Hill Country Wild Life

Wild life? Not too much wild about this mama deer. She grazes near our house. We were outside, and she raised her head, looked at us, and ambled to the back of the house.

We mow only around our house and keep the fields to the side and in back natural. The wildflowers are high enough for this mama to hide her baby which is exactly what she does I discovered. I went in the house and walked to the back windows. A fawn came running out from the wildflower field.

The picture is a little blurry because I snapped it through the window as Mama, with her fawn attached, awkwardly walked along the edge of the wildflowers.

Takeaway Truth

Life away from the city is more relaxed. The leisurely pace gives a break from the frantic urban life and offers a chance to enjoy simple pleasures.

How To Remove A 50' Tall Tree

For the last 10 years, we've been trying to save the old pecan tree on the side of our house. Despite our best efforts, it would die off a little more each year until all that was left was the trunk and 4 main branches that towered over all the houses around it.

Every few years, we'd hire a tree service to come in, prune, assess, and give it some TLC in order to keep it going. However, last year's drought was the final nail in the coffin I guess.

Drought Victim

When spring came, we did the annual clean up the yard and noticed that the base of the tree where it touched the ground had a huge hollowed out spot under it. The more we looked, the more concerned we became. We had to face the fact that this tree, which was probably a hundred years old, had died. In fact, we found a vertical split from the ground all the way up to one of the main branches about 20 feet above ground.

Thus began the process of obtaining estimates for removing it. We had a lot of people offer estimates, but far fewer who had insurance, and even fewer who bought the insurance and kept the insurance after showing a homeowner the certificate. Of course, since the tree was so huge -- about 50 feet tall -- we were concerned that removing it might result in one of the heavy sections falling onto adjacent houses and damaging pools, houses, or, horror of horrors, hitting a person or a pet.

Every time we had strong winds, I worried so I was happy to find an affordable, experienced tree cutter and was able to verify his insurance. I made arrangements for him to remove the tree today. He and his crew showed up at 1 o'clock. They finished at 6:30 pm. These men were amazing!

Removal In Pictures

Here are some pictures of the process. The top picture shows part of the rotted base. The tree at about five feet above ground was 102 inches in circumference.

The second picture shows the young man who climbed the tree using tree spikes on his boots. He's standing at the edge of the roof on the only low tree branch that remained. Attached to his waist by a leather strap was a chainsaw that was already running.

The climbing tree cutter has not reached the branches. From here, he climbs up even farther and begins tying safety lines on each section and slicing the tree into pieces which the ground crew would pull down. So it went piece by piece until all the branches were gone, and then he started on the trunk-- one chunk at a time.

Only 2 cuts got away from him and the ground crew. One was a foot long chunk of branch that was so rotted it fell apart in the safety line, flew through the air, and fell into the rose garden. It knocked off a lot of blooms but didn't do any major breakage of the bushes.

Heads Up!

The other piece was bigger but it got away because of the same reason -- so rotted the rope disintegrated it. This piece was about 5 feet long though and was part of a fairly large branch. We were standing on the patio watching the tree cutter when that log went flying through the air, hit the roof, and skidded across it as if it was surfing. It landed in the back yard and left a nice little dent in the sod.

Five and a half hours later, the tree was down and cut into sections. The crew began loading the sections into a trailer. One of the men told me they were going to try to sell the pieces that weren't rotted, possibly to a furniture maker. Sadly, there weren't that many whole sections. The rot went all the way through.

We felt so sad to lose the tree, but we also felt relieved that we no longer had to worry about a storm sending the tree crashing into someone's house. If that had happened, it would have wiped out the house and probably anyone in it.

Takeaway Truth

We packed up for a weekend in the Hill Country. As we pulled out of the driveway, we stopped and looked. Our home just didn't look the same without the old tree towering over it.

3 Places To List Free Ebooks

Earlier in the week I commented about reading my last Authors Guild Report. Much of the publication struck me as being a diatribe against self-publishing authors -- particularly those who offer their work for free.

One author who wrote in seemed to think that anyone who did this, did so only because no one would pay for the work in question. The "us against them" tone of the publication saddened me. I wholeheartedly support the Authors Guild, and I don't want to think that because I am now part of the self-publishing world that I'm an outcast.

The Why

Of course, traditionally published authors who don't understand why anyone would give away a book, don't realize that this is a marketing ploy to introduce readers to an author who doesn't have a "name" or a legion of fans who will buy his/her books. The rationale is that by giving them a free book as sample that the reader will like the writing and be willing to pay for a different book from the same author.

A lot of authors offer free books, but they bemoan that they don't give away as many copies as they think they should. With that thought in mind, here are 3 websites that will list your free books.

Each week I'll give 3 more on Thursday3Some as I discover them. Some of them are probably on the list Media Bistro linked to, but others are websites that contacted me.

For Readers

Readers, take note. Visit the sites and subscribe to their RSS feed or to their blogs so you can take advantage of free books in the future.

For Writers

Visit the sites. Follow all their rules in order to get your books listed when you make them free.

3 Websites For Free Ebook Promotion

Free eBooks Daily

Use the contact form to make a suggestion, leave a comment, or list your free ebook.

Pixel of Ink

If your book is going to be free on Amazon within the next 30 days, let them know in advance. Use their form. You may find your book featured if time and space permit.

Bargain Ebook Hunter

Use the Contact Form to let them know when your book will be free. They will consider it for a listing that's free if they choose you. All genres EXCEPT erotica.

