Monday, April 29, 2013

Changing with the times...

Hi friends,

Due to the new Doon Series, I am attempting to simplify. Doon, co-written with Lorie Langdon, debuts 8.20.13 from BLINK (a new imprint of Zondervan/HarperCollins). 

I will be taking a break from this blog to write the next 3 Doon books and the sequel to THE HALO CHRONICLES: THE KEEPER - which is delayed due to some publishing complexities. (My apologies to you all - but hopefully I will have some great news to share on the HALO front soon!) If you'd like to contiue to follow my journey - and I'd love to have you come along - you can find me at and at

Monday, January 21, 2013

An epic BOOKSTRAVAGANZA giveaway!

Reposted from my Honestly YA blog:

We've had a lot to celebrate in the past year! Just to name a few milestones:

*Lea Nolan's debut, CONJURE, released from Entangled Teen.
*Melissa Landers's debut, ALIENATED, sold to Disney-Hyperion.
*Jen McAndrews's mystery debut, DEADLY FARCE, released from Avalon Books/Thomas & Mercer.
*Co-authors Lorie Langdon and Carey Corp sold DOON to Zondervan/Harper Collins.
*4 new YA authors joined the Honestly YA blog: Jenn McGowan, Pintip Dunn, Marni Bates, and Kristi Cook.

We hope 2013 is even kick-assier than 2012, so we're starting it off with a celebration of our books! (**US/CAN only, please.**) Here's what you can enter to win:

Grand Prize: a $50 gift certificate to Amazon!

Other prizes: Autographed copies of our books:

1. An ARC (advance copy) of Jennifer McGowan's MAID OF SECRETS, coming in May from Simon & Schuster.
2. DECKED WITH HOLLY, by Marni Bates, now available from Kensington Teen.
3. An e-book copy of CONJURE, by Lea Nolan, now available from Entangled Teen.
4. HAVEN, by Kristi Cook, now available from Simon Pulse.
5. THE GUARDIAN, by Carey Corp, along with the ETERNAL SPRING anthology.

By entering this giveaway, you agree to the terms and conditions set forth on our Contest Disclaimer page. Good luck, everyone!

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

It’s official! I have a new FOUR-BOOK DEAL.

The DOON Series (YA, co-written with Lorie Langdon), Brigadoon reimagined coming September 2013. Read more at Honestly YA!  

Join our journey on Facebook:

Also did a fabulous photo shoot with a young, talented actor at ESSENZA STUDIO this week for the cover of THE HALO CHRONICLES: THE KEEPER. More details soon!

Monday, August 20, 2012

CONJURE - Cover Reveal

Congratulations to my Honestly YA blogmate Lea for her upcoming debut. I am thrilled to be among a handful of bloggers revealing her cover today! It's absolutely gorgeous!!!!

About CONJURE: Be careful what you search for…

Emma Guthrie expects this summer to be like any other in the South Carolina Lowcountry--hot and steamy with plenty of beach time alongside her best friend and secret crush, Cooper Beaumont, and Emma’s ever-present twin brother, Jack. But then a mysterious eighteenth-century message in a bottle surfaces, revealing a hidden pirate bounty. Lured by the adventure, the trio discovers the treasure and unwittingly unleashes an ancient Gullah curse that attacks Jack with the wicked flesh-eating Creep and promises to steal Cooper’s soul on his approaching sixteenth birthday.

When a strange girl appears, bent on revenge; demon dogs become a threat; and Jack turns into a walking skeleton; Emma has no choice but to learn hoodoo magic to undo the hex, all before summer—and her friends--are lost forever.

In honor of her cover reveal, Lea is giving away prizes!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Takedown of LendInk: Who Won?

This week marks the demise of LendInk and the end of owner Dale Porter’s American Dream. It’s a sad, yet fascinating, case of ethical business practices. (Disclaimer: Content has been changed to correct erroneous information.)
LendInk: (Previously stated that LendInk did not have a FAQs page, which was incorrect.) LendInk did have a FAQ page asserting the validity and legality of their site.  Although the site is no longer live, you can read some of that content at Indie Author. LendInk appears to have done everything right, so why did they become the target of an indie author outrage mob? Read: What Happened to LendInk? The owner responds.

