Echo Available

by Ashlynmathews on May 23, 2017

I’m so excited to announce the release of my fourth book in the Extinction series, Echo. Echo and Rourke’s story began in 2011. Over the years, the heroine, Echo and the hero, Rourke, have gone through many transformations as their motivations changed. After Luminescence, I had a better idea of what their struggles and past hurts are. I think that’s the hardest part of writing. To better understand our characters and their motivations. What drives them to do what they do? What keeps them for going after their happily ever after? What is it about the guy or girl they fall for that changes them, hopefully for the better? When I wrote Echo, one particular line said by Echo in response to her friend, Cage Steele, hiring a bodyguard for her, stood out. She said, “I can never ask anyone to KILL for me.” Why? What happened in her past that she would say that? Then, as I kept writing to the finish line of, “The end,” the line changed to, “I can never ask anyone to DIE for me.” And that’s when I had the aha moment. Someone died for her to keep her alive, and that is why she keeps insisting that her bodyguard, Rourke Summers, rescind his contract. She realizes he stands between her and the assassin sent after her. She’d rather sacrifice her life than have someone else lose their life for her. Who died for her, and why? The answers was as surprising to me as I hope it is to the readers.

Echo is available at Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, and Nook.

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Cover Reveal~ Love, Actually (Red Meets Blue)

by Ashlynmathews on May 22, 2017

I’m so excited to reveal the cover for Love, Actually (Red Meets Blue), hopefully releasing Fall 2017. Here’s the blurb:

My remorse is skin deep.

 I live paycheck to paycheck, call the apartment on the scary side of the city my home, and have no life outside of working two jobs. When given the chance to crash a masquerade party in the rich part of town, I readily agree. What I didn’t expect is to be escorted to the party by Jaxson McCallister, a man from my past who holds a dark grudge against me. A man who doesn’t have a clue it’s me beneath the mask. Or does he?

 I’m unwilling to forgive her.

 The law was too soft on her, and she knows it. I can’t forgive or forget Tavi Gabriel for her role in my little sister’s death. When she drops into my life again after going MIA, I’m determined to make her pay for getting off easy with community service. But when I see the pain and remorse etched on her face as a deep scar, can I forgive and forget her? Or will I demand a penance that will test my long-buried feelings for her?

Want password access only to more of Love, Actually? Consider signing up for my newsletter and I’ll send you the password!

 

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New Releases and Promotions- My Strategy

by Ashlynmathews on May 20, 2017

May is busy, busy, busy. Last month I released my contemporary romance novella, Stay. This month, I released my paranormal romance, Echo. Echo is available at all retailers except for Amazon. Release date for Echo on Amazon is May 23rd. While I’m busy writing the next contemporary romance, Love, Actually, and the next book in my Extinction series (Seeker, a novella), I’m also juggling promotions and sales. How to stay organize? Before I get into organization and expense/income reports, let me just say promoting in 2017 is different from promoting in 2012.

As some of you know I started writing in 2010 after I took my boys to see the Disney movie, Tangled. For some reason the story of Rapunzel and Flynn Rider jump started my muse. I even have characters in my Extinction series named after the hero. Flyn is the main character in Protector. Ryder is the little boy in Luminescence who happens to be the son of a very important princess. Anyways, back to the subject of promotions, lol. In 2011, I sold my first book to a publisher. That same year, I self-published the short story, If Only. Maybe it was the blurb, the cover or the fact that it was FREE soon after it’s release date around Thanksgiving but the release did very well. If Only shot up to #6 on Amazon’s top 100 free books. In a span of about a month, If Only had over 12k downloads on iBooks.

Well, I can say that was then and this is now. Five years later, the competition is fierce. It’s harder to find readers, and easier to self-publish a book. Don’t believe me? Go to Amazon and peruse the book section. Under Romance, there are 812k titles. There’s a gluttony of books out there for FREE and for 99 cents. And don’t forget sites such as Wattpad where readers can read books for FREE. There are days when I do wonder why I write. I definitely don’t sell in the thousands. My book income monthly can buy a round of one cup of 8 oz coffee for a small group of people :). Writing also takes me away from spending time with my family.

