There and back again. No, this isn’t about Lord of the Rings.

As always, I view ramblings like this as ‘it’s my blog and I can post what I want to.’  I try never to get too personal, but sometimes you just have to get it out of your system, so that’s what I’m hoping this blog post can accomplish.  I try to hold myself in a very professional spotlight when it comes to my writing, but I feel like I’m letting people down if I hide particular things from them.  You won’t get the full story, but you’ll get enough.

I am nothing short of a daydreamer.  For as far back as I can remember, I have always had this idea that one day I would write the ultimate novel and everyone in the world would know my name.  Now, mind you, that was the dream of a little girl who fully believed the sky was the limit and anything is possible.  Of course I still believe that and I probably always will.  When I made the decision to hit publish in 2011, I honestly had no idea how this would turn out for me.  The road has been full of bumps and zings and near-death experiences when I get too close to the edge of the road, or someone purposefully bumps into me in hopes of knocking me off.

You should know it isn’t that easy.  Now I realize everyone has hardships and we’ve all been given mountains to climb during our lives, but I’m a firm believer in what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

I’m sure some of you have noticed my rants and ravings over the past week.  There have been a few close-calls in which I absolutely wanted to throw in the towel and give up.  I wanted to walk away and be done with everything…even life.

Depression isn’t an easy thing to talk about and anyone who’s dealt with it can vouch for that.  It’s a horrible, terrible darkness that will do anything it can to drag you down.  Depression is a heavy blanket of sadness and overwhelming grief, and sometimes I wonder what I ever did to deserve it.

This is not a post I am writing to get pity, so don’t think that.  I’m well aware that a few people have pulled out the depression card as a way of getting people to feel sorry for them and boost their sales-I don’t want that.  I don’t need anyone to do that because my books speak for themselves.  They need no help from me.

When I was 13, I was diagnosed with depression after one of my childhood friends died in a car accident.  She was my first experience with death and she would not be the last.  I’ve seen so much death in my 28 years of life on this planet and I’ve somehow become desensitized because of it.  Yes, it still hurts.  Yes, I still grieve….but losing that one friend was earth-shattering enough to tear out a piece of my innocence I’ll never get back.  From that moment forward, my life changed in a lot of ways and I gained a new enemy; Depression.

Sometimes it doesn’t take anything for me to shut out the world.  Sometimes I can be happy-go-lucky and all of the sudden the sun disappears.  The dark clouds roll in and I just know what’s coming.  I try to stop it. Sometimes I succeed; sometimes I don’t.  I have made my share of mistakes and for those, I am incredibly sorry.  I hope the people I’ve hurt in the process know that.  I would never, ever intentionally hurt anyone.

I have been hurt by people I trusted with my life and it sucks.  As human beings, we really put ourselves out there when we let people in.  It’s hard to let your guard down because you just never know what someone will do once you become vulnerable to them.  It’s terrifying.

When I release a new book, I often feel terrified that no one will like it….but when it comes to my life and my heart, nothing will ever make me more afraid than allowing someone into that tiny part of myself where I can actually be hurt.

Depression is a succubus that will drain you dry of everything you’ve got.  It’s a dementor.

Depression is an asshole.

I keep fighting though.  I have to.  I remind myself that I have a niece and nephew who love me.  I have family who would be sad to lose me.  I have friends who would mourn me and wonder what they could’ve done to make things different.  I have readers who will message me just to let me know they’re here for me.  For that, for all of you, I am grateful.  I can’t thank you enough for what you do for me.  You have no idea just how bright of a light you become when my world gets dark.  When things threaten to turn ugly, you make it beautiful again.

^This is the face of a warrior.  Every day is a battle even if I don’t voice it.  Some days are good.  Some days are wonderful.  Some days suck.  But the most important thing about every day is that I am still alive.  I still get to do what I love most.  Writing isn’t just how I make a living.  It’s what keeps me living, aside from my family and loved ones.

Like I said, this is not a post in which I am looking for pity or sympathy from anyone.  I simply needed to get it off my chest because the last week has been hell for me.  It’s slowly getting better and I pray that I stay on that course.  

Here’s to hoping that I can get a book finished sometime soon. My poor characters have suffered through this with me and they never deserved that.  

If you suffer from depression, I sincerely hope that you have beacons of light in your life, too.  If you don’t then please come talk to me.  I’d love nothing more than to grab a flashlight and keep the darkness at bay.

Don’t let anyone or anything snuff out your light. 

The [Indie] Reader Survey

First, have some Zack Morris just because.

Well I feel better now.

