The FREEdom of Art #MondayBlogs

It all started with this status on Elizabeth York’s Facebook page.

Wow! I am completely speechless. I had seen one of the books purchased were returned and then I noticed more… Didn’t think anything of it until I got a email. I don’t even know how to reply.

Hang on to your shorts, people. The email is a doozy.

“Ms. York, I wanted to tell you that your books are above par and you should be proud. I was able to read them all, but sadly I returned them all because they range from $0.99 to $2.99 and that is just too much for me to spend on a ebook. Can you please make all your books in the future free so that I do not have to return it?”

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Um, okay. I had to read it a few times to really let it sink in that she was admitting to stealing from both Amazon and the author. As you can imagine this post went crazy and was shared by authors, readers and bloggers. It’s almost too crazy. Could there really be people like this out there? Baffles the mind.

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But wait, there’s more.

Another post from Elizabeth shows up.

Yesterday I had to walk away from Facebook. I had to take a deep breath, count to ten, and then turn it off. You all rallied behind the injustice and some even told me of the same message, but I had to shake it off my own way.

I walked a line of whether or not to post what she had sent me because I have been yelled at previously for screenshotting people, but at the same time I felt what she had said and done was going to happen again and again. Sadly, she admitted it has.

I blocked her, but had a feeling she wasn’t gone when a friend request hit with a similar name, and then I got the following message. Due to the fact that Amazon is “investigating” the incident I will not disclose her name, but because she is someone’s beta I won’t hide the profile picture.

I seriously doubt this person will ever learn a lesson the easy way, or come down off her high horse, but I am not going to let her drag me down anymore.

 Here are screen shots of the follow up message from the “give me free books” emailer. Foul language warning. 

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Cover art, editing, interior formatting for ebook, interior formatting for print,  copyright, and marketing are services I pay for every time I publish a book. It ain’t cheap. To break even on expenses I have to sell close to 500 copies The lower the price of the ebook, the higher the number of books I need to sell. This is to BREAK EVEN.

This doesn’t factor in the time I spent working on it which is several hours EVERY day. Sometimes I miss meals, I lose sleep, I can’t enjoy much leisure time, and my family doesn’t get my full attention. I can’t get this time back no matter how many copies I sell.

Putting out a polished product, the best I can deliver to readers, is the goal so I am happy to pay it in money and time. It’s not really a hardship because I enjoy my readers. They give me the greatest reward with their love of my characters and the world I am building. I juggle being a mom, wife, and author but I cannot imagine doing anything else.

Would you go to the theater and not pay? Do you walk up to the redbox kiosk and yell at it to spit out a DVD without putting any cash in? No. Because services are paid for. Entertainment is a service and it deserves to be paid for so you can enjoy it. I pay the same way everyone else does for my own escape from reality.

To close, I’d like to share this picture someone posted to Elizabeth. I feel like it perfectly sums up the situation at hand.

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777 Writer’s Challenge

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I didn’t have a fitting picture or gif so you get a rolling raccoon. You’re welcome :0)

“I’m sure we can all work this out once the Underwoods arrive. No need to involve the authorities for childish nonsense.”

“Are you kidding me?” I pressed my eyes closed tight and counted to ten.

One, two, June is a dumbass, three, four, no one is gonna help Nola, five, six, she needs someone to take her to the police, seven, eight, I’m about to do something stupid, nine, ten.

Screw it. I’ll help Nola.

I blew out my breath and smiled sweetly at June. “You’re the boss. I’ll follow your lead.”

Here are 7 lines, starting on page 7, at line 7 of my current Work In Progress; Forever Home. I was tagged my JC Hannigan, who tagged all writers reading her blog. I will do the same. Are you a writer? Are you reading this? Tag, you’re it.

Forever Home? What’s it about?

It’s the first book in a contemporary series about a family of four brothers in East Texas. Forever Home tells the story of Ezra and Starice who come together to help Ezra’s young daughter when his ex-wife loses custody of her.

What the heck is going on in those seven lines? 

Our heroine, Starice, is trying to get help for a little who came into the preschool where she works with bruises. Money and influence in a small town are a huge roadblock as her boss doesn’t want to anger the child’s parents over a “misunderstanding”.  So what’s a good-hearted soul to do? Drive her to the police station yourself! Technically it is kidnapping but a girl has to do what’s right.

The Music in the Pages

 

 

 

Each book has a playlist with the songs that filled my head with scenes to write. I could tell you about each one because I love them all dearly but most people don’t want to read that long. I picked narrowed it down to my absolute favorites.