On days when I’m close to quitting writing and shutting down, I realize I’m doing a disservice to the characters in my head that are still waiting for their stories to be told. I’m curious as to what kind of life they’ve lived and of what life lesson is waiting for them at the end of “The End.” And when I start a new story, new characters are introduced that want their story told, too. I tell you it’s a never-ending cycle. But I don’t mind. And I also don’t mind that I don’t sell in the thousands. Sure, it’d be great. But I know the stories that I tell aren’t for everybody. My books are a bit melodramatic (yeah, I can admit it), lack an emotional tug (yeah, I know I need to work on that, too. I’m just not a very emotional person), and can be confusing. World building in my head doesn’t always translate well to paper. WRITING IS HARD.

So back to organization, expense/income reports and a strategy for new releases and promotions that I’m trialing this year. After I was published and had self-published a few more titles, I made the mistake of not keeping track of my expenses and income and what book promotion sites worked well for me. Fast forward five years, and I have a better handle of at least my expenses. Every year, I attempt to spend less money and stick to a budget. Most of my expenses is for my website. If I’m spending the money to keep the site alive, I better start blogging, right? I keep an excel spreadsheet, and even if I’m only paid $1 for the month (I’m exaggerating), I put it on my spreadsheet. The strategy I’m trialing this year for new releases and promos is this:

  1. Have a permafree book with excerpts from the next book in the series. This would be my older book, If Only. The first two chapters from the next book in the series, What If, is at the end of If Only.
  2. Price and promote a new release for 99 cents. This would be Stay. In the back matter, I mention If Only is FREE at all retailers, thereby directing readers to a FREE book, a chance to read an older title of mine free of risk. Hopefully if they download If Only, they might continue on and buy What If. I also put excerpts from Near Perfect (another 99 cents book) at the end to entice readers to continue with my contemporary romances.
  3. For the release of Echo, my paranormal romance,  I decided to keep the price at $2.99 but I lowered the price of the third book, Luminescence, to 99 cents. Why? I find that when I do a promotion for Luminescence, readers bought the prior books because of the secondary characters in Luminescence. For Luminescence, I put excerpts at the end for Echo. In Echo, I put excerpts at the end for Luminescence. There are many sites that promote 99 cents books, and in order to reach readers, I believe it’s a good idea to do a big push promotion at least twice a year. Here’s a blog post that lists some really good free and paid sites. http://www.selfpublishingx.com/list-sites-promote-free-amazon-books/
  4. The above is a lot of work but I LOVE IT! I love formatting my own books. I use Jutoh. One of the best books that helps with the step-by-step process of self-publishing is from one of my favorite people, Maggie Lynch.

At the end of the year, I’ll give an update as to how this strategy worked for me. I think the best indicator of a successful promotion is to have organic sales of books WITHOUT promoting. My 2 cents. Okay, back to writing. For my writer friends, what promotion strategy works best for you and what was the least effective? For readers, how do you discover new to you authors? I’d love to hear from you!

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The Story Behind Stay

by Ashlynmathews on April 11, 2017

Can I just say I’m ecstatic? It’s been almost 2 years and finally, I’ll be releasing a new book. April 25th to be exact. I love how Stay turned out. The story wasn’t meant to be released. The story of Brooks and Violet began as a way to get me out of my writer’s block. I read somewhere that starting a story without any expectations or fixation on editing while writing (guilty) can help jumpstart the creative juices flowing again. And that’s how Stay started. Brooks’ and Violet’s story began October 2015. The original title was Beyond Repair. Then changed to Bared to Him. The page count stayed stuck at 30 pages.

In August 2016, I received an email from one of my favorite cover designers. I had signed up for her mailing list, and I’m so glad I did. Thank you, Marianne (premadeebookcovershop.com). That’s how I found the cover for Stay, changed the final title to Stay, and found Brooks’ and Violet’s story deep in my mind. Their story is heartbreaking yet hopeful. Don’t we want the best for the people we care for? I love Brooks’ and Vy’s story and I hope you do, too. Their story should be available for pre-order soon at major book retailers. I hope you enjoy the preview!