Authors: Aside from not doing their due diligence to understand the site, they failed to resolve their conflict (real or perceived) in an ethical manner. I’m sure LendInk did get numerous contacts from confused authors but those concerns should have been easy to arbitrate considering that LendInk was legally and ethically in the right. Instead, authors waged a very public campaign complete with virtual pitchforks and fueled by ignorance. Regardless of whether the authors were in the right or the wrong, they made a sizeable mistake: Reaction instead of Ethical Action. Which has led to some ugly backlash and retaliation against certain indie authors. Read: LendInk taken down by A**hole Indie Authors.

It’s a bit ironic that many self-published authors call themselves indie to break away from the ignorant, vanity press stigma and, subsequently, the term indie has grown in negative connotations. Which begs the question, is “Indie” the new “Self-Published?” (Please Lord, I hope not. I hope we are aspiring to do better!)

The point for me is not to lay blame, but to ask: Is there anything worth learning from The Tragic Tale of LendInk that will make me a better human being and a better business person?

No matter what you call your author-self, the basic principles of business ethics are important.  Let’s look to the US Better Business Bureau, whose motto is Start With Trust, for guidance:

What complaints do we handle?

Disagreements between businesses and their customers. However, we reserve the right to reject complaints that use abusive or foul language.

 How do we handle your complaint?
Everything you submit will be forwarded to the business within two business days. The business will be asked to respond within 14 days, and if a response is not received, a second request will be made. You will be notified of the business’s response when we receive it (or notified that we received no response). Complaints are usually closed within 30 business days.

It’s useful to note that the first thing the BBB does is to facilitate communication between the customer and the business to rectify the perceived wrong. How can we as self-published authors/small business owners reapply this best-in-class practice?

Do your research. Reach out privately, business to business. Ask for a response within 14 days. If you do not get satisfaction within the requested period, escalate privately using MUSO or legal representation.

Before you wage (or join) a public crusade, ask yourself:

·        Do I know what I’m talking about—have I done my research?

·         What if I were the person on the opposite end? How would I want to be treated?

·        Have I tried to arbitrate privately?

·        Could this damage my reputation?

·        Is this something I want on the internet FOREVER?

·        And finally: What would I advise my child or a relative’s child to do? Is this responsible advice?

Always keep top of mind: A few books sales lost to piracy are not worth the loss of your professional reputation.

(Who may, or may not, work in the Marketing & Sales division of a global, publicly traded Fortune 500 company which happens to be the largest consumer packaged goods company in the world.)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Self-published = Salesperson, That’s Crazy Talk!

Hi All,

I’ve been in deep lurk mode as I work on the sequel to THE HALO CHRONICLES: THE KEEPER (sequel to THE GUARDIAN). But as indie-related business articles or posts catch my eye, I’ll try to pass them on.

Back in March, Courtney Milan did an interesting blog post about review ethics and specifically The Ask.
“But I have seen a handful of self-published books, where at the end of the book, there is a brief note that says something like this: If you enjoyed this book, please consider leaving a review on Read post here. (Be sure to peruse the comments.)

As I started to comment, I realized I had a post worthy of sharing. So here are my thoughts:

My indie books do have a gentle ask at the end. Honest reviews are critical to an indie's credibility, brand building, and self-owned business. As self-published authors, we are entrepreneurs/small-business owners. And we have to act accordingly. In this brave, new publishing world, not only do authors have to think and act like marketers, they have to be savvy salespeople.

If you think about it from a sales perspective, books = products, readers = consumers. So what do we know about the average consumer and their product experiences?

Sales: Studies show that dissatisfied customers will tell more people (8-10) about their experience with a product than happy customers (2-3 people). Read more here and here (or just Google “dissatisfied customers”).

