Update on virtual book tour

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The book tour was an absolute success with over 4000 entries for the giveaway, thousands of tweets, and many positive reviews. Thank you to all who participated. Congratulations to all winners. They are as follows:

Won a PDF copy of the book:

 

James Robert

 

Dan Denman
Ally Swanson Sarah Mayer

 

Won a mobi copy of the book:

 

Pam Kinsey

 

Will Griesmer

 

Susan Stenvog

 

Traci Troutman
Emily Endrizzi

 

Joy Flynn
Nikolina

 

Christy Meyer.
Sue Stiff

 

Missy Ellis

Kathy Davis

 

Won a PDF copy of the book plus a $25 Amazon gift card:

 

Meredith Miller Rita Wray Jessica Eapen

 

Won a mobi copy of the book plus a $25 Amazon gift card:  

 

Dea Sauva Morgan Mavetz

 

Indie Authors: Step by step guide on how to place your book on pre-order months before the release

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As an Indie author, I’m constantly looking to find new ways to market my books. One thing that had bugged me for a long time is that we, Indies, are at a disadvantage when it comes to new releases. We do all we can to let our readers know that we wrote another book, which will be released soon, but we don’t have contact with all of our readers, right? In fact, Amazon is discouraging us to have ANY contact with our readers or else they would take down all reviews placed by people who “know” the author. I think that’s ridiculous, but who am I to judge?

The best way to alert readers about your upcoming release is to place it on pre-order—an option that’s not extended to Indies.

Well, that’s not true. I recently came across something that few Indie authors know—how to place your new book on pre-order months before the release.

Here is how:

  • First, you need to know that AA program works well if you’ve NOT published your book yet through CreateSpace.
  • Second, you must have your ISBN for your book. Now, here, I was a little confused because many people told me that I had to buy my own ISBN. Not true. CreateSpace (CS) provides a free ISBN. So first you go to your CS account and create your book. Conduct all the steps to approve your book. That’s where you stop because now you have your free ISBN. DO NOT approve your files.
  • Once you have your ISBN, you have to set up an Amazon Advantage (AA) account. https://advantage.amazon.com This will qualify you as a vendor. Don’t worry, it’s not complicated; if I could do it, you can too. Just follow the simple steps that will guide you from A to Z. I used my name, email, and address in all required fields. When they ask you for your banking information, if you live outside the USA, simply mark the payments made to Don’t worry about the ridiculous $15 charge they mention because you’ll only use AA for marketing purposes before release.
  • Now you have your account so go ahead and sign in.

https://advantage.amazon.com/gp/vendor/sign-in

  • At the top of the page, click on the ‘Items’ tab and a pull-down-menu will appear.
  • Click on ‘Add an Item’.
  • You’ll be asked to enter your product (book, music-pop, music classical, DVD, VHS). Pick Book Option.
  • Enter your ISBN, then continue with the steps as prompted.
  • After you have completed all the steps, you’ll want to upload the image of your book. Note that your pre-order must be live on Amazon before you can add images to it. Go to “Items>Upload images” on the AA menu and upload your book’s cover. The image must meet stringent specifications, but most importantly, the file must be named accordingly (Main). Amazon will then verify your image and in 1–2 days, your pre-order page will be updated.
  • 1-3 days before the release date you should approve your book (in your CS Control Panel after being satisfied with your proof copy) so that it gets published.
  • This is the last in the series of steps. Request (through your Amazon Advantage Control Panel by opening a support ticket) that AA stops fulfilling your orders. Tell them that CreateSpace.

 

Good luck with your book and happy selling.

Check out my new book – Resilience – that is up for pre-order.

She Never Got To Say Goodbye – Free Chapter

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Olivia covered her eyes with both hands to block the brightness around her but unsuccessful she winced and closed her eyes quickly. She tried again, this time she opened her eyes gradually allowing them to adjust to the light. It worked. She looked around taking in her surroundings. An entirely white room. Top to bottom. There appeared to be no doors or windows.
Where was she? A hospital?
No.
How did she get here? she wondered, trying to shake the foggy feeling in her head. Confused, she looked around again grabbing at frail fibers of specifics from her mind about her prior whereabouts.
Nothing. A blank, invisible veil wrapped around her brain making her feel strange.