Takeaway Truth

It pays to advertise -- even when something is free.

Indie Writing Contest

Romance Junkies 2012 Writing Contest will open July 1st. Get your entries ready now.

Whether you have a new manuscript that you plan to publish yourself or a previously printed backlist title whose rights have reverted to you, here's a contest for indie authors.

Visit Romance Junkies Contest Page for details. Let me just say: great prizes! There's something for readers too.

There are many contests for unpublished writers and some for published writers, but they're all geared toward those who want to publish the traditional print way. Now, contests for us indie authors are beginning to crop up. It's about time, right?

Takeaway Truth

Someone will win. Maybe you -- but you have to enter.

French Copies Arrived!

When I opened the box of my author copies of Jane (coeur à prendre) Jones, the French translation of Jane (I'm Still Single) Jones, I grabbed my cell phone, stacked the books up, and snapped a pic -- which clearly shows I'm no threat to professional photographers. Translating the French title, the book becomes Jane (Take Heart) Jones.

Sorry, if I'm running off at the keyboard with excitement, but this is really a trip for me. Sure, I've sold foreign translation rights before, but this is different. Perhaps it's because it was one of my earliest indie author-published ebooks.

My second book with Bragelonne is the French translation of Still The One, to be published in print in July under the title Mariés à tout prix. That's Married At All Costs for those of use who are, sadly, mono-lingual. I'll write more about it next month and show the book cover too.

Bragelonne has done such a wonderful job with the French edition, and everyone at the French publisher has been supportive and friendly. I can't praise them enough.

Takeaway Truth

A foreign rights sale introduces your writing to an entirely new world of readers. In this rapidly-shrinking world, that's a very good thing.

Clean Up Hard Drive: Remove Duplicates

I downloaded a super helpful free app and wanted to pass the tip on to you.

CloneSpy is a Free Duplicate File CleanUp Tool for Windows versions NT through Win7. It's for English apps only though. (Latest version: 2.63 was released Saturday, April 28, 2012.)

I heard about it back in January from a Kim Komando newsletter but just now got around to checking it out for myself.

What It Does

CloneSpy helps you free up hard drive space by detecting and removing duplicate files. Duplicate files have exactly the same contents regardless of their name, date, time and location. It's also able to find files that are not exactly identical, but have the same file name.

Maybe you have different versions of a file and you want to find all of them and remove the older versions. It can also find zero length files -- those that have no content.

Takeaway Truth

A "cleaned up" hard drive works faster, and that's always a good thing.

Starting Over

I know a lot of people have been waiting for my next book. I have finished it -- at least a half dozen times! Why, you may well wonder, haven't I published it?

Since my daughter's wedding, I've been coping with a home remodel and then dived into landscaping at our weekend house. I've spent more time on finishing up these long-delayed projects and less time on figuring out why I wasn't happy with the book.

When I had time to work on the book, I was bum-fuzzled because I couldn't put my finger on why it didn't please me. After all, this book is an expanded version of a previously-print published book. Frustrated, I'd shove it aside and go to the other projects.

Finally, I confronted the issue, went back to square one, and started over. Now, I'm "into" the characters and the story. As I was fine-tuning a couple of chapters today, I found myself smiling -- pleased with what I was reading.

Dolly Parton, a really smart lady, said: "If you don't like the road you're walking, start paving another one."

Takeaway Truth

That's what I did. It worked.

Review: Nike's Wings by Valerie Douglas

I didn't know quite what to expect when I bought Nike's Wings by Valerie Douglas.

You see, Ms. Douglas doesn't just cross genres -- she leaps over them. With books from classic fantasy to erotic romance, she has books in multiple genres. Even her so-called single genre books are a melange of elements from other genres.

I purposely did not read the description because so many descriptions spoil an excellent premise and good plot twists. I like to be surprised. Plus, the title sold me on the book without reading the book blurb.

I've intended to read Nike's Wings ever since I found Ms. Douglas on one of the many online writing hot spots. Finally, it came to the top of my TBR mountain.

As is my custom when I review ebooks, I give the Kindle Buy Links because I read them on my Kindle. However, I'm certain these books are available at most ebook sellers so look for them on the platforms that match your ebook reading device. Click here to shop for your very own Kindle.

Callie, an all-American teenager bored by the adults traveling with her and her father on what has been a rather mundane trip, is thrust into an unending nightmare in a "ripped from the headlines" event. Unending? Not precisely. I guess even Hell has a light at the end of a long tunnel.

Strengthened by one night of feeling safe and secure in the arms of a man who promises to save her gives her the emotional fortitude to endure.

I really don't want to give spoilers about the plot, but suffice it to say that Fate lends a hand, she is eventually reunited with the man who gave her the memory that she clung to in an effort to hang onto her humanity.

Adversity builds character they say. In Callie's case, adversity turns her into Nike Tallent, a woman who might well be called the Destroyer. Without roots, family, or friends, and trusting no one, she finds salvation where she least expects it.

Riveting characterization, well-plotted action sequences, and a believable romance highlight this tale of a woman who will "not go quietly into that goodnight."

Looking for a riproaring action thriller with great characters and emotion? You can't go wrong with Nike's Wings by Valerie Douglas.

Takeaway Truth

I'm surprised some movie producer hasn't optioned this book. It has all the elements an actress would want in a breakout role.

Review: A Taste of Magic by Tracy Madison

A Taste of Magic by Tracy Madison features appealing characters, emotional truths, and an element of magic. All these elements combine to make this contemporary romance a compelling read.