So I did a survey over the last two days because I was genuinely interested in finding out how readers feel about indie authors and the books we write.  I did not mention that it was about indie authors, per se, but I did include a question that allowed readers to say exactly how they feel about us crazy indie authors.  I wanted to dig into their minds to see what they like and don’t like.  111 readers took my survey (thank you!) and these are the results: 

Question 1: How many books do you read per month? 

45% responded with 4-10 books per month. 34% read 10-20 per month.  21% only read 1-3 per month.

Question 2: What genres do you enjoy reading the most?

Here are the responses by rank:

1) Paranormal Romance

2) Erotica

3) Contemporary Romance

4) Fantasy Romance

5) Adult

6) Young Adult

7) New Adult

8) Suspense

9) Mystery

10) Horror

11) Other 

Question 3: Which do you prefer? (Word count)

59% of readers prefer 50-100k stories.

31% of readers prefer 100k+ stories.

Only 7% prefer 10-20k stories.

Question 4: Do you enjoy M/M romance novels? 

51% of readers said yes.

Question 5: Do you enjoy F/F romance novels?

59% of readers said no.

Question 6: Do you enjoy books that feature M/M/F or M/F/M love triangles?

78% of readers said yes.

Question 7: What kind of sex scenes do you prefer in a novel? 

60% of readers really seem to enjoy the naughty bits we include in our stories.  Only 3% said they prefer fade-to-black sex scenes. 

Question 8: Cliffhangers.  How do you feel about them?

39% of the readers who took this survey said they HATE cliffhangers.  I guess that means I’m in trouble, eh? 33% responded with being indifferent about them, but someone did suggest I should’ve listed an option of “It depends on the book”, with which I agree. 

Question 9: What components in a novel turn you off?

I was VERY interested in this particular question because there are a variety of things that bother me in a book.  The responses are listed by rank below: 

1) Incest-69%

2) Graphic rape scenes-59%

3) Graphic abuse-43%

4) A Mary-Sue female lead-29%

5) Too many sex scenes-28%

6) Overly-aggressive and possessive males-19%

7) Other-12% (Please feel free to comment on the blog post and tell me what the ‘other’ is. I’m very curious.)

8) Not enough sex scenes- 9%

Question 10: If a novel by an indie author contained a few spelling errors, would you still read it?

56% of readers responded with Yes.  We’re all humans and make mistakes.

Only 6% said no.

Question 11: Do you judge a book by its cover?

51% said yes.

Question 12: Do you leave reviews for books once you’ve finished reading them?

43% of readers said they always leave reviews.

Only 2% said they don’t.

Question 13: Probably my favorite question-  How do you feel about indie authors?

“If it wasn’t for facebook and my kindle I wouldn’t know what an Indie Author is. I am a fan of many. I admire their work and their interaction with their fans. I read several articles on Indie Authors and commend each of you.”

“Love them!!!!!”

“I have been fortunate to find some great new authors thanks to Indie publishing. I am always open to trying new authors in the genres that I read.”

“Love them, I have more Indie books than any other.”

“I love indie authors, because they are still down to earth they write great stories and still connect with their readers. I know they work hard and put a lot of time and money into what they do and they completely have my respect!”

“Love indie authors. They’re much nicer to talk to. I know a few who have switched to publishers but because they started out indie they still are humble.”

“I like them since they can write and publish what and when they want.”

“I love Indie authors. I find most all of them to be very humble people and personable. They want to know what their readers want and do their best to deliver.”

“Love them. Everyone starts somewhere. You almost feel like a small part of their world. Big authors don’t have a clue who their fans are.”

“Indie authors are great! As for the editing mistakes, a couple are acceptable and all books need to be professionally edited and NOT by the author. M/M is so boring to me. M/F/M also kind of boring, just never read one worth my time. Sex scenes are great as long as they are written realistically. I hate homemade looking covers and boring, bland covers. I have found if the cover is boring so is the story.”

“I love and admire indie authors. I think indie authors completely changed the game of publishing. Now they don’t have to give their hard work away to a huge company that only cares about money. Indie authors are awesome and I fully support them!”

“They’re ok.”

“Like giving them a chance to do their best.”

“Here’s the truth I was reading indie authors before I knew they were indie authors and loving them. I’d say I read 90% indie authors.”

<3

“I believe it is a wonderful opportunity for very creative individuals to share their works when they might not have otherwise had an opportunity due to the bureaucracy of the publishing industry.”

“I find the indie community to be full of talented individuals with incredible stories to tell. There are varying degrees of talent and polish, but each has a distinct voice that may not have been heard any other way. I have enjoyed my interactions with the authors I’ve met on FB and in person – it’s a wonderful community of which I’m proud to be a part!”

