Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Mount Baker Hike

One of my goals this year was to get out more and do some hiking. The reason for this is two-fold: get some exercise, relaxation and take some new, original photos.

Next month I am going on an adventure! I'm flying to California for a four-day hiking excursion in Yosemite National Park! I'm very excited about it. :)

First though, I have to get conditioned for it! Yesterday marked my first real round of true hiking and it was great. My friend and I ended up hiking about 8 miles (in and out) at Mount Baker lake, here in Washington State. I'm very, very fortunate to live just over an hour from this beautiful spot.

I'll be sharing my outings here and some of the pictures!

Here is the first one:

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

TIME [a poem]

Today, I'm doing something a little different. I have a poem to share.

I haven't written one in quite sometime, but I was compelled this morning to put my thoughts into words and sometimes poetry is the best way to communicate that.

Yesterday, there was a horrific accident not far from here. There was work being done on an overpass, and a cement barrier fell and landed on the cab of a truck, instantly killing the people inside. It turned out to be a young couple and their 8 month old baby. They were both youth pastors and amazing people. They have ties locally and many knew them or of them.

I spent some time reading this young woman's amazing blog last night (and crying)...and it made me realize something: Our most precious gift to each other is our time. It's how we SHOW someone we love them...by being there for them, by giving of ourselves freely without expecting a return.



“To love one another,”...we are told,
Is the key to happiness, for both young and old.

But how do we do that? What does it take?
What special formula does happiness make?

Do we show love through stalking, or buying or sex?
Maybe obsessively sending them texts.

This art of love is really quite simple,
And has nothing to do with societies temples.

It’s free, it’s within us, and easy to give,
But it’s masked by the layers of having to live.

Running to work, the TV, and computer,
All of these things have become our ruler.

The little one tugging the hem of your sleeve,
Is brushed aside constantly, until they just leave.

The machine on your lap has all your attention,
There’s no room for children to force intervention.

But they are the ones, who are helping you find,
How to laugh, how to play, how to give them your TIME.

How do you show someone that you care?
By giving yourself, and just being there!

It’s a precious commodity, and without a price,

It's the gift we should treasure the most in this life.

-Tara Ellis
(taken from my backyard two days ago)

Thursday, April 9, 2015

What in the World Have I Been Blogging About?!! (and a cover reveal!)

I realized today that I passed the six-month anniversary of this blog a few days back! Time seriously really does fly by!

I also realized that during that time, I have had two new books come out, plus two audio books and then the box set. I'm set to release another one by the beginning of next month!

I'll jump right to it; I want to tell you about my books. WHY I started the blog in the first place. To be honest, I started it simply as another platform to get my stuff out there in this vast sea of ebooks...but it's turned into something more for me. Through my own surfing, in my plight to find my footing, I have discovered that I'm really not alone in this. I've learned that I need to network, read more (and review), collaborate with like-minded authors and just relax a little. I'm not there yet. But I'm working on it!

First, my young adult, sci-fi trilogy. Forgotten Origins. Bloodline is book # 1, and was first released on Booktango nearly two years ago. (HUGE mistake, btw. Don't use Booktango)

Sixteen-year-old Alex has always suspected her father’s death wasn’t random, but she never guessed how deep the mystery runs or what it involves. When a rare meteor shower is followed by a highly contagious infection, the people she once knew so well start acting like they have a similar purpose that doesn’t include her. Alex can now only rely on her friend Chris and loyal dog Baxter as she plunges into a strange, new world predestined since ancient times. Wandering the mountains of the Pacific Northwest, deciphering cryptic messages left by her father, desperately searching for a cure-will Alex have the courage and faith to even survive? 

Since discovering Amazon's KDP (ebooks) and Createspace (paperback) platforms, It's been better. I also found Goodreads, where I have campaigned for reviews, and also met some great people. (both readers and authors!) Bloodline has won a couple of awards: Indie Book of the Day Oct/14 and the top 50 best Indie books of the year for 2014. I have it entered in a couple of established contests right now, so wish me luck!  It has 4.5 stars on Amazon with 35 reviews.

I narrated and produced the audio book for Bloodline, at the urging of some other authors. Please, don't knock it until you at least listen to the sample! :)  It has 4.6 stars with 7 reviews:

Then there is Heritage, book #2 in The Forgotten Origins Trilogy. I think this a better book than Bloodline, but not everyone appreciates the intricate story line. If you are a scifi or dystopian fan...you'll enjoy it! 4.8 stars on Amazon with 10 reviews  (I'm working on the audio book!)

The third and final book, Descent,  is my absolute favorite. It's truly epic and this is where I really fell in love with the characters. I honestly think that if I can get enough people to read this, my series will take off. 5/5 stars on Amazon with 7 reviews.  (I'll be making the audio book for this one too, sometime this summer)

I have a GREAT way for you to review this without paying a cent. If you go to the BOX SET on Amazon, you get a 10% free preview. Since Bloodline is a bit shorter than both of the other books, you end up being able to read almost HALF of Bloodline in the sample. So check it out!

My other series is close to my heart. The Samantha Wolf Mysteries. It's a middle grade mystery series, with the same feel as Trixie Beldon or Nancy Drew. I liken it more to Trixie Beldon, just because of the 'atmosphere' of the stories. I have big plans for this series. They're so easy for me to write and the characters are really developing into believable, likable girls that I can think so many people (young and old) can relate to!

