Nothing of great importance here :) Just a quick hello, a visit from Bagans, and a few updates.
Here’s that link: Alexis Anne
Nothing of great importance here :) Just a quick hello, a visit from Bagans, and a few updates.
Here’s that link: Alexis Anne
You have my apologies for the lateness of this post. It’s been a constant back-and-forth battle with germs in our house lately…and the sickness is winning! Energy has been the one, major thing I’m lacking, so I’ve stayed away from writing, reading, and just about anything else that requires a great deal of focus and attention. No excuses, though. I abandoned you, and I’m sorry. Now, onward!
I always know it’s going to be a great day when I open my e-mail to find messages from two of my favorite guys (both eager to share what’s going on over on iBooks!). You see that cool picture there? Yeah! That’s a new international merchandising promotion that Apple iBooks launched this week in the US, Australia and New Zealand. This promo spotlights free series starters, and I’m one of the many lucky Smashwords authors featured this week.
The New Girl will always hold a special place in my heart. It was the first manuscript I ever finished and published, and I’m so happy to see it featured this week on iBooks. If you’ve read it and enjoyed it, please spread the word to your friends! It’s free, free, free, and it never hurts to take a chance on a freebie, right? :) While you’re at it, check out some of the other free series starters (categories include Mysteries and Thrillers, Romance, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, and Teen Fiction). I already have my eye on a few of these freebies (and I plan to snatch them up as soon as we’re done here).
Have you heard? There’s more in store for Julie, Luke, and the rest of the Oakland gang. The Just a Little continuation, A Little Beyond, begins (and ends) this year. What’s the release schedule look like? Currently:
My goal is to have all three of these installments up for pre-order by the end of the month. Please keep a look out for updates!
There have been some questions lately about the unavailability of the Christmas short story, A Little Christmas Magic. As this was a small freebie gift for my newsletter subscribers in December, it is not currently available for sale. However, it will be accessible soon, as it will serve as a lead-in to the next series. A Little Christmas Magic will be included at the beginning of the first A Little Beyond book (due August 31, 2014).
So many of you have helped celebrate my 25th birthday in the best possible way! Remember: 100% of the March & April paperback proceeds will go directly to charity. I’ve extended the ordering deadline through the end of April because there are still open orders. I have quite a few e-mails to respond to, books to ship, and royalties to collect before all the loose ends are tied up. I’m trying not to sign & ship while I’m sick. The last thing I want to do is ship my sick germs to any of you in a pretty, little box. Thank you for your patience and understanding. I’ll have the final total and details for you in the May post.
Last Tuesday I chatted with the ladies of First Draught. We talked about music and how it inspires the writing process. Like the sillies that we are, we decided to tackle this Google Hangout on April 1st, and it turned out to be a horrible Fool’s Day mess. We experienced about six billion technical difficulties, and I’m sure each of us said one or two things we shouldn’t have said on air. If you missed it, and you’re daring enough to watch, you can find our Music as Muse chat here:
Alexis Anne is doing a Breaking Rules giveaway on her blog! If you want a chance to win an autographed copy of my debut novel, please stop by her website and check out the details: http://alexisannebooks.com/2014/04/04/flash-fiction-friday-chapter-4-of-the-unspoken-game/
I hope you’re all doing well :) I can’t wait to share more with you in the coming months!
There’s a fun little blog hop happening right now, and I’ve been tagged by the lovely Lashell Collins to go next. We’re talking about the writing process–what we’re working on, how it’s different, why we write what we do, and how our processes work. Today I’m answering four basic (but not so simple) questions before I pass the torch to the incredibly talented Jess (J.C. Hannigan).
I tackle one project at a time. Only one. Unlike a lot of my friends, I’m not organized enough to juggle multiple manuscripts. I’m certain that if I tried, my second-floor balcony would serve less as a viewing deck and more as a platform for leaping off of. The sad thing is that, only two floors up, I would survive the fall and have to go right back to work. So, for sanity’s sake, I stick to one and only one project at a time.
