Torn SmlI regret to say that there will probably not be a paperback version of Torn anytime soon. I did attempt to have one printed, but Createspace will not accept my cover file. They claim I have graphics too close to the edge of the cover, and I don’t have the know-how in graphic design to fix this without it coming out terrible in the end.  Making a paperback for Torn will involve making an entirely new cover, which may or may not be possible as I have a lot of other things going on right now.

I’ve been quiet lately, but I’ve been working on getting everything ready for a re-release and working on some new material, too.  I’m about two thirds of the way done with the second book of the Timeless Trilogy, 11:39.  2:20 is out for a new edit and will be part of the big re-release as well.  I will start writing the third book of the Deathwind Trilogy once 11:39 is shipped out to the editor, which may happen around the start of the year.

Torn (#2 Deathwind Trilogy) Released!

Torn SmlAt last, it’s here: the second book of the Deathwind Trilogy!  I finished my final read-through and released Torn at about midnight last night, only two days after I had hoped to have it done.  Right now, it’s only available on Smashwords.com, but will be distributed from there to other eBook stores very soon.  I’ll post those links as Torn becomes available at other vendors.

Fortunately, at Smashwords you can download Torn for any eReader (including your computer) so there’s no need to wait.

Get Torn HERE for $2.99

Book Two of the Deathwind Trilogy

Allie’s former best friend, Bethany, says she’s a monster, and Allie’s starting to believe her. Allie turns into a tornado every time it storms, and it’s freaking out her mother and her boyfriend, Tommy. She’s lied to her parents, and worse, she’s already helped level a town.

And things are about to get much worse.  Madeline has kidnapped her father and she’s still armed with the Deathwind. Allie will have to go through her to get him back, but this time, Madeline’s different.  She’s…unhinged.  Crazy.  Willing to do anything to get to Allie for some horrifying plan. 

But Madeline and the Deathwind might not be the scariest thing Allie has to face. There’s a growing evil inside of her, an urge to destroy and kill those she cares about. If she can’t fight it, she just might become that monster after all.

I apologize for being so silent lately, but I’ve been super busy finishing Torn (#2 Deathwind Trilogy), doing its first rewrite and getting it out to the editor.  I haven’t heard back yet on how long it will take them to edit Torn (or even if they will take it!), so I can’t give you a release date quite yet.  Tonight, I’ll be going back to working on 11:39 (#2 Timeless Trilogy) while I’m waiting for Torn to come back.  It will be at least a couple of weeks before I can start the second round of edits on Torn, likely longer, but once it’s back it shouldn’t take too long to fix.  I’ve already gone through and fixed the things that I know was wrong with Torn, but of course, writers can’t see many of their own mistakes and I’m going to need another pair of eyes for that.   Once I know when I’ll be getting Torn back, I’ll be able to give an estimate of when it will finally come out.

Plus, I need to get a cover made.  I think I have the artwork chosen for it and I need to contact Robin Ludwig Designs, but that shouldn’t take too long.  I usually have a cover within a week of contacting them.

When Torn does come out, it will be up on every store except for Amazon.com, due to the experiment I’m trying with release dates. (For those of you who are new, I’m going to see if releasing all the books in a trilogy in under two months makes my sales better on Amazon.com.  I’ve had terrible luck selling books on there, probably due to releasing them a year apart in the past.)  But for those of you with Kindles, there’s no worry–I’ll have a link where you can pick it up in Kindle format so you don’t have to wait!

The next update will probably be either my cover reveal for Torn or my release date, so stay tuned!

Upcoming Book Fair Appearance…

aabflogoIf any of you will be around the Ann Arbor area this Saturday, you may be able to catch me at the Ann Arbor Book Festival.  I’ll be at the Street Fair, along with several paperback copies of Twisted and a few copies of Tempest and Inferno.  All of my books will be on sale for 8 dollars!  For more info on this event as well as directions, click here.

reflectionI’ll be sharing a table with two other authors: Kacey Vanderkarr, author of Reflection Pond, and Chris Dungey, author of the Pace-Lap Blues and Other Tales From the Seventies.  I’ve read both of their books, and I’m not lying when I say that they’re both amazing writers.  If you like young adult paranormal books, you’ll like Reflection Pond, which I just finished this week!  I highly recommend that you pick up a copy.  The story and the characters are superbly done.  You can find it HERE.

paceOr if you like literary fiction and the 70’s, check out Chris Dungey’s Pace-Lap Blues.  I recommend this short story collection for adults only, however, since there’s plenty of mature content.  (It is the seventies after all.)  Chris is an awesome writer and I’ve had the pleasure of reading his stories!  You can find his book HERE.