As is my custom when I review ebooks, I give the Kindle Buy Links because I read them on my Kindle. However, I'm certain these books are available at most ebook sellers so look for them on the platforms that match your ebook reading device. (Shop for your own Kindle.)

If you've ever been divorced or known the heartache of a breakup, then you know exactly what Elizabeth, aka Lizzie, the heroine of this book, is feeling. Can you blame her for casting a spell on her ex when she discovers that she has inherited the familial gypsy power?

The problem is that all of Lizzie's spells have unexpected results. Of course, that's usually the case with wishes. Lizzie learns the hard way that she really should be careful what she wishes for.

Amusing and filled with wonderful characters, not to mention a hunky cop in uniform as hero, this book is endearing.

Takeaway Truth

Toss in a dollop of steamy sex, and you have a book that will delight you and make you look for more by this author. Might I suggest the second book in her Gypsy Magic series -- A Stroke of Magic?

Book Sales Outside The Box

If you've been an indie author for at least a year, you need to be thinking about branching out – about creating new revenue streams. At the very least, you need to be thinking about these possible new profit centers:

1. Hard copy print editions of your ebooks.

2. Audio books from your ebooks.

3. Bundled books into boxed sets.

4. Direct sales of books.

I plan to address each of these issues in future editions of Writing Hacks. Today, I'm going to focus on one aspect of: Direct Sales of Books.

(This article previously appeared in Writing Hacks, my subscription newsletter for writers. Subscribe today if you want to read articles like this as soon as they are published.)

Direct Sales of Books

Of course, this means you, the author/publisher, selling directly to the public. You can do this in 2 ways:

1. Online through a website.

2. In person at a book signing, flea market, trade show, or other public or private event.

Today, let's talk about this second way to directly sell books: in person at a public or private event.

I chose today's topic because it surprises me that it can be so easy to do. Sure, you can hand a book to a reader with one hand and collect cash with the other, but that's rather limiting since very few people in today's world walk around with more than a few bucks in their wallets. We all use credit cards. Well, guess what? You the individual can sell and collect payment from a customer's credit card if you have a smartphone or iPad.

First, let me cover some scenarios that might make selling print books possible for the Indie Author. For sales tax implications, check with your particular state or be willing to pay the sales tax yourself when you order the books then charge just cover price when you sell to the public. In any case, be informed about your sales tax responsibilities.

Friends and Family

You just published your latest book, and your best friend wants to throw a book launch party for you. You order a couple of dozen copies of your book for the event. It's rather gauche to tell your hostess to make sure everyone shows up with cash in hand. True, most of the guests will probably be friends who plan to buy a copy. However, if you take credit cards, you may make more sales. Peggy may buy an autographed copy for herself and one for her sister in Phoenix. Susie might buy one for herself and one as a Christmas gift for her mother. Think expansively.

Substitute any meeting of friends, real job co-workers, and family, and you have not only a fun way to interact with people you know but also a group that may buy your book if you make it easy for them.

Mutual Interests

Let's say your latest mystery has a landscape architect as sleuth. You scout out garden clubs, offering to speak. The program chair will probably be delighted to have you. Your topic is an aspect of garden design that plays into the plot of your mystery. You bring copies of your book and have the person who introduces you tell the audience that you'll be signing copies of your book after the program, and that credit cards are accepted. (Be smart. Donate part of the day's sales to the group. That will be announced and will help promote sales.)

Substitute any fraternal or social organization for the garden club. There are alumni groups, stamp collecting clubs, bridge clubs, historical societies – the list is endless. Whatever the plot and characters and setting of your book, chances are there are multiple overlapping organizations to which you could deliver a targeted presentation and find readers.

Unknown Buyers

For those who are truly adventurous, take your books to a festival or craft show. Most communities have special annual events from the Mushroom Festival in Madisonville, Texas, to the Watermelon Festival in Luling to the Greek Festival in Houston, and let's not forget the many Harvest Festivals and Christmas Bazaars. Every geographic region across the country has these.

If you have books that can be targeted to certain time periods or, again, to particular settings or occupations, festivals may be a great way to sell. True, doing something like this is for the true extrovert. I have some friends who wouldn't bat an eye at getting a booth and hawking their anthology of Christmas angel stories or whatever. Other friends would rather be shot at dawn by a firing squad than to do something like this.

If you think the idea would be fun, but you're hesitant, band together with a couple of friends and try it.

How To Accept Credit Cards

Recently I signed up for a Square account. (http://www.squareup.com). The website is easily navigated and what you need to know is easy to find. (What is Square and how do I sign up? )

Square is a way where anyone with a Smartphone can get paid with a credit card. If you sign up for their Basic Account, it's free. They'll send you a Square Card Reader by mail and the Square Card Reader app by text to your phone. In effect, these two items make you a merchant who takes credit cards.

When I registered, I chose Individual Use as the way I planned to use the Square Card Reader. I do plan to have print books this year from my ebooks so I want a way to sell to anyone interested in obtaining a copy, and that usually means by taking credit cards.

Once you activate your Square account and download the app onto your mobile device, they will automatically ship you a free card reader.

The fees are simply 2.75% of the purchase per swipe. They authorize Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express, and the fee is the same for all. The Square Card Reader attaches to your cell phone, and you swipe a customer's credit card with it then have them sign the screen on your phone. Of course you must be at least 18 years of age or older to create a Square account.

