aliciareneekline.com

Official Website for Contemporary Romance Author Alicia Renee Kline

On Borrowed Time

So perhaps the single most awesome thing in my writing career happened for me recently.  Nope, I didn’t hit the bestseller list for thirty seconds, or get closer to achieving my goal of luxury car ownership via royalty checks.  In fact, my monumental feat has absolutely nothing to do with sales.

My books are now in my local library.

My husband told me that it would be unseemly to go visit them, so I just have to take the online card catalog’s word for it.  I believe it; here’s the link.

For some reason, this is more validation for me as an author than having an Amazon page, a Goodreads profile, or a Facebook fan page.  Maybe it’s because growing up, I never dreamed in a million years that something I wrote would be placed on those shelves.  Shelves upon which I discovered my love of reading.  And in the library setting, it’s somewhat of a more level playing field, in as far as my fiction books are alphabetized right in with traditionally published works by big named authors.

As you might recall, in November I was one of approximately 70 authors who took part in an Author Fair held at our Main Library.  As such, we were encouraged to bring copies of our books for sale.  This event pushed me to create paperback copies of my already published ebooks so that I actually had something to show off while I was there.  Though I sold a few books there, I did come away with some inventory.  Which got me thinking – what if I donated a couple copies of each book to the library so that readers in my community could enjoy them?

So I asked.  And I got a quick response back.  One that shocked me.  It went something like this:  “Of course we would be happy to accept your contribution.  But we’d like you to know that we’ve already got the first book in your series on order and it should be stocked shortly.”

Yes, they had already purchased my book.  Without me asking them to, or me getting down on my hands and knees and begging them to.  And I had no clue. Which I found to be even sweeter than them agreeing to take some free ones off my hands.

I’ll likely never see the proceeds from that book, because my net royalty on that particular sale is only 50 cents.  And I seriously doubt I’ll see an influx of paperback purchases that will help me cross the payment threshold.  But I don’t care one iota. Because they showed me with that order that they believed in me, at least a little bit.

I promptly dropped off copies of Books Two and Three, as well as two additional copies of the one that they already bought.  Now all three novels are in circulation, and as of this posting, over half of the copies available have been checked out.  I’m really curious on how they are being displayed, or if library staff is recommending them or what.  Other than a quick post to Facebook and Google Plus and a mention to some coworkers – who I seriously doubt are responsible for borrowing them – I’ve told no one that they are there.

I’m excited to see what the future holds, and I’m cautiously optimistic that this will have a snowball effect.  A common take away from people that I met at the Author Fair was that it was cool that I based my books in Fort Wayne.  And now, the community that serves as my setting has the chance to check them out, very literally.

Though I know not everyone in our city of a quarter million people has a library card, our library system is county wide.  Even though the copies all originated at the main library, since readers can return them at any branch in the county, they may find their way to other locations in the area.  Or if there is enough demand for the copies that they already have, the library may purchase additional copies to shelve at some of the more frequented branches.

Any way I look at this, the potential to reach a new set of readers is nothing to sneeze at.

 

 

 

 

 

Dancing with the Darkness

“I won’t give up on you,” I said softly, “not until you tell me that it’s time.”

Designed, Chapter 17

A fairly benign statement, taken out of context.

To me, however, it’s one of the passages in my own release that I can’t bear to read.  They’re the same words that I whispered to myself that day twelve years ago when I stood powerless and afraid of a future that I had no control over.  The same words that take me back to that moment like it happened hours ago.  The same words that make me tear up even now, knowing what I know.

That’s some pretty powerful stuff.

With my new release, I went darker than in my previous two books.  Considering that I’ve already tackled drunk driving, felonies, death of a parent and familial estrangement, that’s saying something.  Sure, there’s plenty of humor, steak and a happy ending.  There’s also a whole lot of raw emotion, borrowed from my own experiences but with a few changed circumstances.

I, for instance, was older and married when it happened to me.  I was gainfully employed and had a far better support system than my heroine did.  I also told a handful of people what was going on when it happened, then relied upon those few to tell everyone else.  I was not alone, even when I felt like I was.

But it still hurt like hell, and it continues to, right to this very day.  There’s a numbness that comes with the passage of time, but it’s never really gone.

