY!

(Actually, release day was Tuesday, but since life pretty much splattered like pigeon poop on a windshield, we’re doing release day today!)

That’s right! TOUCHED BY FATE, the second book in my PSY-IV Teams series is now available wherever you purchase your e-books! So if you haven’t gotten your copy yet, go (insert shooing motions with hands). Go get your copy and don’t miss Risia and Tag as they race through the less glamourous side of Vegas and espionage.

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Now available in eBook format at:

MUSEIT UP / AMAZON / BARNES AND NOBLEiBOOKS / KOBO / SCRIBD

TOUCHED BY FATE, PSY-IV Teams #2

Trusting him with her secrets is dangerous.

 As a specialized consultant for the Department of Defense, Risia Lacoste understands the bargaining chip of a well-kept secret. When her current assignment threatens to unearth her deeply buried skeletons, she’s forced into a high-stakes game of lies and loyalty where even her ability to foresee the future can’t predict the winner.

Trusting him with her heart could be fatal.

Darkness lies under the skin of every man, and PSY-IV Team operative and touch empath, Tag Gunderson, has the demons to prove it. Scarred by betrayal and disillusionment, he’s not Risia’s top pick for a partner in the game, but he’s all she’s got.

As the game draws them deeper into a pit of intrigue and their list of enemies grow, will Risia trust Tag with more than her secrets or will his demons destroy them both?

READ CHAPTER ONE

         Why, when you finally think you have your chosen path hammered out, Fate, the fickle bitch, always, I mean always, manages to knock you on your ass? Let’s just check out where my ass was currently. Hunched behind a mammoth RV, you know the kind, those massive houses on wheels that tend to flock southward every winter. Unfortunately, this particular one was perched in a parking lot, a stone’s throw from my lovely, air-conditioned condo in downtown Las Vegas. Not only was the baked asphalt burning said ass, but I was still struggling with watching another, very daring ass of the presumably male variety dangle off my top-floor balcony before dropping down to the one below it.

What the hell?

Maybe the July heat was playing tricks with my mind. Either that or last night’s ugly events had finally broken my tenuous hold on sanity. Yeah, let’s go with that one, because sanity and I had a very contentious relationship. One where it threatened to take a hike on a regular basis, while I tried to lure it back with lofty promises even I knew I wouldn’t keep.

Promises like I’d never question that gut-tugging sensation screaming warnings again. Because it normally meant things were about to take a very drastic downturn. Like coming home last night while riding high on the possibility of finally being done with my current assignment for Colonel Charlene Delacourt, the warning signs started their high pitched aria. I ignored them. Not smart. Nope. Instead, I walked right into my home, confident the building’s security wouldn’t allow for an ambush.

Arrogant, maybe. Careless, not usually. Distracted, definitely.

Stupid, never.

So last night, instead of being able to kick off my gorgeous lavender Jimmy Choo’s, I ended up sipping a Booker Noe neat trying to disguise my internal freak out of having been met by Lawrence Rawlings, the egomaniac behind Aether Industries and his hulking sidekick in my own (albeit rented) living room. And that wasn’t the end of it. It got better. Or worse, depending on your point of view.

Not only did Rawlings want me to endorse Aether’s upcoming contract with the Department of Defense, he wanted much more. And if he didn’t get what he wanted—namely me, and then his contract—he had no problems exploiting, what I had believed until he opened his mouth, a very well-hidden secret.

The DOD paid me good money to vet their civilian contracts, money which allowed my penchant for expensive footwear, a skyline view of the Vegas strip, and a closet full of indulgences. That same money kept my troublesome secrets six feet under. Secrets Rawlings shouldn’t have been able to unearth. But whoever he had digging up my past, dug deep.

So deep in fact, by the time Rawlings left with his smarmy smile and menacing shadow, I found myself between a rock and a hard place, wishing I had something a hell of a lot stronger than whiskey.

Mixing whiskey with nerves had triggered my desperate attempt at leveling the playing field. Which, in turn, led to my current position, crouched behind an RV watching someone spider-man his way out of my condo. It was such a death- defying stunt, even my lungs were stunned. And they didn’t remember to function until whoever that was dropped safely onto the balcony below mine. For a moment, all I could do was stare at where the whole surreal thing had happened, my very tired and battered brain trying to figure out the who and why, but coming up empty.

One thing was clear. Going home was not an option. Dammit.

Fate was having a hell of a good time at my expense.

Let’s tally her bill, shall we? A black eye, check. Bruised ribs, check. A bullet graze stinging across my shoulder, check. Nerves strung tight on exhaustion, double damn check.

Sweat trickled down my spine, and the muscles in my legs trembled. Not just from their uncomfortable position, but because for the last fourteen hours, I’d run more than I’d ever run in my life. Being blessed with a hyperactive metabolism, running was never really a consideration. Well, not until last night. And if things didn’t change soon, I’d be doing some more mad dashes trying to stay ahead of the rolling mounds of crap hurtling toward me.

What I should do is call Colonel Delacourt. Especially since it was mainly her fault I was in this mess to begin with. My job as the colonel’s information collector allowed me to play some very exciting, sometimes dangerous games. Most of the time, I didn’t mind. The adrenaline rush was almost as good as the paycheck, but this time the rush was fraying my nerves to tiny shreds.

