Fury’s Kiss Now Available for Pre-Order!

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The Fury’s Kiss pre-order page at barnesandnoble.com.

The title really says it all – I’m so excited to announce that Fury’s Kiss is now available for pre-order just about everywhere fine books are sold online.

Check it out!

Amazon/Kindle | iBooks | Google Play | Kobo | Nook | Oyster | Scribd

Introducing…Strange Roads Press

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Hey, friends! In March 2015, I posted about starting my own publishing imprint, Strange Roads Press, and now that it’s live, I’m so excited to be able to share more details with you. You can check out the Strange Roads Press website here, or read on to find out more.

Why Strange Roads?

Because…two roads diverged in a wood, and I –

I took the one less travelled by.

Because…Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.

Because we believe that writers should be the authors of their own fortunes, and that readers and relationships matter.

Strange Roads Press is committed to bringing you extraordinary genre fiction.

Founded by Nicola R. White, author of the New England Furies urban fantasy series, Strange Roads is a boutique press with a focus on genre fiction. We believe in Yog’s Law, which states that “money should flow to the author”. We will never charge fees to publish your book, and we don’t bite off more than we can chew. This means that our focus is on quality, not quantity.

For now, Strange Roads Press is focused on the romance market, but we look forward to expanding our offerings as we grow. We are not currently open to submissions.

Read Chapter 1 of Fury’s Kiss!

At the request of one of my readers-to-be, Chapter 1 of Fury’s Kiss is now available as a free excerpt on my website. You can check it out on my Books page or at the bottom of this blog post.

But wait – I have even more exciting book news. Fury’s Kiss will be available for pre-order very soon. Sign up for my newsletter for more information on pre-orders, new releases, and exclusive content.

Happy reading!

 

200x300Fury’s Kiss – Nicola R. White

Chapter 1

It was Friday night and I’d been stood up.

Which was probably what I deserved for relaxing my strict no-dating-customers policy. But it had been months since I’d had a date, and sometimes it seemed like all I did was sling plates of seafood at the Graceful Mermaid. Working at one of Hawthorne’s few up-scale restaurants was good training for my dream of owning my own place one day, but it was hard not to give up sometimes when my feet hurt and my back ached. When I went to bed alone and smelling of shellfish every night.

I checked my watch for the thousandth time before rising to throw my cold macchiato in the trash, and decided to head for Spyder’s. Maybe there would be something happening at the local watering hole.

When I pulled into the parking lot, though, I was disappointed to see it was nearly empty. The only other vehicle in the lot was the beat-up old pickup I knew belonged to Nora Katsaros, the bartender.

Weird. Although the place wasn’t exactly the crown jewel in Hawthorne’s entertainment scene, I’d never seen it completely dead before. For all its dubious charms, Spyder’s was a popular place.

As I got out of my car and headed for the door, a stray plastic bag ghosted across the empty lot and I realized suddenly how alone I was in the darkness. I shivered despite the warm July air and walked faster. A young woman had been found murdered the week before, just a town over from Hawthorne, and it was too easy to imagine myself in her place.

It was stupid to let my fears run away from me, but I breathed easier when I stepped into the warm circle of light on Spyder’s front porch.

“Thank God, a customer!” Nora greeted me when I walked inside and sat down at the bar. She had a smooth Southern accent with a hint of something more exotic underneath.

I looked around at the empty seats surrounding me. “Maybe people are avoiding the Cape since that girl was found last week?”

I wasn’t the only one feeling jumpy. Ever since the story had broken, everyone in Cape Cod had been on edge.

“Maybe some people,” Nora allowed, “but it would take a lot more than one victim to keep the tourists away.”

Even if that one victim had fallen prey to the New England Slasher.

For the past six months, a serial rapist had attacked women on the East Coast with a knife, scarring them mentally and physically. There seemed to be no way to predict where he would strike next or who would be targeted.

A silence fell as we contemplated the crimes.

“That’s enough talk of the Slasher.” Nora smacked a hand on the bar. “You came here to have fun.”

She turned to choose from the bottles lining the mirror behind her and soon had two cocktails lined up in front of us. She raised her glass to clink with mine.

