Cover Reveal: Chocolate Aftertaste by Liz Grace Davis

Starfish woman

You how people say writing is a solitary profession?  Well, for the most part, they’re right … it is.  But for me, I’m lucky enough to have some amazing writer friends spread out across the globe … and one of those friends happens to be the crazy-talented author Liz Grace Davis.

Liz and I first met a few years ago (or, in author speak: many books ago) when we both were active members of a forum for writers.  We’ve exchanged, oh, only about a thousand e-mails since then and today I am absolutely thrilled to be part of the launch of her new cover for her amazing novel Chocolate Aftertaste.



Nora Darkin’s life has never been her own, but that’s about to change, and what she finds on the other side will taste a lot like sweet freedom.


Aidan Darkin, a wealthy entrepreneur, has controlled his daughter, Nora, since the death of his wife years prior. Nora never thought to question the decisions he made for her, always believing he knew best. But trust comes with a price, and for Nora, the sacrifice is her own happiness.


On the eve of Nora’s wedding, confronted with a truth that will change everything and a betrayal that will fracture the life she’s always known, she will do the unthinkable—defy her father and make her escape.


On her own for the first time, Nora makes the quaint country town of Dreara, known for its extraordinary chocolate, her temporary home. Faced with choosing for herself for the first time in her life, Nora sets out to capture her own independence, to fall in love for the right reasons with a man of her own choosing, and embark on a journey that will fulfill her soul—even if that means risking it all, and losing more than she ever imagined.


But even a place known for its chocolate doesn’t offer Nora the sweet beginning she’d hoped for.


In celebration of new cover, Liz (together with the team at Grapevine Book Tours) is offering an incredible giveaway.  One lucky winner will have the chance to snag this “sweet” swag.

• Print copy of Chocolate Aftertaste + postcard
• $10 Amazon/B&N gift card + eBook copy of eBook copy of backlist novel, Tangi’s Teardrops, or an ARC copy ofHoneysuckle and Jasmine
• eBook copy of eBook copy of backlist novel, Tangi’s Teardrops, or ARC copy of Honeysuckle and Jasmine + keychain+ postcard
• eBook copy of eBook copy of backlist novel, Tangi’s Teardrops, or an ARC copy of Honeysuckle and Jasmine +postcard + pen

**Enter Liz’s Sweet Giveaway **

LizGraceDavisLiz Grace Davis grew up in Angola, Namibia, South Africa and Germany. She now lives with her husband and daughter in Vienna, Austria. Her travels had offered her the opportunity to gather useful material, from both her own experiences and those of others. She is a firm believer that memories, both good and bad, are worth cherishing. The roads travelled lead people to who they are today.

As a result, she enjoys breathing new life into some of those experiences and sprinkling them with snippets born of her imagination, to write fiction novels. Liz’s aim as a writer is to both thrill and inspire readers.

Buy The Book:


Barnes & Nobel 

And be sure to check out what other’s are saying about Chocolate Aftertaste on Goodreads!

Is this REALLY happening?

I’m going to be doing a a bit of fortune-telling with today’s entry, a la Winter 2012.  It wasn’t me doing the telling, but it still counts, so I’ll redact some parts and get to the point.

She said: I predict in the not-so-distant future, Amazon will segregate indie writers and trade published authors into two separate book stores umbrella-ed under Amazon, separate but equal.  

We said: What about our visibility?  What about all those also-boughts?  What about search terms and keywords?  What…what…why?!

We were all worried.  But, with a bit of navel-gazing, we managed to convince ourselves Amazon wouldn’t do that to us, because … they just wouldn’t!

We talked ourselves into believing that Amazon, with the freshly minted Kobo store and iTunes biting at its ankle, has a reason to keep us happy so they can stay the course of being the briggest (bright married with biggest, a new word!).

But the truth is this: Amazon would do that to us.  And now, slowly, they are.

We are, essentially and in many way, science experiments for the shopping-giant. We are taste-testers, we are tryer-outters, we are eager and clawing for new ways to break the publishing world in two. We’re susceptible to they frothy, pretty ploys.

