Cliffhangers AND the Secret to Life


Hello there, casual reader. I’m here today to discuss cliffhangers, why I’m a jerk and also give you a secret that has brought me fame and riches.

Now first, a little about me. I’m the author who symbolically enjoys leading you over to the edge of a cliff. Chatting you up. Getting you distracted by characters with flaws and unique beauties. And just when you’re captivated and engrossed in the lives of fictional people then I’ll push you hard in the shoulders. The assault is usually swift and deliberate. And the result is that you stumble back, slipping over the edge, grasping for the dirt or a root or a vine. And there you dangle over the edge of a cliff as I intended. Then you turn the page of one of my books. The End. 

The other day I received a review on a book of mine. It said, “The author should put a disclaimer on this book telling the reader that it has a cliffhanger.”

Wait… what?! 

Would this reader also like me to include a list of the characters who die during the telling of the story? Maybe we just start with the ending? Work our way backward.

I write books and sometimes they have cliffhangers. I have zero regrets. Follow me, would you, as we discuss the pros and cons of using cliffhangers in books. I promise I’ll keep my hands to myself and not push you…

I’m a series writer. Usually my books can be read in neat trilogy form. To me, it’s the perfect arrangement for most series: a beginning, middle and end. But tell me, dear reader, if I end book one with a tight little bow and no loose strings, then what incentive do you have to pick up book two? Not only that, but I want you to throw the blankets off at 2 am, after finishing the first installment, and rush to buy book two in the series. I want you to have zero question in your mind that you’ll be consuming book two and then three and as quickly as possible.

Yes, maybe you fell in love with the characters and that’s why you’ll continue reading. I know I fall in love with most of my characters. And maybe you are intrigued by the storyline. But without a major unanswered question lurking at the end of the book, how are you going to banish sleep so you can continue reading my books?

And I mentioned we’d explore cons. Sometimes cliffhangers can feel like a manipulation. I’ve shut the door at the end of act one, held out my hand, and said, “pay up to see what happens next.” Does that make me a bad author? Or does it make me one who knows how to keep you interested, like a longtime lover who still flirts and teases in the bedroom? And if it does make me a bad person then I’ll join the other authors prone to cliffhanger endings: Suzanne Collins, Cassandra Clare, JK Rowling, Lauren Oliver. Just to name a few. I could die happy lumped into a group of authors like this. And there’s many more famous authors known for pushing readers to the edge of a cliff. Here’s a great list.

So now that I’ve admitted to enticing readers into second and third books, should you always expect a cliffhanger ending from me? Absolutely not. Just when you think I’ll kill off a loved character, because I’m somewhat known for that, then I’ll keep them around. And you might go into one of my books expecting to be dangling over the cliff at the end, only to find the story over and you on even ground. I’m hardly ever predictable and I tell the story the way I see it, which is never the same formula from book to book. That’s because my books are character driven and I usually don’t even know where they are going. Yes, sometimes the cliffhangers even surprise me.

So now that I’ve said my piece on this subject, I wonder what you think. Do you like cliffhangers? Dislike them? Are they necessary? I never believe in absolutes with writing. It all depends on the story. That’s probably why I like this business so much. There are no real rights or wrongs. Stories can be told in a hundred different ways. It’s a subjective business. And truthfully I’ve learned one thing this year that is absolutely the most important thing I’ve ever learned. It has brought me so much happiness and success and is like a like a miracle drug to my career. And I’ll reveal that secret in my next blog entry.
Bye now.
Sarah Noffke


Nov 3, 2016 | Posted by in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Cliffhangers AND the Secret to Life

Tuesday Takeover: The Best Part of Romance by Sarah Brocious

Life can be crazy at times. Case in point? This very article. I have had weeks to think about what I could write, would write, should write…yet, here I am on the one yard line, writing hours before it is due. I was even tempted to recycle an old blog of mine, but couldn’t bring myself to do such. So, this may be short and sweet, but it will be original.

Who am I? You will still find me bashfully admitting, “I’m a writer.” Because I honestly still find myself doubting that title every day. You can ask anyone who has ever been a part of my life, writing is who I am. I can’t survive long without putting words to paper. I have a brain that rarely stops and I think without writing, I may go mad. Honestly…mad. Writing is an outlet and it is the only thing that calms the chaos. (well, that and music) To call myself a writer feels like an honor that I don’t deserve. Yet, there are several books with the name “Sarah Brocious” attached to them, so it must be true, yes?

I had a short discussion today with a friend of mine on what exactly it is that I write. My first instinctive response was, “I write romance!!” To which I got a “give me a break” look. I argued, “But there is no sex in my books!” Response? “It’s in the way “he” looks at her. I know what that is all about.” And I blushed because it is true. What I imply in my words…in the way the characters interact, look, touch, and feel holds more meaning than the actual act.

I pride myself for this. I could write explicit scenes. I could give all the details and leave nothing a mystery. But how much more powerful is it when the imagination is involved? I don’t want my readers to get a descriptive monologue/dialogue of a kiss. I want them to actually feel that kiss. I want them to feel that look. I want them to experience that rush of butterflies to the stomach as if they were right there in the characters shoes.

What is the very best part of romance? It’s the falling part. Its the shy glances. It’s the flirty remarks and the accidental touches. It’s the whispered words of someone scared to be heard, but wanting to tell the world. It’s the rush of adrenaline when you see that person. It’s the uncertainty that they feel it as strongly as you do. And it is the attraction that pulls one person to another in ways that can’t be explained. Mere words can’t touch these experiences. BUT…words with emotion, mystery and a hint of the forbidden can allow a reader to feel it.

If I could use a word to describe my writing style when it comes to the “romantic” connection of my characters? It would be…anticipation. And I think that holds more impact at times than instant gratification.

When I decided to publish, that was exactly the thing that came up time and time again. “You could be more explicit!” “Sex sells!” But I wanted to stand out. I like being my own person. So I didn’t want to write like others, I wanted to write like me.

What does that mean?

I am the good girl….but I am the wild child, too. I am the social butterfly and I am the hermit of an introvert. I am sunshine and hurricane. I need to write in a way that makes all sides of me happy. There needs to me just enough sweet with the sexy.

Any questions?

