Sunday, December 18, 2011

DARK WING Tour Starts Tomorrow - Dec 19!! WOOT!!!

The ON A DARK WING Virtual Blog Tour kicks off December 19 and ends January 2, followed by a live chat on January 5 at 7:00 PM EDT when winners will be announced.

GRAND PRIZE: Jordan Dane is giving away a Kindle Fire to one lucky person!!! Contest rules will be posted at YA Bound on December 19, the start of the book tour, using Rafflecopter.

PRIZES: Ten blog stops along the tour will be hosting giveaways for signed copies of ON A DARK WING with a secret gift from character Abbey Chandler. Rules for each giveaway will be posted on the blogger's site using Rafflecopter.

WINNERS will be announced at the live chat with Jordan Dane on December 5, so make sure you're there! Special thanks to YA Bound for hosting the tour. YA author Trisha Wolfe is AMAZING!

Thursday, December 15, 2011


For my last post in 2011, I found a Wall Street Journal article on self-publishing that offered something a little different. We’ve all heard the big blockbuster sales of a precious few who have seen sales of more than a million books, but who can really relate to that. We can all hope lightning will strike and we’ll be the one benefiting from that good fortune, but I picked out the elements of this article that addressed the digital trend, growing successes that have not gotten much highlight, and what one author—Darcie Chan—did to grow her self-pub sales.

Many have heard about Amanda Hocking and John Locke’s stories of hitting in big. These stories represent a miniscule fraction of independent authors, but did success is still being found. According to Amazon, 30 authors have sold in excess of 100,000 copies of their books through Amazon’s self-pub Kindle program and a dozen more have seen sales of 200,000+ — a program started in 2007 that allows authors to upload their own books, set prices, and publish in multiple languages. Barnes & Noble have their own version for their Nook readers.

Self-published books have fueled the surge in digital sales from $287 million in 2009 to $878 million in 2010, according to the Association of American Publishers. Analysts speculate that e-book sales will pass $2 billion in 2013. We’ve all seen how the publishing industry (authors, agents, publishers, stores, etc) are scrambling to figure out how to capitalize on this exploding trend.

So here is one author’s story about how she stuck to her dream of writing a book she believed in and took the plunge.

It took Darcie Chan two and a half years to write her book during the hours she wasn’t working her day job of drafting environmental legislation. After getting feedback from friends and family, she sent queries to more than 100 agents, but since it was a cross genre story (with elements of romance, suspense and mystery), it didn’t fit neatly on retail book shelves and got rejected as a “tough sell.” After she landed an agent who submitted her book to over a dozen publishers, they all rejected it for the same reason, so the book of her dreams landed in a drawer and Darcie got on with her life. FIVE YEARS LATER, she read about the rise in e-book sales and self-publishing and decided to do something about her dream. Here is what she did:

She made her own cover for THE MILL RIVER RECLUSE (about an agoraphobic philanthropist) from a photo her sister had taken of an old mansion and added Photoshop graphic elements to make it look gloomy.

She uploaded her book into the Amazon Kindle self-publishing program and sold a trickle of copies. A few weeks later, she loaded it onto Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Apple’s iBookstore, Sony, and Kobo.

Her first royalty check was $39. That’s when she noticed that popular e-books were priced at $0.99 and immediately dropped her price from $2.99 to $0.99. (That cut her royalty percentage under Amazon rules from 70% on books priced at $2.99+ to 35% for novels priced below that threshold.) But sales picked up immediately for her and she found new readers who liked her book.

During the first month at her lower price, she sold 100 copies. She was thrilled with this, but by the end of June, her book got mentioned on a site called Ereader News Today, that posts tips for Kindle readers. Over the next two day period, she sold another 600 copies, giving her hope that she could drive her own sales.

She spent $1,000 on marketing, buying banner ads on websites and blogs devoted to Kindle readers and also bought a spot on with its more than 6.6 million members.

She also learned that self-published authors could pay to have their book reviewed by some sites. She paid $35 for a review on (who no longer offers paid reviews) and she paid $575 for an expedited review from Kirkus Reviews, a notable book review journal and website. (The Kirkus review service, launched in 2005, gives self-published authors the option to review privately if the review is negative. Darcie opted to have her book reviewed on Kirkus’s website and Kirkus called the novel “a comforting book about the random acts of kindness that hold communities together.” Darcie used quotes from the review and other reviews on Amazon and B&N for publicity purposes, to encourage more reviewers to try her book.

By July, she had sold more than 14,000 copies and got her noticed and featured on two of the biggest sites for e-book readers, which generated more sales. In August, she had sold more than 77,000 copies and had hit the New York Times and USA Today e-book bestsellers lists—and later landed her on the Wall Street Journal’s list too. In September, it sold more than 159,000 copies and to date—413,000 copies and growing.

Darcie and her agent have since offered her book to traditional publishers, but none have matched her royalty rates of 35-40% that she gets from Amazon and B&N. (Average print royalties range 10-15% with digital royalties usually set at 25%.) Simon and Schuster offered to distribute the book—as is—but Darcie wants the book professionally edited and marketed. So as of now, she is staying the course, content with how well her book is selling. She made an estimated $130,000 before taxes PLUS she’s getting a steady royalty check every month.

And from her success, she’s seeing interest from other parties. Foreign rights and audio book publishers have made offers and six movie companies have inquired about film rights.