Neither the DOD nor Delacourt could pay me enough to repair Rawlings’s damage to my nerves and my aching body. Initially, Rawlings garnered the DOD’s attention because his communications company had managed to find and solve a newly discovered weak spot in the government’s encrypted communications program. It wasn’t an overnight sensation. It took three years of work. For three years the DOD watched Rawlings and his Boyau Project. It wasn’t until Rawlings presented his project’s results and pointed out the DOD’s little problem, all the while requesting to put Aether’s prototypes with one of the many U.S. acronymned agencies, that the DOD decided to send me in to evaluate how accurate his claims were.

Then Delacourt, mistress of manipulation and guilt trips, called.

Seemed someone managed to hack into some very delicate files in some hush-hush agency, and were now preparing to market them to the highest bidder. For reasons known only to those above my pay grade, her interest turned to Rawlings and his new, nifty toy. Since my job just happened (yes, that was sarcasm you picked up there) to put me in the perfect spot, would I mind doing some digging for her? Stir in a subtle tablespoon of “you owe me” and a dash of guilt, and I teetered. Offering two paychecks for one job? Doable. So I tumbled right over the edge and agreed.

Maybe I should’ve thought it through a bit more, because right now, two paychecks wouldn’t come close to getting me out of this mess. But Delacourt had a team, a kick-ass team with unusual talents who could. Maybe. Problem was, a favor from Delacourt would be cashed in with interest sooner or later, and I was busy avoiding one particular team member as if he carried the plague. He didn’t. In fact, I kind of wish he did so he’d get the hell out of my head at the most inopportune times. Especially since I was pretty sure my preoccupation was one- sided.

Still, skulking in a parking lot in late afternoon in Vegas with dried blood and other things I really didn’t want to think about right now decorating my black cargos and T-shirt, stuck between a rock and hard place, calling Delacourt was quickly becoming my only viable option.

Armed with a new plan, tenuous though it was, I straightened, simultaneously wincing and groaning as my shoulder woke up. The too-close call with a bullet wasn’t going quietly into that good night. A lovely parting gift from my failed attempt to level the playing field. Failed as in, it tilted it decidedly out of my favor. I looked around preparing to move out, when life reached out and slapped me upside the head, because everything leading up to this wasn’t enough to crush me. The late-afternoon sun gained strength and seared across my retinas safely ensconced behind dark lenses. The world began to white out.

“Dammit, not now, please not now.” I slammed both palms against the RV, the metal burning my skin. My plea fell on deaf ears. The world wavered. Edges too bright. Shadows dancing in strange forms. Then the whispers started. See, told you sanity and I were not friends. Frustration and maybe a smidgen of fear rose, and I refused to listen, refused to see. My forehead joined my hands. Setting my waning patience, desperation, and anger against the sense of impending doom, I shoved against what waited. It backed off. The reprieve wouldn’t last long. Never did. And when it returned, it would bring reinforcements. Fun times.

My breathing was overly loud, but the sounds of voices and footsteps managed to get my attention. Trying not to aggravate the soft pounding in my skull, I slowly raised my head. At first, it was just a moving blob, then it became a small group of people exiting the condo and heading across the parking lot. As they took shape, something—no, someone—caught my attention. It took a moment for the image to register. And when it did, I didn’t know if I should jump for joy or just sit down and bawl.

At least I now knew who had been spider-manning from my balcony, and possibly courting a death wish.

Walking out the front doors, standing above the crowd of casually dressed businessmen was the last person I wanted to see, no matter how much he invaded my thoughts.

Thomas Anderson Gunderson. Tag.

Oh. My. God. Life really had a hard-on for me.

Have I scratched your interest enough to tempt you to get a copy? Good. Then go forth and get yours!

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Now available in eBook format at:

MUSEIT UP / AMAZON / BARNES AND NOBLEiBOOKS / KOBO / SCRIBD

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Step into the Shadows with Print combo of #KynKronicles #uf #pnr

For those bibliophiles who need to conserve shelf space, I present:

THE KYN KRONICLES: BOOKS 1-4 

Now available in PRINT only!

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 “… a well written, realistic story which made me forget that I wasn’t reading a classic thriller or spy novel. Suspense and plot twists saturate every page.” –Carole Avila, author of Eve’s Amulet, Goodreads review (4/5 stars)

…fantastic paranormal action novel is quite possibly the best book I’ve read this year. I could not put it down, and had to exercise serious self-control to keep from staying up all night to finish it.” –Victoria Lane, Reviewer for The Romance Reviews (5/5 stars)

…a great work of the Paranormal Romance genre. Jami Gray has no trouble weaving an enticing cast of characters and a whole different world.” –Chrissie, Amazon Reviewer (4/5 stars)

…so incredibly well-written that the world and the characters seem to come to life before your very eyes.” –Crystal, Amazon Reviewer (4/5 stars)

Shadow’s Moon is an excellent addition to the Kyn Kronicles series. Gray is really coming into her own…I couldn’t put it down once I picked it up. It held my interest from beginning to end.” – Taylor Jones, Black Opal Reviewer

“Shadow’s Moon is riveting. I was caught up in it from the very first word, and I simply could not put it down. I read right through to the end, finishing at 4 in the morning. I can’t wait for the next one in the series. Gray has turned into a first class author of paranormal thrillers.” – Regan Murphy, Black Opal Reviewer

THE KYN KRONICLES: BOOKS 1-4

Available in Print only!

SHADOW’S EDGE, Book 1

When the supernatural lurks in the shadows of the mundane, hunting monsters requires unique skills, like those of Raine McCord. A series of deaths threatens to reveal the Kyn community and forces her to partner with the sexy Gavin Durand.

