Former Marine Sawyer Villier has always preferred to keep his life simple and commitment-free. It’s why he lives off the grid in Taos, New Mexico when he’s not guarding billionaires.
But when he runs into his best friend’s widow during a stopover in LA, Sawyer realizes there’s one commitment he’s failed to keep, one he made to the man who saved his life in a time he’s sworn to forget.
But Sawyer’s not the only one having a problem with promises…
Single mother Alma Thomas wishes she could forget the moment when she had to choose between standing by the man she loved or saving herself and their unborn child. After a year spent keeping his secrets safe, all she wants now is to move on.
But when Sawyer reappears in her life determined to honor his promises, will Alma be willing to let go of her own?
It’s been a week since the first of six books have gone “wide,” meaning they’re no longer exclusive to Kindle Unlimited. You can still buy them on Kindle but you can also buy them on iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Google Play. Yep, I finally got my act together and listed them in the Play store.
In the past, when I put Everything She Ever Wanted wide, I lasted three months before I put it back into KU. I just couldn’t find enough readers in all the other stores outside of Kindle combined to make up for the loss of KU page reads (the blue). I was already advertising then but 85 – 90% of my sales (for Everything She Ever Wanted, specifically) would still be Kindle.
But with April sales being abysmal compared to the last two years, I hate that all my eggs are in one basket. And if that basket doesn’t work, what then? There’s no other option. Hence the move to go back to wide distribution even if many successful authors have gone (and even advocate going exclusively) with Amazon.
But my hope is that I’ve gotten better with my advertising even if FB is the only place where I can advertise my books wide. Even newsletter promos focus mainly on Kindle sales unless it’s the holy grail of newsletter promotions, Bookbub. And one of my fears (because I experienced this before), if FB decides to disable my ad account, I’m screwed.
Knock on wood, I’m already seeing sales on iBooks although that’s pretty much it. The books just went live in the other retailers so I know it will just take time. And it seems that there is interest in other retailers considering this is the link activity for the last few hours for my promo posts where I’m using tracking links. Guess there is hope, right?
One of the drawbacks of going wide is the paperwork. You can go through an aggregator like Smashwords or Draft2Digital and they take 10% for the trouble of listing you on Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Tolino and even Overdrive and giving you one set of data per day when it comes to sales. Or you can go directly to those retailers yourself and then collect data from each one.
I’m doing that now for all but Overdrive (library distribution which is impossible to get into without an aggregator) and Barnes & Noble (again, procrastination), and it means that I need to be more organized now in tracking my sales. When I was exclusive to Kindle Unlimited, all I had was whatever spreadsheet Amazon provided for me (and ACX) and that was it.
So now that I have advertising to track as well in addition to checking each vendor, I need to be more organized. I’m actually terrible with Excel and so I’ve started just writing everything down in these tiny Rhodia notebooks. I have my Amazon ads on here where I track (or try to) my ROI. It’s crazy but I need to get comfortable with Excel calculations.
And yes, all this I have to do in addition to actually, supposedly, writing the next book.
Speaking of the next book, once I finish release it in June, I’ll be focusing on shorter works through a different pen name. Starting over, in a way. I’ll still write as Liz but she’s more for the works of the heart — Ashe, Riley, Gareth, Dax, Harlow, Heath, Billie, Sam, Erik, Livvie and Josh — and I’ll publish when I have the time. The rest will have to be written to market. It’s simply the only way one can make it as an author these days.
Eventually, a part of you has to do it for the money.
I could tell you about my favorite books for Word Book Day but I’ll tell you about the first book I wrote and published instead.
Finding Sam is set in Southern California’s South Bay cities of Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach. It was my second attempt at writing a novel set in the area, the first still sitting in my hard drive and probably will never see the light of day.
In Finding Sam, Sam Martin is a single mother who’s had a hard life and is trying to get out of the mindset of one who lets things happen to her (through no fault of her own) to one who’s going to make things happen. But she needed a catalyst to do that and it’s Erik Maystrom, a wealthy and idealistic community doctor who lives on the Strand.
I think the first draft of Finding Sam hit 145k words. The first editor who read it came highly recommended and was known to be so tough that most authors quaked in their boots sending her their manuscripts. She was known to throw those literal bricks at you. Naive me went ahead and sent the first 10K words anyway.
I think she must have known I was new because she was kind in her note. She told me to read books on how to write romance because I had missed crucial elements like the heroine has to meet the hero in the first chapter, etc. It gutted me to read her comments, especially since I never labeled the book romance. When I told her that, she said that if it was Women’s Fiction, then it wasn’t too bad although she insisted that I wasn’t ready to publish, that I had to find my voice.