Sarah Brocious was born February 27th 1978 into a steadily growing family. She is one of eight siblings. Growing up in a “crowded” home gave her a great need to slip away for some time alone. In those times she chose to read or write even at a very young age. From the time she could put sentences together, she found no greater joy than creating stories.

This desire continued to grow but as does often happen… life got in the way. Her love for writing did not diminish. It was pushed aside for a time.

Now in her thirties she has decided to put her “need to” aside and give into the “want to”. So far there are four books to her name. There is much she wants to share in the future… This is just the beginning! Follow her here.


Sep 20, 2016 | Posted by in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Tuesday Takeover: The Best Part of Romance by Sarah Brocious

Tuesday Takeover: The Truth of Work/Life Balance through Life’s Storms by Kate Corcino

Point A: We’ve all heard them—those pithy sayings meant to get us through the rough patches. “When it rains, it pours” and the like.

Point B: As writers, we’ve all heard the impossible counterpoints, too. “Write every day. EVERY. DAY.”

What happens when Point A wipes out Point B? I’m not talking about feeling swamped. I’m talking about a tidal wave of life events that crashes over you and those you love with a destructive force that leaves you sobbing as you pick over the detritus. Whether it is one huge event, or a series of smaller events that just keep coming, you are utterly overwhelmed.

How do you manage work/life balance when that happens?

You don’t.

And that’s okay.

But how can I be a writer if I’m not writing?

Because you’re learning.

Neither life nor writing happen in a vacuum. The things that you are learning when you’re in coping mode enrich both your person and your writing. I have so many writing friends forcing themselves to work through upheaval simply because they think that’s what writers do. They push themselves into exhaustion and beyond. They agonize over every moment spent away from their manuscript.

The bear of it is, sometimes you can’t help it.

In 2005, at seven months pregnant, I tripped while unloading groceries (they don’t call me “Grace” for nothin’). The impact caused a placental abruption. Our son was born at 27 weeks. The next three months were a blur of hospital corridors, medical forms, two-steps-forward-three-steps-back terror, and gratitude. Later, when I had time to reflect and not simply ride the daily waves, I recognized all of the lessons learned during that time that inform my writing and my life as a writer. Foremost among them was perspective. No matter how terrifying my tiny son’s odyssey was, the spectre of loss that left me breathless with fear was very real to other parents in the NICU. My son survived, then thrived. He came home. Other precious lives were lived in their entirety in that unit.

In 2008, when I was barely five months pregnant, my water broke early. The team at the hospital informed me that they had no choice but to deliver my still “unviable” daughter. We refused. They quoted a 90% fetal mortality rate in ruptures before 22 weeks, but we were steadfast. We were dismissed, sent home with antibiotics to keep infection at bay, instructions for total bed rest, and informed that I should drink at least 120 ounces of water per day. IF we made it to 24 weeks, they’d hospitalize us then, when there was a chance of saving her. When we went back three weeks later for the ultrasound, an eternity of tears and fears having passed in those weeks, my membranes had resealed. Our daughter wasn’t just viable, she was perfect. Lessons learned? Belief in myself, in my instincts, in my right to say no to experts determined to tell me they know better.

In 2011, my husband suffered a heart attack in the middle of the night. A day and half later, he underwent a quintuple bypass. Four and half days post-surgery, as I sat by his bedside, I received a series of calls that makes my heart ache to this day—our 15-year-old son had been in a horse riding accident. He was taken to a different hospital because he required the highest level of trauma care. Two days and a full craniotomy later, I stood by my son’s bedside at midnight as he came out of his anesthesia, disoriented, terrified, and in pain. He begged me with slurring words to hold his hand, to sing him his baby song, to stay with him. I stood leaning into the metal bars of his bed in the PICU until dawn, holding his hand and singing “You Are My Sunshine” until my voice failed and all I could do was hum. At dawn, he finally fell asleep. My day, to be spent managing my loves in two hospitals and at home, was just beginning.

Lesson learned? I am mighty. There is nothing that cannot be handled, so long as you keep your focus on the moment you are in right then. Do not look up. Do not allow yourself to be overtaken by what-ifs and possibilities. All that matters is one moment. If you can do that, you can do anything.

2015 was meant to be a great year. I had that work/life thing on cruise control. My first book, Spark Rising, and its related collection of stories had been released at the end of 2014 and the response to the novel exceeded my expectations by miles and miles. It won awards while I was deep in writing its follow-up. At the same time, I balanced managing the household, homeschooling my two youngest children, cheering on my oldest (who’d recently flown the nest to begin his adult life across the country), and nurturing a handful of animals. But I didn’t merely balance. I didn’t manage. I excelled.

And then our household crashed, again. My chronic health condition (also nicely managed) decided it was done cooperating. I was hospitalized for a week that summer. And then again. And then again. Even as teams of doctors surrounded my bedside and told us gravely that we were done managing and I risked death if they didn’t intervene surgically, I still managed.

I finished two sets of revisions on the manuscript and scheduled both edits and my surgery for early Fall. I co-wrote a short story. I made arrangements for the kids, the animals, the household. And then I was hospitalized again, and the surgeon moved up my surgery. It couldn’t wait.

Unfortunately, it would have to.

A week before I was supposed to return for elective resectioning of my innards, an inattentive driver swerved in front my husband on his way to work. His motorcycle went down, and it took all my careful management skills with it. We began an odyssey that would span gross malpractice, finding another doctor, another hospital, and two surgeries to repair him. The morning of my birthday, I kissed my husband and went to wait in a waiting room while they replaced his shoulder. Five weeks later, he leaned over to kiss me and wait while they wheeled me in for my own surgery.

During our recoveries, I did not write. I did not think of my once-looming deadline, now postponed. I did not work in spare, stolen moments. I allowed myself to heal, for him, for our children, for me.

Because sometimes work/life balance means putting everything you have on one end of the scale because that is the side that matters most.

The miracle of it is that when you turn back to the scale, somehow both sides are still hovering, somehow still balancing. How can that be?

That’s the most important lesson I’ve learned. As writers, we are so much more than butt in chair, fingers on keyboard output. We watch, we synthesize, we learn, and we dream, even through the nightmare times. And every experience, every moment away from our manuscripts and our internal worlds, returns again to us two-fold in wisdom, and depth of character, and fullness of experience that allows our writing to grow.