Bottom line is that Darcie didn’t give up, even when everyone told her NO. No matter how you’re published, I think we can all learn from this woman’s perseverance.

This is my last post for 2011 since I'll be taking a 2-week blog hiatus so I can focus on my virtual tour which starts with YA Bound Dec 19-Jan 2. Happy holidays to everyone and have a great 2012.

Monday, November 28, 2011

ON A DARK WING Tour Schedule Announced!

On Dec 19 through Jan 2, 2012, the fabulous YA debut author Trisha Wolfe of the YA Bound blog will host my ON A DARK WING virtual book tour. We had over 50 blogs wanting to host a stop so we will have a BLAST tour format. My dark angel will be everywhere. Be on the lookout.

Here is the LINK for the tour schedule. Check out all the great blogs and tour stops planned. We'll have loads of reviews, character interviews (including one with Death), the inspirations behind the book, Dream OADW Film Cast and plenty of excerpts from the book, plus sneak peeks at my upcoming Crystal Child series with Harlequin Teen. There will also be a LIVE CHAT hosted by YA Bound at 7:00 PM EDT on January 5th to announce the winners of the grand prize and the giveaways. What a way to kick off 2012!
For book giveaways, my character Abbey Chandler will be sending a SECRET gift with each book. Shhh! She's not telling anyone what it is, not even me. Only the winners will know when they get the package. (She's such a drama queen.)

And the grand prize is named GRAND for a reason. Stay tuned for that. Announcement coming soon!

I love you guys!

Thursday, November 17, 2011


I wanted to share with you that Michelle Gagnon and I will be launching a new group blog geared for thriller authors writing dark YA. Our blog will be called ADR3NALIN3. I hope you’ll check it out at this LINK.

ADR3NALIN3 is the brainchild of a group of authors who write the dark side of middle grade and teen fiction. We are far from cozy and we don't do warm and fuzzy. We want to make your skin crawl and your heart beat faster as you venture deeper into the dark recesses of our imaginations. Reality can be overrated or just plain scary. We offer you a savory feast of chilling contemporary thrillers, eerie mysteries, fantasies from your worst nightmares, and our bent and twisted take on the paranormal.

Michelle’s new series sounds absolutely fantastic—dark & delicious. Here’s a sneak peek.

Don’t Turn Around (Series-Book #1)

HarperTeen, TBA 2012

Sixteen-year-old Noa has been victimized by the system ever since her parents died. Now living off the grid and trusting no one, she uses computer hacking skills to stay safely anonymous and alone. But when she wakes up on a table in an empty warehouse with an IV in her arm and no memory of how she got there, Noa starts to wish she had someone on her side.

Enter Peter Gregory, A rich kid and the leader of a hacker alliance. Peter needs people with Noa¹s talents on his team. Especially after a shady corporation called AMRF threatens his life in no uncertain terms.

But what Noa and Peter don¹t know is that she holds the key to a terrible secret, and there are those who¹d stop at nothing to silence her for good.

Fans of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO will devour the story of Noa, a teen soulmate to Lisbeth Sander.

And another of our members launches a book tour this week, Carol Tanzman. Here’s a sneak peek of her book:


by Carol Tanzman

Harlequin Teen, Nov 2011

Part mystery and part romance in this digital age where teens put their lives online, dancergirl (Harlequin Teen) will grab you from the first page and won’t let you go until the thrilling conclusion. When someone secretly films 16 year old Ali Ruffino dancing at a concert and posts the video online, things start to get out of control as the dancergirl craze takes on a life of its own. Her admirers want more, the haters hate, her best friend Jacy—even he’s acting weird. And if someone watching has their way, Ali could lose way more than just her love of dancing. She could lose her life.

We are officially starting active posts during the first week of January 2012 but since we have two virtual book tours starting in Nov & Dec, we are getting the word out earlier. I’ve featured two of our authors, but visit our site to see who else has joined us. We also hope to promote the genre with featured guests. I hope you’ll follow our blog and on Twitter at @ADR3NALIN3BOOKS.

Carol Tanzman's book tour can be followed at this LINK.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Twitter Book Giveaway - IN THE ARMS OF STONE ANGELS

Cute Bloggers @SaraJEvans & @CariBlogs found signed IN THE ARMS OF STONE ANGELS at Murder by the Book in Houston! Yay!

I have three FREE copies of my debut Young Adult book - IN THE ARMS OF STONE ANGELS (Harlequin Teen) to give away via Twitter. Contest begins Oct 26 and goes through Halloween. Bwah Ha HAAAA! Rules to enter are on the gadget below. Please spread the word and thanks for your support!

WINNERS....WINNERS....WINNERS!!! Congratulations to the three winners of a signed IN THE ARMS OF STONE ANGELS.

  • Kelly Mills
  • Renee
  • Erica

I've sent an email asking for your mailing addresses. Reply as soon as possible so I can ship the books to you. Thanks to everyone who entered and stay tuned for more contests and exclusives for my followers.

Jordan Dane

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Virtual Book Tour - YA Style (How to Create Advance Buzz)

I wanted to cross post my KILL ZONE article on Virtual Book Tours - YA Style here on my YA blog, but the comments amassing on my other blog are making that link more valuable. If you want to read about my Virtual Book Tour experiences for my upcoming tour for ON A DARK WING (Harlequin Teen, Jan 2012), please click HERE.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Care & Feeding of Authors

By Jordan Dane

Okay, I’ll admit this reads like the six degrees of Kevin Bacon, but hang with me on this post about writer’s life.