“I love indie authors!! The fact that indie author pretty much do it all by themselves is inspiring to me.”

“I love indie authors. I love alpha male books.. But I’d love to see more kick ass female characters too.”

“Love indie Authors they seem to be more personal. You have more of a chance to get to know them.”

This survey was taken by mostly readers, but several authors/readers also offered their input which I am grateful for.  Most readers who took this survey were between the ages of 31-40 and were female.  We had readers from USA, ENGLAND, IRELAND, GREECE, GERMANY, AUSTRALIA, and BELGIUM take part.  Thank you SO much for your feedback.

This was only a survey of curiosity.  For all my indie authors that may read this, you can do what you will with this information, but remember to stay true to yourself no matter what.  

 

Interview with the Indie Writer #6: Melaina Rayne

Please join me in welcoming author Melaina Rayne.  She is 35 and lives in New Mexico!

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Describe yourself in three sentences.

I’m kind of an introvert. Those who know me personally would label me a hermit. J It’s true, but it’s because I just have so much in my head that I want on paper so I can share it with others.

For you, what is the hardest part about writing in your genre?

Individuality. Almost everything out there has been done and redone. I have some unique ideas coming though.

What is your favorite pass time when you’re not writing?

When I just need to clear my head and relax, I usually chill with my neighbors and have some drinks.

Is writing something you consider a great passion or is it just a hobby?

Definitely a huge passion. I live in my stories as I write them. My writing style is still evolving, but my ultimate goal is for readers to feel like they are a part of the stories as they read them.

In your opinion, what is the best way to promote your work?

Facebook has been my biggest platform.

Are you an independent author or are you traditionally published?

Independent but hoping to get an agent one day and have my books published through a major publishing house.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

I read something earlier in the year about an author who quit writing and even refused to publish her work because of online bullying. Even though her book wasn’t out yet, people were saying that she was a terrible author, and it ruined her emotionally. That’s just sad to me. If writing is your passion, don’t ever let anyone discourage you or beat you down. Not everyone will like your writing, but as long as you stay true to your vision, that’s all that matters. To hell with asshats who just want to be negative and try to make others feel miserable. Just do what you love.

How do you feel about your family and close friends reading your work?

I don’t mind. There are a couple of them that it might be awkward to talk about the books with, but hey, we’re all adults…for the most part. J

How do you overcome writer’s block?

Reading…Writer’s block for me usually happens when I’m over-thinking things. Having someone to talk things out with usually helps me move past the block. But when it doesn’t, I usually just have to take a break from writing and read a book to escape my overactive mind.

Do you get easily attached to your characters?

Yes. Very. I’m always eager to get their story done so I can share them with others, but I’m always sad when it’s over.

Do you base your characters on people you know?

Not usually, but sometimes certain characteristics make appearances. I do have a side project that some of my Facebook friends helped out with. It’s a sexual fantasy anthology. They told me their secret fantasies (some in very deep detail) and it is going to be so much fun writing them. I’ve started on a couple of them, and…yeah. Fun.

What inspired you to write your first book?

My first book started as a dream. It was so vivid and for days I couldn’t get it out of my head. My sister and my husband convinced me to write it down and it eventually just turned into this huge story. Now it’s part of a series with more than 15 stories waiting to be written.

At what age did you finally say to yourself, “This is it. I want to be a writer.”

I was 30.

How long does it typically take for you to finish writing a book?

Oh gosh. I couldn’t tell you. Every one of them is different. I have some I’ve started but only work on when the need hits me, but my first published book took me three years…ish. The second in that series was started around the same time but it took me an extra six months or so. I have yet to start a book and work nonstop on just that book though. Maybe my next one will be constant.

If you had to put the main protagonist of your book against Lord Voldemort, who would win?

I’m almost ashamed to say, I don’t know much about Voldemort. Almost. But I’d like to say he’d quiver at just the sight of the man in my current book. lol. I know I would. Just in a different way.

Do you prefer to write in a notebook or type on a computer?

Computer. I started with a notebook, but now I just use paper for notes. I have binders and binders of notes.

How many flash drives do you own?

Haha. I’ve broken too many to count. Now I use an external hard drive. And I even broke one of those. I think I have a problem.

What is something you MUST have to keep your writing mojo strong?

My husband. Enough said. Oh, and my insider. Without the two of them to talk me through my ‘stuck’ spots, I’d go insane.

If you could bring one of your characters to life, who would it be and why?