The first in the series is The Mystery of Hollow Inn. If you can believe it, I first wrote this story when I was sixteen! (most of it while in detention for being late too many times)  I shelved it after I finished it at twenty, but couldn't find a publisher. I've always cherished it, and pulled it back out in between Bloodline and Heritage for a 'break' from the heavy trilogy. I ended up totally re-writing it, changing the POV and adding a couple of chapters. The result is something I am very proud of.
4.4 stars with 8 reviews on Amazon

I also made this into an audio book! It's gotten some GREAT reviews. 

Twelve-year-old Samantha Wolf, and her best friend Ally, are excited to spend part of their summer break in the mountains of Montana. But unbeknownst to them, Hollow Inn is bathed in mystery and legend. After arriving, they soon discover that things are not going well for Sam's Aunt and Uncle, who own the Inn. There's vandalism, ghostly sightings, and rumors of lost treasures. Determined to help, Sam and Ally embark on a challenging journey to discover the truth. 

The second book in the series, The Secret of Camp Whispering Pines, came out a couple of months ago. This story is a bit longer, and takes the reader back to the days of summer camp and special friendships. I really like this one! I am in the middle of recording the audio book right now!
4.7 on Amazon with 3 reviews

Now, for the COVER REVEAL!!!!!  This is the third book in the series, and is titled; The Beach House Mystery. I plan on finishing it around the end of this month (April). It's got just about everything in it that a good mystery needs...but I will wait to tell you more about it when it's done! For now, I will just share the amazing cover , from Melchelle Designs, with you!

(Can't you just feel the wind and hear the waves crashing on the shore?? :)

That's it (so far) for my fiction titles. I plan on releasing two to three more in the mystery series this year, as well as possibly an adult thriller. If I have time, there's a very good chance I might revisit Forgotten Origins and write some novelettes!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

What Does It Take To Succeed On Amazon?

No....I'm asking. Seriously. I don't have the answer.

Is it random? Is it an act of the planets aligning, the wind blowing in the right direction while hitting the key strokes in the right order?

Every Indie Author out there (whether it be self-published or small press) knows what I'm talking about. It's the elusive Amazon recipe for success that seems to elude 99.5% of us. What about the other .05%?

I know a couple of writers that are in the small percent group. They're deserving authors that worked their butts off, and have high quality material. They've done what many of us have done:

Professional cover
Professional editing
Social media marketing
Good writing

I also know some Indie Authors who haven't quite made it to the 'top', but make more monthly off their book sales than the average full-time job.

Some of them don't know why. No...really. They don't know what happened. What catapulted their work, (quite suddenly) into the upper ranks of the Amazon paid list.

Because that's what it takes; getting onto the all-coveted top 100 paid MAIN genres.  I say main, because my kids books have broken into the top 100 (top 30) paid a couple of times, simply because it only takes 2 or 3 sales in a 24 hr period to make it in the sub genre of Children's books > mystery and detective > detective

But good luck staying there. Now, if one were to break into the top ten of those sub genres, or maybe the top 50 of the main children's book genre, I might be golden. Because it seems like once your book makes it up there, if it's appealing enough (meaning, the cover is good and you have enough positive reviews), the Amazon machine takes over.

Here is what I think, after obsessing (really. I obsess.) over this stuff:

MUST haves:

*Professional, compelling cover
*Decent writing. (I don't say exceptional, because I have read some questionable stuff that are best sellers....mainstream stuff, too)
*Good editing

THESE factors are what I think give indie authors a better chance of breaking out:

*Small genres (meaning, there isn't as much competition. Have a fiction, scifi or fantasy? Good luck. (210,710 currently listed in ebooks) Have one in Comedy though, and it drops to about 53,000. Then, the sub-genres kick in, where again, the differences are HUGE.
*Marketing aimed at a specific audience
*Getting good reviews/interviews on popular blogs where word-of-mouth is HUGE
*Making personal appearances at conferences/workshops
*Make sure that your books are listed in the correct genre and sub-genre on Amazon!!!
*Make a video trailer
*Publish often and don't give up
*Write some short stories, or fan fic, or articles that are on free platforms, as samples of your work.
*The planets aligning, so that Amazon features you on a list or mailing. I have no idea how this happens.

(these last few tips I just started doing myself)

Share YOUR experiences with me/us! What do YOU think makes a difference?

(Image Credit to  letterstokiki.com )

Saturday, April 4, 2015

50% off Sale! Get My Whole Trilogy for just $3.99

Now that I've had the box set of my YA, scifi trilogy (Forgotten Origins) out for a couple of weeks, I decided to run a promo to try and kick things off!

For a limited time, I'm cutting the price in half and offering all three, full length novels for just 3.99.

Amazon Link to Box Set

The Forgotten Origins Trilogy is a fast-paced, young adult sci-fi story, centered around sixteen-year-old Alex. What starts as a rare meteor shower, ends up unleashing a viral plague that changes everything. Led into the mountains of the Pacific Northwest by cryptic clues left from her deceased father, Alex discovers that the past is not what she learned in school. When the human race balances on the brink of extinction, the fate of the world rests on the truth being exposed. To unravel the ancient secrets, Alex must rely on her friends, family and few allies. The Forgotten Origins is an epic saga, drawing the reader into a fascinating, frightening world where the unfolding drama will keep you riveted until the last page is turned.

The Forgotten Origins Trilogy has a combined rating of 4.8 with over 50 reviews, and Bloodline has won a couple of awards, so I feel confident that it's an entertaining story!

Give it a shot! NOW is the best time. :)

Will Alex be able to rise above the darkness? Or will she fall into its cold embrace?