Doc Brodie and the Big Thank You

In the past few months, I’ve thought a lot about where I’m going with my writing career and if I’m really cut out to be a full-time author.

Sales for “Connection” were subpar (my own fault for not promoting it adequately). Sales for “Trust” were better (but being the second book in a series I hadn’t promoted enough made them less than stellar). Sales of my backlist were solid; enough to pay the bills while I’m living with my parents, but certainly not enough to pay rent if I moved out.

When road blocks hit as I was writing “Push & Pull” (the second in the Midwest series) I began to panic. What if I’d been fooling myself? What if I wasn’t cut out to be a writer at all? With depressing thoughts of having to get at least a part-time job again whirling in my head, I gave myself an ultimatum. If my next two releases didn’t do well, I’d look for the part-time job. In the meantime, I’d stop panicking about the fact that I’m only a few months away from having lived with my parents for a year. My goal was six months.

I threw myself into getting print books out and writing “Doc Brodie”. I contacted Rachel Maybury of Signal Boost Promotions and planned a Book Blitz and Review Tour to get the word out to new blogs and readers. After a minor panic when the first two days of sales for “Doc Brodie” were sub-par, a kind word from a fellow author prompted me to take a look at my pricing. I realized that based on the length of the novella, I’d set my price too high. I adjusted that and since then, the book has been flying off the (metaphorical) shelves!

Sometimes it’s hard to know what exactly leads to good sales. The time of year, the type of book, what else is going on in the world, along with a host of other factors can greatly influence sales. In general, the summer is a good time for shorter, lighter reads so I think that certainly helped with Doc Brodie sales. I wish I could say that it was because it was such an amazing book, but I know book quality is not always correlated to sales numbers. I am certainly proud of “Doc Brodie” and I never put out anything but my best effort, but I know I still have a lot to learn.  Unfortunately, I know very talented authors whose books don’t sell well.

In the two-and-a-half years since I published my first short story, the biggest thing I’ve learned is that marketing makes a big difference. In the list of people I want to thank for Doc Brodie’s success, Rachel Maybury is definitely one of them. I can’t recommend her highly enough. Her fee was reasonable, she was timely in responding to questions, and I feel she more than delivered what she promised. While it’s difficult to say exactly how much her marketing contributed to the book’s success, I honestly believe it played a substantial part in the fact that Doc Brodie sold more copies in the first month than any previous book I’ve released!

The book’s success puts me in a solid place to focus on “Push & Pull” (with a tentative September release) and I am hopeful that as long as that goes well I will be able to move out sometime this fall. *crosses fingers*

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This blog post is my very long-winded way of saying thank you to all of the people who helped with the book. In addition to Rachel, I’d like to thank Allison Hickman and Helena Stone for their beta work, Sally Hopkinson for her editing, Jessica Stuhr Kurvers and Amy Keating Casey for the proofreading help, and the handful of pre-release reviewers from my private Facebook group. And of course, huge thanks to the bloggers and readers who reviewed and spread the word about the story. Much love and appreciation to all of you. I simply cannot thank you enough. ❤

 

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Delays and Good News

If you’re a member of my Facebook fan group, Brigham’s Book Nerds, or a friend on Facebook, you’ve probably seen me mention that “Push & Pull”–the second book in The Midwest Series–is stalled. I’m at about 30,000 words but getting to that point has been like pulling teeth and I am still struggling to figure out what I’m doing wrong.

The added pressure of knowing that I need to release on a timely schedule (so, hopefully, I can sell enough books and move out of my parents’ house) is not helping.

There are other things demanding my attention as well. The Italian translation of “Equals” will be coming out soon. I am formatting and making covers for the print copies of “Bully & Exit”, “Connection”, and “Trust” and hoping to have them available to sell at Ferndale Pride on June 4th.

Good things are happening and I am certainly continuing to work hard, but I came to the realization that I need to set “Push & Pull” aside for a little while. I’m not hearing Lowell’s voice at the moment and he’s such a wonderful character that I don’t want to shortchange his story. In order to keep the release pressure at bay, I am dusting off an old novella. It’s a funny, sweet erotic romance that I wrote several years ago.

At the moment, it is a solid story of 12,000 words. I dusted it off this morning and plan to flesh it out a bit further and turn it into a novella of roughly 25k.

Working on the new novella feels like a breath of fresh air after the stagnant struggles of “Push & Pull” and I am confident that the story will be ready for release in a few weeks. That will take the pressure off me and allow me to take a sorely-needed break from “Push & Pull.” I will never abandon Lowell and Brent, but I’m going to set them aside for a short while. Hopefully, when I come back, I will know what I need to do to fix the plot problems and finish the story!

In the meantime, there’s a new novella coming your way soon!

