Category Archives: audiobooks

Giveaways!

Hey there!  I mentioned I’d be back with some giveaways today, so here’s 3 🙂  (Contests end Monday, December 12)

Giveaway #1:

Win a signed paperback copy of Vigilante Dead from Goodreads. (For some reason the widget isn’t resolving correctly on the blog, so you’re going to have to click on the link to go to the book’s page on Goodreads. You can enter the contest there. Goodreads will notify the winner.)cover for Vigilante Dead

Giveaway #2:

I’m also giving away the T-shirt pictured (size large) with the book cover on the back (see pics below). Just leave a comment with your email address and I’ll choose a random reader to win! (Must be in US or Canada to receive the book and T-shirt.)

Vigilante Dead tshirt front

Logo on the front (you tend to get double takes wearing this 🙂

Vigilante Dead Tshirt back

Vigilante Dead’s fabulous book cover on the back

Giveaway #3:

So I get to include everybody with an internet connection, regardless of whether you live in the US or elsewhere, I’m also giving away winner’s choice of one of my back list titles in eBook or audio book format. (All of my books are available in audio except Vigilante Dead and A Killing Truth. Cargo  is currently in production and should be available in audio by the end of the month, so you can choose that, if you’d like.) I’ll announce the winners (with the exception of the Goodreads giveaway) on Tuesday, December 13.

Good luck, everybody!


A Little of This, A Little of That…

So I thought I’d save up and share the tidbits that have been happening recently with one post. Yes, it would have probably been better for my stats if I’d parceled out the news, but I find lots of little posts day in and day out pretty annoying on other blogs (who has that kind of time, right?). Since I  don’t want to annoy you guys, I’m not gonna do that here. And, you know, why would I post more than once in a blue moon–don’t want to get TOO
crazy.. 🙂word bank logo

#1: Today I’m being interviewed on the fabulous Jeri WB’s blog. Her questions were thought-provoking and I even share a couple of marketing tips. Jeri’s blog is a treasure-trove of writing and editing tips, so if you haven’t been there yet, why not click on over today and join the conversation?

cover for The Body Market audiobook#2: YAY! The Body Market is available as an audio book! The fantastic Kristi Alsip is back to narrate what has become one of my bestselling thrillers, and again, she totally nails Leine and the other characters. If you’re looking for a suspense-filled listen for your commute or workout or cleaning spree, then this might be just the ticket!

#3: Due to circumstances I was unable to post yesterday, so thought I’d do it now: if you haven’t picked up Serial Date yet, for a limited time it’s still free. Free Kindle Books & Tips included it in their offerings yesterday. There are some awesome books available at this link, including other thrillers, sci-fi and fantasy, but make sure when you click over to download that they’re still free or on sale.

#4: You know I like free, right? Well, for a limited time, I’m giving away the first book in each of my series–all you need to do is sign up fcover for the kate jones thriller series vol. 1 box setor my Readers’ List and you’ll be able to download both Serial Date and The Kate Jones Thriller Series, Vol. 1 (box set of the 1st four novellas in the series) for free! Like I said earlier, Serial Date is  currently gratis on all platforms, so if you’d rather you can go to your favorite retailer and download it there. But the box set isn’t free anywhere else, so if you’d like to give Kate Jones a try, go ahead and give it a whirl. I usually only send a few emails a year–and when I do you can be pretty sure there’s something free happening 🙂 (Plus, if you get tired of me you can unsubscribe.)

That’s all for now. Time for me to go back into my writer cave and continue wrestling the Leine Basso prequel into submission. Have a fantastic week!

 

 


Trick or Treat

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

(Okay, okay, I know it’s not here quite yet, but still….)

Are you ready to listen to some scary stuff? How about win some seriously spooky audiobooks? Well, have I got the event for you…

Come to our virtual Halloween party! Beginning this Friday, October 30, at 4:00pm PST and running through the weekend to the Grand Finale Extravaganza at 4:00pm Pacific time on Sunday, November 1,  a select group of authors has joined forces with me to bring you some amazing stories! Looking for something to read on cold, scary night? Come take a look at these audiobooks. You just might win one of them!

