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My Books

Audiobook Day

For those who’ve been waiting for the audio version of Enchanted Ever After, it should be available today. Once they got all the contract stuff ironed out, they moved pretty quickly. It’s the same narrator as in the other books. I love what I’ve heard of what she does with them, though I have to confess that I haven’t listened to much because hearing my words spoken by someone else kind of wigs me out. It’s really weird and unsettling.

Then again, I’m not big on audiobooks, in general. I have a hard time staying focused on people talking when I can’t see them, and it takes a really good speaker for me to stay tuned in to someone reading something even if I can see them. I also don’t listen to podcasts or talk radio. I can deal with audio dramas with a cast, but just someone reading a book will go in one ear and out the other, and I won’t register the words at all. I can just barely manage to take in the information from a radio weather or traffic report.

This is highly ironic for someone who trained in radio news and used to produce radio feature stories.

I’m not sure how I’d react to seeing a film or TV version of one of my books. I suspect it would be a bit weird because the people playing the characters wouldn’t be precisely the way I pictured them, even if the casting is just about perfect. But for film or TV, they’d rewrite it pretty thoroughly. It wouldn’t be exactly my words being read, and it would be translated to a totally different medium with different visuals.

I am willing to test my reaction, however, if someone who knows what they’re doing wants to give it a shot.

Anyway, new audiobook today, hooray!

My Books

New Book Day

It’s new book day! My Audible Original book (which means it’s only available in audio), Make Mine Magic, is available today.


This is a fun contemporary fantasy with a touch of romance, along the lines of the Enchanted, Inc., books, but in a different fictional “universe.”

A woman taking her dream vacation honeymoon on her own after getting left at the altar does a good deed that leads her into a strange and magical side of New York that tourists don’t often get to see, and she finds herself in the middle of a magical power struggle.

The germ of this idea came from something that actually happened to me, though the outcome was very different. When I was in New York doing my location research for the Fairy Tale books, I was waiting for a “walk” signal to go from Columbus Circle to Central Park, and the woman standing next to me asked if I could help her cross the street. She was blind and using a white cane. The funny thing was, when I was in college, I volunteered for the services for blind students office, which mostly meant recording textbooks and exam questions by reading them out loud, but I sometimes was asked to escort students around campus, so I knew how to assist the woman. I found it interesting that out of all the people who were at that intersection at that time, she managed to ask a person who knew how to assist her.

When I was brainstorming ideas for a book proposal, that incident popped into my head as a good “what if” — how did she know, what if she had some way of reading who/what I really was, and what might have happened next? In reality, we went our separate ways after I got her safely to the other side of the street, but what if …?

Incidentally, this was an “oh, by the way” idea. When they asked if I’d like to write an Audible Original, I gave them several ideas. A couple of them were story ideas I’d been playing with for ages. I had chapters already written and had thoroughly developed those worlds. Right before I submitted the proposal, this idea popped into my head, and I added it as an “oh, by the way” thing. It was the idea they chose.

There may be a print version coming later, but it’s exclusive to audio for at least a year.

My Books

My Award Eligibility Post

It’s award season for books as well as movies. Ours aren’t quite as glamorous as the Golden Globes, but it is nice to be recognized. My books cross genres, so there are a variety of areas where they might be eligible for awards, but probably fit best in science fiction and fantasy, where the main awards are the Nebulas and the Hugos. The Nebulas are given by and voted upon by the members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (of which I’m a member) and are more of a peer award. The Hugos are nominated by and voted upon by members of the World Science Fiction Convention, and although there are probably a lot of writers voting, they’re considered more of a fan award. People who were members of the previous year’s convention and those who have already registered for this year’s convention are eligible to nominate.

My only publication last year was Enchanted Ever After. I don’t have any expectation of it being nominated for best novel for either the Hugos or the Nebulas. It’s not the kind of book that tends to get nominated, and the final book in a series most people haven’t heard of is a long shot.

But the Hugos have an award for best series, and the Enchanted, Inc. series would be eligible for that, and since the series has ended, this is the last year it would be eligible. I think it’s a series worthy of consideration, with nine volumes ranging from 2005 to 2019. It’s mostly flown under the radar in the SF/fantasy, but it’s been consistently well-received critically, and even the first book in the series is still in print and selling steadily.

So, if you were a WorldCon member last year or have registered this year, I hope you’ll consider nominating this series.