I’m not trying to be coy here.  And I’m definitely not ashamed, but I’ll not mention the specifics here.  Why?  Because the thing that I share in common with my heroine is also her big secret – the bombshell that I’ve led up to for two entire full length novels.  And though I know that I have a vastly different readership of my blog than I do of my books, I don’t want someone to stumble across it and see a spoiler.  For those that have already read, they’ll understand.   So far, the lovely bloggers and reviewers who have written about this book have quite eloquently skirted around this theme and I’m not going to be the one who ruins it.

Writing about it, passing that fear and grief and thought process on to someone that I’ve created has been a cathartic exercise.  Truth be told, I toyed with the idea of chickening out and changing the big reveal to something else, because I was scared to deal with it myself.  Maybe have her abducted by a UFO or something – something that wouldn’t hurt so damn much.  But once I sat down and bled at my laptop, crying at the keyboard along with her, I knew I was doing the right thing.

I also knew that I would make some people uncomfortable.  I knew that I might offend readers by being honest and open and genuine.  Whether it’s because the subject matter hits too close to home or simply because it caught them off guard matters not.  I knew I was running the risk of alienating those who were looking for a quick, breezy read and I more or less said “screw it”.  I knew that readers would potentially label this novel as the “fill in the blank” book, and that’s okay.  There’s still a stigma attached to talking about this, and it’s undeserved.

There’s also a lot of people who have the same history as I do  – who might very well be ashamed or not distanced enough from the pain not to be lowered once more into those layers of despair that I know all too well.  Who might slam the book shut or turn the Kindle off and stop right there.  Now that I’m done with publication, even I skip strategic portions of that chapter because it’s too much.  I totally get it.

I’m fairly new to the whole blogging universe, but I came across an article about trigger warnings.  Which led me to Google the term “trigger warning” because I had no idea what in the world it meant.  For the uninitiated (like I was two months ago), it’s more or less a disclaimer at the beginning of an article or blog alerting people that the content contains sensitive material.  A lot of times, it’s related to depictions of violence or abuse, often of a physical nature.  But it can be used for anything that a specific group of people could find especially disturbing because of their collective history.  As far as I’m concerned, this topic also qualifies.  I’m not being a softie, even though Pixar movies make me cry and that damn Apple commercial that ran over Christmas with the boy who you thought was always just playing on his phone, but was really recording his family in order to put together a video for them, well, that got me too.  But seriously, there are bona fide support groups for this trauma.  It’s a big deal.

It was then that I wondered if my novel should have contained a disclaimer.  Granted, that would have been hard to incorporate without giving the entire crux of the story away.  After doing a bit more research, I learned that most professionally published novels that contain sensitive material don’t allude to it on the book jacket, so I breathed a sigh of relief.  Confirmation that you haven’t just made a major misstep is always a good thing.

Even so, there have been mixed reactions to my book and I’m good with that.  Some have said it’s their favorite of mine to date.  For others, it’s been their only introduction to my writing and it’s been viewed positively (meaning five star reviews).  Some people picked up the series here and had nothing more to say than “meh”, but they really liked the side characters – who, of course, aren’t as depressing.  Still others who have raved about Books One and Two have been completely silent after reading Three.

But I wrote the book that I wanted to.  And that’s what matters in the end.  I wrote it not to profit off of my pain, but to show that happy endings are still possible.  I lived through this and came out intact.  I’ve walked through the darkness and gotten through to the other side, knowing that I quite literally wouldn’t have what I have today if things had happened differently.

But always, always, there’s the hint of what could have been.  And the fact that I will never forget.

“Never forget how much I love you,” I whispered.  “I’ll never forget you.”

Designed, Chapter 17

 

A Novel Idea

As some of you may already know, I’ve signed up for an Author Fair this fall at my public library.  Although they do allow entrance to authors who only have ebook copies of their work available, the draw is obviously there to bring along paperback versions of your novels, as you’re encouraged to sell them there.  Add this to the fact that I’ve read time and again that while ebooks are taking over the market, you’re still wise to have hard copies available.  Plus, someone who read my last book contacted me on Facebook and asked me if I had any book signings planned.

Mind you, I can already autograph ebook copies.  But the thought of actually sitting at a table with a pen and signing a real book for a fan just seems way more impressive than sitting at my laptop and trying to do an impersonation of my signature with my mouse.

