O Motivation, Wherefore Art Thou? (Just Do It!)

My kids show me the strangest YouTube videos sometimes. Recently, they showed me the following video, and we giggled quite a bit over it.

But then I realized something strange was happening when I watched it – it was shaming me, SHAMING me. Whispering in my ear “stop watching silly videos and get to work.”

As an Indie author, and as I’ve mentioned before, I am my own boss, and lately I’ve been a very bad boss. I read on a writers’ forum something to the effect “if you showed up at a full-time job and worked for an hour, maybe two, then said ‘hey, boss, I’ve met my daily quota, I’m outie (outtie? whatever),’ and called it quits for the day, you wouldn’t have that job very long.” Essentially, I’m close to firing myself.

Lots of writers get frustrated with their WIPs, get stuck at the dreaded writer’s block, get burned out, get bogged down in real life or social media or hundreds of daily emails they (I?) feel compelled to read, and yet kick themselves repeatedly when they watch other writers moving on, stacking up their successes, turning their words into an honest living. Where’s the motivation gone?

Sometimes, one silly little video, while giving you giggling fits, can also be your daily inspiration to get back on the horse. Here it is (WARNING – don’t have your speakers too loud):

 

Shia LaBeouf “Just Do It” Motivational Speech

Amazon Adds Book Sample Embed Feature for Kindle ebooks

Do you like Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature to read a free sample of a book before purchasing it? So do I! And now Amazon has given people the ability to grab the embed code for “the vast majority of Kindle books” and place it in your website / blog / emails / Facebook posts / Twitter posts, etc.

There are two embedding options offered. One is a link to be clicked which opens a new browser tab with the book sample.

Example code (with spaces added so it doesn’t actually become a link here in my post):

https :// read.amazon.com/kp/embed?asin=B017747888&preview=newtab&linkCode=kpe&ref_=cm_sw_r_kb_dp_IltJwb1S991KA

And the link:

Click to view a sample of Roping the Cowboy!

The second embedding option allows you to embed actual code into your website – like a widget – that will show you the preview right in the page rather than opening a new tab.

Example code (with spaces added so you can see the actual code):

< iframe type=”text/html” width=”336″ height=”550″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen style=”max-width:100%” src=” https: //read.amazon.com/kp/card?asin=B017747888&preview=inline&linkCode=kpe&ref_=cm_sw_r_kb_dp_IltJwb1S991KA” >< /iframe >

 

I won’t add the embedded code here, because I haven’t yet figured out how to get iframes working.  To see it in action, I recommend looking at this GeekWire.com article about this new Amazon feature, which contains a preview of the book “The Martian” by Andy Weir. Here’s what it looks like (although this image is non-functioning due to my iframe ignorance):

SampleWidget

In a functioning iframe, the “Free Preview” button at the bottom of the image would load the preview right there in that little image space and would look like this:

SampleWidgetText

Amazon affiliate links may also be added to the code, of course! Bravo, Amazon!

Goodreads Giveaway – Gift Yourself a Free Book for Christmas!

Enter to win your free autographed paperback copy of Roping the Cowboy at Goodreads.com! Giveaway runs December 11 – 19. Good luck!

Christmas Goodreads Giveaway

Christmas Goodreads Giveaway – Available in All Countries

About the book:

Tess Douglas, foodie columnist for the Manhattan Daily News, has the perfect life — perfect manicure, perfect apartment, perfect Prada pumps — and a driving desire to become the next editor. When the travel columnist suffers an onset of appendicitis, Tess is roped in to cover his duties while maintaining her own column, including his pending trip to the Lonesome Trails Ranch in New Mexico. There’s just one problem: Tess is afraid of everything — snakes, horses, steers, dirt. And she’s downright terrified of (gulp!) country music.

Colt Carson is about as opposite from Tess as a man can be. As owner and operator of Lonesome Trails Ranch, he gets down and dirty when he has to and expects everyone else to do the same. He has it all… a beautiful ranch, a trail-riding business, a collection of stupendously large belt buckles…

Everything except someone to share it with.

Completely out of her element, Tess must wrangle her fears (is that dirt under my nails??) and lasso her growing feelings for Colt. Will she let Colt Carson mess up her tidy, perfect life? Will she choose her career, or the cowboy?

Roping the Cowboy is also available on Kindle Unlimited for free at Amazon.com.

Just Released: Roping the Cowboy – A Romance

I’m excited to announce (after TWO YEARS in the works!) the new eBook release of Roping the Cowboy today (Tuesday, October 27) exclusively with Amazon, so if you are a subscriber to Kindle Unlimited, you can read this book for free!  If not, then add it to your wish list to receive Amazon’s notification of free promos. Or better yet, go buy it!