Bears in Alaska are heading into hibernation. The reason I know this is because one of my crazy sisters is hunting brown bear in the Aleutian Islands. She’s been sending photos and funny text messages over her 10-day adventure. She’s not hunting. Her husband pulls the trigger. But being the trooper she is, she dons the appropriate layers against the cold and rain to trudge alongside him, lugging water and food. For added color, she met an interesting man on this hunting expedition—a Romanian billionaire traveling with his body guard. (I’m not the only one in my family who should be writing fiction.) And because she’s my dear sweet sister, she brings books of mine to give away. The photo below is of a woman at the lodge they stayed while they hunted. She is holding my young adult book – In the Arms of Stone Angels (Harlequin Teen, Apr 2011), a cold case murder mystery for teens.

The reason I’m sharing this family story with you is that bears going into hibernation reminded me how I get when I’m in the middle of a project. I’m totally oblivious to EVERYTHING. I’m so vexed on the characters and the world I’m creating that I go without eating or eat weird stuff, forget about sleep, and my capacity for coherent conversation is limited—unless its dialogue.

Simon Wood was a guest on TKZ not long ago. He shared a funny story about how his wife caught him on the sofa watching TV when he should have been writing. He had eaten a bag of chips and had cats sleeping on his chest. Seeing the look in his wife’s eyes, he headed her off by saying he was deep in thought—that he was actually working. (Yeah, right.) But seriously, this is how it can be for a writer. We never stop working. So I’m fairly certain Simon had his brain “sweating to the oldies” as he gorged on Cheetos and snagged quality cat time.

In truth, Simon might have been indulging in another bad habit of author behavior. Snackage. Authors eat stuff and may not even pay attention to what it is. Like drones or Zombies, we are fixated on what’s in our head. It’s nothing personal, but dirty dishes in the sink, dog hair on wood floors, and a growing mass of dirty laundry become invisible. Personally, I call that a gift, but my husband has a different perspective.

So I’ve turned over a new leaf and after John Gilstrap’s fine example of slimming down and focusing on his health, I am in week 2 of a change in diet. Mostly it’s vegan. I eat raw and cooked veggies and legumes with plenty of fruit. No dairy. For those who know me, this is a HUGE change. Before, I considered meat as dessert. I would rather eat meat than even indulge in something sweet. But I’m outing myself on TKZ to say that I am committed to eating better and taking care of my health.

Anyone have a good vegan recipe?

Seriously, I have been more focused on cooking from scratch with fresh ingredients. My husband and I actually sit at the dinner table to eat instead of plopping down on the sofa with the TV on. We have semi-real conversations over dinner and not just talk about how to kill people and get away with it (a real crowd pleaser). We may even indulge in a glass of wine now and then. I’ll soon add a regular exercise program into this and not just limit my cardio to fast moving fingers over a keyboard.

For those of you smarter than I am, how do you stay healthy with your hectic schedules? What’s your routine? And I would seriously like to hear if you have any good vegan recipes that aren’t loaded with cheese.

Reckoning for the Dead (Adult thriller, Sweet Justice Book #4) – HarperCollins, Sept 2011 Now Available.

On a Dark Wing (Harlequin Teen, Jan 2012) – Virtual Book Tour Sign-up at YA Bound – Deadline Oct 31st.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sign Up for ON A DARK WING Virtual Book Tour

YA Bound is hosting the virtual book tour for Jordan Dane's ON A DARK WING with Harlequin Teen. Release date is Dec 27, 2011. SIGN UP IS OPEN NOW!

There will be a totally awesome grand prize plus plenty of book giveaways (a special gift will come with every book from character, Abbey Chandler).

For details, visit until the tour sign up ends on Oct 30th.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Cover Reveal & Virtual Tour Announced - ON A DARK WING

By Jordan Dane

As part of my cover reveal announcement for ON A DARK WING, I want to let everyone know on TeenShiver that the lovely Trisha Wolfe (talented author & avid YA blogger at YA Bound) will be hosting my virtual tour exclusively, along with the support of Harlequin Teen. Stop by YA Bound on Tuesday Oct 4th to see how you and your blog can be FEATURED on our tour.

Now show TeenShiver love to the Angel of Death. Post him, share him & tweet sweet nothings in his ear.

He’s listening.

From the first moment I saw him on my mountain, he mesmerized and controlled me. Now the danger of being with him oozed from every pore of my body, yet I had to come. Nothing could have stopped me from seeing him.

“You asked who I am,” he said. “Look into my eyes, Abbey. You tell me.”

~Abbey Chandler (staring into the eyes of Death) – ON A DARK WING (Harlequin Teen, Jan 2012)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Authors LOVE Seeing Their Books in the Wild!

