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Saturday, February 27, 2016

Awash in Support? What I've Learned from My Kindle Scout Campaign

It's down to the wire. Tomorrow is the last day to nominate Awash in Talent in the Kindle Scout program. The campaign ends at midnight EDT February 28/29, so if you're looking at this on Leap Year Day, you've missed your chance.

On Leap Year Day, I'll look at my final figures and keep my fingers crossed that someone at Kindle Press loves my dear unusual Awash in Talent enough to publish it on its own strengths and on the support I've been able to muster. Because although a high number of nominations is probably interesting to Kindle Press, the human beings who staff it have the final say as to whether they'll put the time and effort into ensuring any book's success. It's a great policy for quality assurance—I know as a publisher that we can't give our utmost to a book if we don't adore it. There's too much hard, annoying, nasty stuff that goes on behind the scenes of publishing. Without the love, it isn't worth it.

I'll also reflect on the things I've learned during the Kindle Scout campaign. During this grueling month of trying to get the word about Awash in Talent to the right readers, I've learned more than I can possibly express here. Some of it was technical, such as how to pin a Tweet to the top of your profile so it doesn't get lost in the all the retweeting support you're happy to do for other authors. Some of it was basic marketing, such as how a good book cover can keep a book trending, but it's got to already be trending, because people can't be drawn in by a cover they don't see.

Most importantly, I've learned that if you ask a person a favor, they won't do it for you unless there's some love between you. In the past, I've had some positive outcomes from going outside my comfort zone to ask for what I want. This time around, I asked a few media outlets to cover Awash in Talent's Kindle Scout campaign, outlets I thought might have an interest because they love Providence as much as I do. Mostly I got frozen out. The few I got responses from weren't willing to share the link because it felt like advertising. Is it advertising when you're looking for nonmonetary support? When you wish to share your enthusiasm for a place with people you think also might be enthused? I must not have offered enough benefit to these outlets. Because there's another side to the story.

This graphic, so helpful to an author's self-esteem, shows how many hours
the book was "Hot & Trending" each day through 2/16.
The first time Awash in Talent was "Hot & Trending," at the beginning of the campaign, was the direct result of an email I sent to an exclusive circle of about 30 people. All were either related to me by blood or love, or we had a mutually beneficial working relationship. Their support at this crucial time gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling I'm not accustomed to. They like me! They really like me! All I had to do was ask for their support and they gave it. Those are some endorphins!

I think there was quite a bit of helpful sharing going on from this group, but the only evidence I have is that my brother and brother-in-law mentioned me twice on their popular podcast (Episode 19, minute mark 13:22 and Episode 20, minute mark 13:56).

The Crazy Mind interviewed me and produced some scintillating conversation, too.

The second, even more spectacular, and apparently final spell of "Hot & Trending" was another direct result of asking for support. This time, the group I asked was my high school graduating class. I didn't expect the beautiful outpouring of faith, and it was beautiful. I'm so moved. I think perhaps the connection between human beings becomes really strong when you've spent hours and hours in a room together, as you do in school. The connection lasts a long time, too, because I'm not exactly a recent high school grad. I feel inspired to do a book event or two in my hometown area now, so I can be with my amazing supporters, and get some more endorphins.

I'm also doing that thing the publishing industry declares necessary for building a relationship with new readers: starting a newsletter. You can sign up for my newsletter by putting your email in the box at the top of this post or at this cute page. You likely won't receive anything for a month or two while I sort out the chaos of my writing life. When those rare messages finally come, you won't regret having signed up.

Just to remind you, midnight EST on February 28 is your last chance to nominate Awash in Talent. You'll think it's worthwhile if you like books with heartfelt, developed characters and unpredictable plots, Rhode Island and other exotic locations, fantastic powers, and realistic yearnings of the heart. Emily, Kelly, and Patricia are characters whose story demanded to be told, and who would love to meet all you wonderful readers in the published book.

If you haven't done it yet, you can still be my personal hero by nominating Awash in Talent or by sharing the link with readers you think might enjoy it via social media, email, phone calls, anything that works!

Whatever the outcome, I know I've done everything in my power. That doesn't stop the nerves, though! Thank you so much for going through this challenging experience in hope with me.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Awash in Talent: Get to Know Patricia the Psychic

Patricia is the narrator/heroine of the third and final novella in Awash in Talent (the novel YOU can bring to publication with the power of YOUR nomination!), Friendship Street.

You may know that in Providence, Friendship is literally a one-way street. Patricia understands this only too well. As a psychic, she has a deep understanding of everyone around her, and receives little to no reciprocation. It's lonely being a psychic because, in order to avoid the institutions and practices that may have killed her psychic father, Patricia has never revealed her Talent.

You might think being able to read your husband's mind is an advantage, but for Patricia, it's a burden. She realizes this too late and must figure out how to escape his controlling clutches, all while keeping the secret of her Talent and dealing with Emily, who is her most troublesome therapy client.

Like Emily, Patricia is a Californian. She came to Providence to do a post-doc and loved it so much that she stayed to set up her own therapy practice in a Victorian house she adores on the East Side, but which she can't afford without her new husband's help. Patricia takes on Emily's court-ordered case out of curiosity: she can't read Emily's thoughts, no matter how she tries. In contrast, everyone else assaults Patricia with a barrage of continual thought. She must solve this mystery without anyone finding out that she can read minds, and she must do this before Emily does something else drastic and illegal.