Doc Brody and the Big, Purple Cat Toy

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Can a tabby cat with an appetite for silicone toys bring together a lonely computer programmer and a hot veterinarian looking for love?

“Trust” Takes Time

I’ve had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach for the last few weeks. The closer I get to the release date for “Trust”, the worse it gets.

I’ll be perfectly frank; I rushed the release for “Connection”. The story itself was solid, but I didn’t focus enough on promotion and my sales reflected that. I honestly believe a few more weeks of planning could have made a big difference.

This new reality of writing full time is an adjustment. It means stepping up my game as an author. Working harder, learning more, planning better.

I’ve been feeling under the weather since last week and spent the last couple of days in bed feeling like death warmed over. My betas have been busting their butts to get “Trust” back to me, but life happens and it took everyone a bit longer than planned.  Now that I’m well again I could rush through edits and probably get it done in time. I could probably even do a good job of it, but there’s always the risk I’d cut a corner I shouldn’t. I don’t want to do a good job, I want to do a great job.

 

There’s a lot more to writing than just getting words on paper. Especially when self-publishing. Most of it happens behind the scenes.  Where I update the backmatter in my books so readers can see what else I have to offer. When I plan promotions and connect with review blogs. If I don’t work at that, no one will be there to read my work.

I don’t mind it at all and I am happy to do the work. Hell, the most frustrating day as a writer still beats the best day at my former day job, but it does require an enormous amount of planning and time.

In light of that, the release date of “Trust” is going to be pushed back by a few weeks. I had planned to release it on December 30th. The new date will be January 28th.

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I hate the delay. I am so excited about this story and I want all of you to read and enjoy it.  But I don’t want to cut corners on either end of things. I don’t want to rush through edits and put out a story I’m not 100% confident about. And I don’t want to release it without being sure that it gets to as many readers as possible.

So I’m trusting my gut and giving myself a few extra weeks to get this book in order.

My deepest apologies to those of you who have been anxiously waiting for “Trust” to come out. I promise I’ll do everything I can to make it worth the wait.

 

 

 

Change of Plans

Although my original plan was to release Connection in early June and Bully & Exit in August, I’ve had to make some changes to my release schedule.  Connection isn’t ready. I thought it was but as it went through numerous beta edits, a theme emerged. Putting all of the comments together led me to one conclusion: I have problems with pacing.  With the help of my wonderful betas, I created a new outline.

Sifting through the comments and suggestions and putting them into a coherent plan wasn’t easy, but I feel confident that the new outline will fix the problems.  I don’t want to rush it though, and feeling pressured to get the book done wouldn’t have made it better.  Not to mention the fact that the new outline will most likely lead to Evan and Jeremy’s story being two books rather than one.  I want to have both done before I release the first one, and I don’t know how long it will take for me to finish it.

Rather than put myself under more pressure, I decided to swap the releases.  I don’t want to give you an exact date (because that never seems to work) but Bully & Exit will be released soon-ish. Certainly this summer.  It’s on its second round of beta edits and (fingers crossed) will only need a bit of polishing this time around.   I have a cover done, although I am not sure it’s the final, final cover, it’s coming together.  So as an apology for making you wait longer for Connection, here’s a teaser for the book you’ll be getting instead.

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Nathan’s voice was soft when he spoke, gentle like it’d always been. “Caleb Stockwell. I’ve been looking for you.”

Caleb cleared his throat and ignored him, tipping the bottle up for another long drink. He licked the spiced rum off his lips as he debated making another run for it. There was a shrub blocking his way in one direction and a hockey player in the other. Even if he hadn’t been drinking, the odds weren’t in his favor. “Nathan Rhodes,” he managed.

“Damn I can’t believe it’s you!” Nathan leaned in and Caleb pulled back, uncomfortable with him being so close.

Caleb laughed bitterly. “It’s me. Now that you’ve satisfied your curiosity, you can run along now.” He motioned with his hand, encouraging Nathan to leave.

“It’s really good to see you,” Nathan said, ignoring him. He took a seat on the pile of discarded construction materials, his knees brushing Caleb’s as he lowered himself down. Caleb pulled away as if scorched.

“Yeah? Too bad I can’t say the same,” he muttered, his head swimming as the alcohol began to hit him. He eyed Nathan’s long, long legs and the way he was pinned in by them, remembering the way they’d felt tangled with his as they came, panting shallowly against each other’s skin. It brought it all back: the scent of Nathan’s cologne, the taste of his skin, the way Caleb’s heart raced in his chest when Nathan held him close. It brought back the memories, the ones he’d worked so hard to run from. The good and the bad. The sharp, intense happiness of falling for Nathan. The aching, crushing hurt that paralyzed Caleb for months after Nathan was no longer in his life. Everything he’d buried four years ago and vowed never to touch again.