“You drive me crazy with your sweetness and your hotness. Stay near you and I’ll want to be full on you. Don’t you understand? I can’t resist you.” ~ Brooks Hunter

The elevator doors open and I back inside. He pushes the down button then sidles in next to me.

“Let me give you a ride home.”

How does he know I don’t have a car?

“Your friend Natalie says you’re not keen on taking the bus.”

I inhale a quiet breath. I was right. Natalie had an ulterior motive for the promise she guilt me into making.

“Wouldn’t your girlfriend or wife mind?”

“No.”

I glance sidelong at him. “No, as in you have a girlfriend or a wife?”

Or both? I blow at a loose strand of hair falling over my eye. It’s just my luck the first guy that interests me in a long time is spoken for.

“No, as in life is complicated at the moment. Can I plead the fifth?”

What kind of bullshit talk is that?

“Go along with me for now, Violet.”

The seduction in his voice promises hot and steamy sex. I can’t remember when I last had sex. Keeping my knees together, I edge away from the dangerous heat of his ripped body.

“Thanks for the offer, but I don’t mind taking the bus.”

I refuse to be another mark on his headboard. Or whatever men used these days to keep count of the women they’ve slept with.

“Is the bus warm?”

Not the one I take. I can only describe the temperature as arctic.

“Is the bus fast?”

Not when there are people getting off at each five stops before mine.

“What the bus has,” at this hour, “is room for personal space. It’s what you and your car can’t offer.”

“I’m offering a warm space and a fast but safe ride. Sit as close to the door as possible. I promise I’ll keep my hands to myself.”

The elevator doors open and he follows me out. I put the cleaning cart away and lock up, mulling over whether to accept his offer or not.

“Are you or are you not in a serious relationship at the moment?” I ask with my arms crossed.

He uncrosses my arms and tucks a finger beneath my chin, tilting my head until our gazes lock. “You hesitated when I asked if you’re married. Are you in a serious relationship?” His gaze is penetrating.

I wet my dry mouth with my tongue. His eyes follow the movement.

“My best friend is a guy,” I stammer. “But he’s just a friend.”

“Are you certain?”

I flick his finger off my chin. “I’m ridiculously aware of my emotions, okay?”

“I figured as much.” He shoves his hands in his pants pocket. “No, I’m not in a serious relationship.”

Not yet are the unspoken words that linger in the air between us.

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Cover Reveals

by Ashlynmathews on November 30, 2016

2017 is going to be a busy year for book releases! Stay, a contemporary romance novella, and Seeker, an Extinction novella, will release in May. In June, expect Echo, an Extinction novel, to be available. These stories have been in my head for the last three years. Finding the time to write, along with having writers’ block, put me further back than I’d like in regards to book release schedule. I hope by putting out the pre-orders, my readers will have a good idea of what to expect for 2017. Thank you for your continual support. These past two years have been busy for myself and my family, but also a time of respite and reflection along with just taking the time to enjoy LIFE! I hope everyone is doing the same and ending 2016 on a grateful and happy note.

Stay

STAY ~ Releasing May 2017

Violet Harris has three compelling reasons not to get involved with the new guy in the building. One, he’s too good looking, and good-looking guys are nothing but trouble. Two, he looks at her as though she was once something special to him, and that can only mean trouble. Three, his eyes are familiar in a manner that can only spell T-R-O-U-B-L-E.

Those eyes… she shouldn’t stare too deeply into them. The unusual color, light green with flecks of gold, reminds her of a man from her past. He continues to haunt her dreams and her nightmares.

Who is Brooks Hunter? The more time she spends with him the more she suspects all isn’t right in her safe world. When he reveals the unbelievable truth, will she demand he take a much-deserved hike? Or will she ask him to stay and help her piece together the missing memories lost from her assault?

 

 

Seeker

SEEKER ~ Releasing May 2017

“One love. One breath. One heartbeat. In this lifetime and the next I will always follow your soul.”

Demon hunter London Takahashi never imagine the words she whispered to the sexy Lucas Maserati in the heat of passion could bind her heart and soul to a creature she is born to hunt and kill. And never in a million years could she have predicted she’d marry the legendary demon, known for his fierce fighting skills and unwavering commitment to duty above all else, including matters of the heart.

