Love Thrillers? Double Launch Special. Delirium And Thrill Ride Box-Set

It’s a double-launch day today and you can share in the fun by getting 9 full-length thrillers for under US$2!

ThrillRide Delirium3I’m launching my latest supernatural suspense thriller, Delirium, today, and you can also get the first in the series, Desecration, in Thrill Ride, a box-set of 8 thrillers from bestselling and award-winning authors. Read on for the details or to buy now!

[Delirium will be returning to standard price of $4.99 on 5 August so buy now to take advantage of this launch special.]

deliriumDelirium, London Psychic Book 2

“Those who the Gods wish to destroy, they first make mad.”

LONDON. When a prominent psychiatrist is found murdered in the old hospital of Bedlam, Detective Sergeant Jamie Brooke finds herself investigating the history of madness to fathom the motive. Blake Daniel, a reluctant psychic, helps her to research the case, only to discover that his own family are entwined with the shadowy forces that seek to control the minds of the mad.

As the body count rises, and those she loves are threatened, Jamie discovers that the tendrils of conspiracy wind themselves into the very heart of the British government. Can she stop the killer before madness takes its ultimate revenge?

A thriller with an edge of the supernatural, Delirium is a story of love for family, revenge for injustice and the question of whether we all sit on the spectrum of madness somewhere.

Sample or Buy Now on Kindle, Kobo or Nook – coming soon on iBooks and in print and audio formats

amazon-iconKobo_Icon-150x150nook-icon

Thrill Ride. 8 Pulse-Pounding Novels Including Desecration, London Psychic Book 1

Murder, conspiracy, corruption, kidnapping, demons, fugitives and a world poised on Armageddon…

Thrill RideGrab a seat and hold on tight! Because this 8-book thrill ride by some of the most popular names writing thrillers today doesn’t let up till the very last page.

600 reviews with a solid 4.4 star average across the 8 individual full-length novels. A nearly $30 value, available in this very special bundle for a limited time only. For sale in US and Canada only (due to various author rights issues)

INTRODUCTION – Steve Berry
SIDETRACKED – Brandilyn Collins
THE BLADE – Lynn Sholes and Joe Moore
THE ROSWELL CONSPIRACY – Boyd Morrison
BLIND JUSTICE – James Scott Bell
DESECRATION – J.F. Penn
THE KILLING RAIN – P.J. Parrish
DOUBLE VISION – Randy Ingermanson
THE CALL – Kat Covelle

SIDETRACKED – Brandilyn Collins

When Delanie Miller’s close friend, Clara, is murdered and a simple-minded man is falsely accused, Delanie must risk exposing her dark past and the lies of her current life–no doubt alienating everyone now precious to her–to clear him.

THE BLADE – Lynn Sholes and Joe Moore

While investigating the theft of a 4000-year-old biblical artifact, a federal agent runs up against an international fugitive threatening to destroy Las Vegas with a nuclear device unless the casinos pay a multi-million-dollar ransom.

THE ROSWELL CONSPIRACY (Tyler Locke 3) – Boyd Morrison

Combat engineer Tyler Locke races to unmask a decades-old conspiracy before Russian spy Colchev can find a mysterious object from the 1947 Roswell crash. With it, Colchev intends to unleash an electromagnetic pulse weapon of unprecedented power.

BLIND JUSTICE – James Scott Bell

Attorney Jake Denney has hit rock bottom, both personally and professionally. In a last-ditch effort to save his fading career he takes on a seemingly hopeless murder case–one that thrusts him square into the fight of his life.

DESECRATION (London Psychic – Book 1) – J.F. Penn

Detective Sergeant Jamie Brooke and clairvoyant Blake Daniel delve into London’s macabre world of grave robbery, body modification, and the genetic engineering of monsters to stop a murderer from claiming another victim.

THE KILLING RAIN (Louis Kincaid – Book 6) – P.J. Parrish

On the eve of a brutal storm, a boy is kidnapped–triggering a killing spree by two ruthless men using the boy as a pawn. Now Detective Louis Kincaid must find his twisted adversaries before they commit the ultimate horror.

