Book Signing and Work On The Next In The Series

The Grave Blogger book signing

Today was fun! I had a book signing at Jen n Ella’s Boutique in Prairieville, La. I love meeting readers and getting the chance to discuss books with them. Plans are in the works to host more book signing events in the upcoming weeks. Yay!

Speaking of plans, NaNoWriMo began again today. I originally began writing The Grave Blogger during another NaNoWriMo event. NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. The site describes this event this way:

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 p.m. on November 30. Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought fleetingly about writing a novel.

I began writing this new book earlier, but I’m starting over, starting today! This book is going to rock! There’s lots more in store for Raya and Nick, Dustin and Sharon, and many of the other characters from The Grave Blogger. In this story, we’ll delve deeper into the personalities of each character, discover more about their past, and see them progress in their relationships and friendships. And of course, there will be plenty of suspense and chaos waiting for each of them.

Although the goal of NaNoWriMo is to write a novel in one month, no one expects that effort to turn out a polished book. I hope to have a complete novel written by November 30th, but even if I do, there will be lots of editing and rewrites to come. The Grave Blogger took a total of about 5 months of writing, editing, and refining before it got published. My goal, now that I have the whole publishing experience under my belt, is to shorten that time by a month. I plan to have this next book published sometime in February. I won’t make a promise on that, but I hope you’ll hold my hand to the fire to help push me to meet my goal.

Enough of that…I have to go write a book now! 🙂

 

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Borrow The Grave Blogger For Free

Did you miss out on the big 3-day free event? Are you hearing good things about The Grave Blogger and wish you had scooped it up for free when you had the chance? Well, if you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can borrow The Grave Blogger for free at any time!

How does that work? It’s not much different than borrowing a book from the library. You simply borrow books from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library and read them on your Kindle device. (Borrowed books can only be read on Kindle devices at this time).

Here are the rules of borrowing from the Lending Library.

How To Borrow The Grave Blogger

You can borrow one book from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library each calendar month. You can deliver the book to other Kindle devices registered to your Amazon account.

1. From your Kindle device, open the Kindle Store.

2. Access the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library:

  • Kindle E Ink devices: Select All Categories, and then select Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.
  • Kindle Fire devices: Select Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.

Eligible titles display the Prime badge.

borrowbadge

3. When you’ve made your selection, select Borrow for Free.

You can borrow only one book at a time. If you’ve already borrowed a book, you’ll be prompted to return it before you can borrow a different book.

borrowforfree So the next time you wonder why you didn’t download The Grave Blogger for free, just go borrow it! (Assuming you are an Amazon Prime member, of course).

 

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Coming Soon: Kindle MatchBook – A Great Deal For Readers

Amazon emailed me today to let me know that it will soon have a new program called Kindle MatchBook. The email described Kindle MatchBook as “an innovative new program which enables you to offer your Kindle book at a discount when readers purchase your print book“. What that means is that when this is launched (in the coming weeks), if anyone buys The Grave Blogger paperback, they will be able to receive the Kindle ebook version for the reduced price of only 99 cents!

Kindle MatchBookAmazon hasn’t disclosed exactly when this will happen. They only mentioned “in the coming weeks”, but of course, I’ll be sure to update everyone when it launches. I know a lot of people who wanted both the paperback and the ebook, so this will enable them to get both for cheaper than they can now. Yay!

 

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Oops, I Accidentally Slipped In Some Heavy Themes

Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t read The Grave Blogger yet, you may want to skip this blog post. Some of the information will reveal bits of the story-line that could spoil the ending for you.

When I set out to write The Grave Blogger, my primary intention was simply to entertain. I didn’t feel the need to write the next great piece of fiction that would be studied in English classes in the future, or even be discussed by Oprah’s Book Club. My goal wasn’t to impart deep wisdom or help solve any of the global issues facing society today. I simply hoped to provide a few brief hours of entertaining escape into the world beyond reality.

