Wednesday, October 31, 2012

First Review & Goodreads Contest for INDIGO AWAKENING


@RachelFriars of Rochies Reads made a video review for Indigo Awakening, book #1 in the Hunted series with @HarlequinTeen. The book comes out Dec 18th. Rachel did such a fantastic job with it that I had to share. She’s so cool under fire. I would be a nervous wreck. If you have trouble viewing the embedded code below, go to this link:

I also wanted to share that I’ve got an exclusive book giveaway set up for Goodreads to start on November 1 that will run through mid-December. There will be plenty of opportunities for you to win a signed book. TEN COPIES!!! Click HERE to go to the Goodeads link. Good luck!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Self-Publish Your Audio Book

Sorry for the delay in posting. I just got back from the trip from traveler’s hell. I had a speaking gig in the beautiful Madison, Wisconsin, but the weather on departure day resulted in our flight being cancelled. It took us two days to get back. I felt like I was in a John Candy & Steve Martin movie, without the trains.

For this post, I wanted to share my recent experiences with creating an audio book for my YA debut, In the Arms of Stone Angels. My publisher omitted audio rights from my contract, which gave me an opportunity to try Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX), a site from Audible that I learned about through the International Thriller Writers (ITW). Others  using ACX are: Neil Gaiman, M. J. Rose, award winning voice talent Tavia Gilbert, Tantor Audio, and Random House (a key ACX launch partner). ANY narrator with a home studio (or access to a studio) can be listed as a voice actor and audition for work.

ACX provides a central location where authors, publishers, agents, narrators, studio producers, and other rights holders can match up projects to create an audiobook for distribution through Audible (and elsewhere) under two different royalty models.

Parties can create a profile of the project for others to see. Narrators can audition, audiobook publishers can express interest, producers can make offers, and rights holders don’t have to let their rights languish. Setting up a profile is easy. I started the project in July and listed my book. Within a short while I had narrators auditioning, but I waited to see if I could get an audiobook publisher or producer interested, since I had no experience with this.

Narrators can be their own producers. I could have been more aggressive about seeking narrators and sending them a message through ACX, but I waited to see what would happen. In October, Audible added a stipend incentive to my project, meaning they offered to subsidize a producer to create my book by giving them $150/finished hour (up to $2500) for a 10-hour completed project. This stipend flag brought more auditions and producers to my project. The stipend had a deadline so Audible could get my book by year end for the holidays.

Once I decided to be more proactive in pushing my project, I decided on a narrator who had experience, awards, and a solid producer to go along with her voice actor talent. The steps from there are all online. I extended the offer, based on a royalty sharing model with my narrator, so I wouldn’t have to shell out money. The Audible stipend helped entice the narrator and producer I chose. Royalty rates will vary depending upon whether you give Audible exclusive or no-exclusive distribution rights. You decide how this can work and set it up. For more details on how ACX works, click HERE. For FAQ, click HERE.
Once I extended the offer and the deadlines ACX wanted for the stipend, I got a standard agreement printed through ACX between the parties, and my narrator had her deadline for acceptance (up to 72 hours). I talked with my narrator on the phone to share my thoughts on my central character, to help her create the voice of my teen girl, sent my book in PDF for her to read, and a 15-minute narration came within 5 days for my approval. In 60 days, I will have a finished audiobook to approve, but Audible will also act as a quality control checkpoint. If you opt for Audible to be your distributor, your book will be set up for distribution through Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. If you don’t give Audible exclusivity, you can distribute your audiobook anywhere you want to go.

I’m very excited to “hear” the voice of Brenna Nash, my character, through my award-winning narrator, Michelle Ann Dunphy. ACX has been very easy to use and I like the control aspects I keep with this project. I’m working with my German cover designer to develop the audiobook cover now. ACX is self-publishing for audio.

If you’re an author, do you retain your audio rights? How many of you like to listen to audiobooks? I love them for long road trips and for camping, listening to a story over a blazing fire.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Absolute Truth about My Muse—as Far as You Know


Every time someone asks me about my muse, I lie. (If you write fiction for a living, is it really lying?) I tell some people it is my two rescue dogs Taco and Sancho or I blame my weirdness on my peculiar rescue cats. There are days these aren’t lies exactly, but they’re not entirely the truth. Today I’m finally coming out with the truth, as best I can figure this out. My muse is a seven headed hydra with a flying horse body. There, I said it. And it looks something like this.

The flying horse comes from my love of anything HORSE. That love turned me onto reading as a kid in elementary school. I read every book in my school library that had a horse in it. I love westerns, but my favorite horse book was a fantasy with a flying one. I actually worked to buy my first horse and ended up with my family owning several. Noble creatures.
The first good-looking hunk (head) on the left is actor Eric Etebari who played the dark assassin, Ian Nottingham, in the short run TV show on TNT, Witchblade. I became so enthralled with his character of a noble assassin that I wrote fanfiction on the show for six months. When the show got cancelled, I could have shriveled up and forgotten about my writing, but it was the best thing that could have happened to me, as I look back. I made up my mind to write original stories after that.
Next to Ian Nottingham is Zig Ziglar, motivational speaker who flipped a light bulb over my head when he said that he wrote his non-fiction book doing it a page a day. I thought, “Hell, I could do that” and made up my mind to try. Zig isn’t a motivational speaker for nothing.
Next to Zig is Robert Ludlum (RIP), the master of espionage thrillers who wrote the Jason Bourne series and many other great spy novels. He amazed me with his style and pace. Even as a reader, he struck me with his amazing talent and still does when I replenish my writer’s soul by rereading books of his from my personal library. He made me a crime fiction author for life.
The Cyclops dude represents my crazy family. It takes a village to raise a writer and I was no exception. I still call my mom everyday and read her what I write in its raw form. My siblings are all very supportive. And my husband is my number one fan, but not in a creepy way like Kathy Bates and he axe. (In the book Misery by Stephen King, she used a turkey carving knife. Read it and you will never see Thanksgiving the same way again.) My husband clears the way so I can focus on my work every day and is my brainstorming partner when I need a level head.
The Grizzly bear is my memory of Alaska where I lived for ten years. My heart is still there. Whenever I get lonely for it, I contact friends I have who still live there, but I can also write about it. My books EVIL WITHOUT A FACE and ON A DARK WING are set in Alaska.
The dangerous looking woman on the right is my love for strong empowered women in the books I write. Even when these women have incredible emotional baggage, like my bounty hunter Jessica Beckett in my Sweet Justice series, they find a way to survive and thrive. Creating the right man to deserve them is a bonus.
But perhaps the most important muse is the one who reminds me why I started writing in the first place. The central woman with a book in her hand is YOU. With every book I write, I start a circle (my journey), but that journey is only half complete. It takes a reader to take that trip with me and complete the circle. Hearing from my readers, especially in the wee hours of the morning via email, can absolutely lift me to a higher place. No lie.
So as you can see, I am surrounded by my muse every day and it’s a seven-headed winged horse Hydra. Did you really think my muse was a puppy? Pffftt. Wiggly puppy tails and the smiley faces of my rescue dogs feed another (no less important) part of my soul, but my writing muse is a beautiful magnificent beast.
What about you? Do you have a hydra of influences in your closet…maybe wearing a jet pack?