For example, Select.  In its hay-day Select was likened to a gold rush.  You took your free days, promoted them on blogs that hung a shingle on pumping free books, and, just like that, you’d “give” hundreds, if not thousands, if not tens-of-thousands, of books away.  Each free book was ground down into a scale that converted free to paid, so, coming off an exhilarating free run could likely land you in the PAID best seller list, cha-ching-ching!  In the words of Charlie Sheen, #winning.

But then Select changed … and changed … and changed, until blogs were put on notice that their affiliate status could be yanked if a certain percentage of clicks were for free book.  Free is now all but defunct.  .99 is the new free.

We, Select-authors, were prepared for this, so we bent in the wind and many of us have survived … it had been coming, but still, it changed things.  And now, we’re strapping ourselves in for yet another devastating change that will, if our crystal-ball prediction is to come true, spin us around like fucking tops.

It’s not really a secret that on the Amazon boards readers are clamoring for this.  They don’t want to see our weak-sauce books mixed with “real” books.  They want to see only Harlen and Patterson under mysteries, not some Joe Schmo from the deep south with his genre-bending, piece meal, hard-boiled stuff that’s good but not great.  They have pleaded and bemoaned this for…maybe ever?  They don’t want to have to slop through the trenches to find a read-worthy book.

And Amazon did as Amazon does … they listened, they put their customers first … they took action.

So, today it came in the form of a “search term” … you can now find Indie books by looking for them.  We’re no longer one big happy cluster of books, publisher (or lack thereof) be damned … no, we’re split — them and us.  This, dear friends, is a hop, skip and jump from separate stores.  Hunker down, it’s coming.

As of right now, at this moment, the search term isn’t easy to find … so I’ll link it:


There we and we’re dressed up: Amazon calls us cool, creative and different.

But not cool enough or creative enough to just be authors.  No.  Not that.  We’re different then regular authors.  They pretty much said so themselves.

It feels a little bit like putting lipstick on a pig, no?

On one hand, this is brilliance.  For Amazon.  They keep their peas in one pile and their carrots in another.  They keep the naysayers from staging a coop.  They still sell all books, but they’re flexing their discretionary muscle when it comes to just how they continue to do so.

On the other hand, it sucks.  I’ve never had a lot of luck with “also-boughts” … but many writers I know have.  They get boosts and jumps from big name authors who also write in the same wheelhouse, for many, this has afforded them the ability to quit the 9-5 and just write.  I worry for them.  I do.

Over the past years many of us indies have tried to break the stereotype of indie books.  We’ve tried to come up with great context, worked with great editors, hired out great cover artists.  We’ve worked and worked and worked … and now, for all that, we’ll back slide.  A book no longer be just a great book … it will be a great indie book … no longer can an author who doesn’t have a powerhouse published behind them be just a great author … now they will be a great indie author. It’s not the end of the world, but still … it feels like regression to me.





Advice for New Writers

IconOtherAdvice250So … today there is a little hot debate about the “advice for new writers” over on a social board I frequent. It was written to strike “humility” (not my word) into the hearts of the young. Obviously, for numerous reasons, it got a little ‘hot around the collar’ … some called the original advice “arrogant” and “belligerent” … and there is a part of me that couldn’t help but to agree, although I do respect and flat-out like the original poster.

See, two years ago I was “new” … scary times … I stepped onto that board with a binder full of (not women) questions.  I had written (or half written) a book, but as to what came next?  Hadn’t a clue in the world.

That board, the one aforementioned where this lively little discussion ensued, is where I learned about things like agents and cover design and formatting and promotion.  And see, two years later, I’ve been able to cash in on that advice.

  • I have an agent
  • I have, if people are to be believed, nice covers
  • I have a great formatter who is amazeballs
  • I have become a “best seller” by promotion ventures*

Now, I have a binder full of (not women) answers to questions I wasn’t smart enough to know I needed to ask.

So, I came up with my own list … which is probably as good as the paper it’s written on — which means ‘not good at all since it’s not actually written on paper’ … but this blog has a journal template, so here we go …

1. Ask your questions, get your answers.  Things change, rapidly.  What was modern and fresh yesterday may be archaic today, a la Select.  So if you’re curious about where to price your book, or if the cover you like is working for your context … by all means, ASK!