Work/life balance? I’m here to tell you, my friend, that if you’re alive, you’re balanced. When the storms stop thundering and the water recedes, when you have time to rebuild and breathe again, the words will be there. And they will be so much richer because of where you’ve been.


Kate Corcino is a reformed shy girl who found her voice (and uses it…a lot). She believes in magic, coffee, Starburst candies, genre fiction, and descriptive profanity. A former legal videographer, teacher, and law student, she believes in chasing dreams and the transformative power of screwing up and second chances.
She is currently preparing for the imminent release of Spark Awakening, the second book in the Progenitor Saga, a futuristic fantasy series with romance, science, magic, and plenty of action.

She lives in her beloved desert in the southwestern United States with her husband, several children, three dogs, and two cats.

You can find her first book, Spark Rising, at Amazon.

 Website/Blog ~ Facebook  ~ Twitter  ~ Goodreads






Sep 13, 2016 | Posted by in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Tuesday Takeover: The Truth of Work/Life Balance through Life’s Storms by Kate Corcino

Tuesday Takeover: Wow, That’s Terrible: Your First Novel by Terry Maggert

What do Swedish meatballs, crime, and an alcoholic charter boat captain have in common?

Nothing! And that’s the beauty of my first attempt at a novel. You never saw it coming.

Naturally, after about seventy pages of that train wreck, I came to my senses and filed it away in that hinterland where lost socks and dreams go to die. It was—let’s call it an attempt, and leave it at that. I didn’t know how to write a novel, and I certainly didn’t understand the arc of a story. In short, writing books, or other long form fiction? It’s a muscle. It’s a grotesque, caffeine-fueled, angst-addled abnormal muscle that gets stronger the more you use it. Add to that a healthy dollop of doubt, worry, and frustration that other people seem to cough novels out like hairballs, and you’ve summed up portions of the glamorous life of a writer.

About four years ago, I got serious and decided to write professionally. I received some excellent advice from a writer who was better dressed than me, and wrote down a Three Year Plan.

To my surprise, I’ve stuck to said plan, and it seems to be working. Now, there are other elements (don’t discount luck) and then there are the qualities within you that advance your writing in fits and starts. One such nudge is to realize that no matter what else is happening, you sit down and you write. I have five dogs, a giant nudist child, more cats than I can count and the ability to fall asleep in the middle of a nuclear war. With those details in mind, I make damned certain that, rain or shine or cat puke or migraine or hideously overcooked pasta—I write. It might only be a paragraph, but more often than not that small handful of lines will be stellar.

If you write, another thing to consider—and this is nothing short of magic—is to set a timer for twenty-five minutes, clear your head, and go. This tactic has allowed me to write 750,000 words of fiction in three years. Now, there are timers that cost eighty bucks and are shaped like adorable vegetables, but if I’m wasting eighty bucks on anything, it better involve a lobster the size of a dinosaur. I simply use the tools at hand (my phone), and in one to three sessions per day, I can write a minimum of two thousand words.

And these are good words, too, not the literary equivalent of “Terry was screaming at the football game on TV while writing” words. These are words and lines produced when you’re in that delicious state of flow, where there is so little hesitation in your hands that it seems like you’re channeling a second voice. That kind of words.

I’m a proud Indie. I publish my ninth novel on September 1st, and it’s already sold more than my first three novels together. Did I get smarter? At my age, no. My next significant birthday will give me a discount at Denny’s and nothing more. No, my books got better because I was willing to take advice and write as much as possible, always pushing myself to grasp plot, structure, and character a little bit better with each page. You can and will see drastic improvement from one book to the next; it’s in our nature to defend that which we create. For me, that gets easier as my library gets larger. The proof is in the story. The results are in the work.

And coffee at midnight doesn’t hurt. I’m just sayin’.



Left-handed. Father of an apparent nudist. Husband to a half-Norwegian. Herder of cats and dogs. Lover of pie. I write books. I’ve had an unhealthy fascination with dragons since the age of– well, for a while. Native Floridian. Current Tennessean. Location subject to change based on insurrection, upheaval, or availability of coffee. Nine books and counting, with no end in sight. You’ve been warned.

Find out more about Terry and his books here.

Aug 2, 2016 | Posted by in Tuesday Takeover | Comments Off on Tuesday Takeover: Wow, That’s Terrible: Your First Novel by Terry Maggert

All Series Now Available in Boxed Sets

boxed setsWant to save 20% on an entire series? Well then I’ve got the deal for you. All my series are now available in boxed sets. That’s one download, a lot of words, three great stories and at a low price. Tell your friends and grab it here.

Jul 28, 2016 | Posted by in Uncategorized | Comments Off on All Series Now Available in Boxed Sets

Tuesday Takeover: TOP 10 OBSTACLES FOR AN AUTHOR by Rissa Blakeley

10. Writing a long-winded social media post, posting it, then realizing how many errors there are. You quickly try to edit it, but someone has already commented! You yell curse words you never knew would come out of your mouth. Then reality sinks in… They have read your error-filled post! Will they judge your books based on it? -head desk-

9. Finding a topic for a blog takeover. It’s always wonderful when someone extends an offer for a blog takeover, but the moment you accept, your mind starts spinning. What do I write? (Google, you are offering me zero help on this)… Will their readers enjoy it? (Scrolls through the blog hoping to get a hint at what their readers would like)… Is the topic overdone? (Sees the dead horse lurking)… Is the topic too sensitive or controversial? (No. Yes. Wait… No, but if I… YES!)…

8. Daily attire. Black yoga pants, t-shirt or tank top, hoodie. Good news! I’m always ready for the gym! But these are my retired gym clothes. I wear nicer stuff to the Mr. and Mrs. Olympia display at my local Buff Daddy Gym. Then a friend calls. “Hey, let’s do lunch.” You stare down at your clothing. Is that a coffee stain? Do I want to put on nicer clothes? So you ask, “Where do you want to go?” They respond with, “Where would you like to go?” I can’t even decide on real pants and you want me to decide on a restaurant?

7. The search history. I fully expect the NSA to show up any day now. Guns, knives, explosives, ways to kill someone… There are many more, but I have to keep a low profile. Is that someone pounding on my front door?

