{For Authors} 5 Reasons why your book is failing.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014
1. Your books aren't very good. *ouch*
I know that was painful. But if you have consistently low stars (we all have the occasional "This is the worst bit of ink to ever dribble onto the printed paper."), it's an indication that the general consensus is in (gasp) agreement.

Don't despair though! You have two options: 1. Pull the book and rework it. 2. Pull the book and start your next one.

How do you know which option to choose? That's fairly simple: if you don't understand why the book has low stars, your not ready to be published yet. Back up. You should have read at least 5 craft books and written the equivalent of 3 full length novels. I'd also recommend you sign up for David Farland's Newsletter. I will never be able to quantify how much I have learned from that man. The key here is to never get so attached to a project you can't let it go.

2. Your covers aren't good. There's no excuse here. You can get good covers for not a lot of money (50 bucks). If you're on a crazy tight budget, start a kickstarter campaign or go simple. A simple cover with text only and a free background is a great place to start. Don't know where to start or how to look? Check out my pinterest board for amazing artists.  You can also check out deviantart.com, but I think Pinterest is better cause it weeds through a lot of the crap.

3. You haven't written enough books. There's something magical about the number 5. When you have 5 books out, you suddenly start making money. Nearly every indie author I've spoken to has a huge sales spike after 5 books. There's lots of reasons for this, and I won't go into all of them here. My advice, get those five books up before you panic about your sales. Throw in a few 99 cent novellas and a bundled series to get to 5 faster.

4. Your not marketing. Now, before you start bawling about how you blog and facebook and tweet, that's creating brand recognition and selling to an existing audience (but guess what? your fans are only going to buy one of each of your books, so stop hitting them over the head with buying your book every five seconds). That's only one facet of marketing. What you need to do is expand into new demographics. This is how. And newsflash, it works the best after you have 5 books out.

5. You don't have any books up for free. Believe me, I struggled with this. I didn't like the idea of giving something I spent a year and a lot of money on for free. And then I spoke with Cindy Hogan, who explained it to me in a way that clicked. She said that giving a book away for free is basically giving something away to pay for your marketing.

If you give away 10,000 books, not all those people will read the book (ebooks are too easy to hoard). But let's say 5% actually reads the book. Of those 5%, 2.5% decide to purchase the sequel. That's still 250 books sold. I'm guessing that's more than you would have lost in revenue from sales from the first book.

6. (Because I thought of one after this post went live) Write a series. Put the first one free. I don't know anyone who makes it selling stand alones.

There are, of course, other things that can go wrong (indie authors shouldn't have any regular ebooks over 4.99), but this covers most of the mistakes I see.

{Release} Sun and Moon by Lee Strauss

Monday, January 27, 2014
Sun & Moon by Lee Strauss
(Book One in the Minstrel Series)

 January 26th!

If you’re a fan of the movie Inside Llewyn Davis, ABC television’s Nashville or Colleen Hoover’s upcoming novel, "Maybe Someday", the Minstrel Series is for you!

The Minstrel Series is a collection of contemporary romance novels set in the singer/songwriter world. The books are companion novels, with shared settings and characters, but each are complete standalone stories with a HEA (happily ever after) and no cliffhangers!

She has a past. He has a secret.
Katja Stoltz is a risk-taking singer-songwriter hoping to make it in the indie music scene in Dresden, Germany. Micah Sturm's a brooding uptown banker on a quest.

Driven to the streets, Katja is picked up by Micah - but he doesn't want what she thinks he does.

There’s an undeniable attraction between them, a gravitational pull they both struggle to resist. Katja knows she mustn’t fall in love with this handsome enigma. There’s something dark lurking beneath the surface. He could be dangerous.

And even if her life isn’t on the line, her heart most definitely is.

*not erotica - no explicit sex or coarse language

Buy now!

Enter to win a $50 Amazon gift card, MP3s of all four songs featured on Sun & Moon, and a 12 month calendar from Dresden, Germany featuring many of the settings found in Sun & Moon.

Dresden, Germany

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Sometimes I Wish He Would Just Hit Me so I Can Leave Him

Since my post on abuse, I've been contacted by quite a few women (one of them said the words above, a glaring neon sign for an emotionally abused woman). I did not expect that. Some want my help. Some want to share their story. Some simply want to connect with another human being because they feel desperately alone.

I'm not a therapist. I'm not a lawyer. But there are a few things I know from experience. 

Physical abuse leaves scars on our bodies and our souls. Emotional abuse maims our souls. Whoever the person is who said, "Sticks and stones will break your bones, but words will never hurt you." That person is an idiot. 

