Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket: An Article by Author Hadena James

Hadena James:

A guest article I wrote for friend and fellow author Susan Finlay’s blog on Writing & Publishing.

Originally posted on Susan Finlay Writes:

I often hear from people who want to write a book but don’t know how or where to begin. Or from people who have already written a book that’s ready for publication but don’t know how to get it published. I recently began a new blog series, Writing and Publishing Tips From Authors Around the World, to help writers.

hadena james
The twenty-second contributor is U.S. author Hadena James with her article about the importance of diversifying. Hadena has written and published sixteen books in four series.

Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket by Hadena James

I always want to ask authors why?!? Why are you publishing only to Amazon? The truth is you’ll make a whole lot more if you diversify than if you are a KDP Select author.

The problem is Select sounds great, but it fails to live up to the hype, unless you manage to hold…

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Draft2Digital v. Smashwords

Some time ago, I noticed that neither Tortured Dreams nor Elysium Dreams was available on Kobo.  They carry books 3-8 of the Dreams & Reality novels, but not 1 and 2… a problem to be sure.  I contacted Kobo.  They informed me the books had been flagged as a violation of their terms.  I asked why, they said the books were marked as having graphic adult content.  Now, I know that my books aren’t for the faint of heart, but Kobo allows more graphic books on their site.  The next question was “how to fix it”… They told me to contact Smashwords, since the flag had been applied by Smashwords.  Long story short, Smashwords told me to contact Kobo, because the books were not flagged. Kobo sent me back to Smashwords and the vicious cycle continued.

Then there was a problem with Dark Illumination.  After two weeks, it finally got sorted, but during that time, I moved Dark Illumination to distribution through Draft2Digital.

However, the entire sequence of events, got me thinking.  I uploaded Tortured and Elysium into Draft2Digital specifically marking that I wanted to make them available to Kobo.  The books passed the censor test and are now available.

Then I got to looking at my books on Inktera (Page Foundry).  I’ve never sold a book on the site before, which was kind of curious because I sell on all the other sites.  My Inktera books were rough… the formatting was strange, the table of contents didn’t work, and a preview proved that the book wasn’t worth buying.  So, I uploaded all my books to Draft2Digital and marked them to be distributed to Page Foundry.

Within the first reporting session, I had sold nine books on Inktera.  Nine books after three years of nothing was kind of surprising.

All this has led me to question some of what I’ve “learned” about ebook distribution.  More testing will be required, and I have it lined up.  We’ll see what happens as the year progresses.

Battered Dreams Preview – Part 2

Sabrina was attempting to crawl away. Jess stomped on her leg and was rewarded with a wet popping noise.  Sabrina screamed.  The sound echoed in the small chamber.  Jess’s smile widened.  The screams filled Jess’s ears with a buzzing noise.  It felt wonderful.

Jess raised the bat again.  This time, it landed on the back of Sabrina’s skull.  Blood instantly ran from the wound.  It was raised and brought down again and again and again.  The bat was coated in blood.  It splattered against the walls and floor.  It pooled near Sabrina, who no longer screamed, but made small mewling noises.

Determined to prolong the amazing feelings, Jess stopped swinging at Sabrina’s head.  The bat landed body blows instead.  A bone broke in Sabrina’s leg with a sharp crack.  A second blow hit the leg.  The bone burst through the pale flesh of Sabrina’s leg.  Jess stared at the bone in awestruck fascination.  Jess had never seen bone jutting from the skin before.

The end of the bone wept.  A mixture of reddish blood and yellowish marrow leaked from the splintered end.  It flowed onto the flesh, mingling with darker blood from the skin, changing the tint, before falling to the dirty floor.  The floor soaked it in, as if it were water from the heavens, nourishing the brown earth.

Jess couldn’t help but watch.  Sabrina still made quiet, inhuman noises, but her body had stopped struggling for survival.  A tremor was visible, a spasm of all her muscles, in response to the shock and pain.  Sabrina’s long, beautiful, auburn hair was matted and dirty.  Blood made it shine in the dim lighting.  Fluid that was thicker than blood, but lighter in color, dripped from the battered head.  The vessels in her eyes had ruptured, turning the whites a vibrant hellish red.  She drooled a mixture of blood and saliva that also soaked into the dirt.

Massive bruises were forming all over her body, proof that she was still alive, even though she shouldn’t have been.  The hideous purplish-black marks appeared underneath the welts.  Swelling sprang up right before Jess’s eyes, like magic.