He caught the first glimpse of doubt on Nathan’s face. “Are you okay, Caleb?”

“Oh, I’m mother fucking peachy,” he snarked and took another long drink. “I’ve made it through four fucking years trying to ignore the fact we’re on the same campus and with barely a month left in my senior year, I thought maybe I’d managed to pull it off. But no, Lowell had to drag me to this goddamn party, and of course you showed up too. Just my luck.”

He raised the bottle again, but Nathan wrapped a hand around the neck and tugged. He was stronger than Caleb, so Caleb let go, afraid he’d end up getting pulled into Nathan’s lap if he didn’t. Nathan took a drink and passed the bottle back, licking the taste of rum off his lips before he spoke. “You’re so angry at me.”

“Ya think?” Caleb snarled. “Didn’t it ever occur to you I would be? What the hell makes you think you can waltz in here and pretend like all the shit that went down between us didn’t happen?” He tried to stand, but Nathan’s dark denim-clad knees were on either side of his, pinning him in place. The bottle was pried from his suddenly limp fingers and set aside.

“I don’t think that,” Nathan protested. “I was just glad to see you and I… I wanted a chance to apologize. I didn’t… I wanted….”

Caleb’s lips parted in surprise as cool fingers framed his face and for the first time in four long years, Nathan’s lips were pressed to his again. Involuntarily, Caleb’s eyes closed, feeling a rush of heat wash over him, taking him right back to the first time. Before Nathan broke his heart.

Paperbacks Are Available!!!

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I can honestly say formatting and building a paperback was one of the most frustrating experiences of my life. I understand why authors go through publishers and pay formatters oodles of money to do the work for them. It is some of the most fiddly, exasperating work I’ve ever done.  And yet, I’m really glad I did it.

I learned an enormous amount, I accomplished something I thought was out of my reach, I pushed through the moments when I wanted to tear out my hair and scream, and I have some beautiful work to show for it.  I even figured out my business name and put together a logo.

Two Peninsulas Press Logo

I did a ridiculous (if completely necessary) amount of research before I began creating the paperbacks.  Even then, I found myself flying by the seat of my pants with some of it.  Wait, where do I put the section break? How do I unlink from the previous section? I couldn’t have done it without Mr. Vaughn (who put in at least $1,000 worth of work per book, if he billed me what his office bills his clients at his tech geek job).  He’s a whiz with headers, footers, and table of contents pages.  Plus, he took my original cover images and text and combined them into two beautiful covers.

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I went through a number of possible versions before I decided to combine the four novellas into two volumes.  It seemed like it would give you guys the best value for your money.  Volume One (Equals and Partners) is 272 pages (about 90,000 words), while Volume Two (Family and Husbands) are 230 (just under 70,000 words). I perused Amazon and compared my work to other m/m authors with books of similar length and arrived at $13.99 and $12.99 for the paperbacks.

They are available on Amazon and CreateSpace.  Did you know that authors get a larger royalty when the books are purchased directly through CreateSpace? I certainly didn’t. Amazon is certainly easier to purchase through, so you won’t get any complaints from me if you buy the books there, but if you have a few extra minutes and want to buy through CreateSpace it would be greatly appreciated.

Amazon                                                                                Amazon

CreateSpace                                                                          CreateSpace

Oh, and if you want signed copies? Give me a week or so and I’ll have some available.  I’m still working on that part.

Prism Book Alliance Guest Post: Outside the Margins – Writing What You Know

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Join me on Prism Book Alliance’s Outside the Margins column.  Today I discuss research for my novels.

I hope you’ll take a look and please leave a comment.  I’m open to any feedback or suggestions about what you’d like to hear from me in my monthly column.  Looking forward to seeing you there!

Flash Fiction Mondays

After the struggles I had with the holiday novella, I feel blah and uninspired.  Despite the thousand and one plot bunnies and two nearly completed novels waiting for me, I don’t feel like writing.  I had four days off last week and only wrote a few hundred words.  Now, a few days off to celebrate the holidays is good, but on top of weeks of the blahs? Not good. That’s a slippery slope to no writing at all. And being a writer isn’t about only writing when you feel inspired.  It’s about writing when you don’t.  However, a creative kick in the pants can sometimes help.

So when the lovely and talented Helena Stone asked me if I’d be interested in joining her for her Flash Fiction Mondays, I jumped at the chance!  It helped with three goals I set for myself for 2015: more regular blog posts, more free stories, and boosting my creativity!

So, every Monday starting next week Helena and I will post a very short flash fic based on a single photograph.  We’ll take turns alternating who picks the image and each write a brief story based on it.  I’ll be sure to link to her blog so you’ll get two flash fics every Monday! Fun, huh?

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I picked this image for next Monday.  I have my flash fic nearly written and I can’t wait to see what Helena comes up with!