The next time you buy a book that you're excited about, you should do as Robin did here and take a picture of it to post on Facebook or Twitter or a blog. I can't tell you how excited this makes an author. When Robin did this on Facebook, every author shown on these covers came to her page and commented. It was a real love fest. We all knew each other, so we made it a cyber party. It was the coolest thing...EVER! Heather, Carla, Sharon, Wendy, and Robin--love ya'll. Chilling covers!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Reckoning for the Dead – A “Sweet Justice” Birthday Celebration

I know. This is a YA blog, but I can't help it. The birth of a new book is always exciting. It never gets old. Officially released TODAY September 27th, Reckoning for the Dead (HarperCollins) is book #4 in my Sweet Justice series for adult readers. My novels have the feel of being ripped from today's headlines because real crime inspires me. With an international setting, my Sweet Justice thriller series focuses on a covert vigilante organization called The Sentinels that wields their brand of justice on a global scale, without the hindrance of jurisdictions or courts of law.

With a starring role, Jessica Beckett is a former bounty hunter from Chicago with mad skills in outsmarting fugitives on the run. She has a no frills, tenacious pit bull personality, with a Colt Python and a dark past that never stops punishing her. International operative, Alexa Marlowe, is the polar opposite. Living in New York City, she’s sophisticated and into high fashion. She’s well-traveled and loves the good life and pampering, yet she can be fearless when it comes to leading the men in her tactical unit through the fiercest of hostage rescue scenarios on foreign soil. Her strong sense of loyalty makes her willing to take risks with her own life on the line. These women give Lady Justice a whole new reason to wear blinders and their brand of justice is anything but sweet.

In Reckoning for the Dead, Jessie and Alexa’s worlds become embroiled in upheavals stirred from their shadowy pasts. For Alexa, her former lover and Sentinel’s chief, Garrett Wheeler, is reported dead, killed in a mysterious covert op that’s “off book.” When a new leader suddenly assumes control of the elite vigilante organization overnight—a man Alexa can't afford to trust—she isn’t buying anything he tells her. In search of Garrett and the truth, she goes rogue and off the grid, following a deadly trail that leads into Mexico, behind the fortress walls of a murderous drug cartel boss. Alone, Alexa has no one to watch her back, not even her new partner, Jessie.

Ex-bounty hunter, Jessie Beckett, has troubles of her own. When her DNA turns up as evidence in a gruesome murder committed when Jessie was only a child, before her life was shattered by an infamous killer, Jessie’s world is turned upside down. Solving a very cold case may hold the key to who she really is or kill the only memory she has of a woman she believes is her mother.

For Alexa and Jessie, the dead must have a reckoning.

To celebrate book #4 of Sweet justice, I wanted to share my thoughts on creating series characters with enough inspired juice to build or sustain a readership. The next time you read your favorite series book, think about the characters and why they keep you coming back for more. Below are points that helped me craft my Sweet Justice novels:

  • Paint a large enough canvass. Create a world that’s big enough to allow a character to grow and surprise a reader with different plots scenarios.
  • Give your main character(s) enough emotional baggage & personal conflicts that they can develop and grow from, to keep the series fresh.
  • Make the plots in the series challenge your character’s weaknesses or flaws. Conflict is vital for any book.
  • Tie each plot to the character’s emotional soft spots and allow the character to learn from what happens to them over the course of the series.
  • Add a secondary cast of characters who add value. Make them fun, quirky, and definitely memorable, enough to bring a unique touch to your series. They are especially valuable if they add conflict or reflect on your main character’s strengths or weaknesses. If your secondary characters are effective enough, this can mean spin off potential. (A perfect example of this is Robert Crais’s Elvis Cole, LA PI series with the spin-off of Joe Pike. I can’t get enough of Elvis and Joe.)
  • In any book, plant seeds for a spinoff story line whether you use them or not. If the novel takes off, you can capitalize on your germinating ideas.
  • Tell the reader enough in each book about the character’s back story to entice them to read your other books, but don’t go overboard with a dump of information that will slow the pace.
  • Avoid the formula. If something worked in book #1 in order to successfully launch your series, don’t repeatedly recreate it. Surprise the reader with something new, which will keep your creative juices flowing too. Don’t be so tied into your own success that you’re afraid to surprise your readers.
  • On the flip side, don’t “jump the shark” that got you there. Surprising leaps in character motivation—just to add shock value without substance or believable motivation—may stray too far from center to sustain your readership. Recognize your strengths and find new ways to hone them.
  • Keep in mind that your character may have to age if the series becomes popular. Have a plan for that. Three books may wind up as twenty+.
  • Don’t be afraid to dig deep inside yourself to fuel the motives or experiences of your character(s). Making them real is vital in order for a reader to connect with them, especially over a series.
These are points I found useful in writing my Sweet Justice thriller series for HarperCollins. Now that I’ve stretched into the Young Adult genre with Harlequin Teen, I’m learning more about story and character arc development. For more author craft resources, check out my website at, my For Writers page.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Visit Teen Shiver - For YA Books that Make You Shiver!

I'm proud to share my involvement with a new blog geared toward dark YA with Texas writers. Teen Shiver is our brand and our authors write books that make you shiver. Check out our blog site at

As far as I know, we are the only online author group that not only focuses on the genre of YA, but we also have an outreach program within the state we all live. We're reaching out to schools, libraries, and book stores to schedule TeenShiver events as well as signings and speaking engagements to promote literacy, author craft, or whatever our hosts want. We also will maintain contact with the reader/book reviewer bloggers, both in the state and outside our borders, to maximize the promotion of our brand of YA. One stop shopping!

Come see our featured authors. We're adding new ones soon.

