#WIPWednsday Tease

CurrentlyWorkingOnLQ

Gold spilled over the tables skirting the gleaming marble floor of the immaculate ballroom. Mirrors reflected each other like tangible echos on either side, giving the illusion of endless space, glimmering light and people. The very room was designed to be a criminal’s best friend and an operative’s worst nightmare. There were at least two skilled pickpockets working the crowd, but humans behaving badly were not Aviana’s concern.

Their gracious hostess, Madame Fervaunte, was the biggest con of them all, at any rate. But with her help, the gala had been set up to lure a far more dangerous threat to the Parisian elite. A Succubus who’d been picking off the wealthiest and most entangled, which made the task of covering up the crimes a strain, even for the GSI.

Hence, Aviana and Stephan’s assignment. Her partner had been in France for months, living his backstory, carefully laying the delicate gossamer layers, until no one saw him for anyone other than Lord André Beauchene, a young aristocratic from Nice. Avi was playing his French-American girlfriend, Claire Dubois, on holiday from university. In reality, she’d been on another assignment in Moscow.

The plan was simple: confirm the target was on site, then spring a trap they couldn’t possibly resist. Easy, in theory. They just had to keep the night flowing in their favor. Seated across from their clever and witty hostess, both Avi and Stephan were attuned to everything happening around them. It helped that they were able to use their own supernatural senses to remain alert, rather than relying on their eyes. That’s how Aviana caught her first whiff of mud. A bitter, damp and almost decaying aroma that couldn’t be disguised with an entire vat of Chanel. She honed in on the smell, following it over the room’s occupants, then silently alerted Stephan to a beautiful brunette laughing and flirting with a minor viscount in the far corner of the dance floor. It was time. The faster they put their plan into motion, the faster they could stop the viscount’s naivety from becoming fatal.

“Madame,” Stephan politely interrupted their hostess, as he began rising from his chair.

The woman gasped and abruptly looked past him, her entire face lighting up with pleasant surprise. Aviana completely lost the Succubus’s scent, at that precise moment. Her senses taken hostage by the familiar, heady fragrances of morning dew on grass, fertile earth and windswept mountains. She nearly forgot herself and closed her eyes, as it overpowered everything else, flowing right into her like a jet stream. Purposeful. Driven. Demanding.

The room fell into a murmur of awe, people captured by whoever filled the entrance and Aviana didn’t even have to look to know. The only reason she did, was to not give herself away. Then her gaze was trapped by the reddish-brown irises of the one she thought she’d escaped. It was surreal to see him standing there, looking a thousand times deadlier in a damn skirt than he had in jeans and a t-shirt. His red, black and white tartan was complimented by the short, formal jacket of black with its big silver buttons. The decorative, fur lined sporran hanging from his hips boasted a large, snarling wolf head in more silver. It was arrogantly intimidating. A symbol of pride for his people that, like the living wolves beside him, the human guests couldn’t possibly see as anything more than eccentric, yet Avi found it ridiculously sexy.

“Caden McCuine MacSweyn,” the usher announced without a single waver, despite the giant wolf that brushed against his leg. “High Chief of Skye Clan Revan, Laird of Uig.”

No! Stunned, Avi didn’t dare share a glance with Stephan, but she had to wonder if he’d just connected the same dots. If that really was the Caden McCuine–Alpha of the UK packs–then their entire operation was in shambles. Because, if their target found viscounts tasty, she certainly wasn’t going to pass up on a king!

#WIP Untitled (The Úlfrinn series)
©A.C. Melody

Advertisements

Dear Indie ♥ Quickie

Independent

Hi Indies! I know I was supposed to post about Swag this time around, but I need to address something that’s undoubtedly a touchy subject, because I feel it’s extremely important: The dreaded typo.

