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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Treading Water

by Ashlynmathews on November 25, 2015

Ever have one of those days, month or year where it feels as though finding the time to catch your breath is hard to come by? It’s been that kind of year for me. Thinking back to the last couple of months, I’m so glad I took a break from writing. The break made me realize how much I miss the creative side of my brain. I just wish the physical and mental part of me has more energy to commit to writing daily. As it is, I’m barely threading water. Since my promotion at the day job, the responsibilities of my new position has been the main focus of my thoughts while writing has taken a back seat. Yet, I struggle to put my writing side-by-side with the ideas churning in my head of all of the possibilities for my day job. Every day, I tell my husband, “Okay, I’m gonna sit down and write now.” He’d say, “Is that a threat because you’ve been saying that everyday and I haven’t seen you do it yet.” Then he smiles that gorgeous smile of his and his blue-green eyes twinkle.

But he is so dead on.

I envy writers that write full time. They’re able to bring in enough income from their books to pay the bills. I’d love to get to that point. However, I genuinely love my day job and enjoy the people I work with. They’re like my second family. The job stimulates my brain. And honestly, I’ve worked my butt off for too long to get where I’m at to want to give up the job now.

I think I can have both my writing and my day job without giving up one or the other. I believe my writing helps me think outside of the box for my day job. And the complexity of my day job, including how long it’s taken me to get to this point in my career (17 years as an RN, 10 of those in the Emergency Department), reminds me that hard work, patience, and resiliency will eventually get me to a good place in my writing too. What is that good place? I don’t write fast, but I’m hoping the good place is publishing two to three books a year with overall steady sales of all of my books, good reviews and a growing readership as well as networking with more fellow writers and connecting more with my readers. I’m not asking for much. I’m just asking for more time. And asking for more time is truly about finding a good balance. That has been the theme for me this year and every year since the writing bug bit me in 2010.

So for now, I’ll have to find snippets of time here and there to sit in front of the computer and put the stories in my head to paper (word document).

Thank you so much for continuing to stop by and read my blog posts. I know I plan things then realize it’s not working out (blogging three times a week) and don’t follow through. I hope you’ll see this as a weakness of mine. I get excited and in my excitement I shout my plans to the world (HELLO WORLD). Or maybe it’s just bad juju (my kids laugh when I say the word juju) to share prematurely :).

I’ll be off the grid for about a week as I study for a certification for my day job. My test is next Friday and I’m nervous as heck. Until the next blog post, Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

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Amazon’s Bookstore

by Ashlynmathews on November 18, 2015

Amazonbookstore1

Two weeks ago Amazon opened its first bookstore at University Village, about an hour drive from my place in the Pacific Northwest. When I read the news then saw pictures a friend had posted on Facebook, I realized I had to reach out to her. So here is my interview of her via FB Messenger (she’s a busy mother of four, wife to one cool hubby, like me, lol).

How was your experience?

Love!!! It’s almost all best sellers or highest reviews. Prices are low like the website. It fluctuates; there are scanners throughout the store for people to price check. Books are displayed face forward so you can view all the books easily. Kindles scattered throughout for customers to use.

Better than Barnes and Noble? Kid friendly? Coffee shop? Extras? My local Barnes and Noble has a kids area, comfy chairs scattered throughout for those who want to stay awhile, and a decent sized Starbucks to accommodate a few study groups. I wanted insight as to what Amazon might be offering that B&N doesn’t currently.

No coffee shops. It’s not as big. There is a kids section with table for Kindle Kids. My kids loved it. Not a large area to spread out. I like Barnes and Noble.

Who would you recommend this type of book store to versus B&N?

Amazonbookstore2

People who love Amazon, enjoy book stores and need books for a good deal.


 

Thank you, Sam, for taking time out of your busy life to share your take on Amazon’s bookstore and the wonderful pictures.

My husband and I have many memories of date nights at my local B&N perusing books and sipping our coffees. He’d be immersed in the manga and sci-fi sections. Of course, I’d be in the romance section. I also love checking out the stationaries. B&N has beautiful notebooks, perfect for a writer to jot down ideas and dialogue that come at all times of the day.

I also have memories of my boys playing with the train sets in the kids section and of us trying to decide which Little Critter books to buy next.

I’m happy for Amazon and their new bookstore. However, I’ll continue to peruse books and drink my coffee at my local B&N. There’s no harm in keeping their competition in business :).