There are supporting memberships available, so you don’t have to be planning to go to New Zealand in order to nominate and vote. All voting members get access to the voting packet, which generally includes electronic versions of all the nominated works. In the series category, it often includes the entire series, so it’s more than worth the money just for all the free books.

So, that’s my awards pitch. Thank you for your consideration. I don’t know what difference a nomination would make for sales. It might boost my profile a bit and help me sell other books. It might even revive chances of a TV show or movie based on the series. But it would be nice to have all these years of work recognized.

My Books

Coming Attractions

Early next year is going to be busy with publishing activity.

My first Audible Original book will be released in January, and it’s available now for pre-order. Here’s the Audible page with all the details. This is a contemporary fantasy with a touch of romance, so along the lines of Enchanted, Inc., but in a different fictional universe (if the same real-world setting).

There may be a print version of this coming, but that will have to wait for a year later.

Early next year there will also be a Kickstarter campaign for an anthology I’m involved with, but I don’t have all the details yet. I will share when I do.

Meanwhile, in case you weren’t aware, I wrote a Christmas novella a couple of years ago. It’s basically a Lifetime or Freeform Christmas movie in book form, with a touch of magic and romance. It’s a short read, about the right length for sitting down to relax in the evening.

I hope to have a number of new things out in the world next year.

My Books

News Updates

I’ve got a few updates about what’s coming and what I’m working on.

First, my next release will be an Audible Original, coming in early January. It will be in audio only for the first year, but I’m hoping to have an e-book edition after the end of that exclusive period. Stay tuned for more info about this one. It’s a contemporary fantasy romantic comedy unrelated to any of my other series. By the way, I get a bonus if this is the first book you get after joining Audible, so if you were thinking of doing that, keep that in mind.

Second, there’s going to be a delay in a Rebels book 4, for business reasons. One of the problems I have with that series is that the first book is controlled by the original publisher. That means I can’t do anything about the pricing, which is way too high for an e-book, especially for hooking new readers into the series, and that means there’s little I can do to promote it. I can’t do BookBubs or Amazon ads. The publisher certainly isn’t doing anything to promote it (they didn’t even do anything when it was first released), and since they don’t have any more books from me, they have zero incentive to do even so much as lower the price. Sales are really tapering off, and I’m getting to close to the level where I can ask for the rights back and republish the book myself, which would give me control over the whole series. But if I put out a new book, that tends to boost sales for the rest of the series, which would delay me getting control over the first book because I’d be farther from the threshold once more, and yet that boost wouldn’t be enough to really make a difference in income for me. So, I’m holding off on doing a fourth book until sales either surge so significantly (for whatever reason) that it’s worthwhile to do another book anyway, or until I get the rights to the first book back and the whole series is mine. It’s weird to be in a position to tell people not to buy or promote one of my books, but unless whatever promotion is so big that several thousand copies sell all of a sudden (it’s been selling under 400 copies a year), it’s better for me if sales drop off entirely.

Third, I’ve sold a short story to an anthology. There will be a Kickstarter to fund that anthology, so when that comes about, I’ll be letting everyone know. I don’t want to say anything more than that because I don’t want to steal their thunder.

My Books

More About the “Ideal Reader”

Thanks for all the responses about my “ideal reader.” It’s good to hear that I pretty much have it nailed. I guess my instincts were right. And it seems that I have a lot of Hufflepuffs among my readership. I’m more of a Ravenclaw, I’m afraid, possibly a Ravenpuff. Or else I’m the Ravenclaw who hangs out with Hufflepuffs because the other Ravenclaws are a bit too intense and competitive for me. But I digress.

I was asked where the Rebel Mechanics books fit into this. When I was writing that first book, I was aiming squarely at the steampunk community. I figured it would be right up their alley. There were characters who actually were “steampunks.” It was a subculture within that world. There was fun costume potential. I even came up with a plot reason to put gears on things as a decorative element. I had all kinds of fantasies about the steampunk crowd at conventions wearing gears on red ribbons and it becoming a thing.

But the adult fantasy publishers all rejected it, saying it was “too romancey” and suggesting I submit it to romance publishers. Instead, since the characters were all pretty young, I did another edit on it to tighten it up, added a bit more romance and emotion (yes, the version rejected as being “too romancey” had even less romance than the version that got published) and submitted it to YA houses, where it sold. That publisher marketed it to the YA segment (schools and libraries) but didn’t market it as fantasy or as steampunk, so the steampunk crowd didn’t really find it. A few people in that community found it and have loved the series, but it never seems to have spread or caught on there. I never see it mentioned when people ask for steampunk book recommendations.

