Amazon won’t let me leave a review. So here it is!

Amazon won’t let me leave a review. So here it is!

I adore reading. In fact, I adore it so much that I read between fifteen and twenty novels a week. When Shayne Silvers and Hailey Edwards had novels come out close together my inner fan girl nearly cried trying to decide who to read first. Hailey Edwards’ Beginner’s Guide to Necromancy Book Four How to Dance an Undead Waltz won. I read this book in one sitting with no breaks and I have no regrets.

giphy (4)Grier is one of my favorite protagonists and I was heartbroken over the ending in book three. I almost gave up on the series entirely due to the ending. I’m trying really hard not to give any spoilers to the series, so let’s say that I’m a die hard Hailey Edwards fan and she almost lost me with the way the relationship between the perennial bad boy, Boaz, treated my favorite heroine, Grier. If it weren’t for my new found fascination with underdog, Linus. I would have walked away from the series and never looked back. However, Linus called to me on a level that I didn’t expect so I gave the series a second chance and book four did not disappoint me at all.

giphyGrier is trying to live up to her title as Dame Woolworth and Linus is doing his part as teacher and guide to help her find her footing in High Society. Things are not going to be easy for the former inhabitant of Atrementous the necromancer prison, since someone has put a bounty on her head and assassins are crawling out of the woodwork. If you are looking for a good read in urban fantasy, I highly recommend the entire series. It’s definitely worth the time. It’s an emotional roller coaster ride. I give it five dragons. I almost gave it four, but only because I’m still reeling from book three’s ending. That still stings Ms. Edwards! (Maybe, I was a little too emotionally involved).

V. L. Cooke

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Why I don’t put my books in Kindle Unlimited and an announcement.

Why I don’t put my books in Kindle Unlimited and an announcement.

I send out an email to my newsletter list about once every two months and each time I lose at least sixty people. My list is full because I used to give away book one in my series for free and it would draw people to my series. Every time I sent out an email and lost readers it would bother me, but now I just shrug it off because I realized people only joined me for the freebie. Now, each time I send out an email I get inundated by people sending me requests to put my books into Kindle Unlimited, usually with a long story about how they live on a fixed income (translation: disability or social security). Before you get offended with me, I want you to understand that I’m familiar with a fixed income, I live on SSDI because I have several chronic illnesses. I’ve been insulted to my face because I live on SSDI and I understand how humiliating it is to live on what many consider welfare. What most don’t understand is SSDI is an income that is money I put into with my taxes and I earned it yet I still get told to go get a job and called names. I would love to be off SSDI someday so that I would no longer have my little green debit card and get the looks from people when I use it. My goal is to never have to use it again. That is why I go to school. I write because I have a brain filled with stories I want to share with people who love them. So, when I pulled my books from sale and got them professionally edited I took some time to take a hard look at my decision to go wide and weigh the pros and cons of Kindle Unlimited.

I want to say as a reader KU is an amazing program. You can read as many books as you want in a month and pay a flat fee. As an author, the program is not so great unless you have a huge back list and a lot of money to spend on advertising. I have three books now and very little money to spend on marketing, so unless my books are bringing in a decent amount of money that I can plug back into advertising it’s really not going to be a good program for me. Let me break the numbers down a bit for you. The sales price on my books are $1.99, $2.99, and $3.99. According to Amazon, the page lengths for each book are: 237, 308, and 247. July’s KU rate for authors was .00449 per page. So each of my books would be worth approximately $1.06, $1.38, and $1.10 in KU reads. I would lose $0.93, $1.61, and $2.89 or a total of $5.47 each time a reader reads my entire series. I know I’ve said that I am happy whenever someone reads my books, but let’s face facts I have to pay for the covers and the editing and the proof reading and I’m already in the hole…a lot. I’d really like to recoup some of the money I’ve already spent and I’m not going to do it if I lose money every time someone reads my books.

I can’t compete with the Shayne Silvers and the Hailey Edwards of the world right now. I don’t have the back list or the rabid fans who will spread the word about my writing. Hell, last night I got really gutsy and put my books up in a Facebook group for the first time and someone actually checked the Amazon link out only to come back and tell me they can’t stand First-person present Point-of-View (facepalm). I’m strong enough to realize that not everyone is going to love the choices I make as an author, but that was a HUGE step for this INFJ.