Currently only available in eBook format. Check back soon for the paperback release!

Roping the Cowboy by Bree Roberts

Roping the Cowboy by Bree Roberts

This cover was designed by the talented Melody Simmons over at ebookindiecovers.com.

About Roping the Cowboy by Bree Roberts:

Tess Douglas, foodie columnist for the Manhattan Daily News, has the perfect life — perfect manicure, perfect apartment, perfect Prada pumps — and a driving desire to become the next editor. When the travel columnist suffers an onset of appendicitis, Tess is roped in to cover his duties while maintaining her own column, including his pending trip to the Lonesome Trails Ranch in New Mexico. There’s just one problem: Tess is afraid of everything — snakes, horses, steers, dirt. And she’s downright terrified of (gulp!) country music.

Colt Carson is about as opposite from Tess as a man can be. As owner and operator of Lonesome Trails Ranch, he gets down and dirty when he has to and expects everyone else to do the same. He has it all… a beautiful ranch, a trail-riding business, a collection of stupendously large belt buckles…

Everything except someone to share it with.

Completely out of her element, Tess must wrangle her fears (is that dirt under my nails??) and lasso her growing feelings for Colt. Will she let Colt Carson (or love) mess up her tidy, perfect life? Will she choose her career, or the cowboy?

Roping the Cowboy is a 56,000-word fish-out-of-water romantic comedy.

Cover Reveal for Roping the Cowboy – A Cowboy Romance Novel

I’m excited to share with everyone the cover for the upcoming new ebook release of Roping the Cowboy!  The release is scheduled for Tuesday, October 27, exclusively with Amazon, so if you are a subscriber to Kindle Unlimited, you can read this book for free!  If not, then add it to your wish list once it’s released to receive Amazon’s notification of free promos.

So without further ado, here is the very lovely cover:

Roping the Cowboy by Bree Roberts

Roping the Cowboy by Bree Roberts

This cover was designed by the talented Melody Simmons over at ebookindiecovers.com.

About Roping the Cowboy:

Tess Douglas, foodie columnist for the Manhattan Daily News, has the perfect life — perfect manicure, perfect apartment, perfect Prada pumps — and a driving desire to become the next editor. When the travel columnist suffers an onset of appendicitis, Tess is roped in to cover his duties while maintaining her own column, including his pending trip to the Lonesome Trails Ranch in New Mexico. There’s just one problem: Tess is afraid of everything — snakes, horses, steers, dirt. And she’s downright terrified of (gulp!) country music.

Colt Carson is about as opposite from Tess as a man can be. As owner and operator of Lonesome Trails Ranch, he gets down and dirty when he has to and expects everyone else to do the same. He has it all… a beautiful ranch, a trail-riding business, a collection of stupendously large belt buckles…

Everything except someone to share it with.

Completely out of her element, Tess must wrangle her fears (is that dirt under my nails??) and lasso her growing feelings for Colt. Will she let Colt Carson (or love) mess up her tidy, perfect life? Will she choose her career, or the cowboy?

Roping the Cowboy is a 56,000-word fish-out-of-water romantic comedy.

 

Don’t Break the Chain

I read a simple writing tip today that I felt compelled to share. It’s from an article posted at Lifehacker.com titled “Jerry Seinfeld’s Productivity Secret” by Brad Isaac.

Quoted excerpt:

I had to ask Seinfeld if he had any tips for a young comic. What he told me was something that would benefit me a lifetime…

He said the way to be a better comic was to create better jokes and the way to create better jokes was to write every day. But his advice was better than that. He had a gem of a leverage technique he used on himself and you can use it to motivate yourself—even when you don’t feel like it.

He revealed a unique calendar system he uses to pressure himself to write. Here’s how it works.

He told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker.

He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day. “After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain.”

“Don’t break the chain,” he said again for emphasis.

(End quote).

Perhaps a visual to nag you every time you glance up is just the needed kick in the pants! Read the full article here and check out Mr. Isaac’s blog at persistenceunlimited.com

A Part of My Writing Process

I’m the mom of three- and six-year old kids. They keep me hopping! So I’m not always at my computer when I’m in the middle of a WIP.

In the past, I wrote linearly. But now, thoughts and ideas and entire scenes come to me out of order (I’m a pantser). I could be lying in bed, barely aware that the sun has risen, when BAM! A story idea hits. But it’s several scenes down the road. And I’m not at my computer.

And I suffer from a serious case of mommy-itis.

How do I keep the ideas from going bye-bye into the black hole that my brain has become? It used to be sticky notes, until they took over my desk, lined my pockets, and generally got lost and laundered (along with bits and pieces of my story). Now my solution is to keep a notebook by my bedside. In my kitchen. In my bathroom. In my purse when I’m walking through the zoo. I can jot down the scene before it poofs into thin air.