In spite of what I had in mind when I wrote it, I suspect that the core of my “ideal reader” is probably the same there. Possibly less Harry Potter (though the Fantastic Beasts movies are getting closer) and more of the Jane Austen/Jane Eyre interest, but still a very similar-looking Venn diagram intersection. There would probably be more outliers who don’t fit in that central overlap, like the few steampunks who found it, and there’s the big circle of the actual pre-teens and teens. Some of them might fit a number of those key characteristics (they’re the younger versions of the “ideal reader”), but I think the big factor there was that the kids found the books through teachers and librarians, and most of the teachers and librarians I’ve heard from fall right in the target zone for my “ideal reader” demographic. For YA books, I might spread my promo to hit a younger audience, but I think my core “ideal readers” would still be my main target.

The trick will be finding a way to communicate with a broader audience of this readership to reach more people who might like my books. A lot of the things I’ve been doing or have been thinking about doing probably won’t do a lot of good. Since these aren’t hard-core fantasy readers, I doubt they’d be reading the SF&F magazines, so trying to sell short stories might not bring me new readers. They might read anthologies, though, so that may be something to focus more on. There are a lot of aspiring writers in that group, so writing tips might be good. I might need to be more active on Goodreads and get back to posting reviews. That seems like a place my ideal reader may be likely to hang out. Pinterest seems to fall right into that area, so I might want to explore it. Science fiction conventions might be a waste of time unless one of the other guests is someone who’s a really big name that would lure people who might also like me, but speaking to library associations or teachers groups would probably really pay off for me. I should probably talk more about books on my blog (alas, I’ve been in a reading slump and haven’t read anything I’d strongly recommend lately), possibly discuss some of the other things my core readership is into.

Having this hypothetical reader in mind actually makes me feel better about a lot of things. I’ve hated going to science fiction conventions and feeling invisible, but knowing that my readers aren’t likely to be there makes that make sense. I’m also less likely to be someone considered as a special guest at these cons because that’s not where my core readership is. I likely won’t get nominated for the big genre awards because my readers aren’t likely to be members of the relevant groups. A lot of the things I’ve considered career yardsticks are probably not realistic. Not getting them doesn’t mean I’m failing. It just means my readers are elsewhere. Now I just have to find where they are.

My Books

Finding my Ideal Reader

I spent a lot of yesterday reading various things about publishing, marketing books, etc., and I had a big “Aha!” moment that led to a hypothesis that I now need to test.

One of the books talked about having an “ideal reader,” the hypothetical person you write your books for. There will obviously be outliers who don’t fit the profile, but this is the core readership you’re targeting. This is the person you have in mind when you write, so that you’re writing books that appeal to this person, and this is the person you target in your marketing efforts. One way of testing whether you’re doing this the right way is by looking at the “also boughts” for your books on Amazon. Are these books that you think your ideal reader would also be interested in? If not, you may have problems because the people who bought those books are going to be the ones Amazon will promote your books to.

My “also boughts” are kind of weird. Aside from my own books, there’s a bit of contemporary fantasy, then there are the cozy paranormal mysteries with cartoony covers, and then there are a lot of vampire and shifter romances. I can see there being some crossover, but generally, people who are into sexy vampire and shifter romances probably aren’t going to find what they’re looking for from my books. But then I remembered that my publisher keeps promoting Enchanted, Inc. as paranormal romance. Whenever they do a BookBub, that’s the category they put it in (no matter how many times I beg them not to). The number of people who buy the book during a BookBub has probably totally skewed things. The cozy paranormal mystery thing may be more organic. There’s likely some crossover with the paranormal romance market, but I think that readership is also drawn to my books because there’s a “case” in each book while the relationships develop over the course of the series, and like a cozy mystery, there’s no graphic sex or violence.

But this doesn’t really fit my “ideal reader.” When I started writing Enchanted, Inc., it was essentially for people like me, adults who enjoyed the Harry Potter books but wanted something like that for and about grown-ups, applying the magical whimsy of the Harry Potter universe to the adult world of work, with bad bosses, office politics, and office romances.

