How Are YOU Feeling About Goodreads These Days?

Every few months a publishing story goes viral and sets everyone’s underwear afire. Currently it’s the story of Lauren Pippa, an author who posted her debut novel on Goodreads to be added to readers’ shelves prior to its release, only to receive a one-star rating from some Ass-hat who obviously hadn’t read it yet. When she inquired about the rating, directly with the Goodreads member, she was met with a crap-nado of verbal bullying, as well as a campaign amongst some members to consistently rate her book poorly. This led to Ms. Pippa’s recent decision to not publish her debut at all. A sad day indeed. You can read all about it here.

As a result, throngs of readers and authors alike are coordinating a grand exodus of sorts, vacating Goodreads in droves and urging others to do the same. I won’t be one of them.

Why?

Because Goodreads is one of the few places left on the internet where there are still READERS! The market is so saturated with authors hiding in trees, very still and dormant like locusts. Then a lone reader comes strolling through, and all the authors stir at once, simultaneously flapping their wings, chirping “Buy my book!” noises, and they scare the poor chap off. And that’s why we all end up marketing to each other. It’s exhausting.

I’m not trying to be an Ass-hat like the person who started the storm of bullying. I’m just trying to keep it real. If we’re being honest with ourselves, this behavior is not typical of Goodreads. At least, not to my knowledge. Perhaps there are a handful of other people who can attest to people needlessly low-balling their ratings on books they may or may not have read, but that happens on Amazon, too. Additionally, bullying, happens all across the internet, even here on good ol’ WordPress. Sure, Goodreads doesn’t have an anti-bullying policy in place and they should and that’s why I’ve signed this petition. But, again, if we’re being truly honest, isn’t one of the cardinal rules of publishing to not respond to bad reviews? Ever? Do you think all of this would have happened to the author if she just would have seen the one-star rating on her not-yet-released-book, mumbled “Ass-hat” under her breath, chugged a glass of wine, and watched an episode of Catfish on MTV? Probably not? I hate to blame the victim, but she might have stoked the flames a little. The trolls that lurk behind the curtains of Goodreads saw an easy mark and took advantage. And now the world is missing what could have been a great talent. And putting aside all of my quite possibly unpopular reasoning and finger-pointing, a loss is still a loss.

Pantsing vs Penning vs Plotting

You guys know I’m a fairly new writer. I was a torn soul throughout high school and college. My right brain fought for the arts, my left brain fought for the sciences. Yet I’ve always had a way with words. Whether it was a literary paper or a lab report, I excelled. But when I decided to dive into fiction writing, I wasn’t certain how exactly to go about organizing my stories. So, during my writing journey, I’ve done some experimenting. Here’s how I would categorize the different methods, you know, in my own wacky Jordanna East way. 😉

  • PANTSING. Although I released Blood in the Past first, I wrote Blood in the Paint first. I wrote it “by the seat of my pants,” better known as “pantsing.” I’ve begun revisions on that manuscript and I can already tell you it’s a nightmare. It seems I changed characters’ names several times as I wrote the rough draft, and there are many other inconsistencies. While I was writing, I frequently confronted writer’s block because something I had written earlier didn’t mesh with where the story was currently going. Needless to say, we’ll file this method under: I May Not Be Pantsing Again in the Near Future. Actually, maybe we’ll just file it under plain ole No Thank You.
  • PENNING. When I wrote Blood in the Past next, I wrote it by hand, straight through, in a small notebook. This wasn’t hard, as it’s a prequel novella. I suppose this could be considered a form of pantsing, but since I already had the characters and events of Blood in the Paint in place, I just needed to write down the details of what preceded those events and extend them into their own story. Therefore, it was much easier to write. In the revisions stage, all I ended up having to do was fill in some extra scenes at the suggestions of my beta readers and editors. Not bad at all. File this method under: Will Try Again Under Similar Circumstances.
  • PLOTTING. Before I continued writing the Blood for Blood Series, I decided to take a break and work on something new: a serialized novel. To do this, I plotted each chapter briefly on a post-it note and hung it on the wall. I ended up with a series of chapters that formed five “episodes,” which made up the first “season” of my serialized series. I was so proud of myself! Until I started writing. The first episode went well enough, according to plan. The second episode? I needed a whole other set of post-its to re-plot everything before I could continue my draft. And so went each episode in the first season, rewritten in a different colored set of post-it notes. Sigh… File this method under: Waste of Colorful Post-it Notes/Thank Goodness They Were On Sale.

