I have a lot to catch up on (I mean, I might actually be the worst blogger, ever)! First off, BFFs has re-released! The first four novellas were re-released last week, which is AMAZING! I also released a new BFFs, #5: Cruel Intentions! It's about Cheyanne, everyone's favorite redhead. I'll post all the links at the bottom of this post!
Next up, I also released Broken Valentine, which is a Broken Series novella, just n time for Valentine's Day! It features Luke & Mallory, so make sure you grab that for just $0.99!
Each of the remaining BFFs novellas will release on the first Friday of the month (March 7, April 4, May 2, & June 6). That will conclude Season One. Season Two will start up in the fall, and I'll have more gooey details on that later this year!
AMAZON LINKSLiar, LiarKnocked UpMall RatsTerms of EndearmentCruel Intentions
So, many of you know that next week, The Best Friends Forever Series re-releases next week! I am sooo excited! The books will release one per day, M-Th, with a brand spanking new novella on Friday, the 7th!
Today marks a season of BFFs, so I will be doing #BFFsFriday every Friday from now until June, when the final novella of this season releases. To kick start this promotion, let's look at the first five covers & blurbs of the BFFs!
Hazel is a freshman at Coastal Carolina and looking forward to making new friends. When she meets Roman, she’s head over heels for him. There’s one problem, though: he’s still hung up on Hazel’s roommate, Cheyanne. But Cheyanne has a secret, one that has the potential to ruin her life in college. When Hazel learns the secret, she’s determined to use it against Cheyanne to win over Roman. She never imagines her plan could backfire, leaving her as a pariah among her new circle of friends.
Nolan James wasn't always a player. But after having his heart broken freshman year, he turned cold. Calculated. Vicious. Instead of turning against the female population, though, he just uses them. And there are a lot of them to use. He keeps up a front with Destiny, one that shows the world he's in a committed relationship, but he has someone else on his mind. Someone who could change everything he believes about women. Someone who could make him fall in love again.
Miranda changed her lifestyle when she transitioned to college. She went from party girl to girl-next-door, and she wants to keep it that way, hiding her past from the people around her.
But secrets have a way of coming out, and in the most unfortunate of ways. With her true nature revealed, she's slowly reverting back to the girl she once was. Or is she?
Terms of Endearment
Andre Fynn is a man on the edge. Literally. When his own saving grace pulls him back, he's grateful, but also determined to win her over. But his perfect girl is already in a relationship, with a guy known for being a player. So of course Andre agrees to spy on him, to dig up the truth when she asks. But searching for answers leads to much more information than he could ever want. And he definitely doesn't want to reveal all, afraid the girl of his dreams is going to be devastated beyond repair by the betrayal under her nose. So now he has to choose between telling the truth or protecting the girl he loves.
Cheyanne Hanley picked the wrong boy to lose herself to three years ago. She should have chosen Roman's brother, Reece, instead. When the opportunity to have Reece presents itself, though, she doesn't hesitate. And when tragedy strikes, leaving her alone and pregnant? She better get her act together before the truth finds her.
So, I've seen so many people lately, who are opposed to dropping the F-bomb in books. And that's okay - to each his own. But don't judge me because I DO use it.
My new adult books ALL include some variation of the word fuck, and I'm not about to apologize for it. If you read my books and don't like my use (or over-use) of the F-word, you're welcome not to read it.
I don't write it into my books for attention, by the way. I write it because 18-25 year olds use the word (and so many others) to express their feelings. Fuck is a word that can convey excitement, shock, surprise, anger, and a variety of other emotions. And let's face it, when you're fresh out of your parent's house, almost everyone lets loose and goes overboard with using swear words.
Using the word is NOT a telltale sign of a lack of proper vocabulary. But when you drop a hammer on your big toe and break it, very few words will release some of that pain like growling fuck. I put a disclaimer on all my books that they are for adults, not teens, so if you're reading my book, then you are likely an adult. And as an adult, you might not want to read the words I use, but you damn sure shouldn't be complaining about them, when you can go into just about any establishment in this FREE country and hear much more vulgar words being said at any given time (well, except for maybe church).
I expect some people will agree with what I'm saying, and some won't, and I can absolutely understand that. If you choose to comment on this post, please be sure to be respectful to whoever you're addressing, or your comments will be deleted.
