Tuesday, December 24, 2013

What's Special for YOU at Christmas Time?

Mark Koopmans came up with the idea for 50 States of Pray, and even though I'm not in one of the 50 States, here's a Christmas message especially for YOU all the way from South Africa :-)

For me, the best thing about Christmas is family time. We all live in different parts of the country now, so it's great to get everyone together, have fun, exchange presents, and eat fantastic food!

I hope you all have a wonderfully blessed Christmas with your loved ones, and a fun new year! I'll be back in mid-January, after my husband and I have completed our move across the country to Cape Town. Woohoo!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Indie Life: Finding New Sales Avenues

Indie Life is a monthly feature hosted by the fabulous Indelibles where we get to share something related to indie writing life.

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My books are obviously on sale at the traditional places - Amazon, Barnes & Noble etc online, and in real life I've managed to get them into a few book stores. But as indie authors, with no publisher or distributor to get our books out there, it's up to us to find new avenues in which to sell our books.

So when an email came around advertising a local Christmas market, I thought, Why not? Everyone will be shopping for Christmas presents. Maybe a set of books would be a cool gift for parents/grandparents to buy for the younger people they know. So I signed up for it. Then I saw another market advertised and signed up for that one too. (The fee for a stand wasn't huge, so I didn't have much to lose by trying this out.)

The first market was held outside a small private gym kind of hidden away down a long driveway. There's no way you'd know a market was happening if you drove past, so the only people who came were people who'd been told it was happening. The second market was held at a cafe many people love. It's been well attended in the past, so the owners were expecting the same thing this year. But the weather was horrible! Grey, wet and cold (which is what the whole of December has been like so far, even though it's supposed to be summer!). So I guess the bad weather kept people away.

So how did these markets go for me? I managed to give a number of bookmarks away and tell people who'd never heard of Creepy Hollow all about it, but as far as numbers of sales went? Hardly anything! I could sell way more ebooks online and get a day's work done at the same time! But I don't see those two days as a waste. Spreading awareness about our books is important, even if it doesn't result in a sale right now. And without the massive marketing budget that a traditional publisher provides, we need to take every opportunity to spread the word about our books :-)

Market at Aqua Bodyworks

Market at Tea on 23

One of my fans came to visit :-)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Brand New Covers for the Creepy Hollow Series!

I am soooooooo excited to reveal these new covers! I love, love, love my original covers in print. They look so cool on the paperback copies on my shelf. But these new covers look super kickass on the ebooks. So without wasting any more words (because I know you'll just scroll down anyway ;-) ), heeeeeeeeeere they are!!

Amazon | Barnes&Noble | iTunes

Amazon | Barnes&Noble | iTunes


A little more behind the process...

Any designer who is also a writer will tell you that the hardest book covers to design are one's own. I struggled to come up with a set of covers that I LOVED! Several months ago, before I revealed the print cover for THE FAERIE WAR, I designed a new set of covers for the Creepy Hollow ebooks. Here they are:

I really liked these covers, and they looked super cool close up, but I realized after a while that at thumbnail size it was difficult to see what was on them. There wasn't enough contrast between the background and the model on each cover. So ... I started again. And here's what I came up with the second time:

I liked these covers too, and I really wanted them to be the final version after all the time I spent on them, but when I was honest with myself, I still didn't LOVE them. *sigh* So it was back to the beginning AGAIN. And this time I decided to go with something simpler. Those other covers were cool, but there was just too MUCH happening on them. You know what they say -- less is more ;-) And this time, when I was done, I LOVED the covers. Third time lucky!

Giveaway time!

My Facebook page recently reached 1000 likes. Woohoo! So I'm having a little giveaway to celebrate. You can enter below :-)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, December 1, 2013

November: Both a Fail and a Win!

The Fail

So ... NaNoWriMo didn't happen. I didn't get further than a partial plot! I was pretty bummed about this, but there is a reason for it ...

The Win

I started receiving loads of Morgan Media work at the beginning of November. This stressed me out at first because I kept feeling guilty about not writing. I mean, it was NOVEMBER! The month in which I was supposed to write a whole NEW BOOK! But about halfway through the month I told myself to get over it and just enjoy doing the other work without feeling guilty. I probably needed a break from writing anyway!
Here's the number of projects I received in November:

Ebook interior formatting: 10

Print interior formatting: 5

Completed book covers: 15

Book covers still in progress: 5

Social Media graphics: 3

Bookmarks: 32

Animated web bookmarks: 1

Here's a sample of what I did!

