Saturday, July 9, 2016

Dear Tumblr, Your Ads are Driving Me Crazy!

image
Dear Tumblr,
Not sure what’s going on, but the mute button has stopped working on your sidebar ads. Now, I’ll be the first to admit, I love a good screaming HHGregg commercial, or “Pretty Woman” playing in the background while Walgreens profoundly proclaims that beauty is measured in how many products one slathers on. And yes, the fighting ad is riveting as well.
But here’s the thing. I have you pinned as a tab, which means when I’m working, you’re up and running. I love having you just a click away, being able to scroll through you when I get a spare second or two. You bring me joy.  And sure, when I’m on Tumblr, I might not mind the screaming, or Pretty Woman playing while some chit tells me to run to the pharmacy before the neighbors grab their torches and pitchforks (although, honestly, that one’s not my fav). But when I’m I’m writing or on a conference call and those lovely ads start playing, despite the fact that I’ve muted them, I get a little cranky.
Tumblr, since I found you, we’ve had an honest relationship. And I need that honesty from you now. How does one go about actually getting the sound bar attached to the ad to work? Please don’t make me unpin you. I wouldn’t see you as much. And that would make me cry.
Always yours,
Elizabeth

*photo is from Dmitry Kallnin

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2016--The Year of Self Worth


Anyone who knows me understands I hate New Year's resolutions. Instead, I reflect on the past year and find an aspect of life I'd like to nurture and grow. I choose a catch phrase that embodies the concept. It becomes a mantra of sorts, creating a common theme that runs throughout the twelve months and shapes my experiences. Just take a look at the last few years.

2010 The Year of Courage. I stepped out of my comfort zone and published my first book.  
2011 The Year of Authenticity. I realized that readers wanted to know the real me, not what I thought a "writer" should be. I made a ton of new friends in 2011. :-)  
2012 The Year of Balance. Trying to write while working two other jobs and raising two teens meant I either had to find balance or lose my sanity. I learned that organizing time was critical to writing success.   
2013 The Year of Change. With royalty checks coming in, I opened my heart to the possibility of leaving education, and I started working for publishing houses as a social media marketing coordinator and author liaison.  
2014 The Year of Kindness. As most of 2013 was spent on endless conference calls and working with a myriad of people around the world, I learned that compassion was the most important factor in productive communication. I also learned that, even though I could now afford to leave education, I didn't want to stop teaching, which made life hectic.     
2015 The Year of Simplification. 2014 was nuts. Too many responsibilities, not enough time. Even though I auto-payed every bill, simplified the office, became hyper-organized and kept a rigid routine, my life spun out of control. I'd come home from teaching to check emails on six different addresses, run conference calls, and then follow-ups. I'd eat dinner in front of the computer before working well into the night. My work days were often 16-20 hours long, and I struggled to find the energy and creativity to write so much as a post-it note.

It wasn't until I ran across this pin that I stopped and took inventory of what in the hell I was doing.


Why did I feel the need to work every stinking minute of the day? I'll admit I need to teach; it's my calling. But writing is my passion, and this other stuff, the marketing-and-beta-reading-author-liaison-content-editing-acquisitions-consulting-graphic-designing stuff ... why was I spending most of my time helping others achieve their dreams while sacrificing my own?

Did I really need the money that badly? Or maybe, deep down, was there a part of me that didn't feel like I was worthy of success?

And so I've decided to name 2016 as the Year of Self Worth.

This is the year I learn to value my time and talents, and I'll expect others to do the same. It won't be easy, but I've already taken steps to prepare the way.

I've resigned as a marketing consultant for a major publishing house. I'm not taking on new editing projects, and no more acquisitions consulting and beta reading (past the ones I've already committed to). I'm saying no to those who ask for anything that takes a chunk of my time, and I'm scaling back on writing informational/non-fiction posts. Most importantly, I'm really trying to get to bed before midnight.

And you know what? Over the past few weeks I've discovered that, with a little budgeting, I don't need as much money as I once thought. I don't miss writing what I don't enjoy. And sleep actually isn't a waste of time. :-)

It's only been a few weeks and my stress level is way down while my creativity is up. The manuscript I've been struggling with for the past six months is finally taking shape. I'm starting to outline the second book in the series, and I'm actually spending time with family and friends. 

It's looking like 2016 is going to be a great year! 

What about you? What are your goals for the upcoming year?








Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Secret to an Indie Author's success


image found on Pinterest
After working for five years in both traditional and indie publishing, I've discovered the secret to indie authors' success. 


And it isn't what you think.

When asked about the phenomenon, distributors credit indies for original, well-written, interesting stories. Traditional houses use words like "pop culture," "fad," or "lightning in a bottle."

But we all know of books that are incredibly well written, both traditionally and indie published, and yet they don't have great sales. And there are too many success stories for indies to be considered a fad.

