Friday, July 29, 2011

YA Indie Carnival - Week Three




Welcome back to week three of the YA Indie Carnival.  The third question being answered by the participating Indie Authors is ‘What made you pursue your chosen genre?’  Take a few minutes to visit our sites, read our responses, and leave us a comment.  We love hearing from you.

This particular topic is timely as it relates to The Warrior Series.  Over the last several months, I’ve noticed a healthy debate between reviewers about Warriors of the Cross and its genre.  It’s been labeled as young adult, paranormal romance, medical fiction, family saga, and Christian fiction.  While I’ve said all along this series transcends genres, the discussion has made me analyze how and why I wrote a story difficult to pigeonhole into one single category. 

In the end, I've decided The Warriors Series' various labels mimic each individual reason I began writing.  For example, I chose paranormal because it allowed me the opportunity to create a world I could control...a world where dying people could be healed with something as simple as touch. 

As a registered nurse, I naturally chose to write a medical fiction which included doctors, nurses, hospitals, and patients.  The realism of healthcare made an impossible power suddenly possible.  The topic allowed me to invent an exceptional power for the main character while creating a woman/doctor who is the perfect role-model for young girls.

I veered toward romance after I realized my teenage daughter LOVED romantic novels.  It was a time when she had begun growing distant.  When she talked about the stories and their characters, she became animated and reverted back to my daughter rather than a stranger.  Our shared love of books reunited us and ignited a friendship.  Before long, we had our own book club.  After I wrote Warriors of the Cross, she critiqued the story and saw we were more alike than we were different. 

Honestly, I’d never even heard of Christian fiction until someone categorized Warriors of the Cross as a book of that genre.  While I understand how the series earned its label, I’m confident it is such a thorough mixture of young adult, paranormal, medical, and Christian fiction that no one thing is overpowering.  In fact, it is the perfect balance of genres, which makes it unlike any other book I’ve ever read.  It is a unique choice in a market saturated with the predictable.

The authors teaming with me and sponsoring this carnival have books that are anything but predictable.  Join me in visiting their sites.

NEXT, take a ride with: 

Dani Snell - Book Blogger
Pattie Larsen - Author

Courtney Cole - Author

Wren Emerson - Author


Nicole Williams - Author


Fisher Amelie - Author


P. J. Hoover - Author
Laura Elliott - Author
Amy Jones Young - Author
Rachel Coles (Rachel Coles. Geek. Mom. Book Reviews.) - Author and Book Blogger
Tiffany King - Author
Cyndi Tefft - Author
Alicia McCalla - Author
Heather Cashman - Author

T. R. Graves - Author(end up back here with me)




Friday, July 22, 2011

YA Indie Carnival - Week Two


Welcome back to week two of the YA Indie Carnival. The topic on the minds of the bloggers/authors sponsoring this adventure is: Why do we read/write Indie? The reason for pursuing the ultimate in DIY projects is personal for each of us. Take a few minutes to visit our sites (listed below) and understand why we are following this unique path.

As for me, I’d never even heard of Indie publishing before this year. I - like most people -thought the only path for authors was that of traditional publishing. With that assumption, I sent Warriors of the Cross to a hand full of literary agents. Each query got declined quickly.  It was as if the process were automated. The most disappointing part of the impersonal rejection was the lack of guidance. There were no recommendations for improving the book or suggestions for increasing the book's marketability. Left on my own, I had to trust my instinct.

While writing Warriors of the Cross, I happened upon Createspace. With my discovery, I realized there may be other options. A few months later, I bought Switched by Amanda Hocking and found it was published through Smashwords. I instantly knew there were other options.

Going ‘down the Indie Author rabbit hole’, I received a warm welcome from passionate readers, talented graphic designers, selfless reviewers, and fellow authors. It was the world I craved. These people became the mentors I’d been in search of.

After being unconditionally accepted, I made an Indie commitment to give back more than I took. With my first book, I knew I would need a lot (feedback/word-of-mouth/patience).  I, balancing that out, listed Warriors of the Cross for FREE for most of June/July. During that time, 30,000+ books were downloaded and the overall ratings on both Amazon and Goodreads continues to average 4 stars (****).

The bottom line is that with Indie, I have met goals that I never thought possible. Interesting enough, my most important successes have almost nothing to do with the number of books downloaded or the book's ratings. Instead, they reside within the wonderful people I have met ‘virtually’...the symbols of this movement. Perfect examples of these representatives include the authors/bloggers who are hosting this brilliant YA Indie Carnival.