So, while the majority of the story is still linear, there’s a good chunk that is piecemeal too (my inner neatnik is cringing).

Then, when I’m at my computer, I can type the scene into Scrivener, my word processor of choice. Scrivener’s great in that you can write your scenes out of order and move them around all you want, even tag them with text and/or color code them.

Scrivener

Image owned by LIteratureAndLatte.com

Scrivener for Dummies by Gwen Hernandez

Scrivener for Dummies by Gwen Hernandez

If you’re a writer, check out Scrivener. They have a 30-day free trial so you have nothing to lose. I’m not going to get into all its bells and whistles – that will be a different post. There’s also a Scrivener for Dummies book that will explain all those bells and whistles. I have only scratched the surface of what Scrivener can do for me, and the little bit I know is more than worth the $40 I paid. I didn’t even wait for the trial to end. I know true love when I see it!

Walls, Dungeons, and Censorship, Oh My!

Apparently certain book sellers (allegedly) want to tell you, the reader, what you SHOULD read instead of showing you the true bestseller list of what people are really reading.

Here is an article written by Maya Cross, posted at Goodreads here: http://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/4244850-important-barnes-and-noble-is-censoring-its-best-seller-lists

Here is the article, copy and pasted in case you don’t want to click over:

I’ve posted about this on Facebook, but I wanted to write something slightly more coherent and complete. This is a very important issue for both romance readers and writers, so please, share this post with your friends. Shout it from the roof tops. Barnes and Noble aren’t replying to my emails, so we need to make a lot of noise for this to get heard.For those that don’t want to read the whole thing, the situation in a nutshell:Barnes and Noble appear to be manipulating their Nook bestseller list. They seem to have issue with either self published books or books containing erotic content, or both, and they don’t want them being too visible on their site. From what we can gather, there seems to be an artificial wall in their rankings, somewhere around #125, and any books they deem unworthy cannot rank higher, no matter how many copies they sell. My two titles are both currently affected by this, as are Cassia Leo’s USA today best selling Shattered Hearts books, and several other works.To give you the long form and explain how I know this:My second book, Lockout, was doing astoundingly well on B&N. It was #5 in the whole store yesterday, right up between Dan Brown and James Patterson. I was over the moon.But something weird was happening with the first book in my series, Locked. It rose when book two launched, but once it hit #126 in the overall store, it stuck in place. It kept selling more books, but wouldn’t move. Not even a single ranking place. And it held that position for 48 hours. Now, it’s almost impossible for a book to not shift even a few places in a given day. Most books change rank every hour, so obviously this wasn’t normal. It felt like it had been pinned in place.Then, this morning, the same thing happened to Lockout. It went from #5 in the whole Nook store, to #126, in the blink of an eye. This makes no sense. It’s all but totally impossible for book sales to plummet that dramatically of their own accord.

I know that this might seem like me just complaining because I’m not doing as well as I’d like, but it’s not. Look at this. Locked and Lockout are currently sitting at exactly #126 and #127 in the B&N store. You can see it here:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s?dref=…

What do you think the chances of that happening are? Two books by the same author next to one another in the rankings, out of hundreds of thousands of titles. And it’s been like that all morning. Add in the fact that Locked has been at #126 for the last two days (I have screenshots, emails and sales figures to show this), and it’s pretty clear that this isn’t an accurate reflection of the book’s sales.

If you look at the charts there, you can also see Cassia Leo’s books are just behind mine. I have screenshots of these charts from all last night and this morning, and in every one, our books hold position while everything else shifts around them. I also have word from a much bigger name in the romance community, Liliana Hart, that the same thing happened to her last week. She had a sale, her title rose to #126, then just stopped.

Now, they have yet to actually comment on this, so we have no concrete idea what is going on, but if all this is true, then it’s blatant censorship. Their ‘best seller’ charts aren’t best seller charts at all, it’s just a list of pre-approved books. The romance community is one of the most voracious in the world, and they’re hiding the books you want to read from you. This is worth making some noise over. They’re hurting you and your ability to find books, and they’re hurting authors you love and their ability to make a living. My sales have plummeted since this happened.

There seems to be no rhyme or reason behind the policy. Cassia’s books are much less steamy than mine, and other erotic titles continue to sit in the top 100. I don’t know exactly what they’re trying to achieve, but the whole thing is inconsistent and grossly unfair. This isn’t just about my books, or Cassia’s books, it’s about B&N thinking they know what their readers want better than readers themselves.

So I’d love it if you helped get the word out about this. Comment on this post so your GR friends see it, share it around your social networks, and let B&N know what you think about this policy. I’m not sure it will do much good, but it’s worth making our voices heard nonetheless. Maybe we can get them to at least fill us in on their policy so we can understand what is happening.