P.S. I meant to get this out yesterday but the PNW had a wind storm and we lost power at the house.

On replay:  Bryan Adams ~ Do I Have to Say the Words?

Quote of the blog:  “I am a daydreamer and a nightthinker.” ~ Unknown

 

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UnMarked First Kiss

by Ashlynmathews on November 14, 2015

UnMarked

I’d love to call this post, “First Kiss Friday,” but it’s not Friday. However, the post is about the first kiss between the hero and the heroine. As a lead-in to each of my nine published books (yes, nine Saturdays dedicated to that FIRST KISS), I’ll share the first kiss as well as small tidbits about each book. If there’s a current sale, I’ll also share that information too :). And I’ll keep the order of books from first published to the most current book. Let’s begin shall we?

UnMarked (previously published title, Shadow Watcher, September 2012).

He parked behind her Chevy and switched off the headlights. The car’s engine hummed while the parking lights drew her eyes to the Nevada plates and the faded stickers on the truck’s bumper.

“Warm enough in here?”

“Yes, thank you.”

She liked the warmth. It would take time for her truck to heat up. As they sat in silence, she discreetly scanned their surroundings. There were no red auras. However, her body was keenly aware of the stranger beside her. In her peripheral vision, he rested his hands on top of the steering wheel and stared straight ahead.

“My dad used to drive an old Chevy like yours. In his spare time, he fussed over her. When she stopped running, he still kept her around.” He continued to look forward. “My father died three years ago. His truck still sits in the driveway.”

Some nights, she wanted the dark to hide the truth, didn’t want to see so clearly. The glimpse of grief on this man’s face was hard for her to bear.

Remembering her parents’ deaths, she turned to look at him. “I—”

Moonlight shone in through the car’s window and cast shadows over the hardened planes of his face, causing her to falter and forget what she was about to say. Following her instincts, she leaned forward, cradled the side of his face in her palm, and drew him to her until their eyes locked.

“I’m sorry about your father, Ryan Campbell.”

Her chest ached at what she saw—sadness and . . . guilt. Yet this human’s aura shone golden, a sign of goodness. After tonight, she wouldn’t see him again. It was time to make a choice, to deviate from her rule of not caring or letting a human care about her.

Placing her hand on the back of his head, she brought him closer until their lips barely touched. “You have to understand, I don’t normally do this kind of thing.” The two of them, in the middle of nowhere, spoke of a dangerous kind of hook-up.

She moved her lips over his, and he held still, seeming undecided on how to respond to her forwardness. Not wanting to see so clearly if he rejected her, yet craving to feel deeply if he returned her advances, she closed her eyes and waited.

When he threaded his fingers through her hair, she inhaled at how good his touch felt. He kissed her, and his mouth was soft and his taste intoxicating like ripe strawberries on a warm summer day. A moan slipped out of her. She hadn’t let a man kiss or touch her since Dom.

He nuzzled her neck and lingered before he fastened his mouth over hers again. He smelled of rain and dirt, and she inhaled his sexy scent. He smiled against her lips before deepening their kiss. Had he realized how much she loved the rain?

A deep, wanting twinge formed in her chest and spread to the pit of her stomach, his kisses and touches a sudden reminder of how lonely her existence had become and the reason behind it. She wrenched her mouth away. “I—I took this too far. The kiss—” Gods, what had she done?

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

UnMarked book descriptionThey say in death, your life flashes before your eyes like pictures in an old movie reel. That had never happened for her.

Keeping her resurrection a secret from the world is easy to do for demon hunter Sophie Sinclair. Her life depends on her living in the shadows, a ghost hunting demons in the night to fulfill a contract that can free her from a past mistake.

Wanting to feel alive to the touches and kisses of a man… well, it’s an experience she’d rather not go through again in this lifetime. One unforgivable act of betrayal had been enough for her to swear off men. Until sexy, ex-homicide detective Ryan Campbell drops in on her supernatural existence. He’s a man with a very dangerous proposition for her, and his own dark secrets. Secrets that can rip their world and her heart to pieces.

How far will Sophie and Ryan go for duty and freedom, family and love? And will the truth set them free?