Where’s that leave me now? I’m fine-tuning the final scenes of my New Adult novel, Breaking Walls before it’s off to the editor on Tuesday. Sounds painless enough, right? It’s really not. My characters are fighting me. But what can I do? They’re in charge; I’m just following their lead.
Before I can jump in and answer this question, I have to address some things about the genre itself. Here’s the big kicker: I write New Adult, but I’m not a raving fan of it. As a writer, you hear it all the time: write only what you love, and that’s exactly what I do. I write the stories I want to tell, and they just happen to fall into this category. However, I do not follow most of the New Adult trends.
Elizabeth Barone wrote an amazing article about the genre a few months back. Her post is called Why New Adult Sucks (and How We Can Fix It). In this article, she addresses how NA books so often lack character development and real-life scenarios, and she even makes a point to mention the one issue that rattles me every single time. She says, “when the emphasis is on sex and the main characters do nothing else, the point is lost.” I couldn’t agree more. But the game becomes especially difficult when you’re writing New Adult romance. And guess what? That’s the lounge I’m hanging out in.
I’m a huge fan of reading and writing emotionally-driven romance, so I vow to stay away from the sexy, physical trends of New Adult.
That’s what really sets my work apart from a lot of others in its genre. I’m not saying it’s a good thing, I’m not saying it’s bad. I’m just saying it’s different. Was that the question? (Scrolls up to check) Okay. Yes. Moving on!
I’m a hopeless romantic, plain and simple. I’ve made it my personal mission in life to play matchmaker to fictional characters!
I like to call my process “Sit down and write.”
What are the rules? Sit down and write. The end.
Unfortunately, I’m not in any kind of position where I can sit around and wait for inspiration. Sometimes I write first thing in the morning. Sometimes I write into the dark of night. I have a toddler, so I have to be as realistic as possible. I write when I can. All that matters is that I find time to sit down every day, put the words on paper, and tell the best possible story I can. There’s only one thing I know going into each day: I’ll put in my eight hours, and if I’m lucky, I might squeeze in a few more. A lot depends on how early I can pull myself out of bed or how late I can stay up. It’s really not an organized process, but it’s the only one that works for me.
The writing itself? I’m a pantser. I’d say that 95% of the time, I know about as much of the upcoming story line as my readers do. The one advantage I have over them, though, is that I always know all the character history, the background information, and the general beginning and end. It’s the stuff happening between Points A and B that I have to figure out as I go.
And you wanna hear the best part? When it comes to the writing process, there’s no ‘right’ way. The proof is at your fingertips:
And don’t forget to keep an eye out for the next post on the writing process.
Over to you Jess (J.C. Hannigan)!
I write a lot. Every day I immerse myself into fictional worlds where young girls desperately search for the answers to life and love. Most of the time, the answers come in the form of a hero, a man who swoops in and sweeps her off her feet.
For Steph, it was Alexander Rivera.
For Julie, it was always Luke.
For Mandy, Gabe.
Ask Google and they’ll tell you that a hero is a ‘person, typically a man, who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.’ Ask me, and I’d say that definition barely begins to scrape the surface. A hero isn’t always the person you fall in love with, or the person you’re destined to find. There’s more to it than that. I like to believe that we all have a hero, someone we love unconditionally and look up to, someone who’s impacted our lives in such a way that we are completely unfulfilled without them. To me, that person is undoubtedly my big brother.
The moment I came home from the hospital in March 1989, Andy became my best friend. He held my hand when I cried. He celebrated my successes. He taught me how to play the drums and guitar (neither of which he actually knew how to play for himself). From him I learned about the power of overcoming fear, and without him I would’ve never known the true magnitude of love and laughter. In the years growing up together, I learned more from my big brother than I ever learned from any other person.
Rewind to 1984, five years before I ever came onto the scene. Andrew Ross Puckett was born on March 19th at 7 lbs. 2 oz and 19″ long. The most remarkable thing my parents learned that day, however, was not they’d just welcomed any baby boy into the world, but that their little, pink bundle of joy had one remarkable quality—he had an extra copy of chromosome 21, better known as Down syndrome.