6. Time. It’s both friend and foe. Oh, look at the time. I have plenty of time. Just a few more minutes. Hey, look at tha- OH, MY GOD! I’M RUNNING OUT OF TIME! Promo. I have to get my manuscript out. Promo. Edits, promo, edits, promo, edits. Promo. I need a cover. Promo. Formatting! Promo. Order swag. Promo. Get ARCs out. Promo. Remind those who took ARCs to review after publishing! Promo. GAH! Publish. Promo. Blog tour! Promo. A signing event? Promo! Is it nap time yet?

5. Distraction. What was this post about again?

4. When you come clean and tell people you have published a book, the questions start rolling in. “Oh? What’s your book about?” Well, you know, it’s a story of two people. Okay, like, maybe a half-dozen people. Okay, more like a small community who meet on this epic journey and this thing that happens is just heartbreaking. But, you see, they… Oh, f*ck it.

3. Writing tools.
– A specific red pen that makes you feel like you can cut your printed manuscript up for the better.
– Highlighters in a variety of colors for timeline, editing, overused words, and to draw pretty flowers on the page.
– Lined paper? -snort- Quad in a spiral-bound book with one pocket, please. Oh, and the cover has to be plastic. No, not red. Black, thank you. No, wait. This is a three-subject book. I need only one-subject because all the rest are one-subject.
– The stacks of Post-It notes (Fun fact: the company has actually liked one of my tweets before) in several shapes, sizes, and colors. Because you never know when you’ll need a Post-it note almost the size of your wall.
– Laptop/desktop/phone/tablet decides to stop working and you begin praying that your work is saved somewhere else.
– A multitude of flash drives and external drives. It’s like playing a game to see which drive holds what. The winner is usually a lost one.
– Pens. You pick up a blue pen and no words flow. You pick up a purple pen and no words flow. You pick up a red pen… EDITING ONLY. You pick up a black pen and angels begin singing. Then you scream, “MUST…HAVE…ALL…THE…BLACK…PENS.”

2. Coffee. You make your first cup. -sip- Oh yes, thank you for this gift of coffee. I can now produce many words. You make your second cup of coffee. -sip- Then you realize you won’t have enough coffee for the day. You look down at your clothes…dingy, baggy yoga pants, coffee-stained t-shirt. You decide to leave a cryptic post on Facebook about what your favorite coffee drink is from Starbucks in the hopes someone drops one off to you.





Rissa Blakeley is the author of the paranormal series, Corvidae Guard, and the post-apocalypse saga, Shattered Lives, which features a paranormal twist. Her short story, A Little Taste of Naughty, was part of the best-selling anthology, Just Desserts.

As a native New Yorker, Rissa is now a Georgia transplant, who is completely addicted to black coffee, La Croix and obsessively listens to songs on repeat. Her days are full of characters screaming for more scenes, cats living up to their Harry Potter namesakes, a lazy dog, a teenage daughter bringing Emo back, and a Viking husband, who finds her puns less than funny. When Rissa isn’t writing, she can be found procrastinating on social media.


Website ~ Newsletter ~ Amazon Author Page ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Instagram ~ Goodreads ~ Email



Jul 12, 2016 | Posted by in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Tuesday Takeover: TOP 10 OBSTACLES FOR AN AUTHOR by Rissa Blakeley

Tuesday Takeover: Writing a book is just like having a baby by Sarah Negovetich

I’ve just released my third book, and I have to tell you, every release is a bit different, but the first one is the doozy that will make you or break you. I was ruminating back on that first release when I realized just how much it had in common with having my first baby. Here’s what I’m talking about.

Information Overload

New Baby: You read every book in the library and spent countless hours combing internet articles that are one half comforting and the other half terrifying. When you manage to pull yourself away from the computer, you gorge yourself on episode of A Baby Story on TLC.

New Book: In preparation for your new bundle of joy, you read everything you can about the craft. Do you want to publish your book with a trusted professional or are you the more DIY, hands on kind of author? There are dream stories about people who sell their first book for millions and then there are those who labor for years before they birth words into the world. You take it all in: books, podcasts, conferences, webinars. And in the end you still have no idea what’s going on.

Unsolicited Advice

New Baby: Everyone who has ever had a baby, knows someone who has a baby, or has thought about having a baby will provide you with all the random advice you never wanted to know. Perfect strangers will begin talking about the most intimate parts of your body as if you were a side-show at a discount carnival.

New Book: Be prepared for Aunt Elanor who hasn’t read a book released in the last three decades to tell you exactly how to write a good book. You will graciously ignore that her last birthday card contained no less than five grammar errors. Even though you didn’t know a single author before you started writing, now that you’re doing it, everyone you know is going to write a novel…some day…you know, when they have the time.

New Obsession

New Baby: This little angel will consume all your waking and sleeping thoughts. Before hand you’ll wax poetic to the lady at the super market about the little flutter kicks tickling your belly and share baby name thoughts with your waiter. People will avoid riding in elevators with you, so they don’t have to hear about your nursery colors one more time. Only other expecting moms will share your joy obsession.

New Book: Your project is all you ever want to talk about. It finds a way into every conversation you have. Your spouse knows more about the intimate details in your head than is advisable. Other writers will gladly join you in your obsession. Plus, there are plenty of online chatrooms and Twitter #wordsprints to keep you happily engaged. Non-writer friends don’t fully understand what you’re doing. You may find that some can’t take it and slowly drift away. Your best friends still don’t get it, but will quietly listen to you talk about your writer’s block for the fifth time this week.

Loss of Sleep

New Baby: Even before the baby gets here, you’ll lose sleep thinking, dreaming and worrying about your precious arrival. Not to mention the frequent trips to the bathroom . After the baby arrives, forget it. You’re up every few hours for diapers and feedings. And if your angel is sleeping, you’re probably up starting at him to make sure he’s still breathing.

New Book:  As a new writer, time is precious. If inspiration hits at 4am, who are you to deny the muse. The deeper you go and the closer you come to publication, the worse it gets. You spend most of your daytime hours wondering around in a plot hole induced faze muttering about second act reversals and character motivation. Personal hygiene will become less important the longer your first draft takes to write. Some people close to you may stage an intervention by taking away your computer and insisting you shower and go outside.

