A Quick Update

A Quick Update

Hello  My Lovelies,

I promise no ranting today. Today is just a quick update about Seas of Gold and maybe a couple other things. Like my main character, I have a hard time sticking to a plan. So let’s get this show on the road.

giphy (5)First, Seas of Gold is available for pre-order and goes live on September 1, 2017. I can’t believe it’s just two weeks away! I’ll have links to the pre-orders available at the bottom of this post. Second, my new editor is about halfway through the edits on Golden Opportunity, and I think you’ll really enjoy it. I promise far fewer mistakes, though I’m sure one or two might get through since no one is perfect. Third, I will have the cover for Golden Parachute in November, and I expect it to release in December of this year. I’ve placed the orders for covers for books 4 (Black Gold) and 5 (Golden Girl). I expect these to be released in March and April of 2018.

giphy (3)Now for my final piece of writer type news. I am working on a new series set in the same world as the Golden Assembly series. This one is a paranormal romantic suspense, and I really hope you’ll enjoy reading it. I don’t have a release date scheduled yet, but I would expect it to come out somewhere between book 4 and 5. A lot depends on my editor, my betas, and my cover designer. I’ll keep you posted. I will give you a couple pieces of information about the series, it’s a retelling of tragic love stories throughout history, like Tristan and Isolde, Paris and Helen of Troy, or Heloise and Abelard, and will take place in modern upstate South Carolina. It focuses on daimons who are also operatives for the Golden Assembly’s artifact retrieval team. A team that my sister wants me to name the Surreptitious Heirloom Investigations Team. The acronym seems a bit risky, so I responded with Tactical Artifact Retrieval Team. Its acronym seems a bit more safe, though far less amusing. We’re still working on it (translation: arguing daily). If you can think of an acronym that might be a little less offensive, feel free to share it in the comments I’m open to suggestions. Bonus points to anyone who can come up with the name for a similar team of bad guys who steal the artifacts for nefarious purposes. Also, there will be crossover from the Custodian series but not necessarily in every book.

I love you lots,

V. L.

giphy (4)P. S. Here are the links for the pre-order: Amazon, Nook, Kobo, and Apple

I’m Disgusted…

I’m Disgusted…

giphyHello My Lovelies,

I don’t understand people some of the time. The margin for self-pubbed authors is slim. Let’s be brutally honest, by the time a book is published we’re usually in the hole for a substantial sum of money when you count editing, covers, proofing, and formatting. If you count the costs of contests, giveaways, ARCs (advance reader copy), advertising, etc. the amount of red ink in your balance sheet can be overwhelming. Then add in the fans who think a $4.99 price tag for an ebook is too high, or who believe there is nothing wrong with “sharing” an ebook with the general population and it gets even worse.

I follow a lot of fellow authors on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and various author blogs. Today, one of my favorite paranormal romance authors made a post on Facebook telling her fans that someone received an ARC and released it in a free ebook group. What the bleep? Do people not realize the level of trust an author is giving to this reader? An ARC is a mutually beneficial exchange. An author gives a book before release to a fan, in return, they are asking for a review on release day. How flipping difficult is this to comprehend? What in the world makes it okay for you to take the blood, sweat, and tears of an artist (yes, authors are artists) and give it away? What the heck is wrong with you? Are you so self-absorbed that you don’t realize what you did is STEALING?

giphy (2)Most authors don’t write to get rich, we write to share our stories with the world. If we can make enough to cover the costs for the next book we write, then we’re doing great. Elle Boon’s heroes are my goto book boyfriends, but none can beat out Turo, the wolf shifter and the main subject of her next book. I’m waiting patiently to receive my copy on release day like most of Elle’s fans. To the skank who released Elle’s book to the masses without a thought to the cost of your decision, I hope you realize what you’ve done. Not only did you violate the relationship between author and advanced reader, but you’ve also made it so that Elle will no longer give out ARCs…good job!

giphy (1)There is a little karmic justice in the world, Elle used InstaFreebie to send out her ARCs, and she knows exactly who ripped her off thanks to the tracking code installed in the book. I hope she uses every legal means available to her to make sure you learn a valuable lesson about violating trust.

Till next time, I love you lots,

V. L.

The Search For My Ideal Reader

The Search For My Ideal Reader

Every author, blog, group, chat, or marketing guru who has an opinion on how to be an indie author states that we (the author) need to know who our ideal reader is. Heck, I don’t even know what my ideal book to read is, how can I know who my ideal reader is?

So I sat down and thought about it and here’s what I’ve come up with to solve my perfect reader dilemma…questions.

