All about Tween literature: EMBLAZON launches

Emblazon is a new group of authors who write for readers aged 11 to 14 has just launched a new blog dedicated to the art and science of writing for this special audience.

“Some call them upper middle grade; others call them low young adult. They’re somewhere in the middle and can lean either way. We call them Tweens,” the group states on its About page.

The members will post about some aspect of reading and writing literature for Tweens on the first three Wednesdays of every month. “The fourth Wednesday is your turn. That’s when we host a monthly feature called Tween the Weekends.
As part of the launch, Emblazon is giving away signed paperback and e-book copies of stories by member authors for Liking the books and authors. Check out their Launch Giveaway page for details.

Good luck to the Emblazoners in their drive to “write stories on the hearts of children.”

Make an appointment to visit their blog every Wednesday at

Progress report: One Shade of Red

Image: Creative Commons

 I have learned a few things in the year since I published my first novel, The Bones of the Earth — even some things about publishing books. I tried to apply them when publishing my second book, One Shade of Red.

I’ve known the importance of promotion and advertising any product for a long time. Even as a kid, I saw ads promoting the power of advertising. I knew that if I wanted my book to sell well, I’d have to figure out some way to promote it.

The problem, however, is that advertising costs money. Money I don’t necessarily have, money that I need for my other indulgences, like food and heat and gas. And taxes.

In the past year, though, I have also learned about some promotion and advertising I could afford.

And I learned is that results of promotion are not always what you expect.

What I did

After I released The Bones of the Earth at the end of 2011, sales were not what I had hoped. So I read, I researched, I spoke and corresponded with a lot of people who know, or who said they knew, about how to promote a book. I listened and I planned to take as much of their advice as I could for the release of my second novel.

I ramped up my participation on Twitter and joined some great, fun groups on Facebook. I was invited into the Guild of Dreams fantasy authors’ group and corresponded more frequently with other writers. And as you faithful readers have noticed (thanks, by the way, for coming back here every day!), I increased the amount of blogging I do, and wrote guest blog posts for others.

Even before I was finished with the first draft of One Shade of Red, I started talking about the book in person and on the Net. I put little teasers on my blog and tweeted things like “Coming soon: a sexy spoof of 50 Shades of Grey.”

I put samples on my blog for Six Sentence Sunday, too, until that fun site closed.

I solicited and received some excellent and very encouraging advice from an excellent writer, one known for both erotica and other writing, too: Charity Parkerson. Thanks, Charity!

One of my most important decisions was involving the amazing members of Independent Authors International. As I’ve blogged before, Gary Henry and Cinta Garcia de la Rosa were invaluable editors and reviewers. Ben Wretlind and Bruce Blake contributed excellent copy-editing and proofreading. Thanks, all — I really could not have produced as good a book without you.

Another iAi member, David C. Cassidy, designed a fantastic cover. I can’t say how happy I am with it! Thank you again, David.

Once I had a fully edited version, I sent advance review copies to some good friends who are known for good book reviews. Their response was very positive — and I made sure to tell them I wanted honest reviews, and not to spare my feelings. I am very gratified to read their responses, which you can find on Goodreads and Amazon.

Blog tours

By February, I knew I was getting close. I set a deadline of the end of March to launch One Shade of Red as an e-book. When I realized that was the Easter long weekend, and the April Fools Day followed immediately, I chose April 2 as the official publishing date.

Taking a cue from Bruce Blake, I organized two blog tours. First was a cover reveal a couple of weeks before my launch day. Thanks to everyone who posted that stunning cover:

CR Hiatt

Rachel Thompson

– Christine Nolfi

Bruce A. Blake

Wodke Hawkinson

Doug Dorow

Linze Brandon

Lisa Jey Davis

David C. Cassidy

Jesi Lea Ryan

Next, I set up advertising on Wodke Hawkinson’s Find a Good Book to Read and on Rachel Thompson’s two book promotional sites, the Indie Book Promo and the related but more specific Romance Promo Central and the Erotic Promo. [

The launch

Launch day was April 2, as I said. For one week before and one week after, I organized a blog tour. (I did not realize until it started that the blog tour coincided with Passover.) Ten generous bloggers agreed to post an excerpt from the book; each person got a different excerpt. Thanks to everyone who participated:

Alan McDermott

Siggy Buckley

Charity Parkerson

CR Hiatt

Dawn Torrens

Bruce Blake

Cinta Garcia de la Rosa

Doug Dorow

Frederick Lee Brooke

– and Shannon Mayer.