DOUBLE VISION (A Quantum Suspense Novel) – Randy Ingermanson

An attractive but strait-laced genius with Asperger’s syndrome, Dillon Richard is on the verge of cracking the “unbreakable code” of bankers and terrorists. Who’ll get him first? The mafia? The NSA? Or one of his two beautiful co-workers?

THE CALL (Mythological Sam Chronicles – Book 1) – Kat Covelle

After a near-death experience, down-on-his-luck mythology geek and self-proclaimed loser Sam Wilson is pulled into a dangerous quest: Silence a demonic sound lethal only to angels so that exiled angels can return to earth–or mankind will die.

Sample or Buy Now in Print or Ebook formats

amazon-iconnook-iconKobo_Icon-150x150ibooks11912

Happy reading!

Writing Fiction. Improve Your Dialogue With James Scott Bell. Podcast Episode 190

When I started writing fiction, I found dialogue to be one of the hardest things to write. It’s rarely used outside of a fiction context, and I spent a lot of time learning all about it. I still do! Today I’m thrilled to be discussing how to improve dialogue with James Scott Bell.

This podcast is sponsored by Kobo Writing Life, which helps authors self-publish and reach readers in global markets kobo writing lifethrough the Kobo eco-system. You can also subscribe to the Kobo Writing Life podcast for interviews with successful indie authors.

James Scott BellJames Scott Bell is the best-selling and award-winning author of thriller novels, zombie legals, historical romance, and lots and lots of books on the craft of writing. He’s a professional speaker, teaching novel-writing and other skills for writers, and his latest book is “How to Write Dazzling Dialogue.”

You can watch the interview on YouTube here, listen above or on the podcast feed on iTunes or Stitcher, or read the transcription below. We discuss:

  • Why is dazzling dialoguedialogue so important anyway? Can’t we just write lots of paragraphs with no one talking to each other?
  • Overuse of names and differentiating voices
  • How to learn about dialogue by listening and other techniques
  • Beware of stereotypes in characters
  • Weaving action into dialogue
  • Bad language and guidelines for swear words
  • Subtext
  • Humor in dialogue
  • Punctuation
  • On James’ fiction – he writes across multiple genres

You can find James and his books at JamesScottBell.com and on twitter @jamesscottbell.

Continue Reading

Creative Entrepreneur: Business Models For Authors

This is a continuation in the author entrepreneur series of articles. Recently, I posted the arc of the indie author from first book to CEO of your global business.

money flowersToday we’re focusing on the various business models that authors can use to generate revenue and satisfy customers.

Of course, many authors have day jobs which is a great way to pay the bills and writing can then be for fun or extra income, but this article is aimed at authors who are intent on going full-time in this business.

Why do you need to define your business model?

Defining your business model can help keep you focused. Opportunities expand as your profile grows and keeping your business model top of mind can help you say no to things that distract you. [I need to remind myself of this all the time!]

For example, renowned indie author JA Konrath states, “I gave up on public appearances a few years ago, because of diminishing returns. They were indeed fun, but the cost and time away from writing wasn’t worth it to me.”

My business model includes professional speaking as well as being an author, but recently I have started to turn down speaking work in order to focus more on the writing and only taking interesting speaking events, like Sweden in September. I’ll be sharing my business plan at some point soon, but in considering where to focus my efforts, these were the most common business models I discovered – and some people mix and match between them.

Business model 1: Non-fiction books with info products, speaking and consulting

Many non-fiction authors make more money from the ‘back-end’ of their books, rather than from book sales alone. This includes information product sales, professional speaking and consulting/coaching services. The book acts more as a business card as well as providing qualified leads and kudos for the author. The book itself doesn’t need to make any money – it’s the other services available that are more important for cashflow.

jack canfieldBig name speakers like Antony Robbins, Robert Kiyosaki and Jack Canfield are examples of where the back end business is worth far more than the book sales. Recently, the Wolf of Wall Street, Jordan Belfort has started to use this model. He wrote the bestselling book that became the film in prison, and is reportedly set to earn $100 million from speaking events and course sales in 2014. He has said that he makes more from this new business model than he did from stock trading. Of course, that’s an extreme example and you may disagree with his ethics – but it’s a good example of how the business model works.