2. Trust yourself above anyone else because it’s your name on the cover, not mine and not anyone else’s either.  If you’re looking for answers on publishing, promotion, pricing, covers, blurbs, then chances are you’re Indie … which means independent, so embrace the moniker, doll. We’re here to help, but you don’t need to believe everything we say and take it as gospel. What works for the aforementioned “greats” (and there was a list of them about 5 deep in the original post) may not work for you … so if it doesn’t, don’t force it.  Publishing isn’t a one size fits all, not even for those professionals, who were, believe it or not, once new with questions of their own.

3. Fail, but fail trying.  And age-old sentiment, but totally true.  If the first book flops, shrug it off and write again. Not every writer will find his or her audience, but the moment you quit is also the moment you guarantee you never will.

4. Grow some thick ass skin.  The sooner you do it, the better off you’ll be.

5. Prepare yourself now for the first five-star review and the first one-star review.  They’re both valid.  Teach yourself to take both in stride.

6. Read…and read, a lot.  Read everything you can get your hot little hands on.  Read the genre you’re pursuing and other genres, too.  Figure out what works in the market and what doesn’t. Last year, New Adult didn’t formally exist, this year it’s the BIG THING … so pay attention to trends and figure out how they impact your own novels.

7. Take yourself seriously and other’s will too.  Don’t talk about how “new” you are … talk, instead, about how “eager” you are.  One is more endearing than the other.

8. Pay it all forward.  You won’t be “new” for very long, things move fast once you’re in the thick of it … but try to remember what it felt like the first time, that virginal experience of being an “unknown.”  And so, when someone asks, “how do I price my book?” … don’t roll your eyes, groan and begrudge them what they don’t know … answer them!  Take five minutes of your life and give them what someone once gave you.

The publishing world — trade, self, indie, hybrid, whatever — is a big, shaggy beast.  We try to tame it, but we never will.  It evolves, we evolve.  But somewhere along the way, we opened the barn door latch and now we have new souls entering our arena everyday.  But try to remember this: This, our profession, isn’t the Hunger Games, we don’t need to eat our young, folks … we need work with them, for them, and towards a common goal of making literature (in all forms) as truly amazing as it can be.

*qualified via the Amazon the best seller Kindle list, thankyouverymuch.

Slowing Down the Query-Go-Round

With hundreds of resources online geared towards helping writers make the most of a query/pitch/synopsis, I was surprised there wasn’t much on how to simplify the query-go-round process in general.

But, we all know, there is no really easy way to query …there are only ways to simplify or streamline the process.

Maybe these is common knowledge, but as I began querying again, I’ve devised a methodology that has helped me streamline the almost tedious project into something simple and easy and, dare I say, enjoyable.

Be warned, it takes a minute … but the rewards are worth the effort.  I’ve managed to cut my querying time in HALF, at least, by following the simple stuff below:

1. Create a virtual folder on your desktop, something that is easy to access, that you don’t need to search for.  This is the first part of the long process.

Most agents who ask for samples along with your query will more then likely request one of the following:

  • The first three chapters
  • The first five pages
  • The first 5,000 words
  • The first chapter
  • The first fifty pages
  • The first twenty pages

Before you begin, break the manuscript down into these chunks.  Save them into new files titled : First Fifty, First 5,000 words and so on.  They will be easy to grab if they are clearly identified.

Move a copy of the completed manuscript into this folder as well, on occasion, this is an acceptable submission — but it’s also good to have it at your finger tips for the rare “one-off” request for a not-so-common number of pages, words, or chapter count.

2. Create a singular document for your synopsis and introduction (the copy and paste function is your friend when you start writing the e-mails) … do not include any NAMES or SPECIFICS in this.

Example one : Do not address the bulk document to “Dear Agent” … if you do, inadvertently you’ll probably, at some point, send it as such.  A blank entry will better remind you to ADD the proper greeting addressed specifically to the agent you’re interested in touching base with.

Example two : Do not say “below you’ll find the first twenty pages of my manuscript” … the fine print is often overlooked.  Rather, enter something that is hard to over look like <ADD SPECIFICS> … it’s glaring and will allow you to correct it specifically for each query independently.