UnMarked tidbits:

The original title was Noble Heart, Journey of Fate followed by Shadowatcher then Shadow Watcher, and now UnMarked. UnMarked is part of the Extinction Series. The title came from what the H/H represents. They are considered UnMarkeds. UnMarkeds aren’t pureblood demon hunters. They can be a mix of demon and pureblood, or human and pureblood. In the story, our hero, Ryan Campbell’s father is human and his mother is a pureblood demon hunter. Unfortunately for Ryan, he’s born without supernatural powers. His hunting powers (speed, seeing in the dark, heightened senses) comes later in life. Sophie, our confused sometimes naive but bad-ass heroine has pureblood, demon and human blood in her. Their story is a bit on the dark side. Their feelings for one another are put to the test as they must decide between duty, family, and love.

UnMarked isn’t on sale currently. However, here are the links for where you can get a copy:  Amazon, Nook, Kobo, Allromanceebooks, Apple ibooks, and other major retailers.

 

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Focus

by Ashlynmathews on November 12, 2015

I truly believe my writing life reflects my day job work life. Since taking on the new position of lead of my department, I’ve been exhausted, feeling as though I’m a hamster on a wheel. Basically, spinning, spinning, and spinning without getting anywhere.

Getting nowhere is the story of my current writing life. I’m attempting to write three books. Two are for existing series. The other book is a stand-alone, a venture of mine into dark, contemporary romance.

I realize today, after emailing back and forth with my boss, that my focus for the past month is too global. An analogy that comes to mind is I’m drawing all over the place on a blank piece of paper rather than drawing a picture of an object and then coloring within the lines until the object is completely filled in with color. I have direction, yet I don’t, if that makes sense.

So, I’ve decided the best thing for my sanity is to narrow my focus in my day job AND my writing. By doing so, I’m hoping to put a stop to the spinning and start being more productive.

First, I’ll be writing and finishing one book at a time. Second, I’ll be narrowing the focus of my blog posts to my favorite subjects to blog about:  the writer’s life, finding a sustainable work/life/writing balance; publishing news and concerns; and for readers, my books. To help with consistency and to keep myself accountable, without inundating my blog subscribers with too much content, I’ve decided to blog about my writer’s life on Tuesdays, share publishing news/concerns on Thursdays, and divulge book stuff on Saturdays.

Okay, so now you know my plan. What are you doing in your life or work to be more productive, to go forward rather than spinning in one place? Leave a comment if you want to share, and thank you for reading my posts!!!

Song on replay:  Sia, Elastic Heart

Quote:  Throw me to the wolves and I will return leading the pack. ~ Unknown

 

 

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I Should Be Writing

by Ashlynmathews on October 17, 2015

I should be writing, but I’m not. Instead, I’m surfing the internet. I’m watching television. I’m analyzing my book sales. I’m pondering the question of whether I should separate my PNR and contemporary romances by using a different pen name for my PNR.

I surf the internet for information that could help me with my current predicament. The sales of my paranormal romances are dismal. The television is on for white noise. While I’m surfing the internet and listening to the television, I review my sales spreadsheet from 2014 and 2015. Though sales of my PNR romances are good, I’m not thrilled by them. The numbers could be better. I then think over the cons of a separate pen name for my PNRs.

If I were to use a different pen name for my five PNR titles, I’d have to have:

  1. Separate social media accounts for FB and Twitter.
  2. A separate website page (possibly) OR combine with my current Ashlyn Mathews blog.
  3. New covers (added expense).
  4. A DBA name. I currently have my pen name (yes, Ashlyn Mathews is a pen name) and two publishing names (Commencement Bay Publishing and First Bite Publishing) registered as a “Doing Business As” in my current county.
  5. I’d lose my reviews for those five titles and would have to start over again.

 

Writing is difficult to begin with. There’s nothing easy about composing a story that should do so many things. Writers must hook their readers within the first five pages and keep them engage enough to finish the story. A story should be entertaining and have a message. Heroes and heroines should be flawed and lacking in character but have the potential to become redeemable and strong.

Personally, I feel this is more so in PNR. The heroine should be strong, smart, funny, likeable AND kick-ass, yet VULNERABLE, emotionally. The PNR hero should be Alpha, but not too Alpha that he comes off as being a douche bag. AND, the world building should meet readers’ expectations for each group of creatures (vampires, werewolves, witches, etc.) and be clear though the supernatural world is very complex. Did I mention how difficult writing is, let alone putting “The End,” on a book?

Normally, I don’t read reviews. A lot of authors don’t. But when I do, I look at the consistent messages in the reviews, and think through what the messages mean. When I look at my PNRs, the consistent message has been story confusion. I totally understand. The world building in a PNR can confuse any reader. I know. Believe me, I haven’t submerged myself in J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series for that very reason.