Book covers

Ebook formatting

How did your November go?
Did you complete NaNoWriMo if you were a participant?

My author Facebook page has reached 1000 likes, so I'm having a giveaway to celebrate!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, November 15, 2013

AN A TO Z OF CREEPY HOLLOW FAE gets a makeover!

I'm not sure why it took me so long to get around to this, but I finally made my Creepy Hollow companion ebook FREE. And along with that, I thought it was time for a new cover (and some new formatting inside the ebook). When I did the first cover for An A to Z of Creepy Hollow Fae, it was something I threw together pretty quickly. But I've since decided that it might draw more attention with a person on the front.

So A to Z went backstage, had a makeover, and here she is! The new and improved Creepy Hollow companion ebook!

New Covers for the Creepy Hollow series

And this brings me to my next announcement. For a while now (since before I revealed The Faerie War's cover!), I've been planning to redo ALL the Creepy Hollow book covers. This was a difficult decision because there have been many people who've said how beautiful they find the series' covers, and other people who've said they've picked up the book purely because they were attracted by the cover.

BUT I also feel as though people searching through the Kindle lists for something to download may see the Creepy Hollow covers and think the pictures represent stories that are more juvenile than they actually are. I think perhaps this series would attract more readers of the YA fantasy/paranormal genre if they looked a little more like the new A to Z cover up there.

BUT I still love the original covers, and I think they look completely gorgeous in print.

SO, here's what I plan to do: I'm keeping the original covers for the print versions and doing new covers for the ebook versions.

Do you want to help reveal these covers?

I'll be revealing these new covers on Thurs Dec 5. I know there are so many cover reveals going on all the time, so if you're tired of them and don't want to take part, I totally get that. But if you do want to help out by sharing the new covers, please leave your email address in the comments below.


If you'd like to share this image anywhere online, please feel free!
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On a much sadder and more serious note ...

A red balloon for Andrew McNaughton, the stepson of Nick Wilford
Sadly, Andrew passed away recently and his funeral is being held today.
Andrew is the boy who inspired writers across the globe to write 
an anthology of stories entitled Overcoming Adversity.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Push Past Your Fears - Just Hit Publish! (An #IndieLife Post by @PiperPunches)

Indie Life is a monthly feature hosted by the fabulous Indelibles where we get to share something related to indie writing life.

And this month, my Indie Life post is a guest post written by author Piper Punches. Thanks for stopping by to chat about indie author fears, Piper!

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Six months ago if you had asked me what my two biggest fears were, I would have said snakes and spiders. You would have nodded your head at that clich├ęd answer and gone about your day not giving one more thought to my irrational fears of the common household arachnid or the backyard serpent. As you walked away, I would have been congratulating myself on keeping my secret. Of not telling you what I dreaded most in my life was hitting the publish button.

Was I a writer? Yes. I spent every single moment of my existence for years wrapped up warm and toasty in a daydream of other people's lives; characters that needed that one final breath to be brought to life. I ate words for breakfast. I dreamed dialogue when I closed my eyes, but the one thing I didn't do was commit to the actual process of writing. Why? Well, that is easy enough to explain. I was afraid of being wrong. I was afraid of letting my so-called book baby out into the world where it would be subjected to judgment. I was afraid of being called a fraud – a wanna-be writer with little talent to stand on. Were these fears as deadly as spider bites and snake venom? Actually they were worse because they as they pounded in my chest and ate away at my reasoning, they killed that part of me that knew I could succeed. So, instead of hitting publish I hit the snooze bar on my ambitions and dreams of being a novelist.

What changed? Honestly, I'm really not sure. Maybe it was getting older and realizing that I had the power to write what I wanted, when I wanted. I didn't have to wait for a swanky publishing house to agree I had a story to tell. The term "independent author" didn't have to be a dirty word. Instead, it could be a term that stood for me. Once I made that connection, I started putting one foot in front of the other towards publishing my first novel.

Have there been bumps in the road? Of course, because what road is pothole-free? The first major speed bump was when I sent my finished manuscript to the editor convinced my book was an utter disaster. She disagreed, but I was still ready to scrap it. Self-talk, booze, and my husband telling me to stop acting silly helped me navigate this hurdle. The second major hole in the road came when I finally hit publish and found a slew of typos I had overlooked. Self-talk, booze, and a supportive husband couldn't help me get over this fatal blunder as easily.