“Just don’t tell Lefty,” she said with a grin, referring to the bar’s absentee, often drunk manager.

A couple drinks later, the bar was still dead and I had just made up my mind to head home when Nora looked over my shoulder and let out a shriek of delight. I jumped in my seat and turned to see a man standing in the doorway. Tall and square-jawed, he had the kind of rough, masculine features that looked better at thirty-something than they would have in his twenties.

I sat up straighter on my barstool. Suddenly, Spyder’s seemed a lot less empty.

He had scruffy brown hair, a little long in the back, like it had been a while since he’d remembered to get it cut. There was nothing special about his clothing—jeans, a T-shirt, and a beat-up, brown leather jacket—but there was something about him that grabbed and held my attention. Hot, heavy lust coiled low in my belly, and the room felt warmer. My skin tingled as I imagined nuzzling the sexy, day-old shadow at his jaw line.

My heartbeat picked up and my breath quickened as he came closer. I downed the last sip of my drink to cool off and looked at him over my glass as he passed. There was no way he could miss the invitation I was sending his way. Maybe this guy would be the one to break my streak of unwanted celibacy.

It was a nice little fantasy, but it didn’t last long.

He gave me a speculative glance as he went by, but it was clear he only had eyes for the woman behind the bar. Not the one seated in front of it.

“Jackson Byrne, you liar!” Nora had a beer uncapped for him before he’d even taken a seat. “You told me you wouldn’t be here until Sunday.”

“The job I was on finished early.” Jackson took a deep pull of his beer. “So I hired on with that hospital construction project in town.” He spoke with the same drawling, Southern cadence as Nora, though he was missing that extra, exotic lilt.

Nora seemed to have forgotten my existence, so I sidled closer and held out my hand. “I’m Tara.”

“Jackson.” He nodded at me, politely enough, but didn’t hold his own hand out to shake.

I let my hand drop awkwardly back to my side as the heat from a blush crept up my neck. My shorts and tank top were perfectly respectable summer attire, but I felt suddenly self-conscious and exposed.

“Are you sure you want to keep working construction?” Nora asked Jackson, returning to their conversation. “With your background, you could—”

A muscle in his jaw jumped as he cut her off. “That’s not my life anymore.”

“I’m just saying—”

He relaxed a little, smiled apologetically. “I know. But I’ve been moving around long enough. It’s time I was here for you and Ruby full-time.”

My stomach dropped as I thought of the photos Nora had shown me once. Ruby was her six-year-old daughter. And now that I thought about it, the little girl looked like Jackson. My already flushed skin burned even hotter. No wonder he’d brushed me off.

I’d been giving him come-hither, bedroom eyes in front of the mother of his child.

Mortified, I muttered something about how late it was getting and grabbed my purse. The alcohol I’d consumed mixed with embarrassment to set my head swimming, and I went outside to call a cab and get some air.

Outside the bar, I savored the light breeze that wafted by, cooling my flushed, heated skin. I was about to fish out my phone and dial a taxi when another car pulled into the lot and two men got out. One was tall, dark and handsome, while the other was short, pale and average. The tall one smoked a cigarette and looked a little bit like James Dean.

He offered me one when he got within speaking distance.

I wavered for a second, but took the cigarette he held out to me. Sure, the last time I’d tried to smoke, I’d spent ten minutes hacking up a lung, but that had been years ago. I was an adult now, not an awkward eighth grader having an asthma attack in front of the coolest guy in school.

Besides, you only live once, right?

I leaned into the lighter James Dean held out for me, careful not to catch my long, blonde hair on the flame. It had taken me four years to grow it out after my glasses and braces had finally come off in high school, and I was determined that no one would think of me as Tara Walker, four-eyed beaver, ever again.

“You out alone tonight?” Short, plain, and average leered at me.

“I was just headed home,” I answered with the cool, careful dignity of slight inebriation. There was no way I was going to tell this guy about the date who’d stood me up earlier, or how I’d made a fool of myself inside the bar.

“So what’s up with this place?” He surveyed the parking lot, unimpressed. “Shouldn’t there be, like, people here?”

Without thinking, I repeated what I’d said to Nora inside the bar. “Maybe the latest slashing is keeping people away.”