You can find a full listing of the songs that inspired me from each book on my webpage

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Freak Like Me

by Halestorm

So shout if you’re a freak like me,
You were born to burn,
This is no disease you don’t need a cure!
It’s our time now to come out!
If you’re a freak like me!
If you’re a freak like me!

We’re underground but we will not surrender,
We’re gonna give them something to remember, yeah,
So write your name in gasoline,
And set that shit on fire

Why this song?

 Rachel’s anthem. LOL! I always wanted Rachel to be the sort of person that takes the bad with the good and moves forward. If she wallowed in self-pity and woe is me the book would have never gone anywhere. She has an initial panic attack before accepting the changes inside her but ultimately she jumps on board the freak train. Scratch that, she hijacked the freak train. Instead of trying to get back what you lost, focus on what else you have to lose.

Not Strong Enough

by Apocalyptica ft. Brent Smith

I’m not strong enough to stay away.
Can’t run from you
I just run back to you.
Like a moth I’m drawn in to your flame,
Say my name, but it’s not the same.
You look in my eyes, I’m stripped of my pride.
And my soul surrenders, and you bring my heart to its knees.

And it’s killin’ me when you’re away, I wanna leave and I wanna stay.
And I’m so confused, So hard to choose.
Between the pleasure and the pain.
And I know it’s wrong, and I know it’s right.
Even if I try to win the fight, my heart would overrule my mind.
And I’m not strong enough to stay away

I’m not strong enough to stay away
What can I do
I would die without you
In your presence my heart knows no shame
I’m not to blame
Cause you bring my heart to its knees

Why this song?

Oh, Bastien. My first hero. I didn’t want to draw out the insta love angle of the plot but it’s there if you look for it. He feels a magnetic pull to Rachel he can’t fight. Doesn’t want to fight. It’s not a love that makes you weak but one that makes you stronger. Bastien was born to be an alpha. He’s been happy leading a care free life until Rachel crashes into his life. Almost literally. Besides the beautiful instrumental work by Apocalyptica there is also vocals by Brent Smith. I love his voice. The whole song is just beautiful.

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When the Darkness Comes
by Colbie Caillat
Now the door is open
The world I knew is broken
There’s no return
Now my heart is not scared
Just knowing that you’re out there
Watching me
So believe I’ll be here waiting
Hoping, praying that
This light will guide you home
When you’re feeling lost I’ll leave my love
Hidden in the sun
For when the darkness comes

Why this song?

Gotta be cryptic here if you haven’t read Rising Shadows and Winter’s kiss. Winter’s Kiss isn’t a full book but rather a novella to tie up some loose threads in Rising Shadows. The couple in WK are lost without each other. They can’t be together the way they want to and nowhere else in the world feels like home. It’s a song for knowing the person you love is there even when you can’t be with them.

Running up that hill
by Placebo
‘C’mon, baby, c’mon, c’mon, darling,
Let me steal this moment from you now.
C’mon, angel, c’mon, c’mon, darling,
Let’s exchange the experience, oh…’

And if I only could,
Make a deal with God,
And get him to swap our places,
Be running up that road,
Be running up that hill,
With no problems [x2]

Why this song?

Watching the person you love hurt or go through harrowing trials is rough. You wish you could take their place and bear it for them. In Winter’s Kiss the hero would give anything to be the one doing all the dangerous work. When I heard Running Up That Hill I could see him eagerly diving head first into the fray with a smile on his face if it meant she was safe.

Scarlet Fury

Safe and Sound 

Cover by Madilyn Bailey

I remember tears streaming down your face
When I said, “I’ll never let you go”
When all those shadows almost killed your light
I remember you said, “Don’t leave me here alone”
But all that’s dead and gone and passed tonight

Just close your eyes
The sun is going down
You’ll be alright
No one can hurt you now
Come morning light
You and I’ll be safe and sound

Why this song?

I know this song was a popular Taylor Swift song but I heard it for the first time as a cover by Madilyn Bailey. Her voice is soothing and the song is soothing. It’s a perfect fit. The words came out and smacked me in the face. “Hey! This is perfect Cleary and Mads song. It’s like Cleary freakin’ wrote if FOR Mads. Make a note, scribe.”

Yeah, my muse is kind of bossy and rude.