I will also say that I went through more than one abusive situation. But that hasn't happened to me for years. Why? Because of one moment that changed my life into a before and after. The moment when I rose up and said:

No one has the right to hurt me. 

I would shout that from the rooftops if I could. I would have it skywritten by a plane with fireworks and a brass band pounding it out in the background. 

In my dealings with the abused, they all have one thing in common, it's this skittish, hard to pin down "I don't know what the right thing to do is." Abusers are experts as sowing confusion and chaos. It's the equivalent of being lost in a blizzard, with no landmarks while under a constant barrage of pain and fear.

No one has the right to hurt you. Let those words show you where to go. 

I don't know where those words will take you. I am an advocate for marriage when both parties are willing to do whatever it takes to make that marriage work. I'm an advocate for divorce when that is not the case.

No one has the right to hurt you. Let those words change your life like they did mine. Let me show you that there is a way out of the deep dark pit you've found yourself in. Though the climb is long, hard, and full of setbacks, there is happiness and light waiting for you. You must find people willing to help you, but you are the only one who can pull yourself out.

I promise you it's worth it. 

What to do When You're Being Abused

Sunday, January 26, 2014

I'm crying as I write this post. Which is saying something, cause I'm not really a crier. But I've had a strong feeling that I need to share for weeks, and I cannot deny that impulse any longer.

In the past two years, I've helped numerous close friends get out of abusive relationships. I've sat in emergency rooms. I've driven them to CAPSA. I've missed deadlines and sleep. And I will probably do it again (somehow, I've acquired a reputation-one I'm rather proud of). The damage done to tender hearts and sweet children is gut wrenching to witness.

The abuse has ranged from one friend whose abuse was severe (sexual, physical, and emotional), to the more common and insidious emotional abuse.

And what kills me most is that I didn't know. Three of the four women all had one thing in common: they did not think of themselves as abused women. Instead, they thought of themselves as being in love with a very troubled person. All four lived very isolated lives. They didn't have close friends. They'd drifted apart from their families. In an attempt at protecting that person, they'd isolated themselves.

I only saw the smallest glimpse of their true selves. Only the part they were willing to let me see. One friend was being brutally raped by her husband after the kids were safely tucked into bed. She finally found the courage to tell her mother. Who told her to suck it up. It's just sex. She told her ecclesiastical leader, who told her the solution was to give him more sex. She went to the police, who told her to go to the hospital. The hospital told her marital rape can't be proven with a rape kit. She went to a lawyer, who told her that because her medical condition was considered "fatal" she wouldn't get custody of her children.

So she stopped telling people all together. For ten years.

She heard me vent one night about another friend and her abuse. How I didn't believe there was any reason to stay in a continually abusive relationship. And somehow that made her trust me enough (with the prompting of another close friend) to tell me in bits and pieces that got progressively worse over the weeks, and all as something that happened in the past, which I later found out wasn't true. The abuse was still ongoing. And he is a sunday-school teacher and a respected member of the medical community.

Victims are slow to trust. And rightfully so.

Eventually, we took her to CAPSA. We found a free app for her phone that records voices when sounds start (proof). We started the process for a 20 day protective order (which you don't need proof for in Utah). Another friend took her to a different lawyer, who went through the paperwork to prove her condition is stable. We created a plan. That plan didn't exactly go as . . . well, planned. But we're getting there. I still worry about her safety everyday.

And I have to believe being prompted to write this because there's someone who needs to read it. If this person is you, please listen to what I'm going to say next, because it's very important. 

You must be very brave.  Because you're the only one who can change your life.

You are going to need to be brave and you cannot do this alone. You need a team.

First, a lesson I learned after the disastrous delivery of my first child:  go straight to the specialists. That's not necessarily the police or the church or a lawyer. It's an abuse specialist. Start here. Just be careful, as your computer usage might be monitored. Safest bet is to head to your library and use a public computer (while you're there, check out the nonfiction abuse section for additional resources. If you need help, tell the librarian you have a good friend who's being abused ((that's not a lie. You are you're own best friend)) and you need resources to help her).

You must be brave. You cannot do this alone. Your need a team. And that team should consist of some trusted friends/family/medical providers. People you can call when you're sad or lonely or need to vent. Look after your spiritual side, your emotional side (you're going to need some counseling), and your physical side (it never ceases to amaze me how a strong body and mind are reliant upon each other).