As the trail leads to the foundation haunting Raine’s childhood, she and Gavin must unravel lies and betrayals to discover not only each other, but the emerging threat to them and the entire magical community.

SHADOW’S SOUL, Book 2

A simple assignment turns into a nightmare when Raine McCord follows Cheveyo to the Southwest on a consulting gig. When the most feared beings of the Kyn kidnaps Cheveyo and leaves Raine for dead, her ability to heal her mind and spirit hinges on the one man who can touch her soul, Gavin Durand.  

Unraveling the Southwest Kyn’s web of secrets and hidden vendettas will either bring them together or tear them apart forever.

SHADOW’S MOON, Book 3

Tracker, Xander Cade, confronts an enraged Shifter in a crowded human nightclub, fraying the thin secrecy shielding the supernatural community from public scrutiny. Danger stalks the pack and she must protect her alpha and mate, Warrick Vidis, even if he doesn’t want it.

If they don’t find a way to trust each other and accept their rare bond they risk losing everything-their pack, their friends and each other.

SHADOW’S CURSE, Book 4

After tragedy strikes the Northwest Kyn, leaving the houses in chaos and the Wraiths hungry for blood, the fallout threatens Natasha Bertoi’s carefully laid plans. When the Council sends Darius Abazi, the one man guaranteed to skew the odds, she faces her toughest opponent yet.

As death stalks the Northwest Kyn, can Natasha trust Darius, a man well versed in subterfuge, to uncover the truth before treachery destroys them all? 

If that’s not enough to keep you snared in the shadows, don’t miss out on TANGLED IN SHADOWS, a Kyn Kronicles short-story collection 

Tangled In Shadows

Now available in ebook/Print at:  AMAZON / BARNES AND NOBLE / KOBO / SMASHWORDS / iBOOKS

 

Jami Gray Small

Jami Gray is the award winning, multi-published author of the Urban Fantasy series, The Kyn Kronicles, and the Paranormal Romantic Suspense series, PSY-IV Teams. Her latest release, SHADOW’S MOON  was a Golden Claddaugh Finalist, and the first in her newest series, HUNTED BY THE PAST, hits shelves in July 2014. She is surrounded by Star Wars obsessed males and a male lab, who masquerades as a floor rug as she plays with the voices in her head.

Come stalk Jami at any of these fine locations:

Website  /  Facebook  /  Twitter  /  Goodreads  /  Google+  /  Amazon

 

The Reality of Starving for your Art #writing #survivablewage

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You want to be a writer, and you want to earn a living, so you’re going to spend the next year or so creating your pièce de résistance and set it loose on the world. After many hues and cries at the marvelous beauty of your work, you shall then move to Paris (or insert your country of choice) to a lovely little artist studio and begin your life as an Artiste. For this is your dream.

Ready for a reality check? If not, stop reading now, because this is going to hurt.

First, huge congrats on getting a single book completed and out, regardless of publishing route you’ve chosen. Not everyone can claim such accomplishments.

Second, before you dash off on your trans-continental journey, you may want to start the second book, and perhaps make plans for your third title as well.

Third, whatever you do, DON’T GIVE UP YOUR DAY JOB. Not yet, and (brace yourself) probably not for many, many years to come.

Short of being a miraculous outlier, your first, and most likely, fifth and maybe sixth book are NOT going to earn you enough to keep both a roof over your head and food on the table. They might keep you in coffee, though.

Yes, there are those who’ve managed to snag their brilliant star and be dragged in the glorious trail of rocketing to the top from the get-go, but they are very, very, very, very few and far between.

Let me share a couple of statistics, because as much as my relationship with numbers is “complicated”, those digits are hard to argue with…

There’s an article by Author Earnings that did an in-depth study from Feb. 2014 – Sept. 2015 regarding author earnings (CLICK HERE) that provides some interesting insight. They started their study with 200,000 authors and close to a million different titles and their data collection program was only able to capture between 35% – 50% of all ebook sales at the time of the snapshot. (Bare with me, I just want to put this perspective.) In order to maintain an accurate study on long-term sales, they pulled out what they called “one-hit wonders” or “i.e. authors whose author earnings from Amazon-bestseller-listed Kindle ebooks were not above a $10,000/year run rate in at least 2 different quarterly snapshots out of our 7.” Do you know what that 200,000 author number dropped to?

Any guesses?

Yep, 5,643 authors were left, a bare 2.8% of the original pool of candidates. These are the success stories because they earn at least $10,000 per year. No, I didn’t leave out any zeros. That’s $833.33 per month, $192.30 per week, $27.40 per day.

Granted, this is barely scratching the surface of author earnings, because this just looked at Kindle and Amazon, not across the board (iBooks, Smashwords, etc.), but if you’re hoping to make writing commercial fiction your “day job” or what most of my writer friends call, “the job that pays the bills”, you’re in for a challenging journey. I wish you all the luck.

And that’s not the only challenge you’ll face. A recent article (The Plot Twist: E-Book Sales Slip, and Print Is Far From Dead) from The New York Times, tried to paint an even more grim picture on ebooks. Let me tell you a secret, they’re a bit lost, since they’re looking at traditionally published authors who are charging $14 for an ebook. (I know, stop laughing so hard, no one can hear over your guffaws.) What this article can provide, is insight into the highly competitive world you’re about to dive into, and maybe serve as a warning to figure out how you’ll rise above the tide of incoming writers. You need to set yourself apart–have a unique, strong voice, compelling characters, and create a compelling world readers crave to visit.