Look, I’m not that Grammar Nazi that attacks every post or article I come across with a typo or two – we’ve all had typos! It happens. I’m so guilty of it, I’ve developed almost an OCD kind of self-conscience fear of them. I swear I re-edit my posts a million times before and AFTER publishing them. It doesn’t help that I’m all for word-inventification, but that’s a whole other post! 😉

I’m sure I’ve kind of touched on the subject in the past, but the reason I’d like to talk about it again now, is because these Dear Indie posts are supposed to be helpful for all published or aspiring writers who come across them and I feel like this topic needs more attention. Especially, when it seems like I’m coming across this unfortunate situation more frequently of late:

Typos in Marketing

Believe it or not, I care about your success, and part of that success is how you appear to your (potential) readers when you’re putting your work out there for the world to see. This includes Teasers, Excerpts, Book Trailers, Blurbs/Synopsis and Author Bios. You may think these things are far less important than the book, itself – and I’m here to tell you, they’re EQUALLY as important. You first have to get readers interested in your book, before it has the chance to dazzle them. (Aside from the cover art!)

These crucial and often required elements aren’t just marketing tools, they’re like a resume and job interview all rolled into one: a reader’s first impression of you and your work. And you want them to be wowed, intrigued, captivated… not completely turned off.

If you have typos in your Blurb or in your Teaser that’s being spread all over the internet via a Blog Tour you paid good money for – you are setting yourself up for failure or at the very least, ridicule. From a reader’s standpoint, if you’re a new author to me, I would probably never buy your book. If I can’t trust you to write two sentences correctly and actually take the time to make sure it’s polished, then why would I trust your book is going to be any better? Especially, when I have so many other authors to choose from who’ve put time and effort into all of their marketing materials!

The emphasis of reaction here, isn’t so much about editing, as it is about care. My books and blurbs are edited by a professional–so in a perfect world, they should already be typo-free–but my Teasers are not. That’s why I check, double check and have someone else check them before I actually use them. The only thing a typo on a Teaser tells me is that you don’t care – not about me (your reader), your own work or your image as a writer.

Many readers actually feel insulted by these instances, despite your intentions. It’s just a negative experience all around that I’d hope for you to avoid.

I just deleted a book tour I was going to host, because there were no less than three glaring typos just in the Blurb, which wasn’t very long. I didn’t even check the Teaser or Excerpt, because I don’t want that nonsense on my blog. That sounds harsh, but it’s the truth: If the author doesn’t care enough, then why should I? I’m already cramming deadlines into time I don’t have, I’m not going to waste more by fighting HTML coding to fix someone else’s mistakes. And that’s typically the schedule of every blogger. They’re already too swamped to care about your mess and it’s not their responsibility, at any rate.

The most common problem faced by aspiring writers is trying to gain any kind of attention in an overpopulated market and especially, as an Indie Author. Yes, Indies have made some amazing strides to prove themselves and their work to the world at large, but shaking off the lingering stigma is a struggle we all face. So, why would you want to prove your own naysayers right by not taking the time to ensure every single piece of work you put out into public view is your best quality?

Here’s another example of typos working against you: Your social media bio. I came across a profile of someone claiming to be an author and writer of self-help books – only it came with typos. My first, knee-jerk instinct is distrust in their self-help advice and all I could think was: “Well, let’s hope those self-help books are not about how to become a better writer.” I don’t need that kind of help, thank you, I manage to mess up all on my own!

Once again, it comes down to first impressions. You’re asking new readers to trust you – which is hard enough when you’re 100% typo-free – why make it harder on yourself?

As Indies, we are trying to build our author platforms, gain exposure, make a name and reputation for ourselves. Our author names ARE our business/brand names – I’ve said this before – and it still stands. Everything we do that has our pen name attached to it, is going to reflect back on us, professionally, by our potential readers (aka customers), as well as by our critics. And those jackals really don’t need any more reasons to hate.

So, Indies, show your brand name lots of love and put just as much effort into your marketing, as you would into your book. Look after your creations and your success, by taking the time to care about how you’re representing yourself and all of your hard work. You should be proud of everything you put out into the public to attract readers. The devil is in the details, as they say, but in this respect, trouble comes with the lack of attention to them!