Then she discovered the source of the brightness. A glare. It shimmered from above. Soothing. Magnificent. She had never seen anything like it so her mind found nothing to compare it with. For a moment she thought she saw human forms floating in the light. Translucent but definitely there. The light, it seemed, radiated from them. They spoke softly, mere whispers, like a mother. Were they beckoning her to join them? Then without warning they faded away and took the light with them.
Olivia blinked repeatedly to adjust to the new light… or lack of light. The house, her house, felt quite dark and still, and something seemed different about her senses. At first she couldn’t pinpoint it. Then…
My vision; what’s wrong with my vision?
She could see above as well as below all at the same time. Her vision seemed to be at three hundred and sixty degrees.
This is disturbing.
Was she dreaming? That was it. It was just a dream. She should wake up now. She could not tell if it was day or night. Closing her eyes, she willed

herself to wake up. She opened her eyes. Nope. Still the same hazy state. Was this real? It couldn’t be.

Brayden.

The name popped into her mind and an unexplained fear churned deep inside her. Almost instantaneously, she found herself standing beside Brayden’s crib. He slept peacefully.

She blew a sigh of relief.

Thank God.

She reached to tuck Brayden in, but her hands went straight through. Startled, she took a quick step back. It didn’t feel like a step; it felt more as if she floated through the air. She looked down. Her feet dangled above the ground. She did float through the air.

“What is happening to me?” she asked the stillness around her. Her words sounded hollow. What was going on? This had to be a dream, but why couldn’t she wake up? Maybe the dream wasn’t over yet. That had to be it. Okay. Okay, she would play along a little while longer.

No. It didn’t make any sense. She glided down in the rocking chair beside Brayden’s crib and tried to still her thoughts long enough to make some sense of the situation. She shivered, suddenly feeling chilled.

Pipes clanked somewhere below followed by footsteps and doggy toenails clicking on the hardwood floor. More clanking morphed into muffled voices from downstairs. Instantly, Olivia found herself looking at a multitude of people, most of them dressed in police uniforms. They went in and out of the house as if that was the most natural thing to do. Flash bulbs made lightning strikes in the setting sun. Two people—a woman and a man—both dressed in plain clothes, talked to some uniformed officers while pointing, measuring, and comparing notes.

Olivia’s parents sat on the sofa in the living room. Her mother cried uncontrollably and her father had his arm around her, comforting her while he fought back his own tears.

Outside, uniformed officers swarmed in all directions. A coroner’s van parked in front of the house stood out from the rest of the police vehicles. Olivia spotted Brandon. He sat on the curb with his legs swinging, facing traffic. Holding his face in his hands, his body shook as he sobbed. Dark red splotches covered his white shirt. The same dark red substance coated his hands and face.

Why was everyone crying?

Another lightning strike drew Olivia’s attention toward the garage. She drifted in that direction and froze. A lifeless body, which looked a lot like her, lay down in a pool of blood. Detective Libby kneeled down beside the body and looked at something, in particular, then shook her head.

“It looks like she’s been dead for hours,” she said.

Olivia looked at the body in disbelief. It was her body. She was dead?
How?

Sheer terror shook her. Even more confused, she hovered trying to compute the events leading to this moment. Still in a haze, flashbacks began to rush through her mind. She remembered her fight with Brandon… her plan to leave him in the morning. Then the scratch on her arm… Instinctively she looked at her arm. Yep, it was still there. She had walked into the garage… the intense burning sensation in the back of her head. She remembered thinking of Brayden. Begging for help… and a voice instructing her to relax. The stream of blood running down on the cement floor as her life slowly drained from her body. She remembered fading away, knowing she would never see her son again. She never got to say goodbye. Just before she had taken her final breath, her heart sunk for Brayden, for herself. She wouldn’t be there to teach him things, guide him, and see him graduating or getting married. Then everything had gone black. She was actually dead. The finding shook her as shock replaced the confusion. A sense of betrayal began to stir somewhere deep inside her soul as a burning rage hissed through like a deadly poison.