So what did I learn? That I can’t help it. I need to let the story flow through me…but it is helpful to have some boundaries, like the bumper lanes kiddies use when they go bowling. Just a little something to keep my story on track and to keep me from jumping from something high and windy during the revisions process.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I should probably go; my hair is really blowing around up here! 😉

Fire Sale!!! Well, Maybe Not Quite…

Fire Sale: Noun.

  1. A sale of goods remaining after the destruction of commercial premises by fire.
  2. As seen in the 2007 movie Live Free or Die Hard, an assault against the United States’ government, transportation, and economy by computer hackers.
  3. A sale of goods or assets at a very low price.

Okay, so, nobody panic. We didn’t have a house fire. And I can barely convert a Word document into PDF format, so back off Homeland Security! BUT, my Psychological Thriller novella, Blood in the Past, is on sale this weekend for only 99 cents! Isn’t that great news? (Hey, Homeland Security, if you’re still here, you should totally get in on this deal and grab a copy. Just saying.)

Blood in the Past

Here’s an excerpt:

Lyla eased her car to a stop a few blocks away from his house. A low-hanging branch scraped the roof. Lyla cringed at the sound, almost as if it were begging Lyla to return her foot to the gas pedal. But she did not. She parked, drew 10 ccs of succinylcholine into the syringe, and slithered out of the car into the wet night. She hurried to her destination in a half-crouch, trying to blend into the darkness of the asphalt.

She sneaked around the back of her father’s house through the shadows of the maple trees. They still clutched their leaves in denial of the approaching autumn. Every now and again, the rain would tear a leaf from its branch and the fluttering shadow would frighten Lyla. But instead of cursing the rain, she thanked it. It softened the ground, cushioned her footfalls, and tethered the neighbors to their couches. Few, if any, people would witness her arrival.

Searching for signs of life in his house and finding only the soft flickering of a TV in the living room, Lyla entered through the back door. Despite burying his wife hours earlier, her father had gone on a date that night. She’d overheard him bragging about it to a group of his colleagues at the funeral. A few were impressed by his gall, but most were repulsed.

However loathsome Lyla found it, she’d learned from her mother that, following a date night, her father would drunkenly pass out on the couch, which was good for Lyla, logistically. She imagined his stench: sex and a perfume so cheap the woman probably purchased it at the cosmetics counter of the nearest drug store. For a second, she marveled at how he at least had the decency not to bring the girls to the house where his wife—her mother, for God’s sake—had lost her life.

She knew the bristles of the doormat made a scritchscritch noise, so Lyla bent each leg and thoroughly and silently dried the soles of her sneakers on her pants’ legs. Without squeaking, wet shoes, she tiptoed down to the basement, pausing to grab a candle from the emergency kit at the top of the stairs. The old house’s circuit breakers were notoriously fickle, so she switched off the main breaker, drowning the house in complete darkness. Lyla paused in the spot where she’d overheard her aunt’s suspicions only days earlier. With her ear toward the ceiling, she strained to hear any indication of her father’s stirring over the din of rain pelting the house. She heard nothing, so she removed the hypodermic needle from her over-sized bag, almost piercing herself as she fumbled for it.

Here I come, Daddy,” she said in a singsong whisper, creeping back up the stairs.

Blood in the Past is Available on Amazon. Go, go, go!

The Secret is OUT About My Secret Project!

During the course of the month of July, some of you may have heard me make mention of a “secret project.” I’ve mentioned it here once or twice. On Facebook and Twitter. Instagram. Maybe even Google+ and LinkedIn. Actually, I don’t know about those last two. I really should use those more. Oh, and if you’ve read Blood in the Past, I mention the new project just a bit in the About the Author section in the back. Anyway, if you haven’t heard me mention my secret project, then you’re not sufficiently stalking me enough and you should refer to the aforementioned social networks.