NEXT, take a ride with: 
 Dani Snell - Book Blogger
Pattie Larsen - Author
Courtney Cole - Author
Wren Emerson - Author
Nicole Williams - Author
Fisher Amelie - Author
P. J. Hoover - Author
Laura Elliott - Author
Amy Jones Young - Author
Rachel Coles (Rachel Coles. Geek. Mom. Book Reviews.) - Author and Book Blogger
Tiffany King - Author
Cyndi Tefft - Author
T. R. Graves - Author (end up back here with me)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Welcome To Our YA Indie Carnival!


Welcome to just one of twelve Friday posts about all things YA Indie* for authors, readers and reviewers. I have joined forces with a group of YA Indies who will be posting on the same theme each Friday. Binge on all the cotton candy and popcorn you want and get set for a thrilling ride! At today's carnival, we want to know who you are (feel free to leave comments on any or all sites) while we share a little bit about ourselves.

I, per my many online profiles, am the debut author of The Warrior Series, a mother, a wife, and an RN for a non-profit hospital (no necessarily in that order).  I probably should be a writer of medical thrillers.  Instead, I write paranormal romance.  I began Warriors of the Cross after deciding I needed a place - even if only fiction - where the miracle to save the dying was possible.  The nurse in me couldn’t imagine a more perfect power to possess.  As strange as it sounds, my inspiration for the series came from the grief of others.  I’ll never forget what it’s like to look into the eyes of parents and have to tell them our best was not good enough.  In The Warrior Series, Allison La Crosse has the mystical ability to rescue patients with her touch, saving family members from incomprehensible sorrow.  Without a moment’s hesitation, I can say The Warrior Series is the world where I wished I lived.

NEXT, take a ride with:

Dani Snell - Book Blogger
Pattie Larsen - Author
Courtney Cole - Author
Wren Emerson - Author 
Nicole Williams - Author 
Fisher Amelie - Author 
M. Leighton - Author 
Laura Elliott - Author
Tiffany King - Author
Cyndi Tefft - Author
T. R. Graves - Author (end up back here with me)

*Dani Snell did such a great job of explaining Indie in her 7/13/11 post that I thought I would re-post it here:

Indie authors are those who have chosen to publish their written works independently of a traditional publisher or agent. The authors own their own works, set their own prices, and are responsible for all the management or out-sourcing on the back end such as promotions, networking, web and cover design, editing, formatting and listing their books, tracking their sales, etc. It’s really a revolutionary idea that’s taken off in recent years, especially with the advent of the e-book. Being an author isn’t such an unreachable goal nowadays, because with the right combo of the above, you can make your dreams of being published a reality.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Giving Perspective To Reviews/Ratings

Finally, I have created T. R. Graves’ Facebook Fan Page. It took a lot of work, but it's published and ready for people to 'LIKE'.  After you 'LIKE' the page, you will automatically be directed to the profile page…unless you specifically click on My Site or Wix Site under the profile picture. Even though the interactive tool is the default for non-FANS, Facebook will not let the page become the default for FANS.  Oh well!


For months, I’ve persevered and sent a friend request to every person adding Warriors of the Cross as ‘to-read’ on Goodreads.  My goal was to see if the book was good enough to make it through an unfiltered review system.  Even with the toughest critics, Warriors of the Cross has held its own (50+ reviews with an average 4+ rating).  For that I’m proud.

I’ve shared a few of the positive reviews bestowed upon Warriors of the Cross by fans/followers of the series.  I’m still humbled every time I get one.  Perplexing to me is the less than positive ratings the book has received.  I know…I know…every person who has ever published a word has had their share of critics.  Believe it or not, I’m not one of those psychotic authors insisting everyone in the world must love my writing.  Instead, I’m trying to understand what about the book requires improving.

I began my research by reaching out to a woman who rated Warriors of the Cross with one star.  Basically, she said ‘the genre was not one which interested her.’  With her response, I began researching the ratings of other books as assigned by the very readers giving Warriors of the Cross three, two, and (GASP!) one stars.

After some aggressive investigation, I found these people definitely have favorite genres…and - not surprisingly - Warriors of the Cross did not fall within their preferred.  Even more interesting, I found these same individuals rated some of the best books of all time with one, two, and three stars.  Hm?

The readers who rated Warriors of the Cross with one star also rated the following books with one star:  Catcher in the Rye, Breaking Dawn, and Witch and Wizard.  One of these reviewers rated the entire Twilight Series with two stars (The Twilight Series…two stars...REALLY!).