As soon as the words left my mouth, I wished I had them back. The New England Slasher could have been anyone—including either of the two men standing in front of me. A wave of nausea swept over me and I dropped the cigarette so I could grind it out under my shoe.

“I, um…” I swallowed hard. “I have to go.”

As I walked away, short, pale, and average muttered something about stuck up bitches and I glanced back over my shoulder to see him stalk into the bar in disgust. Unlike his vertically challenged buddy, though, James Dean seemed to have some manners.

“Sorry about that.” He gave me a self-deprecating smile. “Vic had a few too many before we came out tonight, and he gets nervous around women. You know how some guys are—they’ll say anything to make a pretty girl notice them.”

I paused. Now that I was no longer trying to inhale cancer on a stick, I felt significantly less vomit-y. And my inner alarm had quieted since ‘Vic’ had gone inside.

“Come on, let’s go in and I’ll buy you a drink to make it up to you,” my new friend said, seeing me weaken. He flashed an open, easy smile. “I promise I won’t bite.”

I couldn’t help smiling back. He was seriously cute. “I’m Tara.”

“You’re gorgeous,” he countered.

I rolled my eyes, but his compliment hit the mark, a bulls-eye to my bruised ego.

I tossed my hair, letting him catch a hint of my jasmine-scented conditioner and leaned against the wall of the bar to steady myself. The raspy bite of brick scraped sharply against my bare shoulders.

“I’ll bet you feel good, too.” James Dean’s voice got lower as he took a step closer and bent down to brush his lips over mine.

I let him kiss me. Sometimes a little tall, dark and handsome can go a long way toward making a girl feel better.

The door to the bar opened and I tore my mouth away to look over his shoulder as someone stepped outside. Oh, wonderful. The object of my embarrassment himself.

Jackson didn’t notice us at first, standing in the spotlight created by the bare bulb hanging above the porch, but a cloud passed over his features when he saw the man pressing me into the shadows.

“Everything all right out here?”

When he spoke, his sexy, Southern drawl was a male counterpart to Nora’s, and I kicked myself again for not putting two and two together. They’d probably grown up together, been childhood sweethearts. I wondered for a second where he’d been for the past year or so since Nora had moved to town, but reminded myself it was none of my business.

“Everything’s fine,” my new friend said shortly, as I told myself the heat between my legs had nothing to do with Jackson and everything to do with him.

Jackson looked at me with dark eyes, waiting for me to confirm or deny what the other man said, but when I stayed silent, too embarrassed to say anything, he shrugged and went back inside.

I looked down at the stranger’s hands gripping my hips. What had seemed like an exciting, illicit rendezvous at first had taken on the seedy luster of a one-night stand. One that would leave me feeling even worse about myself in the morning.

I stepped away. “I really do have to get going. I have to work in the morning.”

I wasn’t on shift until late afternoon the next day, but I needed an excuse to get away.

“Ah, don’t be like that.” Ignoring my attempt to be polite, my suitor wrapped his fist up in my hair and pulled. Hard. I sucked in a breath through my teeth.

“Yeah, you like that, don’t you?” he said before I could speak. It wasn’t really a question.

“Let me go!” I pushed at him, but he ignored me again and bit my neck.

My pulse pounded and now I felt real fear, a dry-mouthed, gut-clenching sensation that was more than just caution or unease. My neck throbbed where he’d bitten me and I tried to push him away again. He responded by grabbing my wrists with one hand and bringing his knee up between my legs so I was riding high on his thigh.

“Stop it. I don’t want this.” My voice was unfamiliar in my ears, sharp with panic and adrenaline. The bones in my wrist ground together painfully as he tightened his grip.

Then he pressed his mouth to mine again, roughly. I turned my head away and made a move to the left, trying to pull away and get around him. But he pushed me back harder against the brick and my head bounced against the wall. Bright points of light danced in my field of vision. Tears ran in wet streaks down my face as my wrists ached and my skull sang.

He unzipped my shorts with his free hand and shoved them down. I thrashed against his grip on me, but it was no good. He was too strong.