But she did whisper the words, secretly married the demon, and he isn’t too happy with the arrangement.

“Never in a thousand lifetimes would I have thought Fate would choose my mate.”

Priding himself as a loyal Protector and one of the great Elites, Lucas never wanted matrimony, blissful or otherwise. He is raised to value duty over love, not play the part of a dutiful husband, and to a young hunter who believes in fairy tales and a forever-after love? Yet when he discovers London has a zero chance of surviving her next mission, he’s ready to show her enemies Hell has no fury like an overprotective husband. Will London and Lucas set aside their stubborn pride and hurt feelings long enough to work together, surviving insurmountable odds? Or will a family secret destroy their chance at a happily-ever-after?

Echo

ECHO ~ Releasing June 2017

“As my pain is your pleasure…”

Demon hunter Echo Wren doesn’t mind the status quo. She’s content living underground, guarding the tunnels that stretch up and down the west coast. Isolated from others, she can’t hurt them with her touch. And living a solitary life safeguards her greatest secret and shame—she’s the daughter of the most hated and feared demon, Vicious. But when she is the target of a kill order, will she risk exposing her true identity and trust the man assigned as her bodyguard? Or will Rourke’s past—filled with dishonor, dark deeds and a need for revenge—put her life and her heart in danger?

“My darkness will be your life’s light.”

 Operative Rourke Summers isn’t pleased with his latest assignment or the conditions of the contract. First off, don’t touch Echo’s bare hands. Equally important, avoid Echo from midnight to sunrise. What the hell kind of terms are those? The misbehaving and disrespectful kid is already covered in black, from head to toe, his hands gloved, his face concealed beneath the head gear and his voice warped by a modifier. Unless Echo is hiding a secret, one that can destroy Rourke’s sole purpose for existing—finding and killing Snow, Vicious’ murderous daughter. When circumstances beyond their control forces them to face the truth of their entangled past, will Rourke protect Echo’s life at all costs? Or will he surrender to the darkness of what he’d once been—a chosen executioner?

 

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Writer’s Block

by Ashlynmathews on April 10, 2016

Writer's BlockI want to release a book or two sometime this year. However, there’s two obstacles I need to overcome. Time, I can’t control while writer’s block is a struggle I’d rather do without. Can anyone believe it’s mid-April already? Where has time gone?

I try not to dwell on the fast pace of time, or at least my perception of how fast time is moving. Otherwise, the pressures of releasing a book dampens my creativity. Stress and doubt is a serial killer of creativity. Can I write another book? Will it take me years rather than months? Will anyone find and read my books? There are millions of books out there.

I can’t control time but I can attempt to think myself out of my writer’s block. The self-doubt and pressures (put upon by myself) contributes to my writer’s block. Rather than sit my butt on the chair and writing the first thing that comes to my mind, I’ve been editing and rewriting past scenes until I doubt the scenes’ usefulness. Some writers plan out their entire book. I’ve tried but have accepted the creative truth that I’m a pantser. I write by the seat of my pants.

With my past books, the scenes come to me organically. The characters speak and I type their words. The characters feel and I attempt to capture their emotions by putting on paper the mental image in my head of that moment. Yet in the past month or two, the scenes aren’t coming together so easily and neither are the words and the emotions.

I’ve tried different things to get past the writer’s block– walks, listening to music, daydreaming, exercising, working on another manuscript, reading, and watching a lot of television. But when I return to the manuscript, again, the words aren’t flowing.

Today, as I’m writing this blog, I realize why. For Love Actually, the pantser part of my writing has gotten my heroine into a jam that is unrealistic. Or at least, I find her situation not relatable. As a reader of romance, I’d like to somehow relate to my characters. Am I scared of what they’re scared of? Do I want what they want? Have I feared and wanted what they fear and want?

Tavi is scared of being vulnerable. She was once a funny, bright and courageous woman but because of something that had happened to her in the past, she’s now wanting to never be vulnerable again. Unfortunately, the unrealistic plot twist that had somehow made it onto the pages (the pitfalls of being a pantser) doesn’t explore this side of her.