Even more of an eye-opener, I can think of at least five NY Times best-selling writers that still have a day-job because (gasp) their fabulous books don’t make enough to keep their families. Advances or royalties, it will take a lot of shiny to keep you in the life you’d like to be accustomed to.

For those who follow my posts, you know earlier this year I was laid-off my 18 year “job that pays the bills”. For the last eight months, I’ve focused (when not submitting resumes for “day jobs”) on my writing. It has been both rewarding and discouraging, and I can attest the journey is daunting. There is no doubt, if you decide to publish any piece by yourself, your job just gained teeth. After putting out my collection of short stories independently, I’ve got the bite marks to prove it.

Thankfully, I recently accepted a new “job that pays the bills”, so my writing can continue to be a way to feed my artistic soul, and not carry the extra burden of supplying shelter and nourishment. Still, I wouldn’t change the past months for anything. While it allowed me a chance to see if I could make my writing take the place of my “day job”, it also taught me that yes, with a lot (we’re talking a couple of years) of dedicated work, it probably could. Unfortunately, I don’t have the luxury of years, months was pushing it. It did cement my leaning to stay a hybrid author, to split my writings between small publishers, myself, and eventually larger publishers. Whatever avenue works, I’ll be trudging alongside my project.

I haven’t shared this information to discourage you, but to help shine the light of reality on your dream. That glitter you see on the edges, those are yours to gain, but it’s going to take, and work. LOTS and LOTS of work. If you’re in this for cash, babe, you’re in the wrong art. If you’re in it to share those voice in your head, welcome to the word-filled battlefield, we can always use another warrior.

Fight on!

When the writing is done, it’s Not The End with Sara Jayne Townsend #editing #writing #mystery

Give a warm welcome to fellow MuseIt Up authoress of mystery, Sara Jayne Townsend.

Not The End

By Sara Jayne Townsend

From the age of ten, I dreamed of being published. It took me nearly 30 years to get a novel contract. In the early days, when it was just a dream, I always imagined it being the acceptance as being the ‘happy ever after’. When the first novel contract finally came – a couple of months before my fortieth birthday – it was, literally, a dream come true. But it didn’t take me long to realise that it was not the end of the story – it was merely the beginning.

Nowadays, finishing writing a novel is not as straightforward as it used to be. Finishing the first draft is still an achievement for me, and something I tend to mark with a celebration, like a nice bottle of wine. But it doesn’t mean the novel is finished. Not by a long way. First there are many other drafts to go – usually at least another two before I’ll even consider giving it to my beta readers. Following their (often brutal, but always fair) criticism, I will pull the manuscript apart and rebuild it, for at least another two or three drafts. Then, finally, it might be ready to submit, and if I’m lucky I find a publisher to take it on.

But that’s still not the end. Most publishers I’ve worked for go through at least three rounds of copy edits, sometimes involving significant plot changes. After that, a couple of rounds of line edits, which generally just pick up typos or grammatical nitpicks.

And then there are the galleys, which is the last chance to proofread the book before publication, and it never fails to astound me how many basic errors get picked up in this final stage, even after several pairs of eyes and at least seven readings. Letters and even words are missing. Punctuation is wrong. On one occasion, I noticed that a character who had gold framed glasses in the first half of the book suddenly had black framed glasses in the second half of the book. Several people had read the manuscript by that point, and no one had picked it up before.

But there comes a point when you have to let go of the book and release it out into the big wide world. I make a point of not reading my own novels once they’ve been published. Firstly, by that stage I’m sick to the back teeth of my own story, having read it far too many times already, and secondly, I’m afraid that I’ll pick up more errors and by that point I won’t be able to do anything about it. Frankly I’d rather not know, once it’s in the public domain, what’s still wrong with the book.

All this demonstrates the importance of editing, and not just of your own manuscript. Self publishing is a viable option these days, but if you go down this route it is essential to invest in a professional editor. No matter how many times you go through your own manuscript, you miss things. Editing services can be expensive, but they are an essential expense for the self-published author. Getting a second opinion is vital, and the very least that is needed. Ideally a third or even a fourth opinion is required as well, but once you’ve gone through the editing process, recruiting a couple of well-read friends to serve as proof readers may suffice.

Once upon a time I thought that the publishing contract would be the end of the story. Over the years I’ve learned that it’s only the beginning.

Brava, Sara Jayne! There is no way to expound enough on the many, many reasons why editors are the superheroes behind writers. I’d be lost without mine! 

All right my loyal followers, ready to unravel a new mystery? Then you don’t want to miss out on Sara Jayne’s DEAD COOL!

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They were dying to be famous. And someone was prepared to kill for it…

Actress Shara Summers has settled in London and is “between jobs” when her Canadian ex-boyfriend David sails back into her life, begging to her to fill the backing singer vacancy in the up and coming band he’s about to go on a European tour with.  Short on funds and auditions Shara reluctantly agrees, but tragedy strikes at the opening night party when the band’s charismatic front man Dallas Cleary Anderson falls to his death from a hotel window.  It soon becomes clear that Dallas did not fall, but was pushed.  His arrogant and confrontational manner means there are no shortage of people who wanted him out of the band permanently – but who would resort to murder?