“I am dead. He’s killed me. The son-of-a-bitch has finally killed me. Damn you!” she roared.
Suddenly, she stopped her rumble. This wasn’t right. If she was dead, why was she still here? Wasn’t she supposed to move on? To heaven or something?

“Am I a ghost?” The question hung in the air like a dark shadow. She examined herself trying to find something that would prove or disprove her theory. She was still dressed in the same clothes from the night before… as was the body lying on the ground of her garage. She wasn’t glowing or translucent; she had no halo above her head. She looked normal. Well… if she did not take into account that her voice sounded hollow; or that she glided instead of walking; or that she went through doors and walls as if she were taking a walk in the park.

“Dammit! I am a ghost; nothing more than a spirit without a body.” That bit of knowledge was the first thing that somehow seemed to make sense. She swirled a few times, assessing the situation then she stopped. “He has to pay for what he’s done,” she decided calmly. Then instantly, her calm morphed into anger and resentment again. “I will make him pay!” she shrieked as she flew into a rage. Spinning around the room and around the house she knocked things down in her path.

“Close that door. The draft is messing up the evidence,” detective Libby yelled at no one in particular.
Olivia’s flight continued out the door until she reached Brandon and clutching on to her anger she beat the air with her hands into a frenzy trying to hit Brandon.

“You, son-of-a-bitch! Damn you! Damn you!” she screeched endlessly until she couldn’t anymore.
Exhausted and frustrated, she slouched beside him on the pavement. “Why? How could you do this to me? I loved you. Why couldn’t you just divorce me?” She wanted to cry, but tears didn’t come. Only an excruciating, soul-gripping pain.

Shoulders slumped, she glided back in the house. Her parents came into view again. Her mother sat on the floor still crying violently. It didn’t sound like she paused long enough to breathe. Her father had kneeled down beside her, one arm wrapped around her and the other caressing her hair in an apparent attempt to calm her.

Olivia felt her parents’ pain and wanted to somehow make it go away. Unwillingly, she perceived inside her mother’s soul and felt everything her mother felt. Torment. That was what Dana felt. A pain more agonizing than anything Olivia had ever experienced, came in waves and seared through her like a branding iron. Her mind conceding to the torment, unable to bring a thought to completion. Her only desire was to curl into a tiny, invisible ball while the pain burned and radiated.

Debbie came in the room holding Brayden in one arm and caressing the back of his head with the other, his tiny legs wrapped around her waist. Olivia approached and gently touched her son’s face. Brayden smiled as if knowing his mother was there.

“Why does Debbie’s advice make so much more sense after I screwed up?” Olivia wondered, remembering countless times when Debbie told her she deserved better.
Olivia floated back outside. This was an entirely new experience for her, one to which she knew she must become accustomed. No one seemed able to see or hear her. Instantly, she knew. She had to tell the world that her husband had killed her. That was her reason for being here. She had heard that before. Not that she believed in ghosts at that time. Now she wished she had.

“Help! Please, someone, help me!”

For a split second, she stood somewhere on a highway, waving for help. A bus driver seemed to spot her. He would stop. But… no. He just swerved around her and disappeared from her view. Then she was back at her house in her bedroom where it was quiet. Olivia stilled her thoughts. Though the events seemed crystal clear, she had to focus on finding a way to make her presence known. She had never believed in ghosts, but she had always loved movies about the paranormal. In the movies, the spirit could communicate. But that was Hollywood. This was real life… or death.

“Gah! Just kill me now,” she sneered in frustration. “Oh, wait. Somebody did. Never mind, false call,” she growled looking toward the heavens.

There were a lot of things she needed to work on in her new existence, besides making her presence known. Things like traveling. She could no longer tell time, but she knew she moved too much, too fast because she became easily disoriented.
Thinking of something allowed her to go to the source of the question. It quickly became one of Olivia’s favorite pastimes, much like dessert was a favorite at mealtime. Apparently, she just needed to learn how best to utilize her ghostly senses but a dark pressure-like sensation fogged her attempts. Something she could not describe, almost similar to how there are no words to describe colors to a blind man. Perhaps pain? Perhaps regrets for a life unlived?