While I think I accomplished my goal (or at least I hope I did), I realized that I’d subconsciously interwoven a few “literary” themes throughout the story, in spite of my best intentions to avoid it. I doubt many readers will notice these themes, as they are subtle. I didn’t stop the action during the story to make obvious references to any of these threads, and their subtlety probably keeps them from being noticed at all. That’s ok with me, obviously, since the entertainment value is most important to me. Nevertheless, if anyone did miss the subtle threads woven through the tale, and would like to have them pointed out, then this blog post is for you.

The Bad Guy Is Always Male

Statistics show that the majority of violent crimes – around 95% in fact – are committed by males. It’s just a simple fact, so it’s not surprising that many mystery / suspense / thriller novels involve one or more bad “guys”. There’s good reason why “the bad guy” is the common phrase used. Rarely does anyone wonder who “the bad gal” is in a story. And yes, the bad guy in The Grave Blogger is indeed male, so there’s no strange twist there. Although this aspect of the book doesn’t deviate from the norm, readers will discover that there is another “bad guy” who plays a small, but pivotal role in the story. This bad guy is actually female, and an argument could be made that she is in fact more evil than the central bad guy character.

The evil female in this case is someone who is in a position of power over a group of people who are unstable, vulnerable and mentally incapable of preventing the abuse of that power. The reader only gets brief glimpses into this woman’s world, but it is enough, I hope, to underscore the concept that power is perhaps more powerful than gender in determining root causes of violence and abuse. In the current patriarchal society in which we live, men hold the power; men dominate; and therefore statistics such as the one above aren’t surprising. I believe that if the axis were shifted 180 degrees, and suddenly women held the vast majority of the power in our world, that we would see the stats shift. It may not happen suddenly, but over time, I suspect that eventually 95% of the violence perpetrated would be by women.

So what “lesson” am I trying to impart in all of this? That our world needs to evolve to the point where power is shared equally among genders, races, and nationalities. Of course, perfectly shared power is a Utopian world that isn’t likely possible, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive to reach for it. The closer we get to preventing lopsided power among any “group” of people, the closer I believe we’ll get to drastically reducing the violence that is so rampant in society today.

The Characters Behave The Way We Expect Them To

In many books of this genre, you’ll find the attractive female protagonist, who may have a strength of character, but nevertheless needs rescuing by the handsome detective. The detective may have rough edges or he may be a virtuous knight in shining armor, but the one thing we can always expect is that in the end, he will vanquish the bad guy and save the beautiful woman.

The Grave Blogger does indeed have the attractive, strong female protagonist and the handsome knight-in-shining armor detective. The two do have the expected romantic spark between them. But in this case, the handsome detective is not the one who ultimately defeats the villain and saves the woman. He certainly has a hand in doing so, and his efforts are valiant, but in the end, it’s the unexpected character who wins the battle. I don’t think the reader feels any less of the detective because of this, but it is a little surprising and out of the range of our expectations. We not only count on these characters to be the heroes of our novels, but we expect them to be the heroes of our lives.

This, then, is my way of saying that sometimes it’s not the strong, handsome “good guy” who is the hero. Sometimes, it’s the person that goes unnoticed who is able to set our world right again. When we stop placing expectations on who can or cannot be a hero, we begin to accomplish two things.

  1. We remove the pressure from those who feel they must always live up to the expectations we place on them to be heroes. These may be our star athletes or movie stars or police officers. Whoever they are, we often expect them to perform in a certain way, even if they aren’t capable of living up to our expectations.
  2. We allow ourselves to recognize the unsung heroes in our lives, who may be overlooked and virtually invisible, and yet they accomplish great things, whether or not we notice. Not all heroes are obvious, and we should pay more attention to those we pass over in our daily lives.

The Story Always Has A Happy Ending With The Romance Working Out Perfectly

Just as our handsome detective doesn’t fit the typical mystery genre mold, the main female character doesn’t react in exactly the way we expect either. We expect the budding romance between the two central characters to walk off into the sunset, in love and together. What we don’t expect is for the female to walk away instead, with the possibility that she may or may not return. But that’s exactly what the end of The Grave Blogger delivers.

