Hyacinth Excerpt #2 – "Rescuing" Selene

To set the scene… Selene is at college on campus trying to study on a bench outside…


Picking up her highlighter, Selene tried, yet again, to concentrate on her reading. She’d completed about a chapter when a male voice drew her attention, “Excuse me.”
Selene sighed at yet another interruption and looked up to see a boyishly handsome face. Offering a polite but distant smile, she tipped her head enquiringly to the side and asked, “Can I help you?”
The boy glanced over his shoulder briefly and then back at her. Selene leaned slightly to the side to see where he was looking and found a group of boys watching them.
Keeping her amusement well hidden, Selene moved her gaze back to the boy.
“My name is John. I’ve noticed you here studying the last few days,” he paused briefly to think of his next line. “You’re really hot, you know that?”
Selene took a second to reply, tucking her more immediate and sarcastic response of , My what a lovely compliment, away in her head, and instead limiting herself to a simple, “Thank you.”
“Would you like to go out Friday night?” John asked, apparently emboldened.
Keeping her mask of generically polite niceness in place, Selene looked right at John and lied through her teeth. “That’s really nice of you to ask me. But I already have a boyfriend.”
“Ah, come on,” John wheedled, taking a step closer. “My bros are watching. You don’t really have a boyfriend. Give me a chance?”
Selene hid a sigh of impatience. “No, really. I do have a boyfriend,” she tried one more time, wanting to allow him save face in front of his friends.
“I’m calling bull,” was the reply.
Selene shifted in her seat. No one in the Vyusher had ever spoken to her like that. Not even Gideon. She was trying to decide how to respond when voice from behind her mirrored her first thought and drawled, “Wow, what a gentleman.”.
The tiny hairs on the back of her neck stood up. Selene recognized that deep voice, currently dripping in sarcasm.
“Who are you, man?” John puffed out his chest, posturing arrogantly.
“I’m not your man, dude,” the owner of the voice was now standing directly behind her. Selene just barely stopped herself from jumping when his hands gently swept aside the silky fall of her pale hair to land softly on her shoulders, his thumbs gently massaging the tense muscles there, “I’m hers.”
Selene’s stomach clenched at the blatant lie, her heart pounding triple-time in her chest. To hear that claim of connection coming from Griffin’s lips too closely aligned with her own hidden desires for Selene’s peace of mind.
  John stared hard over her head at Griffin for a moment, contemplating his next move. Finally he glanced away, looking back at Selene who simply shrugged, both communicating an I told you so to the boy in front of her, but also effectively shrugging off Griffin’s hands. They disturbed her equilibrium too much to allow the hypnotic motion to continue.
With one last glare at both of them, John stalked off, returning to his friends. Selene, meanwhile, held her breath, her eyes on the book in her lap, though she didn’t really see the words on the pages. All of her senses were attuned to the man who was making his way around the bench.

 

Hyacinth Book Cover Reveal!!!

I am thrilled with the results. So – without further ado – here is the book cover for Hyacinth!!!


I am so excited to finally be able to share the book cover for Hyacinth – Book #2 of the Svatura Series!!!!

First to add a little background… When I decided on a title for the first book in the Svatura series – Blue Violet – it was a deliberate process. I’ve blogged about this before if you want more details (click here). The book title naturally led to the basics for the book cover – the flower image. The swirls got added during the artwork process. 


The flower matches the title, but also has additional meaning. Just before chapter 1 in each book I’ll have the meaning for that book’s flower. Here’s what it’ll say for Hyacinth:

All flowers have a meaning. In the Victorian era, people used flowers as symbols to express their feelings. 
hyacinth: dedicated to Apollo, loveliness, and sorrow

As soon as I found the meaning for a hyacinth flower I knew it was perfect for my second book in the series. Hyacinth is Griffin’s book. In Blue Violet it’s mentioned that Griffin and Ellie’s mother nicknamed them Apollo and Artemis after the Greek god twins. The loveliness and the sorrow bits? Well, you’ll have to read the book to figure that part out.

Because it’s the second book in the series, Hyacinth will be setting up several story lines that won’t resolve until the final book. Consequently, Hyacinth will be a little darker than Blue Violet. And with a white flower we had to go with a darker background which worked well. We decided to feature just one bloom of a hyacinth flower to allow the cover to have a more similar look to Blue Violet’s cover. But we also went with a more Gothic looking set of swirls and fonts. 

Like I said… Thrilled, thrilled, thrilled with the results!

Bring On the Constructive Feedback!

As an author with one book published and one on the way, I have been extremely interested in the reviews I get on my first book through various sources – amazon, goodreads, book bloggers, etc.

I have been pleasantly surprised to receive ratings mostly in the 4s and 5s for Blue Violet as well as a majority of feedback that has been positive. Had I received a majority of 1s and 2s I would have kept writing, but I would have considered keeping it to myself. Huge thank you to those of you who both enjoyed the book and took the time to give me that positive feedback!