Going forward, I’ll work harder on making sure my stories are clearer. Because that really is the crux of this post. It’s about WRITING BETTER, WRITING CLEARER, and KEEP ON WRITING. It’s about SELF-IMPROVEMENT and SELF-ASSESSMENT. It’s also about persistence and resilience, and discovery. All are within my control. As is the internet surfing, television watching (listening) and not writing when I should be. I’ll keep the television on for now, but I’ll be shutting down the internet soon so I can get back to writing. After all, a book won’t write itself.

Quote: Dear Self, Promise to treasure your time. Don’t fall in love with potential. Remember that just because you want it, doesn’t mean it deserves to have you. Be patient, but don’t procrastinate. Be hopeful, but not naïve. When it’s right, you’ll know. You don’t have to force it.

Song on replay: R5’s Heart Made Up On You

 

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If You Want to Sell Books, Don’t Follow My Lead

by Ashlynmathews on September 28, 2015

If you want to sell books, don’t follow my lead. Don’t write the next book in a series. Don’t blog. Don’t actively promote your books. And definitely don’t release anything new.

If you don’t want to sell books, these are must-do’s. Watch trashy reality television. Build playlists for every task possible. I have one for cooking, cleaning, exercising, painting, commuting. You get the picture. And of course, do watch every permeation of every possible zombie show and movie ever made.

I write the above in jest, yet the statements is my current reality.

I haven’t released new books or blogged because I’ve been on a self-imposed sabbatical from writing and publishing. I believe as an indie author I have choices as to when I write and what I write. My readers might disagree. Believe me, I understand. I was a voracious reader too, always looking forward to the next book from my go-to authors. Everything from horror (here’s looking at you, Stephen King) to every genre of romance to nonfiction books, especially those self-help or get-rich-quick books, lol.

I read anything and everything because I wanted to know and learn more about the world around me without leaving the comforts of my home. Isn’t that why we read? To explore? To learn? To experience life and feel emotions from another’s perspective?

I haven’t actively promoted my works since July, when I reached the limit on my budget for the year. Instead, I’ve made the first books in their respective series free (If Only and Protector are free everywhere except Amazon).

Though I may not be as active on social media or getting my books in front of more readers, I look forward to spending the rest of 2015 writing. However, the process will be much slower than I’d like.

A new obstacle other than my pesky need for a mental break from the characters’ voices in my head slows me down. Have you ever had a pinch nerve in your neck? I’m raising my unaffected arm really high. Yes, I have a pinched nerve, and it hurts like heck. The pain settles behind my right shoulder blade and radiates down my right arm, which happens to be my dominate side. The pain is a constant ache, worsen when I drive and, when I’m using the computer mouse and typing.

Apparently, this pain will go away. Or so I’ve heard from people close to me who have experienced the same problem. I’m crossing my fingers for that day to be soon. Soon can’t come soon enough. So I hope you’ll understand why I’m listening to my various playlists, ignoring my blog, watching trashy reality television, and watching tons of zombie shows while typing here and there for a few minutes at a time.

Disclaimer:  This blog post was written in between arm stretches with a resistance band, and heating pads to the writer’s shoulder and arm.

Quote: I am in competition with no one. I have no desire to play the game of being better than anyone. I am simply trying to be better than the person I was yesterday. ~ Anonymous

Song on replay: Photograph ~ Ed Sheeran

 

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Taking a Break

by Ashlynmathews on July 9, 2015

Addressing my “taking a break” announcement on Facebook

On June 22nd I posted this on my Facebook page:

After much thought, I’ve decided to take another break from writing. All of those “release date TBD,” will now be a “I don’t know if those books will ever be released.” Thank you to my favorite readers-Amanda, Casey and Brenda- for their support. Don’t worry, everything is fine in my life. This isn’t a “goodbye,” but rather a, “see you soon.” I’ll be explaining the reason for my break in my next blog post. Maybe I will and maybe I won’t be releasing any books in 2016 and further. For now, 2015 is done for me, book-wise. When a decision is made, and there is relief rather than regret, that’s when I know I’ve made the right decision
________________________________________________________
For those who have followed my blog, I took another break in January 2013, not releasing any new books until April 2014. There was a reason for my long break. The writing bug bit me in 2010, and I couldn’t let go of the compulsion to write and write and write. At the time, my boys were 10, 8, and the twins 3 years old.

