Category Archives: Writing

70-Author Booksigning on Sunday, March 29

California Dreamin Writers ConferenceIf you didn’t already know, there are going to be 70+ authors signing their books in Brea, California, this weekend. And I’m one of them – woohoo! Here are the details:

Where: Brea Embassy Suites, Brea, CA
When: Sunday, March 29, 2015, 2-4pm
Who: Mostly romance writers of all types, but some also write urban fantasy, young adult, and more

You can find a map and a list of all the authors (including links to their web sites) HERE.

Please share this on social media so your friends in Southern California can stop by. It’s free and open to the public. You buy the books you’d like to get autographed, or just come and shake hands. :)

Lady Jane Salon – Author Readings

There will also be a Lady Jane Salon Saturday night, March 28, from 9-11pm at the conference. This is also open to the public. There will be 12 authors in each of two rooms at the Brea Embassy Suites, each reading from one of their books for 10 minutes.

I’ve never done this before! Ack! But you have to try new things, right? I’d love for a few friends to show up! :) I will be in the Tut room, adjacent to the hotel bar, and I’ll be reading from 9:20 to 9:30pm.

Also in the Tut room, in order of appearance, are: Mary Leo, Elizabeth Boyle, (then me), Jane Porter, Lucienne Diver, Dayle Dermatis, Susan Squires, Christine Ashworth, Vicky Dreiling, Christie Craig, Teresa Carpenter, and Louisa Bacio.

Reading in the Giza room are: Laura Drake, Louella Nelson, Patricia Rice, Rebekah Ganiere, April Kihlstrom, Susan Meier, Linda O. Johnston, Debbie Decker, Lisa Kessler, Shirley Wilder, Anne Cleeland, and Maggie Marr.

Hope to see you and your friends there!

Restart: Beginning Again At Any Time

I’ve been teaching a time management class for writers in January for the last few years called Going the Distance. I’ve been thrilled that it’s been so hands-on useful to my students, and I started thinking I should do another shorter class in the summer called Restart. It would be about taking the time to stop and re-focus when your schedule gets out of control.

Yesterday, I had a brief Restart moment myself. The last few years have been very difficult financially and career-wise for both me and John. The last few months of unemployment I’ve been trying to think of ways to bring in money without totally turning away from my writing and teaching business. After looking at a lot of options, the only appealing one was to try to grow the teaching side of my business.

That has taken up most of my time (8-12 hours a day, 6 days a week!) since I put out my last book in December (A Very Merry Superhero Wedding). When I have tried to work on “My Bullheaded Superhero Valentine”, my latest superhero short story (that was supposed to be out by February 14), I have had to fight to get every word on the page, and still it’s only 15 pages long. Combine that depressing number with the numbers I pulled together for our tax accountant, and I was half-heartedly wondering at what point I should just give up.

Then John was unexpectedly called back to work two days ago! I immediately lost the feeling of wanting to give up, but I felt I needed to take one of those Restart moments and ask God again what I should be doing. You know, check in, touch base, see if there is a new direction, same direction, or if I’ve been blown off course and need to correct my route.

Turns out, it was the last one. I’ve been so focused on our daily need for money to pay the bills, I was chasing that rabbit and too often ignoring the one thing that I’ve been certain of the last few years – that God wants me to write.

And that’s why I’m here. I need to course-correct. So I’m going to hit the Restart button and start blogging regularly here again. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy the posts. ;) But sometimes you need to do things because it’s what you need regardless of what the marketing experts tell you. And what I need is a place to talk about the things that interest me – like spirituality, neuroscience, relationships, and comic books. So I’ll be doing that on Wednesdays every week.

One thing I used to write a lot of is devotionals – little stories about life and how a Bible verse or subject applies to it. I love writing those stories because it’s an outlet to share the silly, ridiculous, interesting, and heart-wrenching things I’ve seen or experienced as well as giving voice to the things I learn about God and his amazing love for us. So I’m going to start writing devotionals again (yay!) and post them here every Sunday.

