THE VOICES UPSTAIRS…coming Dec 1st

This post is an all-in-one because it’s a weird year and I’m doing things all backwards and releasing things at strange times. So, anyway, this is The Voices Upstairs cover reveal and release date announcement all rolled into one. This is an upper-middle-grade supernatural mystery (the target audience is more suited for 11-13 year olds to be exact) and will be released on December 1st on all platforms in e-book and paperback. I was right in the middle of recording and editing the audiobook when my eyes gave out of me, so, unfortunately, I won’t be completing it, which is sad because I was having loads of fun recording it. Links for all my books are right here. Click me.

Fourteen-year-old Jason Myers thinks he’s a hero for taking down the school bully. So he got suspended. What’s the big deal? It’s a week off from school, right? But Jason’s little vacation quickly turns into a week-long stay with his grandmother to keep him out of trouble. With no freedom, no cell phone, no video games, and a house that reeks of cat pee, life can’t get any worse for Jason.

…until the dead start talking. 

Now Jason has bigger things to worry about. What do the ghostly voices coming from upstairs in his grandmother’s house want with him? As Jason searches for answers, he learns the house holds a dark family secret and that some will do anything to keep that secret buried in the past.

DOLL PARTS…coming November 5th

DOLL PARTS :
a slightly demented and
somewhat humorous short story

Lonely Thomas Wharton is searching for the perfect girl. Except she doesn’t exist. Yet. But with a collection of dolls and a satanic ritual, he’s about to change all that. What could possibly go wrong? Well, it turns out, everything.

____________________________________

I love this story. If there’s any one book of mine that truly captures my sense of humor, it is this one. This is a re-release but the story has been revised and expanded and has a proper ending this time. When I wrote it years ago, I have every intention of releasing it as a five part serial, but I learned quickly that short serials make a lot of people angry, especially ending books on a cliffhanger. By then, I was so burnt out on writing and publishing that I scrapped it altogether. But because I loved this book so much, I brushed it off and fixed it.

Update

Captain Obvious: It’s been a trying year.

It has for everyone. I had plans to do more marketing for upcoming book releases and was right in the middle of recording and editing the audio book for a middle-grade book coming out in December, but my eyes so nuh-uh. I’ve been dealing with severe eye strain and neck pain so I’m taking a break from a lot of things, especially anything voice over related. I’m getting better, but my health is priority number one.

Stay tuned. I’ll be releasing a short story in November and a middle-grade novel in December. Dates to be determined.

THE GOOD DAUGHTER is available for PRE-ORDER

I’m happy to share with you that THE GOOD DAUGHTER is now available for pre-order in e-book for the special pre-order price of $0.99. Get it now at this low price. Regular price of $4.99 resumes on release which is October 6, 2020 where it will be available in e-book, paperback, and audio. I’m so excited to get this book back out into the world. Links listed below.

At seventeen, Christa Pierce has the perfect life. She’s rich, pretty, the smartest in her senior class, and a star of the high school cross-country team. She has everything. She is everything. A winner.

But it’s all a lie.

The pretty face is a mask she wears to hide family secrets that shine like bruises. A disguise to cover what her father’s cruelty has stolen from her, including the mother she never knew.

Now Christa is ready to break free from the prison of her so-called perfect life and destroy the man who keeps her in line with the back of his hand. Revenge is a mind-game played dark and twisted. Friends are pawns. Right and wrong gets blurred. But just how far is Christa willing to go to win at this game?

You can read the first chapter here.

Amazon: US | UK | CA | AU | Barnes & Noble | Apple | Rakuten

The Good Daughter — cover reveal and release date!

THE GOOD DAUGHTER

Revenge is a game good girls play

coming October 6th in ebook, paperback, and audio. Pre-order will be available.

At seventeen, Christa Pierce has the perfect life. She’s rich, pretty, the smartest in her senior class, and a star of the high school cross-country team. She has everything. She is everything. A winner.

But it’s all a lie.

The pretty face is a mask she wears to hide family secrets that shine like bruises. A disguise to cover what her father’s cruelty has stolen from her, including the mother she never knew.

Now Christa is ready to break free from the prison of her so-called perfect life and destroy the man who keeps her in line with the back of his hand. Revenge is a mind-game played dark and twisted. Friends are pawns. Right and wrong gets blurred. But just how far is Christa willing to go to win at this game?

Cozy? Or Brozy?

Full disclosure: I have long felt uncomfortable about my Ricki Rydell mystery series. I wanted to get into writing a mystery series but didn’t fully embrace hard-boiled, procedural mysteries, yet cozy mysteries weren’t really my thing either. So I settled on what I thought was cozy. But not really?