It's been over a week since I blogged, and in case you couldn't tell, I've been very slack with the blog since we ended our New Adult cross-promotion group. I even went ahead and wrote up a schedule of when to blog every week and what to talk about... Yeah, that got me far.
I am actually going to try to do better. Things have just been crazy with this release.
Speaking of... HAPPY RELEASE DAY TO ME!!!
Broken Pieces is the third (dare I say final?) book in my Broken series, and I know a lot of people have been waiting forever! But it's here, it's LIVE, and you can get it on ALL retailers right now! Amazon iTunes Barnes & Noble Kobo Smashwords
I've also got some AMAZING giveaways going on at my Facebook Fan page
- and... here's a Rafflecopter giveaway for you all to enjoy.
This was supposed to be done yesterday, but I had a busy weekend, so here it is! Next weeks post will be on Saturday. Enjoy!
Week 1: Prewriting
Thinking about writing a novel? Here are some tips on how to make it your absolute best!
1. Plotting & Planning. Many writers, myself included, are pantsers. This means that we write off the cuff, just from the thoughts in our heads. However... There is always a plotting stage, where I write down my character bios or the main conflict. It might be a short outline or just some notes, but I always recommend writing something down. On the opposite side, there are those who plot out every single chapter, down to the smallest detail. And while there is nothing wrong with either way of plotting, I think one of the best things to consider is allowing your characters to speak for themselves, let them dictate where the story goes.
2. A Muse. Not everyone has one, but it can definitely help. Some authors use artists, others use models. The thing is, you can use what you want, but find something, or someone, who inspires you, who inspires your plot. There are unlimited possibilities when searching for a muse, so find what works for you.
3. Music. This is an extension of #2! Music can truly bring a book to life, so make sure you have the right music to set the mood/tone for your story. I often create a playlist for each novel that shows the evolution of the book. There are so many songs/artists out there to choose from - everyone should be able to find music that reaches into their story.
4. Blog. This may sound simple, but the truth is, the more you write, the better your writing gets. So if you blog, you can give yourself more experience and ideas on wording. And you can get feedback, as well, which can be a blessing. Or a reality check.
Come back next Saturday for a look at the next post in this series: Putting Words on Paper - I will be going into some tips for the actual writing phase of your book!
Throwback Thursday will be happening every week and will feature a FULL chapter from one of my previous books. Today, I have an excerpt from Broken Promises, the first book in my Broken Series.
Given the circumstances, I couldn’t exactly complain. The doctors were doing all they could for my cancer-ridden father. I knew he wasn’t going to be in pain for the remaining weeks of his life, but that didn’t make accepting his imminent death any easier.
My dad, the strongest, most alive man I’d ever known, lay in a hospital bed, thin and sickly. His eyes were sunken in and ringed with dark circles. His skin was pale, nearly translucent. Looking at him made me want to run as far as I could in the opposite direction. Not that I would. He’d been there for me for so many years, I couldn’t even imagine leaving him in his time of need.
Of course, he didn’t exactly think he was in need. Luckily for me, he was still perfectly coherent and had no qualms about dictating exactly how I should be living my life.
“You need to go back to school, Mallory. I don’t need a babysitter,” he insisted.
I hadn’t left his hospital room since I arrived a few hours earlier. I didn’t plan to, either. “You’re right. You don’t need a babysitter, but I’m not going anywhere. I finished my finals early. My professors were understanding about the fact that I needed to get home,” I argued. It was true.
I’d gotten the call from the hospital just three days ago at the university I attended in Boston. In a panic, I emailed all my professors, begging to take my finals as soon as possible so I could get home. Each professor responded in kind, allowing me to take my final almost immediately instead of waiting nearly a week before they were regularly scheduled. Taking them early meant I wasn’t exactly prepared for them, but I didn’t care. All that mattered was getting back to my dad.
I drove up that morning to my hometown, a place I hadn’t been back to for three years. After my freshman year of college, my friends and I rented out a place in Boston for the summer and got jobs. It worked out so well, we decided to stay in our apartment while attending school and save money on tuition. I’d always made my dad come down to visit me at my place in Boston rather than come home.