3. Your biography.  Ugh, we all love this part!  Write a simple biography.  Brag, just a little.  You’re accomplished.  Agents want to see you believe in yourself — if you’ve read any interviews, you’ll notice that.  So, if you’ve done something super shiny and spectacular, share it.  Things I’ve read they want to see:

  • Education.  Where did you study?  Or what?  It’s okay if you haven’t, but be honest about it.
  • Experience OR what makes you qualified to write this book.  This is particularly important in non-fiction, but in fiction sometimes a little blurb about why you wrote it is nice to include.
  • Writing history OR street ‘cred.  Have you published?  If so, what.  In today’s day and age it’s perfectly fine to say “I’m independently published.”  Heck, chances are you’ll know a lot about the industry and that’s always a good thing.

Create your biography as, again, a separate document.  Write it in a friendly first-person format, different from your professional biography used for websites, Amazon and other promotion.  Be conversational.  This may be the first, last and only chance you have to sell yourself, which is half of the querying process.

Example: In my biography I mentioned that my novel has been previously self-published successfully.  I share my results very honestly.  One agent saw this and e-mailed back shortly after I sent my query, told me my book was “intriguing” and my reviews “impressive” … then, she asked to see more.

4. Research.  Did you know that there are more than 1,500 agents out there “agenting” (my fake word for their very real job) every single day?  Me either.  That’s a lot of potential.  But, resist it!  Research your agents.  Just like authors, doctors and babysitters, all agents aren’t created equal.  And that goes beyond just what they are actively looking for.  It goes to how you feel about them.  That little key is as important as anything else.

Querying is really like a game of tennis … the choices bounce between the two players … and you’re the one serving!

I recommend using a site like which allows you search by your refinements.  Personally, I don’t pitch to agents who don’t accept e-mail, this allows me to whittled down the list to meet my personal specifications.

Then, I do further research.  I look for interviews they’ve given and I read every word.  I make a list of names of those I’m interested in from there.

4a. Adhere to their guidelines.  You’re out to make a stunning first impression — so follow the rules.  They don’t want to see your creativity, they want to see you be smart and concise.

5. Personalize the letter if you can.  Not every agent does interviews … but if they do, and it was that interview that drove you towards them, mention it.  If you participated in #askagent on Twitter when they were hanging around, mention it.  What’s the harm?  Everyone likes to feel “special” … agents do interviews to inform and educate, let them know that, when it comes to you, they’ve spent their time well — that you’ve become informed and learned and that you respect them so you’re reaching out.  It’s flattery, but it’s also honest.

Example: One of the agents I queried did a very long interview on the books she was drawn to.  She liked “magic” … I mentioned that my book has magic, albeit practical magic (not the otherworldly stuff) … This agent e-mailed me back within 30 minutes asking to see more from me.

6. Query early in the morning or late at night.  This is a bit of a throw back from my time as a hiring manager.  You want to be on their screen first thing in the morning before they launch into their other responsibilities.  Their days are jammed back, you’re just a small part — so you know what they say, the early bird gets the worm.

7. Perfect your pitch/query and synopsis.  Ask someone who is unfamiliar with your book to look it over for you and give you a gut-reaction.   You should probably spend a day looking at it, put it away for a few, and revisit.

So that’s about it … my seven steps to querying that I have found worked for me this time around.

If you’re looking to query and need someone to go over your material, I’m available to give it a once-over, you can e-mail me at ashley (at) ashleymacklerpaternostro (dot) com with Query Draft in the subject line.

Authors For Wounded Warriors

This is your fair warning that the following post is going to be sort of preachy …

Every year my husband, Mark, plays in a hockey game called Guns ‘n’ Hoses, an event held at the esteemed Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois.  He plays “old man hockey” (as I affectionately call it with a group of men who happen to be police officers — the team is called Skatin’ Bacon — too funny!).  And each year the game benefits a charity.  In 2012, all the proceeds of the event went to support a home where adults with disabilities can live comfortably and have a sense of normalcy.  In 2013 the charity selected was the Wounded Warrior Project (for the remainder of this update, I’ll be referring to it simply as WWP).