Months later, I decided to publish anyway, if only to see what lay behind that Publish button. I sold 3 copies, one of those purchasers being me. After going through a bad bout of imposter syndrome, I’d go ahead and unpublish the book two months later and then republish it after an author recommended it on a podcast.
I’ve always been a voracious reader since I was a child. I read everything that was within my reach: Bible stories, fairy tales, condensed Reader’s Digest novels, Rumi, Shakespeare’s Sonnets, Book of Mormon, my mother’s secret collection of Harold Robbins novels. Books were my escape from the things that were happening around me. When I started writing in eighth grade, my stories were my retreat as well. I could make up whatever I wanted, stories set outside my hometown and country, thanks to the Almanac, Reader’s Digest, and Life Magazines. It was safer that way. I wasn’t incriminating anyone in stories set in Jane Austen’s England or in the bazaars of Morocco.
My ideal house always had a library, no matter how big or small it was. I could live in a studio apartment and it will always have a shelf of books or boxes where I could store them all. My favorite places whenever I travel is a bookstore or a library. I guess if ever I get lost somewhere, that’s where you’ll find me. We can go to Chinatown for the best dim sum and I’ll still manage to find the only bookstore there and come out with tons of books.
Books will always remain my escape, both reading and writing them. Happy World Book Day! What are your favorite books?
After getting too frustrated with my WIP last night, I closed the tab and edited something else. I also decided that today, I’d do some gardening. I’ve let weeds choke up my prized rose bush called Princess Diana that grows by my window.
Princess Diana (the rose) is among two out of a dozen rose bushes I ordered so many years ago. I remember planting them in pots because I was renting then and when I had to move, I asked my older brother to help me and it messed up his back. He sure got me back when he asked me to help him and his roommates move and I ended up having to drive a big U-Haul 30 miles each way. Even the movers who helped out remarked that I could barely reach the pedals, but I made it. It messed up my back and I swore I’d never do that again. But I digress…
I ended up giving away most of the rose bushes away except for Princess Diana and a white one called Peace which I planted in the front tenants’ yard. If there’s one thing that gets me to water the yards of both houses, it’s my roses.
So I’m off to do weeding. Maybe it will give me a fresher perspective when I dive back into my book later today.
On May 25, the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) which gives each individual (in the EU) more control of his/her data, comes into effect. Because I don’t know whether or not my subscribers are based in the EU or not, they all received an email from me requesting them to reconfirm their subscription if they want to continue receiving emails from me. I didn’t even mention anything about my books. Just the reconfirm request and that was it.
A few authors have already begun lamenting the steep downsizing of their list from over 10K, for example, to just under 1K or 2K. I actually am happy for the downsizing for it will mean that the ones who do click (all ten of them) actually want to receive my emails!
If anything, they may even know who I am and what books I’ve written.
In other news, I still have a love/hate relationship with outlining. Sure, I outlined it and it looks perfect. But execution to get it to that 60K word novel is another thing entirely. Even though I’m following the outline (all 5k words of it, word for word), I’m unable to come up with my own words, my own voice. It’s so terrible I looked at my novel this morning and didn’t recognize it was mine. Empty and without my usual Liz flair and voice. There is angst but it’s mechanical. No feeling. It feels like I’m on a big adventure but I’m not driving.
There are quite a few awesome deals going on this weekend and I want to share them with you. First up is Michelle Jo Quinn’s contemporary romance, When He Falls, which is 99¢ for a limited time on all retailers.
I just snagged me Coming in Hot: Rescue Me, a sizzling hot medical romance box set which is currently 99¢ during release week. I definitely need more gorgeous doctors in my life, even the shifter kind!
You can grab this set of 16 books from the following retailers:
Not wide “wide” but wide as in no longer exclusive to Amazon. They’re now available on iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. I still have to upload the book to Google Play so here’s hoping I remember to do that today!
I have to be honest, though. If it weren’t for sudden lagging sales, changes in social media algorithms affecting ad reach and ROI, the book would probably have stayed in Kindle Unlimited for as long as it was making money there. But it was also making me lazy when it came to writing the next book because unconsciously, I was relying on the sales from this one.
So now, the pressure is on to finish the third book in the series and then work on the next four new books that are waiting their turn. These four books are shorter than my usual 50k – 70k word novels. They’ll probably be around 30k because it seems that’s the going rate right now with people preferring to read shorter works and more books in a series, especially romance. But we’ll see. My outlines are all set for 50K words but I’ve also noticed that I’ve limited my character’s introspection quite a lot so I’ll shoot for 50k but won’t force it if it doesn’t happen. The important thing is the story.
Just tell the story.