For anyone wanting to contact us for book reviews, questions on how to join TS, or to book an event, we have instructions on our CONTACT page. We hope you'll follow us and sign up for our e-newsletter for exclusives on our authors. With the top notch publishers we have, they pledge their support and have fun things planned for virtual tours. I hope you'll stop by.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Another Coup for Self-Publishing

I saw an article in Publishers Weekly and wanted to share this very interesting deal.

John Locke is my hero.

No, not THAT John Locke! This guy…

Publishers Weekly reported on Aug 22nd that John Locke, the self-pubbed Kindle bestseller phenom, closed a distribution deal with Simon & Schuster. The deal, negotiated by his agent, is an exclusive arrangement where S&S will handle Locke’s eight Donovan Creed novels and get them into retail markets for print books. These novels are expected to start releasing in Feb 2012 with more titles to follow.

This seems like a really different idea, but a rep at S&S said this concept mimics the type of arrangements made between distributors and small publishers. Whether you consider this unorthodox or not, this is news, people. Locke still distributes his e-books and retains his rights as publisher on all digital fronts. S&S is only getting the right to sell print books to retail markets. S&S sees value in print and paid accordingly for that privilege, but Locke didn’t have to give up his lucrative digital rights.

If Locke hadn’t self-published, he never would have known his true value in the marketplace.

I see this as very encouraging for aspiring authors. The digital marketplace has become the new resume, a proving ground. It requires work to market your own books, but traditional publishers expect authors to do this anyway. Quality and author craft is still important to this process, but I believe if an aspiring author has talent and marketing platform to get the word out, this new digital world can be the best way to showcase work.

Published authors benefit from this development too. Striking a similar arrangement, they would get to focus on their writing, get their e-books into the public faster without all the approval and production schedule delays, and push the genres they write without NYC filtering the content for placement on shelves in retail stores. Established authors already spend time on promotion. Nothing new there, but there would be no more waiting to see if the publisher will spend money on promo or coop dollars for often limited time on the shelves. And the author retains control of cover art, book jacket summary, copy editing, and formatting, if they want it.

Even though S&S has limited access to Locke’s work, it can be looked upon as a WIN-WIN, in my opinion. S&S gets access to books that have a proven readership. They don’t have to “guess” whether a series will gain traction or not. They get exclusive print distribution rights for a known commodity. Not a bad thing to try in a changing world.

The author gets to take the risk of whether his or her book will find success, so they can push the genre or create a new trend—AND keep the rights that are most lucrative these days. The author would also free up time to write more, rather than spend time with the print side of the business—and gain access to retail markets he/she would not have reached on their own. PLUS a proven winner like Locke would also have the attention of NYC with his next project, opening more doors. Definitely a WIN-WIN!

I see this as a very positive arrangement—a healthy one for the industry. Both sides benefit from something they would not have tried otherwise. If a traditional bundled publishing deal can be broken apart for perceived value, how do you think this might change how deals can be negotiated in the future? Can digital rights be retained by the author for the right project? How would an agent’s role change? Would an author have to be a proven bestseller to have enough clout to negotiate a similar deal or does a deal like Locke’s foreshadow things to come for all authors?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

10 Things I Believe About Writing

With all the uncertainty in our economy and in the publishing industry, in particular, I thought it might be important to talk about the passion we all share. It’s the basic thing that drives us with such conviction. Whether you read books or create them, novels can lift our spirits, tug at our imaginations, make us believe in the impossible, and take us for a journey into the past. (Talk about a cheap vacation!) They dole out justice when it feels as if there’s none and they transcend international borders, making this a small world after all.

If you’re an aspiring author, I believe it’s harder to get noticed by traditional publishers these days, yet with the digital boom in e-books, I feel there is even greater potential for getting discovered in a whole new way that still feeds our addiction. So take heart. Below are my thoughts about writing and what I’ve learned on my journey.

1. Tell YOUR story, your way. If you have enough drive, you will discover a unique story that you must tell. If you’re lucky, more stories will follow. Ideas for books can be a contagion worth embracing. Since you use your life’s experiences to filter through your characters, scenes and settings, only YOU can tell this story. How cool is that?!

2. Develop a tough skin. There will always be negative people telling you that you can’t write or reviewers who think you should quit. Screw ‘em. If it matters to you, you will learn from your mistakes and keep doing what’s important to you. And if anyone thinks a book is easy to write, let them try. In fact, please be our guest.

3. Be picky about your critique buddies. They can be invaluable if you find the right person or group, but too much of a good thing can dilute your voice. Whatever your story, this is your book. You must have a sense of who you are as a writer in order to push back on any advice that doesn’t fit you and only you can be the judge of that.

4. Find the time to write regularly. Even if it’s only a few hundred words or a page a day, set attainable goals but don’t beat yourself up if life gets in the way. Write because it matters to you.

5. Focus on the basics. Writing is the only thing you can control. Selling your project, promoting it, dealing with proposals, these things are not in your hands and can become a mental road block. When things get tough, your writing is the backbone of your passion.

6. Keep writing. While you have a proposal out, don’t wait by the phone or the mailbox. Get on to that next project and learn from your last one. Push the envelope of your craft, because you can. It’s great to find success in a trend, but why not BE the trend?

7. Trust your talent. As human beings, we all have self-doubt. Some hide it better than others. We all deal with it, but the voice and talent you have shown with each new project will follow you. Trust your ability to tell a story, but also hone the craft of writing to be the best author you can be.Your basic talent will sustain you.