I’m gonna say Gavril. And I know most of my followers will agree on that one. Gavril is a berserker. A big yummy berserker. Just imagine Khal Drogo meets Conan the Barbarian. Obviously, Jason Momoa was the inspiration behind his character.

Do you have a dream cast for your novels?

No. Aside from Mr. Momoa, I don’t think anyone would ever live up to how I see my characters. Except for maybe David Gandy…or Nathan Kamp or Victor Webster.

Can you tell us about what you’re currently working on or any future works you have planned?

Future works? Sure. The next book I’m gonna write is #3 in the Jagara series I’m self-publishing. It’s Zavier’s story. It’s going to be heart-wrenching. His mate disappeared four years ago and he’s never gotten over it. His young daughter is what has kept him sane. I’m not gonna say much else, but I will say that he does find love again, just not where he expects.

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You can find Melaina on AMAZON, FACEBOOK, TWITTER, GOODREADS, and her WEBSITE.

You can also read a sample chapter of Lost Zendori HERE.

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And a sample of The Cherished One HERE.

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Thank you so much for taking the time do to an interview with us, Melaina! I wish you the very best in the future. xx

 

Ridener Reviews: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Review:

I received this book as a gift from a friend, for which I am grateful, because I DO love to read. Plus, you toss in an attractive Scottish man and I’m all there. I was really wanting to watch the TV show, but since I could not, my friend reminded me that I did indeed have the first book on my kindle. I decided to dive in and well, I did not emerge for 9 hours. I do believe Diana Gabaldon is a very gifted and talented writer, but this book was definitely not for me.

I did very much like Jamie for the most part. I think he was a spicy character with passion and heart, but there are things I cannot forgive him for. Yes, I do understand that it was accurate for the time period, but I do not enjoy a man trying to convince a woman she DESERVES to be beaten. That turned my stomach and not in a good way. I wasn’t very fond of Claire at all. She was too bland. Something was missing. She needed something more, but I still can’t pinpoint it.

I am trying to write this review without giving any SPOILERS. I am a firm believer in thinking you either read the books or watch the show. One will never be like the other. I really, honest to goodness hope the show is not like the book. I will not mention what happened that affected me so badly, but I didn’t like it at all. Maybe I’m just too keen with my happily ever afters. Don’t get me wrong, I can handle a lot of things that happen in stories and I fully respect fellow authors on what they feel deserves to be added into their books…..but I just can’t move past what I read and the series has been ruined for me.

I rarely give less than 4 stars for stories and I can see this author is favored by many, but I cannot give more than 3 because this book affected me in a very bad way. Some book hangovers aren’t good.

All in all……

It’s 3:36 in the morning and I’m making a blog post. Not even surprised.

The past few days have seemingly been a blur for me.  I can’t be sure if it’s stress, or craziness, or just for the fact I’ve been busy outside of my usual worlds, but for some reason I can’t recall too much of the past week. 

I often have a lot of things on my mind.  It’s usually storylines, characters, and what I can do to turn their lives upside down for a while….but this is one of those instances in which I can simply think about me and the future.  As I have said, like a broken record, for a long time now, writing has always been my greatest passion and it brings me so much joy.  I love writing stories and sharing them with everyone.  A lot of people love my stories and I love them for that, but even with recent successes I still have my doubts.

I think it’s only natural that we all have doubts at some point in time.  Like, sometimes I wonder if I will ever be a name people recognize.  Will my stories become something that people instantly recognize when spoken of?  Perhaps not, or maybe they will.  Will I ever truly become a bestseller like so many of my friends?  Who knows.  That’s not for me to know at this time.  I always tell myself that if I just keep working at it, I can accomplish anything.  The sky’s the limit, right?

I’ve had a lot of people attempt to ground me in the past.  A high school guidance counselor who told me I wasn’t smart enough for college; battling depression on more than one occasion and almost losing my life over it; and being anchored down in a scandal that nearly tore my world apart.  All of this has happened and I’ve miraculously survived.

Why is that?  What is it that’s given me the drive for all these years?  What made me so incredibly strong, that no matter how great the heartache I can still get out of bed in the morning and smile?

Mind you, I don’t always feel like smiling.  There are some days, or weeks, in which I’m pretty content with staying in bed…..but I still find that motivation to keep pushing forward, to keep chasing my dreams until I manage to tackle the bastards and take what I feel is so rightfully mine.

I do have faith in myself.  I do love myself.  I do believe that I’ve got a gift and I’m meant to share it with people.  I can’t even begin to express my gratitude to the 3,030 likes I have on my fanpage.  The reviews that have come in for my books, good and bad, mean so much to me.  The people who are always standing by, ready and willing to help me up if I stumble….there just aren’t words to express my gratitude.