Does your book have excessive bad language and/or sexual situations? Are the sexual situations any of the following:

  • Multiple partners?
  • Daddy issues?
  • BDSM?
  • Fetishism?

If you answer yes to any of the bulleted situations, you’re writing for an adult. If not, then the jury is still out so let’s continue.

What is the age of your main character?

The odds are if there are children as the protagonist you’re writing either MG (middle grade) or YA (young adult) novels. So your ideal reader is someone younger.

Is there a major romantic component in your story?

Is there excessive violence?

Does your main character have any personal issues that may be difficult for someone under the age of eighteen to understand?

What is your character’s gender? If you didn’t know the character’s gender would the story read the same?

The answers for the Custodian of the Golden Assembly series are:

  1. Yes, I have bad language in my book. I do not believe it’s excessive, but I do believe it is too much for someone under the age of 16 to read. While I have lots of innuendo about the male body and eye candy’s importance to a female of a certain age, there is only one kiss in the entire novel, so sex is not an issue. Apparently, I’m writing for an adult.
  2. My main character is forty-four-years-old, so again I’m writing for an adult.
  3. Yes, there is a romantic component to my story which does become important in later books, so again I am writing for an adult, but romance isn’t exclusively adult in nature. Kids have romance too, and it should be important to YA authors to remember the passion.
  4. Hmm, excessive violence? My MC threatens a gnome, fights a serial killer, and threatens her ex-husband. I don’t think it’s “excessive.”
  5. As for the next question, are an addiction to chocolate, being prone to melodrama, and having self-esteem issues challenging for a younger individual to understand? I doubt it.
  6. Finally, my character’s gender is female (duh), and no, the story wouldn’t read the same if I changed the gender or hid it. Although, I could change the gender of my male and female leads and it would probably still work.

So here’s what I’ve got: I’m writing for an adult.

Well, that’s not much of an ideal reader description. So I go back and look at all my answers, and I realize one thing, the person I’ve written for is me. Seriously, I wrote this book to be read by a fortysomething, divorced, possibly childless woman who believes that life doesn’t end at thirty-five and those women deserve to be respected, honored, revered, and loved for what they bring to the world. This does not mean men won’t enjoy my books. I hope they do, but there are things in my books a man might not appreciate (can you say junk check?), though I hope they’ll try anyway.

Until next time,

V. L. COoke

The Story of a Self-Published Scammer … A Must Read for Every Author

The Story of a Self-Published Scammer … A Must Read for Every Author

In March, I took Golden Opportunity out of Kindle Unlimited. There were several reasons I chose to do this, but the simplest reason was money. It wasn’t paying me to keep the book in KU. While I acknowledge my books was less than perfect and since I don’t have a huge backlist taking it out seems foolish the truth is I don’t like being forced by Amazon to beg for crumbs from the tables of scammers.

In my best month I managed to eke out 2,000 page reads in KU. All of which means I made approximately $8.50 for my 2,000 pages read through their ten dollar a month program. Somehow this seems off to me. While I’m more inclined to believe it has to do with my being unknown, the fact my book needs to be edited better, and a myriad of other issues that I take responsibility for. It’s hard to reconcile it with people like the one in the article below. I believe every self-published author should read this and I hope you all will. When you’re done, come back and see what I discovered about the author in question. Thanks.

On Friday, a book jumped to the #1 spot on Amazon, out of nowhere; it quickly became obvious that the author had used a clickfarm to gatecrash the charts. The Kindle Store is officially broken. This is not the first time this has happened and Amazon’s continued inaction is increasingly baffling. Last Sunday, a clickfarmed […]

via Scammers Break The Kindle Store — David Gaughran 

I was curious about the person who would use a clickfarm to game the system. I found his blog and I found this intriguing interview where he shares this gem with the world: “First and foremost I am a philosopher, an aspect of myself that is deeply ingrained in anything I write. Ever since a young age I deigned to think of questions to reality and challenge our perception. I would consider myself a natural skeptic, a characteristic that spills into any endeavor. I am a very competitive person, but also a calm soul. A little bit of fire and ice packed into one form.” Philosopher? I guess that’s one word for it, although I would have went with arrogant, self-absorbed, elitist, but I digress.

I also found his Twitter account. An account created in March of 2017 while his book came out in October of 2016. Gosh, if only you’d put your social media presence to work before you resorted to ripping off your fellow authors this might have been a different post.

So, using my newly discovered internet stalker skills I went to Amazon and found this literary gem (Yes, that’s sarcasm. Yes, I know it’s the lowest form of wit. Yes, I just declared myself to be a little stupid). Inside the book, thanks to Amazon’s Look Inside feature, I discover the author is such a scammer he can’t even come up with an original idea to work from on his own. The book is a poorly written knock-off of Eragon. Shame on you Mr, Karadjian.