Cleary’s desire to make Mads comfortable, to be a part of her life, to keep her protected and happy for the rest of her life is very powerful. He feels like he failed her, of course he didn’t but it was a traumatizing experience for him too. Mads started out in the series so naive and a little immature. She ends up coming into her womanhood and maturity but only after suffering. Cleary wants to pack her up in bubble wrap and keep her at his house forever to make sure she never feels scared again. Mads ain’t going for that plan but a Lion can dream.

Stardust

by Gemini Syndrome

Look at the wake
From the stardust pouring from your eyes
It’s no mistake
You are perfect
You are perfect in my mind
And you won’t fade away

Why this song?

Another Cleary song. Mads doesn’t see herself the way Cleary does. Her own self image is damaged and she feels like people pity her. Cleary still sees the same Mads. Actually, that’s not right. He sees a stronger, braver Mads he couldn’t love more if he tried.

BTSK

by Ms Mr

I found you in pieces you’d been torn apart
A million one reasons to end before you start
But deep down I knew
No matter what in the end, it’d be me and you
Big teeth small kiss
I turn to wax and melt like this
Melt like this

Why this song?

When it came time to write the love scene for Cleary and Mads I had a very particular way I wanted it to go. You’d think steamy would be my goal but for these two I wanted more. They’d been through so much as a couple and I wanted to portray the tender side of intimacy. Hearts and souls connecting. What I learned was that level of commitment to one another is actually pretty hot to read and write. Ms Mr’s song BTSK has that slower, sensual feel to it and the lyrics are actually pretty great for what I wanted as well. There are some subtle lines and then you have the all out WOW lines that make you melt into a puddle.

Caress my knees with your tongue
Teeth on my waist I come undone
It’s those hours in the night just before a light
Run your hand down my spine
We kiss the dusk goodnight’

With likes the those who doesn’t need to fan themselves?

Through the Ghost

by Shinedown

So many silent sorrows
You never hear from again
And now that you’ve lost tomorrow
Is yesterday still a friend?

All the bridges we built were burned
Not a single lesson was learned
Everything that mattered is just
A city of dust
Covering both of us

Did you hide yourself away?
I can’t see you anymore
Did you eclipse another day?
I used to wake up to the colour of your soul

Did you hide yourself away?
Are you living through the ghost?
Did you finally find a place
Above the shadows so the world will never know?
The world will never know you like I do

Why this song?

Two friends face off in A Scarlet Fury. They were the very best of friends, the kind of closeness that people don’t fully understand. Then they find themselves on opposite sides of the divide. You witness their friendship crumble on the pages and realize they’ll never get back what they had. Looking at someone you knew better than yourself and suddenly seeing a stranger. *sniffle* Hits me in heart every time.

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Under a very black sky

by The Sick Puppies

I have a dream you had a weapon
I couldn’t see it in the dark of the night
It’s easy to hide under a very black sky
Over the moon just beyond seven
I watched in vain as the missiles took flight
We lost our lives under a very black sky

Why this song?

Elisavet’s transformation into a vampire isn’t an easy one. Under a Very Black Sky is a somber and yet sweeping song that mirrors the turmoil in Elisavet’s last moments as a human.

Still here

by Digital Daggers

Every night, I dream you’re still here.
The ghost by my side, so perfectly clear.
When I awake, you’ll disappear,
Back to the shadows
With all I hold dear.
With all I hold dear.
I dream you’re still here.
I dream you’re still here.

Why this song?

Poor Varian. The things he wants are ever slipping farther from his grasp. In dreams you can pretend you still have the things you lost and when you wake up you spend a few seconds actually believing you got it all back. The dreams fade away into smoke and you’re left to go through the loss all over again.

Heart is a Hole

by Cherri Bomb

What do you do when
The truth was a lie all along?
Where do you turn to
When you find the rights were always wrong?

All this dying I went through to live for you

And now my heart is just a hole
An empty space
That used to belong to you
But now
Now that you’re gone
My soul’s turned cold
Nothing to fill this heart that’s a hole

Why this song?

Tsura. Girlfriend gets hurt bad. That’s not a spoiler because thus far in the series when hasn’t Tsura been hurt by the actions of others? I mean, she needs to lay down the law. Heart is a Hole is a last straw song. You’ve finally reached the point when your heart has been chipped away at until nothing is left. It’s a hauntingly beautiful song to listen.