So I decided if I was going to do this thing, I would do it right and have some real life hard copies of my series available.  If I’m being honest with you, I don’t expect to sell a single one of them.  But I’ll have a copy of each for posterity, I’ll probably sneak a set onto my employer’s book cart in the break room to see if anyone notices, and the rest will make awesome doorstops.

Like many self-pubbers, I opted to use CreateSpace for my paperbacks.  I’ve heard horror stories about formatting, page numbering and the like, so I did a bit of research before diving in.  I bookmarked some helpful blogs, scoured the CreateSpace website itself and also went to the ultimate source – a book on my bookshelf.

Then I set to work.  Obviously, the hardest part was already over.  I have three books that are currently published in ebook format.  So there’s over three hundred thousand words already plotted out.  Already read and reread, over and over until I can recite them in my sleep.  All I had to do was make them pretty on paper.

I started in chronological order, choosing to format my first book first.  I made only a couple minor changes to the file.  I shortened a “you are” to a “you’re” in the prologue, because it really, really grated on my nerves when I had to read it over and over in excerpts on the blog tour I did.  I added a missing (in some versions) word back to the last chapter.  I updated the page with my other books in the series to reflect Books 4 and 5, which haven’t come out yet but are already titled.

Then I got down to the hard part.  I was timid, expecting to experience the nightmares that I’d already read about.  I formatted according to what guides told me, doing things I didn’t understand because it was the next step on the list.  I opened up the actual paperback on my desk and confirmed little, silly things that I’d never considered before.  Things like how chapters start on odd pages in traditionally published books.  Things like how the front matter isn’t page numbered, nor are the first pages of each chapter.  So while page two is the second page of Chapter One, it’s not the true second page of the book.  And there’s no (marked) page one.

Much like the first time I formatted my first book for ereaders, the exercise made me want to curl up in the fetal position and rock back and forth.  But I got through it, and still came out alive on the other side.

The second book didn’t go as well for me, though the total formatting time was less than the first.  This is because I went without the assistance of webpages and blogs.  Instead, I referred back to what I’d already done with my first book and attempted to recreate it.  Just when I thought that I’d gotten it right, a quick check through the interior viewer would confirm that Chapter Such and Such still began on page 204, and I really didn’t have a good concept of what I was doing.  I tried to be all ninja like with Odd Numbered Section Breaks, but for whatever reason they didn’t seem to stick.  Ever.  But after much yelling at my computer and much uploading to CreateSpace, I got it done all in one night.

The next night, I came back for Book Three.  And to potentially get my ass handed to me yet again.  That’s when the magic happened.  I didn’t refer to anything.  No blogs, no websites, no Book One or Two.  I put in my earbuds and just went to town on the thing.  I didn’t think about formatting.  It all came naturally.  I did sing (loudly) through three complete Parabelle albums, which usually drives my girls nuts, but since this was infinitely better than me screaming at my computer, they didn’t say one word.

Which led me to believe that I do my best formatting when I’m not thinking about formatting at all.  It also led me to question whether I could make any money doing it for other people.  After all, CreateSpace’s packages start at $199.  I think that price includes a bit more expertise than I could provide (and undoubtedly less cursing), but still.  They’ll also happily do your Kindle version for something like $80.  That’s a lot of money that some people are willing to shell out for a couple nights’ worth of work.  Even if I charged half that, it’s still a nice little chunk of change.

Then I remembered that I am super anal retentive.  No joke, my rough drafts – ever since the first book – are all fully formatted for ebook consumption.  I write them that way so once I’m happy with the edited version I can just slap on the copyright, front matter, back stuff and be done with it.  I couldn’t deal with someone else’s files handed to me every which way.   So there goes that career path.

But at least I know when I’m ready to print Book Four that it’s not a daunting task ahead of me.   And I can be glad that I will never, ever, have to do three paperbacks at once again.

Designed Bonus Content – Wedding Day

I’ve been sitting on this bonus content for quite awhile.  However, in honor of Labor Day and not working, I thought it would be appropriate.  After all, Eric and Lauren didn’t exactly work, either.

There’s a couple minor spoilers in here for those of you who haven’t read “Designed” yet.  I don’t feel too badly about revealing that, yes, Lauren and Matthew get married in this book because that part was already pretty obvious at the end of Book Two.  This leaves what I consider spoilers to be a.) Blake and Eric make a bit of a scene at the wedding (unbeknownst to either her brother or new sister-in-law), and b.) what Eric sees at the very end of this content.