No drum roll. I’ll just come out and say it. My secret project is a serialized novel about a religious cult. Cue gasps. I know. It’s kinda different, possibly a fad. But I like the thought of episodes and seasons and all that. Here is the tentative blurb:

Nestled deep in the Pine Barrens, miles from the hiking trails, campsites, and fishing spots, a path of white clay bricks, lined with birch trees, leads to the Tower. But the Church of The Word and The Way is more than a spiritual congregation living off the land. It’s a demon of many heads, plagued by power hungry members, ritualistic sexual abuse, and murder–with one young couple desperate to escape.

Beres and Kiva are young. They may even be in love. But Kiva is of age and her virginal body belongs to the spirits now. Until the leader of the Church, Cillian, discovers someone has gotten to her body first…

The Church of The Word and The Way. Where your way is blocked and your words are hushed. Coming Soon.

The Pine Barrens are right here in New Jersey (where I live) and I’ve been there several times with the Hubby-pants. We went again last week and I took a few pictures so you guys can get a feel for the place.

cult2

cult3

2013-07-30 12.11.14

There’s a baby deer in that last shot! Beautifully creepy, isn’t it? Can’t you see why I picked it? I’m sure you can. The people behind the counter at the visitor’s center? Not so much. The following conversation took place:

Me: Hi, I’m an author, doing research for the setting of an upcoming novel in these woods. Can you tell me which of the rivers that run through here flows the fastest?

Perky Female Helper: Umm, probably the Batsto River.

Me: Is it rather deep?

Bored Male Helper: No, it’s pretty shallow. The Mullica River is deeper, but it flows much slower.

Me: Damn, that won’t do. Okay. This Batsto, if I marched young children out to the center of it on a tree trunk and pushed them in, they would have a hard go of it, right? Especially if they couldn’t swim? Does the current move that fast? I’m talking 16 year olds.

<SILENCE>

Me: I didn’t say Thriller writer, did I? Frick, I always forget that part. I’m a thriller writer. (I forgot my business cards in the car with hubby, so as far as they know I’m looking for a way to march my own children to their watery deaths…)

Male Helper: The Batsto River is about fifteen feet deep in the center. I just went fishing in it last week, for perch. Perch prefer fast moving water over their gills and there were a lot in the water. So I guess if you were…pushed into it…right at the center…and couldn’t swim, couldn’t stand up…you could drown….

Me: Awesome! Thanks!

*Cheerily waves goodbye after grabbing a map and writing down BATSTO*

Sadly, however, I’ve had my fun. July is over. I published Blood in the Past in June and allowed myself a little over a month to step away from Lyla, Jillian, and Brighthouse so I could create new crazy ass people doing depraved things to one another. I had a great time working on The Word and The Way, but now it’s time to begin revisions on the first, full-length book in the Blood for Blood Series, which is already written, Blood in the Paint.

To commemorate this endeavor, Blood in the Past will be FREE all day TODAY and TODAY only! (And only .99 this weekend in case you’re reading this post late!) Need more of an excuse to pick it up? Check out another awesome FIVE STAR REVIEW over at Me, Myself & Books Blog!

Jerks & Irks XLVII: Should Readers Hold Indies’ Hands?

A little while ago someone posted a link on Facebook. I clicked on it. It was a blog post in which the blogger ranted his/her frustration with reviews of Indie books always pointing out typos, grammatical errors, etc. S/he went on to say that the reader should instead contact the author directly and alert them to the problems with their book. Then they continued their tirade, paralleling the plight of the Indie author with that of early Indie musicians and filmmakers.

I take issue with all of these points. Major issue. So much issue, that I clicked out of the blog rather quickly, didn’t make a note of it (which is why I don’t have a link here, so if you’re the author of said blog, feel free to defend yourself politely in the comments section), but the points s/he made still managed to fester in my brain for days and has now landed in front of your face in the form of my own blog post.