A more authentic example is Chris Brogan, author of ‘The Freaks Shall Inherit The Earth,’ and other books. Chris is a highly paid professional speaker, consults for large corporates on marketing, as well as producing Owner magazine and online training courses for bloggers. In terms of indies, Jim Kukral of Author Marketing Club also primarily uses this model, providing author services, consulting and professional speaking as well as writing non-fiction books.

sark juicy pensYou can also include those authors who write non-fiction books for writers. For example, SARK, of the wildly colorful creativity books, has online courses, as does Julia Cameron from The Artist’s Way.

storyRobert McKee, who wrote the must-read ‘Story,’ has an extensive online video membership program, as well as running multi-day speaking events for premium prices. I’m a professional speaker, and all my tips on speaking are included in ‘Public Speaking for Authors, Creatives and Other Introverts.’ I also have multimedia courses, so I use this model as part of my business.

If you’re writing non-fiction, consider how you can turn that into other products to offer more to your customers.

Business model 2: High volume fiction

For self-published or hybrid fiction authors, the model of writing fast and publishing often has become mainstream in the last few years.

It’s not a new model, as it reflects the way the pulp writers of the early 1900s wrote, producing massive amounts of escapist fiction on cheap ‘pulp’ paper so the price could be kept low. [It does not mean the writing was bad!]

HMWardReaders ate it up like candy, and authors became well known.

This same phenomenon has emerged since ebooks went mainstream. A good indie example is H.M.Ward, who releases romance novellas every few weeks and has sold over 4 million books, as well as hitting the New York Times bestseller list 11 times in 2013. Some authors are achieving this through collaboration, for example Sean Platt writes with David Wright in the Collective Inkwell, and Sean also writes with Johnny B. Truant for Realm and Sands books. Together they produce an enormously varied number of series and a lot of books a year!

enid blytonThis is not just an indie author model.

Isaac Asimov wrote over 500 books in his lifetime, Enid Blyton wrote over 600, Barbara Cartland over 700. Prolific authors still creating at a ferocious pace for their traditional publishers include R.L.Stine, the bestselling children’s author of all time, who has been known to write several books a month. There’s also Nora Roberts, who also writes under J.D.Robb and who writes a book every 45 days, writing 8 hours a day.

So ignore the people who say that writing fast means the writing is terrible! It’s just one way of doing things.

Business model 3: Sporadic books with teaching/speaking/freelance writing

Of course, not everyone wants to write books at such a prolific pace, and literary writers in particular don’t work at this fast pace.

teachingTherefore, it’s rare for a literary writer to make a full-time income from book sales alone unless that book happens to win a major prize.

So the business model for literary writers is usually to combine writing with teaching creative writing, applying for grants and prizes, or with another writing career like journalism or freelance writing. If you take a look at the prestigious Iowa Writer’s Workshop faculty, you will see famous literary writers and poets like Simon Armitage, Ian McEwan, John Irving and more, who make money through teaching as well as writing.

What business model are you aiming for?

If you want to be a full-time author, then you need to consider how your income streams will work.

Of course, these business models can be combined and my own is a combination of all of these right now. I receive income from the sales of fiction and non-fiction books, from the sale of online training courses, professional speaking and also affiliate income from my blog. There are no rules and this is a mix’n’match game!

Do you have any questions or comments, or can you think of any other business models? Please join the conversation and add a comment below.

Top image: money rose from Flickr Creative Commons from K.L., teaching from Temari 09

Make Art. Make Money. Lessons From Jim Henson With Elizabeth Hyde Stevens. Podcast Episode 189

In keeping with the author entrepreneur focus of the blog recently, today I’m discussing making art and making money with Elizabeth Hyde Stevens, who wrote a book about Jim Henson’s career, which was both creatively and financially rewarding.

makeartmakemoneyIn the intro, I talk about my awesome Thrillerfest experience, Kindle Unlimited, the new Kindle pricing tool and my German book launch and first experience with a traditional publisher.

This podcast is sponsored by Kobo Writing Life, which helps authors self-publish and reach readers in global markets kobo writing lifethrough the Kobo eco-system. You can also subscribe to the Kobo Writing Life podcast for interviews with successful indie authors.