That being said, enjoy!

Wedding Day

An Open Letter

I’ve written about piracy before.  I even came up with a catchy title for my first post on the subject, written shortly after I discovered that my first book was available for illegal download on a handful of websites.  And those are the ones I know about.  I won’t repeat myself, but if you’re curious, you can read my original thoughts here:

Yar, I Smell a Pirate

The fact that my book appears on these sites doesn’t keep me up at night.  I view it as free publicity and move on.  In retrospect, it’s not really any different than me offering my first book for free via coupon code to anyone who cares enough to download it, which I’ve already done on several occasions.  It’s just a really extended promotion.

Even so, I’ve attempted to prevent the rest of my books from ending up on those same sites.  As far as I can tell, I’ve been successful.  How so?  I’ve not offered them for free publicly.  Those who have gotten free copies from me haven’t posted them on torrent sites.  For what it’s worth, those that have paid for them haven’t posted them, either.

But if you search for my second and third book on Google and page far enough down in the results, you will find that they have been requested on torrent sites.  By name.  Sometimes with links to their Goodreads pages.

That’s kind of flattering.

And it got me thinking.  If someone wants to read my books so badly that they specifically request them by name on a torrent site, isn’t that exactly the kind of person that I want reading them?  Aren’t those the type of readers that could potentially be some of my biggest fans?  The people that are searching out my book and posting about wanting a pirated copy would probably actually read it if they got a hold of one.

Now, my books aren’t expensive.  I price them at $2.99.  And though a voice in the back of my head tells me that if someone wanted to read them that much, they’d just plunk down three bucks to do it, I also realize that not everyone comes from the same background or lifestyle that I do.  I’m lucky enough that I can pick up a new book without giving a second thought to the purchase.  Not everyone is. Trust me, I’ve dealt with job loss before and know that it can be a struggle to come up with money for necessities, let alone funds for frivolous purchases like romance novels.

So that led me to this thought…

What if those people that posted on the torrent sites about wanting to read my second and third books had instead searched me out and contacted me?

That’s easy.

I would have given them a coupon code and told them to have at it for free.  Then asked nicely for an honest review when they were done.  Then continued asking very nicely for them to tell everyone they knew about it, especially if they thought it was good.  But even if they hated it (because any word of mouth is free publicity, and some people search out things that get bad reviews).

In this world of giveaways and contests, some people are so desensitized to getting things for free that they sometimes forget that they’ve won anything.  Maybe they win so much that they can’t keep track of it all.  Case in point:  the last three book giveaways I’ve done, each time I’ve had at least one person not redeem their codes.  I know this because I track them.

I’d much rather give something away to someone who genuinely wanted and appreciated it.

So here’s my open letter for those who, for whatever reason, feel that the only way they will ever read one of my books is if it’s available on a torrent site.  Instead of asking strangers for an illegal copy, send me a quick message on Twitter, Facebook, or here.  If you’re sincere (and as a mom, I have a pretty keen BS meter), you’ll likely get what you ask for.

 

 

Double Standard

I write fiction, but it’s fairly realistic.  I tackle some pretty serious subject matters in between the snarkiness.  My characters have gone through some deep stuff:  death, disownment, financial crises, drug and alcohol abuse, legal issues, you get the idea.  I can’t even openly discuss one of the major plot points in my new release without giving away a huge secret – or potentially crying – so we’ll just focus on something innocent and non-controversial.

Let’s talk about sex.

Specifically, the double standard that exists in regards to men and women even in a fictional setting.  It’s perfectly okay for a guy to be a player, but when a lady does the same, she’s labeled something not so nice.

I’m a contemporary romance author.  Sex plays a part in my books – I won’t lie.  And while it’s not uncommon to have a heartbreaker type alpha male as the lead, a woman filling that role is a bit harder to find.  So I wrote one.

Two of my main characters are brother and sister.  Same upbringing, same swoon-worthy attractiveness.  Same predilection for one-night stands or at least back-to-back revolving door relationships.