Don’t miss this opportunity! Click this link and join:
Trick or Treat
Trick or Treat Banner

Here’s what to expect:
Friday, October 30th at 4:00pm PST – Sunday, November 1st at 3:00 PST
You’ll read excerpts, listen to voice clips and watch trailers from our books.
Want to increase your chances to win them?
Then like, comment, or share our posts on the event page.
Grand Finale Sunday, November 1st at 4:00 PST
Want to know who won our books, and have spooky scary fun?
Come to our Halloween party!
Haven’t joined us yet? What are you waiting for?
Happy Halloween 1!

Winners will be chosen at random at the Grand Finale on Sunday. Here’s a sneak peek at the fantastic books that will be available:

Janet Morris & Christopher Crosby Morris
 Can’t wait to see you there!

All The News That’s Fit to Print

Cover for CargoWell, it’s official– CARGO, Leine Basso #4, is available for pre-order! (link is to Amazon–other retailers coming soon.) Here’s the description:

Money—the universal merchant. Anyone can be bought, anyone can be sold.

Anyone.

Haunted by memories of an op gone bad, former assassin Leine Basso travels to Bangkok in search of a missing backpacker. With help from an old contact, she discovers the man responsible for the girl’s disappearance is connected to a violent Hong Kong triad and is the linchpin of an extensive trafficking network—both animal and human.

Making enemies isn’t new for Leine, but making one in the triad is—she soon finds herself a prisoner on board a cargo ship headed for sub-Saharan Africa. To ensure her survival and to continue her hunt for the missing girl, she must join forces with Derek, an ivory poacher who promises to help her.

For a price.

As her involvement intensifies, Leine delves deeper into a disturbing and treacherous criminal underworld where everything has a price.

Click here for an excerpt.

CARGO was pretty far outside my comfort zone (so what’s new, right?), but the perfect contact/information appeared each time I needed it–so often, in fact, that it became downright spooky. The book contains a scene that was one of the hardest I’ve ever written and deals with an issue I feel strongly about. I’ll do a post on that (and other interesting factoids I discovered) in the near future.

I’ve also been working with a designer over at Demented Doctor Design (fitting name, right?) to re-brand the Leine Basso series. Here are the new covers:

Serial Date eBook Cover1563x25001563x2500 eBook Cover Bad TraffickeBook Cover 1563x2500 The Body Market Cover for Cargo

 

 

 

 

I wanted a more cohesive feel as well as something instantly recognizable, and I think they nailed it. I absolutely love the model–she reminds me of Leine: cool and classy, and sexy in a slightly intimidating way… 🙂

Only thing, though. You know when you paint a room a different color and all of a sudden the furniture looks out of place? Yeah. When I embarked on changing the covers, I realized my website was looking a little tired and I did a complete overhaul. You can check it out here. It’s a work in progress, but you’ll get the idea. It is now mobile-friendly and I think easier to navigate. Using WordPress.org was a steep learning curve for me since I’d created the old site with Dreamweaver, but I’ve been able to figure out what I needed to, in no small part to the awesome tutorials at StudioPress.

audio book -the body marketSome GREAT news for all you diehard audiobook fans–the fabulous Kristi Alsip has agreed to continue on as the voice of Leine Basso, and will narrate both The Body Market and Cargo. Look for the new titles on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes in the near future.

One last thing. While completing the final edits for CARGO, I got the exciting news that THE BODY MARKET was chosen as a B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree. Whee! The medallion is a much-coveted indie award given out by a groupBRAG Medallion of international readers, and I’m pretty stoked. I’ll be doing an interview with one of their affiliates in August and I’m really looking forward to it.

