Friday, November 23, 2012

Happenstance by Valerie Haight

Valerie Haight, one of the most beautiful women I know, stopped by to talk about her new book Happenstance, scheduled for release just before Christmas. Hello, Valerie!

Thank you Kelly, you rockin red-head you, for letting me brag and lollygag here today! (Yes, I lollygag EVERY chance I get.) I’m so excited to be a guest for your awesome blog and thrilled beyond words to be in such great company. Not only do I have a full belly and heart from Thanksgiving, but December’s right around the corner! That means my first release is almost here and I can’t wait to tell everyone about it.

Happenstance is my debut novella available through Turquoise Morning Press and will be released December 23, 2012! I wrote this story based on a corporate setting using some of the relationship conflict I witness on a day-to-day basis. I’m an administrative assistant in a corporate setting…Okay, a gopher. So I get to see a lot of Peyton Place happenings and file them in my scheming brain. I’ve got loads of ideas up there to peruse for more novels but today, let’s talk Happenstance!

Taryn Ballard is happily married and a newly appointed analyst for a prestigious shipping company.  Her career upsurges in record time but she’s about to discover the real price of corporate life.
While on yet another business trip, Taryn suffers a brutal attack by a carjacker. Her husband isn’t there, but her co-worker Devin is.  The accidental bond Taryn and Devin share pitches them into dangerous and confusing territory. Taryn struggles to discern both her feelings for her sexy protector and Wade's reaction to it all. Unfamiliar emotions blur the rules of the game and Wade's ready to quit.
Taryn must rise above disaster to save her marriage. But is she ready to let go of the man who saved her life? In a single moment, Happenstance changes everything.
I’d always heard I should put my MC through the wringer and that’s just what I did with Taryn. She was so much fun to write because I could really play havoc on both Devin’s and Wade’s feelings without harboring guilt myself! Yes, I’m awful. J My favorite two genres are suspense and romance so I couldn’t help mixing the two. Here’s a snippet to give you the feel of the book:

“Devin, it’s Taryn. You were right. The execs want me to meet them for dinner and I feel really foolish because I have a GPS and a connect-the-dot map from the concierge and I’m still lost.”
Devin laughed. “Not a problem. Where are you?”
Taryn took a second to locate the green street sign. “At the corner of First and Third at a tiny, ancient-looking convenience store.”
“Oh, I know the one. You’re right next to us. I could probably see you from the tower window. Okay, which restaurant are you looking for?”
Taryn gabbed the hand-drawn map. “Caminas.”
“I know where it is. Actually, it might be faster by freeway.”
“Of course it would. I just came from—”
An unexpected rush of damp, hot air hit her and Taryn turned, confused to see her door open wide. She sucked in a quick breath and saw too late the arm reaching for her. Terror gripped her as she zeroed in on the gun in her face.

I had so much fun writing this story. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do! You can purchase Happenstance here on December 23rd!

Tweet with me @Valeriebrbr, follow me on  Facebook or find out the latest on my Author Page about my upcoming short story Magnolia Brides in a wedding anthology out in June!

THANKS, Valerie! Can't wait to read it...

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Writers On The Inside

There are a lot of things about myself that I don't normally share. All of my experiences have made me who I am today: the good, the bad and the ugly and I try to embrace them, or at least accept them, for what they are.  I make no excuses, I alone am/was responsible, but sometimes it's easier to tuck things away and just let them live in the past. Recently, I was told about a writing project at a juvenile detention center that hit at my very core, and in order to effectively explain why I am trying to support the project, I have to reveal a few things about myself. For the kids in the program, this is more for you than anyone else.

I was one of those teenagers that could easily be described as a parent's worst nightmare. I ran away from home twice and ended up in a juvenile facility at the age of sixteen after being shot in the head while doing something I shouldn't have been doing. Sure, surviving being shot should have been my first clue that it was time to straighten up, but, you know, hard heads are difficult to soften.

So I'm in the facility, my mother made it clear I was not welcome home if I ever got out, my Dad lived a thousand miles away. It's a hard place for a teenager, even a tough one.

We were allowed one book to read, the Bible, and I read it three times from cover to cover, the first time because I had nothing else to do, the second and third times because I liked the stories. Other than that, our only outlet was ping-pong. Not much of an outlet.

When I saw this particular project, I almost cried. Oh, how I would have loved to have had the opportunity to write while I was there. To share some of the stories running around in my mind, the true ones and the fiction. I like to think had I had someone that would have encouraged me to write at a younger age, things would have been different for me. But I didn't. You do.

Know that there are a lot of us that understand where you are and where you are coming from. We can't do much more than encourage you, but if you are anything like I was, that may be all it takes. Please keep writing, and if writing isn't your thing, try something else as an outlet: music, art, science. But find that way to express yourself that doesn't destroy you. Because no-one can do it but you.