The two oldest were in soccer year round. I worked full time with a 1 1/2-2 hour commute each way. I’d get home from work and write until 1 am then get up at 5 am to catch my 6 am train to work. I’d write non-stop on the weekends and bring the laptop along to write in between soccer games. As you can imagine, the pace wasn’t sustainable.

I crashed, mentally and physically. It took a long time to get over the exhaustion.

Recently, I started heading in that general direction again as I attempted to fulfill my self-imposed deadlines. Echo (Extinction Book 3) was supposed to be released at the end of this month. I won’t make the deadline and have pulled the book off of Amazon for pre-order. I thought I’d have Love Actually (Willowbrook Book 3) and Utterly and Completely (Dare You Book 3) out by fall of this year. That won’t happen either.

Since the announcement almost two weeks ago, I’m feeling better already, mentally and physically. Just some small background as to the mental and physical exhaustion. My husband and I are re-doing the flooring in three rooms. At my day job, I’m helping to train three and soon-to-be four people. Training, and ripping up flooring is exhausting. Add in the creative process of writing, and it became too much.

Training will be done by October. Getting kids ready for school will be completed before September. And the flooring/remodeling will be done by the end of this month. Love Actually is next on my list to write, followed by Echo. However, the writing may be slower as I intend to enjoy my “break.”

So here are the book news.
The Dare You series with Bryce and Lucy will only be two books- Near Perfect and Torn. I believe Torn completed their story and I’m ready to move on to the other two couples I’d like to explore further.
If you’ve read Torn, I’ve set up a story line for Marcus and McKenzie, and Claire and Tristan. Plan for some major head-butting between these couples.

Love Actually will be the next contemporary romance release. This will be the last book in the Willowbrook series.

My best selling books are my contemporary romances, so that’s where my focus will be for 2016. However, I know some of my readers want Cage’s story (Extinction series), and “the boys'” stories from the Universal Law series. Believe me, these paranormal romance bad boys will eventually meet their flawed but feisty matches.

I hope this newsletter helps alleviate any worries for and about me.

Now on to book news, and the winner of my every other month drawing for  a $10 Amazon gift card (no June newsletter). All of my books are being sold exclusively at Amazon until further notice.

Sale Alert!
If you haven’t read my paranormal romances, consider buying LUMINSCENCE. The book will be on sale on Amazon.com for 99 cents July 8-July 15th. Though it’s the 3rd book in the series, it can be read as a stand alone.

 

Quote: “Cry as hard as you want to. But just make sure that when you stop crying, you never cry for the same reason again.”

Song on replay: Hilary Duff~ Breathe In. Breathe Out.

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Moving Forward

by Ashlynmathews on May 22, 2015

MovingForwardHave I ever mention how hard it is to work full time, raise four boys, write a book or even sell a book? I can say the day job and raising my boys with the hubby is a cake walk compared to writing and selling books.

Writing is hard. There are things called characters, plot, goals, motivation, conflict (ugh, I don’t like conflict), the beginning, middle and THE END.

But of course, the end isn’t really THE END. There’s formatting the book and uploading the book onto various vendor sites.

Afterward, there’s something called promotion, or what I like to refer to as “discovery” or “reader awareness.”

After all, how will readers discover your book in the big ocean of books out there without some type of promotion? And if you’re an indie author without the backing of a large publisher or a huge reader base already, or just new, period, then the uphill climb can seem steep indeed.

I believe to succeed in this “marathon” of writing, publishing, promoting (and repeat), authors need to be dynamic. Yes, I used the word authors rather than writers. “Authors” encompass writing, publishing and promoting (and repeat). Writers write but haven’t moved forward toward publishing then promoting. However, it’s not bad to be a writer, which brings me to my discussion with the hubby. Really, just yesterday, I wanted to revert back to being a writer, and forget publishing altogether. But after our talk, I realize I can’t give up what I love to do, and what has been my creative outlet–writing, publishing, formatting (I now love formatting), and uploading (love this too).

Basically, the gist of the conversation (why I wanted to give up) was, “But it was 99cents! I can’t believe they returned my book!”

Amazon’s return policy isn’t stated in large print on their site. However, I believe it’s one of the few vendors out there that will let readers buy then return ebooks within seven days.