One of the other things I accomplished today was a revamp of my other website. The official one. Liz Durano Books. On a desktop, the images are HUGE but on a mobile device, they’re just right. It’s one thing I’ve certainly noticed while maintaining my ads is that about 80% of the devices where the ads are served are mobile, not desktop. Makes one wonder if the same number of people are reading blogs on their mobile devices, too. I know I do although I write on my laptop attached to two humongous monitors.
What I like about it is that my books get their own “landing page” of sorts like this one. And this one. On a desktop or laptop, the images are huge but on a mobile device, they’re woefully small…
In other news, I was able to have the pirated audiobooks taken down yesterday and I guess it will just be one more thing for me to check on each week. Although in the end, what can you do, really? Pirates are everywhere!
Today a fellow author alerted me to audiobooks being pirated on iTunes as PODCASTS. And sure enough, I found both my audiobooks on there.
I’ve filled out the form alerting them to pirated content so we’ll see how long it takes for them to take them down. I don’t even know to whom I need to send a DMCA notice other than iTunes but it is what it is.
This and all the shenanigans with Amazon regarding my sales brought back something my first boss told me. I was working as a radio newscaster for a year and the pay was so low that my father had to supplement my income because he said that his janitor made more money. When I asked the boss for a raise, he simply laughed and said, didn’t you know? You have to be rich to work here.
So technically, that’s what I’ve come to realize about being an author. You have to be stinking rich to want to write day in and day out, pay for advertising and promotions, come up with smart newsletters and engage with readers on Facebook groups and give away tons of prizes to still want to get up the next day and pound that keyboard and tell those stories. That way, there’s a cushion for things such as piracy and low sales… or no sales.
I laughed and cried. I got angry and excited. Durano took me on an emotional rollercoaster in Everything She Ever Wanted… This novel pairs well with Pinot and a nice hot bubble bath. What a super cozy read. I recommend this book to everyone looking for a damn good love story with some juicy conflict.
One of the things I love about blogging is that I get to meet wonderful people from around the world like Dacia Arnold, author of adult light science fiction and whose debut novel Apparent Power is set to be released later this year. She reviewed Everything She Ever Wanted and I’m so happy she enjoyed Dax and Harlow’s story!
She’s also giving away a signed copy so hurry on over to her blog and say hello!
It’s time for FILM IN OUTER SPACE BLOGATHON hosted by Moon in Gemini and my movie pick is Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979). I should have picked Aliens, the second movie in the franchise but then that would mean I miss out on talking about that shocker of a scene at the dining table. Or the egg. And that cool understated poster with the tagline, In space no one can hear you scream.
But I’m getting ahead of myself…
Can you believe the movie came out 38 years ago? Gosh, I was actually too young when Alien came out and I think I may have watched it after I saw Aliens (“Game over, man!”) and fell in love with Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) and Vasquez (Jenette Goldstein)*. I even wanted to have my very own big gun!
But back to Alien. It’s 2122 and a crew of the Nostromo is on their way back to Earth with their payload of intergalactic ore, only to be awoken by the ship’s computer named Mother because she detects a beacon from a distant planet. According to company policy, they need to investigate and so they do.
The crew is composed of Kane (the late John Hurt) who’s second-in-command, Captain Dallas (Tom Skerrit), Science Officer Ash (whom I just realized is a very young Ian Holm of Bag End/Bilbo Baggins), Chief Engineer Parker (Yaphet Koto), Brett (Harry Dean Stanton) driver Lambert (Veronica Cartwright), and third-in-command, Ripley (Sigourney Weaver).
After a rough landing that requires about hours of repair before they can get back to their ship, three members of the crew set out to investigate the source of the beacon. They find a horseshoe-shaped spaceship and inside, “star man” or what viewers have dubbed the space jockey.
Alien (1979) by Ridley Scott
Kane finds a hole in the ground and ends up in an area that has all these egg-shaped thingies just hanging out. Of course, he falls (I think he does) and one of the eggs opens up. How does that saying go again? Curiosity kills the cat?
But Kane is not dead. He’s brought back to the ship against the objections of Ripley who goes by the book. Nothing alien should enter the ship. Kane overrules her and lets the crew inside and from here on, it’s classic horror as the alien starts picking the crew one by one, starting with Kane who becomes the creature’s incubator of sorts before it makes its grand entrance during what would have been their last supper before going into hypersleep.
In today’s current cinema trends, Alien would be a lumbering and slow movie but considering its genre: sci-fi horror, it’s not. It’s perfect. The setting is claustrophobic and utilitarian, and the crew, hard-working men and women who just want to get home, have their own emotional arcs that have us fearing for their lives with each passing minute.
I showed this to my oldest son and he marveled at the fact that movie was over 30 years old yet you couldn’t tell at all. To this day, I consider it one of the best horror movies ever made with a bad-ass heroine whom we never saw coming and a legacy that continues to this day… although I kinda gave up with the last prequel movie after Prometheus.