Click below to pick up your copy of DEAD COOL, Sara Jayne’s follow up to DEATH SCENE at MuseIt Up Publishing or any fine e-book retailers.
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If you want to start at the beginning, don’t forget to check out the first in her amateur sleuth series, DEATH SCENE:

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Sara Townsend (34)

Sara Jayne Townsend is a UK-based writer of crime and horror, and someone tends to die a horrible death in all of her stories. She was born in Cheshire in 1969, but spent most of the 1980s living in Canada after her family emigrated there. She now lives in Surrey with two cats and her guitarist husband Chris. She co-founded the T Party Writers’ Group in 1994, and remains Chair Person.

She decided she was going to be a published novelist when she was 10 years old and finished her first novel a year later. It took 30 years of submitting, however, to fulfil that dream.

Follow Sara on Amazon or Twitter , and learn more about her writing at her Website and her Blog.

Navigating the Marketing Maze as a Writer #marketing #writers

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One of the biggest challenges facing authors today is getting word out about our books, enough so our little babies get shoved to the front of the bookseller line. An author’s skill lies in word crafting, not marketing, at least not for the majority of us.

I entered the published works world in 2011, with SHADOW’S EDGE, the first in my Kyn Kronicles series. I didn’t have a clue as to how to “market” myself or my work. Instead, my publisher put it out there, I visited various author blogs, started a Facebook and Twitter account. After that, I went head down and stayed down until SHADOW’S SOUL was done and in. I came up, took a look around, and learned my presence had been swept under a rising tide of new works. I became another shipwrecked survivor floating on a sliver of wood in an ocean of books.

What is a newbie author to do?

I turned to writer communities for help. And, boy howdy, was everyone willing to give me suggestions.

–Do a review tour

–Use this promotion company

–Go to conference

–Advertise (insert place here)

–Get a social presence (and be sucked into the big, black hole of never-ending procrastination)

–Visit other author blogs (or the flip-side, have authors visit yours)

I tried it all, got some boosts here and there, but in the end, my wallet was thinner, and I was discouraged even as I completed my third book, SHADOW’S CURSE, and started on a second series (PSY-IV Teams) with HUNTED BY THE PAST.

Now, if I wanted to portray myself as a wise, worldly writer, I’d stop here and tell you I did this because a the best way a writer can market themselves is to write another book…then another…and so on.

While that is true, (because I am a writer and writing is what I do) in actuality I was burying my head in the sand, too freaked out by the overwhelming massive storm of marketing it seemed I needed to do. Instead I’ve spent four years writing and learning (and burning out) about marketing.

Then I got laid-off (still hoping it was a good thing, but we’re still waiting to see) and the idea of being a “full-time writer” was staring me in the face. I have two publishers, two series, six books and am planning a third series, which makes it sound like being a full-time writer should be good to go, right? Nope, because there’s this other side of being a writer that needs tending to, the dreaded circus of marketing. With time on my hands, I decided to hitch up my big girl panties, use the analytical skills honed in eighteen years in the corporate world, and apply it my business as a writer.

As I delved deeper and deeper into marketing strategies for writers, I ran into an unexpected hitch. I belonged to a publisher, I had friends who were treading the indie route, and they seem to have a bit of flexibility I didn’t, or so I thought.  To be able to help boost sales, I need to regain reader attention, to do that I needed to utilize strategies that worked for my indie friends.

I began to plan.

Ultimate goal: READERS.

Lure: Offer SHADOW’S EDGE for free for a limited time. This was a difficult decision as I worked hard to make that book, and handing it out free makes me nervous. Still, if I can grow my readership in three months, I’ll put it up there and let it fly. It’s a damn good first book…

Thought process: If readers like the first book, then much like me upon discovering a new author, they’ll go pick up the other three, and if they’re still with me, they’ll go pick up the second series.

Sounds simple, but really isn’t.

First hurdle, my contracts. When you enter a contract with a house, you need to read them very carefully. Thankfully, I had a lawyer friend who was able to help with mine, and I knew I was coming up for renewal. But I have a great relationship with my house, and I’m having a hard enough time writing and marketing, much less formatting, editing, etc. (Yes, I know I do freelance editing for other writers, but I’d rather have different eyes on my own works.) Plus, each of my books renews at a different time, which means, I’d have some back and some not. Since my house and I are both in this adventure to get my books out, I decided to craft a marketing plan spanning three months that would help us both. I presented it, and was thrilled when they stepped right up, willing to help however they could.

We did a proofread edit of SHADOW’S EDGE (shivers, don’t get me started, it was hard not to rewrite with the knowledge I’ve garnered over the last five books, and NEVER go back and rewrite your first book, it made it to print, let it go), they helped with graphics for the tour, helped with vendors so we could get it out FREE everywhere (except B&N who balked,so fine, they don’t get my e-book version for the summer), and had some great suggestions.

It took me a month, but instead of shelling out for a promotions company, I managed (with a HUGE assist from the writer community) to get 90 blog stops during the three-month tour (Jun-Aug), plus Goodreads giveaways, and book listings. On the flip side, I also have a great bunch of authors coming here to visit and keep you all company.

The tour doesn’t “officially” start until June 1st, but in the first two days that SHADOW’S EDGE went free, my second and third books jumped up the rankings. While I won’t have actually numbers until September or so, this made me smile (cautiously). It was a shock to see how fast the ranking changed once it went free, but I reminded myself I went from all e-books, to all Free e-books (and yes, there is a difference and the Free e-books is a smaller pool), but still, my nefarious plan to create new addicts readers seems to be working.