First and foremost, I think it is the author’s responsibility to research, and hire an editor that has been fully vetted, whose work they would proudly attach to their own. I also think even editors and proofreaders are human. Therefore, it is also the author’s responsibility to proofread their own work once or twice, backwards and forwards if necessary, before hitting that publish button. You can’t honestly expect the reader, who has found your work, purchased it with their hard-earned money, and read it with their precious little time, to then contact you and let you know that there are faults with your work. That’s not fair to the reader, now is it? Now, some readers are sympathetic little lambs and might do all this. Any do you know what might happen to them? They might run into an ignoramus of an author, an all-knowing, prick-on-a-stick (if male) or pot-o-twat (if female), who will not be very gracious to a mere reader pointing out the errors in their genius. Yikes! None of this sounds good to me. So, authors, don’t count on the reader to hold your hand. And, conversely, readers, some authors are like caged beasts. Beware.

Next up, the assumption that just because Indie musicians and Indie filmmakers weren’t taken seriously when they first came on the scene, it makes sense that it’s the same deal with Indie publishing. I would say, yes and no. Indie authors and Indie publishing are making gains every day. In just the space of a year, for example, ThrillerFest went from being all about querying an agent to including the VP of KDP and reps from Createspace. (Kristin Lamb is the bomb-sauce, by the way. If you don’t follow her blog, you should.) But that doesn’t mean authors can ignore the basic properties of the English language. Did those early Indie bands save their shekels, cruise down to the music store, buy the first guitar they could afford, and start recording as soon as they got home? Are you telling me they didn’t at least learn how to play their instruments first? Don’t Indie filmmakers learn how to hold the camera and edit film before they hop a plane to Cannes? So why should authors publish something before fully grasping story-telling and the art of language? And/or hiring someone who can polish it up for them? I just don’t get the comparison in that regard.

S/he also said something about Indie authors using punctuation incorrectly for individual expression or something, but that was around the time I clicked out of the post, so…

Anyway, what do you all think about this? Do you leave reviews that mention if there are typos present in the book? Do you contact the author? Has an author ever bit your ever-lovin’ head off? Please leave a comment below, and keep it clean and free of artistically incorrect punctuation, please!

QR Codes Decoded!

A couple days ago I posted a plea for guidance on Facebook, imploring people to help me figure out how to attach Blood in the Past to a QR code. Not the Amazon link to Blood in the Past, mind you, but the entire file. The only comments I received were from two groups: people saying “Why pay for the cow when you can get the milk for free” or people generally commiserating with my lack of technological prowess.

As for the first group, I don’t think they understood what I wanted to do. I’m a member of the New Jersey Authors Network and I haven’t been volunteering for any panels or discussions because I only have an e-book available for sale, nothing tangible to hock sell after the event. However, if I had a QR code of my e-book, I could charge for that on the spot by handing over my business card, with the QR code on the back, in exchange for their soul and their riding lawnmower a couple dollars in cash. Or what if I run into someone and feel especially generous and just want to give them a copy? Or maybe I could exchange my e-book in return for some other product or service? What’s the harm?

Anyway, as for that second group, who was just as bewildered as I was, come close (don’t mind my cookie breath) and listen up. I cracked it! Everyone said it couldn’t be done. That QR codes could only be attached to links and contact information and other tidbits. No, no, no, my friends. I decoded the QR code conundrum. And I’m hear to help out my fellow technologically challenged friends. After a day and a half of Googling and eye-glazing-over-ness, here’s what you do:

  1. Go to http://www.tagmydoc.com. There’s a free registration as long as you don’t want to tag more than 10 documents to start out with. Fill it out, no big deal.
  2. Upload the document you wish to attach to a QR code. I chose to password protect mine so if I drop a business card somewhere, a person doesn’t end up a with a free copy of my book without my permission. The password will be provided at the time of the transaction or exchange. (PSSTT It will brusselsprouts, all one word.Just kidding.)
  3. Download the tag (QR code) and save it to your computer. Maybe save it as the password so you don’t idiotically forget that important morsel of info later.
  4. After step 3, I would suggest you scan your QR code (right from your computer screen) to make sure everything is okie dokie artichokie. If you don’t have a QR code scanner, download an app. I use QR Droid. My phone showed the title of my book with several options, Download Latest Version, Follow Updates, and Share. When the user clicks on any of these, the password must be entered to continue. (I don’t so much like the Share option, but what can you do. Hope your book goes viral, I guess? However, this does allow the user to email the document to themselves so they can read it on their computer or tablet or whatever.)
  5. After you verify that the process works, you may want to go back to your tagmydoc.com profile, clicked on your document, and edit the Author Note so that when the QR code is scanned, there is a personalized greeting from you and not some generic baloney. This isn’t hard, the link is literally right there.
  6. As a final step, I went to www.vistaprint.com and made myself some QR code stickers for the backs of some my business cards. But, you can do what you want with your shiny new book embedded in a square of black dots and squiggles. Good luck and god speed!