With a genetic birth defect and multiple holes lining his heart, life was a struggle for Andy from the get-go. The doctors immediately swept him from the room, telling my parents that they were better off not to create a bond with a child so unlikely to develop. Andy, the doctors advised, should never go home.
My parents, the super heroes they were, couldn’t be swayed. He was their miracle baby, and he’d have no other home but the one they’d made for him out on Gath Road.
So along with the medical complications he was fated for a lifetime, he was also destined to face many academic, emotional, and social obstacles. The odds were against him to ever reach even the basic milestones. Walking and talking? Probably not. Reading and writing? Never.
But like my parents, Andy had something to prove. He set out to defy the odds… and he did just that. Not only did he eventually learn to walk and talk like all of the other kids his age, but he went on to excel in our local MRDD school system.
Andy’s high school career was one to brag about (and believe me, he bragged every day). As the star of the basketball team, his room was littered with trophies. As a 60-time Special Olympic medal winner, his name was in the local paper week after week. To this day, I’ve never met a more decorated athlete.
Andy graduated high school in 2006 at a fourth grade reading and writing level, and his math skills were up to par with that of a second grade student. Give him a calculator and he’s better at math than any of his sisters.
Those things, though, are not the things that make Andy so special to me.
The reason I can call this man my hero has nothing to do with an extra chromosome, a few (too many) trophies, and dozens of gold medals. It’s not even because he saved my life after I nearly drown at Long’s Retreat one summer. I call this man my hero because he doesn’t believe in limitations. In Andy’s eyes, there’s no such thing as ‘impossible.’
My brother is an amazing man who, when he loves, loves unconditionally. I am fortunate enough to have that gift of love. My 25 years have not been lived perfectly. I’ve made more than my share of mistakes along the way. But in spite of all of those mistakes and missteps, Andy has never given up on me, and he has never allowed me to give up on myself. He is my biggest fan and my most loyal supporter. I love him with every beat of my heart.
So today, on March, 19, 2014, I’d like to send one very clear message to my brother, my hero, and my best friend:
Thank you for the younger years… …for all the fun…. … all the dates… …and for all the smiles. And even though we don’t always root for the same team (go Brewers!)… I hope you know that I’ll always love you anyway :)
Thank you for the younger years…
…for all the fun….
… all the dates…
…and for all the smiles.
And even though we don’t always root for the same team (go Brewers!)…
I hope you know that I’ll always love you anyway :)
You know the drill by now, right? It’s the beginning of another month and time to sit back and listen as I rant about all things Tracie. This one’s an important one, so please try to hang in there until the end!
(1) Tomorrow night I’ll be hanging out online with some of my favorite authors (Julia Kelly, Alexis Anne, Mary Chris Escobar, and Lashell Collins) as we chat about the writing process. We’ll be discussing one of my favorite writing topics: plotters vs. pantsers. We’ll talk about both techniques, our individual approaches for writing our manuscripts, and… well, anything else that comes to mind as we’re live on air. Wanna see us in action?
We’re going live at 8:15pm EST on Tuesday, March 4. Grab a drink and join us!* at:
*If you’re one of my lovely underage readers (or simply teetotal (like me!)), you can take the Tracie-approach and reach for your Smart Water bottle (or your non-alcoholic beverage of choice) instead. Fun will be had by all, drinking or not!
UPDATE (03/07/2014): Did you miss the live event? You can still watch it here!
(2) I know that March Madness has nothing to do with the writing process, but the name is quite fitting for the way things are shaping up on my end. This is MY March Madness:
(3) I went home this weekend to celebrate my 25th birthday! While I don’t turn a quarter-century old until this Thursday (only three more days, EEK!), I had to take advantage of the only opportunity I’ll have to blow out the candles, make my wish(es), and stuff my face with delicious cake! I’ll be spending my actual birthday weekend enjoying choo-choo train attractions with Joseph and packing meals for Hands Against Hunger.