Then, generally speaking, the payments taken one day are deposited into your account the next day. Once your bank account information is verified, Square will automatically deposit your money in your designated bank account when your Square Account balance exceeds $10. Read the Terms of Service and FAQ for details regarding this. You can receive email confirmations when the money is put in your account.

Takeaway Truth

The world is changing. Technology is making it possible for small entrepreneurs to offer the same services as large businesses.

A Writer Questions: First Person or Not

Today my guest is Jan Scarbrough, a longtime friend. We were both published by Kensington in "another lifetime."

Jan is a professional technical writer by day, but by night, she is a romance author. She's a member of Novelist, Inc., Romance Writers of America, and the Kentucky Romance Writers, where she manages their award-winning web site.

Jan is the mother of two grown children and is, as she describes it, a very "young" grandmother. She lives in Louisville, Kentucky, and rides American Saddlebred horses for fun and recreation.

You can find Jan on Facebook and Jan on Twitter @romancerider. Now, she's going to discuss the "person" one uses to write a book. Writers, you'll find this discussion relevant, and, Readers, you'll find it interesting to discover how a writer goes about determining how a story will be told.

First or Not to First: A Writer’s Question
by Jan Scarbrough

While first person is regularly used in mysteries and "chicklit," it's not the most common POV in the romance genre. Point of View, or POV, is the perspective from which the story is told. As Christine Danse pointed out in a Carina Press blog called The Challenges of Writing Romance in First Person, "A lot of tension in love stories is built around experiencing both characters' feelings."

So if you’re writing from the heroine's POV in a first person romance, you lose the perspective of the hero. This means that the heroine will have to be present in every scene. Hailey Edwards commented on Christine Danse's blog, "Now that I think about it, my favorite heroes are the ones I’ve read in first person novels, where the heroine’s observations are all I have to build my own impression of the hero."

What Do You Think?

How about you? Do you like to read first person romance?

I’ve enjoyed reading it because of my attraction to the Gothic romance of the 1960's popularized by Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt. As noted on Infoplease.com: "Seemingly modeled on Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre and Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca, these novels usually concern spirited young women, either governesses or new brides, who go to live in large gloomy mansions populated by peculiar servants and precocious children and presided over by darkly handsome men with mysterious pasts."

Today Phillipa Gregory uses first person, present tense, to write her popular historical novels about English queens.

As Christie Craig and Faye Hughes note (http://www.netplaces.com/): "First-person POV creates an intimate bond between the reader and the character. This bond is definitely seen as an advantage. Most first-person writers also find their ability to get into deep characterization easier than some third-person writers."

I like writing in first person, and with the explosion of eBooks, I have enjoyed the freedom to indulge my POV preference. Are you a writer? Have you ever written in first person? [Joan asks: If you're a reader, what do you think about stories in first person?]

Jan's first person, Gothic romance Tangled Memories is on sale until August at Smashwords for the promotional price of $2.24 when purchased with Coupon Code: XJ73J. This offer expires August 6, 2012. So get it today.

Takeaway Truth

Thanks, Jan, for stopping by SlingWords today. You're given writers and readers alike a good analysis of using first person as a narrative technique.

Writer's Professional Attitude

I'm almost caught up with reading my saved newsletters from Kim Komando. I was struck by her advice to businesses about what to do when a consumer posted a bad review about the business's product.

Of course, this made me think about a writer's product: a book. There's a never-ending discussion among writers about book reviews with the general opinion being to simply ignore the review whether it's good, bad, or somewhere in between. Never engage in a discussion with the writer of a bad review because it's a no-win situation.

My preferred method is to ignore the negative reviews, but I always try to thank someone who posted a good review. I don't often catch these because I make it a policy to NOT look at reviews. Sometimes I can't help it, as I check one of my book pages, to see comments and stars. That's usually when I'll thank a reviewer, but I don't hunt for reviews.


As an author, you just have to accept that not everyone will like your book. Yes, it still stings when someone posts a bad review. No author ever sets out to write a bad book. We put time, energy, and a piece of heart and soul into every book.

Readers and Writers, Take Heart

For every reader who hates your book, there will be a reader who loves it. Hopefully, more than one reader.

The best thing readers can do is to not take reviews to heart either. I know when a book description interests me, I'll buy it regardless of what reviews say. I've found some wonderful books that way.

The best thing writers can do is to develop an optimistic philosophy about reviews, otherwise you'll seesaw between elation at a five-star review and depression at a 1-star that's so pervasive that it may cripple your writing.

You'll know that you have become a professional writer in attitude, as well as in narrative skills, when you can look at a bad review and shrug. I deliberately hum that old 1970's song from Sly and the Family Stone: Different Strokes for Different Folks.

Takeaway Truth

Different strokes for different folks is really the bottom line on reviews and just about every other subjective area of life: some like it; some don't. Some will be vocal about what they like and don't like; others won't.

Your Demanding Home

I'm reading saved email late tonight since I can't sleep. I have a lot of this since I subscribe to a lot of newsletters.

In Kim Komando's Cool Site of the Day email  newsletter I found a tip so good I thought I'd pass it on as my blog post this Monday.

(If you don't subscribe to some of Kim Komando's content, you really should. She publishes several free email newsletters. The signup form is on every content page. You'll find one at the link I direct you to below. I find valuable info in her newsletters all the time. I try to pass some of it on, but there's just so much information that it's impossible to pass on everything.)

Kim was talking about Home Upkeep which is a problem for everyone whether you're as time-challenged as me or you have all the time in the world. (Gee, does that description really fit anyone in today's world?)