Elizabeth Hyde Stevens is an award-winning fiction author, and she teaches fiction at the Gotham Writers’ Workshop. She also created the Muppets, Mickey and Money LizHSresearch course at Boston University, and today we’re talking about her book, “Make Art Make Money: Lessons from Jim Henson on fueling your creative career.”

You can watch the interview on YouTube here, listen above or on the podcast feed on iTunes or Stitcher, or read the transcription below. We discuss:

  • Liz’s background in literary fiction and her interest in understanding how a writer could be both creative and earn good money
  • An overview of Jim Henson’s career – from early days as a puppeteer to multi-millionaire creator of TV, film, merchandising and more
  • How Jim Henson made peace with making money as an artist as it enabled him to fund further creativity
  • How larger creative projects require more people and more funding e.g. the making of the Dark Crystal or the Muppet Movie
  • The importance of owning copyright and how that enables bigger projects but keeps the control with the creator. How authors can protect themselves through contracts.
  • How time makes a huge difference and we just don’t know where we will end up, let alone where our books and characters might take us. The importance of the long game for creatives.
  • On loving your work, when work is your fun and redefining workaholism for creatives
  • How failure is just part of the creative path, and how we can learn from our failures
  • “Pure art don’t sell, you need a handle.” On learning marketing and pitching as a creative.
  • Reframing “selling out”

You can find Liz at www.ElizabethHydeStevens.com and on Facebook/Make Art Make Money. Twitter: ElizHydeStevens.

Continue Reading

Writing Thrillers. 50 Lessons Learned From Thrillerfest 2014

My head is still exploding with everything I learned and everyone I met at Thrillerfest this year!

ITWBelow is a mega-post full of lessons learned about writing, marketing, mindset, self-publishing and the FBI, but I wanted to start with an intro to ITW.

Why I love ITW and Thrillerfest

I have now been to Thrillerfest twice (you can read my notes from 2012 here), and I can definitely say that it is the only conference where I really feel at home – and ITW is truly the tribe I belong to.

I can sit in the bar talking about ways to murder people and weapons of choice and not feel weird. I can learn from some of the biggest names in the business, whose hours of writing experience number in the many thousands.

The education program is absolutely the best in the thriller business. I can fangirl like a geek with big name authors who are actually just a load of bookish geeks too. I can have a drink with people I have only previously worshipped from afar. I also feel absolutely accepted as an indie, with no judgement around my business choices. Five days of conferencing and not a single negative comment or sideways look about being an indie author. So I love ITW and I absolutely loved Thrillerfest!

face off thrillerIf you want to find out more about the ITW, check the details here. It’s an international organisation and I am trying to encourage any thriller writer to join as a Member, or an Associate if you’re getting started. If you like reading thrillers, you can also subscribe to the free magazine, The Big Thrill. You can also get the awesome FaceOff thriller compilation, with short stories that pitch famous characters off against each other here.

MasterCraftFest

David Morrell JFPenn

J.F.Penn with David Morrell, Rambo’s Daddy :)

This year there was an extra day with some big name authors, where we spent 10 hours going through manuscripts and learning detailed craft information. I was in David Morrell’s class, and even after reading his great book, The Successful Novelist, and interviewing him a few weeks ago, I learned an incredible amount. Here’s some highlights:

  • What are the underlying themes of your life? The secret to being a writer is to understand your own personality. Be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of another writer. Self analysis will help you work through your schedule. “The hardest thing is to know what to write based on who you are. Work on yourself and the writing will get better. Example being Ludlum’s Bourne based on his amnesia from alcohol. The underlying truth in a story is what resonates emotionally.
  • Writers are born with greater awareness than others. Not everyone daydreams, but you need to grab yours and let your subconscious reveal your stories. “Maybe we’re mutants.”Other people aren’t like us. [I loved this as sometimes I really do feel like a mutant and people just think I’m crazy doing this writing job!]
J.F.Penn with Ian Rankin, Chelsea Cain, Lee Child, Lisa Gardner