So what is the missing component?

Simply put, it's relationships.

Readers are loyal to indie authors because they feel a connection with them. Bloggers love to be a part of a "street team" because they enjoy the interaction with not only the author but other bloggers as well.

And Indie authors never see a fellow writer as "competition." They learn from one another and share their tips and tricks of the trade. They create communities and build relationships. Most indie authors have fostered lifelong friendships with readers, bloggers, and fellow writers. They go to conventions, writing weekends, day-long signings and meet-and-greets simply to connect with others.

And when tragedy strikes, the community answers.

Brenda Pandos and Kristie Cook. Please click on
the pic if you'd like to donate. 
Author Brenda Pandos recently had complications from a procedure that left her with a long road to recovery. When the news hit social media, other indies immediately wanted to help. Brenda recently released her newest work, Evermore, which is book four in her wildly popular Mer Series. As she was unable to promote the work herself, authors, bloggers and readers promoted for her by posting on their own pages, helping sales skyrocket.

Not only that but Kristie Cook, author of the best-selling Soul Saver's series, started a gofundme campaign . Money collected will help pay for Brenda's healthcare expenses.

It hasn't been but a few days and already over $1500.00 has been raised.

This sense of familial bonds isn't found in the webpages of bigger houses. Nor does it come with a traditional contract. It comes by interacting and reaching out, one individual to another.

And others are starting to notice. Take a look at Katie Martell, Co-Founder and CMO of Cintell, discussing what marketing is supposed to be:


At the end of the day, success isn't about ad space or marketing manipulation or social media status. The true secret is empathy, understanding, and making real connections.

If you'd like to help Brenda, please click here. No amount it too little as every penny counts.



Tuesday, November 3, 2015

New Release Alert!!!! Silence Among Stars is now out!

 HAPPY RELEASE DAY, JOANNA!!!!! 
I adore this cover, don't you? If you haven't read any of Joanna's work, these should definitely be on your TBR list! Joanna is not only a heck of a writer, but an incredible person as well. 




The right choice will set you free.

Eden Huntleigh is the envy of every teenage girl in the palace. As the intended bride of Cesar, the sovereign leader of Empyrean, she has everything she could ever desire and yet she is unable to ignore the nagging perception that something isn't right.


Her world is turned upside down when she meets a handsome stranger who insists that she isn't who she thinks she is. Try as he might, the only way to prove it is for her to leave with him and join up with the Rebel group to whom she belongs. At least that's what he says.

When faced with an impossible decision, assume her place next to Cesar or take a leap of faith into a world of the unknown, will she have the courage to follow her heart in the name of destiny?                  
 Amazon iTunes and Kobo



ALSO AVAILABLE
Book 1 of the Echo Series

Would you risk everything you thought you knew about yourself if it meant saving everyone you love?

In this thrilling debut novel, sixteen-year-old Eden Huntleigh and her family live within the district of Empyrean. Under the rule of The Renegades, and their tyrant leader Cesar, every aspect of life is controlled. Streets are patrolled by humanoid Enforcers. Necessities are rationed. Disobedience is not tolerated.

When Eden receives an omen, and joins a group of Rebels led by the alluring Leo Dillon, her life begins to unravel.

Just as the Rebels are beginning to understand what they are capable of Cesar has kidnapped their families forcing them to strike before they are ready. Once inside the Empyrean palace they discover the horror of what they are truly facing. Does Eden have what it takes to be the legend she was destined to be? Ready or not she's about to find out..






ABOUT THE AUTHOR
JoAnna S. Morris was born in sunny California and raised, worlds apart, in good ol' Oklahoma, USA. 
She's been absorbed in words since she can remember. From journal entries to the hundreds of screenplays- mostly of the horror variety- somewhere in her mother's storage, she's been writing since she could hold a pen. 
With encouragement from her family, she decided to take the plunge and pursue the dream that's always haunted her. 
Some of her favorite things include her family, Brad Pitt, movies, Justin Timberlake, reading, writing, laughing until her sides ache, and  painting.




Website     Facebook   Twitter   Goodreads   

Monday, June 15, 2015

Win two tickets to Penned Con in St. Louis!

Hi all,
Just wanted to let you know that the awesome people at Penned Con have given me two tickets to give away to fans. I'd love to see you there, and maybe we can find time to chat (preferably with a glass of wine :-)

Just fill out the Copter below for a chance to win. Winners will be chosen July the 1st and contacted before the 4th.

Good Luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Invoking the Greenbow Alabama Rule of Writing



Last night, I sat here for three freaking hours on Google Earth looking at street shots of Dorohoi Romania, trying to figure out how my protag is getting to a clandestine location in Russia (roughly 25 hours away by car) without any of the authorities from three countries and a two secret societies finding her.