In Echo (Extinction series), I’ve come to the conclusion that the hero I picked might not be the right hero for my heroine. Going back to the drawing boards (written pages) and writing new scenes while putting to rest the old scenes is difficult. Yet, I’d rather go forward with a story that feels right than a story that prolongs my writer’s block.

I’m not certain when I’ll be releasing the next book or which series the book will be in. But I’m certain of one thing. I’d like to enjoy the journey of writing a story, of immersing myself in the characters’ emotions and words and the complexities of their world. And that enjoyment hopefully will translate into a better story for readers. Here’s to conquering my writer’s block :).

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Sneak Peek of Echo (Extinction Series)

by Ashlynmathews on March 1, 2016

Echo is taking me forever to write. Why? Time. I started writing Echo and Rourke’s story in 2012. Fast forward four years later, and three books in the Extinction Series, and my characters have changed. Their goals, motivations and internal/external conflicts are slightly different. Then halfway through the story, my plot took  a sharp turn, which led me to writing a whole new beginning from Rourke’s POV rather than Echo’s. I can’t wait to share Rourke and Echo’s story with readers. I love these two characters. They think they’re different but they’re very much alike. They are two lonely people who are dedicated to their jobs and their duty as protector of mankind but have somehow forgotten that love and friendships are just as important, too. They’ve been on my mind for four years, and their story deserves to be told. I hope you enjoy reading the (unedited, not finalized) sneak peek.

Echo

“The judgment is unanimous. Guilty as charged.”

Guilty as charged. Rourke paced. It’d been twenty-four hours since his murder trial, and where the fuck was he? He was holed up in an abandoned warehouse straddled by railroad tracks on one side and graffiti-marked slab of concrete on the other, attempting to think his way out of his sentencing.

No one would find him here, not even the men on his reconnaissance team. They believed he was in Detroit, given orders to meet one of the Elites—the Ember Elders’ bodyguard. What they would never know in this lifetime was that he’d been dragged in by the Elites to answer to the unforgivable crime of murder. A murder he’d committed out of self-defense.

Behind him, the air moved. Had the commander of chosen executioners come for him earlier than expected? The son of a bitch was rumored to be sneaky as hell, coming and going as though he was a living, breathing ghost.

Rourke spun and hurled his blade.

The blade stopped mere inches from the intruder’s forehead, caught between gloved hands. Clad in black from head to toe, the figure blended into the darkness of the warehouse but Rourke’s hunter eyes saw clearly.

The face mask she wore stretched across high cheekbones, a narrow jawline and a sharp chin, the skin-tight material covering her neck and concealing her eyes.

Straightening his shoulders, he clasped his hands behind his back and stood with his feet firmly planted and legs wide apart, a show of respect for her skills. She wasn’t the commander. However, she could be the commander’s messenger, or… the Elders’.

Mimicking his stance, she blocked the back exit he’d bolted shut earlier. Her confidence bespoke of successful retrievals, or… kills.

“Identify yourself.” He skimmed his fingers over the hilts of the sheathed knives strapped to his belt. Taking her down would be easy. She was reed thin and small in stature, barely reaching his chin on his six-foot tall frame.

“My identity doesn’t matter. How I can help you will.”

“Why would a pureblood want to help me?”

As an operative, he’d fought alongside pure and mixed-blood hunters. Some welcomed his distinction as an UnMarked, a hunter who wasn’t born with powers but came into them late in life. Others had flat-out refused to work with him. Those hunters could go to Hell for all he cared.

Rourke scrutinized the woman. What faction of demon hunters does she belong to, Embers or Blades? Embers believed in old traditions like fated love while Blades paved their own destinies. Blades were forward-thinkers and Embers? Embers were stuck in the past. No wonder they were free-falling into extinction.

Beneath the mask, one of her eyebrows ticked upward. “What makes you think I’m of pureblood?”

“Your aura’s white.”

White for a pureblood’s, blue for a demon with a soul—one he couldn’t detect—and red for a demon’s.

“Were you sent by the Elders?” Maybe they realized they’d wrongfully sentenced him and had sent a messenger to tell him he was released from his contract.