There’s a lot of discussion out there about the merits of the return policy. Some people love it. We all should have the option to return what we don’t like. Yeah, I can understand that point. But I was never one of those gals that wore a prom dress with the tag still attached then returned it the next day. Nor have I ever returned an ebook I didn’t like or didn’t finish.

I don’t leave bad reviews. I just don’t finish the book. Do I buy from the author again? Hell, yeah! I like the author and their previous works. Unfortunately, that particular book didn’t keep my attention. And with the “full time, raise four boys, write a book or even sell a book,” comment, you can see I don’t have much time to read a book much less write one.

On the author side of the argument is the abuse issue. Did a reader buy my book, read it then return it? It’s easy to read a book within the seven day grace period. Having access to my dashboard at Amazon, I see trends. All of my paranormal romances has been read then returned by someone in Spain. Yep, each time I release a PNR, someone there buys it and returns it that first week the book is out. Am I peeved? Yes. But looking at the bigger picture, my return rate from January 2015 to April 2015 is 2%. I’d like it to be zero percent, but I’m happy with 2%.

Okay, I’ve gone off on a tangent again. Let’s get back to “discovery” and “reader awareness,” along with being dynamic!

To survive in this industry, an author needs to keep going forward. Try new promotion ideas. What worked last year might not work this year. Use social media by following and liking the right people or entities. That’s how I discovered many of the book promotion sites. Check the sites’ popularity and how many sites link to theirs by using Alexa.com. A site with lots of views and activity will have a lower number. Basically, use the world wide web. There’s loads of information to be had there.

Last year I went indie. The learning curve was high and my tracking of sales wasn’t the best. This year, I decided to do a better job of tracking what works and what hasn’t worked. To up the chances of my books being discovered and because I want to be dynamic rather than static, I decided to narrow down how I promote.

Here’s my promotion plan for my newest PNR release Wolf’s Red, based on how successful my previous campaign (Near Perfect-99 cents, Torn– new release special 2.99, UnMarked 99 cents) was for the month of April.

Now, because Wolf’s Red is a new release priced at 2.99, I had limited options. However, the “new release” part enabled me to use sites that welcomed new releases at a bargain price, usually a book priced 5.99 or lower. I chose three sites:  Awesomegang.com, DigitalBookToday, and BookLemur. I’ve used Awesomegang and BookLemur with success. However, this will be the first time I’ve promoted with DigitalBookToday. I’m also using ReadingDeals to hopefully get more reviews for Wolf’s Red.

Aside from these promotion sites, and doing a print giveaway at Goodreads, I also decided to put two of my short stories (If Only-contemporary romance and Protector-paranormal romance) into Kindle Unlimited. Kindle Unlimited is the subscription program Amazon rolled out last July. Unfortunately, by putting these two books in KU, I have to follow Amazon’s rules and go exclusive with them, pulling these titles from Apple, B&N, etc. I can live with exclusive for 90 days, the period set by Amazon.

Again, it’s being dynamic, switching things up a little bit. I think the risks are low (exclusive, price of promo) but the rewards are high (exposure, gain more readers). What have you done that was “dynamic?”

Here’s my non-book related “dynamic.” At my annual review with my boss at the day job, I suggested creating a new position specifically for ME based on my love of training, teaching and mentoring new people. Guess what? She loved the idea of the position of “training coordinator”, and is going forward with human resources to create this position. How cool is that? Yes, I have an awesome boss, and she’s a dynamic person. Dynamic (constant change, activity, or progress) propels. Write on but also move forward, propel, be dynamic!

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Excerpt From Wolf’s Red

by Ashlynmathews on May 16, 2015

wolf's red200x300A story stuck with me from childhood, Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid. I remember watching it and being so sad at the end because the prince married someone other than the little mermaid who had saved him. She couldn’t kill him to get back her fins and her life in the ocean with her family. Instead, she threw herself into the ocean, and died. The gods brought her back as sea foam.

As a writer, I decided to revisit that tale, and give MY little mermaid a happily-ever-after. Maybe not with a shallow prince, but with the big, bad wolf himself. In Wolf’s Red, you’ll find references to Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Sirens and Poseidon, and my own spin of how Sirens came to be. Let’s just say the ocean and the river god fell in love. Wolf’s Red will be released May 20th on Amazon, and should be available at other retailers soon. Here’s an excerpt.