The Central Theme? Control

When I sign the book for someone, I always try to write a little something that has meaning to that particular person. Perhaps I’ve only just met the reader, and have spoken with them for less than a minute, but I try to find some small personal tidbit about that person that I can include when signing the book. No matter what I write to that specific person, however, I always include one extra line before signing my name.

“Control your destiny!”

This is my one non-subtle hint that there actually is an underlying “literary” theme to the book. Of course, only those who possess the actual paperback and have been able to get me to sign it for them will ever see this hint. I guess that’s the perk of having a signed book; the chance to have one tip that others don’t get.

So…back to the theme of control. Of course, we can refer back to the first theme mentioned; that of power. Power and control go hand in hand. Those with the power are those that can take control over others. The Grave Blogger’s main character has spent the majority of her young life trying to find a way to take control over her own life. She only discovers later that others have ripped the control from her, and in the end, she defeats her own personal enemies that have prevented her from making her own choices through the years.

She exhibits this reclamation of control most strongly at the very end, when she doesn’t fall into the arms of the handsome detective. When asked what she will do now that the ordeal is over, we expect her to walk off with him into the sunset. Instead, she admits that she isn’t sure yet, but the one thing she is sure of is that she will decide her future. No one – neither the bad guy nor the good guy – will make that choice for her. She will control her own destiny from now on.

Power, Heroes, Control

So despite my early insistence that I only wanted to entertain, and I didn’t want my novel to be a source of discussion of any of our world’s issues, I accidentally (?) included these threads anyway.

To wrap it up, I unintentionally revealed a few of my personal beliefs.

  1. Striving for a balance of power may be one of the best things we can do to curb the violence that has always been so prevalent.
  2. Our perceptions of who and what a hero is often leads to placing unattainable burdens on those we expect to be heroes, and we therefore often fail to see the true heroes that live among us.
  3. Ultimately, we must prevent anyone – good or bad – from taking the control of our minds, bodies, and spirits away from us.
 

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The Grave Blogger Now Available As Audiobook!

Audiobook iconIf you prefer listening to reading, you’ll be happy to know that The Grave Blogger is now available as an audiobook from Audible.com and will be available in audio format at iTunes and Amazon within a few days. I’m really excited about it. After working with Andi Ackerman (the narrator of the book) for a few months, it feels great to finally see it come to fruition.

The first time I listened to the entire novel, I was amazed because it was almost as though I were reading the book for the first time! Yes, I know, I know, I wrote the thing, so you’d think hearing it read aloud would hold no surprises, but it did! For example, at some point, Dustin made a little joke under his breath, and I giggled, and thought to myself, “Hey, Donna, that was a funny little joke!” Obviously, I didn’t remember writing those particular words, so hearing them gave me the experience of what a normal reader would experience when discovering my book for the first time. That’s amazing to me, and I don’t think that would have happened if I hadn’t been actually listening to the story.

In any case, I hope you enjoy hearing the story narrated as much as I did. Thanks, Andi, for the great work you did!

 

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The Grave Blogger is Book of the Day at Kindle Nation Daily

It’s always exciting to see The Grave Blogger mentioned, and today is especially exciting because Kindle Nation Daily has The Grave Blogger listed as eBook of the Day!

Although the book is available in paperback, and in various ebook formats for the Nook and other e-readers, there’s no doubt that Kindle is the king of ebooks. Kindle Nation Daily is very likely the largest site devoted to Kindle ebooks, so I’m thrilled that their audience has a chance to hear about my novel.

You can read a free sample at the Kindle Nation Daily site, or directly from The Grave Blogger Amazon page.

 

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The Grave Blogger Giveaway!

UPDATE: Giveaway is over. Winners selected.

I am giving away two signed paperback copies of The Grave Blogger. The giveaway rules are very simple.

Simply use the giveaway widget below to tweet about this giveaway, and you are automatically entered to win. You can earn an extra entry by also liking my Facebook author page. The tweet is mandatory to enter the giveaway, but liking the Facebook page is optional. The giveaway will end at 5:00 pm CST on Friday, July 20, 2012.