If you own a home, you have to keep up with routine maintenance. That can be a problem when some tasks need to be done weekly and some every few months.


Kim recommends a website that takes the guess work and one's questionable memory out of the equation. Brightnest.com is free and has tips, shortcuts, and even step-by-step instructions to help you take care of your home, the biggest investment that most of us have.

Register and create a profile for your house. The website suggests new projects to improve your property and helps you track your work and sends maintenance reminders.

Takeaway Truth

I love discovering websites that help make life a little easier.

Father, Dad, Pops, My Old Man

I miss Daddy. Yes, I don't feel silly at all in confessing that I always called him Daddy.

Regardless of how mature I became, to me, he was always Daddy. On Father's Day, I always think about the quote attributed to Gloria Naylor: "Old as she was, she still missed her daddy sometimes."

Country star Hank Williams, Jr. said: "My daddy, he was somewhere between God and John Wayne." 

That was true in our household. My father was the supreme ruler in our home. He even looked like John Wayne when they were both young. He was a handsome young man who went to war and landed on D-Day. He survived but was emotionally scarred by the war.

On Father's Day, I think of my brothers who became wonderful fathers, and of our sons and son-in-law who also are great dads.

Then there's my husband, my own personal hero, who is the best dad in the world. I think he is the kind of father Terri Guillemets describes: "I love my father as the stars -- he's a bright shining example and a happy twinkling in my heart."

Takeaway Truth

Regardless of what kind of father yours is -- stern or relaxed, demonstrative or reserved -- today, tell him how much he means to you. Don't wait until he's gone and then futilely wish you could have just one more hour with him so you could make sure he knew how precious he was to you.

Review: Oceans Between Us by Helen Scott Taylor

I think it's safe to say that Oceans Between Us by Helen Scott Taylor is my favorite book yet from this author.

As is my custom when I review ebooks, I give the Kindle Buy Links because I read read most books on my Kindle. However, I'm certain every book I review is available at most ebook sellers so look for them on the platforms that match your ebook reading device. Click here to shop for your very own Kindle.

Ms. Taylor takes a Cinderella premise and peoples it with a hero who will win your heart just as he won the heart of heroine Maria Gardener. Dino Rossellini has the world at his feet yet he loses something so precious to him that it makes him question the life he has chosen.

Bereft and sad, he arrives one stormy night at the quaint inn where Maria lives with her parents who are away on holiday. Maria is drawn to him. Touched by his obvious distress, she can't turn him away even though the inn is closed for the winter.

Through the days that follow, her kindness touches Dino. They grow close, but there can be no future for these two who are from different worlds. Scarred by a traumatic event in her past, Maria only feels safe in her small community. Dino is a man whose passion in life requires him to be a public figure. How can these two mismatched lovers fit their lives together?

As if those serious obstacles aren't challenge enough, there are people in each of their lives who are determined to keep them apart.

Takeaway Truth

You'll adore this romance with a charming hero who has such generosity of spirit and so much love to give the right woman. You'll cheer Maria on and hope she realizes that sometimes you just have to take a risk and follow your heart.

Smashwords New Art & Book Specials


By now, you have probably heard that Smashwords is changing their image requirements for book covers.

You can read Mark Coker's blog about the new image requirements and why they're doing this. All current book cover images are "grandfathered in." New requirements take effect July 15 so start working on them now. If you need an artist, check the Indie Resource Page of SlingWords to find one.

Indie Book Blowout

From June 15 to 16, all books on the site are only $.99. Books from several different genres.

Book Lovers Buffet

From June 8 to 22, all books listed on this site are only $.99. There are more than 150 romance novels representing all romance genres.

Takeaway Truth

Stock up on some great books so you can take a break when you start going crazy updating your cover art designs.

Ebook Pricing

When I first started publishing e-books, I had a business plan, and that plan included pricing. This was 14 months ago. My, how the world of e-book publishing has changed in 14 months.

For the first six months, I priced all my e-books at $.99. I had studied all the bestsellers in e-books and had done enormous research about the effect of price and sales. At that time, a $.99 e-book could put you on a map and introduce you to readers who had never heard of you before.

(This article previously appeared in Writing Hacks, my subscription newsletter for writers. Subscribe today if you want to read articles like this as soon as they are published.)

That Was Then

In those six months, the number of authors publishing e-books increased dramatically. By the fall, many authors were complaining about slow sales. I did more research. I found that there seemed to be an increasingly strong correlation between bad reviews and low prices of e-books. I also found that a low-priced e-book no longer attracted as much attention.

Like many other authors, I came to the conclusion that you couldn't maintain good earnings at cut rate prices. Once you're not selling 10,000 copies a month of a title, you realize that you can't make a decent living if the far fewer sales are at $.99. My pricing strategy had worked in the short term to bring me to the attention of readers who didn't know my name, but the time had come to raise prices. The data I analyzed showed that a book peaked in sales at about four months. After that, sales declined and then leveled off at a stable point. After a book has been out a while, month in and month out, it will sell just about the same number of copies every month.

I raised my prices. The interesting thing is that I continue to sell the same number of books per title. The other interesting thing I noted was that I no longer had very many returns on those books. All books fade, and if you're not hitting the top sales lists, you're not going to be the most popular girl at the dance with people lined up to get to dance with you.