Resource Drain

New Baby: First there’s the doctor’s bill which hits you on the side of the head when you’re least expecting it. And that’s before the baby is even born. Then you have all the gear you’ll need like a crib, car seat, five-in-one super magic sleep, bounce, rocker (it had great reviews). After the baby comes you’ll have more doctor bills and it will be time to get all the supplies you really need, like industrial strength rubber gloves and a giant bottle of Dreft. Your time also seems to disappear, and close friends will assume you have fallen down a hole lined with burp clothes and pacifiers.

New Book: In addition to all the time you’ll dedicate to the perfection of the world’s best manuscript (you have the stained t-shirt to prove it), you may find that writing a book puts a strain on other valuable resources. Conferences aren’t free and a writer can never own too many leather bound journals that you’ll never actually use because they are way too nice for notes. Cute products proclaiming your new “writer” status will quickly replace food in your basic needs list (though to be clear, chocolate and coffee are non-negotiable). You may also find that other relationships may suffer, but don’t let that get you down. You’ll always have your characters to love you.

Can you handle it?

At the end of the day, writing a novel  is not for the weak at heart or the lover of sleep. But once you hold your book in your hand for the first time and gaze onto its shiny bound cover, you’ll quickly forget all the pain and torture. You’ll watch your little book grow into the marketplace and maybe shed a tear for your first review. When that happens, you know you’re ready for book two.


Sarah’s Bio:

Sarah Negovetich knows you don’t know how to pronounce her name and she’s okay with that.

Her first love is Young Adult novels, because at seventeen the world is your oyster. Only oysters are slimy and more than a little salty; it’s accurate if not exactly motivational. We should come up with a better cliché.

Sarah divides her time between writing YA books that her husband won’t read and working with amazing authors as an agent at Corvisiero Literary Agency. Her life’s goal is to be only a mildly embarrassing mom when her kids hit their teens.

You can learn more about Sarah and her books at or follow her antics on Twitter @SarahNego.

Rite of Redemption Blurb:

Rebecca escaped the PIT, found a family among the Freemen…and watched too many loved ones die. All she wants is the Cardinal to leave her in peace, but he’s made it clear that’s never going to happen.

When the Cardinal attacks other Freemen villages, she finally understands that no one is safe from his wrath. As the only one who’s stood up to the evil that is the Cardinal, it’s up to her to convince the others that they can’t hide forever. It’s time to fight.

The Machine predicted Rebecca would become the Cardinal’s enemy. It may have gotten that one right.

In the conclusion to the Acceptance series, enemies become allies and old friends emerge, but in the end, sacrifice may be the price of freedom.

Book Links:

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Rite of Rejection link (free from Jun 2nd to 6th):


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Jun 28, 2016 | Posted by in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Tuesday Takeover: Writing a book is just like having a baby by Sarah Negovetich

Tuesday Takeover: Mark Coker Interview by Amos Cassidy

Hello, Folks!

Hope you’re all good. Well, after a week of gorgeous weather here in the UK, the rain is now back to do its thing. Oh, well. But never mind the weather…

Today we welcome Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, to the blog. Mark has kindly popped over here to answer some questions from us and from other indie authors. So grab a coffee, or a tea, or even a beer if you fancy one, and join us for this interview…

Over to you, Mark…

One of the questions many authors planning on going wide are asking is ‘Smashwords or another aggregator? What would you say to those authors? What sets Smashwords apart from the dozens of other aggregators?

There are several competent distributors out there, and I would hope that if an author doesn’t work with us they work with another.  Distributors such as Smashwords provide authors a lot of advantages they can’t get simply by uploading direct to each retailer.  The primary advantages are time-savings, simplicity and control.  We allow authors to reach multiple global retailers with a single upload, and then we provide centralized control via the Smashwords Dashboard that helps expedite price updates, metatadata changes and sales reporting.  And, of course, we help authors reach retailers and libraries than can’t be reached without a distributor.

Although authors have many choices, some of which charge fees and others of which are free such as Smahwords, I think authors who work with us will enjoy more tools and broader reach.  With tools and broader reach come more sales opportunities.  And authors who are chose to work with any distributor should also still work with us because we’ll enhance their reach.

I’m happy to share a few features and benefits of Smashwords, several of which are unique to Smashwords when comparing us against the many different distribution options out there.

  1. We’re the original ebook publishing platform for indie authors, and the world’s largest distributor of self-published ebooks.  We’re currently publishing over 375,000 books from over 100,000 indie authors and small independent presses.  We were among the first to open up mainstream retailers to indie ebooks, and we’ve negotiated great terms for our authors across our distribution partners.  We’re constantly innovating new tools designed to give our authors advantages in the marketplace.
  2. We make ebook publishing incredibly quick and easy. Authors can upload a Word .doc or a professionally designed epub.  Our Smashwords Style Guide teaches authors how to create professionally formatted and styled ebooks using a word processor.
  3. Rapid distribution to retailers.  For most of our retailers, we’re delivering new titles and metadata updates around the clock.  It’s not unusual for an author to upload a new book or a preorder and see that book appear at iBooks a couple hours later (or sooner).  All of our author retailers have also significantly improved the speed of their listings.  Most of our delivering are processed and up at our retailers within a couple business days.
  4. Broadest distribution network across retailers and libraries, including iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, OverDrive (serves over 20,000 public libraries), Baker & Taylor Axis 360 (serves hundreds of libraries), Inktera (formerly PageFoundry, powers about a dozen small ebook app stores), Oyster and Scribd.  We even distribute a small number of titles to Amazon for a small subset of our better selling authors who request it.  More retailers and library partners are on the way.
  5. We operate our own store offering exclusive sales and merchandising tools.  For readers, a single purchase at the Smashwords Store enables them to enjoy your book in multiple formats, assuming the author uploaded their manuscript as a Word .doc which is what most authors do.  For authors, even if an author is using another distributor, they should still list their book in our store.  Some of the exclusive tools we offer include Smashwords Coupons (custom coupon codes for percentage-off, dollars/cents off, and free copies for fans and reviewers), free author pages, Smashwords Interviews (self-serve interviews –, enhanced series discovery with custom series pages, customizable widgets for off-site marketing and more.  Our store pays the highest royalty rates, up to 80% list depending on the price of the book or the size of the customer’s shopping cart (Books at $.99 often earn 80% list if they’re in a shopping cart with a checkout total over about $8.00).
  6. Preorders – we do regular preorders and “assetless” (meta-only preorders).  We and our authors pioneered many of the best practices associated with ebook preorders, and we share these tips and tricks with our authors.  Learn more at where you’ll find links to several strategy articles
  7. We provide the industry’s best indie author training materials, and all these resources are free.  Our mission is to help teach indie authors how publish with pride, professionalism and success, and these resources are useful to every author even if they don’t utilize our services.  My three ebooks on ebook publishing best practices have been downloaded almost 750,000 times –The Smashwords Style Guide (how to format and publish an ebook), The Smashwords Book Marketing Guide (how to market any book for free) and The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success (over 30 best practices of the bestselling indie ebook authors).  Also check out my training videos at or my recently uploaded 6-hour presentation deck at
  8. Our Daily Sales report provides attractive same-day and next day aggregated sales charts from iBooks, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, OverDrive and the Smashwords Store.  Provides instant feedback on how books are performing across multiple retailers, with tools to drill down by books, channels and more. Charts go back 180 days. Learn more at .  We of course also provide complete historical sales data than can be viewed online or downloaded as a spreadsheet.
  9. Learn more at