The booklovers who rated Warriors of the Cross with two stars also rated the following books with two stars:  Lovely Bones, 1984, Da Vinci Code, The Hours, The Accidental Tourist, Eat, Pray, Love, Untamed, The Great Gatsby, Gone with the Wind, and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.  These same people rated most of the House of the Nights Series and the Wicked Lovely Series with three stars (How could that be!).  Actually, several of the people obviously favored steampunk and erotica.  To that, I can honestly say ‘Warriors of the Cross will never meet the needs or expectations of anyone whose passions are those two genres.’

The people who rated Warriors of the Cross with three stars also rated the following books with three stars:  Confessions of a Shopaholic, The Tales of Beedle the Bard, Wuthering Heights, Time Traveler’s Wife, Frostbite, Blue Moon, City of Bones (What the heck?), Evermore, The Host, Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn, The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbitt, I Am Number Four, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Golden Compass, Mockingjay, and Pride and Prejudice.

After analyzing these ratings and finding Warriors of the Cross in such GREAT company, I found some perspective.  Suddenly, these reviews were palatable (if that was possible).  It also proved the importance of knowing yourself…understanding your reading references…and sticking to them.  If something doesn’t appear to be your ‘cup of tea’ , you should keep searching.  There are thousands of books and authors available from every genre imaginable, which means there’s something for everyone. 
 
Updates:
Here are my new Goodreads fans:  Nina, Jenn, Dana, M., Ms L, Misty, Gloria, ElisandraTarra, and Amber.  I would like to thank my Goodreads friends for their five (*****) star reviews: Erna, Gloria, and Deborakb,....and my Goodreads friends, CathlinJknick, and Tara, for their four (****) star ratings.   

Last but not least, I want to thank my latest 'virtual' angel and Facebook friend, Taneesha C. Freidus (who is also a Goodreads Librarian).  She helped me get the Guardians of the Cross page created.  Take a look and let me know what you think.

Friday, July 1, 2011

“Life Imitates Art…"

I’ve spent the last week sitting on Galveston’s beautiful beach aggressively touching up Guardians of the Cross.  As such, I have been reading (and rereading) the Prologue which details Clark’s drowning when he was three years old. 

Having worked for several years in a pediatric intensive care unit on Galveston Island, I realize there are many drowning victims during the summer.  I also know (have witnessed) the overwhelming grief and unimaginable guilt the victim’s family suffers.  While drownings occur, I have NEVER witnessed one in all my years at the Galveston/Bolivar beaches.  At least…not until this week.

On one of my days at the beach, I was lying back, enjoying the sunny day, sea breeze, and family time when - strangely - an ambulance, police car, and lifeguard truck zoomed past our beach site.  I watched the emergency vehicles until they come to a stop about a quarter of a mile away from where my family was body surfing and inner tube floating through turbulent waves. 

I decided there was nothing I could offer to the situation since the professionals were on the scene.  Instead, I prayed.  I prayed the person (man, woman, or child) would survive.  I prayed for speed and endurance for the wonderful people rushing to get this victim to the hospital.  I prayed for wisdom and compassion for the doctors and nurses who would eventually be the person’s caretakers.  Most of all, I prayed for mercy and support for the family in their time of need. 

Minutes later, the ambulance sped back past our little piece of the beach.  Seconds later, a life-flight helicopter flew overhead and landed near the beach in order to take the person to the nearest emergency room as quickly as possible.

Again, I had just been editing a scene eerily similar to the one I was suddenly witnessing.  It was surreal.  It was terrifying.

I may never know the outcome of this incident, but I do know I will forever contend that having the ability to heal would be one of the most useful powers of all time.  I would have given ANYTHING to have been able to intervene and save this person with nothing more than the merging of our souls. 


Important Announcement:
The Book Giveaway For Warriors Of The Cross (The Warriors, #1) was a success.  There were 1,326 people who entered and five winners (Jenny, Karin, DM, Sandra, and Ricia) selected.

Here are my new Goodreads fans:  Scott (an author), Jessica, Christy (2), Kim, Tracey, and Dabs.  I would also like to thank my Goodreads friends for their five (*****) star reviews: Dabs, Christy (2), Roseycortes, and Chasitylynn....and my Goodreads friends for their four (****) star ratings: Sarah, Ronna, Anna, Shari, Kyra Gates (an author), Bryn, Shelley, Pam, Unknown, Jellyn, Sarah, Miss Reviewer, and Shever.

Finally, I want to thank Tamara Blodgett for interviewing me and supporting me.  I know I keep gushing about 'virtual' angels.  She definitely qualifies as one.  Take a few minutes to visit her site, read my interview, and get to know her by participating in the Death Whispers Virtual Book Tour Giveaway.  Tamara is kind and deserves great things.