8. Make the words bleed. If the story is worth telling, it’s usually because of the emotion you have to convey. Write what you fear, what you love, what you hate. Man has been telling stories since drawing on cave walls and within those stories has been the thrill of the hunt, the profound sorrow of death, or the joy of good fortune. Emotion connects us all, regardless of any language barrier.

9. Support other authors. This is your world. Our world. We’re not in competition with each other. We’re up against people who choose video games or movies over books. Make them see how powerful the written word can be, how it triggers the magic of our imaginations. Books are brain food. READ them! If you want to understand a genre, READ IT!

10. Find a way to deal with rejections. They will come, in one fashion or another, whether you’re published or not. Rejection comes in all forms. Create a ritual to dispel the negativity and move on, but if you don’t risk rejection, you’re not getting yourself out there enough. Find a happy balance and keep writing. Not many feel passion for what they do. Count yourself lucky to be one of us, a writer.

Since we all share the love of books and writing on Fringe Dweller, please share any words of wisdom that gets you through the tough times. What keeps you going?

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Importance of Setting & Imagery for Stone Angels

The setting of IN THE ARMS OF STONE ANGELS is a fictitious town in Oklahoma. I picked the name Shawano after I saw that the word in Euchee meant snake or snake pit, which seemed fitting symbolism for this book. There is a Shawano, WI and Shawnee, OK, but this place was made up by me because I wanted the freedom to fictionally portray the undercurrent of bigotry that I needed to tell this story.

I lived in the Oklahoma City area and LOVED it. The people there are very warm and friendly, which is another reason why I had to make up a fantasy small town. If I had written this about a real town in OK, I would never have written this story so dark.

But I did have a specific town in mind when I pictured Shawano and took photos of this place to have in my mind while I wrote the book. I wanted to share some of these images with you and include writing excerpts for those locales.

The real town I had in mind was a charming beautiful & very real place of Guthrie, OK. I LOVE this town. The downtown square is small town Americana at its best and it's even more spectacular at Christmas time when the whole place lights up and people dress up like a Dickens novel.

But there were images not so great either. Rundown businesses, graphiti and sad houses are also there. I took these shots (& more) of Guthrie on a research trip.

On this street is the Pollard theatre that is rumored to be haunted. I really wanted to ghost hunt there one night, but never got the chance. I love this old theatre and watched great Christmas plays there.

These types of houses are in Guthrie, a very quaint place indeed. I imagined Brenna's grandmother living here in a house just like these charmers.

Excerpt from In the Arms of Stone Angels

By the time Mom and I got to Grams’s it was almost too dark to see, but the old Victorian home was easy to spot at the end of the street. It was the biggest house on the block and not quite how I remembered it. In the past few years, Grams had let the place go. The yard and flower beds were overgrown with weeds and the house needed painting. Brick steps that led to the front door needed repair, the wraparound porch railing could use paint, and the bay windows and gabled roof looked scary at night without lights on. The place was real creepy and reminded me of a slasher movie.

Very cool. I could totally shoot a video here.
“If it’s bad, we’ll find a motel until we can do a little cleaning.” She pretended to be cheery. “Where’s your sense of adventure?”

“In North Carolina. I forgot to pack it.” I crossed my arms and slumped against the car.

“Stay put. I’ll need your help with the groceries if we stay tonight,” Mom yelled over her shoulder as she headed toward the front door.

I heaved a sigh and stared up at the old Victorian after my mom left me alone on the driveway. I wasn’t afraid of the dark since cemeteries were my thing, but living in small town suburbia scared the crap out of me.

Maybe the stone angel near Heather's grave looked like this, with its chipped nose, almost looking scary.

Excerpt from In the Arms of Stone Angels
I put my ear to the ground and listened to the sounds of the cemetery in the dark. I heard the crickets in the grass and the breeze through the pine trees as I stared up at the stone angel on the next grave. Heather didn’t have her own guardian angel, but she was in good company. She had one close by.

And in the bluish haze of the moonlight, I saw that the angel’s nose was chipped and dark streaks lined her face like tears. But the angel’s eyes looked so real, I could imagine them opening and seeing me. And her spread arms and faint smile made me feel safe as the graveyard stillness closed in.

Until the night air sent me a message that I wasn't alone.

A wave of electricity swept over me, causing the hair on my arms and the back of my neck to stand on end. And static pops swirled around and through me. I knew what it meant and I turned, peering through the dark.

A door had opened to the other side. I’d felt it before.

And a gust of cold blew through my hair and made me squint. Movement near the stone angel grabbed my attention. Fingers crept out from behind the angel’s shoulder—a slow and deliberate move like the silent stealth of a tarantula—and a small hand slid down the stone arm.

Sometimes the dead had a weird sense of what was funny.

Heather Madsen peered out from behind the statue—more timid and frail than I remembered her—and dressed in the clothes she had been buried in. Her mother’s choice. Heather wouldn’t have been caught dead in that dress. So I knew her coming had to be important. In life Heather had never smiled at me, but tonight she did for the first time. And it made her look sad.

The dead never speak. I don’t know why. So I didn’t expect that to change with Heather. For whatever reason the drop-dead gorgeous brunette with fierce green eyes had come, she’d let me know in her own sweet time. Without a word, I waved a hand to say “Hi” and stretched out on the grass over her grave.