“Be the engineer of your own success” (I can’t find it, but I’m fairly certain this quote should be credited to someone who is not me).

p.s. If anyone finds a typo in this post, don’t hesitate to tell me, because that would be too effin’ funny. Now, I’m off to look up the definition of quickie…

#SongLyricSunday ♪ “Castle On the Hill” by Ed Sheeran

SongLyricSunday

My second week of the Song Lyric Sunday challenge, hosted by Helen at This Thing Called Life One Word at a Time, and though I already posted this song on my #MusicMonday awhile back, I still love it too much to pass up another chance to share it.

This week’s themes is: “Growing Old

My first reaction was… I can’t think of a single song about growing old or older, or perhaps just finally growing up, period. Then, before I knew it, there were at least half a dozen songs playing through my mind. I nearly chose Brian Adams’s “Summer of ’69” – but, Ed Sheeran’s more recent melody grew louder and more incessant in my head, so here we are. Enjoy!

When I was six years old I broke my leg
I was running from my brother and his friends
And tasted the sweet perfume of the mountain grass I rolled down

I was younger then
Take me back to when

I found my heart and broke it here
Made friends and lost them through the years
And I’ve not seen the roaring fields in so long
I know I’ve grown
But I can’t wait to go home

I’m on my way
Driving at 90 down those country lanes
Singing to “Tiny Dancer”
And I miss the way
You make me feel
And it’s real
When we watched the sunset over the castle on the hill

Fifteen years old and smoking hand-rolled cigarettes
Running from the law through the backfields and getting drunk with my friends
Had my first kiss on a Friday night
I don’t reckon I did it right

I was younger then,
Take me back to when

We found weekend jobs, when we got paid
We’d buy cheap spirits and drink them straight
Me and my friends have not thrown up in so long
Oh, how we’ve grown
But I can’t wait to go home

I’m on my way
Driving at 90 down those country lanes
Singing to “Tiny Dancer”
And I miss the way
You make me feel
And it’s real
When we watched the sunset over the castle on the hill
Over the castle on the hill
Over the castle on the hill

One friend left to sell clothes
One works down by the coast
One had two kids but lives alone
One’s brother overdosed
One’s already on his second wife
One’s just barely getting by
But these people raised me
And I can’t wait to go home

And I’m on my way
I still remember these old country lanes
When we did not know the answers
And I miss the way
You make me feel
And it’s real
When we watched the sunset over the castle on the hill
Over the castle on the hill
Over the castle on the hill

Songwriter(s): Benjamin Levin and Ed Sheeran
Copyright © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group
Lyrics found at: AZLyrics

I do not own any rights to this song, lyrics or video. All rights remain with the artist(s) and their respective agents. No copyright infringement intended.

Release Blitz 🔫 Lawless Anthology Manlove Edition!

🔫LAWLESS: MANLOVE EDITION🔫

5-Author Erotic Contemporary Romance Anthology

Meet the hardcore heroes of LAWLESS! They’re fearless, dangerous, big on revenge, and defiantly walk on the wrong side of the law. Although their morals may be compromised, their loyalty to that one man is never in question.

Our five hand-picked novellas are dark, dirty, and will make you see bad boys in a whole new light. From bikers to hitmen, these dangerous men won’t be satisfied until they have everything they came for—until they have him.

70, 000 words

Monsters by James Cox

Sunshine and Snakes by L.J. Longo

Live or Die by Kai Tyler

$250,000 Love by Jessie Pinkham

Silent Devotion by Angelique Voisen


Story Sample:

🔫 Live or Die by Kai Tyler 🔫

BLURB:

Zakhar ‘Zak’ Stone walked away from the life he once knew because staying had been too painful when the man he loved didn’t love him back. Now he is an undercover agent and has been assigned to take down the one man he left behind.

Alexei Smirnov knows why Zak is back. The authorities have wanted to snare him for years. Now they’ve sent the one man he can’t resist. The man he should’ve claimed long ago. The same man who is back to betray him.

He’s going to give Zak a simple choice—live or die.