Writing In Progress

Yesterday I was asked if I was working on anything new.  Um, yeah, you could say that as long as I am drawing breaths, I’m working on something new.

However, I rarely talk about “what” I’m working on… Usually, I just give the title of a book.  Tonight, I’m divulging what sort of books have been rolling around in my brain.

1.  Belladonna Dreams – It’s about a 1/4 of the way written and will be book 9 in the Dreams & Reality Novels.

2.  While we are on the subject of Dreams & Reality, when I originally decided to publish the first Aislinn Cain novel, I had a plan: Cain novels would all be “Dreams” novels (Aislinn means Dreams), Blake stories would be “Reality” novels.  I haven’t written a Blake novel.  Honestly, I can’t stay trapped in his head that long, it’s brutally painful.  That doesn’t mean I have scrapped the idea entirely though.  Battered Dreams gave me my first idea for a Blake story, but I’m still unsure about the execution of the project.

3.  I do have a Dysfunctional novella written… sort of.  It’s written and I hate it, a lot.  It isn’t funny, the premise is shaky, and the plot is hurried.  I am waiting for my “funny-it-up” person to get to a point in life where she can take a look at it.  Or I need to scrap it and start over, I’m not sure which way to go yet.

4.  The Callie Strachan books, The Death Demon Trilogy, is up and running.  I finally got more than a few paragraphs written.  It actually has 4 chapters.  The problem with any series is starting it, by the time I finish book 2, I tend to hate book 1 (This is true of Dark Cotillion, Tortured Dreams & The Dysfunctional Affair…).  As a result, I may write book 1 and 2 before I publish either of them.  Maybe I will actually like the first book if I can go back and change it after book 2.

5.  Surprisingly, despite all the novels and novellas I write, I still write short stories and flash fiction pieces.  It’s nearly impossible for me not to write every day.  However, there are days when I can’t find my path on any of my novels or novellas, so I pen short pieces to keep the writer’s side of my brain sane.  There are also days when I just don’t have time to commit a thousand or more words to a page, but if I don’t at least get something out, I don’t sleep, those are days for short pieces as well.

6.  Finally, I have been working on a non-fiction book that gives a candid look at life with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.  It may not seem like we need one of these, but I have never found a book that made me feel “better” about the condition (most make me feel worse).  They are too clinical or they leave out important stuff.  Originally, the idea seemed ludicrous to me, I’m not a doctor, but then one of the women in my support group told me “it was needed.”  I’ve always been very open about it, even the parts others shy away from… So, maybe she’s right, maybe it is needed, maybe I will make one person feel better.  I don’t know… we’ll see how it goes.

That’s my “in progress” list.

A Touch of the Paranormal – The Shadowman

As most people who know me (or who read my books can tell), I’m kind of fascinated with the paranormal.  Perhaps it is a personal quest to explain things that I have experienced, perhaps it is just a fascination because I am in constant need of learning new things… I don’t know if one of those answers are more right than the other… I’m not sure it matters.  Growing up, I dealt with a ghost.  As I got older, I dealt with him less, but every once in a while, he still kicks things up.

However, this post isn’t really about me or John the Ghost.  It’s about the real Malachi, whose identity I will forever protect… meaning for this post, we’ll call him M.  First some background on M: I met M when I was young, less than ten.  He was four years older than me, somehow we became friends.  I have never figured out how or why and neither has he.  We have both learned not to question it.  He was a bully during our growing up years, but I was never a victim.  He said I was too strong willed for all that.  Unfortunately, he was considered something of a stud and on more than one occasion, I had falling outs with female friends who swooned for him.

When I turned sixteen, my parents began to take the occasional weekend trip to see my grandparents in another part of the state.  It was always an overnight trip and I had not yet identified John the Ghost (there’s a post in the archives about John).  I had identified that something otherworldly happened from time to time.  The first trip away, I called the police three times because I was convinced someone had broken into the house.  It wasn’t unexplained noises, someone was physically opening my bedroom door and sticking their head inside my room… I could see them doing it!  I had encountered this before, but always thought it was my father.  However, with my father in Mount Vernon, Missouri, it was hardly likely that he was checking in on me.  So, I panicked and the police were very understanding while thinking I was crazy.