See you next Monday!

“Partners” Blog Tour – Love Bytes Reviews – Guest Post, Excerpt, and Giveaway

Please join me at Love Bytes Reviews for a guest post about setting and research, an excerpt, and a giveaway!

Partners (Equals, #2) - Brigham Vaughn

Blog Tour Stops:

9/19/2014 Prism Book Alliance  http://www.prismbookalliance.com

9/20/2014 GGR Review http://www.ggr-review.com/

9/21/2014 MM Good Book Reviews http://mmgoodbookreviews.wordpress.com/

9/23/2014 Smoocher’s Voice http://www.smoochersvoice.com/

9/25/2014 Diverse Reader http://diversereader.blogspot.com/

9/27/2014 Love Bytes Reviews http://lovebytesreviews.com

9/28/2014 The Novel Approach http://thenovelapproachreviews.com/

9/30/2014 Padme’s Library http://padmeslibrary.blogspot.com/

10/1/2014 JP Barnaby http://www.jpbarnaby.com/

10/3/2014 Rainbow Gold Reviews http://rainbowgoldreviews.wordpress.com/

Giveaway:

At each stop, one commenter will win their choice of a backlist title from me (excluding the Dr. Feelgood anthology). In addition, one commenter on the entire tour will win a $10 Gift Card from Amazon. See the stops on the blog tour for more details.

What’s the Opposite of Writer’s Block?

I posted this image on FB today because it made me giggle.  Sometimes my characters DO feel like imaginary friends.

 

I’m grateful that writer’s block is something I rarely have to deal with.  Don’t get me wrong, my creativity (and focus) ebbs and flows.  Some weeks I feel like I can’t find enough hours in the day to keep up with the ideas in my head.  Other time, it’s like pulling teeth.  I do my best to write even when I’m not feeling especially productive, although often I focus on other things, like writing book reviews or blog posts.  Sometimes I work on a story and just re-read what I’ve already written and make minor tweaks or plot out where I want to go next.  There’s always something I can work on.

Avoiding writer’s block is one of the main reasons I have multiple stories going at once.  It’s a very effective tool for me because if I’m feeling blah and uninspired about a particular story, I can work on something else for a while and it sparks my creativity.

Unfortunately, right now I feel like I have the opposite problem. Lately, my imaginary friends have been talking my ear off and I can’t get them to stop! I’m drowning in plot bunnies and I have a difficult time focusing on what I should be working on, namely the holiday shorts and book three of the Equals series.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Russ and Stephen.  I love the characters, I love their story, I love their relationship and the way it’s evolving. But I have so many other characters impatiently waiting their turn and it’s a daily struggle to focus on what I need to work on.

I feel ungrateful complaining about an excess of creativity; after all, it could be worse, right? I could be completely stuck and unable to write.  But it’s hard to feel grateful when the number of projects I have in my plot bunny folder keeps piling up.  I have no idea when I’ll get to them and just thinking about them gives me anxiety.

What am I going to do about it?  Honestly, I don’t know.  Just keep putting one foot in front of the other, I guess, but I’d sure love to know if you have any tips!

What can I do to get my characters to speak a little more quietly or at least wait their turn?

 

 

Updates

I thought I’d give you a quick update of where things are at right now. Partners, the second book in the Equals Series, is available for pre-sale on Amazon.  It will be release September 19.

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I am working on the next book in the series although it’s still somewhat up in the air if I will include a holiday short as part of Book 3 or if it’ll be released separately.  At the moment, I’m leaning toward something separate.  Which would you prefer as a reader?

I am continuing to work on the novel I’m collaborating on.  It’s a slow, steady process but it’s going well and I am very excited about it.

I’m also getting ready for GRL in October.  I am going as a reader not an author this year. It’ll be overwhelming enough to go to without trying to pretend like I know what I’m doing.  Besides, I don’t have any print books released yet and I’d like to have some before I attempt to go as an author.  If you’re going, I WILL have some postcards with coupon codes for a free download on Smashwords, or something of the sort. I’m still working out the details. If you have suggestions, please let me know.

I am also up for Author of the Month for September on Goodreads! If you’re a member of the M/M Romance Group on GR you can go here to my profile.  Scroll to the bottom and vote in the poll there.  If you aren’t a member, you’re welcome to join then vote.  Voting is open until August 27.

And, as I’m sure you’ve noticed I’m working on updating the blog.  New header, new tagline, new layout and slightly new color scheme.  I’m also adding pages like the Upcoming Projects page and I am currently working on a page that will list all of the books I currently have out with summaries/excerpts/covers/buy links.

I’d love to get your feedback on the blog so far. What do you like about it? What do you dislike? I am always open to suggestions so please, tell me what I can do to make the blog a better place for you!