Make a note to come back in September and we’ll compare some notes. Until then, if you haven’t, go get SHADOW’S EDGE for FREE while you can. Do me a favor? Spread the word!

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Who Are You Racing Against? #writercompetition #writinglife #rachelleayala

Back on March 22nd, I read a blog post by author Rachelle Ayala,(click here for post) regarding what she learned after four years of being a self published writer. It’s a great article, so I nudge you to go read it.

She hits four basic points about being a writer, traditional or indie, and the one that hit home for me was point four, “You Can’t Keep Up with the Jones.”

I have been heard to say I’m not competitive. Of course, it’s hard to hear me over my Knight’s strangely re-occuring coughing fits, but I’ll share a little secret with you.  I am competitive. Not in many areas, but when it comes to my writing, it’s on like Donkey Kong.

Now, I don’t go out and challenge authors to a duel or anything, instead I find myself talking to my writer-self. “Two books a year? You’re falling behind, girl.  What are you doing taking a shower? Get yo’ ass in a chair and start another book. You want to make it, you’re going to give me three books a year. Do you hear me?” (Yep, I’ve morphed into a screaming drill sergeant during this rant).

So, imagine how grateful I was when Rachelle said in her post,

“Even if you are one of the superstars of 2014, you are one book away from oblivion. Yes. That’s true, IF you are comparing yourself to others. There’s always going to be that book about space vampires steampunk BDSM billionaires that’s going to surprise the world and blow up your carefully crafted series with the bazillion brothers, sisters, cousins, and the entire state of Virginia family saga for the #1 position. It came from nowhere! And you, my goodness, you slaved and slaved for twenty hours a day, you wrote your fingers to the bone, and you can barely open your eyes and drag yourself to your laptop one minute longer, and blammo. That book beat yours! You’ve lost the brass ring, the lucky charm, the golden crown. You’re a HAS-BEEN!!! Ahhhh… kill me now!”

Because, sometimes you need to hear the truth. You really are one book away from oblivion. Doesn’t matter where you rank today, you have to keep writing, at your own pace, because true craft takes full fledged committment, not a teeth-gritting “I’m going to win” attitude.

It gets better. TOUCHED BY FATE, the second book in the PSY-IV Teams, is now in my brillant editor’s hands, and my type-A personality means I am now scheduled to start the next Kyn book in May. Maybe. Because, like every writer, I am afflicted with new ideas, ideas I want to explore. Unfortunately my “scheduled” writing makes me worry about taking that time to follow through.

Sigh. You’d think I’d have learned by now, but no, because I’m ON. A. SCHEDULE.

But…there’s this idea digging in, and it’s not letting go. It’s a story, and the only weapons I have as a writer are stories, my stories.

My schedule may have to be adjusted.

I leave you with another of Rachelle’s pearls of wisdom:

“What writer doesn’t want to be read? Everyone wants recognition or a pat on the back or even someone to scream, “I hated your characters. Kill them off.” Who wants to yell into a vacuum? I mean, if a book is unread, does it mean it doesn’t exist? So do what you have to get discovered. Write lots of books, hang out, socialize, and take feedback. Then let it go. You can only affect how well you can be discovered, not whether you’ll be read.

*raising a mug of coffee* Here, here, Rachelle.

*Rachelle Ayala’s post can be found here: http://www.rachelleayala.com/2015/03/what-i-learned-after-four-years-of.html

Writing to Trends and death knells… #writing #trends

Recently I took part in a very interesting discussion with some fellow writers: the topic of writing to trends.

Ok, don’t flinch, you know what I’m talking about. They’re out there, authors who manage to pump out their stories based upon the hottest genre of the moment. Somehow, they’re like trend ninjas–able to sneak aboard the trendy bullet train speeding through the latest hot vista of genres.

I’ve manage to catch a glimpse of some of them because they are the quietest, sneakiest bastards out there.  I think they own crystal balls specifically tuned into what readers are hungry for. Part of me wonders where one can get one of those suckers.

Is that a green eyed monster breathing over my shoulder?

Nope.

Here’s why:

The worlds and characters in my head have been there a loooonnnnngggg time. I began writing my first Urban Fantasy before Urban Fantasy was even a genre. Of course my crafting skills were crap and needed much honing before Shadow’s Edge manage to snag the attention of a publisher, but I knew what kind of stories I wanted to write. And even now, when I know a metric crap ton of the writing world more than I did when I first started writing, I’m still enraptured with Urban Fantasy and lately, Paranormal Suspense.  Yep, I weave romance into both, but my main story arcs are UF and PNS.

Yet, even I am sometimes tempted to attempt the writing to trend.  Maybe it’s because you hear all sorts of things out in the writing universe. And the overriding topic of conversations tends to center around sales and dying genres. Lately it’s been the grim pronouncements, “Paranormal/Urban Fantasy is dead.”

pffftttthhh… “I blow my nose at you.” (Yep, I’m quoting Monty Python)

Romance has been dying for decades, yet it’s still the hottest genre out there. Of course, it’s taken a sharp curve because romance has stepped it up and allowed readers a more “up close and personal” view of the sexual escapades of the story, treading into erotic arenas.

But, it ain’t dying folks.

And neither is UF or Paranormal.

Now this may upset a few, and I’m going to apologize ahead of time, because that’s not my intention.

Like many readers, I enjoy a good erotica story. And my Knight has made the comment, “If it’s selling, why not give it a shot?”