Also, Joyce Strand agreed to feature the my guest post about why I wrote a book like One Shade of Red, which is such a departure from my earlier work.
It’s amazing how many people will say “yes” when you ask a favour.

For launch day, I set the price at 99 cents, and for my first book, too. Opening special!

The results

Sales that first day were gratifying — not huge, but it seemed that the market at least noticed that my new book was available.

After that, sales dropped off.

However, starting that day, sales of The Bones of the Earth started to surge on Amazon’s UK site. I don’t know why, but sales have been steady there ever since, and now the full edition and Part 1: Initiation Rites, a stand-alone novella which is also available as an e-book, are in the top 100 of the Historical Fantasy category — depending on the day, sometimes ahead of some major titles like Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Mists of Avalon and Guy Gavriel Kay’s Tigana.

I had heard of this phenomenon before: the best way to sell more books is to publish more books. But this is the first time it has happened to me.

It’s curious that this sales spike is restricted to the UK. Come on, Americans — are you going to let the Brits outdo you in buying The Bones of the Earth?

You can still beat them in buying One Shade of Red!

Launch date: April 2, 2013

One Shade of Red

It’s nearly done! My spoof of Fifty Shades of Grey is nearly out.

What began as a lark for National Novel Writing Month in November is nearing the final stages of publishing. I’ve written, re-written and edited it myself, shown portions to established authors in the field, and had it edited by a very skilled writer, Gary Henry (author of American Goddesses and some excellent short stories and poems).

After taking Gary’s advice, I asked another gifted author and editor, Cinta Garcia de la Rosa (The Funny Adventures of Little Nani) to copy-edit it. After making the corrections she pointed out, I turned the manuscript over to my wife, Roxanne, a skilled editor in her own right. Then I asked one more colleague to act as the last set of eyes on the result.

Gary, Cinta, and cover designer David C. Cassidy are all members of Independent Authors International, a cooperative publishing group who share services like reading, editing, design and promotion. In short, all the functions that a traditional publisher performs, while leaving control and revenue in the author’s hands. This process is a great example of the vision behind iAi.

Improving quality

I have to admit, One Shade of Red grown in the writing. I thought I would do a straight spoof by taking the concept (if you can call it that) of Fifty Shades and turning it upside-down: instead of an innocent girl being seduced by a slightly older and irresistible man, I have a naive young man being initiated into adulthood by an older, irresistible and sexually voracious woman.
But the characters grew deeper and more complex as I told the story. They took on some life of their own. And then some complications entered the story. So it’s a little more than what I started with.

Now, as I try to get some advance publicity and marketing going, I have to pause to say “thank you” to a lot of people who have helped along the way.

First, my wife, Roxanne, and the rest of my family, too, for support and for putting up with distraction, bad moods, anxiety and self-doubt as I worked on the manuscript.

Charity Parkerson, for insight, advice and encouragement at the early stages of the writing process.

Gary Henry, the first author colleague to review the manuscript for pointing out all the little errors not just in grammar or punctuation, but for forcing me to write better.

Cinta Garcia and again my wife, Roxanne, for eagle-eyed copy editing.

David C. Cassidy for an absolutely fantastic cover.

Bruce A. Blake for a final proofread.

Everyone who agreed to participate in the cover reveal over the next two weeks:

CR Hiatt
Rachel Thompson
Cinta Garcia Rosa

Christine Nolfi
Bruce A. Blake
Wodke Hawkinson
Doug Dorow
Linze Brandon

Lisa Jey Davis
David C. Cassidy
Jesi Lea Ryan

I’ll be tweeting and blogging all the links to their blogs over the next couple of weeks, but in the meantime, check them all out today — you’ll be glad you did!