“No.” She stepped closer. “I’m not the messenger.” His blade in her hand gleamed. “And I’m not of pureblood.”

“But—” Not of pureblood, yet her aura mislead him to believe she was one, meaning… Rourke yanked out his blades. “You’re Vicious’ kid.”

Vicious, the demon of all demons, was the greatest enemy of hunters. He and his children’s auras changed to fit their surroundings, like damn chameleons.

“Yes, I’m his kid, one of many bastard children.”

Her disdain surprised and roused his curiosity. “You hate your father.”

“Yes.”

He sheathed his blades. “If you’re seeking protection, I’ll give it, but I don’t stay in one place for very long.”

Metal flashed in his mind seconds before he caught the knife in his hand. The blade sliced across his palm and blood started oozing from the cut.

“That was unnecessary.” He wiped the blade clean on his pants. The cut across his palm closed.

She’d confirmed her father’s demon bloodline with her temper. Only in a fight with demons would Rourke’s gods give him the gift of foresight.

“I’ve proved what I am, what you’ll be making a bargain with.”

“You refuse my protection, but you’re willing to bind yourself to me with a deal?”

She crossed her arms. “Bargain or not, get one thing straight, Mister. I live free. I’m no one’s burden.”

Was that what she thought she was to her father? “You wouldn’t be a burden. And with me, you’ll always live free. I don’t collect charms, kid, no matter how charming you are.”

Beneath her mask, he thought he detected a smirk.

“I’m not a kid.”

He disagreed. “I trained with twins who are like sisters to me. You remind me of them when they were temperamental, stubborn, overconfident teenagers.” He shrugged. “But age doesn’t matter. What’s inside here does.” He tapped at the spot above his heart.

Today was his last living as a free man, and Rourke had many regrets. He should’ve told more dumb jokes, laughed hard at his mistakes, maybe joined his men when they’d invited him for drinks after a successful hunt and kill. Instead, he’d put up a wall between his personal and professional life, a clear message that one didn’t include the other. No exceptions.

As he mulled over a past he couldn’t change, she straightened her spine and tipped her chin at him. Rourke held back his smile. The twins mimicked the same body language when he’d called them out for being moody brats.

“I’m eighteen. Satisfied?”

“Sure.” He tossed his blade back to her. “If you want me dead, get in line.”

She might hate her father but blood ran thicker than mud. Was that how she planned on helping him? Die by her hands instead of by a chosen executioner’s? Tomorrow, once he told the commander of chosen executioners to fuck off, he’d either be a dead man or a hunted one.

Beneath the mask, her mouth curved upward. Her reaction wasn’t born from happiness or joy, but he believed from guilt and a deep sadness. Again, she roused his curiosity.

“I’m here to save you.”

“From killing myself?” He’d rather live free and be hunted for the rest of his life than be tied to a contract to kill humans who became aware of the existence of supernatural beings.

She set his blade on the floor. “From killing the humans you’ll be sent to execute.”

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The Costs of Self-Publishing

by Ashlynmathews on February 21, 2016

The costs of self-publishing can add up quickly. Your needs or wants might differ from mine. The below are my starter or maintenance expenses.

Let’s begin with names. I decided from the start that I would use a pen name. I value my privacy and that of my family’s. I used my middle name as my first, and a version of my husband’s first name as my last. For my publishing company’s name, I chose Commencement Bay Publishing. I use that company name for my contemporary romances. For my paranormal romances, I use First Bite Publishing. All three business names are registered with my county as a DBA (Doing Business As). I also made sure the name and the company names weren’t already used by someone else.

Next is putting together a profile for social media sites and setting up a website. Be sure to have a great picture to post on each site. I had mine professionally taken by a friend who does awesome work.