“About13 percent of dissatisfied customers tell more than 20 people.” (White House Office of Consumer Affairs, Washington, DC) eCommerce is a game of statistics and the global potential for disgruntled readers to rant is exponential. The first place they go—you guessed it—on line. Here’s a great article from MediaSpace to illustrate the point.

Even more compelling, perhaps, is the data that comes from science:

Science: Psychologically and physiologically, human beings are hardwired to focus on the negative (NY Times article: Praise is Fleeting, but Brick Bats We Recall). "Bad is Stronger than Good."
This data has 2 primary implications: 1) readers are more likely to review books that have made some sort of negative impact on them, and 2) prospective readers are likely to weigh negative reviews stronger than positive ones.

That brings us to The Ask:

If you enjoyed this book, please consider leaving a review on” 

The Ask helps level the playing field. It equates a positive reader/consumer experience with a call to action in a very non-threatening way. Genuine, positive reviews build product confidence for potential readers. Think about it for a second…Have you ever looked at the reviews for a product you were considering on Amazon prior to purchasing? Have the rating/reviews ever swayed your decision to buy or not buy? Have you ever looked at reviews for a book that you were considering? What are people saying about this? is a question most consumers are curious to answer, and the greater the risk, the more we want reassurance before a purchase commitment. So why wouldn’t you, as an indie author, do everything within the boundaries of your principles and ethics to get the reviews needed to grow your business?*

It is my theory that so many authors are uncomfortable with The Ask for the same reason they would never consider a career in sales. They lack the constitution/principles/desire needed to succeed as a salesperson. I get that (really, I do). But just about every successful business on the planet has a sales department—even the big six publishers. So who is the sales force behind the self-published author?  * pause for dramatic emphasis* That’s right. I am/you are. So don’t neglect your sales plan. 

It’s like I always tell my kids: “How am I supposed to know if you don't (respectfully) tell me what you need? After all, I’m not a mind reader”—and neither are my potential consumers. 

Happy sales!

(Who may, or may not, work in the Marketing & Sales division of a global, publicly traded Fortune 500 company which happens to be the largest consumer packaged goods company in the world.)

*To clarify, I’m not suggesting that if you have sketchy ethics that it’s okay to solicit false or overly positive reviews from friends and family. Reviews do need to be authentic and honest.  I am merely suggesting there are a broad spectrum of principles and ethics in the field of sales that may govern what you are, or are not, willing to do. Don’t confuse this with comfort level. Think of how uncomfortable marketing can be—but we all agree it has value and needs to be done.

 Difference between ethics and comfort zone: 

Example 1: Is asking for reviews from readers at the end of my book out of my comfort zone? Yes. But is it unethical? No. Does is make sense from a sales perspective? Yes.

Example 2: Is asking Aunt Nancy and her friends to go online anonymously and give glowing, 5–star reviews of my book outside my comfort zone? Maybe not… Everybody does it. Is it unethical? Abso-FREAKIN’-lutely! Does is make sense from a sales perspective? No way!!! If Aunt Nancy and friends are discovered, my credibility will suffer. And the amount of negative comments produced by public outrage will tank my career (as it should).

Example 3: Is my cousin’s unsolicited review, with acquaintance disclaimer, of my book that she purchased with her own money out of my comfort zone? Perhaps… (Family and friends are always tricky business.) But is it unethical? No. Does is make sense from a sales perspective? Perhaps… It’s an honest review from a paying customer. However, widely publicized relationship abuse between authors and their friends/family to promote books dishonestly tends to make this a risky practice. Although it’s not wrong, the more strategic choice might be to ask my cousin to use word of mouth power and remove the review.  

(Hey wait, is this an example where the negative connotations are more prevalent in society than the positive? For every author that engages in sketch reviews practices, there are probably a thousand or more that don’t.)

Bottom Line: This is your career and your business. Don’t lie to your consumers; don’t devalue them. Be honest. Apply discipline and operate with integrity. Which sounds suspiciously like The Golden Rule.

YOUR TURN: Have you ever noticed **If you enjoyed this book, please consider leaving a review on** at the end of a book? How often have you noticed The Ask? How did you feel when you saw it?