I knew I wouldn’t sleep, but I hoped that Heather would rest easier knowing she wasn’t alone…even if she only had me.

And the image below is of Libby, the girl who inspired my character. I found her on ModelMayhem, but when I went back to contact her, to see if my publisher could use her for the cover, she was no longer listed. The way she dressed in this photo inspired everything about Brenna, right down to her spirit to be different. I loved the vulnerability behind those big sunglasses too. Libby, where are you? I miss you.

Excerpt from In the Arms of Stone Angels

I wasn’t your average Abercrombie girl. I didn’t wear advertising brand names on my body.

It was a life choice. A religion.

I got my clothes from Dumpster diving and Goodwill, anything I could stitch together that would make my own statement. Today I wore a torn jean jacket over a sundress with leggings that I’d cut holes into. I had a plaid scarf draped around my neck with a cap pulled down on my head. My “screw you” toes were socked away in unlaced army boots and I hid behind a huge pair of dark aviator sunglasses, a signature accessory and only one in a weird collection I carried with me. I liked the anonymity of me seeing out when no one saw in.

The overall impact was that I looked like an aspiring bag lady. A girl’s got to have goals.

In short, I didn’t give a shit about fitting in with the masses and it showed. I’d given up the idea of fitting in long ago. The herd mentality wasn’t for me and since I made things up as I went, people staring came with the territory.

Below is the REAL Cry Baby Creek Truss. It's rumored to be haunted. I used my research as a backdrop to create a story around this creepy setting, the perfect place for a murder.

Excerpt from In the Arms of Stone Angels

I wish I had remembered the part about not telling secrets when I came across my friend White Bird under the bridge at Cry Baby Creek. A woman’s spirit cries for her dead baby and haunts that old rusted steel and wood plank footbridge. I’d seen her plenty of times, I swear to God. She never talked to me. The dead never do. She only cried and clutched the limp body of her baby to her chest.

Back then I didn’t fully understand how fragile the barrier was between my world and another existence where the dead grieved over their babies forever. I had no idea that a change was coming. Someone would alter how I saw the thin veil between my reality and the vast world beyond it.

That someone was my friend, White Bird.

When I saw him crying in the shadows of that dry creek bed, like the ghost of that woman, the sight of him sent chills over my skin. I should have paid attention to what my body was telling me back then—to stay away and leave him alone—but I didn’t.

I hope you enjoyed the extras and my trip down memory lane. Brenna & White Bird will always be in my mind and hold a special place in my heart. No one forgets writing their first YA.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Publishers Weekly Reviews IN THE ARMS OF STONE ANGELS

I'm a subscriber to Publishers Weekly. It's a heavy hitter weekly review magazine out of New York and gets a lot of scrutiny from the publishing industry. Not every book gets reviewed. Since Stone Angels had been released in April, I thought my chance to see a PW review had come and gone. I was thrilled to see the New York city magazine reviewed my debut YA and posted it this week, on July 11th. Seeing my book in this iconic review mag, along with much bigger author names, still gives me goosebumps. Below is an excerpt from that review. If you'd like to see the whole enchilada, click HERE.

"In her first YA novel, adult thriller writer Dane pens a macabre slow-burner, building tension by alternating Brenna's first-person narrative with sections in omniscient third; Brenna's peers, a deputy, and an observant doctor at White Bird's hospital all contribute insight into the mystery of Heather's death. Thoroughly eerie, the plot includes flashbacks and nightmares involving crossing over into the spirit world, while Dane's well-developed characters provide an authentic exploration of guilt, loyalty, and belonging."   ~Publishers Weekly

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Rockin' the 4th!

My life’s experiences as an author often wind up in my books. While I’m writing, I let my mind wander wherever it goes to come up with settings, emotions, and dialogue. I free my mind and don’t censor myself. Chances are, if what I’ve written makes it through my own edits, it will stay. Being a writer has added to the quality of my life because I’ve become more of an observer and a listener and everything interests me.

So with the July 4th holiday coming up, I’ve been reflecting on my favorite memories of this celebration. It’s a federal holiday—typically a long weekend for most—which is reason enough to celebrate. Independence Day (commemorating our freedom from Great Britain and the adoption of our Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776) is typically celebrated with fireworks displays, parades, picnics, BBQs, baseball games, and gatherings of families.

I’ve had many fond memories of this holiday. My brothers and sisters used to wage war in the neighborhood with bottle rockets. I mean serious war, folks. We had bunkers and booby traps and body armor in the form of hooded winter jackets in the middle of the Texas summer heat. My oldest brother, Ed, once donned a hooded winter coat to protect himself from the onslaught of direct hits. He launched bottle rockets from a Coke bottle pointed wherever he aimed—like a young Rambo—but one blasted out of the bottle and turned on him. A self-inflicted wound. It spun back into his hood and sent sparks flying around his head. He looked like a human torch (except for the weird dance he performed) trying to smother the live round. He could have lost an eye, instead of the singe circle of hair that got burned off his head. This wasn’t exactly one of his stellar moments. Now that he’s a father, giving sage advice to his boys on fireworks, he has real credibility (even though it’s a story he’s never told them). Sometimes I’m amazed he’s still alive.