My Interview With World’s Best Story

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As many of you may know, Boundaries was a finalist at World’s Best Story 2014. Check out my interview. Thank you, FastPencil and World’s Best Story for this amazing experience.

 

Q: Your story Boundaries made it to the top 10 of the 2014 edition of World’s Best Story. Did you think you were going to make it so far? How did you react when you got the news live from The Toronto International Book Fair during the live finale this past November?

Clearly, I was hoping that my book would make it or otherwise I wouldn’t have entered it. Though Boundaries had been written some time ago, it was not edited. I am usually a very realistic person and though I knew the story was compelling, I didn’t think it would make it that far because of the editing issues. Keep in mind that Boundaries was competing against books that were already published and had hundreds of reviews for crying out loud. I was very happy to see that the judges were able to look past those grammatical and other mistakes and see the story’s potential.

Q: Can you tell us a little more about the story and how you came up with such engaging characters?

Initially, Boundaries was a romantic Sci-Fi novelette (only about 17000 words,) titled Crossing Boundaries. It had sat in my drawer for about a year, but Gabriela, Landon, and Jack kept nagging, telling me that the story wasn’t finished.

Needless to say that the trio disturbed me from watching funny cat videos and interacting with my Facebook friends. But I finally gave into their demands and once I started writing it, the words kept flowing. I felt as if I was in the scenes with my characters. I immediately fell in love with Landon and though Gabriela is a little “undecided”, she is funny, prickly and terribly sarcastic. Jack comes in the picture only vaguely in the beginning, but he sure creates a lot of problems for everyone. He turns out to be the twist in the story that no one expected. I had a lot of fun writing it, and found myself laughing at their jokes and almost try to comfort them when they were sad or frustrated.

Follow the link bellow to read the full interview.

http://worldsbeststory.com/en/lounge/qa-with-ica-iova

 

Write Well

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I was always an avid reader. Long before I ever considered becoming a writer, I couldn’t understand why some stories put me there in the scene while others felt almost as if parts of the story were dry or missing or undeveloped.

Many of my readers have expressed in their reviews that my stories feel real. That the reader feels as if he/she is right there with my characters. They feel what my characters feel and see what my characters see.

Here is one example from a Goodreads group where I published a short story.

Ica: What a stunning début in WSS! I am very impressed with your skill in building the setting and keeping your reader guessing. Your characterization is delicate and also practical. Raul, Gina, and Joseph’s development was just enough to make the following events believable, but wasn’t excessive.

So what makes good writing?

Here is my humble opinion: Dialog and Description contribute equally to good writing.

Dialog: I believe it’s important for a character to talk naturally, the same way a real person would. However, before you put any words into your character’s mouth, decide and develop a personality for that character. Do you want your character to be strong, in control, weak, pathetic, sarcastic, rude, kind, emotional, straight up evil, etc.? Of course in books, just as in real life, some characters change traits. If, and when that happens, the way he/she talks should also change. Brian Klems and Nancy Kress talk extensively in this article about character personality, change, and motivation so I will not repeat what they say here. http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/4-ways-to-motivate-characters-and-plot

Description: Now let’s talk about the narrative part of the story.

Show the readers everything, tell them nothing. ~ Ernest Hemingway ~

Hemingway refers to this as “reader’s dignity” meaning that the reader should be given respect, trusted to develop a feeling for the meaning behind the action without having the point painfully laid out for him or her.

Sandra Brown, whom I have great respect for and think she is a great editor, once told me that a good story has to have specific sensory detail: action, smell, taste, sound, and feeling.

I highly agree with both, Sandra and Hemingway. When you hand an emotion on a platter to your reader, his/her brain goes into a thinking mode instead of a feeling mode, skipping over the emotional part.