Cozy mysteries have certain genre tropes that are beloved by readers of the genre. TV Tropes has a good explanation of what those are. I have a few of those tropes: female, amateur sleuth, her dog, small town, with a light mystery, but I also know I’m not hitting all the tropes and have a desire to move away from the constraints of the sub-genre. For one, Ricki is still young (30) and single (recovering from a broken heart), she’s a self-deprecating introvert who really can’t be bothered with other humans, a burnt-out romance writer, Becca, her best friend and sidekick, is a metal head, and although she has a dog, Rumpus doesn’t help her solve mysteries. The small town has a very definite seedy side. I write about infidelity, scandal, abuse, revenge, and although the mysteries are light, I really want to move into darker territory. There’s also a lot of humor. Not that cozies don’t have these elements, but most of them don’t (at least the ones I’ve read). I also feel, personal writing thing here, that my author voice is a little on the younger / juvenile side which could be because I started out writing for kids. To be honest, I can see, and would like to see, young adults reading those books.

That said, I went searching for “edgy cozy mystery book covers” to see if that was a thing. It turns out, it is, and it’s something called Brozy Mysteries. Now, Brozy sounds like a dude-bro name, but it is not. At all. Brozy simply means broader cozy, meaning it expands on the genre (setting, occupation, etc) while still delivering a clean, light mystery. No fluff. Which is how I view my Ricki books. They’re light and clean, sure, but there’s nothing fluffy or genteel about Ricki and her family, her friend Becca, or her hometown. Even Rumpus licks his balls out in the open. No shame. You can read about Brozy Mysteries here.

I’m about to release a young adult psychological thriller (announcement of release date coming soon) which has me thinking about the direction I’m going in professionally. Although this is a long post for another day, I’ll simply say that I’ve been on this roller coaster ride called self-publishing long enough to know that I want off and will be doing what I think is right for my future. If I want to keep on writing more Ricki Rydell mysteries, I need to follow my heart, and my heart says Brozy. I’ll be rebranding the covers and categories to reflect those changes and the target audience for who those books are appropriate. I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m bashing the cozy mystery genre because I’m not. Cozies are fun to read and to write. Truth is, I failed at hitting the genre tropes that readers love, and it’s too late to change that. Why not ride with it, then?

My Books are on Amazon

A lot of things have changed on Amazon’s storefront for Indie writers. One of the biggest is advertising. In short, Amazon has become a sort of pay-to-play site — if you want visibility on your books, you need to buy advertising. I’m getting ready to release another book, and I’ve been thinking about what that means for this book on the biggest digital store. I don’t know. But my books are there. You won’t see them on any lists. So readers have to either search me out by name or by direct link. So here are the links:

CHECKED OUT: a Ricki Rydell mystery: US, CA, UK, AU

WAKE UP TO MURDER: a Ricki Rydell mystery: US, CA, UK, AU

THERE I AM IN PIECES AGAIN (poetry): US | UK | CA | AU

My Advice to New Writers

Doling out writing / career advice is not something I normally do. No matter how long I’ve been at this game (almost 20 years) and how much success I’ve had (hint: none), I don’t feel comfortable opening my mouth about choices others should make on their journey because I don’t feel qualified. But I guess there is one area where I do feel comfortable. Maybe it’s age. Maybe it’s experience. Maybe it’s jaded cynicism. Maybe it’s because I care. And I do care.

I remember what it was like when I started writing with an eye toward getting traditionally published. The Internet was just starting to take off and there weren’t a lot of resources available for writers to research and vet the people giving out information. Scams still existed and people still fell for them, but technology has changed a lot in the last twenty plus years. More importantly, technology has changed us.

A lot of you might not have had that before and after experience because you were born on the cusp of it and grew up with technology and social media in your face all the time. Now we have YouTube and Instagram and whatever where a creative can attract a following and grow a business—building a brand, if you will. That is great. I’m not bashing it. I know it’s taking me time to get to where I’m going with this, but I want you to know where I’m coming from and that I’m not coming down on anyone specifically. I am speaking in general terms here. No shade. So here goes:

BE CAREFUL WHO YOU GET ADVICE FROM AND WHO YOU GIVE YOUR MONEY TO!

Over the past few years within the writing community, especially since self-publishing took off, I’ve seen a lot of folks setting themselves up as founts of knowledge, ready to help you on your journey to writing success. There’s one big problem with these people, and this is what steams my buns, and that is they don’t really have the experience (time put in to actually writing, finishing, editing, and publishing a book or several), sales to show that they can write a marketable book that attracts and keeps readers, marketing skills to grow a sustainable career, or a background that gives them the knowledge and skills to dispense solid advice.