The next time my parents went away and things got a little strange, I did not call the police, I called M.  He agreed to come sit with me for as long as I needed and watch Disney movies.  As I explained my problem, M nodded sympathetically and said all the right words.  Then he told me his story of the Shadowman.

The Shadowman was named when M was little, because he looked like a man, but he had no features.  He was just a black shadow wearing a cloak or long coat and a strange hat.  Unlike John, who is sort of a prankster and goof, M believes the Shadowman is evil, although, he can’t explain why.  A few years before my night of calling the police, M had a similar experience.  He was home watching his younger sister while his parents were out for the evening.  As they sat watching a movie, the room grew dim and the Shadowman appeared.  M’s sister even saw him.  She began screaming.  M grabbed her and the two dashed out of the house and ran to the neighbors’.  The neighbors, fearing an intruder, called the police.  When they arrived to check things out, they found the front door was locked from the inside with the chain lock in place.  The door should have been standing open, as that was the door M and his sister had left through and there was no way the chain lock could have sealed itself.  Entry was made through the back door instead, also locked, but without a chain.  No one was found in the house, so M, his sister, and the neighbor were allowed back inside.  However, as they made their way towards the house, they could hear glass breaking.  A police officer was still with them, so he made entry first.  They didn’t find any broken glass in the house.

M has seen the Shadowman off and on all his life.  However, last year, he called me to tell me that one of his daughters had come running into his room in the middle of the night because of a scary man in her bedroom.  M, not wanting to bias her, asked me to talk to her.  I did.  She described the man as being dark with a cape, like a superhero, but black, and a funny hat.

I don’t know which is scarier, the fact that an adult can still see a boogeyman or that they seem to be able to pass them along like a genetic disorder.  (for the record, it cannot be some sort of genetic neurological condition… M’s daughters are adopted.  He was dating their mother when she got pregnant, but after they were born, DNA testing revealed that M was not the biological father.  After a nasty split, M sued her for custody of the girls and won, because she was deemed an “unfit mother” and M is listed as the father on their birth certificate.  The identity of their biological father is unknown.)

Crime Prevention in Columbia, Missouri

My home town has become big on crime prevention.  However, in the last two years, violent crime has risen, significantly.  Obviously, we aren’t very good at it.  I know there are problems with the Columbia Police Department, but it wasn’t until recently that I figured out exactly what they were.

For starters, the CPD requires 60 college credit hours or 30 college credit hours and experience (military or law enforcement).  Starting pay is $19.92/hour.  The Boone County Sheriff’s Department requires a high school diploma.  Starting pay is $19.95/hour.

I’m not going to argue that a less educated police officer is better, it isn’t.  I want my men & women in blue to have a clue.  However, it doesn’t make sense to pay the city officers less.  I realize there is a structure involved for paying higher starting wages for those with education (I used to work for the city), I also know this isn’t utilized very often (remember that job I just mentioned?).

Our low starting wage isn’t that appealing… anyone looking to become a police officer in Central Missouri can hop right over to the Sheriff’s Department and get a job that pays better and while being a deputy to take classes in criminal justice, that the sheriff’s department helps pay for.  Seriously, the city isn’t even in the competition.

And we’ve cut their funding… Sure, we got them a new SWAT-style vehicle that was worth a lot of money and we’ve bought some new cars and body cameras and I’m all for giving them the tools to do their jobs… but the city hasn’t been handing out raises in a while and that means all those highly trained officers with college credits and experience are looking for better jobs.

We don’t really have the officers to respond to crimes in progress, let alone crime prevention.  And because we are so busy chasing our tails, attempting to capture bad guys after the fact, the department is losing even more money (another round of budget cuts in the future), because they aren’t issuing the fines for traffic violations like they should be… because we don’t have the officers to do it… because we don’t pay our officers a competitive wage for the minimum requirements.  Being a police officer might be a calling, but people still like to be financially compensated for it (I would write, but not publish if my books weren’t selling… and find a different job… So would any author).

This problem is recent.  I remember growing up in a town that was filled with police officers.  Crime prevention wasn’t a goal to achieve, it just happened because we had enough officers to handle the needs of the city.  So, I’m not sure where to put the blame or point the finger… I just know that we cannot have effective crime prevention programs without enough police officers to fulfill all the roles and we do not have the police officers.

Research, Damn It!!!!

I am a writer of fiction, I’m allowed to take liberties from time to time with facts.  The best example is the iron maiden, which history honestly can’t figure out.  It is unlikely they were ever really used as a torture device and we’ve only found a few, all of them from Germany, all of them in the 1800s.  However, as a fiction writer, I can turn them into a torture device.