I’m sorry to those fans who want my books in KU, I really am. I just can’t afford it. I know you want to read my books where you can get them for “free,” but it costs me too much money and while I hate to admit it, this is my part-time job and I need to earn a little money at it. If you really want to read my book ask a librarian about purchasing it, it’s available through Overdrive and other library catalogs. You could even try the Kindle Owner’s library or Google Family Library. There are lots of ways to read it without buying it, just please don’t pirate it.

Also, without further ado I’d like to announce that Golden Parachute is finally live. It took a lot longer than I’d hoped. There are a few other changes to my other books as well. Golden Opportunity will no longer be free. I will be bringing my prequel novelette, Golden Rule, out of mothballs in September as soon as the cover is ready and it will be my permanently free option. It was a tough decision, but it was something I had to do. I also changed all my prices to a lower level. So, Golden Parachute (Book 3) will be $3.99 instead of my normal price of $4.99 and Seas of Gold will be $2.99 although paperbacks will be significantly higher.

Each book has gone through another round of professional edits and beta reading and I hope they are up to traditionally published book standards. I removed all of my paperbacks from CreateSpace because I wasn’t happy with the copies I had purchased. Now, Barnes and Nobles print on demand service is my provider and they can be purchased through their stores while still being available to purchase at Amazon.

You can find it at Amazon, iBooks, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Google Books

About a Word. #CockyGate

About a Word. #CockyGate

Over the weekend the self-publishing world was rocked by the actions of one self-serving, sanctimonious author. For a breakdown of her actions, I will link to several blog posts check out Jenny Trout’s Post, here, here, here, or here. Please do not misunderstand me; I am a firm believer in building your brand as an author and protecting it with everything you have. That said, you do not go after your fellow authors by trademarking a single word that is popular in your genre. It is the equivalent of someone who writes in the urban fantasy genre trademarking the word “magic.” You do not do it to your fellow authors; it is bad sportsmanship at the very least.

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Nor do you leave one-star reviews on a fellow author’s books on Goodreads threatening them over the use of common character names because they are the same as yours. Especially when you use names that are the same as those used by J. K. Rowling and C. S. Lewis in your books. Pot meet Kettle.

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As authors, we rely on readers to buy our books we do not insult our readers by insinuating they are less than capable of reading our names on the cover of a book they purchased and then using it as the reason for trademarking a common word used in our genre. Not when Amazon has such a liberal return policy. We do not sit on Twitter and Facebook and accuse other self-publishing authors of being on a “witch hunt, “stoning” us, or acting like “bullies.” We do not do these things because we are adults. We do not go live on Facebook with almost two hours of scripted dialogue where you claim you, your readers/family/cover models are threatened by rabid self-published authors who are attempting to piggyback off of your success even though they published first (link here that link is now dead thanks to a DMCA take down notice here’s the updated link). Authors that you have sent cease and desist letters to or had Amazon pull books down on because you are a narcissist with a serious need for publicity even if it is bad publicity. We do not do this because we are adults.

 

As for the rest of us, we should not freeze commenting in Facebook groups because we cannot tolerate open dialogue and we have chosen sides because we allowed the author to be a keynote speaker at our conference and we drank her Kool-aid. Nor should those of us on the other side of the issue be leaving one-star reviews on her book. We should allow the attorneys to do their work and petition to have the trademark removed. Yes, we are angry, and this does set a dangerous precedent in the publishing world.

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Ms. Hopkins publishes via Kindle Select which means she is part of Kindle Unlimited. As I understand it, she is a KDP All-Star each month and gets a bonus for her sales (I am not sure if this is true or just her braggadocio). One of her former readers/fans has stated on Youtube that she told them she preferred they read her books in Kindle Unlimited first before they purchase her books outright because she makes more money on a KU read rather than on a straight-up purchase of the book.

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In the end, Ms. Hopkins has garnered the attention she wanted she has gone from an unknown romance author/actress/photographer/director to a more well-known/infamous person. I would say the whole situation has made her a little too … cocky for her own good.

Until next time,

V. L.

Books, Books, and More Books

Books, Books, and More Books

Hello My Lovelies,

It’s that time of year again…National Novel Writing Month. This month I’ll be reworking a couple different novels, while simultaneously working on two others. I really am a glutton for punishment.