Digging deeper into that, and considering the readers I’ve met or talked to, I would say that my target ideal reader is probably a woman (95 percent of my author Facebook page followers are women) who’s a big reader, but not necessarily a hard-core fantasy fan. She really loves the Harry Potter universe (either read the books as an adult or was a teen fan who’s now grown up) and wants more stuff like that, but has a hard time finding it. She’s probably also a Disney fan, both of the animated movies and the live-action remakes. She may like romance in books, but her tastes tend more toward Jane Austen than the kind of thing generally sold as “romance.” She’s possibly more likely to read YA fantasy than adult fantasy because she’s not so into the heavy, grim stuff. Normal life is stressful enough! She’s more concerned with a world she enjoys visiting than in the intricacies of worldbuilding, and the characters are the most important part.

That doesn’t mean that other readers aren’t welcome, just that this is the center of the Venn diagram of all the various types of readers, and it’s who I tend to write for. Now I just need to find a way to reach this reader. When we were launching the first Enchanted, Inc. book, I tried to convince my publisher to go after the adult fans of Harry Potter, especially since one of those books was coming out a month or so after my book. They told me, “We want people writing about you, not writing about Harry Potter,” and I told them no one was going to be writing about me, but they would be writing about Harry Potter, and if I got included in that, it would give me a boost. I did go a little rogue and sent a review copy to a local reporter who was writing about Harry Potter, and I did end up getting an article about “What moms can read while waiting for their kids to finish the new Harry Potter book,” so it might have worked on a broader scale. I also sent a review copy to one of the big Harry Potter fan sites that also did reviews of books their fans might like. But I’m not sure my “ideal reader” is someone who’s that kind of fan. She probably doesn’t have a lot of time for “fandom.” She just reads things she enjoys. She may buy some merchandise, but probably isn’t spending time on fan sites.

So, how close does my “ideal reader” come to hitting the mark? Does this sound anything like you or someone you know? Of course, the fact that you’re reading my blog probably puts you deeper into “fandom” than the majority of people who read my books, so that’s going to skew any feedback.

My Books

Beginning A Fairy Tale

While I’ve been waxing nostalgic about the origins of the Enchanted, Inc. series with the publication of the last book, I nearly missed another series anniversary. It was ten years ago when I took my research trip to New York to write A Fairy Tale. It’s rainy this morning, and that sparked the memory, since a tropical storm hit during that trip, so the first day was gorgeous, and it rained just about non-stop, sometimes torrentially, for the rest of the trip. If you look at the photo gallery for that book on my web site, you can see that some of the photos of Central Park show a bright, sunny day and the rest are dark and gloomy.

I’d had the first germ of the idea for that book years earlier with a mental image of a woman in a floral dress walking a bulldog and vanishing into the mist. It took me a long time to tease the story out of that image. I’d decided to try writing that book when I got a lot of rejections for another story, with the editors saying they wanted something more like Enchanted, Inc. This was a contemporary fantasy involving a southern woman in New York, so I thought it might work. I spent the summer doing research reading, digging into all the folklore about fairies. Then when I decided that the guy involved would be a cop, I read a lot of books about police.

The settings I had in mind were in parts of the city I hadn’t explored in depth. I also had never really taken a schedule-free trip, when I didn’t have any meetings, so I booked a short trip. It would be nice and like a working vacation to just do what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it, without having to worry about fitting it around meetings with editors or agents.

So, I spent a few days walking non-stop, much of it in the rain, and found all the places I wanted to write about.

It took me more than a year to get the book written (though I wrote Rebel Mechanics during that time when I put this book on hold to figure out the ending). Then it got rejected all over the publishing world, in a couple of cases because it was “too romancey,” though I find that odd considering there isn’t so much as a kiss in the whole book. There’s just some mild attraction. I guess the fact that there are two cases of a man and a woman meeting early in the book made them think it would be a romance rather than fantasy, which proves they didn’t read beyond the first couple of chapters. It was a few years later, after I’d successfully published the continuation of the Enchanted, Inc. series, that I decided to write more books in the series and publish them myself.

I’ve sold that series for audio and to the Japanese publisher, but it’s still sort of my forgotten stepchild. I may have packaged it badly. There have been a few people who thought it was intended for children. I may need a more conventional “urban fantasy” cover, or else the “paranormal chick lit” kind of cartoon cover. I do want to write at least one more book, but as much as I love that world and those characters, they’re not really clamoring for attention right now.

Maybe I need another rainy trip to New York to inspire me.

My Books

Status Update

Because I get a lot of questions, I thought I’d do a status report of sorts to let everyone know where various projects stand.