Casper, Maine wasn’t exactly the big city. In fact, there were only a few thousand people living in town, with several hundred in the outskirts. It wasn’t just small; it was tiny. I’d grown up there, had the same friends my whole life, and never once been out of the country. It wasn’t until I started looking out of state at colleges that I realized there was so much more to life than a small town.
When I’d told my dad I wanted to look at schools in Boston, I thought he’d have a heart attack, but he just smiled and made hotel reservations to visit colleges. He didn’t even question me, which made me feel guilty now. If I’d been home a single time in the last few years, maybe I would have noticed how sick he was.
“But you have your apartment in Boston,” he said.
He sat up in his bed, and I could tell he was exhausted.
“Leila and Sarah are going to sublet my bedroom for the summer. Obviously, I need to spend time here.” I smiled.
I was seated in the uncomfortable chair beside his bed but I refused to move. My ass was going to be planted in that chair until he was released from the hospital. I was still waiting to hear from his doctors.
“What about your job?”
“Dad, relax. I settled everything before I drove up. The bank granted me a leave of absence. You know I would never leave without getting things in order,” I explained.
He straightened up in his bed. “Speaking of getting things in order.”
“Mal, we have to talk about—” he tried again.
“No, Dad. Not now.” I shook my head.
Not ever. I didn’t want to think about his death. I didn’t want to discuss the matters of his estate as if it was a business deal and not the end of my world as I knew it. The time would come, but until then, I wanted to put it off. How would I ever get through dealing with it? My dad was my rock; he couldn’t just die.
“Okay, fine,” he muttered. He picked up a puzzle book and pen and ignored me.
I grabbed the remote and turned on the TV, changing the station until I found something I didn’t completely abhor. I wasn’t used to watching television; my bedroom didn’t even have a TV. My roommates each had one in their rooms, and they demanded we keep one in the living room, but I just didn’t see the point. I’d much rather read or go outside. So I’d relented to them, choosing to spend my spare time exploring the city.
Boston was huge. There was always something going on or some new place to discover. The only downfall was that even in a city with hundreds of thousands of people, I felt continually alone. Maybe it was time I came home, regardless of Dad’s condition. I could finish my degree online. The university certainly wouldn’t object considering my situation. I could move back into my room at Dad’s house and call up a few of my girlfriends from high school.
Spending the summer in Casper would be good for me. I was trying to talk myself into it. I knew I would probably hate it, but it didn’t matter. I would stay. For Dad. I looked over at him and smiled. He was already asleep, the book and pen lying haphazardly on his chest. I leaned over him and moved them to the table next to his bed.
A nurse appeared in the doorway and waved at me to draw my attention.
“Miss Wells?” she asked.
When I nodded, she motioned for me to follow her. I gave my dad another glance and then got up. She didn’t speak again until we were in the hallway, several doors down from my dad’s room.
“Has your father told you about his release?” the nurse said.
“No, not really. He doesn’t really want to talk about the cancer. He just wants to discuss the funeral,” I said.
“I can’t say I’m surprised. Mr. Wells has been in a lot of pain, and although he doesn’t complain, he will need a higher dosage of pain medications at home, over the course of the next few weeks as his pain increases. We need to make sure, though, that he has someone with him at all times, as the medications will make him a bit unstable, physically,” she explained.
“That’s not a problem. I’ll be here for the entire summer. Longer, if necessary.”
“Great. He already has a hospice service lined up, so he’s good that way. And providing he doesn’t take a turn for worse overnight, we’re prepared to release him into your care first thing tomorrow morning.”
Which meant there wasn’t anything more the hospital could do for him. He was living on borrowed time now. I nodded at the nurse and asked her to let my dad know about the release. I needed a drink from the café. When she turned back toward Dad’s room, I raced down the hallway to the bathrooms on that floor.
I barely made it into the first stall before I heaved up my breakfast. It was like someone turned on a switch and everything came to light. My dad is coming home to die. It was so unfair. What was I going to do without him? My life was going to be so … empty.
I stayed in the bathroom for several minutes, waiting until my stomach settled a bit before I made my way back to his room. I entered quietly so I didn’t wake him. To my surprise, he was already wide awake.
“Did you hear? I get to go home!” he exclaimed. His cheeks were pink with excitement.
I couldn’t help but smile with relief. Maybe going home would be the very best thing for him. He might even get better. He could overcome the cancer, maybe.
“I heard. Do you have clothes to wear home?”
