November 29, 2013

Holiday Book & Jewelry Sales Are Here!

Black Friday is here, and that means all kinds of good sales going on. I have three sales starting today--20% off autographed paperbacks of all my books, all my eBooks are available for only 99 cents, and 20% off all my Etsy jewelry. You can see all of my sales on my page here.

But I'm not the only one with sales. Check out these awesome books by other indie authors, all on sale from Black Friday through the day after Cyber Monday! And make sure to enter the fun giveaway at the bottom of this post!

Melody Valadez
            DQTR44VX (20% off)
    Those Who Trespass:

Faith Blum
            93LQLRJ8 (10% off)
    A Mighty Fortress:

Marilynn Dawson
2MU73RQR (10% off)
Mom's Little Black Book: Godly Advice for the High School Graduate:
Becoming the Bride of Christ: A Personal Journey:

Molly Evangeline

Kelsey Bryant
            YFY84GHU (20% off)
    Family Reunion:

Christina & Melody Grubb

Aubrey Hansen
            D6PH5HAT (20% off)

Morgan Huneke
            BX6RV6SK (20% off)
    Across the Stars:

Vicki Lucas
    Toxic: (Discounted to $10 through Paypal)

J. Grace Pennington
            9L3ES8RT (20% off)
    Firmament: Radialloy:
    Firmament: In His Image:

Jordan Smith
            5PC4QW6S (20% off)
    Finding the Core of Your Story:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

November 18, 2013

“New Adult” Fiction

I just posted this on my Jaye L. Knight blog and thought I should put it up here too.

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Recently I posted on Facebook about my frustration with the young adult category for books. There's such a varying opinion on just what age range this is. I've always considered it 15-25 year olds. On another blog, I saw it classified as 12-17. YA and Teen seem to be used interchangeably. That presents a problem for me. Since I started writing Ilyon Chronicles, I've been calling it a YA series, but I consider it upper YA. I don’t want anyone to come along randomly and think it’s just another teen series, because it isn’t. Not that teens can’t read it, but only two of my quite a few point of view characters are in their teens at the start of the series. Everyone else is between 20 and late fifties. They’re all adults, or will be by the end of the series.

Now, I have read YA books with older characters, but I still balk at sticking Ilyon in the category. So what choice does that leave me? Let me introduce you to the “New Adult” (NA) category of fiction. I only just discovered this in the last few weeks. This category covers readers 18-25+ who are newly into adulthood. Definitely more what I was thinking for Ilyon. The category had me intrigued right away. However, after some research, I discovered that the vast majority of NA fiction is full of inappropriate material. It seems to be an excuse to write YA fiction and add all the R rated material that isn’t allowed in YA. With a stigma like this, I initially shied away from using the NA label. However, with a bit more thought and an email from a reader, I’ve given it more consideration. The fact that NA is filled with such books just presents the huge need for a clean, Godly alternative. That has been one of my biggest goals since I started publishing—to offer alternatives to what the world produces. The more I’ve thought about this, the more excited I’ve become. I feel like I’ve been given a mission to be a sort of pioneer in Christian NA fiction.

Some people wonder at the need for a category between YA and adult. If we’re in our twenties, why not just read adult fiction, right? We are adults after all. But I’ve always felt a need for something in between. I think it has to do with book style. I’ve always loved to read and write YA. It’s just different from adult fiction. I feel like NA presents a YA style book with older, more mature characters that we who are in our late teens and twenties can identify with better than, say, a 15 year old protagonist.
Another reason I love this new trend toward NA is it perfectly fits my growth as an author. As I’ve said, I love to write YA, but as I get older and mature, I naturally want to write about older, more mature characters. Yet, I don’t want to make the switch over to adult fiction. NA is the perfect middle ground for where I’m at. I can write more mature fiction, but still do it with a YA feel.

It will be interesting to see where NA goes in the future and whether or not it will be adopted by the Christian market. Either way, I’m quite excited about this new direction my writing is taking. After all, I’ve always gravitated toward doing things different from the norm.

November 12, 2013

Lose the Spaces—and Other Book Formatting Tips

As authors, especially published authors, we all know that, number one, we must have a good story, and number two, a good cover. These are imperative. That brings us to what I consider the third most important thing—the actual book formatting. As a reader, I can attest to how annoying poor formatting can be. As authors, if we succeed in hooking a reader with our cover and premise, the last thing we want to do is annoy them with poor formatting. After all, they’ll be spending the next few hours or days in this book. Trust me, glaring formatting issues can bump you out of a story world just as fast as glaring writing issues. This applies to both paperbacks and ebooks. I’ve come across these issues enough times that it’s prompted me to share what I feel are the most critical areas of book formatting for indie authors.

First, we’ll look at important things to consider when formatting a paperback.