Because–see above–I’m a UF/PNS kind of gal. I could go out and write an erotic story (yep, I could) but I won’t. Yes, my scenes are pretty intense, but erotica, that’s not my writing cup o’ tea. My hat’s off to those that do (Kallypso Masters, Jennifer Lyon, Cherise Sinclair) and do it well. It’s not an easy style to do justice to.

But I won’t write erotica. I can’t write to trends (yes, I can hear you now–“it’s not a trend!”)–to what’s selling the best. I have to stay true to what my creative mind wants to indulge in.  If those stories resonant with readers–all the better, if they don’t, they don’t.

See, that’s the beauty of being a writer. Your audience is vast. They don’t read just one genre, they go out and try a bit here, try a bit there, maybe stay a little longer at the table with this story type, and hoard this type over here.

As a reader, I’ve found I’ll cross genre lines if the story and characters become real in my mind. If a writer has done their job well, they’ve hooked me. If not, well, I’ll browse the buffet line for other options.

So writing to trends, or chasing the perfect genre wave, it’s not for me. I’m the snail baby, I’m leaving my glittery trail behind me one book at a time. Because at some point in this journey, I’m going to cross enough paths to have my own following.

And it won’t be the genre that makes them stick, it’s the writing.

Readers/writers–chime in, do you think writing to the hottest trend works and why? Or why did you/didn’t you choose that path?

 

 

Need new read? It’s HERE! HUNTED BY THE PAST has arrived! #newread #PNR

The first in an exciting new Paranormal Romantic Suspense series-HUNTED BY THE PAST is now available from Muse It Up Publishing

When facing danger, some situations require a unique skill set. Come meet the men and women of the Psy-IV Teams…

huntedbythepast

HUNTED BY THE PAST: PSY-IV Teams book 1

Sometimes death is the only way to out run the past… 

A reluctant psychic who can relive the past, a man well versed in keeping secrets, and a psychopathic killer enter a deadly game where the past determines the future.

Changing the past is an impossibility ex-Marine, Cynthia “Cyn” Arden, understands all too well. Struggling in the aftermath of a botched mission, which cost her two teammates, her military career, and a fledging relationship, she’s brought home by a panicked phone call. The psychic killer behind her nightmares has escaped military custody to hunt down the remaining teammates, one by one. Next on his murderous list–Cyn. Her only chance at survival is to master the psychic ability she’s spent years denying.

The killer’s game brings her face to face with the one person guaranteed to throw her off kilter—the unsettling and distracting man she left behind, Kayden Shaw. Once she believed he’d stand by her side, until he chose his job and his secrets over her. A choice that’s left the scars of the past etched deep on her mind and heart.

To survive this twisted game, Cyn must risk trusting her heart and accepting who and what she is, or lose not only her life, but the man she loves.

Available at:  MUSEITUP Publishing  in all digital formats!

READ AN EXCERPT

Since I didn’t want to touch him, much, I poked a finger against his chest, ignoring the unexpected zap of awareness. “I don’t know how you found me or why, but right now I have other, more important things to do. So, why don’t–”

The ringing of the phone interrupted my tirade.

I shot a look at the phone sitting on the counter to our left, and then narrowed my gaze at Kayden.

He quirked an eyebrow.

The phone rang again.

“You going to answer it?” he drawled.

Stepping back, I plucked the receiver off the cradle. “Hello?”

“Cyn?” What do you know, it was Thomas Anderson Gunderson, A.K.A. Tag.

I stared at the man standing across from me. “Yeah.”

“Where have you been? And why the hell won’t you answer my calls?” Despite his questions, there was a thread of relief in my friend’s voice. Ex-friend, I reminded myself.

“Why would I?” I gave my answer absently, watching Kayden make his way over to the other side of the counter and take a seat on a barstool.

In my ear, Tag cursed. “Dammit, Cyn. I don’t have time to explain shit now— ”

“Why are you calling me?” I cut him off, ice coating every word.

“Why are you in Sedona?” he shot back, his voice hard.

“I’m more concerned with how you got this number and why everyone seems determined to turn my cabin in to Grand Central Station.”

Momentary silence filled the line. “Shaw’s there?”

“Got it in one.”

“Thank God,” Tag muttered. “Be as bitchy as you want, Cyn, but tell me you’re okay. You ran away—”

“I didn’t run from shit, Tag, I was kicked to the fucking curb as soon as you and everyone else got what you wanted.”

“That’s not what happened.”

“Really? Because from where I stood, it sure as hell looked like it.” Silence answered. Turning away from Kayden’s too avid gaze, I tried to regain control so I could kick both of these men back out of my life. “I’m fine, but I’m little busy dealing with my own situation.”

“What kind of situation?” It actually sounded as if he gave a damn.

Closing my eyes, I tried to shove aside the urge to bang my head against a wall at the single minded intensity of the male gender. “My sister is AWOL. Now, can we just focus on why you’re bothering me and Kayden has decided to pursue a career in B&E?”

“How long has Kelsey been missing?”

The urgent note underlying Tag’s question reignited my earlier sense of unease, as if there was something bigger at play here. Worry about Kelsey trumped hurt feelings, so I answered. “Not sure, a couple hours maybe. Her car is here.”

The string of oaths spewing over the line from Tag proved no one could swear like a Marine. “Son of mangy bitch,” he muttered, then he took a deep breath. “The cabin’s an hour and half outside of Phoenix?” He didn’t wait for my answer. “I’ll meet you up there. Stay with Kayden.”