J.F.Penn with Ian Rankin, Chelsea Cain, Lee Child, Lisa Gardner

  • Keep your day job until you have 3 years worth of income saved that will keep you in the standard of living that you are used to. It takes time to get to the point of mastery in your craft.
  • Write a genre book that doesn’t feel like a genre book. Do you want ‘stained glass’writing where the point is to look at the language? Or ‘windex’writing where the reader sees clearly through to the story and the language vanishes in the experience.
  • A flashback on the first page is easily the number 1 mistake David sees. Forward motion in your book is critical. You better have a damn good reason for a flashback. Too many flashbacks stop forward motion. Look for ‘had’and versions of to check for multiple jumps backward in your text. How else can you write it so you are moving forward in the story?
  • Use multiple senses, not just sight. Judicially added detail gives the work depth. When you move characters from one location to another, note the changes in the physical space as well as their inner sense.
  • The purpose of a simile or a metaphor is to help people understand what they couldn’t do otherwise. In these days of Google and multimedia, there are not many things we don’t understand. Check all your ‘like’and ‘as a’clauses.
  • Check for clichés and remove them. [The Cliche Finder is a handy tool for this!] If you let imperfections start to stray into your manuscript, they will only proliferate.
  • TV and movies have ruined dialogue for writers as they need to use names more often, as they don’t have dialogue tags. But we do in books – so stop using repeated names within dialogue. Are you writing dialogue for the characters, or to fill the reader in on what you can’t explain another way?
  • Don’t do introspection whilst driving. Don’t have people sitting around thinking.
  • Create a checklist of things to watch out for in your second draft. What are your writer’s tics?
  • Even when it’s good, it isn’t good. Perfection isn’t possible in this business. Learn and move onto the next book.

Day at the FBI

FBIDay

We all got cool name badges at the FBI :)

These comments are my own based on an interpretation of the day and my handwritten notes. They don’t in any way represent the FBI and I may well have got some things wrong. Please check the FBI website for further detail.

  • The FBI want to help authors who write about them in order to ensure accuracy in books, films and TV. The public is the best partner for solving crime, so there needs to be trust and respect. Popular culture shapes perception, and that can turn into reality in people’s heads. You can contact the Investigative Publicity and Public Affairs Unit if you want to apply for project assistance which is reviewed on a case by case basis.
  • The FBI uses active brand management through a press office, social media and online tools. “If we don’t tell our story, someone will tell it for us. I found this particularly fascinating as so many authors resist branding and telling their personal story, but it’s critical to take control of it yourself. People will always judge you based on what you put out into the public eye – taking control of your branding is the best way to manage it.
  • FBI agents have had jobs previously, with the oldest recruitment age being 37. Analysts and other roles may be recruited straight from college. The agent’s previous jobs and background go into the decisions around where they will work. So, if you’re writing such a character, their previous life will be important in their FBI work. One Italian-American retired agent talked about going undercover in Las Vegas, with his looks, accent and cultural background being critical to the role.
  • We were given a breakdown of all the different departments and an (unclassified) glimpse into what they do there. You can find out more here. The counterterrorism talk was one of the most popular, as would be expected in a room full of thriller writers. The rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria was discussed, as well as the ‘dark net’and gamified content that is so immersive it has changed the radicalization model.
  • Listening to agents talk was fascinating in terms of the words and phrases they use. The sheer number of acronyms was mind-boggling, but having come from the mega-corporate world, I understand how that happens! These types of details in dialogue can bring your writing alive. Here’s some I wrote down: ‘deadly force policy,’‘threat driven organisation,’‘capabilities of the adversary,’‘advanced persistent threat,’‘there are categories within top secret,’‘OCONUS’- areas of responsibility outside the US, ‘Guardian squad’- first response to threats and judging what response they need. ‘patriots or sovereign citizens’- Americans who think they aren’t subject to government.

If you’re interested in learning more about the FBI, hopefully the day will be repeated at Thrillerfest 2015 so keep an eye on the website around November. They also have a Citizen Academy you can apply for.