The rest of his books include a duet of fantasy novels and a memoir. I won’t say anything about the memoir because you never attack someone’s family, but those novels are fair game. How do you feel knowing the second book in your series has a four-star review which reads: “I received this book from the author for an honest review. This book is definitely better than the the first in the series. It answer a few if the questions that were left by the first book” and came out the same month as your book Dragonsoul?

I’m sorry that you felt the need to do what amounts to cheating, but where’s it going to get you in the end? If your product sucks then no one is going to tell their friends to buy it and this little surge you got by paying for your clicks is going to fall sooner than you realize. What then? Perhaps this author says it best with the title of his article.

Love you all,

V. L.

P. S. I’m open for Reviews or Beta Reading, just use the contact form.

 

Looking for a UF Read?

After several days of staring at my crowdfunding campaign I decided I needed a book break. I happened to download an urban fantasy book by one of my favorite authors and thought I’d share my review of it.  If you are looking for a new read in the urban fantasy genre, I highly recommend anything by Jasmine Walt. I first stumbled upon Jasmine Walt’s work in the Shadows of Salem Series written with Rebecca Hamilton (for more information see here).

I don’t typically do a lot of reviews, in fact I have never put one on this blog before. This book and these authors deserve one heck of a shout out, so without further ado, here’s my review of  Jasmine Walt & Debbie Cassidy’s latest book Marked by Sin.

Marked by Sin is a roller coaster ride and one of the best books in the urban fantasy genre I’ve read in recent years. The book introduces us to the world of Malina, a London-based assassin with the Brahma Corp’s Assassin Guild. An assassin who is one kill away from Ascension which occurs after fifty kills and is also known as a raise, better apartment, and better rank within the Guild. Malina has spent all of her life in the Assassin Guild. Her adopted father raised her and trained her to be the best.

When Malina’s fiftieth mission is complete, even though it doesn’t go quite as planned, she is ready to Ascend. During the ceremony where she receives her mark to confirm her kill the bottom falls out of Malina’s world. The fifty kills she’s has made have left a taint on her soul, because each of the fifty were innocents. Searching for answers, Malina navigates the new world and discovers her place within it, and maybe a potential romance.

What works: Malina. She’s strong, very loyal to those she cares about and is genuinely upset when she finds out how the world is not as she believed it to be. The vast supporting cast is all well-developed and serves to keep the plot moving forward. There is minimal bad language (okay this may be wrong, but I didn’t notice it). Also, having a UF book with a different take on the supernatural (i.e. using the Hindu pantheon) is very refreshing.

What doesn’t work: While personally, I wish the book were longer, I can’t really find anything that doesn’t work.

I will be preordering book 2 and any other books these ladies put out. If you’re interested in checking the book out for yourself it is available at Amazon.

Rating:  Five Dragons (a.k.a. stars)

Desperate times = Crowdfunding

Desperate times = Crowdfunding

I haven’t been completely honest. When I published Golden Opportunity I was a bit on the naive side of life. I thought I’d found a great editor who happened to also be my proofreader (big mistake on my part). I paid $1500 for both copyediting and proofreading. On the day Golden Opportunity went live I received a message from a person I went to high school with. She felt my book was comma heavy and a little lacking in certain real world information. Here’s what happened next.

  1. I went and proofread my book. It was comma heavy. In 87,000 words I used nearly 5,000 commas.
  2. I used ProWritingAid and Grammarly to help fix the worst of the problems. Yes, I’m admitting it I had to use programs to fix some of my book’s issues. It may sound awful, but I was already out $1,500 for editing and proofreading and it didn’t help. I had to do something to make it up to my readers.
  3. I spent months tweaking and fixing every line.
  4. Finally, I realized I couldn’t fix it by myself. I needed a good editor. One who wouldn’t tell me the book was “perfect” even when it isn’t.

When I finally admitted it to myself I cried for several hours. I’m almost forty-nine years old. I’m about to start an MFA in creative writing program in the fall. I write every single day without fail (and I mean that). I live with autoimmune hemolytic anemia with both warm and cold agglutinins, fibromyalgia, degenerative disc disease, and I have IBD. I spend most of my time at home. I don’t go out, because who’s going to want to date an old broad who can’t stray too far from a bathroom or who spends her time worrying that her body temperature is going to go below ninety-nine degrees risking a full flare of my autoimmune disorder and requiring massive blood transfusions. I live on SSDI because I can’t work outside the home. My family uprooted themselves so I could find someplace to live with a more moderate climate to keep my health under control.