I tried to yell, but nothing came out. I twisted one hand free and tried again to push him off. He slammed my head back into the wall, harder this time, and twisted the arm he still held. I cried out in pain and he sealed his mouth over mine, cutting off the sound. He unzipped his own jeans and I felt him hard against my thigh. I gagged, sure I would be sick. I tried to twist away, but there was nowhere to go with rough, solid brick behind me.

I shut my eyes. This wasn’t happening. This was just some dream I was having. I’d had a few too many, gotten a cab home, and passed out in front of the TV. I would wake up in a minute and be freaked out enough to sleep with the lights on.

The man pressing me up against the wall groaned, and I opened my eyes again. This was no dream. It hurt too much to be a dream. My head and my twisted arm both ached, and I tried again to get away. But exhaustion made my efforts feeble.

“Stop,” I begged. “Please, stop.”

He didn’t listen, just pushed against me.

I heard a dispassionate newscaster in my head, relating the tragic attack on Tara Walker, latest victim of the New England Slasher, and shook my head in an attempt to clear it. Whether this guy really was the Slasher or not, the result would be the same if I didn’t fight him off—I would still be a victim. I thought of how devastated my friends would be if he hurt me, killed me. What it would do to my mother. My father had left us when I was young, and I was all she had left.

At that thought, my pulse pounded in my ears and my field of vision narrowed so all I could see was him. Heat swept through my body and the pain in my arm and my head grew distant. There would be time to feel it later, but right now my world narrowed to this man.

“I said stop, asshole.” I shoved as hard as I could with my uninjured right hand, and there was nothing feeble about my efforts this time. My attacker flew across the parking lot and landed in the shadow of Nora’s pickup truck, parked by itself in the corner. I wasn’t sure where I’d found the strength, but it felt good.

Better than good, in fact. It felt great.

I cradled my injured left arm against my chest and clumsily pulled up my shorts before walking over to where my would-be rapist lay in the gravel. I looked down at him and he made a move like he was going to get up, but whatever he saw in my face made him stop. He froze, his eyes wide. I leaned down and grabbed him, one-handed. I felt strong, powerful.

“Who do you think you are?” I asked him. “Haven’t you ever heard ‘no means no’?”

He didn’t answer me. Not surprising, since I’d picked him up by the throat. Acting on instinct, I pulled him closer—close enough to kiss, or maybe bite—and as the thought flitted through my head, I grinned. Maybe I would scare him into thinking I actually would bite him. The idea of showing him how it felt to be on the wrong end of unwanted attention was appealing in an eye-for-an-eye sort of way.

I snarled at him as he struggled. “Relax, baby. You’ll like it.”

He gasped, trying to draw in enough air to speak, or maybe scream for help, but nothing came out. I opened my mouth as I leaned closer and bared my teeth like I was auditioning for a role on True Blood. When he began to pant in fear, I pulled back, about to tell him to stop sniveling while I called the cops, but something stopped me before I spoke. Something in my alcohol-and-pain-addled brain zeroed in on his breathing and I was seized by a sudden, wild urge to just make him stop.

Stop wheezing, stop trying to speak, stop acting like he was the victim.

Without giving it any thought, I lunged forward and locked my mouth onto his, smothering the rasping sounds he emitted. Startled by my own instinctive action, I stared into his eyes and sucked in a breath of surprise. He clutched at the hand I held around his throat and kicked for a few seconds before going rigid in my grasp. His skin swelled under my fingers and the moisture inside his mouth heated, nearly boiling.

Shocked, I let go of him and jumped back with an inarticulate cry. My newfound strength abandoned me and I sank to my knees in the gravel as he began to convulse.

I scrambled into a crouch next to him, chest heaving as I tried to breathe through my adrenaline and confusion. What the hell had I done?

I looked around wildly. My rage had disappeared and I tried not to panic now that I was left with the reality of an unconscious—or maybe even dead—body at my feet. Could you kill someone by sucking the air out of his lungs?

I swallowed hard as I wrapped my arms around myself and rocked back and forth. What was I supposed to do now? Go back into the bar and announce that I’d almost been raped, but no need to worry—I’d knocked the guy out? Or maybe even killed him?

Yeah, that was so not gonna happen. Who would believe my story?

I’d been there, and even I didn’t believe what had happened.

“Hey.” I nudged the guy’s shoulder.