Definitely an "WTF" moment, right?

After some shenanigans on Facebook (you can read about said shenanigans here, if you reeeeeaaally wanna), I ended up only writing a few hundred words. But hey, I can tell you what the Romanian man standing on his front porch was wearing as the Google car passed by. That's something, right?

I was relating all the insanity to friend and crit partner, Hope Collier, today when she simply stated. "Why don't you invoke the Greenbow Alabama rule?"

Now you should know a few years back Hope and I took my daughter to the University of Alabama, and the first thing I asked the hotel's front desk manager was how far we were from Greenbow.

After a you-gotta-be-kidding-me glare, he mumbled something about there being no such place.

Gullible me insisted. "No. You know. It's the place in the movie Forrest Gump."

"Greenbow isn't a real town, Mam."

Other than feeling like a complete and total idiot, what I learned that day was the power of creative license. Something I obviously overlooked yesterday in my zealousness to get this story right.

Here's the thing. Not one person gave a flying rats ass if Greenbow was on the Georgia border, by a sandy beach or just a few miles from Mississippi. The only vital information the audience needed was that Greenbow was a small town somewhere in Alabama.

Why?

Because the specifics didn't drive the story forward, that's why. Just like whether my train leaves Dorohoi or some made up town close to an innocuous border somewhere. The point is my protag needs to travel a long way to get where she's going, and she needs to avoid detection. That's all.

After a few of these

I'm officially invoking the Greenbow Alabama Rule.

WHY DIDN'T I THINK OF IT BEFORE?

Monday, April 27, 2015

Can we Have Strong Female Characters in Romance?

I'm currently working on a series that delves into a society in which male and females are considered true equals.

Sounds intriguing, right? 

Here's the problem. As I started writing the series I became painfully aware of how much our society naturally places women in weaker roles.  

I'm not talking about the mundane minutia of life--whether a man pulls a chair out for a woman or a woman chooses to look nice and dress in heels. No. I'm talking about the big issues. Respecting someone's opinion based on experience. Understanding women can train and be strong both mentally and physically. Most importantly, allowing a female lead to take the reins and drive the story home. 

Still not sure what I'm talking about? Chuck Wendig explains it beautifully here. 

Chuck calls it "agency," and he defines it as such:  
"Character agency is… a demonstration of the character’s ability to make decisions and affect the story. This character has motivations all her own. She is active more than she is reactive. She pushes on the plot more than the plot pushes on her. Even better, the plot exists as a direct result of the character’s actions."
And this is where my problem started. I wanted Nya, my new protag, to have this mysterious "agency." I wanted her to drive the story, not react to it. I wanted her to be the one that made the decisions, not her strong, warrior love interests.  

But how does a writer create such a world and make it believable? That's the question.
Let's face it. There's a trend in successful romances that goes something like this: 
  • Woman sees man.
  • Woman's who-hoo goes wild because of man's viral good looks and studly manliness.
  • Man treats woman like shit.
  • Still, woman sees something redeemable in man. 
  • Some steamin-hot-throw-her-down-and-show-her-who's-boss sex happens somewhere around here. 
  • Man turns into a douche-bag and does something completely unforgivable. 
  • Woman finally gathers the strength to walk away.
  • Man is devastated and sees the error of his ways. 
  • Man finally concludes that he loves her more than his douche-baggery and is willing to change for her magic who-hoo.  
  • Man runs after woman and turns on his studly charm. 
  • Woman struggles to fight her crazy who-hoo telling her the sex was so worth it. 
  • Man shows woman he loves her enough to change.
  • Woman finally concedes and falls back into his arms.  
  • HEA (happily ever after) 

Here's the thing: Notice at no point in this plot series is the woman in charge. First, it's the man in charge, then her who-hoo, then the man. The only time she's given a chance is  when she gathers the strength to walk away. And she's not really driving the story here. She's reacting to his douch-baggery. And then it's back in the man's court, where he proves to her that he's changed and Voila! HEA! 

Don't get me wrong. The formula is freaking amazing. Readers flock to such stories. (Personally, I think it's because most women fantasize about someone valuing them enough to want to change for them, but that's another post :-) ). Simply put, this formula sells, and everyone knows it. 

But what if there was another way ... something equally as compelling. Something that had a great love story, one in which the protagonist actually drove the story, not merely reacted to the situations surrounding her?

And thus, the Scythian Series was born. 

I've struggled with every aspect of this society, turning it round and round in my head. Does a woman warrior getting hit in the face celebrate woman's violence? Does a woman not wanting any type of relationship with a man mean there's something wrong with her, or make her a "lesbian?" And by the same token, does a man taking on feminine traits make him unattractive to the reader?

What do you think? Is it possible to create a world, real or imagined, in which women have equal agency in life?