That nudge I got from God yesterday – that I’m not really doing what I know I should be doing – has turned around my dragging feet and helped me not to feel so down about my writing career. Just the act of writing this post has revived my spirits already! And this is just day one!

I encourage you, if there is anything you feel like you should be doing but haven’t been, take a moment to stop and think and listen. Hit the Restart button in that area and begin again. You may feel your spirits revive, too! And please share it with me here. It’s more fun when we have a conversation instead of me monologuing like a super villain!

Is God Necessary in a Story About the War in Heaven?

Lightbulb idea gifSo I’ve been thinking about something, struggling with “pros and cons” arguments to help me decide how to proceed with a new story idea. I realized I needed to answer this question:

In a YA (young adult) paranormal set in modern day America where the plot is about a teenage girl’s role in the angel-demon war in heaven and on earth, do I or do I not write God into the story? I’m not talking about God as a person who talks and acts. I’m talking about the characters referring to God, that sort of thing.

I was asking God himself what he thought <grin> and it occurred to me that you guys have a wide variety of belief systems and reading preferences. I should get quite a good selection of answers and opinions here. Will you help me? :-D

Here are some of my pros/cons thoughts on the topic:

1. Mainstream publishers, traditional and digital only/first, separate “inspirational” and “not inspirational” mostly along the same lines. If there is a lot of “God stuff,” then there is also little to no swearing, drinking, sex, violence, etc. You can’t have both, as if somehow Christian or godly people didn’t do those things, or that they all believed the line between okay and not okay was in the same place.

I am more than happy that there are lots of people who read and write that kind of inspirational – sometimes I like it, too – but I disagree that it’s the only acceptable way to tell a story with spiritual/faith elements, or the only way to separate stories along the lines of what readers want. This is why I and a lot of other people self-publish – because we want to write stories that are not currently acceptable or marketable per other companies’ definitions.

I write about people like me. That means my characters and I are talking to God, complaining to him, asking his opinion, getting ticked off at him, and about fall over with gratitude when our prayers are answered, while at the same time indulging in a little swearing, taking things that aren’t ours, saying mean things and gossiping, getting into sexual situations that we know to be contrary to what we believe, and on and on. That’s my idea of writing about “real” people. I do think I need to be true to what I really believe about people, but I also want to be true to what I really believe about God. Technically, I *could* write what I want to say with or without direct and numerous references to God. I just don’t know that it would be as honest and transparent a story.

2. I could get really creative and write about the angel-demon war in my story without too much reference to God. But it would be an experiment on my part. I can see leaving God out of a lot of things, but how do you leave him out of heaven?? I don’t know if it would be as good a story. It would be just another story about interesting other beings that we don’t understand and can’t control, and that have no bearing on whether life is good or bad except by way of things they do or don’t do around us.

Supernatural TV show posterThat’s the direction the TV show Supernatural takes. I love that show, but they make it work by making part of the story equation the fact that God has left heaven, left the angels to do as they will with no direction. It makes for interesting and entertaining stories, but that’s not how I see it. God and what’s happening around us is all highly connected, regardless of whether we can see it or see it correctly. That is the most interesting part of the story! That we don’t really know what’s happening, especially what we can’t see, and we’re trying to figure it out.

3. I’ve had some people write in reviews of Unexpected Superhero that they didn’t like the God-stuff. Some people said they’d probably try the second book before deciding if they would read the whole series. Other people said they were done, they didn’t like it at all. Still other people loved it and can’t wait to read the rest because they liked having all those things I mentioned earlier together in one book. I figure those are potential mega-fans, the readers I’m most specifically targeting, and I definitely want to make my target audience happy. :)

So knowing that I can only please some of the people, and that should be my core group of fans, I’ve got to decide how to proceed. Once you’ve said “this is me as an author,” people will expect it. The superhero series will continue the way it began because that’s keeping a promise to the reader. When you’re about to make a new promise by writing a new series, you get to decide again what precisely you want to promise.