I've found that five friends is a good number. Enough to bear you up without becoming overwhelmed themselves or letting the whole world in on your business. If you're not sure who to trust, ask them how they feel about abuse (ie: I know a woman who is being abused by her husband. He does *what your significant other does to you*. If you feel safe, tell them that friend is you and you need their help. If not, ask someone else.)  Also, make sure it's people who can keep secrets. *note: secrets are the breeding ground of abuse. But this can be a very dangerous situation, one that calls for discretion.
If you've asked for help and it's blow up in your face, it's because you asked the wrong person-just like my friend above. They're not meant for your team. Don't give up!

And now a quick note on emotional abuse. Honestly, most emotionally abused women don't even realize they're being abused. They just know they're desperately unhappy and feel completely alone. Here's some things to look for.

Characteristics of the abuser:

  • Using economic power to control you
  • Threatening to leave
  • Making you afraid by using looks, gestures or actions
  • Smashing things
  • Controlling you through minimizing, denying and blaming
  • Making light of the abuse and not taking your concerns about it seriously
  • Continually criticizing you, calling you names, shouting at you
  • Emotionally degrading you in private, but acting charming in public
  • Humiliating you in private or public
  • Withholding approval, appreciation or affection as punishment

Characteristics of the abused:
  • A distrust of her spontaneity
  • A loss of enthusiasm
  • An uncertainty about how she is coming across
  • A concern that something is wrong with her
  • An inclination to reviewing incidents with the hopes of determining what went wrong
  • A loss of self-confidence
  • A growing self-doubt
  • An internalized critical voice
  • A concern that she isn't happier and ought to be
  • An anxiety or fear of being crazy
  • A sense that time is passing and she's missing something
  • A desire not to be the way she is, e.g. "too sensitive," etc.
  • A hesitancy to accept her perceptions
  • A reluctance to come to conclusions
  • A tendency to live in the future, e.g. "Everything will be great when/after ..."
  • A desire to escape or run away
  • A distrust of future relationships 

There are certain flowers that close up during inclement weather; they curl up to protect themselves. But after the sun comes out, they slowly unfurl, turning their centers toward the sun. I've watched these women do this. Watched them open up and realize that somehow, they lost who they used to be, becoming a shadow of their former selves. And they're so much happier to see the sun again. 

I might not know you, and therefore might not be able to be on your team, as I was for them. Regardless, I want you to know that I'm sending my love.  

*men are abused too. My experience has simply been with women . No prejudice intended. 

{Release Day} Witch Fall by Amber Argyle

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

All things fall.

Even Witches.

Supreme in their dominion over seasons, storms, and sea, the Witches have forgotten the unmatched destructiveness of mankind. And among the weapons men seek are the magical songs of the Witches.

Lilette is one of the few who see the decadence and decay weakening the Witches. As an outsider amid her own kind, can she help them survive the coming war?

 ~ Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ B&N ~ 

 ~ About the author ~ 

Amber Argyle is the author of Witch Song and Fairy Queen trilogies. She grew up with three brothers on a cattle ranch in the Rocky Mountains. She spent hours riding horses, roaming the mountains, and playing in her family’s creepy barn. This environment fueled her imagination for writing high fantasy. She has worked as a short order cook, janitor, and staff member in a mental institution. All of which has given her great insight into the human condition and has made for some unique characters. She received her bachelor’s degree in English and Physical Education from Utah State University. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and three small children. 
Website ~ Goodreads ~ Facebook ~Twitter ~ 

~ Excerpt ~ 

Han looked at her, his eyes as dark and depthless as the deepest part of the ocean. His gaze shifted to her mouth and she could have sworn she felt the pressure of his gaze on her lips. She moved forward a fraction, until there was nothing between them but sunlight. Then there was nothing between them at all. His lips were on hers, not claiming, not possessing, simply wanting. Needing.

Lilette had never known how full of need he was. How dark and empty the spaces in his soul must be. He drank her in like she was light and hope and he’d been a starving man all his life.

For Lilette, it was like his touch let her shine. Like she’d been shattered into a thousand specks of light and he brought her together—made her whole.

With a shudder that shook to his core, Han pulled away from her. He rested his forehead against hers, his breath ragged and his lips red. “Lilette.”

She closed her eyes as he said her name. Said it like he was cupping a bird in his hands and he’d set it free. She inhaled the breath that had carried her name. “Han.”

“It’s like no matter how hard I try, you’re all I can see.”

She held her hands together to keep them from trembling and betraying her. “Where does that leave us?”

“I don’t know.” Han closed his eyes and breathed her in. “You’re leaving for Haven. I’m going to stay here as an ambassador for Harshen.”