So, what advice can I give you as an Indie author when I have only made it to home plate once? Here it goes.

Write From Your Heart

If the story you have to tell comes from your soul, readers will fall in love with your words and your characters. They will be invested in the storyline and keep turning the pages. I have been overwhelmed with the response that I have received from readers that have told me they felt connected to the character in The Waiting Room.

Be Human, but Proofread

The truth is we all make mistakes. Even bestselling authors produce books with typos, but they have the publishing house to blame - you don't. So, if you see a typo or two or a hundred after you hit publish, scold yourself for only a second and fix it. Own the mistake, but don't let it own you or ruin your accomplishments.

Don't Be Critical

Promote your book and be proud of your success. Hitting the publish button will open up your novel and your talent to judgment. This is when you put your big-girl or big-boy pants on and brush it off. If someone leaves a less than glowing review, don't let it stop you from pursuing your passion and publishing again.

Don't be afraid to hit the publish button. Embrace it instead. Save the fear for the little things like those furry spiders with the beady eyes and snakes that like to sun on your driveway.

Piper Punches lives in the far west suburbs of St. Louis with her husband and two daughters. The Waiting Room is her debut novel. Piper is excited to connect with her readers and encourages everyone to stop by her website and say hello. In the meantime, she is currently working on her second novel, 60 Days, which will be available April 2014 and a short novella, Missing Girl, available January 2014.

a novel by

Waiting rooms tell stories. They are a medical purgatory. Some sit in the waiting room for hours to be shone the light, graced with blessings. For others this is the final holding room before they are delivered into hell; facing uncertainty, despair, sadness, even death.

When Charlotte receives a note on the day of her mother’s funeral containing a cryptic message, she is confused and intrigued. Although she knew that waiting rooms told stories, she never realized that part of her own story resided in this seemingly neutral environment. But, then again, why should she be surprised? Her mother had secrets. Charlotte knew this. She just didn’t know how life-altering those secrets could be...

A stunning debut novel from Piper Punches, The Waiting Room weaves a tale that reveals the complexities of family, the invisible bonds that connect people, and the pain that can reverberate through the choices we make. Told from several points of view the story becomes clearer and clearer with each turn of the page that the secrets we keep aren’t always ours to take to the grave.

Available as a Kindle edition and paperback edition on Amazon

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

What Happens When Authors Change Genres?

This post is brought to you by the Insecure Writer's Support Group, an online group where writers can express doubts and concerns, and those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance.

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I'm not sure if this counts as an insecurity exactly, but it's a question that I'm sure many writers have asked themselves, and one that I've been pondering for some time.

So here's the bottom line: I've been writing fantasy for the past several years. I've published those fantasy novels. People have loved them. Now I'm moving away from fantasy to write some contemporary romance.

What's going to happen? Will my Creepy Hollow readers not really be interested in picking up my new novels and thus "forget" about me? Or (hopefully), will my Creepy Hollow readers cross over to try my contemp books? Will my new contemp readers cross over to try my fantasy books?

I have no idea! Honestly, I think it'll probably be a mixture of those options I've mentioned in the paragraph above. Some readers stick to one genre only. Others like to read across various genres.

And here's the other thing to think about ... Some writers will only write in different genres if they use a different pen name. I've decided not to do that. I'm Rachel Morgan and I can't imagine "being" anyone else! And I've seen writers who use the same pen name across genres go on to become fantastically successful in each of those genres (ahem ... Susan Kaye Quinn), so I know it can be done!

What do you think? Do you have experience of this?
 Have you published in multiple genres? Do you use different pen names?

Monday, November 4, 2013

New Books On The Block: LOUISIANA'S A - Z plus STORY SPROUTS

Today I'm excited to present to you two books that I've been involved in the production of (formatting-wise). The first is a collection of 26 stories that mingles history with personal anecdotes, told by the talented Kittie Howard. The second is an anthology of stories and writing exercises by a group of writers, the CBW-LA.

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Growing up in Louisiana meant strawberries from my grandfather's garden on top of homemade ice cream, listening to elders tell stories on the stoop, and carefree days beneath a cornsilk sky. Parents were old -- really old! -- and grandparents who lived across the pasture were at least a million years old. 