Well, that’s it for now. In the coming weeks I’ll (hopefully) be back to posting more often. I hope y’all stay tuned! Happy summer 😀


Awesome Authors– Polly Iyer

picture of the authorToday on Awesome Authors I get to interview the lovely and talented Polly Iyer.  As fellow suspense authors, Polly and I have crossed paths through the years and tend to be members of many of the same groups/forums. In that time if there’s one thing I’ve learned about Polly, you definitely know where you stand with her–and believe me, in this biz that’s tres refreshing 😀

Here’s her bio (from the author): Polly Iyer is the author of six suspense novels: Hooked, InSight, Murder Déjà Vu, Threads, and two books–soon to be a third–in the Diana Racine Psychic Suspense series, Mind Games and Goddess of the Moon. Her books contain adult language and situations with characters who sometimes tread ethical lines. She grew up on the Massachusetts coast and studied at Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston. After living in Rome, Italy, Boston, and Atlanta, she now makes her home in the beautiful Piedmont region of South Carolina. She spends her time thinking of ways to make life difficult for her characters. Learn more about her at PollyIyer.com and feel free to email her at PollyIyer at gmail dot com. She loves to hear from her readers.

“The best way for me to develop a character is to become her/him. Really.”

D: Hi Polly! It’s great to have you here. Please tell us something about yourself.

P: Thanks for having me, D.V. I started out as fashion illustrator when department stores actually employed people to draw their ads. I worked for Fairchild Publications out of New England, which included Women’s Wear Daily and W. Then I switched to commercial art when I moved to Atlanta and drew storyboards for television commercials. When my husband and I started an import/design business, I stopped drawing. I’m really not sure artists do what I did back then anymore. Computers have taken over that field. The import business led to a home furnishings store, along with a custom frame shop. So I still worked in the arts. Then the writing bug hit, and goodbye store. I promise this is my last career.

D: Sounds familiar 🙂 Tell us about your latest release in two sentences.cover for threads

P: Threads took 13 years for me to write and publish. It’s about a woman’s worst nightmare.

D: You write in a few different genres, including mystery/suspense and erotica. How difficult is it to switch gears between the different genres? How do you handle writing under a pseudonym as well as your own name (e.g., marketing, fans, etc.)?

P: This is a tough one, because my erotic author persona is the forgotten stepchild. I started out paying attention to her, but after three books I really haven’t promoted her as much as I should. Actually, I kind of let her go. I do have another book half-finished, and I may start bringing her back. She doesn’t feel like me, so that’s a problem. Besides, she’s cuter and younger and makes me jealous.

D: LOL. Why did you decide to “go indie”? What was your road to publication like?

P: I wrote my first erotic romance because I thought it might be a way to break into publishing, though I’d never read the genre. I was right and found two great epublishers for my books while my agent tried to find publishers for a couple of my suspense novels. When that didn’t happen, I decided to publish them myself. It was a good decision, and I’ve never looked back. I now have six books on Amazon with a couple of others on the way.

“Last year, I pulled all my books off Amazon KDP Select and put them with a distributor.”

D: What kind of marketing has worked best for you?

P: I’m really not sure I can pinpoint what works and what doesn’t. I love Facebook for the camaraderie, but I try not to pimp my books unless I have a reason. I don’t like Twitter. I do it, but I don’t like it. Does it work? I have friends who swear by it. Of course, they have 40K followers. That would take too much time for me. Last year, I pulled all my books off Amazon KDP Select and put them with a distributor. That meant my books would be on all the platforms—B&N, Apple, Kobo, etc.—libraries, and foreign wholesalers. I wish I could say that worked, but it didn’t. I gave it a year and feel now that I lost a good bit of revenue by doing that. I went back on Select. I made more on borrows in the first month than I made in any month with the distributor. I offered a couple of free books, and my sales have definitely increased. So that has worked for me better than all the social media, and I didn’t have to do much pushing my books or me down anyone’s throat.

D: I totally get not wanting to force books down people’s throat. Readers don’t like it.

What’s your process like? Do you sit down with an idea and just go with it, or do you plot the story, do character sketches, etc., or something in between?