I am thankful that I can pay bills and buy food with my writing now.  I am beyond thrilled that my sales have gone up into the double digits, and sometimes the triple digits. But I do not do this for the money, you know.  I didn’t hit publish in hopes of becoming rich.  I did it to share my stories, my worlds, and my characters that I love so much.  I am happy that people are always asking when the next book will be out-it means they like what I have to say.

But then I have these days…in which no words are written on a word document.  I have days when the story is there, but I can’t bring myself to transfer it to my computer, or a notebook for that matter.  It’s an off day, and I hate that.  This has been an off week and I don’t know why.

I don’t like it–I can tell you that much.  I know that I have much to do and little time to do it in.  Soon enough my time will be dedicated to bringing Christmas joy to hundreds, possibly thousands of children.   I keep hoping that whatever wall I’ve hit will tumble down soon so I can at least finish one project.  I don’t like how it makes me feel when I’m unproductive.

At this point I am only rambling, but as I always say, if I cannot express my feelings here….then where?

I suppose I just needed to get some thoughts out somewhere, so you, my readers, get to witness this rare rant/rambling.

I’m stuck and it sucks, but hopefully I can bring you a new story soon. xx

Thank you for being on this journey with me. <3

COVER REVEAL- His Frozen Heart by Nancy Straight

 

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Details:

Title: His Frozen Heart

Author: Nancy Straight

Genre: Suspenseful Romance

Release Date: November 2014

 

Synopsis:

 

For best friends, Candy and Libby, money is tight with hardly enough to cover their living expenses. When they are desperate for grocery money, the girls bet on their pool playing skills to add to their income.

A simple wager on a quiet winter evening has devastating results, with a stalker determined to kill them both. With Libby in the hospital after a vicious attack, and Candy being pursued by the same stalker, she vows to find Libby’s attacker.

What she finds is Dave, an old friend with a secret past filled with misfortune. Will Dave’s past provide the answer to all of Candy’s problems or will it become Candy’s worst nightmare realized?

 

Pre-Order Links:

 Get it HERE.

(Presale price is .99. After the publish date it will be $3.99!)

About the Author:

Nancy was born in Sioux City Iowa, left the cold of the Midwest in 1991 and only returns to see family in the summer time. She spent ten years traveling the world as a US Marine and settled in rural SC with her husband and two children.

 

She enjoys reading all types of Paranormal and Young Adult literature.

 

Author Links:

Website:

 

GoodReads:

 

Twitter:

 

Facebook:

 

 

Check out Nancy’s other series!

 

Destiny Series

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Meeting Destiny: (FREE)

Amazon:

B&N:

 

Destiny’s Revenge:

Amazon:

 

Destiny’s Wrath:

Amazon:

B&N:

 

 

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Touched Series

 

 

Blood Debt: (FREE)

Amazon:

 

Centaur Legacy:

Amazon:

 

Centaur Rivalry:

Amazon:

 

Centaur Redemption:

Amazon:

B&N:

And so the countdown begins….

Anyone who knows me knows that from November 1st until January 5th, I’m virtually in another world.  I’m not even exaggerating on that.  Once RANDOM ACTS OF CHRISTMAS opens its doors, that’s all she wrote.  

While it is a charity and we help out families in need, it becomes a full time job for me.  From the moment I wake up until the moment I go to bed, I’m completely engaged with what’s happening on Reddit, in our spreadsheets, and on Amazon.  If you can imagine what it would be like to work as an elf in Santa’s workshop, then you can pretty much envision me during the coming months.  It’s nonstop action, drama, excitement, tears, and hard work.

Now, on November 1st, something else also starts.  NaNoWriMo, followed shortly by my birthday on the 5th.

Some may call me crazy for taking on so much at once…but it gets better.

Giftapalooza starts on the 14th, followed shortly by THANKSGIVING.

“My God, Tonya.  Are you mad?”

Oh, just a smidge.  Only a tiny bit.

I have been trying to finish up a few books before November rolls around, but at this point I’m not sure that’s going to happen.  I can’t force my stories to come out, so now I must wait patiently.  I have debated on keeping myself from writing after November arrives….but I don’t want to miss out on NaNoWRiMo either.

Decisions, decisions….

Anyway.  According to my calculations, Christmas will arrive in 126 days.  November 1st will be here sooner than we realize.  I’m ready to reunite with my fellow elves and get everything situated for our 4th year running and I am keeping my fingers crossed that things will run smoothly.  (So long as Rudolph behaves, that troublemaker.) 

Wish me luck!