Wondering what to get me for my birthday? Here’s an idea (you can’t go wrong!): Buy any one of my paperbacks this month (from March 1- March 31, 2014) and I’ll pay it forward and donate 100% of the proceeds to charity. Learn more here.
(4) We’re going go take a step back from March and rewind to February for a minute.
This list will remain posted on the FAQ page all year, but please be advised that the listed dates are subject to change. Alterations to the schedule should only occur in extreme or emergency situations. Please click here if you’d like to read the previous post in its entirety.
(5) My family grew a little larger last month! On Thursday, February 20th, Joseph and I brought home a beautiful eight-week-old tabby cat. Her name is Bagans, named after Zak Bagans, one of the paranormal investigators on my favorite Travel Channel series, Ghost Adventures. She’s a ball of energy, an unbelievably annoying bed hog, and has been a true blessing since the moment we brought her home. Trying to single-handedly manage a newborn kitten and an overbearing toddler has been quite an experience, but an experience I wouldn’t trade for the world. Our family, ladies and gents:
It feels like February has already come and gone. It’s been a particularly busy month already with the Breaking Rules release. I’ve been working tirelessly on getting the paperback copy of the novel in tip-top shape and constructing the first draft of Breaking Walls. I’m also getting the order ready for the third and final cover design for the series. I’d like to have that submitted to the designer by week’s end.
Then, of course, it’s tax season. I’ve spent dozens of hours with my color-coded files, label maker, and printer. I’ve gone through about six cartridges of ink, two reams of paper, and enough caffeine to fuel most Ohioans for a lifetime.
So maybe it’s not so much a feeling that the month has come and gone, but maybe a feeling of sheer exhaustion with February and everything it’s entailed. I’m sleepy. I don’t want to look at another tax document, sales figure, or spreadsheet for the next six months. I’ll be over my tax-grumpiness in a day or two, so at least I have something to look forward to in the coming days!
Now. Let’s get down to the point of this whole post. There are a couple of things I want to cover now (because you probably won’t hear/see much of me until we kick off March in a couple of weeks).
This list will remain posted on the FAQ page all year, but please be advised that the listed dates are subject to change. Alterations to the schedule should only occur in extreme or emergency situations.
Please note: Due to the high volume of e-mails I receive, I will no longer respond to any e-mails inquiring about future release dates. Please refer to the given chart here and on the FAQ page for future reference.
As always, I love you! Thank you guys for your patience this month!
It’s drawing close to nighttime in Dayton, and it’s been a long, long, long day.
What’s happening on my end? Well, I haven’t been at my computer much, that’s for sure.
I’m not a huge fan of pushing and marketing books on release days. It’s just not my style. Honestly, I’d just rather sit back, ignore the internet, and let you guys do your thing. I’ve told you about the book. You already know it’s February 11th. You made up your mind (probably a long time ago) about whether or not you were going to buy it. To me, today isn’t about pushing Breaking Rules and hoping for a bunch of sales. It’s not about watching the ratings, rankings, or numbers (so I really wish my family would stop asking /calling/texting every hour to find out if there’s been a change. I love you, but you’re driving me crazy!).
Initially, it’s fun. It’s super-cool to watch the books drop at midnight and see where they debut. I take about 1,000 screenshots, smile proudly, and then it’s back to work.
Writing, writing, writing, and more writing. And then some editing. And then some more writing. Then formatting, publishing, release days, and more writing.
Right now I’m focused on three projects: (1) Breaking Walls, (2) putting the final touches on the 2014 release schedule, and (3) figuring out my game plan for the Just a Little spin-off series.
Now it’s time for a few seconds of emotional weakness.