No response. He was puffy, like someone had stuck a bicycle pump under his skin, and he had a definite bluish-purple tint. I couldn’t tell if he was breathing or not, so I nudged him again.

Still nothing.

I got up and stood over the body for a few minutes, trying to think. I didn’t feel even remotely drunk anymore, but I was exhausted and my head and arm were screaming at me. It was hard to think clearly. The situation was majorly freaky and I just wanted to go home and pretend it had never happened. But how could I?

He got what he deserved.

The voice came from inside my head, sharp and sibilant, like when I’d hissed at the guy a few minutes ago.

“Oh, God,” I moaned aloud. “What’s happening to me?” Clearly, I was losing my mind.

No one saw what happened, whispered the freaky-me voice again. No witnesses.

It was hard to focus, but the voice had a point. The longer I stuck around, the more likely it was that someone would come out of the bar, see me standing by the body, and accuse me of…something. I didn’t know what had happened, but I knew it looked bad.

He got what he deserved, freaky-me said again and I propelled myself into action. My split personality—or whatever it was—was right. The unmoving body at my feet was hardly an innocent victim.

I leaned closer to study the…thing lying next to Nora’s truck. It didn’t really resemble a man anymore, and after a few seconds, I had to turn away. Its staring, bulging eyes looked at me accusingly.

Turning my back on it, I walked toward the more brightly lit section of the lot where my car was parked, glancing back over my shoulder every couple of seconds. I half expected the body to lurch up and follow me, but nothing happened. When I reached the car, I debated whether I was sober enough to drive, and finally reached the conclusion that whatever had come over me, it had dissolved the alcohol in my bloodstream.

I let out a desperate laugh—some silver lining. I was panicking, exhausted, and in pain, but at least I didn’t feel drunk anymore.

I got in and put the car in drive, trying not to think about what I’d left behind me. My palms were sweaty on the steering wheel as I drove, fingers curled around it like claws, and I expected to hear the wail of sirens the whole way home. Finally, I pulled into the driveway. After fumbling with my keys for what felt like years, I managed to stagger inside, and made it as far as the couch before I collapsed with my shoes still on.

Before I lost consciousness, I had just enough time to hope I wouldn’t wake to cops banging at the door.

Lessons from Chris Taylor – superstar Aussie author!

The Profiler, book one in Chris Taylor's Munro Family Series.
The Profiler, book one in Chris Taylor’s Munro Family Series.

Chris Taylor, Australian author and rising self-publishing superstar, came all the way to little ol’ Nova Scotia recently for the Hubbards Writers Festival and was kind enough to visit us at the Romance Writers of Atlantic Canada as well. Before becoming a full-time author, Chris worked as a nurse and a lawyer (always a career path of interest to me since I am a practising lawyer).

What impressed me most about Chris (among many other things, like her business savvy, friendliness, and writing skill) was how engaged she is with fans and how encouraging she is to other authors. Some of the great advice Chris shared with us at RWAC included:

  • The value (or lack thereof) of advertising

Many authors struggle with deciding how much money, if any, to spend on advertising. (And if you are going to spend the money, where should it go?) In the 14 months since Chris published her first book, she has released nine titles and sold 50,000 books (and counting!). She has done this without using any advertising other than Bookbub. In fact, Chris says her first Bookbub ad is what really ‘launched’ her.

Bookbub is a free, online service that “alerts you to limited-time free & discounted ebooks matching your interests”. When authors have a book on sale, they can apply to have the sale featured in Bookbub’s newsletter for a one-time, flat fee. The fee is based on the number of readers who subscribe to the book’s genre (so the fee relates to how much exposure your book will get), and the price of the book (a free book costs less to advertise than a book that is $2.00+ because there will be a greater number of click-throughs and downloads).

Bookbub’s pricing and statistics chart can be found here. Listing a free paranormal romance, for example, will cost you $195 and give you access to 690,000+ subscribers (at the time of this blog post). Because of the number of books submitted to Bookbub, only about 20% are accepted and featured. Chris’s top tip for getting a book featured is to have a great cover – she got her first Bookbub ad with only four titles on the market and four reader reviews for the featured book (the first in a series, which had just been set to perma-free). Bookbub’s submission tips are here.