Ebook sales at $.99 are just something you can't sustain and build a career on. It was great as an attention getter, but I wanted readers who liked my work enough that they were willing to pay more than $.99 for my books. Now, after another six months, I'm happy with my decision to raise the price of my books. In fact, as a test, I increased the price of Old Enough To Know Better to $3.99 to see what effect it had on sales. To my surprise, sales increased. That told me that I had reached the point where readers would pay more than a cut rate price for my books.

This Is Now

Fast forward to today. Will $.99 e-books get you noticed today? I don't think so – not in a world when on any given day there are thousands of free e-books. In fact, free doesn't get that much notice either. Every day of the week I hear authors bemoaning slow sales, declining sales, and no sales. What's worse is that when a book is offered free, authors must contend with scathing reviews that seemingly tie the quality of the book to the free or low price.

My Take

There are a few conclusions I draw from this whole pricing conundrum.

1. Free or $.99 doesn't command much attention these days. In fact, as a reader, I'm a perfect example of this. I had about 100 free books on my Kindle. I went in this week, selected each one, read the first couple of pages, and deleted the book if it didn't grab me. Would I have done this if I had paid for the books? Probably not. I'd at least have read the first couple of chapters. But there are so many other free and cheap books I can download to replace the hundred I deleted. Go ahead and experiment with a low price or a no price, but don't keep that price forever. Watch for signs that it's time to increase the price of the book.

2. If you offer books free or low priced, be prepared for the bad reviews that inevitably will come your way. Too many people think free or cheap is indicative of low quality, and they will base their reviews on that belief as if cheap is a self-fulfilling prophecy of a bad book.

3. Readers who shop according to price point are not readers who will even read your work when your book is free or cheap. They probably won't buy your other books if they are priced up. Too many of the readers who download free or cheap e-books simply will never read them. I don't know why unless they're really not into reading that much or into that genre. They're just into getting bargains – something for free. They're into ebooks maybe because it's just the latest cool tech thing. Who knows?

4. Bite the bullet and decide that you want to cultivate readers who are your followers and who are willing to pay for your work, and pay more than $.99. If they like your writing, those are the readers who will be loyal to you. They will follow you from book to book.

5. Consider pricing according to length. Shorter works are less expensive. Longer works are more expensive. Simple and straightforward. I want readers who like my writing and who respect all the hard work I put into a book. If I lower a price for a special promotion, I want them to feel as if they are getting a great bargain. However, I always put a date in the book description as to when the book will return to its regular price.

Takeaway Truth

Last year, free and low-priced worked to attract attention. This year, it doesn't seem to. Pay close attention to the trends and tailor your business plan to fit what's going on in the marketplace.

Writing On iPhone

I've been traveling a lot and have taken along my AlphaSmart which is great for writing rough draft material. Since I was traveling by vehicle, I had no problem with it taking up too much room.

However, if I'd been traveling by plane, I wouldn't have wanted to haul it or my laptop along. Instead, I would have used my iPhone. True, if you're used to writing with a keyboard, it's hard to make the adjustment to the tiny iPhone, but a lot of people use the iPhone for writing, and I've been playing with it too.

I have a Notes app on my iPhone, but for something more suitable to actually writing articles or parts of a book, you need something with more juice. The WriteRoom app for iPhones seems suited for that task.


This software helps you ignore distractions and just write. You can download WriteRoom for Mac at a low price. The app WriteRoom app for iPhone or iPad is even lower priced at $4.99.Designed to be a full screen writing environment, you focus only on writing not on formatting and all the other issues.

Takeaway Truth

Changing technology and new devices mean new ways of keeping up with the work flow.

Review: 44 Book Two by Jools Sinclair

I read and reviewed Forty-Four (44), Jools Sinclair's first entry in this series, and, when finished, immediately bought Forty-Four Book Two (44). Unfortunately, it took me a while to find time to read it.

Upon nearing the end, even though I could see the cliffhanger looming on the horizon, I was stuck, figuratively hanging by my fingertips. Of course, that forced me to immediately look for Book 3 which is now available. In fact, you can get Forty-Four Box Set, Books 1 - 3 (44)
which I recommend.

As is my custom when I review ebooks, I give the Kindle Buy Links because I read them on my Kindle. However, I'm certain these books are available at most ebook sellers so look for them on the platforms that match your ebook reading device. (Shop for your own Kindle.)


In the first book, the story ended with Abby forced to accept reality and say farewell to someone dear to her. The villain in the book escaped, leaving Abby and her sister fearful of when he might resurface.

Life doesn't stand still. Now out of high school, Abby is trying to adjust to her new life with her limitations and her unusual "gift." Oddly enough, in view of what happened that changed her, she has become a river rafting guide and even has a boy interested in her. But, she can't forget the boy she loved and lost and looks for him everywhere.

When he reappears to warn her of the danger stalking her, she doesn't heed his advice quickly enough.An old evil resurfaces and likable characters, struggling to get on with their lives, now must struggle for existence. 44 Book Two will appeal to you as much as the first one. I dare you to resist buying the next book!

Takeaway Truth

These books are compelling and create a sense of foreboding that keeps you turning the pages.

French Edition Published: JANE (coeur à prendre) JONES

The first of my 3 books contracted by Bragelonne for World French Rights for Print and Ebook has been published. Isn't the cover adorable?

I don't know if foreign sales are of interest to you, but I'm blogging about this because it's part of my indie journey. Who knows what magic may happen for you in your indie publishing venture?

Jane (coeur à prendre) Jones

The English title is Jane (I'm Still Single) Jones. The French translation of that title is Jane (coeur à prendre) Jones which, translated back into English is JANE (Take Heart) JONES.