Author’s Note: Live or Die is set in the Worlds End series universe.

EXCERPT:

Alexei settled back into his chair, hand still on the gun which now lay on the desk, his expression unreadable. “Start talking.”

Now that his undivided attention focused on me, my throat dried out, and my hands shook as the adrenaline ebbed in my veins. I needed a drink or two, perhaps something stronger to take the edge off.

When I’d agreed to this assignment, I hadn’t realized it would be so difficult to sit before him and do what I’ve done often for the past ten years—tell a series of made up stories to maintain my cover. Tell lies to Alexei.

My gaze bounced around the room while I worked saliva into a parched mouth and rubbed my hand over a perspiring neck.

Like a hawk, he watched every move I made, his eyes the color of an obsidian night. As if he could see through to my anxiety, see through to the man I hid from the world.

Then again, a little nervousness wasn’t a bad thing considering what I was about to tell him.

“Someone is trying to kill me,” I blurted out, wanting to get this done, no matter the outcome.

“Ha.” He barked a short, ugly laugh. “Whoever it is will have to wait their turn. If anyone is going to kill you, it will be me.”

My mouth dropped open, and I gaped at him. “You want to kill me?”

“I’m thinking about it.” He didn’t even blink.

This was no joke. I stared at him as if he’d grown two heads. He might as well have been an alien for all I knew about him. Ten years had changed him into a bitter man.

I had loved him once.

And he wanted to kill me.

Talk about bad romance.

“What did you think would happen when you came back here?” he gritted out. “You’re a government agent, for fuck sake.”

Shit. Blood drained from my head. I blinked rapidly as all my muscles tightened.

No wonder he was so bloody pissed off. I would’ve reacted the same way if I’d been in his shoes. Government agents and cartel bosses didn’t make great bedfellows.

How the fuck did he find out about my job?

 

#ThrowbackThursday

alice-madness-returns-hd-wallpaper17

WISTFUL

 Stars aloft

Stars alight

I wish all day

I dream all night

To kill that bastard

Oh, delight!

To kill him dead, just for spite.

⚔️ ~

Originally posted February 14, 2014

Was that my ode to Valentines day? Your guess is as good as mine, I can barely recall my motives from five minutes ago, let alone 3 years. LOL However, anyone who’s ever attempted to play Alice: Madness Returns can surely feel my homicidal pain. I still haven’t beaten that game!

#WednesdayWIP Tease

silver-wolf-1

#WIP Violet Night (The Úlfrinn Series, Book 3)

In an armchair facing her from the foot of the bed, Odin’s wolf slumbered in the shadows. His feet were propped on the end of the mattress, his inked hands laced over his stomach, which was now shrouded in a black thermal. Sleeves were shoved up strong forearms, turning more ink into something three-dimensional and dangerous. It was only a small portion of the tattoos she knew covered his entire chest and arms. More crawled up both sides of his neck from the unbuttoned gap at his throat. With caution, she pushed the blankets aside and crept closer. She didn’t want to wake him, but now that Max had squashed her fears, she definitely wanted to study him.

Her curiosity was nothing compared to her awe. He was so riveting in silence. As if even sleep couldn’t dilute his virility, weaken the power that stemmed from a darkness she could feel pulsing within him. There was a permanent scowl between his brows, giving him the look of a man deep in thought, rather than resting. Again, she caught herself marveling over how decorated a Warrior he was.

Her eyes locked onto the dark gray hoop that perfectly divided his bottom lip. The equally dark stud pierced into the flesh directly below it. Black studs in the shape of stars were nestled into the delicious hollows of his cheeks. There was something altogether sensual in the design of his piercings, the single barbell through the tapered end of his brow. The bits of black and silver randomly placed along the curves of his ears and the larger, disk-shaped studs against his lobes all seemed so…arrogantly sexy.

When his lashes swept upward, revealing those breathtaking eyes of royal violet, Cressa felt the lust simmering in her veins stir and spread. He was quite simply the most magnetizing man she’d ever seen, and she’d been alive for a very long time.