 

Drastic Measures

I’m flying in a helicopter over the ocean as a passenger.  There’s an island ahead, a barren, rocky one that’s far from civilization.  We fly lower and are just about to pass by when I spot groups of people standing on hills and at the edges of cliffs, waving desperately to us.  I realize that they’re stranded and I ask the pilot to land so we can help them.

I get out of the helicopter.  There are hundreds of people on this island and I talk to them for a while.  I learn that they’re survivors from a plane crash who landed here on a raft some time ago.  These people are all on the brink of starvation, and they’ve been barely surviving here for a long, long time.  I tell them that I’ll get them off this island or at least get them some food, but that I’ll have to go for help.

I get back into the helicopter and we fly over the ocean again.  I spot some cruise ships and we radio them for help, asking them to head to that remote island and find those starving people.  However, they refuse.  I’m upset, because if the ships would just go over there and notice those dying people, everything would be okay…

Of course, I knew this was all a dream when I woke up this morning, but I couldn’t let go of it.  I lay in bed for a while, thinking about it, wondering what the whole thing meant.

And then it hit me.  That island and those half-starved people is my writing career.  Those cruise ships are the goal I’ve been struggling to reach for four years now: sell enough books to be able to write full-time.  My failed efforts to get those ships to help are all my efforts to gain some traction and get somewhere.

I’ll begin by saying that I released Tempest in September of 2010.  I have to date released 9 novels, one short story and one novella while working a full time job.  I have one complete series under my and two more going that I’m in the process of finishing.

And yet, for the past three and a half years, I’ve sold only a few books per day, total.  It’s never changed or gotten better even though I’ve released more books.  There are some books that I sell only one copy of per month, and several others (such as Frostbite and Ancient) that have sold only 5 or 6 copies per month.   Sure, I’ve had rare days where my total sales were in the double digits, but they were gone as fast as they came.  And I had a day a few weeks ago where I sold 24 books, but that was due to a huge sale that I ran where I got Tempest featured on several websites.  That, too, was gone was fast as it came.

I made a lot of mistakes in the past that largely caused this to happen.  When I first started, I waited a year to release the second book of the Destroyers series.  Those who did buy the first book had lost interest and moved on by then, so I didn’t gain any traction with that release.  I started out with an awful cover.  While I did use beta readers and critique groups back then (and still do!) I didn’t use a professional editor like I do now.  While I got mostly good reviews, my overall average wasn’t as high as many other young adult fantasy and paranormal books, making it harder to compete with them.  And since Amazon.com promotes new releases more than older books, this was a lost opportunity to jump up the charts.  And if nobody sees the first book of the series, nobody sees the sequels, either.

I’ve noticed that most young adult books that do well on Amazon (sell dozens or more copies per day) have an average rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars.  Tempest has an average of 4.0.  Twisted has 4.1 and 2:20 is sitting at 3.7 (largely due to a review from someone who didn’t know it was a young adult book.)  A rating of 4.0 is barely enough for most of the good advertising sites to even consider taking your book, but not enough to compete.  It’s not enough for Amazon’s search engine to put my titles anywhere high in the search results.  This means that no matter what I do now, I will never reach that cruise ship.

Unless I go for the nuclear option and start over.

That is, to take everything off sale and then re-publish all of my books.  One by one.  From scratch.

Yes, it’s drastic and risky.  I’m pretty much going by my gut here.  I’ll lose sales temporarily, but re-publishing everything and not making the dumb mistakes I made before will give me the second chance that I won’t be able to get back any other way.  I have tried everything up to this point.  I’ve tried getting more reviews.  I’ve tried playing with my Amazon descriptions and categories.  I’ve tried advertising, getting better covers and even hiring a publicist.  Nothing’s worked.

Plus, it’s my hope that I will get better rating averages this time and be able to release every two months instead of every year, which should help me gain some traction.  I know what I’m doing now.   And don’t worry – none of the stories will be different, so there’s no need to buy a book you’ve already read!  Twisted will probably be back up within a week or two, followed by Torn, which I am still planning to release soon.  I will continue to send out the Destroyers E-Zine and four free short stories per year.  And those of you who signed up to get Torn and 11:39 for free will still get your freebies once they’re released.