  • Writing to your target audience

One of Chris’s tips that really resonated with me is to let your reader know what they’re getting right away. Her books start with very ‘confronting’ prologues so there is no confusion about what type of story will follow. This helps prevent negative reviews on the basis of reader confusion (Think: “This book had too much sex – I thought it was inspirational romance but it turned out to be erotica!”).

Chris also advocated (see what I did there? Because she’s a lawyer?) using statistics from Facebook to figure out how to reach your readers. Since Facebook tells you which country your fans are in and at what time of day they are most active, you can make sure you are available when those fans are online and looking for interaction.

  • The value of writing a series

All of Chris’s books to date have been part of the Munro Family series, which will be 10 books in total. Writing a series has allowed her to save time by plotting in the same ‘world’, rather than having to come up with a whole new world each time she writes a book (as in stand-alone titles). This is especially valuable if you’re writing in genres where world-building is essential (paranormal, fantasy, sci fi).

Aside from saving time for the author, writing a series is also helpful from a marketing perspective, as it encourages read-through by fans who want to find out what happens next. Series are also attractive to distributors for this reason, which makes it more likely that they will put some promotional muscle behind your books.

One thing to keep in mind when writing a series, though, is not to get carried away with a single series! If you have 5 series with 10 books each, that’s 5 separate opportunities for series promo (eg. – first in series perma-free, series feature by distributor). But if you have 1 series with 50 books…you see where I’m going with this.

Win a signed, pre-release copy of Fury’s Kiss!

The title of this post really says it all – I am giving away an autographed copy of my debut urban fantasy romance, Fury’s Kiss. To sign up, all you have to do is follow the link below and enter the giveaway at Goodreads.com.

WIN A FREE COPY OF FURY’S KISS!

Unlike many Goodreads giveaways, you can enter to win a copy of Fury’s Kiss from anywhere in the world.

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Why You Should Consider Starting Your Own Small Press

I AM AN ENTREPRENEUR by Next TwentyEight. CC BY 2.0.
I AM AN ENTREPRENEUR by Next TwentyEight. CC BY 2.0.

I’ll start with my usual disclaimer when I talk about anything related to the law: This is not legal advice, just information. What works for me won’t apply to everyone.

Now that that’s out of the way – I’m so excited to share the news that I am starting my own small press! I’ve given a lot of thought to the business behind being an author, and here are the reasons I’m talking the plunge:

1. Legal Considerations

Family law – In Canada, if a married couple divorces/separates, any business assets owned by one of the spouses are not considered common property and aren’t divisible. The exception is if the business assets were used for family benefit, or if both spouses owned/ran/contributed to the business. By having the writing stuff clearly separated out from personal finances, it is more likely that if an author ends up divorced (in Canada), an ex-spouse won’t be able to claim a share of those assets/income.

Estate planning – When an Amazon account holder dies, their Amazon account supposedly dies with them. In real life, lots of accounts continue to live on because a family member or friend has the password and doesn’t notify Amazon that the original account holder is dead. However, if you want your heirs to be able to legally continue your business after you’re gone, having royalties paid out to a business rather than an individual would support the ability of the account to live on with the business.

As part of your estate plan, you could assign rights to your books, characters, worlds, etc. to an heir who wants to continue writing under your pen name. Or if your heir has no interest in this but would want to keep selling existing works, having the distributor accounts continue to exist would make life easier for them. Another option for your heirs would be to license out your worlds, characters, etc. and have ghostwriters continue your work.

2. Business Considerations

  • Some service providers/distributors/contractors will take you more seriously if you’re a “business”. This isn’t unique to any one industry – I see it all the time in lots of industries.
  • Coming up with my press’s branding (a work in progress) has helped me conceptualize my author branding.
  • Reserving and registering your business name protects it if someone else comes along and wants to use the same one. This is especially useful if you think your business might grow – for example, if you make enough money that there are tax benefits to incorporating. Incorporation would make no sense for me right now financially, but might someday be useful to also provide increased liability protection. For example, if I become a bestseller, learn lots about the industry, and decide to expand my press to publish other authors, liability would be a much bigger concern.