I turned Golden Opportunity permanently free and have uploaded it to Bookfunnel for free downloads if you sign up for my newsletter. It’s also still available via my usual retailers. But, since I joined the ranks of real authors and signed up at Bookfunnel, I’ve been blessed in the last month to be included in two large group promos.

Promo number 1:

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First up, is an urban fantasy promo filled with lots of great authors. If you’re looking for a new author click on the link. This promo will be active until November 10th.

Promo number 2:

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This promotion runs until November 15th and is both SciFi and Fantasy genres. There’s over ninety other authors involved in this one and I think you’ll be able to find a lot of new authors to check out. Just click on the link.

The book cover for Golden Parachute will be in my hot little hands by the end of the month and I can’t wait to see it. I am sure the crew at Deranged Doctor Design will do an amazing job as usual. If you’re an author and looking for a quality cover I can’t recommend DDD high enough. They are the best.

I’m looking for beta readers for Golden Parachute and possibly Black Gold. If anyone’s interested please email me at VLCooke@mail.com. I’d really appreciate your input.

Until next time,

V. L. Cooke

Author Interview: E. A. Copen

Author Interview: E. A. Copen

Hello My Lovelies,

Today, I’m going to introduce you to my new friend author E. A. Copen and her latest work Beasts of Babylon. It’s not often you get to read a horror western novel with a female protagonist and this one is definitely worth checking out. It has a 4.9 star average rating at Amazon.

Author Interview:

  1. What makes your protagonist different from the industry standard or genre standard?

Anastasia Thorne, like most of my protagonists, is a parent. She lost her children when they were murdered, but the whole book is about her avenging their deaths. Another thing that makes her different is that she’s a woman. Westerns traditionally have a male lead, but I really wanted to write a strong female lead, especially after reading about Calamity Jane.

  1. What’s your favorite paranormal creature and why?

The Phoenix. The legend about it dying in fire to be reborn is empowering to me. It says to me that there’s always hope. Just because your flame has burnt out, it’s only temporary and you’ll rise better, stronger, once its been restored.

  1. Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

There’s a balance there somewhere. Readers don’t want to read the same things over and over, but if you change too much it can be jarring. I think originality comes from how you approach a subject, even if it’s a trope that’s been used a thousand times before.

  1. Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

I write books about people who push outside their comfort zones and challenge perceptions. I hope that everything I write represents that part of my author brand. Many of my books are connected, but Beasts of Babylon isn’t connected to my other series. There will be more books in this world, however.

  1. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Don’t throw away those old drafts. You’re going to need them someday.

  1. How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

It changed everything! With my first book, I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t know how to market, how to find an audience or define the genre of a book. I just wrote what I wanted to read and put it out there, expecting it would sell itself. There are certain genre rules I broke that I wish I hadn’t at times. Other times, I’m really happy I did break those rules. If I had to go back and do it all again, though, I don’t think I would change anything. I would spend more time advertising before I launched the series, however.

  1. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

My covers, of course. Covers sell books. Great covers sell more books. They’re worth investing in.

  1. How do you balance making demands on the reader with taking care of the reader?

This is especially important when writing mysteries. I have to sprinkle clues throughout each book in such a way that if the reader guesses the answer correctly, it doesn’t feel cheap. It should feel rewarding, even if you guess the outcome right away. I do this basically by making sure to spread the clues out and leaving key information out, or keeping it ambiguous. Just when I hope you think you’ve got it figured out, it’s my job to present to you an alternative suspect or make you question your guesses.

  1. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Dozens? Probably at least thirty. I wrote a lot of terrible books before I had one I thought was worth publishing. Of the published books I have out, many also have a really terrible first draft that’s vastly different from the published version. Sometimes I don’t finish these really bad first drafts because I realize how bad they are.

  1. What does literary success look like to you?

Literary success would be making enough as an author that I could travel to conventions and meet fans whenever I wasn’t writing.

  1. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

There’s a lot of research that goes into writing paranormal novels. I have to learn all the lore I can whenever I use a new monster. Often, that means watching dozens of films and reading five or six books. It takes anywhere from two weeks to three months for me to prepare to write a novel.