I think this conundrum is very much like several years ago when many authors who were happy to write softer love scenes were pushed by their publishers to write more graphic scenes. Some writers liked the freedom, others hated the push. It’s similar to an author deciding if they are or aren’t going to write a certain amount of violence. Who was it who said a few years ago that she sort of had to leave the romance genre because her publishers didn’t want to allow as much violence as she put in? But leaving opened up a whole new audience for her and she’s now a big thriller writer.

I know what it comes down to is doing what I am comfortable with. BUT…if I’m comfortable with a little or a lot of X (in this case “God stuff”), how do I make a decision that will please the largest number of fans I already have, and hopefully build on that as well? For this series, I have to decide if I can and want to write a series about the effects on earth of the war in heaven without too many direct references to God. Or I need to relax and believe that my audience likes lots of things that I like, and make it a really kick-butt book with lots of scary and interesting supernatural stuff.

Since many of you have read my stories (because you’re awesome!), I figure you are some of the best people to ask. What do you think? What do you think you would most enjoy reading in an a series about an angel-demon war?

I hate to beg, but I really hope some of you will reply. :) I love talking about the deeper, esoteric reasons behind why we write and read stories. And I have to make a decision that is rooted in the deep reasons why I write. I’d love to have other opinions to think about as I work through this.

Thanks so much, my friends! I hope you enjoy talking about this, too. Either way, thanks for listening and double-thanks for replying!

Love and hugs! :)

Released Today – A Very Merry Superhero Wedding

A Very Merry Superhero Wedding book cover by Kitty BucholtzIt’s out! My new book, A Very Merry Superhero Wedding, released today! Woo-hoo!!

It has been a long, exhausting, exciting two months! My writing friends, Debra Holland and Brenna Aubrey, suggested I try to get a Christmas novella out by Christmas week, and I took up the challenge.

Of course, because I normally write longer books (350-400 pages), it was really hard to write a shorter story. Haha! A novella is generally thought to be about 20,000 to 40,000 words, about 80-160 pages. This one came in at 45,000 words! I decided to still call it a novella so you didn’t wonder why it was so short compared to Unexpected Superhero, book one in the Adventures of Lewis and Clarke series, and the other books that will follow. ;)

As of today, the book is available on Amazon for Kindle, and on Smashwords for all formats. It’s on the way to iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and other online retailers, and will be available in print in the next couple of weeks.

Congratulations to the 5 winners of the paperback version in the Goodreads Giveaway – Nancy A, Sandra B, Jessica L, Rachella B, and Alena K!

Here is the book’s description. I hope you enjoy it! And Merry Christmas!

A novella in the Adventures of Lewis and Clarke superhero series

WEDDING DREAMS…

Tori Lewis can hardly wait for her Christmas Eve wedding to handsome Joe Clarke. But her friends and family don’t think it’s prudent to marry someone you just met. There’s something about him, though. She’s never felt safer in her life. The only question is — does she have to tell him all her secrets before the wedding?

Joe Clarke expected to be a happy superhero bachelor for years to come. But after meeting Tori Lewis on Halloween, he can’t get her out of his head. Marrying a woman he barely knows is hands-down the craziest thing he’s ever done. So how does he explain himself to a woman who doesn’t believe in superheroes?

…AND CHRISTMAS FIENDS

Meanwhile, the city is going through a Christmastime crime spree. In addition to the usual madness and thievery, a gang of robbers is targeting mall shoppers. Joe must juggle his wedding duties with his alter ego Superhero X’s commitment to protect the citizens of Double Bay.

Will it all come together without ruining the perfect Christmas wedding?

Buy it now!

A Very Merry Superhero Wedding Has a Cover!

My newsletter subscribers get to see and hear about everything first, so since they’ve now seen the new cover, I can show everyone else. Check it out! Release date – December 24, 2014!

And if you’d like to join my newsletter and hear about what’s new and what’s on sale before anyone else, click here or type in your name and email address in the form at the top right of this page. Enjoy!

A Very Merry Superhero Wedding book cover by Kitty Bucholtz

Enter to Win Prizes at a Facebook Party

I’m participating in the 12 Days of Ebook Cheer promotion December 1-12, and we’re having a Facebook party today! I’ve never done one of those before, have you?