As an author, every single day I get to enjoy the benefits of a country that is free.  I exercise freedom of speech in my novels.  I live am able to research the themes of my novels because of the freedom of the press.  And then, on a very base level, I get to live my dream of being a storyteller because there is no one to tell me I can’t.  As readers or authors, you all enjoy the same benefits.  How lucky are we?

But freedom, as they say, is never free.  Brave men and women fight for my right and yours to live the sort of lives we choose for ourselves.  They give of themselves so we can live in a land that, while not perfect, is safe and liberally minded and allows us the latitude to speak our piece.

When my husband told me that the game this year would be played for the WWP, I knew it was responsibility and even more than that, my honor, to arrange a donation to assist in raising additional funds.  I knew the first step would be brainstorm.

My idea was to super load one Kindle that could be silently auctioned off. And as luck would have it, I just so happen to belong to a community that is not only large, but largely benevolent and generous.

I sent out the call on a blustery Saturday morning, asking if any writers would be willing to donate a copy of their book to be loaded onto the Kindle and eventually auctioned off.  I figured, conservatively, I’d get maybe 15-20 books.  But the kindness of others never fails to amaze me. Within the first hours of announcing the project, I’d received e-mails sent from locations around the world, not just the United States … and my little project went from being me with my fingers crossed, to being international initiative.

I figured, at some point, the donations would taper off … they didn’t.  It grew.  Fast.  Traditionally published authors caught the scent and before I knew it, I was being BCC on e-mail exchanged with the powers-that-be at some of the Big Six houses.

Would I accepted gifted books from Amazon?  Yes!

How about print copies?  Yes!

Do you need gift certificates?  Yes!

How about some swag?  Sign me up!

To date, more than 80 authors have shared their literary works in hopes of super-loading that Kindle, and now we’re filling book shelves too.  And with more than 150 books offered up in the name of charity, I call this venture, unabashedly, a raging success.

On March 30th this absolutely stunning offering will be auctioned off silently.  Every single dollar raised will go directly to wounded warriors and their families as they begin the journey to healing … the wealth will be spread, the benefits enjoyed and in a small, yet significant way, we will all have paid back their kindness and generosity with a bit of our own.

Submissions close on March 22nd … so until then, please, if you have an interest in donating (gift cards, books, swag, whatever!) contact me at:

ashley (at) ashleymacklerpaternostro (dot) com

More information can be found at :

The Best Thing Self-Publishing Ever Gave Me

Have I really not blogged since June?  Whoa … I need to get back it, huh?

So, a lot has happened since we last visited or, um, since I went ‘dark’ … I’ll spare you all the stories, but let’s just say, it’s been one heck of a ride.

In October, In The After was published.  In February it became a best-seller on Amazon.  It remained a genre best-seller for a while thereafter and really threw me for a loop.  Me?  A best-seller?  With my little self-pub’d book?  Oh yes, the numbers don’t lie, darlin’.   Your eyes do not deceive you!  Celebrate!

Then, once the high faded (but not the numbers, really) came the question … did I see more for my book?  The answer was a resounding yes — but don’t we all?

The truth was simple: I’d done pretty much everything within my power to push that book to where it landed, stayed for a while, and slowly fell.  But still, if you can believe the readers (and I do), there was more this book could do, a wider audience it could reach — and unfortunately, I simply am not capable of being the one to do it.  Lesson one: know your limitations, get on a first name basis with them.

I decided after much consideration to query my already-successful, already-self-published manuscript.

In the beginning of this blog, we spent a heck of a lot of time discussing querying.  With The Milestone Tapes the query-go-round consumed my life and really darkened my mood. I lost faith there for a while.  Lots of “no thanks” followed by a couple partials, followed by a full, followed by more “no thanks.”  That sort of nonsense takes it toll on two things …

1. Your spirit.

2. Your will to carry on.

With In The After things were going to be different, I decided from the starting line.