“Actually, no. Can you drive out to the house and get me some? I want to look my best when I leave this place,” he announced.
“Sure. Tell me what you want,” I said, jotting down which jeans and T-shirt he wanted and where they were in his room.
“Don’t come back until dinnertime, Mal. Get your stuff unpacked a bit before I come home,” he suggested.
I had to agree. I hadn’t had a shower in two days; I desperately needed to freshen up at the house.
“Sure. I’ll bring you dinner,” I said.
“No way, I’ve already got someone bringing dinner at six. I’ll see you then,” he said.
He brushed me off, but I gave him a hug and then left, recognizing there was no way I would change his mind.
I made my way to my car, a recent purchase and newer model Chevy. I turned the ignition and took a deep breath. This was going to be harder than I anticipated. I drove through the streets of Casper, noticing there were dozens of children out playing in the warm sunshine. May was the beginning of tourist season in the area, and the weather was cooperating perfectly. I sighed as I realized I was going to be forced to interact with people I hadn’t spoken to in years, people who thought very little of me and I of them. I had a feeling it was going to be a summer of fake smiles.
The town boasted a single stoplight three years ago, but I noticed they added a second near the corner of the grocery store and the one fast food joint. I smiled as I stopped when the light flashed red. Maybe things had changed while I was gone. The light glowed green and I kept straight, turning right three streets down. Another half a mile and I pulled into the driveway of my dad’s ranch-style house.
It had two bedrooms and two bathrooms, for which I was truly grateful during my teenage years. Who wanted to share a bathroom with their parent? Especially their dad.
The yard was trimmed and the porch looked like it had been somewhat repaired recently. Maybe my dad hired someone for that, since there was no way he was mowing the lawn or fixing up the porch in his condition.
The door was, as expected, unlocked. I carried my purse and a small duffel inside, dropping both bags on the couch. I walked through the kitchen and noticed how clean and fresh it smelled. Nothing was out of place; there weren’t even any dirty dishes in the sink. He must have hired a housekeeper in addition to hospice; my dad was anything but organized.
I went back to the living room, grabbed my duffel, and made my way to the back bedroom. It was almost exactly the same as it had been three years ago. The paint was a deep purple, the closest color to black my dad had allowed. The bedspread was black and purple; even the curtains were dark and gloomy. What an emo child I’d been, I thought. I looked down at my bright blue T-shirt, wondering if my life in Boston had changed more than just my color preferences. I used to be a depressed little girl. I suddenly felt grown up, as if I hadn’t realized I was an adult until that moment, when I saw the childish ways of my past. It was eye opening.
My desk was in the corner of the room, looking old and tiny. My office in Boston had a desk at least three times as large as the student-sized one in my bedroom. It made me chuckle. I tossed my duffel on the full-size bed and opened up the closet. There, underneath a loose floorboard, was the shoebox I never thought I’d ever want to see again. I was suddenly anxious to open it and let the memories come flooding back.
I brought the box to my bed and sat, lifting the lid. It was full to the brim with pictures, movie ticket stubs, and letters. I flipped through the photos first, ready for the rush of emotion. The first picture was one of my mother, who’d been a legacy in this town.
After getting pregnant at seventeen, she and my dad agreed to get married two weeks after I was born. But she’d left him at the altar; she’d left him and me alone for the remainder of my life. I often wondered how she could just bail on her own family. Luckily for me, Dad stepped up. He raised me. Alone. I closed my eyes, mourning the mother I’d never known.
The second photo made me laugh aloud. It was a candid shot of me on my dad’s shoulders. I was probably about seven years old. I remembered the day perfectly; he insisted we needed some photos of us together and enlisted a professional photographer to follow us around all day. I only agreed if we could take some goofy pictures, too.
The next picture made my heart clench as if a vice was secured around it. It was a group photo from my senior prom. There I was, arm-linked to Luke Bates. He’d been my boyfriend for all four years of high school. He was two years older than I was, but I’d been in love with him since the first day of freshman year. He put off college for me, claiming he wanted to wait until I graduated and then go to college with me. But when I told him I wanted to go to Boston, he refused. He proclaimed he was just a small-town guy and wasn’t cut out for the big city. After months of discussions and arguments about college, we pretended to be happy for one last night: prom. We broke up that night and haven’t spoken a word to one another since.