The cover for Friendship Street has an artist's conception of what thought might look like as it goes out into the world. To Patricia, I'm sorry to say, thoughts make more sense and are far less beautiful.

I'm proud to say Awash in Talent has made it into the podcast sphere. Have a listen to the Big Gay Fiction Podcast, episode 19! My charming and talented (although not Talented) brother and brother-in-law do me the honor of explaining the Kindle Scout program and mentioning my dear Awash in Talent at 13:23 – 14:01. And once again in Episode 20, minute 13:56, complete with a reading of the blurb!

More great news—The Crazy Mind (appropriately enough) has interviewed me on the Kindle Scout experience, how Emily's little sister started the whole thing, and all the great stuff you'll find in Awash in Talent. Check it out here.

Friendship Street, I'm told, is some of my best writing. In truth, I put my heart and soul into all of Awash in Talent, and it is my fondest hope that it will win a publishing contract with the Kindle Scout program. You, dear reader, can make all the difference in my publishing dreams. It's easy and fun to go to the link and click the "Nominate" button. Not only does it get you an exclusive, unique, free book, but also my sincere gratitude.

I'm sorry to say there's also a time limit on when you can do this wonderful, easy thing. It has to happen before February 29. Let's unite our forces before Leap Year Day! Thanks!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Awash in Talent: Get to Know Kelly the Firestarter

This, the day before Valentine's, is a great time to talk about WaterFire because, of the three novellas in Awash in Talent (the novel you can make sure gets published!), this one has the purest and most innocent concept of love.

Note, I didn't say it had a happy ending necessarily. It's just that the people in love are pretty new at it and are doing it without malice or manipulation, which can't be said about the other love stories in this novel.

WaterFire is the second novella and is narrated by Kelly, a pyrokinetic (firestarter) who's been placed in Providence's special school for her Talent after coming into her power in a surprising and destructive way. I imagine that's Kelly on the cover, sitting on the docks near the school and contemplating her fate as well as the beautiful city she loves but must escape from. The cover was created by Amygdala Designs and inspired the romantic scene in which Brian takes Kelly on a seemingly spontaneous date to WaterFire.

WaterFire is a real-life public art installation that Kelly appreciates and describes in detail in the novella. Check it out here.

Kelly's love, Brian, is another student at the school, which little by little is revealed to be nothing more than a lockdown facility to keep the frightening powers of the pyrokinetics out of the public arena. This is a problem because Kelly's mother is suffering in the burn ward at Mass General Hospital in Boston. Kelly finds out that Emily's sister might be able to heal her mother! How can she bring them together when no one trusts her to be able to control her Talent?

While the love story is a beautiful part of WaterFire, it doesn't define Kelly. She's too busy understanding her own power and trying to save her mother. I enjoyed writing about a teenager who has a lot of problems, but love isn't one.

You can read about Kelly's journey of emotional strength—and don't miss the underaged driving in the snow!—if Awash in Talent gets enough nominations in the Kindle Scout program to win publication. Everyone who nominates Awash in Talent before February 29 will receive an exclusive free early reader copy! Help me make my dream come true. I'll thank you for it.

See even more about Awash in Talent here.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Awash in Talent: Get to Know Emily, Sister of a Telekinetic Healer

Awash in Talent is a YA/NA contemporary paranormal novel in three novellas. You can help it be published by clicking the "Nominate" button at this link. Easy, free, and fun! Learn even more here.

Each novella in Awash in Talent will have its own cover. Hope & Benevolent, the first, foundational novella, called for a cover that reflects the preoccupation of the narrator, Emily, with early hominids, such as Australopithecus ramidus, one of the oldest fossilized primates who is considered to have a relationship to modern humans. It also illustrates Emily's tendency to keep reaching for what she wants, even when it's obvious to everyone else that it isn't going to work out.

I have a real-life friend whose name is Emily, and after she read "Unpredictable Factors in Human Obedience" in Unpredictable Worlds, she asked me, "Do you hate me?"

Simply because the narrator of that story is crazy or evil and has the same name she does? Not a chance.

When it came time to name the crazy and/or nefarious narrator of Hope & Benevolent, I made use of the name Emily again, for reasons lost to time (but probably related to author shorthand in character development!). I named her younger sister Beth, so in the end the sisters are named after the owner of Clifford, the Big Red Dog.

Emily's simple desire to be recognized for her own brilliance over her ridiculously Talented sister sends her across the country to Providence, Rhode Island, where she finds the love of her life. To be with him, and to spare herself a summer at home with her sister, Emily does a field study in Ethiopia. But even that's not far enough away to escape her sister. And that's when things really get complicated. You can read an excerpt that includes the astonishing incident in Ethiopia at the Kindle Scout campaign page.

Emily doesn't have the same limits to her ambition or her behavior we mere mortals do. Although at first she seems sassy and fun, in reality you probably wouldn't want her as your friend. She will obliterate anything that gets in her way, and she's not above committing what others would consider crimes. Imagining what Emily would do next, I thought about her goals and took possible actions far past their logical conclusions.

Emily is great fun to write. Far from hating my friend with the same name, I'm honoring her. Her name is now immortalized in a character who's so delightful to write, I can't imagine she'll be forgotten by readers any time soon.

At least that's my dearest authorial hope.

You'll be able to read Emily's incredible adventures in Hope & Benevolent and the third novella, Friendship Street, if enough readers nominate Awash in Talent for publication. Wish it luck!