Here are my rules for my second chance up to bat:

  • I’d work hard to protect my sanity this time.  No month-long marathon of non-stop selling myself via e-mail.  I couldn’t stomach the thought, really.  If I thought I’d have to do that again … I’d run the other way (and I’m not, for the record, a runner.)
  • I would be honest with my sales and selling status, write a compelling pitch that would include reader reaction — unconventional maybe, but incredibly important in an industry where readers are the real clients.  It was a benefit, if you think of it in those terms, for both myself and the agent — this book had proven itself in the real world.  I’ve done my part to show, not tell, that — natch!
  • I’d only query a select THIRTY-ISH agents out of the almost 1,500 registered with Publisher’s Marketplace.  I did my research, I queried established agents and new agents alike.  If they “spoke” to me, I’d speak back.
  • And lastly, I’d of course adhere to their query guidelines and address them personally — I’m a big one on manners, you know.

Within the first hours, the first request came for a partial.  It actually came before a single rejection.  I actually made it a whole 24 hours this time before the first rejection — and the one who rejected me, well, he was a long shot anyway.  (No hard feelings though, I understand what the guy was saying.)

But, while reading his scant reply to my long, verbose query I realized what self-publishing has given me …


I don’t write books for agents.  I really don’t.  I write books for readers.  The ones who spend hours on Amazon trying to unearth a good novel and sample it greedily on the screen of their Kindle before clicking “buy” and submerging themselves into the world we create for them.

I respect agents — always have, always will.  I admire their job and cringe when I think of all the slush they have to scoop away to find the hidden gem that speaks to them.  They, are readers too.  But when my query zooms into their in-box, they aren’t … they are working, they are “agenting”, prospecting and cherry-picking.  They aren’t looking to simply be entertained, they are looking for the next NYT best-seller, the next award-winner, multi-million dollar movie deal.  They need to eat too.

Rejections, with a broadened scope, no longer hurt.  Maybe it’s all the scar-tissue cultured from the zinger two and three star-reviews and returns on my KDP page.  Maybe it’s simply exhaustion and the desire to just write.  Maybe it’s knowing that tastes are so subjective and that, as an avid antique enthusiast, I personify the saying one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.  

Whatever it is, I’ve turned a page.

Instead of looking for an agent to give me a break, I’m looking for a partnership.  Did I query the best of the best?  In some cases, yes.  But I also looked to new agents building their client-list because I too am looking to build my books-list and we can work together.

In truth, I love agents.  I love what they represent and I admire the “old way” of publishing just as much as I love the “new way”.  I know they are capable of doing things I simply am not, but likewise, I know what I’ve done has been pretty awesome too.  I also have unwavering faith in my book — something, sadly, I didn’t know enough to have before.  You cannot underestimate the power this gives you. I’ve put this novel out into the world like a loving mother who puts her kindergartner on the bus for the first day of school — we both do so with apprehension and excitement and hope.

This time it’s not about please, please, please like me please! It’s about here is my story, I’ve proven it sells, want in?  Oh, and once we get friendly, I’ve got another for you … have you ever heard of Two Spirits?

So … I’m back … I’m blogging … and I’m different … so this should all be interesting … stay tuned!

What is Your Favorite Genre? By: Deidre Havrelock

Today I’m really excited to burst back on the blogging scene after a grueling two months with a guest post from author Deidre Haverlock.

Havrelock, author of SAVING MARY: THE POSSESSION a new & brilliant memoir of her childhood, pulls back the curtain on demonic possession, salvation, and what lurks just beyond the edge of light in the dark.

In this two part installment Havrelock pulls no punches and spins a provocative tale I wouldn’t read alone at night (that’s for certain!)

So, without further interruption … here is Deidre on what her favorite genre is …


Gothic, of course. My first gothic book was titled, The Bloody Dagger. (I wrote that in grade three, for my mom.) It was a story about a man who hides in the shadows, killing unsuspecting people. A kid finally hunts him down and rats him out. I’m sure my gloomy story impressed my mom. I know it impressed my teacher, Mrs. Whalen, who asked, “Don’t you have any happy thoughts?” I have a lot of happy thoughts…the guy got caught, didn’t he?

Actually, I haven’t met too many people who don’t love a good gothic book. I even heard that The Monk is being released fairly soon as a movie. (I can’t wait. In fact, I wanted to write a screenplay for that book…drat, I’m too late!) It seems gothic has definitely risen to the top of some people’s A-lists. Which is somewhat weird, gothic is after all dark and depressing. But I think the genre has gotten a bad reputation due to a horrendous misunderstanding.