P: I get an idea and just go with it. I don’t plot, but I know where I want to end up. The best way for me to develop a character is to become her/him. Really. I get into their heads as if I were them. I had wanted to be an actress when I was young, so maybe that’s my way of acting. All I know is it works. I edit as I go because as the story develops, earlier plot points have to be changed, and I’m afraid I’ll forget to do that. I don’t trust myself to do it later. Things come up in my stories that I know I never would have thought of if I’d plotted. I’ve written ten books that way and a few I haven’t finished, so it works for me.

D: As indies, we need to know about every facet of publishing from self-editing to marketing to formatting to cover design to accounting. Which of these do you tackle and which do you hire out, if any?

P: I mentioned self-editing, but when I’m finished, I turn it over to an editor who’s a writer and a grammarian, Ellis Vidler. She’s a critique partner and friend, so we keep in touch on a daily basis anyway, and we’re there for each other when needed. I also have another excellent critique partner, Maggie Toussaint. I don’t know what I’d do without them. I do my own formatting for ebooks and for paperback. I also do all my own covers. After a career in the arts, it’s one way of keeping my tired old hands in the visually creative part of writing. Besides, it’s what I did, and I doubt I’d be happy with anyone else’s vision of my books.

“Most writers starting out, unless they’ve gone through a master’s program, don’t know what they don’t know.”

D: What are you currently working on?

cover for BacklashP: I’m working on the third book of the Diana Racine Psychic Suspense series, Backlash. This one has been especially difficult because I’m a stand-alone writer and love to develop the characters. That’s harder to do as a series progresses, which is why series get tired unless we can find something new to write about the characters. I’m almost finished. It’s also hard to keep the quality up to what readers of the first two books expect. I would hate to disappoint them.

D: Which writers have inspired you?

P: I’ve always been a reader of dark novels. I love Dennis Lehane, James Lee Burke, John Sandford, Karin Slaughter, Mo Hayder, early Robert Ludlum and Tom Clancy, John Grisham, and Robert Crais. For lighter fare, I love some of the writers of the 70s like Sidney Sheldon, Harold Robbins, Leon Uris, and Judith Kranz. They wrote good stories I loved reading.

D: What was the worst advice you ever received about writing? Best?

P: Worst? Write what you know. Why would I? Part of the fun for me is writing what I don’t know. Now if I were an ex-secret agent or an adventurer, maybe I would. But I’m not. I have a good imagination, and I use it. Best advice? Write what I want to write the way I want to write it. I can’t write to the market just to sell books. I don’t play safe, and that’s the way I like it.

“Part of the fun for me is writing what I don’t know.”

D: What advice would you give to writers just starting out?

P: Get readers who will tell you the truth to read your manuscripts. And get an editor. Join groups. Keep up with what’s going on in the publishing business. Most writers starting out, unless they’ve gone through a master’s program, don’t know what they don’t know. I sure didn’t, not that I know everything now.

D: Where do you see yourself in five years?

P: Doing what I’m doing now. This is my most fun career because I can become so many other people.

D: Where do you think publishing is headed?

P: If publishers and Amazon can stop their silly power plays, the future of publishing should embrace both electronic and paper books. I’d like to see new respect to indie authors instead of the distinctions being made that separate us into two camps. I just went to a big conference and was barred from being on a panel because I wasn’t traditionally published. I saw first-time authors on the panels who had no portfolio of reviews and rankings. That should stop, and I hope it does.

D: My sentiments, exactly. Thanks so much for stopping by today, Polly–good luck with Backlash!

P: Again, D.V., thanks for having me. Your questions were fun and made me think.

D: Here’s an excerpt from Polly’s book, Threads:

(Begin EXCERPT:)

The artsy crowd packed the gallery’s opening night. Once inside, Alan grabbed two champagne flutes off the tray of a roaming waiter, giving him the eye and getting one back.

“Half the city’s here. Hey, check out that couple,” he whispered in Miranda’s ear. “I’ll tell you all about those two tomorrow. Scandalous. Clue―that’s not his wife. In fact,” Alan cupped his hand around her ear, “she’s not a she.”

“Huh? You’re kidding.”

“Nope. Oh, there’s Jeffrey. Mind if I go over and thank him for cluing us in on this?”