I just want to say ‘thanks’ for all of the amazing things you guys do. Your comments, your e-mails, your overall enthusiasm… it’s overwhelming, but it’s perfect. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I know my inbox is filling up with unanswered messages, and as soon as the sun comes up tomorrow, I’ll be back at the keyboard and answering those e-mails. In the meantime, all I really want to do is cuddle up with my little guy, watch some TV, and get a long night of sleep. Tomorrow is a new day and a new beginning of something amazing–more writing, more stories.
Thank you to everyone who’s taken the time to download and read Breaking Rules. I hope you guys are enjoying it. I certainly enjoyed writing it :) It was a nice change of pace.
I hope you’re all well :)
All my love,
“Guided by my ten self-imposed rules, I found it a lot easier to retain control of my life. I was the one standing at the helm, so it was my responsibility to make sure each day was smooth sailing from start to finish.”
Unlike Mandy, I don’t need so many rules. With publication just around the corner, I have set only two for myself:
1. Hit the publish button on time! Make sure that the book is available to every reader and retailer by Tuesday, and
2. Don’t die.
Hyperventilating is just as much part of the process as writing, editing, and formatting, so I never know how release dates are going to impact my health :) All I can do is hope that I live through it!
But on to more serious matters…
I know that the last thing you guys care about is the publishing process. As long as you can get your hands on the book then nothing else matters, right? Right. But it’s imperative for me to explain this tidbit of information so that there’s no confusion in the upcoming days. Bear with me.
The process of publishing differs with each retailer. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo can take anywhere from 12-72 hours to release the book after I hit ‘publish.’ Smashwords generates the file immediately. The manuscript is set up on pre-order with Apple, so it won’t drop until Tuesday.
I can honestly say that Smashwords and Apple are the only two retailers that I’m not expecting any surprises from. Their processes are the most dependable and predictable of all the retailers. As much as I love each platform, it’s fair for me to say that the others are always a bit of a guessing game. My first novella took four days to publish on Amazon and B&N. My most recent book published in twelve hours on Amazon and B&N, but it took three days to go live on Kobo. You never know. It’s like taking a shot in the dark.
Because I’m never sure what to expect in terms of those timelines, I have to hit the publish button this evening. This means that it’s possible that some of you may have access to the book before it’s scheduled to debut on Tuesday. No big deal. That just means it’s going to be there and ready ON the release date, and ultimately that’s all I can really hope for.
Watch the book page for the publishing status updates. I’ll do my best to make sure I post a link as soon as each version goes live over the following days. Some of you may get it a day or two earlier than others, but I’m doing everything I can to keep it fair.
If you haven’t read the Breaking Rules preview, you can find that here: Breaking Rules PDF Sample
If you’re interested in checking out the stunning cover art for Breaking Walls (Breaking #2), you can find that here: Breaking Walls
And if you’d like to talk me down from the ledge (I’ve told you that I’m freaking out a little, right?), you can leave a comment below :)
I love you guys so much. I can’t wait to start sharing Mandy’s story with you.
[02/18/2014: PREVIEW LINK EXPIRED]
My life is pretty simple. Give me a slice of pizza, turn on a good sit-com (or hand me an awesome book!), and there’s no doubt I’ll chalk it up to a great day. I wear my heart on my sleeve, eccentric sweaters, and goofy socks that look like this:
It’s the simple things in life that truly make me the happiest, so when something HUGE happens, I never quite know how to express myself or put my emotions into words. I’ll apologize now if the remainder of this post reads like a foreign language. I’ll blame it on my inability to communicate the surge of happiness rushing through my body.
The release of Breaking Rules is just around the corner, and I’ve been dealing with a lot of anxiety as the publication day draws closer. The last time I started a new series (back in 2012 (when my only readers were Mom, Nina, Aunt Donna, and Uncle Jody)), there weren’t a lot of expectations. No one really cared. I was still learning a lot about self-publishing, managing family and school life, and I had absolutely no idea that iBooks even existed.
Fast forward a year, and it seems as if a million things have changed. I’ve published fourteen titles, met some amazing writer-friends, and I actually have readers now (WHAT?!).