Face off Peter James

UK mega-crime writer Peter James

More writing advice

  • Your characters don’t have to be likeable, but they can’t be all bad. The trick is to have them love something e.g. Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs has a poodle. Or, make them express emotion e.g. Frankenstein’s monster says he didn’t ask to be created. From Peter James.
  • There are no rules around how to get the book written. Lee Child won’t plot at all, doesn’t know the end and just writes until he’s done. “I don’t want to type out a story I already know the ending to.”Jeffrey Deaver writes a 350 page outline. Everyone else is somewhere on the spectrum.
  • “You don’t commit to writing one book. You commit to being a writer.John Lescroart. Most authors write at least 5 books before anyone wants to read more of their work. Even when you’ve ‘found your voice,’some people won’t get it.
  • “A novel must be novel, or there’s no point in publishing it. Mark Tavani, Editor. An editor is looking for something they can sell. The concept may have similar elements to other books but it must be fresh. Get the little details correct– in an age of Google Maps, there’s no excuse. Anything that jars the reader will end their experience of the book. The editor is thinking about whether this is the beginning: of a series, of a business relationship, of a new career for this author. “Start as close to the end as possible. Stop flashing back – keep moving forward. Readers react to lag time negatively, so a book a year is recommended.
  • “The fact is: authors die. Peter James on why there’s always room for more authors! This made lots of us feel better. When faced with huge mega-famous names in the room, it can feel as if you’ll never make it – but many of them have been writing for 30+ years. I’ve been writing fiction for 4 years now and I’m 39. I have time!
Killer swag from Karen Dionne

Killer swag from Karen Dionne

  • On film. “Don’t fall in love with your investment. Tony Eldridge, film director. The film is unlikely to match the book, even if it gets made (which is highly unlikely). “A producer’s favourite author is one who has just died. Ben Mezrich (presumably so they don’t have to deal with the author’s opinion on the screenplay!)
  • “If you sell something in publishing, it usually comes out. If you sell something in film, it almost never comes out.”Ben Mezrich.

Marketing tips

  • Chelsea Cain talked about doing book events, instead of signings. She teams up with Chuck Palahniuk and they do ‘Bedtime stories for grown ups’evenings at alternative venues like an abandoned library. People dress up and they encourage pictures, social media and sharing. Chelsea also said that, for her, Facebook sells books, and Twitter gets people to events.
  • Lisa Gardner talked about the importance of the book cover. Her ‘overnight success’came after 15 years of writing when an iconic cover of a burning wedding dress helped her book take off.

Self-publishing

With all the kerfuffle around self-publishing at the moment, and the fact that Scott Turow was a ThrillerMaster this year, I was concerned that there would be grandstanding around the Amazon/Hachette discussions. But actually I didn’t hear anything at all – it was all business as usual. I heard no negativity

Rebecca Cantrell J.F.Penn

J.F.Penn with award-winner Rebecca Cantrell

around being indie, and in fact, lots of people asked me about it, or told me about their own indie experiences, and plenty of the panelists talked about being hybrid authors.

  • David Morrell talked about the “pre-2009 reality and the post- 2009 reality”of publishing and how different things are now; how there are many ways into publishing. Peter James mentioned self-publishing as a way into the industry and the many choices available now to authors.
  • Lee Goldberg led a panel on self-publishing and hybrid models, explaining how the mid-list authors dumped by traditional publishers are finding a new and vibrant living as indies. A passionate Jon Land said: “Big publishers created the current environment by cutting advances – so an author used to living on a certain amount has to make up that income somehow. If you don’t take charge of your career as an author, you’ll be stuck in a past model where revenue will decline. Hybrid publishing creates new revenue streams.”We don’t know what will happen in the next 5 years. Trying to be a better business person is part of being an author.
  • Rebecca Cantrell won the Best eBook Original Award for her book, The World Beneath, which is indie published. She also has books with New York publishers, including the brilliant Sanguines series with James Rollins.

So I had a brilliant conference! But there’s one more thing I need to share – and hopefully I will listen to my own advice at the next event.

Know thyself, introvert author!

Introverts get their energy from being alone, and being with people for too long is draining and exhausting. I’m an introvert – I’m not shy, but I am INFJ Myers Briggs and it shows! I made a mistake in that I scheduled Mon – Sat pretty much back to back sessions, meetings, events and oh yes, some drinking too. I couldn’t cope with it all in the end and had to duck out for renewal and time alone in silence, as well as skipping the gala dinner to head home early as I essentially collapsed near the end of the conference. Note to self and other introvert authors – schedule down time at conferences!

Do you have any comments or questions about ITW or Thrillerfest? Please leave them below and join the conversation … and perhaps I’ll see you there next year!