The Story

by Brandi Carlile

All of these lines across my face
Tell you the story of who I am
So many stories of where I’ve been
And how I got to where I am
But these stories don’t mean anything
When you’ve got no one to tell them to
It’s true… I was made for you
I climbed across the mountain tops
Swam all across the ocean blue
I crossed all the lines and I broke all the rules
But baby I broke them all for you
Because even when I was flat broke
You made me feel like a million bucks
You do and I was made for you

Why this song?
Manias is good at inducing the swoon. He knows when he’s found something special and Elisavet is special. Like many ballads that came before it The Story is laying it all out on the table. Everything in my life was leading me to you. BOOM! Bring the swoon.
Arsonist’s Lullaby
by Hozier
When I was a child, I’d sit for hours
Staring into open flame
Something in it had a power,
Could barely tear my eyes away
All you have is your fire…
And the place you need to reach –
Don’t you ever tame your demons
But always keep ’em on a leash

Why this song?
One chapter is told from the POV of Ianthe. If you’ve read the book you know the significance of the chapter I am taking about. Who is this song for? The only one who made it out. No spoilers! I can say no more.

Remember not to forget. Organize your series.

The World in Shadows series is full of people, places, and things (nouns!) I need to remember in order to write the books. I found out quickly that I couldn’t keep it all straight in my head. This is how a typical conversation I have with myself goes:

What do I call my shifters as a group? Oh right, therians. Um, it’s latin for something. I should have written that down. Now I have to google it again. 

Did I say werewolf or Lycan in Rising Shadows? 

Why do I keep alternating the spelling of the hero? Is it B-a-s-t-i-A-n or B-a-s-t-i-E-n?

How old is Varian again? Math, I hate math. 

I can’t remember anything!

As I struggle with the past information I’ve already given out to readers I need to lay the foundation for the books to come. Clues and history have to be added. Yay, more stress on my beleaguered brain! Do my characters take mercy on me? Nope. They throw me flaming curve balls at 120 MPH.

“Hey Bridget! Remember that guy Bishop we introduced you to at the end of A Scarlet Fury? I know he was meant to be a minor character but listen to his whole life story because it’s really cool. Think you have room up there in your brain for more?”

“Oh yeah, sure. Let me dig out this part about how to tie my shoes and walk without tripping. Who needs those? Pile on the new plots.”

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Q: How do I keep my ideas organized?

A: Technology is my friend.

I have a series “bible” using Evernote. Google it. This is where I keep character profiles including photos. Detailed histories and lines from the books are kept together so I can easily pull them up anytime. I cannot tell you how many times I saved my own bacon with Evernote. Saves me the time of hunting down what I have a question about in previous books. Big chunks of research on various Fae are waiting for me to use them. I find this sooooo much easier than bookmarking a dozen different sites.

As useful as this is to me it is not my main tool. I need something linear to lay out and follow the series.

There is a timeline with all the secrets of the series. I keep it heavily guarded by a vicious, bloodthirsty bunny. Don’t be fooled buy his cute exterior. He wants you to think he’s precious but really there’s malice in his heart.

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Bun Bun the Destroyer

I recommend starting a series bible somewhere to organize your thoughts. Evernote is one of many choices out there. You can even just use a word document but I personally like the internet accessibility if I want to look at something and I’m not on my own laptop.

“What is wrong with this author?!” Tips for Contacting a Blog for Reviews

You wrote a book and now you need people to read it. Even better would be if people reviewed it. Hey, that’s what book bloggers are for right? All you have to do is hit them up on Facebook or email them your book. Done! Wrong.

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It’s never that easy. Haven’t you learned yet?

When I was first starting out I didn’t understand why some authors complained about promo. What’s so hard about sending out a mass email to reviewers? I already knew the answer to this one from my own blogging days. I hated opening up an email and being one of a hundred people who all got the same exact email. Maybe it’s silly but I felt the way I felt. Other bloggers feel the same way. Relationships take time and personal investment on both sides. You want the blogger to invest in you and your book without putting anything in for them? Highly unlikely this route succeeds. I’ve seen posts on Facebook from both sides complaining about this issue and giving their two cents worth. It can be confusing to go through it all and come up with a clear picture.

This list is meant to give you a general idea of how to form connections with the book bloggers who can help your career. What works for one person will irritate another so I cannot promise results. In my experience both as a book blogger in the past and as an author now these tips have been valuable. This is not the easy way out and will require some effort. You’ll need to give personal time to this but isn’t your work worth it?

Do: Form Connections

I Like

Get to know them.