The Poche, or paperback, version was published May 18. The ebook version will publish June 13.

My French isn't that good, but as best as I can translate into English, the print version which has been out almost a month has settled in at Bestsellers from Amazon: 811 in Books and #51 in Books; Literature sentimental (that's Romance Literature).

The Kindle version is on pre-order and is already at Bestsellers Amazon: #328 in Kindle Store and #48 in Kindle Store; Kindle Ebooks; Literature sentimental.

Mariés à tout prix

I see that the next book is already listed although the cover isn't posted yet. I've translated the entry that appears in books under my name: Married At All Costs Reeves/Joan Paperback July 13, 2012 Buy new: 6.60 EUR 6.27. Coming soon order it today! This item will be released July 13, 2012. Married At All Costs is my novel Still The One, and the hardcover edition is being published first.

Takeaway Truth

Magic happens when you least expect it.

Women's Attitudes About Romance

Harlequin, one of the world's leading publishers of books for women, recently issued their Romance Report. I just got around to analyzing the data. This report covered not only what women want to read but also what they think about dating, love, sex, romance, and men.

The survey showed that 91%of contemporary women believe dating rules have become more flexible, but 59% of the women still think a man should do the asking when it comes to setting up a date.

All in all, women's traditional beliefs about romance, dating, and relationships remain unchanged. Since women overall consider themselves more powerful, more independent, this incongruity is interesting. In keeping with the fast-growing digital world, women revealed that they feel a need to mange their image on a digital level as much as in real life.

Survey Says

The Harlequin survey polled women in the U.S., aged 18 to 40. Some stunning statistics were revealed.
  • 43% of those who responded admitted to "sexting"
  • 65% said they would sext only while in a serious relationship
  • 36% said they would send a risque message after a few dates
  • 27% said they had sent nude photos via email or text message
  • 56% said they felt pressured to be married or in a serious relationship.
What Women Want
  • 82% of women said a sense of humor was still a turn-on
  • 57% said a killer smile was also still a turn-on
  • 59% said the man should ask for the date
  • 54% said the man shoould open the door for a woman
  • 51% said the man should pay for the first date
  • 56% said remembering the small details mattered greatly
  • 23% found an accent a huge turn-on
  • a majority also said that thoughtfulness and appreciation was more important than grand gestures and gifts
Changing Times
  • 93% used Facebook
  • 61% termed themselves heavy FB users and they deem their love life as very important whereas more casual FB users don't
  • 89% of women use FB to read about other peoples' lives
  • more than half, use FB to find out about a man before a first date
  • 25% of women use FB to make contact with prospective men
  • 89% of women think their best days as far as their love life are ahead of them
  • 84% believe that love is out there and that they will eventually find it despite their age
  • 52% aged 25 to 35 have never participated in online dating
Turn Offs
  • 32% said needy
  • 31% said too dependent on BlackBerry or iPhone
  • 29% said having too many FB pics of ex-girlfriend
  • 24% said grammatically challenged
  • 20% said married to work and/or still lives with parents
Women's Romance Resources

Women cited these five resources as where they go for romance advice:
  • Cosmopolitan Magazine
  • The Notebook
  • Dr. Phil
  • Oprah
  • Millionaire Matchmaker
The biggest surprise I found was where women go for romance advice. No wonder so many women have a tough time with relationships.

Takeaway Truth

If you want romance advice, maybe ask everyone you know with successful relationships how they do it. Or read a really good romance novel and take notes. Better yet, women, get the guy in your life to read a romance novel with you. Then he'll know what a woman wants.

Note: If SlingWords helps you get ahead, please consider buying one of my books (Written Wisdom is perfect for writers--readers too!) or making a donation by clicking the button below or, perhaps subscribe, for only $.99 per month to the Kindle Edition of SlingWords. Thank you for your moral support and any monetary support you see fit to contribute.

TV Viewing Is Changing

When my daughter married in March, she was lucky enough to get a husband who is even more tech savvy than she is. He has never had satellite TV or cable or any of the popular methods of watching TV. He streams everything from the Internet.

You probably know that you can watch television and movies online. I'm sure you know most of the popular network shows offer a few of the episodes on their website, i.e. ABC.com, etc. You've heard about Netflix and Hulu and know that they show episodes from TV series. You may even have started watching some of the made-for Internet TV originals like my friend Tom Townsend's Military Motor Pool on Hulu.

If you frequent Amazon, you know that your Prime account allows you to stream free movies and TV episodes too. Of course, if you don't have a compatible TV, you may need a set-top box like Roku. But there are many other ways to watch your television and movies. Here are a few, and they're free and legal.

YouTube Options

Yep, good old YouTube. You watch music videos, funny ones, and just plain weird vids here all the time, but they also have content that's not user-created and uploaded. There are full-length feature films from Hollywood -- classics and indie films. Use these links to get started, and be sure to filter your search for genre, free, and ratings.

OpenFlix -- YouTube with movie classics in every genre.

Screening Room -- YouTube with indie shorts.

YouTube Movies --full-length contemporary movies.

Big Five Glories

My daughter and I are old movie fans. For commercial-free classics of all the genres, films from what once were the powerhouses of movie production companies are perfect.

These films are in what drama buffs say is the perfect format -- black and white. They come from MGM, 20th Century Fox, RKO, Paramount, and Warner Brothers and go back as far as the silent film era and as recent as the 1970's.