After I got out of the facility I was in, no, I wasn't smart enough to turn everything around. I went right back to it and it took a second brush with death to finally open my eyes. I eventually moved in with my Dad and finished high school, which at the time, was something I never thought I would do.  I went to college, and now have two Masters Degrees under my belt. It wasn't easy, nothing ever is, but I finally realized I was the only one that could change me. So I did it. (And just so you know, getting a Masters degree is about two hundred times easier than living on the street).

So keep writing the stories, I'm enjoying them and I know others are as well. We may not always comment, but we are out there, and every story is meaningful because it comes from you.

And remember, nothing worth it is easy.

Please visit and support these young writers. Bookmark it and check back frequently.    

 Writers on the Inside is the place where children who are currently being held in a maximum security facility can empower themselves through the publication of their stories, essays, poems, and art. The youth in the facility are locked up for various crimes and are awaiting transport to a sentencing facility. All youth are between the ages of nine and eighteen, but all of them have a story to tell.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

KDP and PubIt and Smashwords, Oh My! by Lorca Damon

In case you haven't notice, I love Lorca Damon. Not only is she a wonderful writer, but she is also full of valuable information, which I manage to squeeze out of her quite regularly. Here's another great bit of advice/info for writers from the ever wonderful Lorca Damon:

I am a proud self-published author. I have three titles that have been listed across a variety of platforms, sometimes with mixed results. While I cannot honestly say that one ebook distribution platform is better than another, they certainly are different.

For example, Amazon is the big dog. Unless you have a moral compass that points you away from the largest ebook distributor on the planet (and some people actually have a vehement refusal to have anything to do with Amazon as a protest of its oversized corporate status), your book needs to be listed on Amazon because it’s currently where the most sales are happening.

As for the retailer’s often-criticized KDP Select platform, that’s again going to have to be your call. KDP Select makes your book eligible for Kindle Lending. I was shocked at how well this actually worked. I remember thinking, “Seriously? People are going to pay an annual membership to BORROW books?” The answer is yes, they do. As the program currently stands, the author forfeits the right to list his ebook anywhere else INCLUDING posting it for free on his own blog. The trade-off is that every time the book is borrowed, the royalty rate is sometimes six times that of a purchase (my 99cent ebook earns 35 cents each time it is bought, and it’s paid me well over $2 each time it’s borrowed). Some people take issue with the exclusivity of the KDP Select program, others see it as a means to get their book into as many hands as possible.

PubIt!, Barnes and Noble’s self-publishing ebook platform, is very simple to use and requires the slightly  more standard ePub file format. If you’re considering PubIt! or if you’re considering enrolling your book in KDP Select and keeping it out of all other platforms, think about the genre you write. NOOK devices are marketed primarily to middle-aged women. If you’re writing high fantasy or extreme sci fi with elaborate world building aimed at a mixed gender audience, missing out on the chance to list your book on PubIt! might not hurt you too much. But if you write romance, women’s fiction, chick lit, literary fiction, and the like, you may be one of the very successful self-published authors who finds more fans on Barnes and Noble’s platform than on Amazon’s.

Smashwords. The little distributor that could. People in the business like to criticize Smashwords for the insane amount of erotica and romance in the catalog, but the numbers show that romance and erotica digital authors are laughing all the way to the bank. Smashwords has a lot going for it. They will list your book in their Premium Catalog for free as long as it meets the standards of their Style Guide (and the Style Guide walks you through formatting your book, plus it’s free as a download on their website) and listing it in their catalog means they will distribute it to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Sony, Apple, and more. Once you upload the file in the correct format, they convert it MOBI, ePUB, RTF, PDF, etc. Plus, each time you attempt the upload, if it still doesn’t meet the standards, their AutoVetter program emails you with a list of what is still wrong with it. After you successfully post the manuscript, a human being is still going to quick-read through it to make sure it looks right on a screen, that it isn’t pirated, etc. More importantly, Smashwords is a tireless supporter of self-publishing and has this week announced there are more than 5 BILLION words uploaded to their catalog. They’re just great people, so unless you have a compelling reason (like KDP Select) to not list your book there, you are only hurting yourself. 

All of the platforms out there have something to bring to the table. One of my books is enrolled in KDP Select because it is a highly-specific niche genre, not intended for general public consumption; plus, I wanted it listed in the lending catalog. Another title was enrolled in KDP Select and I took it out because there’s really no great reason to keep that one exclusive. It was an experiment, but once the terms of agreement are up on that title (you are required to list your book exclusively for ninety days if you enroll it), I plan to list it on PubIt! and Smashwords. My third title, which happens to be my only novel, is on Amazon and Smashwords. The first day I posted it to Smashwords, there were 80 page views of its sales page.

Figure out which marketing strategy makes the most sense for your book. Notice I didn’t say for you as a writer, but for each and every book you write. Decide on your audience and which platform will help you reach them the most.

 Lorca Damon is a teacher in a juvenile correctional facility and staff writer for Her first non-fiction title, Autism By Hand, is an Amazon bestseller and her first fiction title, The Earth is for Dancing, was recently published as well. She is also one of the funniest people I know.  You should stalk her at

Her website:
Twitter: @LorcaDamon
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