Practical Tips On Starting Your Own Small Press

  • To show that my small press is a real business and doesn’t exist in name only, I will open a business bank account, and do business with contractors and distributors using my business name.
  • I plan to open both a Canadian dollar and a US dollar account for the business. This is so that I don’t lose money on royalties paid out in USD. If I needed to take the money out on a regular basis to live on, this wouldn’t help me, but I plan to reinvest book revenue back into the business. So USD will come in, stay in the account until I need to pay contractors, then USD goes back out and I don’t lose money on the exchange rate.

Downsides To Starting Your Own Small Press

Of course, there are downsides to starting a small press to self-publish your books. Some of these include:

  • Increased costs (another domain name, annual registration fee for your business, etc.). These costs run a few hundred dollars in my province, which my budget can handle, but for some people this is prohibitive.
  • Increased time and energy required (paperwork required to start the business, maintaining two websites, marketing, etc.). I’m starting up as a sole proprietorship so the paperwork is pretty minimal, but I don’t know how it works in the US.
  • More complicated taxes and record keeping. This isn’t a huge deterrent for me because I’m self-employed in my day job and have to deal with claiming expenses, etc. anyway, but it might be more than some people want to take on.

If you do want to start up a small press and don’t think you can handle doing your own tax return, but can’t justify the cost of an accountant, I have found tax software like Turbo Tax to be very helpful. Alternatively, there are lots of other great programs if Turbo Tax doesn’t float your boat, and I’m sure there are similar programs available in the US.

Some Resources

Finally, to end this mammoth of a blog post, here are some resources I found really helpful when considering the implications of starting my own press:

Basic pros/cons of starting a small press – http://www.independe…e.php?page=1810

Starting a small press as a strategy to get your self-pub books in bookstores
http://devlovepress….ress-publisher/

A good post about business planning for small presses
http://indeliblewrit…ur-own-way.html

“Why Small Publishers Fail” – some good advice about things to avoid
http://accrispin.blo…publishers.html

Everything on this author’s blog. She’s a lawyer/author and she has awesome advice about:
– registering with the US copyright office
– small presses
– pen names
– contracts and negotiations
http://helensedwick.com/blog/

How I Chose My Amazon Keywords

As I prepare to self-publish, it’s stuff like this that gets me excited! As the author notes, probably not interesting unless you’re an author too, or just obsessed with books and publishing. You have been warned!

The Metanautics Department

Note: super-wonky book marketing post coming, likely only of interest to independent authors or publishers. You were warned.

During the process of preparing The Reintegratorsfor publication, I did more research into things like keyword selection than I had with my previous, shorter works. Since the info on how to choose keywords online is somewhat fragmented/incomplete/not targeted toward authors, I thought I’d put together a little to what I did, so that others can benefit or tell me what they think I’m doing wrong.

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Things I Suck At (Or, What I’m Learning From Working With an Editor)

NOT what a good editor will tell you.
NOT what a good editor will tell you. After the Edit by Laura Ritchie. CC by 2.0.

I admit that the title of this post is click-bait, since I don’t really think I suck, but I AM learning a lot from my first go around with a professional editor.

In preparation for self-publishing my first book this Spring, I am working with Nancy Cassidy, an amazing freelance editor at The Red Pen Coach. (Any suckiness in the finished project will be entirely mine, and not hers). Nancy has an impressive background in publishing and editing and is also an author, with erotica published under the name Lilly Cain, so I feel like she really gets it. She did a great presentation today to the Romance Writers of Atlantic Canada, my local RWA chapter, and pointed out some things about working with an editor that should be pretty basic, but maybe aren’t all the time.

For example:

  • Your editor should not be mean to you. It’s crazy how many stories I’ve heard online about editors being totally insensitive to their writers – who are paying them to help improve their work. Nobody is saying authors should be coddled and lied to about their work, but there is a difference between constructive and cruel.
  • You don’t have to make changes to your work if you don’t want to. Yes, you should be prepared to make changes and take direction, but you should also be prepared to explain why your choices are valid, or at least have a logical debate about them.
  • Ask around before you hire an editor. Don’t just take the word of some stranger on the internet that they are an awesome editor. And if you don’t know anyone the editor has worked with, it might behoove you to have a contract. (I’m always looking for a way to work behoove into a sentence).