Two winners will be selected! I will email the winners to notify them that they are the winners of the giveaway, and to get their mailing addresses so that I can mail the books to them. I’m willing to mail pretty much anywhere in the world that can receive mail. Best of luck!

P.S. After using the widget below to send the tweet, be sure to hit the green Submit Entry button when you return to this page from the tweet popup window.

 

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How and Why You Should Review Your Favorite Books on Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com

When you buy a book online, do you read the customer reviews first? Most people do, and in fact, those reviews often have a huge impact on the book’s sales. Reviews not only persuade or dissuade buyers, but they also have an impact on getting shown to users on Amazon or Barnes and Noble’s sites. For those reasons, authors are very appreciative of readers who take a minute or two to leave a thoughtful review of a book.

If you’ve enjoyed a book and would like to let the world know, writing a review is one of the best ways to do that. While it’s great to share your thoughts about a book on Facebook or Twitter, the best place to leave a review is on the book’s sales page itself on Amazon or Barnes and Noble, like the sales pages for The Grave Blogger here on Amazon and here on Barnes and Noble. Why there? Here are a couple of reasons:

  1. Sharing on social networks like Facebook and Twitter is great for letting your friends know about a book they should read, but the rest of the world will probably never hear about it. Sharing on the book’s sales page on Amazon or BarnesandNoble.com will be able to reach lots more people!
  2. Amazon uses the reviews on its own site to help decide which books to show prominently when users search for books, or when recommending “books others have also bought”. Amazon doesn’t use reviews posted elsewhere such as on Facebook or Twitter, so any review left on other sites won’t help the book get shown to more people on Amazon. (Barnes and Noble likely uses a similar system).

So now that you know how helpful it can be to write a review directly on the book’s sales page on Amazon or Barnes and Noble, you should probably learn a few other little facts.

  1. Not only can you write a review, but you can also rate a book using a 5-star system. Generally speaking, 1, 2, or 3 stars is BAD, and means you don’t like the book and you don’t recommend it. 4 or 5 stars is GOOD. A nice mix of 4 and 5 stars on a book’s page usually means that a lot of people enjoyed the book, and because there are some 4’s mixed in, it’s more likely that the reviews haven’t been “manipulated” or “faked”.
  2. Always be honest. People trust book reviews only if they seem honest. If you love a book, but feel it should have been a little longer or shorter, for example, it’s okay to say that.
  3. Don’t give away the crucial plot elements. No spoilers, please!
  4. No single-word reviews are accepted. Reviews should generally be at least 20 words long, (with 50-100 words being a good average review), and should not only state that you liked or disliked the book, but also why.
  5. Discuss the book itself, rather than the author or non-related topics.

Below is what the reviews look like on Amazon. As long as you are logged in as an Amazon customer, you can write a review of a book you like. So support the authors you’ve enjoyed, and write your reviews on the book’s sales pages. You’ll be helping other readers find good books to read, and you’ll be supporting the authors you like too!

 

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As Publication Date Nears I Consider Book Formats

I finished writing my book a week ago, mid-June 2012, which was my exact goal so I’m pretty happy about that. Now, it’s in the editor’s hands, and should be back to me within a week or so. At that point, I’ll make some final edits based on the editor’s feedback, and prepare the book for publishing. I’m guessing mid-July at the latest will be the premier debut of the actual published book.

As the publication date draws near, I’m rethinking the book formats I’ll offer. I may decide to only offer the book in paperback and ebook formats, but not in hardback – or at least not immediately. Hardbacks would require a completely different setup process and would cost both me and the reader more money than it might be worth (to either of us). But before I decide, I thought I would ask you what you think, with a quick unscientific poll. Just answer any or all of the following questions by commenting below.

  1. Would you be disappointed if you couldn’t purchase The Grave Blogger as a hardback? (yes/no)
  2. Would you be willing to spend more than $15 to get The Grave Blogger as a hardback? (yes/no)
  3. Do you normally buy paperbacks, hardbacks, or ebooks? (paperbacks/hardbacks/ebooks)

Of course, I’m willing to hear any other comments you have to make as well!

 

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