She nodded. “I’m glad.” She trusted no one else with this.
Han hesitated, and then kissed her briefly. “Be well, little dragon.” He turned and walked away.

Lilette watching him, waiting for him to move out of sight before she allowed her legs to go soft. Let herself sink into the loam. She didn’t cry. She just waited for the aching to fade enough to get to her feet and keep moving.

{Blog Tour} Witch Fall by Amber Argyle

Monday, January 13, 2014
Today kicks off the start of Witch Fall's blog tour, which goes from Jan 13th to Jan 18th and features 43 blogs (Thanks to Xpresso Reads for setting the tour up)! Each blog is giving away an ebook of Witch Fall, and the grand prize features signed paperbacks for the whole series, so make sure you stop at each blog and enter to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*I also have another contest going on directly below this one, as well as the sign up for an eARC for Summer Queen. Make sure you check them out!

{Giveaway} Amazon giftcard & tons of ebooks

Join The Dauntless Authors for a giveaway for 2 $25 Amazon Giftcards during the week of January 13. Throughout the week they'll also be giving away TONS of ebooks at their Facebook Party!

Team Dauntless:

Kate Avery Ellison 

Nancy S Thompson
Wendy Knight
Amber Argyle

RaShelle Workman
Elle Strauss
Megg Jensen
Angela Corbett
Cindy Hogan
Christy Dorrity
Rachel Morgan
Shantal Hiatt

a Rafflecopter giveaway

{ARC sign ups} Calling all book bloggers

Thursday, January 9, 2014
Summer Queen sign ups are live! Here's the form: Also, my author team, Dauntless, is giving away 2 Amazon giftcards. We're asking for bloggers to post the the giveaway on their blogs. We'll provide you with the html code. Here's the link to sign up: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1OobFaZj6i7jV2ggnxUS7oAMLfkyqaQwGIUrjCG9UaUc/viewform

If you'd like to post the sign up forms for both events on your blog (thank you!), simply grab the code below:

<! -- Simple HTML box by Blogger Explorer -->

Final Thoughts on Witch Fall

Wednesday, January 8, 2014
I always like to do a post on my soon-to-be released books. How I'm feeling about the book and the process. Each book is different, but none of mine have ever been easy. I usually get stuck somewhere in each book and have to scramble to figure out what to do (why does plotting always fail me? Why?!). Sometimes that scrambling last longer than others.

Witch Fall was a bugger. After flying through the beginning, I became stuck between 1/2 and 2/3 of the way through the book. I knew how it needed to end--I'd even wrote the ending. But I couldn't figure out how to connect those dots (one of my biggest pitfalls as a writer). I struggled with it for MONTHS. Writing, rewriting. Stopping and writing the prequel. Swearing. Glaring. Eating lots of chocolate.

And in the process, I learned something that will help me with all of my future books: if you get stuck in the middlish, it's because your villain isn't fully devoloped. The villain is what drives the middle of the story toward the conclusion.


Seriously, I learn so much with each book. I'll never know it all--there's simply too much to learn--but it does get easier.

And now it's FINALLY done. Such a relief. Like no longer being pregnant relief. And now I'm already turning toward my next project (Summer Queen--finally a book that doesn't start with a "W"!).

And now on to my feelings about it's reception.

Witch Fall is a fast paced, though perhaps not as much as my other books. I like it though, because it gives the reader a chance to breath and have a little fun. I think you guys will like it too.

I'm really excited about Jolin. She's such a character. She was inspired by Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory. She's scary brilliant and self centered and all sorts of socially awkward. Each chapter starts off with a little quote from her. I think her comments are hilarious and surprisingly telling, but I know some readers might not like it. I think the payoff is worth the risk.

I love the romance between Lilette and Han. For some of my books, I pick an avatar for the characters. Lilette's avatar is a falling star. Han is the darkness around the star that lets her shine. It's beautiful and perfect.

Without getting too spoilery, my favorite scene from the book involves a love potion. It's hilarious and a little steamy. I still giggle every time I read it.

My biggest worry for the book is that I broke a big rule. A very BIG RULE. I can't tell you what it is, because that would ruin the entire story, but it's a little intimidating to take on something so huge. Still, you can break the rules if you know them well enough. I believe I pulled it off. I'm excited (and a little nervous) to know what you guys think.

You can enter to win a copy on Goodreads (below). Also *whispers* some sites already have Witch Fall up for sale (I'd love to see your reviews!). I hope you all love Witch Fall as much as I do!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Witch Fall by Amber Argyle

Witch Fall

by Amber Argyle

Giveaway ends April 05, 2014.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win
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