Not surprisingly, the readers have spoken and have deemed him “adorable” and “almost too perfect”.  I agree with them on the adorable part, but I’m biased.  And he’s nowhere close to perfect (on purpose).  Mind you, this same guy went to jail for six months, had massive issues with drugs and alcohol and slept with 36 women before finding his true love.

Conversely, his sister single-handedly dealt with his incarceration, taking care of his house and personal affairs in his absence, driving him everywhere for years when his license was suspended (twice), all while earning a college degree and starting her own business.  She has a one-night stand vice, however.  Though her number isn’t revealed, she does state that 37 is “child’s play”, so it’s more.  By quite a few.  What have I heard about her?  She’s “selfish”.  Never mind that she’s still in love with the person to whom she gave her virginity (and he with her).

And this is from an audience who is largely female.  My male readers haven’t chimed into the discussion yet.  Maybe they’ll think she’s cool as hell.

By the end of the story, most everyone warms up to her.  But by then, she’s turned her back on picking up people at bars and giving out fake names.  It is a love story, after all.

I’m not surprised by the general consensus.  Society has raised us to believe that men are attractive when they have notches on their bedpost.  We like the bad boy, all while pretending we’re the good girls.  Guys openly brag about their conquests, while some women feel ashamed if they’ve had previous relations before finding “the one”.  But let’s think about it.  If guys are running around conquesting all over the place, there has to be a female population participating.

I guess they’re just quiet about it.

So what are your thoughts?  Are alpha females attractive, too?  Or is there a stigma attached that can’t be overcome?

 

 

 

Lessons Learned

I don’t pretend to know everything about self-publishing.  Lots of times I can string together sentences that sound impressive, but I’m still learning.  As most of you know, my third novel was recently released and I experimented with this a bit.  Being through two release days already, I had a general idea of what was good (almost nothing about how I released #1) and some things that I wanted to tweak.

So here  goes – my list of what I learned this time, in no particular order:

1.  Releasing on the same day that Kindle Unlimited goes live is a real buzz killer on Amazon if your book isn’t part of the program.  Had Amazon consulted me prior to making the big announcement, I would have politely told them that July 18th was already spoken for.  Since they didn’t, I was pretty much hosed by everyone trying out their shiny new subscription for 30 days free.  I have yet to sell a single copy on Amazon.

2.  Fortunately, iBooks stepped up for me in a big way.  Since July 18th alone, I have sold over three times the number of books on iBooks as I did there for the entire year of 2013.  Sales there have now bested what I’ve done on Amazon so far this year.  This makes me very happy, and proves my point that I’ve made the right decision (for me) to be available through as many outlets as possible.

3.  I’m not sold on the idea of a Friday release day.  I did it once, just to see if I could gain traction by releasing on a day not chosen by traditionally pubbed authors.  Even most self-pubbed authors still release on Tuesdays, just because it’s ingrained in our heads.  Maybe it’s the trickle-down effect of KU as well, but my release day sales for Book 3 were much less than they were for Book 2.   At this moment, I’m pretty much in the same boat sales wise as I was at the same point with copies of #2.  Looks like Book 4 will be back to a Tuesday release day; I didn’t hurt anything by trying.

4.  Preorders are still useful, even if no one did.  With only three books out, I haven’t developed a rabid fan base yet.  It will happen.  But the value of having a set date for your novel to go live is priceless.  That and having your links for everywhere else but Amazon well in advance to post on your website, send to bloggers, etc.  No one noticed that my book was live on Amazon a full 10 days before release day so that I could prepare for the big event, but I was pretty coy about that fact.

5.  When writing a series like mine, even if your book is technically able to be read as a stand alone, people appreciate it a whole lot more if they’ve read the others first.  I never really doubted that.  The majority of the reviews that I’ve gotten from people who’ve admittedly not read the first two are definitely not as glowing as the ones from those who’ve been along for the complete ride.  Mind you, these stand alone reviews still aren’t bad.  Even with a bit of quick recap, it’s impossible to make up for two hundred thousand plus words of character development.  Especially when my characters’ lives are as intertwined as they are, and by design the next book in the series always picks up right where the previous one left off.

6.  We’re trained to believe that reviews sell books.  I agree that reviews are important and I’m working hard to get more for Book 3 than any other previous novel.  However, I have reviews on Amazon and no sales.  I have sales on iBooks and absolutely no reviews there for any of my three books.  Yes, I’ve got Goodreads and B&N reviews as well, not to mention people posting them to their personal blogs, Facebook and Twitter.  But either people on iBooks are buying blindly, or they’re reading the reviews elsewhere and then picking up a copy from Apple.  I’m not sure.