It doesn’t mean I don’t do research.  I can only make up so much before the entire tale becomes so incredibly unbelievable it falls to pieces.

A few weeks ago, I picked up a book on the Black Death.  As cruel as it sounds, some very good things came from bubonic plague outbreaks.  The book caught my attention specifically because it discussed the tragedies and the benefits.

Last night, I hit the halfway mark and found myself checking the publication date: 2013… And I closed the book.  I won’t be opening it again.  The author failed to do some research, some significant research, research that totally undermines an entire series of chapters in the book.

It was believed that noxious vapors were responsible for at least some of the spread of the bubonic plague.  As a result, the perfume and herb industries had massive booms.  However, the author fell back on an old wives’ tale that has been discredited by history: people in the middle ages didn’t bathe very often.

Actually, they did.  Bath houses were still in existence and open to the public, even the lowly commoners and serfs were bathing.  It wasn’t until the 1500s that bathing began to fall from fashion and bath houses were shut down at alarming rates.  Most of it stems from a cockeyed sense of morality and the habits of a few particularly bizarre rulers (Charles the IV of France not only refused to bathe, but change his clothes for approximately 5 months because of a power struggle for the throne… he probably won just because he smelled so insanely bad… but he was known for being a nutter).

But the Black Death swept across Europe in the 1300s!  Washing the body, not just the hands and face, was a big deal.  If a person didn’t bathe at least a couple times a week, they were considered eccentric.  Medical literature of the time encourages bathing because “dirt causes diseases.”  Culturally, bath houses still served the purpose of allowing people to socialize outside the home or fields.  Literature and artwork both deal with bathing as a common, every day practice.

As a historian, my medieval history classes dealt with bathing, it was discussed at length, because it was a common social event.  One of the more interesting lectures I remember receiving was about how peasant women used the time in the bath houses to not just clean themselves and children, but to gossip and pass along news.  If Sabrina from the southern part of the village had gone missing, it was more likely that the peasants found out in the bath house than from messengers and newspapers. Men and their time in the bath houses weren’t any different.  There was a class difference among bath houses, some catering only to peasants and serfs, while others only catered to the wealthy, but they still had them.

A quick perusal of modern day research into the middle ages, disproves the non-bathing theory.  I found seven scholarly papers in a simple search.  Going through my back catalogue of history magazines and books provides even more evidence that historians have known this was false for a long time.

Here’s my problem with these sorts of things.  It isn’t that they are historically inaccurate or can be disproven by picking up a book on the middle ages.. It’s that we keep repeating these “facts” despite knowing different, thereby perpetuating the myth until we have a huge historical problem.  Consider this: The Greeks and Egyptians new the world was round.  However, we are taught that people before the Age of Exploration thought the world was flat.  Why would we “lose” that knowledge in the span of a 1000 years?  It doesn’t make sense.  New historical research has taught us that no one believed the world was flat… even peasants believed it was round, peasants just didn’t give a shit about it being round, they were unlikely to travel more than 20 miles from their homes during the entire course of their lives.  So, no adventurer set out to prove the world was round, which is exactly what I was taught 20 years ago in history… Explorers were uncertain where they would end up, because they believed the world was flat.

Hogwash!  By the way, if you are a girl and majored in history… You need this shirt.  I want one.

Battered Dreams Preview – Part 1

Sixteen-year-old Sabrina Reeves begged for her life.  Tears and snot ran down her face.  Her arm hung limply at her side, already shattered from warding off the first couple of blows.  Sabrina was defenseless and she knew it, so she begged, trying to stop the attack.

Jess was merciless, listening to the pleading with a smile and egging it on, hoping to hear more reasons to spare Sabrina’s stupid, useless life, as the bat hung menacingly.

Sabrina had not been randomly picked.  Drug use and promiscuity were her only contributions to society.  Sabrina couldn’t even be bothered to find a minimum wage job to pay for her drugs.

“Please, Jess, don’t do this!”  Sabrina shouted at Jess.  “I’ll change!  I can do it!  Just give me a chance!”

Jess was growing tired of the repetitive pleas.  Sabrina wasn’t very imaginative.  Her reasons for wanting to live were selfish and asinine.  Jess brought up the bat and took a two handed grip.  Sabrina screamed, raising her good arm to defend against the blow that was coming.  Jess swung.  The aluminum bat made a dull ringing noise as it hit Sabrina’s skull, right above the ear.  Blood exploded from the wound.  It sprayed the bat, the wall, and the floor.