“I didn’t mean to wake you, wolf.”

“I wasn’t sleeping, Night,” he returned.

Cressa felt her lips curve, before the pleasure even registered in her brain. She couldn’t allow herself to revel in his cocky defensiveness quite yet, though, there was a burning question needing answering.

“Why do you feel like Asgard?”

His stare was intense, but not unkind. Cressa had been stared at unkindly before, she knew the difference.

“So, we’re speaking now?”

The guilt was mild, and possibly only felt because of the surprise appearance of hesitant hope in his eyes. “I apologize for that,” she said. “I had my reasons.”

“Your brother explained,” he dismissed. “Are you feeling better now? Were the Elders able to help?”

“I think so,” she nodded, touched by the sincere concern in his tone. “My mind is much clearer.”

“Good.” he smiled, but there was something quite determined behind it. “Shayd.”

“Sorry?”

“My name, Cressa, is Shayd Eklund,” he stated firmly, claiming his victory at last. “Not wolf.”

©A.C. Melody

Love this #WIP tease? Check out the rest of the series starting with Hearthstone Alpha and Little Queen!

Dear Indie ♥ Random Resource Post

Independent

Hi Indies! It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to contribute to the “Dear Indie” resources, but I’ve recently had two brand new experiences in the self-publishing journey that I’d really like to share with you. Since there’s a lot to cover, I’ll have to break them up into their own posts. Today, I’d like to start with the most exciting:

Going to Print!

There are plenty of words to describe the feeling of holding your own book in your hands for the first time, but in short: I highly recommend experiencing it for yourself at least once! For us Indies, going to print means submitting our books to one of the well known Print-On-Demand (POD) Platforms such as CreateSpace or IngramSpark. I admit, I thought the entire process was going to be a lot more daunting. If you’re like me and visit Goodreads regularly, then I’m sure you’ve seen the many topics discussing printing mishaps, order delays, etc. It can be off-putting, to say the least. And, depending on how you decide to get your book to print, it can be yet another expense.  Let’s look at that first, before looking at the platform options…

DIY vs. Professional

Cover:

Since my first printed book was one that I’d already had a custom eBook cover made for by Deranged Doctor Design, they were able to render the print cover alongside it for a very small fee ($40). My first printed book is a box set – that’s not always going to be the case, and may not ever be the case for you. Even so, the total cost was under $200, which included the transparent 3-D render, 3-D Amazon render, eBook cover, Print cover, and a variety of Facebook and Twitter banners for “Coming Soon” or “Available Now” – I’m telling you, these book cover artists kick ass! 😉

If you’re considering DIY’ng your cover by using a POD’s ‘cover creator’ interface, be aware that the stock photo must be a certain size (dpi). So, if you already have the photo and it’s too small, you’re either going to have to purchase it again at the larger dpi or find a different one. I’m facing this exact problem with the current eBook cover for Collar Me Foxy, because I made it myself with a smaller dpi stock photo. On the bright side, now none of you will need to make the same mistake! LOL

Having your print cover created by a professional also gives you more creative options for the WHOLE cover, rather than just the front. The cover creator interfaces are limited and I’m not sure they allow you to add stock photos or other creative embellishments to the back cover or spine. But, since I’ve never used that feature, don’t quote me on that – do a little research first, before deciding which way you want to go.

CreateSpace FAQ link ♥ IngramSpark FAQ Link

Interior Layout:

An Indie friend of mine is currently taking the DIY route for the Interior Layout Formatting portion of her first printed book and I can’t wait to hear about her experience.

I chose to have my cover artists tackle the interior layout formatting for both my print and eBook version of the Collection – even though I’d done all of my own interior layout formatting for the individual novellas. Like many things we do along the way, there are often pros & cons:

• On the pro side, having DDD handle the interior formatting saved me a ton of time and since I don’t currently have Microsoft Office, it also saved me the headache of not having any compatible software for the free offered templates. If you do have MS, both CreateSpace and Derek Murphy (DIY Book Cover extraordinaire) offer a ton of free interior layout formatting templates that you can use to design the interior of your books – I do believe Derek’s are for both eBook and Print. I wouldn’t be surprised if you could find even more free templates merely by plugging that into your preferred search engine and looking around.