7.  I thought that price always moved books, but I’ve found preference does.  I made it very clear through all of my channels that the first book in my series was free all July and book two was half price during that same period over at Smashwords.  I didn’t expect to get any full priced sales on either one throughout July.  But I did, because people bought from the vendor that they felt comfortable with.  And that is what is beautiful about distributing everywhere  – the freedom for your readers to choose who they give their money to.

8.  I don’t want people to like my books because I give them trinkets.  Sure, I’ll give out free copies of my new release – even before you can buy it – in order to hopefully draw some buzz.  I’ll even give out the entire series for free so people will read it as intended.  That’s been more successful for me, and possibly more appreciated – judging from some emails I’ve received – than my attempts at giving out Amazon gift cards.  It also pisses off my husband a lot less.  But I don’t think I’ll ever give out bookmarks, t-shirts, keychains or the like to advertise my stuff.  I know lots of authors do, but I’m not convinced that buying someone’s affection really helps the bottom line.  Writing an awesome book does.  I can do that for free.

9.  It’s time for me to consider putting my books in print for a very limited run.  This was the first time anyone, ever, has asked me if I have a book signing planned soon.  She lives in Indiana, so I think if I did, she might actually come to it.  Our local library holds an author event every fall and I’m considering ordering a few paperbacks of each book and signing up for it.  Then begging my Facebook fans who live close enough to me to come to it so I don’t look like a complete loser.

10.  This writing thing is far more fun than I ever imagined.  I always say that my next book will be the best one.  Even though I’m very proud of what I’ve already accomplished, I’m not about to stop now.

 

Designed Bonus Content – Rot in Hell

Ah, Chapter Seventeen.  If you’ve been trolling this blog long enough, you know that this was the most difficult chapter in the whole of my new release for me to write.  This particular section of the book is where Blake is revealing her big secret to the readers, but not yet to anyone else.  Technically, the news broke in the previous chapter, but this is where she deals with the aftermath.  To be honest with you, I sobbed while writing it and there are still phrases in there that make me cry.  So I skip them, because I know what happens.

But it also contains the scene that I’ve been dying to write for Blake and Chris ever since Book One.  It’s been alluded to several times, when Blake softens slightly and gives Lauren a bit of a glimpse into her ill-fated relationship.  Yes, it’s the breakup scene, where Blake infamously tells her ex to “rot in hell”.

In  Designed,  of course, the scene is written from Blake’s point of view.  This being such a pivotal moment in their history, I always wondered how Chris saw things.  How would you feel if you were completely unaware of what was truly going on underneath the surface?  It kind of makes me feel sorry for him.

Ten years is an awfully long time to keep a secret like this.  On 7/18/14, Blake finally comes clean…

Rot in Hell

Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Designed

It’s time for one of my favorite posts to do in regards to my new releases – the trivia post.  Here I get to divulge some secrets that I’ve wanted to share with my readers, from the Intoxicated superfan to the new convert, over the course of writing the book.

1.  I forgot how old Blake was.  Well, not really.  I’d always intended her to be the same age as Lauren, which is three years younger than Matthew and Chris.  I even mentioned this in Book One, where in the scene when Blake chastises Lauren regarding driving the Mustang.  When Lauren counters that Blake has probably driven it, too, Blake’s response is something along the line of “That’s different.  We’re practically the same person born three years apart.”  However, in the backstory, everything I’d written (and already published) stated that Blake was only two years behind Matthew and Chris in school.  Oops.  So I fixed it on the back end with the explanation that she’d skipped a grade in elementary school.  I figured that someone, somewhere would notice that – and now everyone will, because I just told you.

2.  Blake’s round bed is inspired by a local commercial I saw in my childhood.  I can’t remember what store it was for, but it was a place that made custom designed mattresses.  They flashed pictures of some of their work and one of the images was of a round mattress.  I’d always thought that was intriguing and wondered who in the world would sleep on a round bed.  The answer was clear when I created my favorite interior designer:  Blake would.