I will admit that I’m a little bit nervous about doing this, but overall I feel pretty good about this decision.  It’s certainly not as scary as spending the next ten years working fifty hours per week, coming home exhausted each night and and checking my book sales to see that I’ve sold one or two books…or nothing.

I’m typing this while my cat is on my chest and trying to snuggle, so bear with me.

Firstly I’d like to apologize for not getting an issue of the Destroyers E-Zine out last week. Too many things came up and it slipped my mind.

But I’m back with lots of news!

Walls is now available in almost all eBook retailers for 99 cents for all non-subscribers.  If you’re one of my E-Zine subscribers and didn’t get your free copy, feel free to leave a comment or email me at hollyannehook (at) yahoo (dot) com.  I’ll get you set up.

(Pause as cat changes position to snuggle on my other shoulder.)

I left the ending of Walls open as I may do more with these characters in the future. A novel, maybe? Feel free to let me know what you think.

I’m thinking about the next short story now, which I should have done in late spring if all goes well. The title for this one will be Cliché: The Story and it’s going to be a comedy. I haven’t started on it yet. Right now, I’m still in the brainstorming phase.

My biggest projects right now are the sequels to Twisted and 2:20. I’ve been working on these in the past couple of weeks now that Walls is done, and I’m closing in on 25,000 words on Torn. I’m gaining more momentum on 11:39 as well after losing steam for a while.

(My cat jumps down. Phew!)

Speaking of my sequels, I have hired Red Adept Editing to go through the rest of the Deathwind Trilogy and may do the same for the Timeless Trilogy as well. I’ll be focusing more on characters and plot in these edits rather than grammar and spelling. This is why getting a novel out will take a bit longer than usual, but I want to guarantee the most amazing read possible when I release a new title. It costs money, yes, but I know it will be well worth it.

I’ll begin by saying that during the past couple of weeks, I’ve been sticking with my new writing plan. I’ve been taking my Netbook with me to work and getting some writing and editing done before I need to punch in for work. I’m also doing more work on my lunch breaks on most days, and I have to say that I think I see a difference in the quality of my work! Writing while I’m still fully awake and alert has definitely boosted my storytelling abilities (even though I don’t enjoy waking up at 6 in the morning.)

At least, I hope. Writers can’t really see the quality of their own work. I’ll be running my edits through some beta readers well before release.

I’m going through what I’ve written for Torn this week and going deeper into the characters and their relationships with each other, something I wasn’t able to do much of in the first book of the Deathwind Trilogy. I now know why Allie and Dorian have that connection, and the reason for it will be revealed in Torn! There will still be plenty of tornado scenes in this book, but the characters will have more room to breathe as well, which is something I’m very excited about.

Walls is almost completed. I’ve rewritten it a couple of times now and I’m drawing close to the end. It’s going to come out somewhere around 7,000 to 8,000 words, which is longer than I expected. Before I release it to you guys as a freebie, I’m going to run it through my critique group one more time and do some more edits to ensure a good read.  Walls doesn’t have anything to do with any of my other stories, and it’s probably the first thing I’ve written in a couple of years that doesn’t involve some kind of natural disaster.

Walls should be out shortly, but I will not set a date. (No more deadlines, remember?)

I’m Going to Change My Novel-Writing Process

I’ll start by saying that this post isn’t about throwing a pity party for myself or asking for pity.  It’s also not an attempt to make excuses or to blame anyone for anything.  All I want to do is explain some things, is all.  It’ll make my new writing plan make some more sense when I get down to that part.

Ok, now for the post!

I’ve done a lot of thinking this past week.

During my last post, I mentioned how I’m beginning to feel that some of my past writing should have been better.  How my characters should have come out stronger.  Of course, anyone’s writing can be better and it’s impossible to write anything perfect or to please everyone.  But I really feel like I’ve missed the mark on a lot of things in the past, writing-wise.  And I think I’ve figured out why.

Writers can’t see their own mistakes, so we need others to look at our work before even thinking of releasing it.  I’m in a great critique group for this reason, and it has helped me to improve my writing.  But sometimes issues with a book slip through, things that I totally miss or don’t think are problems.  These are the things that don’t come to light until a book’s out there in the world and in the hands of readers and reviewers.