Social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook are free to sign up and use. A website is a different story. I started with weebly.com as my web host. With their help, I also bought my domain name. Be sure to pick a name that is easy for people to remember. I went with my first and last name and dot com. I used weebly’s site before I truly understood the cost and upkeep that goes into a site. Eventually, I left weebly and went searching for a web designer. I looked through my fellow writers’ websites, and loved a particular one designed by the DigitalHook. I contacted them and James began designing my site. The cost of my website includes a renewal of my domain name, hosting site (Bluehost), and Akismet subscription (blocks hundreds of spam comments a month). I’m currently with WordPress. WordPress is free but I decided to go with what Jame’s did for me. He built the site on his server then found me a hosting site, Bluehost. I love the ease of blogging and being in charge of my site. The learning curve was a bit high in the beginning, and I’m still learning, but I like having the option of changing and adding content to my site. I’m sure there are pros and cons to the free site, too. If you’ve discovered them, please feel free to share in a comment.

Once the website and social media sites are set up be sure to start interacting. Social media can be a time sucker so choose one you really like and consistently post there. I like Facebook and Pinterest. I tend to share what I have on my Pinterest boards with my likes on Facebook. For Facebook, you’ll need to have a personal profile first before you can set up a page where people can “like” your page. My profile page is set up for friends while my page is for my book stuff. Also, consider having a designer design a banner for the social sites. Or research sites that will let you create one at little to no cost. I’ve heard Canva is a good one. Also, Fiverr is a great place to use. Just remember that you get what you pay for :).

After social media, start preparing for the publishing piece of indie publishing. Set up your accounts with the different publishing sites. I have an account with Amazon Kindle Publishing, Smashwords (for wide distribution) and AllRomance Ebooks. I can distribute to Apple iBooks and Barnes and Noble (Nook) through Smashwords. Some authors prefer Draft2Digital for wide distribution. I prefer the ease of Smashwords’ daily book sales report. Once the accounts are set up, I buy ISBNs through Bowkers. It’s more cost effective to buy the ISBNs in bundles than one at a time. Unless you plan on publishing only one book. The publishing sites do provide FREE ISBNs. However, I like to use my own. Maybe later, I’ll change my mind :). Ebooks and print books have separate ISBNs.

Whether you bought your own ISBN or would rather have one issued FREE by each publishing site, the steps of getting the book ready to be released happens before or simultaneously to the above steps. These costs are: editing (Levels of Editing article), book cover, and formatting and uploading to the publishing sites. I use book cover designers and copy editors but format and upload my books.

Formatting and uploading was also a big learning curve for me. I use Jutoh to create mobi and epub files for uploading. I highly recommend buying Maggie Lynch’s book for step-by-step help with this part. A good way to help with costs is to learn to do some of these steps. I tried making my own book covers and realize I’d rather leave this talent to someone else. Same with copy editing :). Book covers range from $5 (Fiverr, and not recommended if publishing a series) to a couple of hundred dollars. Many designers use stock photos so be ready to see the same couples on different book covers. Many book cover designers also offer premade covers at a reasonable price. Copy editing prices range depending on word count.

Another good investment is buying a PO BOX. For privacy reasons, I have a PO BOX listed as my address on my newsletters, done through Mailchimp. Newsletters are a great way to get the word out about sales and new releases. I highly recommend starting one from the get-go even if only family members or friends sign up. Currently, I have 17 subscribers. I’m grateful for having any at all :).

Self-publishing can be costly. Keeping track of income and expenses is the first step to really seeing what’s coming in and out. I’m sure there are apps or programs out there to track expenses and income. I use the old standby–Microsoft Excel. I hope this post helps to dispel any belief that self-publishing is easy, fast, or cheap. Thoughts on any of the above? Be sure to leave a comment.

 

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Luminescence is FREE

by Ashlynmathews on January 16, 2016

luminescenceWriters are programmed to ask, “what if?” to help jumpstart a storyline. For Luminescence, I thought over the what-if storyline of soulmates. What if there existed a concept of fractured souls, where the heroine’s fated lover’s soul lived in two men rather than one? This made for an interesting, unusual and unconventional love triangle. Luminescence is FREE for Kindle, iBooks, Kobo, Nook and at Smashwords. I hope you take advantage of this sale and download your copy. I’d also appreciate it if you can spread the word to your romance reader friends by sharing this post. Thank you, and here’s a snippet.

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Radium followed Sophie to the door to see her out, as manners dictated, from one commander to the other. One question weighed on his mind more than any other during their conversation.

“In December’s exchange with the Seeker, did she mention Brackus?”