Here is an example: It snowed heavily all day. Signs warning of road closure were everywhere. His windshield was frozen, he could no longer see the road, and he feared that in these wintry conditions he might end up in the ditch.   

Clearly, there is a lot of snow on the road, there are signs telling him that the road is or will be closed, and the man is afraid of ending up in an accident. I haven’t painted that wintry picture in the reader’s mind and though he/she knows that my character is afraid, they can’t feel the character’s emotions. I told the story and left no room for emotion or imagination.

Now look at this example: Giant snowflakes continued to drop from the gloomy sky and splattered against the windshield then froze, making it hard for the wipers to keep the windshield clean. Up ahead blinking lights warned of road closures. His were the only tires to blemish the slick, white blanket. Dammit! The last damn thing he needed was to send his car flying off the road. Dry-mouthed, he swallowed hard and gripping the steering wheel firmer he squinted, trying to locate the road.

I still conveyed all the above except that I didn’t tell, I showed the scene. Notice how I painted the picture of my character being afraid, without actually using the word afraid.

With this being said, you can’t show every single scene in your book. Why? Let’s look at the examples above.

I told the scene in 38 words and I showed it in 80. All scenes are relevant to the story or else they should not be there.

Right?

Right.

However, some scenes and moments are more important than others. If you try to paint every scene vividly in the reader’s mind, besides the fact that you’ll have a very, very, long novel on your hands, important scenes that are supposed to stand out will get mingled with all the others. In other words, you will have a novel without any highlights, which will likely leave your readers’ minds the moment they read that last paragraph on that last page.

Multi Genres Authors

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Do you have a book in your head that screams to come out but is not what you usually write? She Never Got To Say Goodbye did that to me and I absolutely love that book. So much so that I turned it into a novel.

http://amzn.to/1H6EzCv Check it out for yourselves.

Suspenseful, romantic and awash in the afterlife thrill, She Never Got To Say Goodbye captures the power of love and friendship

Goodreads giveaway

 

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For the purpose of this article, I am assuming that every author is, at least to some extent, familiar with Goodreads.

As an author, I’m always constantly trying to find ways to market my books, and Goodreads Giveaway is one marketing tip I haven’t yet tried. Well, not until now. I just released a new edition of She Never Got To Say Goodbye (now a novel) so I thought, might as well try this giveaway thingy.

How does a Goodreads giveaway work?

You post umpteen copies of your book (usually print copies) then when the winners receive their copies, they rush to read them and post flattering reviews on Goodreads. Thousands of readers see these reviews and rush to buy their copy. Um,  no, that’s not how it works. First, let’s ask the following question:

Why run a Goodreads giveaway?

If you are an author of at least two books, you are familiar with giving away free copies of your book in exchange for an honest review, or giving them to your friends, also free, hoping that they will write a review. I am saying this because by the time you publish your second book you will know that free review copies are almost a must. Okay, but review copies are one thing. You expect (more or less) reviews in exchange for the free book. So why would any author want to give away their work, pay for shipping, and no strings attached – which is Goodreads’ policy?

Here is why I did it: The word of mouth (in my humble opinion) still remains one of the most popular ways to spread the news about any new product. I want as many people as possible to know that my book is out there (based on my research, I estimated 300-400 people). I wanted as many Goodreads users to know that my book is out again, and better than ever, hoping that some of them will say, “Hmm, this book looks like something that I would want to read,” then click on the Amazon button and after they bought it and read it, they would recommend it to their friends and family. After all, they added it to their To-Read shelf. Right?

However, because this was my first giveaway of this kind, I decided to experiment with it. The good thing about the Goodreads giveaway procedure is that you don’t have to do anything if you don’t want to. You tell Goodreads how many copies you want to give away, which countries, and for how long you want the giveaway to run for. They do the rest. They run it, pick the winners and let you know where to send the books, so you can go back to Facebook and watch your favorite cat videos. So I did just that because I wanted to see how efficient their advertising is.