Now I will admit that I have also received ratings and reviews of 1 and 2 stars. And while they do make me sad, believe it or not I can handle that. I completely understand if my writing style, or plot, etc. aren’t to someones liking. There are books out there that the masses love and I can’t stand. It’s all personal preference.
Here’s what I find interesting… many of the reviews (on my book and other authors) that I see a 1 or 2 star as the rating either don’t have comments or simply say something along the lines of “I didn’t finish.” The reader in me sees that and thinks, “Fair enough.” The writer in me who’s only published one book and is working on a second book and would absolutely love to improve thinks, “Okay, so give me some feedback. Why didn’t you finish? Was the plot too slow? You couldn’t connect with the characters? Not your genre? Not your writing style? Too many typos?”
There are a TON of different reasons that could cause a reader to not finish or not like a book. Even a small amount of feedback is actually appreciated because I can read the feedback and decide for myself if it’s just a mismatch of author style vs. reader preference, or if there’s something I could and would want to actually work to improve. And I do want to improve.
Now you’re going to laugh, but I had to take my own medicine. People who rate books but don’t leave reviews are still appreciated (it’s a form of feedback) and in general don’t bother me – because I’m one of them. I am not a book blogger and don’t plan to review every book I read, therefore I decided to not put reviews up for any books. And here I am complaining about not receiving specific feedback for the 1 & 2 star reviews. Therefore I am changing my own behavior.  I’ve decided that I won’t list books that I would rate as 1 or 2 stars unless I leave a reason. Because I know as an author that I would want the feedback to be aware of and possibly incorporate into my next work.
Writers? Readers? Thoughts?

‘Tis the Season to Give





UPDATE 1/1/13: I sold 72 books in December and have now given a nice even $100 to First Book plus another $20 anonymous donation which equates to 48 new books for kids in need. I didn’t quite make my goal of $300 – but still made a difference which was entirely the point. Thank you for all your support!

 


Date(s): December 1-31, 2012

Details:
This holiday season, I want to share my love of reading with the community. To do that… for every copy of Blue Violet sold in the month of December, I am donating $1.00 to a charity close to my heart – FIRST BOOK.

First Book provides access to new books for children in need. To date, First Book has distributed more than 100 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income families throughout the United States and Canada

As a child I was encouraged to grow my passion and love for reading which has allowed me to follow my dream  and become an author. Please help me reach my goal to give back to the community and raise $300 (which equates to 120 books) by December 31, 2012 and help make a difference in children’s lives by giving them the opportunity to read and grow. 

How can you help?

Buy a copy of Blue Violet. Give a copy of Blue Violet. Tell your friends about the book. Donate directly to First Book.

This information will remain available at the top of my Events page for the rest of December. I’ll also post a few times on how we’re doing. Thank you in advance for any contributions you may make!

The Pricing Debate

I realize that it’s probably tacky to talk about money/sales/profits quite so publicly. However, as an indie author, I find this topic relevant and probably interesting to other indie authors out there. In addition, I want to ask my fans an important question related to my own books. So I’m taking a bit of risk by being very honest on this topic. I apologize for being tacky, but I think it’s worth the discussion.

When I decided to become a self-published author I knew at exactly what price I was going to sell my book – $0.99.  You’ll find that price is very common on Amazon Kindle – especially for indie authors. I paused for approximately 2 seconds when I discovered that the author receives a 35% royalty when the book is priced like that. So for every book sold I make roughly $0.35.

Let’s put some perspective around this. I spent around $1000 in the publication of Blue Violet. For the curious out there that was spent on cover art and editing (about $500 each). At $0.35 a book I wold have to sell 2,857 books before I’m out of the red and actually making a profit. Meanwhile I have plans on publishing a new book about every six months.

When I published Blue Violet, the business analyst and MBA student side of me kicked in and I didn’t blink at the pricing for Blue Violet because from a business perspective I considered it to be my “loss leader.” My goal with Blue Violet was never profit, but developing a fan base/following of readers. In order to be any kind of successful author you have to have readers who want to read your books. Offering my first book at a low price and doing free promotions has helped me reach readers and has been well worth those decisions. I adore my fans!

(By the way… I’m well aware that as a creative writer who also works with numbers all day long – and loves it – that I’m an odd duck.)

Now – I have no aspirations to be the next J.K. Rowling or Stephanie Meyer making millions of dollars (authors of Harry Potter and Twilight if you didn’t know). And while it is a life-long dream to be a full-time writer, I am realistic that the odds of that happening are slim. However, I want to continue writing and publishing regularly. I truly love every part of the process. Therefore, making this “hobby” self-sustaining is a goal of mine.

At the same time, I absolutely don’t want to lose current fans by suddenly changing my pricing, or alienate potential new readers because books are priced too high.

A final data point for you… at $2.99/book on Kindle the author’s royalty % moves to as high as 70%.  So my earnings per book changes from $0.35 to $2.10. I’d only have to sell 476 books to cover the cost of publishing. Based on my “new book every six months” plan and my current rate of sales I would basically cover the cost of each book in the time it takes me to write the next book. And that meets my goal of sustainability.