Feminists tend to dislike the female gothic tradition because it portrays women as weak and needy (think The Mysteries of Udolpho). FYI, in the female gothic tradition, a girl struggles to survive under the burden of a patriarchal society (think The Handmaid’s Tale), and most often she waits to be saved, usually by a man (think Saving Mary: The Possession). This pathetic desire to be saved (without lifting a finger to save herself) certainly would put feminists on edge. After all, it’s true—women don’t always need to be saved. But a totally intolerant stance against the female gothic tradition misses the beauty of it.

If anyone is a fan of gothic they should read Art of Darkness by Anne Williams, where the male and female gothic traditions are discussed. Like this author, I don’t see the female gothic tradition (which includes the need to “be saved”) as intrinsically weak and pathetic. I see it as reflecting a talent within all of us…it just shows up best in the weak. It’s the ability to ask for help and accept help. And whether we like it or not, there are instances in life where we are simply incapable of saving ourselves (read my book and you’ll see); and, therefore, faith in the mysterious other (to save us) kicks in.

Both traditions (including the male gothic model—which includes the need for punishment) are core issues inside all of us. FYI, in the male tradition the protagonist usually has to die or at the very least suffer for his/her vile and sinful life (think Anne Rice’s books or The Monk or The Picture of Dorian Gray). Typically, the male gothic model is condemned by Christians (as opposed to feminists) because of the model’s focus on sin and punishment. (In male gothic there is no salvation for the character, only hopelessness.) But again, dislike for this model can be caused by a misunderstanding for the genre. Christians, after all, should understand the concept of eternal damnation more than anyone.

In these contexts, gothic isn’t about horror. It’s about life: oppression and sin, salvation and damnation. Either way you look at gothic, if someone gets saved or someone gets a final punishment—it means the darkness has passed. And that’s why I love it.

We all live in a gothic world, and we have to learn how best to survive it.


Buy her novel now on Amazon

I’m Going All In

Last night, I made a decision … we’ll lovingly call it the May Day choice.

I’ve decided, starting May 2, 2012 or as soon as the “pending” icon beside The Milestone Tapes vanishes, I’ll be going Select.  100% in it.  100% Amazon.

Two months ago I took a risk, a calculated risk, but still a risk.  I self published.  This book that no agent believed in has since gone on to gather glowing reviews … after 14 on Goodreads I’m still a strong 4.5 stars.  I thought, in the beginning, that market saturation would be the key to this novels success.  That if everyone had the chance to own it, I’d be selling smart.

Two months later, data has proven, my original stance was wrong.  No, market saturation and a bagillion blog tours isn’t making this book rise and shine in the rankings.  Here is the break down.

B&N – 3 copies sold

Smashwords (et all) – 2 gifted, 0 sales.

Amazon on the other hand accounts for almost 100% of the interest in both paperback and eBook.

It wasn’t a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants decision I made when I decided to pull my title from Smashwords and B&N … it was calculated.  It was ultimately based on where I was seeing the book sell and the opportunities the book would have if I gave the rights exclusively to Amazon and Select.

Select will give my title, in a perfect world, more visibility.  The glorious free days will also let readers take the chance on a book they otherwise might not buy.

All of that aside, what ultimately made my mind up (outside of the advice of David Adams, a gifted writer and fellow author friend) is that I shopped at Macy’s.  Just follow my thought here for a moment …

My sister was looking for a dress for an upcoming engagement party and we decided that Macy’s would probably have the right selection for her needs.  As we browsed the racks I noticed a few things … there is such a thing as brand exclusivity.  Macy’s carried Ralph Lauren while Sears does not.  Why?  Because Ralph Lauren probably sells better at Macy’s.  So while RL does have stand-alone stores that I’m guessing do well with the preppy Americana crowd, they also let Macy’s act on their behalf because it works as well at the department store.

Select is not really so different.  Books are a commodity.  Selling them where they actually sell rather than where they don’t is, in a word, smart.

I have to be smart.  I have to take things at face value.  So, ultimately, for the next three months I’m going all in.

eBook Festival! Mark your calendars, register now!