Then, and only then do I see how good of a book I’ve written.

I do get mostly mixed to positive reviews on my books, but many of these still point out what could have been better, or what could have made an OK or a good book into a great book.  These are those things where I miss the mark.  I don’t want to write “OK” books.  I want to write amazing books for my readers and put out the very best.  So many of you guys have been very supportive and you deserve to get the very best.

Which brings me to what’s stopping me from doing that.  And how I’m going to get rid those hurdles.

Hurdle #1: I work 9 hours a day, 5 days a week at a job that has nothing to do with writing.  This job is mentally and physically taxing sometimes.  That doesn’t include the hour and a half of driving that I do every day.

That means that every day of the week, I spend almost twelve hours a day at my day job or going back and forth from it.  And in the winter when the roads are usually bad, that can take even longer.

I get up around 7 every morning and get home close to 7 at night.  Then, it’s time to make dinner, do some possible errands, feed the cats, water my tarantulas and do whatever else happens to pop up.

Then I have time to write.  Maybe.

I do most of my writing when I’m at my most tired, when most of my energy for the day has already been used up.  Sometimes, I don’t get any writing done at all.

This “duh” moment hit me earlier while I was at work earlier and my brain was still working at 100%.  Of course I’m not going to write at my best when I’m super tired!  I do write on the weekends, too, but this doesn’t make the mess I’ve probably made during the rest of the week disappear.

Solution: Do some writing in the morning.  Before work.

I’m not a morning person, but I think I will need to set my alarm an hour earlier and see if I can write before work takes all the energy from me.  If I can make myself get used to this schedule, it’s possible that this will help me out quite a bit.

Hurdle #2: Deadlines force me to rush on top of being super tired after work.

In the past couple of years, I’ve made a habit of setting tight deadlines for myself to finish a book so my readers don’t have to wait a long time for a sequel or a next project.  That’s the way it works in publishing.  If you don’t release a new book every few months or so, readers tend to forget about you, so there’s lots of pressure to keep up.

Having a tight deadline gives me less room to work on a book, and therefore less time to catch any issues or flaws with it before it’s too late.

Solution: No more deadlines.  Ever.

I won’t release books quite as fast as I used to, so please bear with me.  I won’t slow down too much, but I will no longer say when a book will be done until I’m very close to release and I’ve had extra time to make sure it shines.  If I have no deadline, I won’t feel as much pressure to hurry as fast as I can and can focus on other things.

I’ll still keep you updated on progress, though!  That won’t change.

Hurdle #3: I give myself way too much to do on the weekends, and some of it has nothing to do with writing.

I also run a Youtube channel and post videos there weekly (that have nothing to do with writing) and I have a schedule to keep up with there as well.  This distracts me from writing on the weekends, so I’m losing lots of non-tired time that I could be using on my books.

Solution: Do my Youtube stuff on weeknights and more writing on the weekends.

I’ll just switch the two.  I don’t have to think nearly as much for Youtube.

I’m posting today to let all of you know that I may need a bit more time on Torn than I anticipated.

First, I had to fight a toothache during the past week and just got two of my wisdom teeth taken out yesterday, so I’m still recovering from that.  The anticipation of the upcoming procedure pretty much distracted me from writing during the last week, but I should be getting back to work.  I’m almost done with my short story, too, and hope to have the whole thing ready for my critique group at the end of this week.  Walls should be ready for my E-Zine subscribers near the end of the month and will also be available for sale for 99 cents to everyone else.

The main issue with the Deathwind Trilogy is that I’ve been forced to conclude that there are a lot of issues with the first book, none of which I was aware of until recently.  I’m definitely not proud of this and I apologize to anyone who felt let down by Twisted.  It’s my goal to make each book I write as good as possible for my readers, and I feel as if I’ve missed the mark.

(I will admit, though, that I end up feeling that way about all of my books after they’re finished.  Maybe it’s just a writer thing.)

I can’t change the first book now since it’s out there, because that wouldn’t be fair to those of you who have read it.  But this is the reason I will need more time on Torn to make sure that my characters are more likeable and more in-depth.  I’ll need to take some time to figure out what I’m doing wrong and how to fix the issues.  Only then will I release Book #2, but I promise it won’t take me too long–probably early summer at the latest.  I won’t be writing as quickly, but I’d rather take some extra time to make sure that Torn is a book worth reading and loving.