Because this is what I’ve been seeing in the writing community (more specifically, the self-publishing/indie community):

  1. Inexperienced writers who haven’t even finished their first book giving writing advice.

  2. Inexperienced writers who have started a few books but haven’t published anything, giving advice on how to succeed at publishing.

  3. Somewhat experienced writers who have put the time and words in, who haven’t been vetted by the reading public, telling you how to write, edit, or market your book.

  4. Experienced writers, claiming they have credentials when in fact the truth is only a mustard seed covered with a heap of manure.

I’ll admit my opinions are strong and very black and white about this, but this isn’t about my opinion. It’s about teaching newbies how to spot someone who doesn’t have your best interest at heart, because the theory of writing a book, of polishing a book, and of publishing a book is one thing; the execution of it is another. After you’ve done it a few times, you’ll see how vastly different these things are.

Anyone can start a YouTube channel and blog about how to write a story. There’s nothing wrong with any of that; however, there are some out there who are probably at the same point as you are in your writing career: they’re just starting out, haven’t written much, still learning about craft (plot, structure, narrative, pov, etc.), and generally haven’t put enough time and work in to convey the nuances of writing fiction effectively. Anyone can find general writing advice on the web. Most of the folks out there giving advice (traditional or self-pub) are giving general writing advice that you can find on your own with a simple Google search.

So here are a few tips to help you sort through those who really are paying it forward and those who are exploiting your eagerness and inexperience:

If a person has a YT channel or website giving writing or publishing advice, ask yourself these questions:

Have they finished any books? If not, why would you go to them for help? If you’re looking for a buddy to commiserate with while on your writing journey, there’s nothing wrong with that. Writers need other writers. This ish ain’t easy. But is it really wise to get craft advice from someone who’s at the same level as you? If they’re asking for money on their Patreon, don’t give it to them. Set up one for yourself if it’s all that. MONEY FLOWS TOWARD THE WRITER.

Do they have any books published? Maybe they’ve finished a few drafts but haven’t published yet. Why would you seek publishing advice from them? They don’t know any more than you.

If they have books published, how are their sales? You can check this, you know. https://kindlepreneur.com/amazon-kdp-sales-rank-calculator/ This is a bit old school, but it will give a ball park idea of how many books per day an author is selling. If an author’s overall ranking in the Amazon store is say 300,000, they’re selling less than a book a day. This author is not a bestseller. If any author is claiming best seller status, check their rank on all sites, not just the major one. Here’s a general hint: If an author’s ranking in the store is in the five-digit range, they’re not a best seller. If they’re ranking is under say #100 in their chosen categories, it means they’re writing for a niche (small) category and might be a best seller in that category, but if the market has 2,000 readers, that’s hardly best seller status overall. Anyway, maybe not go to this person for marketing advice. Others have explained this better, Chris Fox being one of them. Check his videos out on writing to market.

Does this author have the background or education or experience of some sort that gives them credibility? In this day and age, a lot of people are setting themselves up as gurus who are all too eager to exploit you and separate you from your money. Anyone can say they’re an editor. Anyone can say they used to teach writing. Anyone can say they were a literary agent. Anyone can say just about anything. For the most part, we believe them. I was a sucker once, taking outdated publishing advice from someone who thought his way was the right way. Well, it was. For him…twenty years ago. Despite the technology, we can’t always check on someone’s background. Well, you can, I guess, but you have to dig and dig and maybe use the Wayback Machine http://web.archive.org/ . Don’t be afraid to learn the truth about your heroes. If they are legit, they’ll withstand your scrutiny.

Is this person saying there’s only one way (their way) to do things? If so, just run. Go. There is no one true way when it comes to writing. There’s no one true way when it comes to anything.

This post is getting too long, so I’m going to cut it off here. All writers, even experienced ones, are looking for a magic bullet to make this gig easier. I hate to break it to you but it doesn’t exist.

There’s only this: Study your craft from the best people (I heard Master Class is pretty good) and from the best books. Read in your chosen genre but also read widely. Write. Put the words down. Seek beta readers or critique partners who know their stuff. You have to put the work in. I wish I could say you’ll find some sense of comfort in the knowledge you gain, but to be honest, this is the only creative endeavor I’ve ever done where every effort feels like the first time. Surround yourself with good people who aren’t trying to use you to build their platform. Vet people. Ask questions. Research. You’ll get there. I’m tired of seeing newbie writers being taken advantage of, and I hope this helps in some way.

P.S. This also goes for taking advice from message boards. Sometimes those places can be toxic. Let me know if you want to hear my story.