So, do you already use QR codes in your marketing plan? Do you think this is something you’ll try? If you have any questions, let me know!

Jerks & Irks XLIII: Facebook Faux Pas

Ever since Facebook became a publicly traded entity, the site has been a pain in the peace pipe for those of us with fan pages. It seems like every day I learn some new, despicable practice of theirs. For instance, we all know it doesn’t matter how many people like your page, only a minute fraction of those people will actually see your posts…Unless you pay to promote them. Oh, and if you do pay to promote a post or two, Facebook will make a note of this and allow even FEWER people to see your posts in the future, as they now know you are willing to pay for more visibility. You also can’t post images with your logo on it, for fear of Facebook flagging the image as spam. And I just recently learned that holding any sort of contest or giveaway through your fan page is strictly forbidden.

A couple of weeks ago, I was chatting with the lovely Rhonda Ramsey. She sent me a link about Facebook’s new cover photo restrictions regarding text ratios. Apparently, if the text amounts to more than 20% of your cover image, Facebook may shut your page down. Why? Because puppies-forbid you should host a fan page, with your own logo or website address or whatever, for FREE on Facebook. Puppies-forbid. Luckily, there’s a “compliance tool” at the link where, unless your cover photo is a beach scene, you can check to see if your page is in violation.

Needless to say, I went into a tizzy because this conversation between Rhonda and me occurred about a week before Blood in the Past’s release and all I could think about was Facebook shutting down my page right around the time of my release, thus ruining my entire life. So I immediately contacted Kit at www.kitfosterdesign.com and asked him to alter my cover photo logo to include just my signature, placing the logo in compliance with Facebook’s stupid rules. Although I haven’t changed my cover photo yet, I plan to if my page is suspended. My brand is very important to me. That logo is everywhere. And only dire circumstances can make me take it down. That being said, here is the new cover photo…

Jordanna Signature

…which prompted the idea that I should join Authorgraph! Which I did! If you have a copy of Blood in the Past and would like a signed cover image with a personalized inscription, by all means, request one!
Get your e-book signed by Jordanna East

Technically Still a Spring Release!!!!

Last year, I promised a Spring 2013 release for the prelude novella of my upoming Blood for Blood Series. Blood in the Past was supposed to be released in March, but I wanted it to be the best it could be and that took a little more time and money. BUT, since Summer doesn’t technically begin until June 21st, I didn’t lie to anybody.

It’s been a long road since I first started writing. I started a story, wrote nine chapters of a first draft, then put it aside. A personal tragedy prompted me to finish that story, but as I continued writing, I found I wanted to tell how the characters came to be in the mental states they were in. Why is Jillian so attached to her past? What makes her so needy and love-starved? Why is Lyla so vengeful toward married men, yet still inwardly longs for a happy, married life? Why is Brighthouse so eager to please his colleagues and prove himself? These backstories needed their own spotlight. And not via a lengthy prologue or numerous, tedious info dumps. So, by golly, I gave my characters the spotlight they deserved.

And today, June 19th, 2013, I have goosebumps as I type the following: Blood in the Past is officially availaible as an ebook on Amazon!

LookInside

To answer a few frequently asked questions:

  1. It will only be available via Amazon, as I opted to enroll in their KDP Select Program.
  2. It will only be available in digital form. Have to have a print copy? No worries. When the first full-length novel in the series (Blood in the Paint) drops this winter, there will be a limited edition that includes Blood in the Past as bonus material. 😉
  3. Yes, my eye is still twitching.

Well, what are you waiting for?