Sophie’s hand paused on the doorknob. “No. However, it’s been reported to me that her memories are returning rapidly.” She looked at him with renewed warning in the ocean depths of her eyes. “If December had the intention of leaving Javier for Brackus, Fate won’t stop her in this lifetime or the next. Say the word, and I can have Nick’s position returned to him. Then I’ll have him reassigned across the country, away from December.”

He politely declined. “Have you heard of fractured souls?”

“I have.” Her brows pulled together. “If that is your belief regarding Javier, Brackus, and December, then I extend to you my condolences. Three must become two. In this game of yours, you risk Brackus, December, and Nick’s lives. Is your daughter’s happiness worth that much to you?”

“Not just her happiness but the rest of her life.”

“So be it.” She opened the door. “I’m only a phone call away if you need me.”

Sophie left, leaving him alone with his thoughts. The last forty-eight hours had been a whirlwind of activity on everyone’s part to achieve a feat he’d hoped to execute with the ease of a commander at the helm of a great battle. Succeed in bringing Nick and December together, and lives would be saved. In the meantime, he had a problem that needed to be dealt with.

Radium called his second.

“Sir?”

“Tell Brackus to get his ass out of town. I don’t want him anywhere near my daughter or Nick.”

“Of course.”

He hung up the phone. His strong hand trembled. Radium tossed his cell onto the table like it was a piece of hot coal.

Brackus—Nick’s informant, Radium’s pain-in-the-ass, ex-second-in-command, and the man who had been inseparable from Javier and December since they were teenagers. Until Javier’s death. Then the three’s inseparable souls had been scattered to the wind like Javier’s ashes had been, like Radium’s wife’s had been.

Brackus, you bastard, you’d better be right.

Otherwise, Radium would send Brackus’ soul to hell, along with Javi—along with Nick’s. Maybe then, December would have peace. In this lifetime anyway.

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Acceptance of My Limits

by Ashlynmathews on December 26, 2015

I love to look backwards and forward for different reasons. I glance back at 2015 and realize the year was a reflection of my previous years–my search for a work, life and writing balance. But is balance ever achieved?

For example, let’s look at marriage. Does the husband assume fifty-percent of the household chores? Or the wife fifty-percent of child rearing? Or does the balance ebb and flow as life’s circumstances change?

2015 ebbed and flowed for me. I wrote and published two books. I wanted to write and publish more. Instead, I decided to take a break from writing and help my husband replace the flooring in half of our house. After that project was done (difficult and frustrating at times, but we’re proud we did the job ourselves), I was ready to return to writing. The kids had started school, a perfect time to write while they do their homework. But I somehow injured my dominant arm and couldn’t type or use the computer mouse without excruciating pain from my shoulder to fingertips. I went through a couple weeks of physical and massage therapy. My pain is better but not completely gone so I limit my time at the computer, and yes, my writing.

Then recently, I was promoted at work. With my mind preoccupied with my new position and responsibilities, I had a touch of writer’s block. Currently, I write here and there, whenever I can, an ebb and flow of words, paragraphs, dialogue and word count. I’m getting to, “The End,” of Love Actually (Willowbrook #3), slowly but surely :). I hope readers will love Jaxson and Tavi’s story. It’s been two years in the making. And of course, there’s Echo and Rourke’s story in Echo (Extinction). That’s been three years in the making, and has evolved as the characters continue to grow and change in my imagination.

As I look forward to another ebb and flow in 2016, there are a couple of things from 2015 that I’ve learned to accept. Balance might be more difficult to achieve in this game we call life, but I believe acceptance of my limits and of who I am is a step in the right direction.

  1. It’s okay to be a slow writer.
  2. It’s okay to take a break from writing.
  3. It’s okay to be envious of others’ writing and publishing successes. Envy is a great motivator. Most importantly…
  4. It’s okay to not feel so bad or so guilty for not wanting to write.

Have a great rest of your 2015, and a happy start to 2016!

Quote: “Life is too ironic to fully understand. It takes sadness to know what happiness is. Noise to appreciate silence. And absence to value presence.” Unknown.

Song:  Do I Have to Say the Words? Bryan Adams

 

 

 

 

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