Selling on platforms such as iBooks and Nook through Smashwords can limit merchandising opportunities, is that true? If so, is there a way around it? Can Smashwords help authors snag those merchandising opportunities with iBooks and Nook?

Definitely not true.  Thousands of our authors have achieved special merchandising and promotion opportunities by distributing with Smashwords.  In fact, I’d argue that Smashwords authors gain tremendous merchandising advantage by distributing with Smashwords.  Each week we’re in direct communication with the merchandising teams at all three retailers, highlighting for them our best performing and most promising titles.  The retailers know our recommendations are based on merit, and merit is based on the author’s actual sales performance across the Smashwords distribution network.  If the author isn’t distributing with us, we can’t count their sales and can’t recommend them for merchandising.  In the interest of full disclosure, authors should understand that we can’t promise merchandising love.  But we will coach our authors on how to maximize their chances.  The retailers make the final decisions.  But they do know that our recommendations are based on actual sales results.

We hear you have recently launched something called Assetless pre-orders. I’m not sure that many authors are aware of this feature, or whether other aggregators are offering it yet. Can you tell us a little about Assetless pre-orders and how they can benefit an author?

We’ve been distributing ebook preorders for nearly three years.  We’ve assembled strong data proving without a doubt that books born as preorders sell more copies than books that are simply uploaded the day of release.

An ebook preorder makes it possible for an author to start capturing orders weeks or months in advance of the book’s onsale date.  For example, many authors are on Facebook or Twitter, telling their fans about the next book they’re writing, and generating demand for that book.  A preorder allows the author to capture the reader’s order at the moment they have the reader’s greatest attention and interest.  Preorders can also improve the book’s chancing of hitting both retailer and national bestseller lists.  Up until recently, we required authors to upload a completed manuscript to establish a preorder listing.  The downside of this restriction was that it meant authors were unable to get their preorders up until just a few days or weeks before their release date.

In June 2015 we announced support for assetless preorders, also known as “metadata-only” preorders.  An assetless preorder allows the author to establish their preorder listing up to 12 months in advance, even if they haven’t started writing the book yet.  No manuscript or cover image is required (this can be added later).  This longer preorder runway allows authors to better exploit the full benefits of a preorder.

Preorders are probably the single most important new book marketing tool to come along for indies in the last five years.  Most indies don’t yet know how to leverage preorders (they can check out my preorder strategy posts to learn how!), which means that the indies who do release with preorders have a significant sales and discovery advantage.

You can learn more about this incredible new tool in the announcement at our blog post titled,Smashwords Introduces Assetless (“metadata only”) Preorders.

Any tips on getting those sales up on the actual Smashwords site? Are there any paid promotion sites that focus particularly on Smashwords as a vendor? If not, do you think we can set something up?

The Smashwords Store doesn’t provide any paid advertising opportunities.  The merchandising on the store is completely automated, and it’s designed to leverage our knowledge of what readers are buying, what they’re considering buying as well as the contextual relationships between what they’re looking at and what they and others have purchased.

To take full advantage of what our store has to offer, here are some quick tips:

Upload your manuscript as a Word .doc file, because this allows us to convert your book into multiple ebook formats so you book is readable by readers on any device. We convert to epub, mobi, PDF, plain text and others.

On your blog and in social media, promote direct hyperlinks to your book pages at Smashwords. If you simply say “find my book on Smashwords,” there’s a good chance the reader will get distracted by all the other great books. A direct hyperlink puts the reader one click away from adding your book to their shopping cart.  At the Smashwords store you’ll earn the industry’s highest royalty rates (up to 80% list), so definitely make sure you’ve got links to your books on your blog, website and in social media.  If enough customers purchase your book, your book will get caught up in our automated merchandising systems where you can appear on our store-wide bestsellers lists, genre bestsellers lists, and even bestseller lists by filtered by genre and word count!  Your book can also start appearing in our new “Also

recommended” merchandising which appears on each book page.  It’s like “Also boughts,” but with additional intelligence that goes far beyond just purchase data.

Write a compelling description. A lot of authors make the mistake of not providing a compelling description.  “This is my fourth book of poetry,” for example, is a horrible description yet we see that a lot!

Don’t skimp on the cover image. Readers judge books by the cover.  A great cover makes an aspirational promise to the target reader.  Most home made cover images look just like that – home made.  Rather than creating your own ebook cover image, hire a professional.  There are hundreds of high-quality cover designers who will create covers for under $300.  Carefully study their online porfolios before you select an artist.  We also have  a list of low-cost cover designers and formatters you can use at  These freelancers work for you, not us, and we don’t take a commission if you hire them (this helps them keep their costs to lower).

Take advantage of our new Smashwords widgets. Below the shopping cart on every Smashwords book page you’ll find a link to create a widget.  You and your fans can use this tool to create attractive widgets that will dynamically update over time when you change your price or book details.  Encourage your fans to install these widgets on their blogs and web sites!  Here’s an example of the Widget page for my free ebook, The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success.