Where did it all begin? Well, it started with Smashwords. I cyber-stalked Mark Coker. I did my best to learn the business by following every piece of his advice. Still, things weren’t stellar. I just kept writing, doing what I’d learned from watching Mark. When one series didn’t take off, I started another. I just kept writing. I sold a whopping HANDFUL of books that first year.
And then something huge happened. On January 7, 2013 (one year and six days after I published my first book), Mark Coker contacted me with this message: Hi Tracie, Mark from Smashwords here! Congrats – the good folks at Apple Australia (Apple’s second largest international iBookstore) and New Zealand have added Just a Little Crush to their Breakout Books promotion.
My life changed that day. I kept watching (for months!) as Apple kept featuring my series on iBooks. I kept watching the reviews, the emails pour in, and the comments started to blow up on my blog. People from Apple were emailing me, calling me, wanting to meet me for lunch. It felt like a dream. My life changed and my readers found me… because of Apple, because of the merchandising team all the way out there in Australia. Because I published those books on Smashwords. America’s iBookstore soon followed with the same type of promotions, and the series just kept growing beyond my wildest dreams!
I’ve debated on whether or not to share this publicly, but I know it’s something that has to be done. I tend to exaggerate a lot (it’s the drama queen inside of me!), so I need you to understand that when I say ‘my life changed,’ that I’m NOT exaggerating for a moment. My sales numbers were nothing before that first promotion. When all the other retailers caught on, the numbers started building. Yesterday I logged my sales (as I do every morning) to find that I’d hit a pretty awesome milestone. Since that first AU/NZ Breakout promo last January, this is a result of sales across five retailers:
I’ll never understand what I did to deserve that first promotion in the AU/NZ iBookstores. I’ll never know why they picked me or my silly little novelette. They took a chance on me, and because of them I’ve been able to develop this awesome relationship with so many of you. I’ve been able to provide a life for my son.
Now here I am again, starting a new series. Breaking Rules is about to launch in only a couple short weeks, and the anxiety has gotten the best of me. THIS time I have readers. THIS time people care. THIS time I have people watching and waiting. So, I’m nervous about the reception and the expectations. Admittedly, I’m a basket-case. But yet again, for reasons unknown to this lover of simple things, something incredibly HUGE has happened, and I’m struggling to find the right words to convey my gratitude.
The Best Books of February feature went live on iBooks yesterday. In case you’re not familiar with this, it’s important to mention that this is the lead editorial feature each month for the AU/NZ iBookstore. It’s a huge deal and a great honor to be chosen as part of this. This month the team has read and selected 12 books that they really enjoyed and now they’re featuring them for YOU, hoping that you’ll love them just as much.
I’m sharing this awesome news with you today because Breaking Rules was selected as one of their featured Best Books of February. Again, the amazing folks at Apple are giving my title a place to shine:
As with the other eleven featured titles, Breaking Rules also received its very own custom blurb from the iBooks team (it’s awesome!). You can check out the blurb below (or tap the image to visit the page on iBooks).
This next picture is just a screenshot from the AU/NZ newsletter that went out earlier this week. It makes me smile every time I see it, so I had to show it off!
Sadly, you won’t be able to read Breaking Rules until February 11th, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take some action now. It’s available for pre-order exclusively on iBooks, and you can snag your copy here:
And now a few words of thanks (I know I do this a lot, so bear with me. I’m a thankful person!):
To the incomparable team at Apple, thank you. Those two words will never convey the depth of my gratitude for every opportunity you’ve given me.
To Mark, for teaching me everything I know about this business (even if you had no idea that you were doing it!).
To my four sisters in the Write Club (and to Elizabeth Barone), for always being on my side and helping me find my way. This is a scary industry, and I couldn’t have made it through any of it without your constant support.
To my dear friends and family, for keeping my ego in check :)
To Nicole, because I’d die without your support. Where do I even begin? I love you.
And to the readers (whether you found me on iBooks, Smashwords, Amazon, B&N, or Kobo), I love you. Thank you for believing in me. I have so much in store for you.