Read and review, people! Read. And. Review. 🙂

Technically Still a Spring Release!!!!

Last year, I promised a Spring 2013 release for the prelude novella of my upoming Blood for Blood Series. Blood in the Past was supposed to be released in March, but I wanted it to be the best it could be and that took a little more time and money. BUT, since Summer doesn’t technically begin until June 21st, I didn’t lie to anybody.

It’s been a long road since I first started writing. I started a story, wrote nine chapters of a first draft, then put it aside. A personal tragedy prompted me to finish that story, but as I continued writing, I found I wanted to tell how the characters came to be in the mental states they were in. Why is Jillian so attached to her past? What makes her so needy and love-starved? Why is Lyla so vengeful toward married men, yet still inwardly longs for a happy, married life? Why is Brighthouse so eager to please his colleagues and prove himself? These backstories needed their own spotlight. And not via a lengthy prologue or numerous, tedious info dumps. So, by golly, I gave my characters the spotlight they deserved.

And today, June 19th, 2013, I have goosebumps as I type the following: Blood in the Past is officially availaible as an ebook on Amazon!

Click to Purchase

Click to Purchase

To answer a few frequently asked questions:

  1. It will only be available via Amazon, as I opted to enroll in their KDP Select Program.
  2. It will only be available in digital form. Have to have a print copy? No worries. When the first full-length novel in the series (Blood in the Paint) drops this winter, there will be a limited edition that includes Blood in the Past as bonus material. 😉
  3. Yes, my eye is still twitching.

Well, what are you waiting for?

Read and review, people! Read. And. Review. 🙂

Jerks & Irks XLII: The Unglamorous Side of Writing

I’m sure you all know by now that the prelude novella to my Blood for Blood Series, Blood in the Past, will be released Wednesday. What you don’t know is why my eye has been twitching for the last nine days. It’s because of the unglamorous side of writing. It’s nothing short of awesome-rockets to create characters, write a plot around them, and see it through to “The End.” But the end is slow going. When I received my final polished copy from Cassie at Red Adept, I thought it would be smooth sailing until release day. It was not.

  • Following the editing process, Blood in the Past was sent to a proofreader. After I received my manuscript back from the proofreader, I didn’t entirely trust their work (equal parts perfectionism, paranoia, and the proofreader herself had made a few errors), so I had to read my story three more times. The reading and re-reading and re-re-reading of your own work is tiresome. That in itself is eye-twitch-worthy.
  • With the novella fully polished, I thought it was a good time to type up the front- and back-matter. Table of Contents. Dedication. Acknowledgments. About the Author. Contact the Author. Copyright. Agh! I bet your eyes are twitching just reading that list. Then I had to read everything over. Again and again. Typos? Spacing? Thanked everyone? Copyright page scary enough? Tres un-glam.
  • Once satisfied with my edited and proofread copy, I copy-and-pasted all the components of the front- and back-matter, then I hired Karen Perkins at LionheART to format the it for Kindle. When she was done–you guessed it–I had to read it through a couple more times, this time from my Kindle. I only found a couple of errors and they might have been my doing. But Karen was very patient with me and we corresponded via email for hours until I was happy.
  • Whoops, I forgot a step. See how scatter-brained I am? Before I sent Blood in the Past to LionheART, I purchased a gaggle of ISBN numbers from Bowker. I know what you’re gonna say: Amazon provides the ISBN for you. And you’re right…if you want the publisher to be listed as Amazon. I registered my own publishing company, remember? (Blood Read Press) Therefore I needed my own ISBNs. Purchasing them was pretty easy. Assigning one to my novella was a pain in the pin-cushion.There are so many QUESTIONS! Agh! A few of which I didn’t even know the answers to. Thankfully, not all the questions required an answer to continue. But seriously, that took me about two hours.

I still have yet to formally apply for a copyright, but I guess that’s for a different post. Tonight, I’ll attempt to upload Blood in the Past to Amazon. Why so early? To ensure I don’t screw it up and have to delay my release date. Duh. Wish me luck guys. I’m gonna need it.

But in all honesty, it is pretty damn cool to look at your own book on your Kindle. 😉