So this is what happens – most of our authors are going to be stopping by this page sometime between Noon and 3pm Pacific (3pm-6pm Eastern). We’ll be posting funny questions or telling you a little about our books (all 12 are on sale for 99c through Friday night!), and then we’ll be randomly drawing winners to give prizes to!

You can go to Facebook right now and join the party by hitting the Join button near the top right. I think that’s how you get Facebook to remind you when the party starts. Then go read and comment and have fun! Hope to see you there!

We’ve got some more fun prizes for you to win in addition to what happens at the Facebook party. There’s a Book Cover Contest (you know who I’d love to win!), you can buy or gift any or all of the twelve books on sale, and you can answer fun questions for a chance to win Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift cards! You only have through Saturday, December 13 to get in on this action. So click on the picture below to learn more about the fun!

Please share this post using the social media buttons below and let all your friends know. :)

Half_Blockofcovers

12 Days of Ebook Cheer Begins Today!

Guess what fun we’ve got starting today? Twelve fun ebooks for only 99c each for the first twelve days of December! Click on the picture to go to the web site. I’m excited to have Unexpected Superhero rubbing book spines with these other wonderful books! :-D

12Days10by_White

Goodreads Giveaway for New Superhero Book

Hi friends! I’m working hard to get out my new novella by Christmas. It’s called A Very Merry Superhero Wedding, and it’s about Tori and Joe’s Christmas Eve wedding – amidst a Christmastime crime spree. (Like any Christmas, right?)

While it’s part of the Adventures of Lewis and Clarke series, it’s not book two. If you’re familiar with Unexpected Superhero, it starts with Tori finding out that she has a super power when she returns from her honeymoon. Much as I want to keep the books focused on urban fantasy, I like playing with the fun romances among the characters, so I’m writing novellas and short stories to sprinkle throughout the series that are more like superhero romantic comedies.

The first short story was “Superhero in Disguise” about Tori and Joe’s fun romantic meeting on Halloween night. A Very Merry Superhero Wedding picks up a week before they get married on Christmas Eve. And here’s the cool part – you can win a free copy!

I’ve created a Goodreads Giveaway for readers in the United States (I’ll try to do an international one later) to have a chance to win five (5) copies of the paperback when it comes out at Christmas. You can click on the link below to sign up. Good luck!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

A Very Merry Superhero Wedding by Kitty Bucholtz

A Very Merry Superhero Wedding

by Kitty Bucholtz

Giveaway ends December 23, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

 

The Value of Advertising a Single Self-Publishing Book

Unexpected Superhero cover by Kitty BucholtzIf any of you are writers, you might be interested in the blog I posted on my Romance Writers of America chapter blog on Sunday. I hope it helps someone. :)

We’re all trying to figure out what kind of advertising and short-term discounting works to increase sales and readership. I am at the beginning end of the self-publishing curve with one stand-alone book out, and one series with a free short story prequel and a book one. In October, I did several different things and tracked sales daily. Here are my results.

The Specifics
I put Unexpected Superhero (book one of a series) back in KDP Select for 90 days in July, ending October 21. I used my five free days in October with three days on a Wed/Thur/Fri and two days a week later on a Fri/Sat. It was also on sale for three days for 99c at the end of the month (Oct 31 – Nov 2).

I used advertising on several of those days. I purchased the InD’Tale Bargain Book Ad for $25 on October 8, the eBookSoda ad for $10 on October 10 (the first and last day of the first free period), then Ereader News Today for $20 on October 17 (the first day of the last free period).

On another author’s recommendation, on October 31 I used Ebook Boosters’ $25 service where they submit my book’s 99c sale information to 25 other free-newsletter sites (sites similar to BookBub and eBookSoda). I didn’t try to figure out for sure which sites picked up the book, but I know it went out on at least a few email newsletters that day. (I was at a convention all weekend so I didn’t have time to do Google searches or keep track of Amazon rankings.)

Non-Advertisement Promotion
Additionally, I participated in an author book swap with 19 other authors on November 1. We all put one book on sale for 99c, then blogged, Tweeted, and posted to Facebook about all 20 books, and we all bought each other’s books. (So that accounted for 19 out of 25 sales on book swap day.)