So here’s my thinking… Make the first book in a series $0.99 and any subsequent books in that series $2.99. My question to my current fans… is that acceptable to you? Or will a pricing change like that completely turn you off? I’m looking for honest feedback.

I’m sure I’ll revisit this topic and my assumptions around it as I continue to publish.  For example, I’m not sure how adding a second, third, and fourth book to my sales will affect things. And I’ve seen indie authors sell for as high as $8.99 on Kindle versions and I’m sure they have good, solid business reasons for doing so. But for now this is how I’m leaning.

Thoughts?

Feeling the Pressure

This weekend I have a personal goal set to finish Hyacinth enough that it’s time to send it to Wendy, my editor. This is going to be a stretch as I’m trying to squeeze writing in between spending time with my family, working, homework and reading for my MBA program, and the holiday.

The time pressure I consider to be necessary and somewhat unavoidable. I know that my editing process with Wendy takes a good 2-3 months. If I want Hyacinth ready to be released in February, I need to get it in her hands now.

Unfortunately, I happen to be in the middle of my least favorite part of writing a book. I’m going back through the completed manuscript and improving/fixing/filling/finalizing. I don’t know why I dislike this part so much. You would think I would want to hone my creation until I’m completely satisfied. But by the time I get to this point, I’m so ready to be done that it’s tempting to rush.
Also tempting me to rush is the fact that I’m really looking forward to getting Hyacinth into Wendy’s hands. I truly enjoy collaborating with her. Her edits and comments help me with getting the book exactly where I want it. I can’t wait to start that process, and getting through my own final edits is the only thing standing in my way.
In addition to the time pressure that I’m feeling, I’m also getting a small sense of pressure to perform. When I wrote Blue Violet it was truly with only me in mind – what I would like to read. No one had any expectations of me whatsoever. With Hyacinth as my second book in a series I’m feeling the pressure of the sophomore effort.
I want to live up to my fans’ expectations. I LOVE my fans who have been so supportive and encouraging. I want to exceed what I did in Blue Violet. I want to address anything I wasn’t completely satisfied with the first time around. And I want the plot to make sense both in relation to Blue Violet and in the set up for books 3 & 4. Yeah – I know – it’s all me, me, me.
Both the time pressures and the pressure to perform are entirely of my own making. I know this logically in my head. And so, while I spend my holiday working diligently toward my goal, I try to keep in mind the idea of writing for myself first and letting the chips fall where they may after that.
Wish me luck!!

Blog Tour Stop #4 – @ She’s Got Books On Her Mind

November 15th – Stop #4 for my first ever blog tour is at She’s Got Books On Her Mind by Adriana.

Adriana is a book blogger who gave a first time author a shot. She wrote a lovely review on Blue Violet a little while ago and I very much enjoy her blog on a regular basis. Thanks Adriana for hosting me for this tour!

For this post, we decided on an author interview. It was really fun to think through and answer all of Adriana’s questions. I hope you enjoy!!

http://shesgotbooksonhermind.blogspot.com/2012/11/blog-tour-blue-violet-by-abigail-owen.html

Blog Tour Stop #3 – @ Free Book Dude

November 14th – Stop #3 for my first ever blog tour is at Free Book Dude .com

Free Book Dude is a website that lists free book promos out there and where extremely helpful when I did my first free promo for Blue Violet in November.  They also help authors out by hosting blog tours, give aways, etc. I love sites like this that are out there to work with authors on their own like me.

For this post, we decided on a “what I’ve learned as an author” type post. I went with my top 5 tips to self-published authors about what I had found most effective for me so far. I hope you enjoy!

http://www.freebookdude.com/2012/11/my-top-5-tips-for-self-published.html

Blog Tour Stop #2 – @ All in One Place

November 13th – Stop #2 for my first ever blog tour is at All In One Place by Kirsty!

Kirsty is a book blogger who very kindly took a chance on a brand new author and reviewed Blue Violet early on.  She has become an online friend and supporter for my writing. Thanks Kirsty for hosting me on this tour!

Kirsty loved my characters in Blue Violet and decided on an interview with Alex Jenner. I had a ton of fun answering all her questions in Alex’s voice. Hope you enjoy!

http://kvlovesbooks.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/character-interview-alex-from-blue.html

 

Blog Tour Stop #1 – @ JadeKerrion.com

November 9th – Stop #1 for my first ever blog tour is at JadeKerrion.com.

Jade is a very talented fellow author of Perfection Unleashed and blogger. She has been one of those folks who has been so helpful to me as I find my way through self-publishing, and very kindly hosted my first stop on my blog tour.

We did an author spotlight and excerpt from Blue Violet as a teaser for the Kindle Free Promo coming up on November 16th-18th. Hope you enjoy!

http://www.jadekerrion.com/2012/11/09/abigail-owen/