I am incredibly excited to be able to announce that it’s officially happening.  Courtesy of the wonderful Julie Dawson over at Bards & Sages publishing, we indie authors finally have a festival all our own … and yes, it’s going to be amazing!

What’s better … I’ll be an active panelist on Sunday August 19th at 5:00pm EST for the Social Issues in Fiction event … as well as moonlighting at moderator.  Watch out … I’m practicing my skills of reading snark and using emoticons to cut down the BS.  Just kidding, of course, I think the panel — which is hosted by other authors who tread in the deep waters of emotional turmoil — will bring you thought provoking commentary and address any/all questions!

All and all, it’s a great place for readers and writers a like and I couldn’t possibly encourage you all more to take a seat!

Registration starts now for a weekend of all things eBooks including some pretty sweet swag!


Official Press Release:

eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook Awards

Bellmawr, NJ: The eFestival of Words Virtual Book Fair announces the nominees for the first Best of the Independent eBook Awards. The complete list of nominees can be found at

The eFestival of Words, scheduled for August 17-19, 2012, is the first virtual book fair designed specifically to highlight the best of the independent digital publishing community. The awards program is one of many events being ran in conjunction with the fair.

According to Event Coordinator Julie Ann Dawson, “The goal of the eFestival of Words Awards is to highlight those independent authors and publishers that have worked to raise the bar in terms of the literary quality and production value and of digital books. Many people still think of ebooks as nothing more than scanned pages of print books. We hope that both the fair and the awards will help readers discover the amazing wealth of original content being produced in digital formats.”

Dawson, who has operated Bards and Sages Publishing since 2002, says that all nominees were nominated by their peers in the industry. Only authors, publishers, and others involved in the production of digital books were invited to submit ballots. Nominations were accepted in over two dozen categories, including genre categories (horror, romance, thrillers, etc), format-specific (short story, novella, novel) and a few just-for-fun categories (such as The “I’ve Been Shyamalaned” Award for Best Twist Ending).

Each category will be narrowed down further seven finalists, which will be announced July 1, 2012. Final voting will be opened to all registered attendees of the eFestival of Words, with winners announced on the last day of the fair. Registration is free and entitles the attendees to not only vote in the final awards, but also participate in panel discussion, author chats, workshops, and more.

For more information on the fair and the awards, visit

We’re Indie Bound … Or Are We?

So today is sort of a beef/vent/getting out of my own head post.

Right now in my little town book shop I’ve seen this emergence of these brightly colored red/white/black posters screaming Indie Bound.  I figured since I’m Indie, with an organic interest, I wanted to know more.  I mean, anything Indie I get get behind.

In case you’re unfamiliar … Indie Bound is this: A small organization that moves consumers to find small, local shops and encourages a person to opt to spend their money there as opposed to big box stores (a la your local bookstore over B&N).  And the kicker is, the movement is truly geared towards books.  While Indie Bound does list shops from clothes to bikes and nearly everything niche market in-between, Indie Bound appears to have a sweet spot for books.

I then found what is called Indie Next … a list of best selling Indie Books.


I was really juiced up over this for all the obvious reasons.  That was, until I started playing around on the site …

While Indie Bound is still all about small Ma & Pa shops, the books they have on their “Indie Next” list are … um … anything but Indie.  Here is the list:

WILD (published by Knopf)

THE COVE: A NOVEL (published by Ecco)

THE BOOK OF JONAS (published by Blue Rider Press)

SACRE BLEU (published by William Morrow)

ANGELMAKER (published by Knopf)

THE GODS OF GOTHEM (published by Putnam)

Are you catching a reoccurring theme happening here?  None of these novels … not a single one … is the work of an Indie Author.

These books, touted as Best Selling works of Indies are actually just another best selling list from publishers.  Bah!

When I took this to the Kindleboards, I was told by another writer that “Indie was once how “small publishers” referred to themselves” … and I suppose, maybe if this was 10 years ago, I could agree.

But is that was Indie is anymore?  I don’t necessarily agree.

In my mind, Indie means “DYI” … it means you’re the one who does the work, makes 70% of your sales and there is no publisher giving you an advance or sharing in your royalties.  To me, big 6 or small press, you’re trade published.

My question is … do you agree?