So there I am trying to figure out how I can afford another one to two thousand dollars for editing when I’m already nearly two thousand dollars in the red on the book. Oh and let’s not forget I have book 2 needing edited, book 3 needing edited, and in about three months books 4 and 5 will be needing edited as well. That’s $7500 that I can’t afford. I earn a whopping $12,000 a year on SSDI. Having to realize you’re no longer able to work is horrible. Having to see the look on people’s faces when I they recognize my government issued debit card is even worse.

My goal through all my writing has only ever been to earn enough to keep me writing the next one. That means paying for the editing, covers, marketing, and the miscellaneous stuff that each book costs. I’m not trying to get rich, I’m just trying to get my stories out there. My education is what is designed to help me earn a living, not my writing.  Although it would be nice if it did.

So here I sat working on a budget so I could figure out where to squeeze every extra dime so I could have the money I need for covers and editing. It’s just not possible. Covers…maybe. Editing…can’t do it. The funds just aren’t there anymore. Plus I need a professional website and several other tools to speed up my work…as with everything else the funds aren’t there. Today I received an email about crowdfunding and the various platforms. I went a checked out a few websites. I looked at Inkitt and others and finally realized I could use Indiegogo. I’ve created a campaign that will run for two months. I’ve been open and honest about the costs associated with the books I want to publish. Maybe I can get a few donations to help offset the cost of the books.

If you, or anyone you know is willing to spread the word and help an old broad get her stories out in the world please feel free to share it on your Twitter, Facebook, heck any social media account you can think of. I’d really appreciate it. I figure I won’t get any donations, but if I do it will be a nice shock. My campaign is here.

Thank you for your time.

V. L. Cooke

Judgments

Judgments

Hello My Loves,

There was a post on Facebook today by an author I follow. I won’t share the author’s name because I don’t have permission. It was the content of the post that bothered me. She was basically apologizing to the people who follow her for talking about a vacation she’s planning on taking. A trip she’s been planning for over a year.

This author is an amazing lady, and I adore her books. She’s also a workhorse when it comes to writing. She writes non-stop and turns out four or five books a year. She makes enough self-publishing, so she no longer has to work at anything other than writing. She’s living the dream so many of us share, yet she felt the need to apologize for taking a couple weeks off…why? Seriously, why? And who the hell had the cajones to get snarky about a woman’s vacation strictly because they like her work? Sorry, I love writing, and I love meeting my readers, but if any of you were to do that to me, you’d get an earful of blistering blue language that will peel the skin off your ears.

Untitled designEarlier this week a woman I know from school wrote about how people were judging her for going to Walt Disney World with her children. The trip in which she’ll be staying at a value resort she and her husband had paid for before her husband lost his job. Yes, they’re struggling right now, and she could have canceled the trip and recouped some of the money she’d spent, but she feels her children deserve the trip. Yet, people feel they have the right to judge her for keeping a promise she made to her children because her husband is without a job? If her bills are paid, and there’s food on the table, what right does anyone have to judge how she spends her money? Is it because they think they know her life and have a right to comment on it? Or is it that they never got over being mean girls from high school?

I’ve seen other authors post about trips they’re planning for research, yet no one questions how they spend their money, and I have to wonder how much of this is because they are more famous and traditionally published. If it’s alright to judge either of my two examples, then you should have the right to judge everyone equally, am I right?

How about if you see an obese woman buying a dozen donuts, are you going to give her a lecture about wasted calories, junk food, and healthy eating?  Or are you going to talk behind her back? What about someone getting a five hundred dollar tattoo? They could probably make a car payment with that kind of money, why should they defile their skin with ink? No, I don’t really feel that way. I love tattoos and donuts. What is going on in the world that we no longer respect peoples’ right to privacy?

GUILTY!I am guilty as anyone else when it comes to this. I have made judgments and comments I had no right to make. Some political in nature, some personal, all wrong. I’ve been the woman buying donuts, I know how she felt. I’ve been a person judged for doing something as simple as buying an expensive gift for a family member as a way of saying thank you, and it didn’t feel good. I learned from it. I learned how to quash my judgmental nature and accept people. I think we need a little more of that in the world, don’t you? So share your triumphs, whether it be a book, a trip, a hot guy, or even just a weekend of Netflix and chill. I will cheer for your successes, just like I will cry when things don’t work out the way you intended. I’m always here for you. If anyone says anything negative feel free to send them my way, I’m trying to expand my creative cursing and could always use a willing victim.

Love you all,

V. L.