Like their page Facebook, follow them on twitter, sign up for their blog. Now that you’ve done that actually keep up with them. Contribute to posts and status updates when you can so they become familiar with you. When the time comes for you to approach them about a possible review you won’t be a stranger.

I promise you will have an easier time talking to them about your book once you’re no longer strangers.

Do: Look for Website

Lots of bloggers have a website or page (like where they actually blog for example). I find the majority have a section for authors detailing their guidelines and how to request a review. What do you do if they don’t have a request form? Robin Malone says “If you can’t find one, message blogger and ask them if they have a form to fill out for request. They may say the message is enough, or send you to the form. So simple yet brilliant. Robin’s a smart cookie. Find out if your book is even what they’d read. Sending your YA novel to a Erotica reviewer will be met with confusion.

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Review policies tell you the genre, age group, if they take self-pubs or indy authors, and preferences for the blog. I’ve run across some really in-depth review policies that went as far as telling me if the story included cheating couples, animals/kids dying, or cliffhangers to take it somewhere else. It’s there and they expect you to have read it. If they read the book and find out you snuck one of their no go’s past them don’t expect a good review. Save everyone the trauma and read the review policy.

“We don’t do promotional posts. I only take new, original and exclusive material for guest posts…Basically, if you are looking for our time and space, we need you to take the 2 minutes it will take to read what we have to say. A guest post still takes time to lay out. Otherwise what we see is that we are not respected for what we do.” – Stephanie Takes-Desbiens from Fangs, Wands, and Fairy Dust

Do: Personalize the Letters 

As we were all given names at birth, so were bloggers. Maybe they work hard to keep a private identity but many are free with their real names. Use it when you speak to them. The blog itself is not a person and cannot help you. The person behind the blog is who you’re trying to win over. Reducing them to a page on the internet won’t earn you points.

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Don’t: Sales pitch on the first date

A friend request pops up on my Facebook from Jane. I accept. Jane messages me asking me to read her book.ug

Think of it like a date. You can’t skip dinner and a movie to go straight for the kiss. Bloggers are not one night stands. Woo them.

Do: Remember SPAM is bad

The huge mass email falls into this category. It’s a pet peeve bloggers share.

“If you do end up sending a mass mailing–sometimes you just have to I know–make sure to BCC the emails. It’s just the nice thing to do 🙂 Bloggers can be very protective of their emails and having it exposed to sometimes hundreds of others can really be a sore spot and lead to a lot of issues like people who will collect those emails and sell them.” Blogger Anna Cade from Herding Cats and Burning Soup

Other things bloggers don’t like: Adding them to any group without permission, signing them up for tours/parties/etc.6e877dd1-a9e1-44d4-8c4f-d6193c421924

Basically making decisions for them. Who doesn’t get annoyed by that?

Don’t: Insta-BFF

There is such a thing as too friendly. You can be nice a respectful without using pet names. If we’re not chatty then sending me a message like “Hey babe, are you accepting reviews? Hugs and kisses!” confused_lion_king

Whoa! Back up. Too much.

“Hey Bridget, are you accepting review? Thanks, Jane.”

Still nice and casual but I don’t feel like I need a bath to remove the excess sugar.

Do: Accept What You’re Given

Kristen from Literary Misfit said she didn’t like it when she was told if her review wasn’t three stars or higher it would not be accepted. I don’t blame her.

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If you want honest reviews you need to accept the reality there will be one stars, two stars, three stars, four stars, and five stars. Bury your head in the sand if you want to but it won’t erase the truth. A mix of ratings is good for your book because it shows readers you’re real. The book wasn’t reviewed but the author’s friends and family only. A bad review might win a reader because what the one star rater hated the new reader loves.

Don’t: Forget Bloggers are people too

“(I don’t like it ) When it seems like they (author/PA, whoever) don’t respect that some bloggers have a LOT on their plates and while they may WANT to read your book, they don’t have the time to do it NOW. It’s all in the approach, if you are kind and respectful, I’m more likely to say YES and then lay out terms, like I can’t guarantee a review until the middle of the month, etc.”- Kristen from Literary Misfit

You’re ultimate goal is to make friends. Bloggers are like you, and me, and everyone else. They want to be respected and to feel special. I’ve had the opportunity to make great friends from their community. When I have a new book or a cover reveal, they’re happy to help. I’m eager to post their updates and keep track of what’s going on in their lives. Make it your mission to sell a blogger on you instead of your book. You’ll find one generally leads to the other.

To all the bloggers out there….

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