Enchanted, Inc. book 9 — Enchanted Ever After
Published! It’s available in e-book in most online booksellers. The paperback is supposed to be on expanded distribution, but I haven’t found it anywhere but Amazon so far. I’m not planning to offer it on Google Play because there have been some issues there. They can be difficult to deal with in ways that affect other stores (they change prices without consulting authors, then the other stores match their prices), and I only ever sell a few copies there, so it’s not worth dealing with them.
I don’t know when the audio version will be out. We made the deal for that earlier in the year and I set the release date to accommodate their needs, but then the contract ended up in limbo, and they changed their boilerplate contract, so all the terms had to be renegotiated. I still haven’t seen it. I also don’t know about any foreign markets. My agent has offered it to the Japanese publisher, but there’s been no answer yet.

As for what might happen beyond that, I am aware that there are events in the characters’ lives that might make good stories. But at the moment I don’t have much interest in writing them. I’ve been working in that world since 2003, and that’s a long time to work on a series. I wrote most of this book about two years ago and the rest of it about a year ago, and I knew while I was working on it that I didn’t think I could write another one. While there’s stuff in the characters’ lives that might be interesting, I am fresh out of magical plots for them, and I’m not interested enough in the domestic stuff to want to write about just that. It’s possible that a new idea will hit me that I must write, and there are potential side stories about other adventures that might happen to other people in that universe. I’m not saying never, but it’s been about a year since I worked on that book, and nothing has struck me.

Rebels 4
I’m doing some reading to research this book. I thought I had an idea for what might happen, and the research has changed the idea, so I have a lot of thinking to do. I plan to work on it later this year, and hope to get it released in maybe the late spring or early summer. That all depends on how long it takes me to write and what else ends up going on. I don’t think I’ll be able to wrap up the series with this book, so it’s possible that there will be another one after that, but I won’t know until I start writing.

The Fairy Tale series
Ah, my poor neglected stepchild. I love that world and those characters, and I have managed to sell it for audio and to Japan, but it seems to underperform. Meanwhile, my cover artist went and hit the big time, doing covers for Marvel, Star Wars comics and a Firefly piece. I’m so happy for her, but I doubt I can afford her anymore, if she can even squeeze me in. So, if I do another book, I’ll likely have to go a new direction with the covers (I’m not sure the direction I went with the covers was the most marketable. I absolutely love the art and it was just what I wanted, but I may not have made good choices from a marketing standpoint) and rebrand the whole series. I’ve sort of outlined the next book, but I don’t know when I’ll get to it. It isn’t exactly burning a hole in my brain, while there are other things that are jumping up and down and begging to be written.

Meanwhile, I have about five or six things that I really want to play with. I want to find a new traditional publisher, at least for my YA books, so I’ve been working on something new for my agent to submit. I’ve got ideas for a fantasy series and a paranormal mystery series. I’ve also got some ideas for big fantasy books that might go to a traditional publisher, but I’m hoping to raise my profile in that area first.

Oh, and I’ve got an Audible Original book that will be exclusive to audio for a year that’s supposed to be coming out later this year. It’s a contemporary fantasy with touches of romantic comedy and is unrelated to anything else I’ve done.

So, that’s what I’ve got going on and planned. Plans are subject to change based on inspiration, editorial revisions, life, etc. I’m mostly over my little existential crisis from earlier in the year. I realized that I do want to write, and I’d rather not do anything else, even if I could. I know I don’t really want to work in my old field, but I don’t know what else I could do. I registered with an agency for doing freelance work and have had no response, so it looks like I need to just stick with the writing. I just wish the business side of it wasn’t so challenging. I really do struggle with promotional stuff — a reason getting a job in my old field probably isn’t a good idea because that was my job. It does get depressing that my career seems to be moving backward, but I’m hoping I can move it forward again. The new book is doing pretty well, but it’s still only reached a tiny fraction of the number of people who read the earlier books, and most of the money I’ve made on it so far has just covered the cost of getting it published. But I’m trying to focus on the things I can control and just write without worrying about the rest of it.

My Books

Paperback Available Now!

The paperback for Enchanted Ever After is now available to order from Amazon. It will also be available at other online retailers, but it might take a day or so to make it through the system. If you have Prime or if you pay for express delivery, you might even get it early. They don’t make it easy to do paperbacks and get the release day lined up properly.

I’m off to enjoy an early birthday celebration with my parents, and then next week is Music and Arts Camp, where I’m volunteering, so I might be scarce or late with posts.

Enjoy the new book!