3.  The stairwell in my home is where I got the idea for The Bubble Room.    Don’t believe it?  Judge for yourself.

new camera 015

4.  The poem in the front of the book is another oldie but goodie.  This was written twenty years ago, during my junior year of high school.  Admitting that makes me feel really old.  One of our projects was a poetry notebook and this was part of it.  I have no idea where that assignment is now, but those words – like “Betrayal” from Book Two – have been emblazoned in my head ever since.

5.  The concept for Book Three was something that I had to talk myself into doing.  I knew that there was so much untapped story between Blake and Chris available, but I was initially scared to write it, fearing that I’d make Blake’s voice sound too much like Lauren’s.  Lauren wasn’t the right choice for the narrator of this one, obviously, and I had to step back from Book One and Two in order to rid myself of her optimistic/wanting to make things perfect/overthinking self.

6.  In the same light, I was also leery of doing too many flashbacks.  Modern wisdom says to “show, don’t tell” and the only way I could truly do justice to Blake’s story was to take us back there.  After all, there were all kinds of unanswered questions from Books One and Two regarding Matthew’s past.  Blake would have been a part of all that.  Plus, it’s a little hard to root for two people to get back together when you’ve never actually been exposed to them being in a relationship.  And I was so psyched to actually write the “Rot in Hell” moment that has been alluded to for so long.

7.  Blake’s nose piercing is based on my own experiences.  If you recall, Lauren is mesmerized by the nose ring in the first book.  I’ve found this to be a conversation starter in real life as well.  The uninitiated ask things such as “How do you blow your nose?” and “What happens when you get a cold?”  The answers aren’t really exciting, because most of the time I forget it’s even there.  But in Book One, Blake plays with it quite a bit, pushing it back into place from time to time as the stud migrates out of her nostril.  My first one did that a lot, so I kind of thought that was common.  After a couple of traumatic incidents (and it coming out when I was asleep and it growing shut overnight) I discontinued that look.  About a year later, I had it redone.  Guess what?  Even though I had it done in almost exactly the same spot, it stays put and I haven’t had any issues with it.  Hence it being a nonissue for Blake as well.  Maybe she got a different diamond stud; I don’t know.

8.  Yes, Blake and Chris have their own song, but I don’t have any idea what it is.  I’ll leave that one open for interpretation.  If we’re basing things on this happening in current times, it would have to be something that’s at least thirteen or fourteen years old, maybe older.  Suggestions?

9.  Hoodies have become the unofficial symbol in the series for depression.  My favorite line in Book Two, uttered by Gracie, sums it all up:  “No wonder you’re depressed.  These clothes are making me sad, too.”  I’ve carried on the tradition in Book Three, with Blake donning the ever present hoodie during a time of turmoil.  The funny thing is that most of the book was written while I was wearing – you guessed it – various hoodies.  And I wouldn’t exactly call myself depressed.

10.  Sadie’s birthday is on my wedding anniversary.  Who’s Sadie?  Guess you’ll just have to read to find out!

 

 

Waking Up Intoxicated

facebook party.3

You know it’s a cold day in hell when I reactivate my Facebook account.  But reactivate it I did, just so I could take part in this event put on by my friends at The Book Enthusiast.  If you’re not aware, they have done an awesome job promoting all three of my books so I jumped at the chance to join in the fun here.

All week, indie authors are going to be taking turns hosting the party.  Think of it as a chance to interact with some of your favorite authors and find new writers to fawn over as well.  Anything goes while we’re hosting, so expect plenty of conversation, teasers, excerpts, trivia and maybe a flash giveaway or two.  There will also be an official, week long Rafflecopter giveaway with several of the authors (myself included) participating.

My hosting gig is on June 18th from 7 – 8 am EST.  Hence the “Waking Up Intoxicated” pun.  I can’t help myself.  I’ll be yawning at the keyboard before I go into work, so stop by and join me for some conversation.

What am I planning?  Well, depending on if people set their alarms or not, a whole lot of gossip on our favorite characters.  If I get a good response from local fans, I may play a little game to see if readers can guess where in Fort Wayne certain things take place.  I’m also going to post the “Rot in Hell” bonus scene and possibly my Designed Top Ten list.  And who knows – maybe I’ll have some copies of Designed ready to give away.

I’d love it if you’d join me – here’s the link to where the party takes place:

https://www.facebook.com/events/1431375377132150/

Hope to see you there!