We were supposed to be together forever and he dumped me. Well, basically dumped me. Because he was afraid to take a chance on city life. But his rejection had only furthered my ideas to get away. I didn’t want to be reminded of him every day for the rest of my life living in Casper.
I wondered what he was doing these days.
The shower spray was too hot and it pelted my skin painfully. I didn’t mind. I needed to clear my head. I had at least another hour until I had to go back to the hospital. I raised my face into the steamy water, cleansing my body, but it felt like I was cleansing my soul. There were so many reasons why staying in Casper was a bad idea, but if I was going to stay, I needed to let go of the hurt, the regret, and the pain.
I shut off the shower and heard a loud thud from somewhere in the house. I froze, unsure of what to do. In the city, I would have called 911 first and asked questions later. But this was Casper. I hadn’t been out of the small-town life so long that I forgot people didn’t knock here; They came right in, uninvited and full of gossip. I figured maybe one of the neighbors had seen me pull in and decided to check up on Dad’s place.
I wrapped a towel around my body and wrung out my blonde hair, letting it fall in ringlets down my back. I opened the bathroom door and stepped into the hallway. I made it all the way to the kitchen before I heard another thud. It was the unmistakable banging of a hammer to a nail. And it was coming from the front porch. I made my way to the front door, slowly pulling it open and peeking my head outside.
I was floored.
My eyes met the hard, chiseled body of a shirtless carpenter, complete with tool belt and a hammer in hand. His muscles were well defined and his skin was bronzed from the sun. I raised my brows and pretended to cough. When he turned to me, I couldn’t hide my surprise.
I was clad in nothing more than a flimsy towel and staring into the chocolate brown eyes of none other than Lucas Bates.
Most resolutions are things you want to do/accomplish in the upcoming year. Well, this is my list of things I want to STOP doing in 2014...
1. Stop surfing the internet so much. Seriously, this is a daily battle, to the point that I've had to turn off the Wi-Fi on my computer just so I can get some work done.
2. Stop comparing myself to others. Success is subjective, which means I'm doing well if I tell myself I'm doing well. Problem solved!
3. Stop letting people put me down. People talk - it's expected. But listening to the "haters" is only going to bring me down, so I'll ignore everyone who isn't helping/uplifting me.
4. Stop procrastinating! This kind of goes along with #1, but the truth is, there are more things out there than just the internet that distract me from doing my job. FOCUS!
5. Stop checking the cell phone every five minutes. Even if there's a message, stay away from it for a while every day, in order to focus on more important things. And no, I don't mean work - more like spending time with the hubs or my friends and family. My cell phone is not an extension of my body... It's NOT!
6. Stop spending all the money! haha... my husband will laugh at this, because he doesn't think it can be done. Realistically, though, I need to save more money and budget better.
7. Stop being lazy! This is my goal to be more healthy in the year ahead... Not necessarily to lose all kinds of weight, but instead to get healthier and be more physical. I'm hoping for a YMCA membership.
8. Stop signing up for events! This one is only half-true. Because, really.. I have something like 13 events in 2014... It's insane. I need to reign it in for my 2015 events list...
9. Stop saying "I'm too busy" as an excuse not to do things with real people. Friends and family are always most important - Always! Make the time for them.
10. (I'm breaking my own rule for this one, because it's my biggest one) Write more books. Set goals, break them, forget them, and then set them again, but as long as I'm writing, I'll count it as a great year!
What are your reverse goals for 2014??
Remember when you were a kid, and you had dreams of a job that was fulfilling and meaningful, but also made you plenty of money? This past year has kind of been like that for me... What I didn't expect on this journey, though, was to learn more about myself, the people I keep around me, and the self-publishing industry than I ever imagined.
I mean, truly, it's been a fan-freaking-tastic year! I've met so many AWESOME people, and I continue to meet them every day! It's humbling, to know that people are reading my books. I never believed I would be where I am right now. In fact, if you had told me I'd be here, just eight months ago, when I pressed publish on Broken Promises, I would have laughed in your face! So many amazing things have happened to me! Some not-so-awesome stuff has happened, too, but let's get into what I've learned!