Create a Smashwords Interview. This is a fun self-interviewing tool that allows you to publish an interview of yourself directly onto your Smashwords author profile page.  We’ll present you with a series of questions, and you have the ability to modify the questions or create your own questions.  It’s a great chance for you to let your readers learn the story behind the author.  Here’s a link to my Smashwords interview:

Create a compelling author profile page. The author profile page allows you to upload a headshot, publish your bio, and provide direct hyperlinks to your social media pages at Facebook, Twitter, Wattpad, your blog and your website.  You can even add a link to your Amazon author page where readers can purchase your print books (assuming you have print books up at Amazon).  Here’s a link to my profile page:

If you write series, connect your series books with our cool Series Manager tool. Series Manager increases the discoverability of your series books at Smashwords (and at our retailers too!).  You can even upload a custom image to represent your series, along with a special series description.  Also if you write series, be sure to price your series starter at FREE.  We’ve found that series with free series starters earn more sales than series without free series starters.  Here’s a sample link to the series page for my Smashwords Guides:

Watch my YouTube videos at where you’ll find best practices information for all skill levels from novice to expert.

Last but not least, write a super-awesome book! This should go without saying but it needs to be said:  There’s a glut of low-cost high-quality books out there.  Most of the major retailers are offering over 2 million ebooks.  In the Smashwords Store, we have nearly 400,000 books (not as bad as 2 million, but still a lot of books!).  Books sell based on word of mouth, and word of mouth is manifested via online reviews, recommendations over social media, and in actual real-world recommendations you might make to friends and family.  To turn a reader into an evangelist, your book needs to take them to an emotionally satisfying extreme.  You need to make the reader go, “WOW!”  As every writer can appreciate, it’s not easy to write a WOW book.  Encourage your Smashwords Store customers to leave you an honest review in our store.  If you want them to leave a review but they purchased the book elsewhere, offer them a free Smashwords Coupon code because once they redeem the code, they can leave a review.

Questions from other indie authors:

I have four eBooks on Smashwords, none of which sell, even though the same eBooks are selling on Amazon. My books have been on Smashwords for over two years. My promotions always result in sales from Amazon, but never Smashwords. Is it my fault?

It’s not your fault, even assuming you’re providing direct links to your books at Smashwords.  Keep in mind that Amazon is the world’s largest ebook retailer and the Smashwords Store is a much much smaller store.  Consider the sales you get at Smashwords as icing on your cake.  Your sales at our larger retailers –iBooks, Barnes & Noble and Kobo, for example – will almost always be higher than what you earn in our store.  That said, from time to time I’ll hear about authors who sell more at Smashwords than at other stores.  I think that’s more of a rare exception than a rule, but possibly these authors are promoting their titles at the Smashwords store more aggressively, or they’ve been with us enough years to develop a large and loyal following.

Do you have any tips on getting iBooks features?

Yes.  First, remember their decisions are merit based.  They’re looking for titles that have either already been endorsed by their customers (as measured by sales, ratings and reviews) or endorsed by readers elsewhere (as measured by your aggregates Smashwords sales across our retailer network).  I created a video about 18 months ago that talks about iBooks merchandising tips.  The tips I share there are also applicable to the merchandising decisions of most other retailers.  Merit merit merit.  View the video at  You’ll also find a more updated and downloadable presentation on iBooks merchandising strategies here in my post, How to Publish Ebooks – An Ebook Publishing Intensive.

Will you distribute to German online-shops any time soon (or any other international online shop)?

Yes, you will see us do more in internationally in the months ahead.

I’m super-disappointed about the loss of FlipKart in India as it’s a mega emerging English-speaking market. I realize you pulled the plug on FlipKart because they were slow to get books in and out and do price changes for authors who like to flit in and out of Kindle Unlimited like the wind, but what about writers like ME who’ve gone wide since the beginning? Why are we being penalized for the actions of a flaky few?

I’m disappointed too.  I wrote a lengthy blog post about the issue at and there was also a great discussion in the comments.  We didn’t pull the plug on FlipKart, though it is true we threatened to do so if they didn’t improve their ability to honor the copyrights and takedown wishes of our authors.  We couldn’t allow the situation to persist because too many author were being punished by Amazon.  I completely agree it totally sucks that all our authors got thrown out with the bath water, but as it worked out, FlipKart decided to exit the ebook business according to recent media reports.  I can only speculate, but my guess is that the likelihood of eventual lawsuits from indie authors probably helped them decide it’s not a game worth playing for them.

Flipkart continued. And ditto for a lot of the other smaller distributors who can’t shift with the wind, but might net us all a few local sales. I’d just begun experimenting with an advertising campaign in India of direct-downloads-for-email with great effect when you pulled the plug on one of my primary non-Amazon distributors. I still have GooglePlay and Pothi, but nobody ever BUYS ebooks on Pothi (sadly), just downloads the free ones. The worst thing is, I’ve gathered some raving fans from these experiments; people hungry for new books and eager to tell their friends.  Couldn’t Smashwords create a special opt-in category for these lesser distributors with a big fat warning like ‘warning, B-tier distributors only update their data monthly’ or something? I mean, you say that authors who cater to d’zon are killing all these tiny g-local contenders in their cradle, but then didn’t you just feed the machine by being inflexible?  I mean, if you can do that for some of the obscure library-lending programs, why not for tiny g-local distributors?

If a retailer is unable to respect our authors’ rights, we’re unwilling to work with them.  Our authors trust us to work with quality, capable retailers so we tend to say no to more retailers than we say yes to.  Every major retailer has, at times, struggled with the enormous scale of our catalogue.  We’re publishing nearly 400,000 titles, and these titles are constantly changing with new pricing, updated descriptions, updated books, takedowns, republishings and more.  We’ve build incredibly robust and reliable distribution systems to bring order to this chaos, but we rely on our retailer partners to build robust systems on their end.  FlipKart decided they weren’t able to keep up.

In the age of Amazon and its predatory practices which place indies in the crosshairs if a small retailer like FlipKart can’t keep up, it’s all the more reason we owe it to our authors to carefully choose our partners.  In the case of Amazon they were threatening to disrupt the worldwide sales of these authors simply because a small little retailer – one that probably hadn’t ever sold a copy of the book – was having difficulty removing the book quickly from their shelves.

The good news is that we’ll continue to add retail partners that are capable and that will continue to expand the reach and availability of our books.