“Tag,” his name came out as a warning of my waning patience. My fingers tightened around the phone, and it took an amazing amount of will-power to not share my own colorful vocabulary. “You need to tell me what’s going on. Right. Now.” The last two words emerged around gritted teeth.

“It’s about Flash. His killer is out.” His unexpected answer stabbed deep, drawing blood under my skin. Brutal memories boiled up and I almost missed his, “Stay with Kayden, Cyn.”

The drone of a dial tone filled my ear. My world spun. I concentrated on setting the phone back in the cradle. My legs were doing a great impression of spaghetti noodles, so I let them fold under me and sat on the cool tile. Six months, I’d run as hard, as fast and as far as I could, but in a matter of minutes I was right back where I started, trapped in a never-ending nightmare.

You have to wonder which fickle fate decided to dump everything on me at once. If I ever got my hands on her, I’d beat her to a pulp. Damn, damn, and triple damn!

The past surged, breaking through to rise in a swamping wave of ghostly screams and the stench of burnt flesh. I dug my fingers deep into my thigh muscles in a desperate attempt to stave it off. No such luck. Greedy memories sucked me down.

My kitchen disappeared, replaced by a fetid alley behind a dive in Where-the-fuckistan. Sprawled on the ground, my head spinning with dizzying sickness and my leg screaming with agony, all I could do was watch and listen. Watch the spreading pool of blood and brains seep from Ortega, his sightless eyes staring past me. Listen to the snap and crackle of a raging fire hissed through the night while the smell of burning flesh wrapped around me. Behind me, someone screamed, his wail high-pitched and full of hopeless agony.

I knew that broken voice.

Even as excruciating pain beat inside my skull, I turned my head, recognizing the figure in the midst of the hellish scene. Searing loss, rage, and fear rose to a scream. My mouth opened and the stench coiled down my throat, blocking the air in my chest. No, no, no!

The shocking feel of hands against my face snapped my paralysis, bringing a touch of the present into the past. Desperate to escape, ignoring the pain radiating down my leg and through my head. I struck out, my hand connecting with flesh. “Don’t touch me!”

Harsh breathing filled the air around me. It took a few seconds to realize it was coming from me. A few more before the low soothing voice penetrated the layers of the past. “Come on back, Cyn. You’re safe.”

 

Now available at: MUSEITUP Publishing

 

Jami Gray Small

Jami Gray is the award winning, multi-published author of the Urban Fantasy series, The Kyn Kronicles, and the Paranormal Romantic Suspense series, PSY-IV Teams. Her latest release, SHADOW’S MOON  was a Golden Claddaugh Finalist, and the first in her newest series, HUNTED BY THE PAST, hits shelves in July 2014. She is surrounded by Star Wars obsessed males and a male lab, who masquerades as a floor rug as she plays with the voices in her head.

Come stalk Jami at any of these fine locations:

Website  /  Facebook  /  Twitter  /  Goodreads  /  Google+  /  Amazon 

 

It’s coming…HUNTED BY THE PAST is just about to arrive! #MuseItUp #newreads #PNR

huntedbythepast

Phoenix in July. People called it Mother Nature’s rendition of hell on earth.

They were wrong. Hell existed on the other side of the world, in a much more treacherous desert. If it let you go, you ran, long and hard and as fast as you could.

You couldn’t hide, but you could try. I’d been running for six long months, jumping from one remote place to another, chasing wildlife with a camera for a paycheck. A safer endeavor than chasing two footed monsters.

Unfortunately, there was one thing I couldn’t outrun, family. Or the closest thing to it in my case, Kelsey. Sister by circumstances, not blood, and the only human on this planet I’d come back to civilization for, she should’ve been on her own plane with a group of fellow lawyers for some boring-ass conference. Her words, not mine. Instead, she’d managed to get a message to me, even out into the wilds of America’s last frontier. Someone had been asking questions about me, and watching her.

And so it begins, HUNTED BY THE PAST, the first in my Paranormal Romantic Suspense series, The PSY-IV Teams. In six days you can be the proud new owner of a copy. If you want to pre-order it while it’s at $2.99, please do! Here, I’m going to include a link–click on the cover above or the image below, both will get you there.

MuseItUp

If the that first tidbit wasn’t enough, what about what others are saying…

“I was hooked from the first word read. I had a very hard time putting the book down and when I did, I couldn’t wait to come back to it.” –RomCon Reader  9.35 rating

“Hunted By The Past is fast-paced, quick witted, and Ms. Gray can surely spin a fascinating paranormal story.” –Catherine Constantine, Goodreads rating 5 stars

“…this author has grown characters rich in personal history who are willing to risk everything for love of each other and their duty.”–Mona Karel, Goodreads rating 5 stars

 

Breaking News…Hunted By The Past is moving to August…#PNR #newrelease

BREAKING NEWS…OUR RELEASE DATE HAS CHANGED FOR HUNTED BY THE PAST!

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I won’t go into the long details but will say HUNTED will have more avenues of exposure! Big thank you to my lovely leading lady, Lea Schizas at Muse It Up Publishing for bringing about fantastic opportunities for her authors.

What this means for you, my magnificent readers:

You will have more time, until August 26th, 2014, to pre-order HUNTED BY THE PAST in digital format at the low, low price of $2.99!

And, even more exciting…for those who collect print books, HUNTED should be ready for your collections in print by end of November 2014, just in time for the holidays.

So don’t delay, go reserve your digital copy now and make sure the print book is on your holiday shopping list!