In an era when a child was a child and clocks ticked too-loud in the rural quiet and calendars hung on kitchen walls, other than finding a doodle bug that wanted to play, my biggest worry was Santa Claus wouldn't come to a white-sided house without a fireplace. "Santa doesn't need a fireplace in Louisiana," my mother would say, then kiss my freckled cheek. Soothed by her words, I'd snuggle into Mama's skirt and embrace love's warmth. 

As time passed and I stepped into life, love's warmth remained the common denominator, but I also realized growing up in Louisiana was a unique experience. Most kids didn't eat crawfish or boudin, avoid alligators in bayous, or come from a family that has been in what is now Louisiana since 1679. Nor did most kids have a grandmother who was half-French and half-Spanish and spoke French as a first language, a grandfather whose English-Welsh ancestors had emigrated in 1700, and a mother with 1800s German roots. 

It was all so normal -- one great-grandmother speaking German, the other French -- that I didn't appreciate until later how my family traveled Louisiana's colonial history and into today. Louisiana's A-Z wanders much like a lazy river, from alligators to Zydeco music, a gumbo of personal and historical seasonings that infuse the soul.

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Nineteen talented children’s book authors accepted a challenge to workshop, write, revise, polish, and submit two stories - in public, under the pressure of a six-hour deadline, with the promise of publication. Their work is revealed with the global release of Story Sprouts Anthology 2013.

In a revolutionary new approach to writing and publishing, the Children’s Book Writers of Los Angeles turned convention upside down with Story Sprouts: CBW-LA Writing Day Exercises and Anthology 2013.

A fresh take on an old classic, the Anthology uncovers the creative process in its raw form, celebrating the seeds of story generation. Framing the authors’ contributions are the 10 writing exercises that guided them along their journey, as well as tips and techniques shared at the workshop.

Friday, November 1, 2013

#NaNoWriMo Kicks Off! What's Your NaNo Wish This Year?

I've had this contemporary romance idea (upper YA/NA) chilling in my head for over two years. Now that I'm finally finished the Creepy Hollow series, I can write this contemporary story! So ... that's my NaNo wish. (And my other wish is that I won't be too tired from my recent book release and all the Morgan Media work I have to actually write these 50,000 words!) Here's a slice of the book cover. (Yeah, I've already designed the cover for a book I haven't written yet. In fact, I have at least four book covers done for books I haven't written yet!)

And this blog hop is in honour of...

All proceeds from this book go to NaNoWriMo
(because they're doing awesome stuff to encourage writing,
and they operate on donations)

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Faerie War Book Launch

Yay! I've finally done it! Had a REAL-LIFE book launch! Those of you who follow my Facebook page may have already seen these photos, but now that the blog tour's over, I thought I should post them here too.

The event took place on Saturday Oct 26th at Maris Stella school in Durban. I roped in my husband and a few friends to help me set everything up, and my mom did most of the yummy catering. Approximately 70 people attended, including a group of girls from the school I used to teach at. It was incredibly special to have them there, as they were the ones who first read my book before it was even in printed form.

Unpacking boxes of books

Tying up trilogy packs with ribbon

Here's my "signing table" by the piano :-) (Pretty flowers!)

Button badges

Super cool "guardian in training" T-shirts!

Yeah, that would be me, happy to be surrounded by my gorgeous print books!

The prize pack for the lucky draw. Four books plus some other stuff.

Hey look! I'm signing a book! (Totally not posed ;-) )

And ... my first fans have arrived :-)

My mom did all the delicious catering

Faerie cupcakes

A group of girls came from the school I used to teach at! Yay!

Mini prize packs for the quiz

Signing a book for real this time ;-)

And that would be me talking in front of everyone (totally not freaking out at all. BREATHE!)

One of the winners of a mini prize pack

Winner of the lucky draw prize pack

It was a fantastic morning :-) I had fun, and I'm so glad I did this. It was a lot of effort to organize, though, so it's not something I'll be doing for every book I release. Maybe for every complete series!

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Now that The Faerie War release celebrations are over (and all three of my books are currently on Amazon bestseller lists. Woohoo!), it's time to get on with the next project.


Which is starting TOMORROW! And I have no plan written down yet because all I've been doing since the book launch finished is formatting for Morgan Media. So ... bring on the pantsing!