  1. Lose the spaces. Wide spaces between words or sentences strips the book of professional appearance. Just take a good look at a traditionally published book. Everything looks neat and tidy. There are no big gaps. What you will want to do, in whatever word processing software you format in, is learn how to condense the character spacing. In Word, this is in the Font options menu. In sentences with large gaps, this will condense the words and allow you to bring up a word from the line below that originally didn’t fit. This takes care of the ugly spaces and saves you from having to use a gazillion hyphens, which doesn’t look great either.  I use the condense tool all the time. It’s probably one of the most important things to know. A note of caution on that, don’t overdo with condensing. You don’t want your text so squished its hard to read anymore than you want the gaps. Sometimes a word just plain won’t fit on the line so hyphens will still be necessary to get rid of some gaps. Also, don’t use double spaces between sentences, i.e. you only need to use the spacebar once. We learned in school to do a double space, but that just doesn’t work in book publishing.
  2. Not only should you lose the spaces between words and sentences, but also between paragraphs. There should not be a noticeable gap between every paragraph in the same scene. This is wasted space and makes it difficult to read without the story sounding stilted in your head because you automatically have a slight pause when you reach the space.
  3. Another area that you risk having too much space is your indents. Don’t just use the Tab key’s default settings. This creates an indent that is way too big. It must be smaller to look professional. Learn how to reduce the space to match most traditionally published books.
  4. Always, ALWAYS justify your text. Never, ever have ragged right edges. Just don’t. This applies to both paperbacks and ebooks.
  5. Make sure all the formatting is consistent throughout the book. You don’t want anything to suddenly change halfway through.

Now for a few tips on formatting ebooks. They are much less complicated than paperbacks, but surprisingly, this is where I find the most formatting issues. And not just in indie books, but big name traditional publishers' too! Actually, most of these tips are the same as paperbacks and just as important.

  1. Spacing. You have no control over the gaps that will appear between words in a sentence. This is just the way ebooks are since they’re read on so many different devices, but you can help by again not using double spaces between sentences and making sure there are no gaps between paragraphs. Always preview your book before you publish it to make sure it doesn’t have these issues.
  2. Same as a paperback, always justify your text. I can’t believe how many ebooks I’ve read that have ragged right edges, and the majority have come from traditional publishers. Why this is, I’ll never understand. Please don’t fall into this category. Justified text looks so much more professional.
  3. Make sure your indents are small in ebooks as well. Large indents look just as bad in ebooks (even worse if you try to read it on a small device like an iPod) as in paperbacks.
  4. Again, consistency. I’ve read ebooks were the formatting goes from justified text to ragged right edges, and then back again within a few paragraphs. Not cool.

Sometimes I think we get so focused on a good story and cover that we forget the importance of proper formatting. This is how your story is being presented to the world. Each page is how a reader is going to dive into the story. You want to make these pages as eye pleasing and smooth to read as possible. I hope these tips can help in accomplishing that.

For more indie publishing tips, you can check out my publishing booklet, Where Do I Start? An Overview of Indie Publishing.

November 05, 2013

Book Review—True Love Dates by Debra Fileta


In True Love Dates, Debra Fileta encourages singles not to “kiss dating goodbye” but instead to experience a season of dating as a way to find real love. Through reading powerful, real-life stories (including the author’s personal journey) and gaining insights from Fileta’s experience as a professional counselor, Christians searching for answers to finding true love need look no further.

True Love Dates provides honest help for dating by guiding readers through the relationship essentials that lead to healthy couples—and true love. Debra is a young, professional Christian counselor, and True Love Dates offer sound advice grounded in Christian spirituality. It delivers insight, direction, and counsel when it comes to entering the world of dating and learning to do it right the first time around. Drawing on the stories and struggles of hundreds of young men and women who have pursued finding true love, Fileta helps readers bypass unnecessary pain while focusing on the things that really matter in the world of dating.

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As a single girl in my mid-twenties praying someday to soon meet my future husband, I’m always interested in finding good Christian books on dating and relationships. So I jumped at the chance to read and review True Love Dates. There are so many anti-dating books and opinions that make it sound like courting is the only right way, and if you date, then you’re carnal and headed for disaster (as if what you call it means the same thing to everyone). It can be confusing and frustrating for anyone trying to figure out the best way to pursue a Godly relationship. While I agree with purpose for courting, maintaining a pure relationship, I don’t think there’s a “one size fits all” method for relationships, so I was curious to read something a bit different this time.

I thought the book was well written and had good, practical advice that can be applied to all relationships instead of setting up a rigid formula. We are, after all, individuals and every relationship is going to reflect different personalities. Debra Fileta did a good job at presenting a Christ-centered relationship and the consequences of compromise without limiting it to her personal opinions on the subject. If you’re like me and interested in preparing for a future relationship or to help in a current relationship, I recommend it as a good source of information and advice to add to your collection.

I received this book free from BookSneeze® in exchange for my honest review.