I've used all the ones I've mentioned so I know they work well, but there are many other options with more being added every month.

Takeaway Truth

Entertainment is changing in areas other than the way we read and enjoy books. You might find that you're satisfied with some of these new free ways of TV viewing. Check out some today.


In case you're wondering why I STILL don't have my latest book published, here are my excuses:

1. My husband came home from an extended business trip to New York and wanted to take a vacation. Of course, he wanted me to go with him.

2. Uh, hmmm, well, umm.

I guess that's it. Only one excuse, but he's a demanding one. *g*

Earl Wilson said: "A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you've been taking."

That about describes why we bugged out. Almost 3 weeks of being lazy, hanging out, and finding all kinds of fascinating programs on TV to watch when we're not at the golf course or the lake. Ah! Doing nothing (if you don't count my sneaking away to blog and email occasionally). Ah, that's the life. If I were rich, I'd be the laziest chick on this planet.

Takeaway Truth

Sometimes real life intrudes in a pleasant way.


Review: Good Tidings by Terri Reid

This past month has been my time to catch up with my series reading.

I finally made time to read Good Tidings, the second book in Terri Reid's Mary O'Reilly Paranormal Mystery series.

Good Tidings

As is my custom when I review ebooks, I give the Kindle Buy Links because I read them on my Kindle. However, I'm certain these books are available at most ebook sellers so look for them on the platforms that match your ebook reading device. Shop for your own Kindle.)

I liked Loose Ends and reviewed it here on SlingWords. The second book has a solid mystery, but it also explores the attraction between PI Mary O'Reilly, whose near-death experience left her with the ability to see, hear, and speak with ghosts, and Police Chief Bradley Alden.

Mary is smart and tough and has a strong moral sense that keeps her from consummating an affair. In today's world there may be many who don't understand that kind of restraint, but Mary behaves true to her attitudes and values. 

Good Tidings opens with every mother's nightmare – abduction of a baby. When Mary is retained by the baby's deceased brother (who is completely adorable) to find the baby, she and Chief Alden end up in Chicago and with more crime and mystery than they bargained for.

Likable characters, believable relationships, and good plotting will make you reach for Book 3: Never Forgotten as soon as you finish this second book.

Takeaway Truth

If you like a solid mystery and likable characters, I recommend this series by Terri Reid.

Master Files

A little organization goes a long way. Every book you write has certain information that you should make note of for future reference such as using that book as part of a series, reselling rights to the book, listing the work as an intellectual property for estate planning, etc.

If you write more than one book, and most of us do, they can all blur together after a bit. The best practice is to set up a Master File system so you can find all the valuable information in one spot.

(This article previously appeared on Writing Hacks, my subscription newsletter for writers. Subscribe today if you want to read articles like this as soon as they are published.)

On my computer, I have a folder saved on the hard drive: MASTER FILES. In that folder, are the sub-folders that comprise the most valuable information I need. There are all kinds of master files you contain, i.e., one with reviews of each book. Here are the ones I think are the basics you need.

1. Master File: Book

This will contain the background information on the book: date you started the book, date you finished the book, date you sold the book if to a trad. publisher, date you published the book. Rights sold. The location of where an archived digital and print copy are contained.

This file will also contain: names of cast of characters, short description of each, logline, ISBN, Copyright Registration date and number.

Anytime you sell subsidiary rights or register a new ISBN for a new edition or update the Copyright Registration, that pertinent information needs to be placed in this file. List the outlets where you distribute the work as an ebook. List the outlet's Product Number and the webpage URL.

Store this file on your computer and/or print it out and put it in a file folder with the name of the book where you will also file Publishing Contracts, Rights Reversion letters, etc.

2. Master File: Names

This should be a cross-referenced file and should contain an alphabetical listing of every name you ever used in a book with the book title where that name occurred in parentheses. This should cross-reference to the Book Master File.

The names listed should be character names, pet names, business names, town names, county names--in other words ANY name, fictional or real.

Do this and you'll never find yourself using a name from one book in another book.

3. Master File: ISBN

You'll need at least these columns: Date, Title, Edition, ISBN, Type, Notes.

DATE -- when the ISBN was received or registered.

TITLE -- book title

EDITION -- i.e., ebook or mass market paperback or standard print hardcover, etc.

ISBN -- the number itself

TYPE -- from a print publisher or free from Smashwords or one you purchased from Bowker

NOTES -- put in anything you think you might need for future reference

4. Master File: Copyright

You'll need at least these columns: Date, Title, Type, Registration Number, Notes.

DATE -- when the copyright was registered

TITLE -- title of the work registered

TYPE -- original literary work or revised work or added content, etc.

REGISTRATION NUMBER -- the number assigned your registration

NOTES -- put in anything you think you might need for future reference

Be Secure

Remember to back up your files -- and not just digitally. Digital media fails. Paper still lives on. Keep an updated file on a flash drive and a paper print-out in a safety deposit box. After all, your books are assets that may pay rewards for years to come.

Takeaway Truth

It's a lot easier to organize this information from the beginning rather than trying to re-create it after the fact. If you haven't set up master files before, set a goal to get one completed each week until you are up to date. Then when you create a new work, immediately update your Master Files.

Note: If Joan Reeves aka SlingWords helps you get ahead, please consider buying one of my books (Written Wisdom is perfect for writers--readers too!), subscribing (only $.99 per month) to the Kindle Edition of SlingWords,or making a donation of any amount by clicking the button below. Thank you for your moral support and any monetary support you see fit to contribute.