I mentioned all of this to my newsletter list (122 people) once at the beginning of October on the day the book was first free, and on the last day of October when the book was 99c. I did one guest blog, and wrote three other blogs on my own two sites.

I also was at Comikaze, a comic book and pop culture convention, October 31 through November 2, and I told attendees that the book was 99c on Kindle that weekend.

The Finances
Altogether, I spent $80 on advertising. Royalties from Amazon (the only place the book was for sale) were about $38 for 27 sales in October plus about $30 for 15 borrows from the KDP library, and about $20 for 32 sales in the first week of November.  Financially, I broke even, about $8 ahead.

But keep in mind that I had 3710 free downloads as well. If those downloads translate to reviews and newsletter signups, that’s worth the cost of advertising. A bigger newsletter list means more sales when new books come out. I’ve had about the same number of newsletter signups already that I had after a BookBub ad last year yielded 17,561 free downloads of the same book. Last year’s free downloads added about 35 new reviews over two to three months. It’s too early to know how many reviews I’ll get due to the 3710 free downloads last month.

While traditional wisdom is that advertising with so few books out isn’t worth your time and money, check out the difference in sales and in reach between the month before the sale, the sale month, and only one week after the last sale.

September (with no sales or advertising) – 6 purchases, 6 borrows, 0 free, about $27 in revenue

October (with three sales and lots of email ads) – 27 purchases, 15 borrows, 3710 free, about $68 in revenue

November (1 week only, end of last sale) – 32 purchases, no borrows or free (not in KDP Select anymore), about $20 in revenue

While my numbers are small, the percentage of increase is excellent. Because last year’s BookBub ad was for a free book, the reviews were easily worth the $90 I paid for the ad, but there was a very small sales tail after the five free days ended. I believe I sold 24 books in the month following. I ended up with a negative net income that month despite the wild “success” of so many people choosing to download the book.

This time, I spent nearly the same amount of money, reached fewer people but over several different audiences instead of one, and had a positive net income for the month. Also, my book was being promoted over the course of three weeks rather than five days. I will likely derive value from that later since people need to hear about a product a certain number of times before they decide to buy it.

Specific Advertisers
If you’re interested in the results from specific advertisers, these are my stats:

InD’Tale $25 ad to about 10,000 readers = 1238 free downloads that day
(NOTE: There were also 551 free downloads the day after the ad came out, and 245 on the third day, on which I also used an eBookSoda ad.)

eBookSoda $10 ad to 700+ readers = 245 free downloads that day
(NOTE: I used eBookSoda in April and May of this year, and had 0 sales and possibly a few sales, respectively with books priced at 99c. I emailed them and was told Little Miss Lovesick was advertised to 681 subscribers in April with 37 click-throughs to retailers, and Unexpected Superhero was advertised to 714 subscribers in May with 43 click-throughs to retailers.)

Ereader News Today $20 ad to “thousands” of readers = 1277 free downloads that day
(NOTE: There were another 391 free downloads the following day.)

EBookBooster $25 ad to 25 sites and potentially thousands of readers = 8 sales at 99c that day
(NOTE: There were 10 more 99c sales during the 3-day sale, and a lot of word-of-mouth promotion as well.)

I’ll let you draw your own conclusions. This is data based on having only one book in a series and advertising that book without the next book out yet. I’ll let you know what happens when I do this again when book two comes out.

Meanwhile, please leave a comment with your thoughts, or your advertising experiences. And please share this with your social media friends. Your input could be very helpful for others contemplating advertising and short-term sales.

Unexpected Superhero FREE today on Kindle

Unexpected Superhero cover by Kitty BucholtzHey friends! Since I’m going to be at Comikaze this month (Los Angeles Convention Center, October 31 – November 2, 2014), I thought I’d do some promotions for Unexpected Superhero.

It’s going to be FREE on Kindle today through Friday, October 8-10. Please share the news with your friends so they can give the series a try. Save the money and buy more Halloween candy! :-P