Sabrina was knocked over from the force.  The world was moving even though she wasn’t.  The pain was consuming.  Her arm hurt and tingled.  Her head hurt, both on the outside and the inside.  Despite the pain, she tried to convince herself it was a nightmare; one that she desperately needed to wake up from.

Jess swung the bat again, this time in a more downward motion.  It caught Sabrina’s shoulder.  There was a cracking sound and the bat recoiled.  It sent shockwaves up Jess’s arms.

Don’t forget you can pre-order the ebook!

The Physical Book

I love books.  My house is stuffed to capacity with them.  So much so, that I have been banned from buying physical books for a while.

This hasn’t been a big deal, because I’ve been reading more indies than traditionally published books.  My old favorite authors still exist, but I don’t mind owning them in ebook.

Until now.. At first, I didn’t realize it would be a problem.  The new book I want is coming out in ebook.  I can buy it and read it on my tablet or Kindle, but… Hmmm… I really want the physical book.  I want it enough that when I went to pre-order the ebook, my fingers just wouldn’t complete the transaction.

It isn’t just an author, it’s the author… We all have that one special author that goes beyond favorite into a different category.  We crave the books like a junkie looking for a fix.  Mine hasn’t released a full length novel, a new one, in a while.  Now, he has pre-orders set up for several books that he will be releasing this summer.  And I own every book he’s written, even one that is just artwork (I’m not an “artwork” person… so this is rather astounding).  I don’t even skip the sex scenes (even more astounding).

What master mind and renaissance man lays claim to my bookshelves, even though I could pre-order the ebook?  Clive Barker.  Stephen King’s The Shining might have scared (scarred) me.  H.P. Lovecraft can make me sleep with the lights on.  But only Barker manages to worm his way into my soul and invade my dreams.  The first time I read The Hellbound Heart and The Damnation Game… I was hooked.  His works screw with my perception of good and evil.   Originally grabbing them in paperback, I immediately found myself searching for hardbacks… these were books I was going to read over and over.

And I have.  My Clive Barker paperbacks have all suffered worn out, painful, page falling-out deaths from being read and reread.  The only one currently in a viable reading condition is Mr. B. Gone and an ebook copy has saved it from that fatal ending.

The first to release this summer will be The Scarlet Gospels.  I have asked my best friend to get it for me in hardback.  It’s a gift, I didn’t buy it.  She is slightly disappointed by my request, she was planning a different gift.  And I would love her other gift, but it’s really hard to pass up a Clive Barker hardback.  They are my Holy Grail.

If anyone else is looking for gift ideas, my birthday is in August, and I love Clive Barker hardbacks.  I have a list of the few “older” books I need in hardback as well as his new releases that I want…  I would also accept audiobooks.  :-)

A Note About Words

I’ve had ten betas check in along with the editor. There’s an interesting trend.  There are a handful of things that several people have commented on.  Let’s discuss them:

petite is small, petit means petty.

blonde is masculine, blond is feminine.  Men have blonde hair, women have blond hair.

wendigos is the correct plural for wendigo.  It isn’t English, so it doesn’t obey the same rule as potato(es).

rageless is a common use word, but not a dictionary word.  rage-less is also not in the dictionary.  both have been removed from Battered Dreams and replaced by a different sentence.

were v. was – this one is tricky.  Everyone thinks were is the plural of was… it’s more complicated than that, it can show plural, but it also dictates intent.  “I was going to the store.”  “I wish I were going to the store.”  “If he were in that position, he would panic.”  However, you cannot say “They was going to the store.”  It must be “They were going to the store.”

The hard and fast rule about starting sentences with “And” or “But” is no longer so firm.  It is becoming more acceptable.  I try to use them only in dialogue (since humans have imperfect speech regardless of how awesome their spelling and grammar skills are) and yes, there are incomplete sentences in my dialogue… lots of them.  We don’t speak in complete sentences.  Want to test this theory, have a conversation with a friend and record it.  You will find you leave out nouns, often and you put pregnant pauses indicating either commas or periods, in weird places.

Just something to think about.  ;-) (And, I’m not getting “onto” anyone for their corrections, I’m just passing along some helpful information that I know, like betas do to me)

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