Miranda waved him on. “I’m a big girl, Alan. I can take care of myself.”

“Be right back.”

She stole another peek at the object of Alan’s gossip―sheesh, who’d’ve thought? After stopping to chat with a few acquaintances, she continued her stroll around the gallery, listening to varying reviews of the art.

The paintings, displayed on white walls with halogen spots, hung in three different abstract groups―figuratives, landscapes, and paintings the art world might describe as “what the fuck.” The artist had wielded his brush with thick, vibrant color, creating an impression of movement and energy. Miranda stood back, sipped her champagne, and squinted at each one. The portraits were easy to distinguish as were the landscapes, but she couldn’t for the life of her define the subject matter of the third category, and their titles didn’t help. Dream #1 was anything but dreamy. More like a nightmare.

“Well, what do you think?” a deep, slightly accented voice from behind her asked. “Do you like them?”

She turned to the tall, exotically handsome man who asked her opinion. He wore his dark brown hair long enough to partially cover a small diamond stud, and his smile revealed unnaturally white teeth. But his most riveting feature was his eyes―black and piercing and intensely focused on her. Heat rose on her face as those same eyes flashed with amusement at the obvious impact he had on her. She couldn’t help herself. The man could have been a movie-star idol.

“I haven’t had a chance to study them all,” she said, “but I like a few.”

“And the others?”

She stood back, deliberating, then faced him square on. “Suck.”

Gorgeous burst out laughing. People turned to see what happened. “I love it. A breath of fresh air.”

“Well, I mean, take that one.” She pointed to a large canvas with a black figure embracing a red figure. “Who are they supposed to be? Fred and Ginger?”

“The black figure is Medea.”

“What’s she doing? Is she―” Miranda stopped when she figured out the action in the painting. She shuddered. “Now I know I don’t like it. The artist―what’s his name, I forgot―must be a whack job.”

“Hmm, could be.”

“Where is he anyway? Point him out.”

A subtle bow accompanied his offered hand. “Stephen Baltraine, at your service,” he said with a playful smile. His gaze remained on her face, exactly where it had been throughout their conversation.

Miranda’s cheeks flamed. “My father always said anyone asking my opinion better be ready for it.” She forced a smile. “I should learn to keep my mouth shut until I know who I’m talking to.”

“I’m just glad you spoke softly.”

“I don’t suppose I could start over and say it’s fabulously frenetic and original, could I?”

He leaned into her. “Not a chance.

(End EXCERPT)

You can find out more about Polly Iyer at her website, on Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and Audible.

 


ACX, Audible, and Audiobooks–Oh, My!

ES-IN17These past few months, I’ve been having a blast producing audiobooks for my novels. I’d been thinking about doing it for a while and can’t remember exactly what the catalyst was now, but I currently have two books available with two more in production, and plans for at least two more by summer. Since I’ve been fielding questions from fellow writers on the process, I thought I’d share some of the tips I’ve learned along the way. (At the end of this post I’m giving away 3 copies each of both audiobooks, so if you’re interested, make sure you stick around—you may just win 🙂 )

Question #1: Which company did you use to make the audiobook?

I used ACX.com, a subsidiary of Amazon and couldn’t be happier with the process. It’s free except for the time commitment and pretty darned easy. The hardest part for me was picking the narrators from all the auditions. My only caveat would be that if you’re looking for that radio mystery theater kind of recording with sound effects and different narrators acting out the voices, you’ll need to use another company. ACX is an exchange that works to bring together narrators and writers to produce straight audiobooks. Usually, this means one narrator per project. On occasion you’ll luck out and get a husband and wife team working together, but one narrator is the norm.

Question #2: How long does it take?

Depends on the narrator. Usually, it will be anywhere from 3-8 weeks. For Serial Date ACX attached a stipend of $100 per finished hour payable by ACX to the narrator, with the requirement that it be completed within 60 days. My narrator, Jim Kilavey, rock and rolled and had it done within 3 weeks. He’d produced several audiobooks previously, so knew the process. Once the book is completed and you approve the recording, ACX does their thing (engineering, quality control). It takes them about 3 weeks to approve the book. Once approved, the book will be available for sale on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes .

Question #3: How do you choose a narrator?
First, you need to provide an audition script, which means you upload an excerpt of your book for narrators to read. Try not to upload too long of an excerpt—five minutes worth is plenty. I made that mistake with Bad Traffick by uploading much too long of an excerpt (didn’t realize it at the time). Even a 5-minute audition requires a lot of work, so keep that in mind. It’s easy to re-upload an edited excerpt, though. And don’t just use the first couple of pages of the book. Find an excerpt that has dialogue between main characters. If you have a lot of action scenes like my books do, include something along those lines, so the producer/narrator can show you how they’ll handle it.

Once you’ve decided on an excerpt and made the book available on ACX, you can search producer (a.k.a. narrator) clips to find the perfect voice and send them a message asking them to audition, or a producer can upload an audition during the audition period if they’re interested in working on the book. If ACX attaches a stipend, you’ll probably receive several auditions. This makes it a bit harder to choose, since many of the producers on ACX are professional voice-over artists. Either way, it’s fun and kinda surreal to hear different interpretations of your work.

Question #4: What if you don’t like the producer’s work? Can you change narrators?

This is where you’ll need to be careful. The contract has a kill-fee stipulation once you’ve approved the first 15 minutes. If you’re doing a royalty-share (more on that later) the kill-fee is $500 plus any expenses incurred by the narrator up to that point. If you’re doing a one-time payment to the producer, then it’s something like 75% of the total the narrator/producer would have received for the completed work. Be sure to work with your producer and make sure you’re completely satisfied with their narration before you approve that first 15 minutes. The producers I’ve used have been easy to work with, so any glitches or mistakes were easily rectified. If either of you don’t like the way it’s playing out (before you approve the first 15), then you’re both free to stop production with no penalties. If that happens, you’ll need to open up production for auditions again.

Question #5: What does it cost? How do you get paid?

I decided to go with the escalating royalty-share (50% to ACX, 25% to me, 25% to the producer for the first 500 units sold. Royalties increase after that). That way, there were no upfront costs other than my time. You can also pay the producer an hourly rate which is typically between $100-200 per finished hour (pay-for-production) and allows you a 50% royalty. For example, if I’d chosen the hourly rate, The Kate Jones Thriller Series, Vol. 1 would have cost between $860-1720 (8.6 hours x $100 or $200). Another reason I did the royalty-share is so that the producer/narrator has an incentive to promote the audiobook.

As for payment, ACX pays monthly via either check or direct deposit (US banks). If you opt for direct deposit, the breakdown of titles sold shows up in the mail a couple of weeks later. And, you don’t have to wait 60 days for payments like you do with Amazon.

All in all, it’s been a lot of fun to hear my books read back to me by professionals.  I’ve gotten emails from readers who prefer audiobooks and are happy to be able to listen to Kate and Leine’s stories while commuting to work, which is the best, most satisfying reason to do this. Another obvious reason is that audiobooks are an added revenue stream in addition to print and e-Books. I’m kicking myself that I didn’t do this when I first heard about ACX.

I’m happy to answer questions, so feel free to leave a comment and I’ll do my best. If I can’t answer it, then at least I can point you in the right direction.

Now, for anyone who would like a chance to win a free audiobook, there are two ways to win:

1.) sign up for my free newsletter (I send out maybe 3 newsletters a year, so no spam, I promise) to be automatically entered to win, or,

2.) leave a comment below with your email address and you’ll be entered that way. You can do both and get your name in the ‘hat’ twice, if you’d like 🙂

I’m giving away 3 copies each of Serial Date and The Kate Jones Thriller Series, Vol. 1 this Saturday (February 8) and will contact the lucky winners by email. Good luck!

***UPDATE: We have winners! I’ve emailed instructions for a free download to djsgcampbell, nadams1291, wegmglan, lizzy79, ransue92, and girltoyjaz! Thanks for playing, everybody 🙂

 


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