• The con side, is that you can’t make any changes after a professional has created those files for you – so if you notice a typo too late – it’s just too late. You can’t open the file on your own computer and make any necessary changes. My designer gave me that warning ahead of time – as a professional should.  So, be aware and make absolute certain that you’re giving them the cleanest, most polished version of your book. I don’t know about IngramSpark, but during the process of uploading a book to CreateSpace, they gave me a list of steps to take to ensure my book was awesome. I bypassed it, simply because this is a collection of already professionally edited, proofread and published books.

If your book hasn’t already been published as an eBook, Createspace offers to convert your printed files into eBook ready files and send it directly to KDP for you. This might be a great advantage if you’re planning to print prior to eBook – POD’s don’t allow you to publish for Pre-Orders, but you could print while your eBook is pre-order to rack up those Amazon reviews in advance!

My results: Having both the cover and the interior layout formatting done by a professional, I didn’t have 1 single error or print issue. My book turned out perfect inside and out and beautiful to boot! The colors appear a tad darker than in the electronic file, so that may be something to keep in mind if you already have dark colors for your cover.

The specs I chose were as follows:

Trim size: 5.5″ x 8.5″
Paper: Cream
Ink: Black
Cover: Glossy (matte should be reserved for pastel colors, IMO)
Bleed: Stop before end of page (also known as No Bleed) – I learned that Bleed is for picture books, which allows illustrations to reach all corners and edges of the page, rather than having a white border.

Note: Be 100% sure on your specs when you order your print cover and make sure they match the specs you choose when uploading your files to the POD, otherwise you may have problems – however, I used an online page count calculator that ended up being 100 pages off and my cover still fit perfectly – my designers are either awesome or we lucked out!

received_1728581173828048

As you can see in this comparison photo, the trim size makes for a larger than average paperback book. Since it’s a collection with approximately 436 pages, this was the perfect size, as anything smaller would’ve made for a very thick book which may have been difficult to hold comfortably. However, if you’re printing a rather short novella, you may want to opt for smaller trim sizes so your book doesn’t come out as thin as a magazine.

My success with going professional is not to say this can’t also be accomplished by going DIY – I’ve seen positive stories on GR, too, not just negative. Everything we do, merely gives us more experience and broadens our knowledge of the industry as a whole. I plan to attempt going the DIY route in the future, so will undoubtedly revisit this topic to discuss that avenue further. Now, let’s look at our platform options…

CreateSpace vs. IngramSpark

I chose to use CS, not just because my eBooks are already enrolled in the KDP Select program, but mostly because it’s free and I spent time asking people I know and trust their opinions/experience with using that platform, which were positive.

After doing a bit of research, the most helpful article I found to show the differences between these two platforms can be found right here, it’s very succinct.

It seems that CreateSpace is in the lead simply by being faster, cheaper and more customer-friendly.

Their biggest downside: they don’t offer Hardbacks with dust covers, and IngramSpark does. In the CS community forums, the Ingram affiliated Lightning Source seems to be a popular choice for ordering just Hardbacks. Bookbaby and Nookpress were also noted. I would be leery about getting involved with anything related to Barnes & Noble ever since they shut down their European markets and became a U.S. presence only, but perhaps with just the hardbacks, your book’s range isn’t an issue? Again, do your research to find out which you’d want to try (if any).

Note: I realize I left a third contender out of this entire post – Amazon’s new beta print platform done through Kindle Direct Publishing, itself – that’s because I simply don’t have enough information about it yet, and most of the feedback I’ve seen on Goodreads is negative. If you have any insight on this platform, please share it with us in the comments below!

That’s it, Indies, I hope you find this post helpful for your publishing goals! Next time, I’m going to cover my first experience with ordering Swag. 😀