The memory of my brother setting his head on fire ranks near the top of my list of childhood memories for reason only a kid would understand, probably because Ed survived to laugh about it. But my favorite memory of this holiday came when I was in my 30s and vacationing in Hawaii. I lived in Alaska at the time, so spending weeks on a beach was as close to heaven as I could imagine. My husband and I didn’t know what to expect, but we’d been invited by friends to join them in an annual event they participated in on July 4th. A boat picked us up on the beach near our hotel. I’m not talking about a pier landing. We had to walk into the ocean and clamor—as gracefully as possible—from the cresting waves and into a raft. I should have taken note that arriving at the party onboard the boat, soaking wet, was a hint of things to come.

Every year, a group of close friends launches an all out war on the water between two boats. They make huge slingshots with surgical tubing and launch large water balloons, trying to score hits. Better than the old game, Battleship. The two boats run a parallel course and bombard the partygoers with mega-water-balloons. The battle was a lot of fun, but I will never forget being adrift on the ocean at sunset in paradise with warm water everywhere and the sounds of laughter filling my soul with a contentment I will always remember.

But after it grew dark, the boats anchored near shore. We had the best seats in the house as we watched the fireworks on the beach from the boats rocking on the waves. The dazzling lights reflected on the water and I couldn’t drink enough of that memory in, surrounded by friends and my husband beside me.

My favorite memory of the July 4th holiday was a little unconventional, but most good memories are. With the holiday coming up, how will you spend it? Do you have a favorite July 4th memory to share? Tell me a story.

Monday, June 20, 2011

ON A DARK WING Sneak Peek Teasers

I updated my YA website for my second book with Harlequin Teen – ON A DARK WING. I also just learned it will be released in January, 2012. I’m so excited about this book. It’s set in Alaska, where I lived for years.

Abbey Chandler and Death have unfinished business that started on the day her mother was killed in a tragic car accident, a tragedy the girl had a hand in making. And Death has never forgotten.

I’ve posted the book summary that will be on the cover, plus I have an excerpt sneak peek. Since I can’t post the cover yet, I included images of the story at the top of the book page that I picked just for you.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Nyx in the House of Night is OUT TODAY!

If you're a fan of PC & Kristin Cast's House of Night YA Vampyre series, you'll want to add this amazing anthology of essays that will enhance your understanding of the popular series.
Nyx in the House of Night: Mythology, Folklore, and Religion in the P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast Vampyre Series offers fascinating discussions on a diverse range of topics to enhance any reader's enjoyment of the series. And this book is beautifully illustrated.

I contributed with my essay on the "Magic of Being Cherokee," that offers insights into the foundation of the Cherokee culture and beliefs that are woven into this series, making the Vampyre lore in the House of Night unique.

"Introduction: Nyx in the House of Night" --P. C. Cast
"Night in the House of Good and Evil: Nyx's portrayal in the HoN series" -- Karen Mahoney
"The Dangerous Dead: Vampire Mythology in the HoN series" -- John Edgar Browning
"By Their Marks You Shall Know Them" (on tattoos) -- Jana Oliver
"The Divine Cat" -- Ellen Steiber
"Reimagining 'Magic City': How the Casts Mythologize Tulsa” -- Amy H. Sturgis
"The Magic of Being Cherokee" -- Jordan Dane
"Freedom of Choice: Kalona, A-ya, and the Raven Mockers" -- Jeri Smith-Ready
"The Otherworld Is Greek to Me" -- Trinity Faegen
"The Elements of Life" -- Bryan Lankford
"Misunderstood: Multiple Partners in our Matriarchal (and Patriarchal) Past" -- Kristin Cast
"She Is Goddess: Goddess Worship in the HoN Series" -- Yasmine Galenorn
"Worshipping the Female Deity" -- Christine Zika
"Cruithne Mythology and the House of Night" -- P. C. Cast
Behind the House of Night Names

Find out more at SmartPop's Nyx page.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I Spent the Day with John Cusack

“Wasn’t that the worst apocalypse…EVER?” I texted to my older brother the day after, who quickly replied, “I’ve seen better.”

All day long on Rapture day my siblings exchanged text messages. My other brother wrote, “No sense buying green bananas” and “I’m not flossing today.” And when my sister did her grocery shopping, she texted, “Everything I bought today is a lifetime supply.” I also called my mom to borrow money, telling her I’d pay her back on Monday. She totally fell for it. After the clock ticked down to THE END, I had an automatic message go out to anyone who texted me – “The person you tried to reach has ascended. Try again later.”

My husband and I celebrated our last day by watching the movie “2012” with John Cusack—no less—and ordered our first pizza in months. We ate dessert first and ran with scissors to work up an appetite, capping off our excitement with an exploding world tsunami flick. I thought the movie would blow, but the special effects kept us overlooking the fact that it was a John Cusack movie. After the film ended, I texted my family, saying, “We’re celebrating Christmas. Happy New Year!”

In hindsight, if I had actually believed the end of the world would come on a damned weekend—Why not on Monday, for crying out loud?—I might have spent the time better. I blame John Cusack for this. I’m jaded. Cynical. Maybe I should have taken it more seriously and taken stock in all the things I have to be thankful for, but I didn’t want to crowd Thanksgiving. That day, turkey rules.

So tell us. How did you spend Rapture Day? What cracked you up? What made you think? What did you actually do as the clock ticked down? Or did you even KNOW about it? (Yeah, some of my friends didn’t buy a vowel or get a clue. [Insert eye roll here.])