Authors who want to directly support our continued efforts to open up new worldwide markets can help by distributing their books with Smashwords, and by opting in to all our distribution channels.  We work for our authors and appreciate your support!


Mark Coker founded Smashwords in 2008 to make it fast, free and easy for writers to self-publish an ebook.  Today, Smashwords has grown to become the world’s largest distributor of self-published ebooks.  100,000 authors and small independent presses around the world publish and distribute nearly 400,000 books with Smashwords.  Smashwords provides authors and publishers a robust suite of professional publishing tools that improve the discoverability and sales of their titles.  Smashwords distributes globally to Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, OverDrive, Kobo, Scribd, Oyster, Baker & Taylor Axis 360 and others.  Follow Mark on Twitter@markcoker.  Mark blogs at

Thanks for stopping by, Mark!

Amos Cassidy Bio:
Amos Cassidy is the pen name for Richard Amos and Debbie Cassidy. Amos is a 31 year old Diva and Cassidy a 39 year old mother of three; well, four if you include the husband. A common love of all things Joss Whedon, Urban Fantasy, and a tug of war over Jensen Ackles, brought them together, and one cold February afternoon, over nibbles and coffee, their partnership was born.

You can find Cassidy hard at work in her fortress of solitude which has eaten up the majority of her garden, and Amos…well he’s still trying to get the invisibility gizmo he got off a friendly alien in exchange for a pair of earphones to work. Funnily enough he hasn’t been seen around much lately…Frequent doses of Sugary snacks, coupled with regular injections of caffeine aid in their production of a unique brand of cross genre tales. They are always writing, but are happy to take a break to chat to their wonderful readers, so drop them a line at, or just pop over to see what they’re working on at and they’ll bust out the biscuit tin.

***Website ~ Facebook ~ Newsletter ~ Twitter***




Jun 7, 2016 | Posted by in Uncategorized | 1 comment

Tuesday Takeover: Secret Ingredient For Writers Listed Below by Caroline A. Gill

You know this already. You do. You see it every day, maybe even more often: that sense of wonder. We try to capture it over and over. Whether it’s depicted in a film, in commercials, or in a book, that feeling, that moment of discovery: that’s the magic.

In the contemporary fantasy/fiction writing, we are all under the influence of giants, standing on the shoulders of Tolkien, Lewis, Carroll, and Poe. And that sense of wonder they found in a wardrobe, down a rabbit hole, on the other side of a mirror, in a hobbit hole; that is what we all seek. That is modern magic.

The surprise in a child’s eyes at a birthday party that moment charms us, pulling at our own memories. When our main character finds a skill they didn’t know they had, or a marvelous item that unlocks a door to a new world, it’s all the same.

Discovering the new, finding the magic: we all search for that definable moment of wonder. It is the core of every journey we take, that hope that we will discover something new. That feeling becomes amplified if mixed with love. Or if it is blended with righteous defending anger. Over and over, we wait to be surprised. And we love those who manage to do just that.

Think about your favorite books and movies. It’s those scenes that pull you in, the ones that mirror the wonder you once felt. A return to innocence, the feeling of rightness in the world, the hero who rushes in regardless of personal cost these are primal human emotions.

These are how we connect with the reader. And how the reader connects with us.

Not everyone searches for the same emotions either, which is why even well written books do not appeal to every reader. As fallible, broken beings, we seek a glimpse into the Greater Good. Wonder. Magic. Surprise.

These are the things worth dying for. The friendships worth saving. Treasure beyond price.

In my novel Flying Away, Iolani Bearse encounters loss after loss. First, her father dies in a faraway war, then her mother in a car accident. Lani sees death up close, blood dripping down her mother’s face. And there is a fly there, in the car. Just like there have been flies on the windowsill of her bedroom where she waited for years for her father to return home.

But now, in Lani’s lowest moment, in the chasm of her grief, watching her mother’s eyes glaze over, shattered by her death the houseflies speak to her. Perhaps this is the first time she really listened. And they show her a magic that the insects have always kept hidden.

You’ve seen flies, zipping in the middle of the air, hovering for no apparent reason? Well, that was just so you wouldn’t see what they can do: flying fast enough they can open a portal to anywhere. If a fly has seen a location, any fly can find it. And Lani needs the houseflies and their magic, far sooner than anyone would have suspected. Because the memory thieves are coming. The green lanterns shine in dark of night, harvesting amino acids and draining away whole families, suburbs, and towns. Only the flies protect Lani. Only Lani sees the Stealers. With their help, one orphan girl can save our broken nation.

Caroline Gill

Caroline A. Gill went to school at UCLA and NIU. She married the love of her life. Facing the world with children made her aware of how vulnerable they are. Weaving tales of courage, she tries to find hope. Living near the great California Redwoods, she finds a sense of the finite and infinite touching. The creative world is like that, especially when authors feel inspired.  She’s the author of Flying Away, a YA dystopian, supernatural paranormal fantasy.


May 24, 2016 | Posted by in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Tuesday Takeover: Secret Ingredient For Writers Listed Below by Caroline A. Gill

Ren: God’s Little Monster – Release Day!


Today is the official release day for Ren: God’s Little Monster, the second book in this series. Here’s an inside secret: this wasn’t supposed to be a series. Ren: The Man Behind the Monster was just a small novel I wrote because readers asked me to. They wanted to know more about this mysterious man who constantly pops up in my novels. And so I wrote the first book. And then the strangest thing happened. I realized I had more to say about Ren. In my head I saw more events that happened to him. That was when I realized that I wasn’t done with Ren Lewis. This is book two out of three for the Ren series. The final book, The Monster Inside the Monster will be released this summer in mid July or August. And then I honestly don’t know what will happen. Will Ren pop up in another series? I can’t say. Honestly, I never planned for this character to follow my books around. It just kind of happened. Maybe it’s that unknowing that makes his appearances so real. Hell, half the time the things he says surprise even me. I guess if that’s the case then he’ll for sure surprise readers.

I’m excited to share this second installment with you all. It’s dark, funny and at times offensive. If that’s your thing, then you’re going to love book three which is all of those things times 10. Thanks for the awesome support. Grab book two here.

May 14, 2016 | Posted by in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Ren: God’s Little Monster – Release Day!