Axel caught Red in his arms before she could crumple into a heap on his doorstep. He hoisted her over his shoulder, closed the door with a push from his foot, and made his way to the lone bedroom.

Since stealing Red’s heart almost two hours ago, he’d been patiently looking forward to seeing her stomp her way through the forest and to his place. They had a reckoning that needed to happen.

Sure sneaking into her place and taking her heart was a low-ball move. However, he’d warned her several times to not mess with him, hadn’t he? She hadn’t listened. Red continued to trespass on his property to hunt and forage for her food. Unacceptable.

He wasn’t labeled Mad Dog Axel and ostracized to the White Forest without good reason.

Moonlight shone in through the window. The beams sliced through the darkness, past the gaps between the tall trees, illuminating the room. He set her on his bed and peered at her through hooded eyes. He didn’t need the light. A wolf could see in the dark.

She was small and thin. Had she been upright, the top of her head would graze the notch of his sternum. With a grip from one hand, he could break her bones. Yep, Red Little wasn’t a danger to him or any creature. At least while she was on land.

He gave her chest a fleeting glance. She barely breathed. Soon, he’d have to give her back her heart. But he wasn’t ready. Not yet. Red needed to be taught a lesson. Don’t trespass on his property again. Ever.

Smirking at the lessons he was prepared to impart on the misbehaving woman, Axel grabbed a chair from the corner, set it next to the bed and watched her sleep.

As he perused her from head to toe and back to her face again, her eyes opened. She looked at him in confusion before her lips thinned into a fine line.

“My heart, Axel. Give it back.”

He hadn’t expected his heart to pump something fierce at having those green eyes directed at him with ire in their depths.

Ready to give her the reckoning she deserved, he yanked his shirt over his head, baring his chest to her. Her eyes widened and crimson dotted her cheeks. Her attention shifted from one tat to another that stretched along his sides before her eyes lingered on the strip of hair disappearing into the waistband of his pants.

“Like what you see, Red?”

“Oh, go screw yourself.”

He chuckled as the flush on her cheeks spread to the elegant column of her neck. She might not admit it but he understood when a woman was turned on, and Red was definitely aroused by the sight of him, half-naked. Soon, she’d get the full view of how much he wanted her.

“My heart,” she reminded him.

“I’ll give you back your heart if you give me something in exchange.”

“What do I have that you want?” She tipped her chin at him. “I have no money and no title.”

He reached down and untied the ties of her cloak, eliciting a sharp intake of breath from her.

“You can’t.”

“I can and I will.” He unbuttoned the front of her dress down to her waist but didn’t push aside the fabric’s edges. In due time, he’d expose her body to the hunger swelling inside him.

“Hunter—”

“Was a coward, undeserving of you.” He traced his fingers from the notch of her collar bone to her navel. She trembled beneath his caress. Axel held back his wolfish grin and took a seat on the chair next to the bed.

“You told him I had nothing to offer him, no money or skills worth paying for. Lies. I have both.”

“But not enough of either for him to stick around. How long did his feelings for you last, a good month or two?”

“A month,” she murmured as she turned from him to stare at the wall.

His inner wolf growled low at the hurt he’d glimpsed on her face. Someone other than Hunter had broken Red’s heart.

The wolf in him longed to comfort her while the man would punish her, slowly, for what she’d done to him—withholding a truth that could’ve saved him from being stripped of his title as Alpha of the Far East Wolf pack.

When she spoke again, her voice shook. “I thought he was different, that he’d see past the rags I call my clothes and recognize me for what I believed I had on the inside. But he couldn’t see past the rags and the worn down cottage to get to me.”

To get to me. After what had happened between them at sea, and what he’d observed during her time on land, Axel understood who “me” was.

Red Little had the strength and courage to save a drowning dog. And she had the determination to make a life for herself along the edge of the White Forest, far from the closest village of Grimm.

He reached out and smoothed his hand over her hair. The wolf’s instinct to comfort overshadowed the man’s need for revenge.

“Pathetic, isn’t it? That I ignored your warning and was willing to stay with a cheater because I was scared to be alone?” She glanced away from the wall and looked him directly in the eye.

She possessed the strength and courage to face up to the man who could easily tell her, “I told you so,” but he wouldn’t throw her admission back in her face. He wasn’t that type of man.

Hunter was a bastard for letting a jewel like Red go. Red Little just needed a little more polishing to bring out the winning shine in her. Hunter’s loss but Axel’s gain.

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