Here are the results along with my findings

I gave away 1 copy. The winner has been selected, congratulation to Amber Guthrie of MD, and the book is already on its way. 544 people requested it, and 420 people added it to their To-Read shelves. Not bad, considering that I watched funny cat videos while Goodreads worked hard to alert everyone about this fantastic new book! (Giggles)

One month is Goodreads’ recommended length of time to run a giveaway. I thought that’s too long for an experimental giveaway so I ran mine for seven days. Now after I reviewed the charts, I respectfully disagree with Goodreads. Here is why:

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The chart above is showing the number of users who added She Never Got To Say Goodbye to their Goodreads shelves, during the giveaway period. When I looked at it, I realized that people added my book the most at the start and the end of the giveaway. Why? I didn’t know and like every reputable person about to write a testimonial, I researched, and here is what I found out.

Goodreads giveaways are listed on four different charts: Recently Listed, Most Requested, Popular Authors, and Ending Soon. So if you are a brand new aspiring author, chances are that you’ll not make it into the two categories in the middle – Popular Authors and Most Requested – but you’ll make the other two – Recently Listed and Ending Soon.

My chart clearly indicates that She Never Got To Say Goodbye was mostly added to shelves at the beginning and the end of the giveaway (mostly the end.) Conclusion, I see no benefit of running a giveaway for an entire month when my book is added primarily in the first and last day of the giveaway, and only barely in between. Keep in mind that mine was a relatively short giveaway. Imagine how the chart would look if I ran it for an entire month.

Okay, so now that the giveaway is over, winner selected, book shipped, I sit back and think, “Did I reach my goal?” You bet. Remember that I aimed for 300-400 people to add it. Oh, and if you wonder about the cost on this whole giveaway thingy… I had the book shipped directly from Createspace and it cost me exactly $8.61 – book + shipping.

 

The Best Part About Being a Writer

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Goodreads has asked me a question: What is the best part of being a writer?

Well, being a professional writer can be an intimidating and sometimes frustrating thing, but just like any other job, it has to have some wonderful parts about it or else no one would do it.

Anyway, here are my top four:

I think of myself as an antreprenor – a person who organizes, operates, and assumes the risk for a business venture – except that I can do it in my pajama.

Creating worlds and characters and then integrating a piece of myself into each one of them, is in my opinion, an obvious gratification for every writer.

Mystery, romance, and paranormal are my three absolute favorite genres. I love to go deep within my mind and find something I did not know was there.

I love turning my thoughts and feelings into something entertaining.

What do you love about being a writer?

New Amazon policy on book lending

Okay, now this doesn’t sound right. It smells like greed from a thousand miles away; like another way to rip off authors.

This July, Amazon is changing the way it pays authors for books in Kindle Unlimited and the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. In short, it’s paying the authors a royalty based on pages read, rather than paying authors a royalty each time a reader makes it through 10% of a book.

The Amazon statement explains the new payout:

Under the new payment method, the amount an author earns will be determined by their share of total pages read instead of their share of total qualified borrows.

Here are some examples of how it would work if the fund was $10M and 100,000,000 total pages were read in the month:

  • The author of a 100 page book that was borrowed and read completely 100 times would earn $1,000 ($10 million multiplied by 10,000 pages for this author divided by 100,000,000 total pages).
  • The author of a 200 page book that was borrowed and read completely 100 times would earn $2,000 ($10 million multiplied by 20,000 pages for this author divided by 100,000,000 total pages).
  • The author of a 200 page book that was borrowed 100 times but only read halfway through on average would earn $1,000 ($10 million multiplied by 10,000 pages for this author divided by 100,000,000 total pages).

We will similarly change the way we pay KDP Select All-Star bonuses which will be awarded to authors and titles based on total KU and KOLL pages read.

 

How many self-published authors encounter this many sales? Probably very few.

The following article by  explains in details.

http://www.mhpbooks.com/you-dont-get-paid-unless-people-actually-read-your-book-the-new-kindle-unlimited-royalties/

Maybe it’s time to move on from Amazon. In fact, many authors are talking about taking their publishing elsewhere, like Smashwords. Smashwords distributes to more places, and if you hit a certain amount in sales, they’ll even ship to Amazon.

What do you think?