  1. Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?

Yes! Believe it or not, I used to hate anything paranormal. I said I’d never read it, never write in it, never wanted anything to do with it. To me, paranormal meant Twilight, which I hated. Vampires have always kind of freaked me out, so I don’t find anything romantic about them. I also had an unparalleled hatred of wizards and magic using characters. I hated that they could use their magic to get out of any situation. It felt like cheating to me.

Then, I read The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. It was totally different from anything I’d ever read before, and suddenly I couldn’t get enough fiction about wizards, werewolves, scary vampires, or mysteries with paranormal elements. In less than a year, I’d read every paranormal mystery people recommended to me. I needed more. That’s how I wound up writing my own.

  1. How do you select the names of your characters?

They’re all different. Anastasia Thorne’s name came to me in a dream. Judah Black’s name is in homage to a conversation out of Reservoir Dogs, and Sal’s name came about while listening to Johnny Cash’s Boy Named Sue. I have characters whose names were inspired by Scooby-Doo, and other characters whose name came from a list generator. It really all depends.

  1. What was your hardest scene to write?

The hardest scene I ever wrote is in Beasts of Babylon and I almost took it out. It’s a flashback detailing how Anastasia’s children were murdered in front of her. I found it so shocking that I wrote this scene, that I almost didn’t finish the book. I was really upset that my mind took me there in such detail to watch a toddler die. Losing one of my children is my biggest fear, especially being in a situation where I’d be helpless to save them. Writing that was like facing that fear. It really did scare me. I agonized over whether to leave it in or take it out, but decided it should stay in when I shifted the focus of the book from simply being a paranormal western to being a horror western. Stephen King says write what scares you and that’s exactly what I did.

  1. How long on average does it take you to write a book?

It varies a lot. The fastest full-length novel I’ve ever written was finished in just 15 days. The longest was probably the forthcoming novel of the Judah Black series, Playing with Fire which took 10 months to write. It isn’t the length that makes a difference. It’s often the subject matter. Playing with Fire is a government conspiracy book that deals with abuse in a religious setting, something I endured as a child. Revisiting those memories can be tough, but I feel it’s also important to do so.

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If you’re looking for a horror novel to enjoy on Halloween, go check out E. A. Copen’s Beasts of Babylon. It’s available here.

Until next time,

V. L.

 

Virtual Fantasy Con 2017

Virtual Fantasy Con 2017

Hello My Lovelies,

Virtual Fantasy Con 2017 is officially underway. I hope you’ll all come visit the event pages by all the authors, editors, and artists who are participating including the one for yours truly. This is the first time I’ve participated and the reader’s group on Facebook is busy. There are panel videos to watch and links to all the other event pages. You can find the reader’s group here. There is even a post where you can find work by the participating authors most of it in the Free to $1.99 range. I hope you’ll swing by and visit.

Now, I need to get back to school work.

Until next time,

V. L.

Update

Update

Hello My Lovelies,

I hope you’re all doing well. It’s been an exciting few weeks at my hacienda. I’m getting ready to start my MFA next week and after reviewing the courses I’m apprehensive that my pathetic skills as an author are not up to snuff, but I’ll plow through and do my best. I swear the next two years of my life are going to be me talking to myself like Robin Williams in Dead Poets’ Society.giphy (3)

I’m getting ready for Virtual Fantasy Con 2017 where I have an author booth/event going from the fifteenth to the twenty-first of October. If you would like to come hang out with me at the con, you can find me here, and if you join the reader group here, you can meet a lot of other amazing authors.

giphy (2)Like my gif, I’m finding writing to be a bit challenging lately. Currently, I’m working on three novels simultaneously. One is revisions on the third book of my Custodian series. The other is another in the Custodian series in the rough draft phase. The third is in an entirely new paranormal romance series. I haven’t completely meshed with my characters in the new series, and it’s been a bit rough, but I think we’re about to make some serious headway if my characters would quit trying to change their names on me. Yes, my characters are imaginary, but I swear they like to annoy me on a daily basis. I will beat them into submission eventually.

This is how I feel right now:giphy (1)

Perhaps I am overdoing it a bit, but to quote one of my all time favorite movies “Never give up…Never surrender!”

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Love you all,

V. L.