EDIT 5/27/13: Just to update this for people only reading now, it is no longer true that my two books are side by side on the Nook store. B&N’s blockade has done its job and has killed the sales on my first book by destroying the visibility. It will only be a matter of time before the second starts to fall.

But now that we know what we’re looking for, you can now see other books up against the wall. Currently there’s Tangled by Emma Chase, Selling Scarlet by Ella James, and then my book, Lockout. Tangled is a great example. It’s getting crazy good reviews everywhere, is inside the top 10 on Amazon, but suspiciously won’t budge from #126 on the B&N store. The exact rank we’ve all been complaining about. Doesn’t that seem odd?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~  end article ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Amazon is also manipulating some content by not allowing you to search for it on the main Amazon search page (you must first go to “Books” and search there for it to show up).  The Writer’s Cafe people call that the “adult dungeon” and if your book gets stuck behind “the dungeon” then your sales fall drastically and your exposure is practically nil. The problem is that some books are getting stuck in this so-called dungeon without having done anything offending to get there (no erotica, no racy cover, or anything like that).

Modern-day censorship at its best!

The Secret to Writing

Most writers will tell you the secret to writing is simply to put your butt in a chair and write.  Just write.  But what good are all those words on a page if you don’t actually finish?

Published authors already know.  But those of us that may be just starting out and unpublished need to learn the dirty little secret.

When I started writing my first book, I worked on it now and then when inspiration struck.  Although I’d get stuck (because I was a pantser with no outline or clear path to follow), I’d eventually get unstuck and plod on.  It would take days, weeks, sometimes months to get unstuck, but eventually I would, only to get stuck again.  Time away from writing just left the manuscript languishing, alone and forgotten.  Two years went by and for some reason the drive to finish the book struck again.  This time, I would stick to it.  This time would be different.  And it was.  What made it different this time?  A deadline.

The RWA’s yearly Golden Hearts contest for unpublished authors was opening for entries in November.  Now I had a goal, a deadline.  Although the contest was opening in November, it wasn’t closing until January 3rd-ish.  However, the way my brain works made me fixate on the November date.  This became my deadline, and all the excuses and distractions that had previously kept me from writing were swept aside.  I wrote furiously and at every opportunity, and in two months I wrote more than I had in the two years previously.  More importantly, I finished the manuscript in time to enter in November.

Then I started another book, but I was mostly dealing with Christmas and the whirlwind that ensues when you have a busy life.  As this second manuscript cried softly in the dark, dusty corner of my desk drawer, I searched Amazon for something good to download to my Kindle, and kept seeing Christmas romances.  It was too late for me to pull off a Christmas book, even a short story, so I thought ahead to the next holiday (and I use that term loosely here), Valentine’s Day.  This became my new deadline.  And so the Valentine’s Day story was written and self-published February 13th.

And then I started another book, my current WIP, and once again I’m floundering with no deadline to push toward and a busy life stealing away my precious writing time.  For me, lighting a fire under my (writing) butt only occurs when I have a self-imposed deadline.  When you’re not writing for a publishing house, you are your own boss, and bosses expect you to deliver your projects on time.  Setting a random deadline may not work.  Look for contests that have a realistic but specific deadline, and commit to it.  THEN put your butt in a chair and write.  Just write.

Read an E-Book Week, March 3 – 9, 2013

ebookglasses

Excerpts re-posted from Mark Coker at Smashwords (blog.smashwords.com/2013/03/read-ebook-week-kicks-off-at-smashwords.html) and Read an E-Book Week (www.ebookweek.com).

Read an E-book Week, the world’s largest global celebration of e-books, kicks off this Sunday, March 3 and lasts through Saturday, March 9. In support of this celebration, authors in every genre are offering free and deeply discounted e-books. Please visit the Smashwords special promotions page beginning March 3. Also, visit ebookweek.com’s Deals and Steals page for more!

The week-long celebration of e-reading is the brainchild of Rita Toews from Winnipeg, Canada. Each year under Rita’s volunteer leadership, the Read an Ebook Week website becomes a clearing center for authors, publishers, retailers and device-makers offering special one-week ebook giveaways to help attract new converts to the joys of ebooks.  The celebration is also a favorite for device-owners who like to stock up their readers and tablets with deep-discounted books.

Whether you participate as an author, publisher or reader, visit the official Read an Ebook Web Site to learn more.  Also visit their banners page where you can download RAEW banners, badges, buttons and bling to promote your participation on your blog or web site.  The graphics are available for both English and Spanish.

Lastly, don’t forget to check out the contests offered at ebookweek.com and total-e-bound.com. The prizes are free e-readers.