1. Always pay an editor. This may seem like common sense to those of us who have been in the business for more than a day, but there are so many newbie authors putting their work for sale unedited. It's worrisome to me, because the indie world has so many opportunities, and one of those is the ability to find high-quality editors. They might not be cheap, and I highly recommend doing a sample chapter with any editor you consider, but when you find one who works for you, NEVER LET THAT PERSON GO! I would be lost without my editor, but I went through three of them before I found her, so don't be afraid to look around.
2. USE A PROFESSIONAL COVER ARTIST! I cannot scream it loud enough. You know how you'll play around with photoshop or some other photo editing software and make a "play" cover? Unless you've been to school for design, you aren't good enough. No matter how many of your friends love it, don't trust them. You're friends are guanteed to like anything you stick in front of them. You want an honest opinion? Ask a fellow author who you trust and tell them you want them to be brutally honest. And when they are, don't let your feelings get hurt. If someone tells you it's not good enough, BELIEVE THEM! Don't let your emotions cloud your judgment and believe that they are just being mean. Want further proof? Put your cover next to the covers of authors currently on the New York Times list in your genre. Do they compare? Chances are, they don't. Focus on your writing and leave the covers to the professionals.
3. Plan Ahead. This means thinking things through completely before making a decision about how many books you want to write. Chances are, you're going to fall behind at some point, so leave some wiggle room in your calendar for the unplanned things that might happen. What if you get sick and have to take a week off? What if someone dies (lets all hope that doesn't happen)? You still want to be able to get the things done you said you would get done.
4. Realize that things change. In the same light as #3, you have to accept that things will happen that completely eff-up your schedule. Kids and pets need attention, spouses pull you away - whatever it is, it's going to happen at some point or another. And that means you need to be willing to readjust your schedule. That does NOT mean you should try to cram in everything together in just a week or two. Quite the opposite. Be smart enough to give yourself enough time the second time. Readers will understand. Trust me.
5. Don't stretch yourself too thin. You have 100 book ideas. Great! But focus on one at a time so that your brain doesn't get overloaded. Someone wants your help? Perfect! But make sure they know you'll be working on more than just their stuff (like your own), and be honest with them if you aren't going to make a deadline. Honesty is 100% needed in this biz.
6. Don't 'trade services." Ever. You mean well. They mean well. But then something happens and someone doesn't deliver. And then feelings get hurt and friendships die. It's painful. Always sign a contract or use PayPal invoices. Document your agreement in SOME way so that neither of you can back out. Don't let yourself get screwed over.
7. Never use copyrighted images - unless you've purchased them through the proper channels. So many authors make this mistake! It's a big one to make, too. Bite the bullet and buy a membership to a stock photo company. There are SO many of them.
8. Network. There is no greater asset to an author than fellow author friends. But this goes further than that. Make friends with readers and bloggers, too. And don't always shove your book in their face! Be an actual person and have thoughts. I am more likely to share someone's links who doesn't even ask than I am the person who messages me 100 times. Don't be annoying.
9. Never put down another author. At the very least, never do it on paper (or in email or messages). That will ALWAYS come back to bite you. You're allowed to not like everyone. But always be respectful.
10. Never reply, comment, or like reviews. Negative reviews are hard, everyone knows that. But don't try to engage the reader in an argument about why they're wrong. It ends badly for YOU. Instead, ignore them. Pretend they don't exist. If you like or comment on a good review, though, some readers might get their feelings hurt because it seems like you only care about the people who liked your book. That's why I say ignore them all. If you read a particularly awesome review, try to contact that person directly, through email or Facebook, or Goodreads, and message them privately, thanking them for the review.
11. Give your book away to bloggers. Bloggers are, by far, your biggest asset in making your book big. They are the ones who are going to review your book and give you free promotion on their blog. I love bloggers!
12. Be friendly. Whether it's an online discussion about show vs tell or an event signing, you need to be friendly. Don't be the negative person constantly complaining about their sales rank, or didn't sell enough books at the event. It's a definite turn-off for those around you and soon, you won't have to worry because you'll be alone all the time. ha-ha
13. No matter how many books you sell, whether its a million or ten, don't let your head get too big. One of the joys of this profession is to watch our peers "make it" and for them to be humble while they do. Nothing will piss off your friends more than throwing it in their face that you made the NYT bestsellers list three times this year. Honestly.
And that's all, for now... Come back tomorrow for my end of the year resolutions post. I promise to be funny!