Because I think it’s important, I will separate this link from the bullet points: You can find a sample editorial contract on the Editors’ Association of Canada website. It’s pretty basic, but gets the job done, and I imagine you can find something similar for the US or other jurisdictions, or adapt this one. (THIS IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE, JUST A PERSONAL OPINION.)

Another thing I learned from Nancy’s presentation is that there are many types of services an editor can offer. Knowing what sort of help you need can save you time and money. The Editors’ Association of Canada has a very handy page describing the different types of edits there are.

So now that you have all that wonderful info, I will share some of the things I suck at with you, as discovered via the editorial process:

  1. First chapters – I already knew this, as it happens with everything I write. The first chapter is always too slow or too fast, too much backstory or no context at all. I really struggle with hitting the right opening note. Luckily, that’s what revisions are for!
  2. Overusing particular phrases – On my first pass through my book, I noticed that my main character thought everything was “apparently” this and “clearly” that. Now, a million passes later, I’m noticing that she’s always “forcing” herself to do whatever or “managing” not to do something else.
  3. Point of view issues – You know, I actually always thought I could have been an editor if I had been so inclined. After all, I have an English degree, I’m pretty good with spelling and grammar, and I totally get point of view. Except, not. I’ve had a whole batch of critique partners, but I would never have known I was doing weird things with point of view if an editor hadn’t pointed it out.

For fellow writers, what do you suck at? (Or to put it more nicely, what are you improving on at present?).

And for readers, what are your editorial pet peeves? Head hopping? Spelling mistake in the first chapter? Let it out!

How to get your website in front of readers – the “magic” of search engine optimization

The Periodic Table Of SEO Success Factors, used with permission.
The Periodic Table Of SEO Success Factors, used with permission.

Searchengineland.com and Column Five Media have joined forces to come up with this awesome inf0graphic. It is designed to help website owners come up with the right combination of ranking factors to show up at the top of the search engine heap.

And along with the infographic, Search Engine Land is providing the *free* “Search Engine Land Guide to SEO”. I have a lot to learn, so I will definitely be taking advantage of this! Click the link above to see the guide in presentation mode (as a series of slides), or you can browse by chapter below.

Chapter 1: Types Of Search Engine Success Factors
Chapter 2: Content & Search Engine Success Factors
Chapter 3: HTML Code & Search Engine Success Factors
Chapter 4: Site Architecture & Search Engine Success Factors
Chapter 5: Link Building & Ranking In Search Engines
Chapter 6: Social Media & Ranking In Search Results
Chapter 7: Trust, Authority, Identity & Search Rankings
Chapter 8: Personalization & Search Engine Rankings
Chapter 9: Violations & Search Engine Spam Penalties

Big, Exciting Things Are Happening in 2015!

New Years Eve 2010 - Dubai Fireworks by Sarah_Ackerman. CC by 2.0.
New Years Eve 2010 – Dubai Fireworks by Sarah_Ackerman. CC by 2.0.

For those of you who have been following my blog, encouraging me on social media, and supporting me as critique partners and writing group buddies – thank you so much! In 2014, I was able to make some changes in my life that have hugely increased my happiness and productivity, and which have helped me move closer to my goal of publication.

As a result, I’m thrilled to share this big, exciting news – I AM SELF-PUBLISHING MY FIRST BOOK THIS SPRING! This is something I’ve been dreaming of in a general way since I was a little kid, and something I’ve been working toward more specifically for the past couple of years.

Aside from my big book-related news, here are some other highlights from 2014:

  • I left a demanding day job at a traditional law firm to go into business for myself. I made some financial sacrifices to do this, but now I work mostly from home, am my own boss, and do work that I feel really good about. (This was a HUGE, exciting change).
  • I had a pretty major knee surgery and worked super hard on my recovery.
  • I started taking art lessons (good for creativity!).
  • I travelled to Boston for the New England Crime Bake conference, and for some book research and sightseeing. This was my first “international” trip by myself! (I know Canada-US isn’t a big deal to lots of people, but it was pretty cool for me!).

How about you? What were your highlights from 2014, and what are you looking forward to in 2015?

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