Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Silver Strand Series

The Silver Strand series is/was a labor of love that came about from an email to an (at the time) fellow indie author, Liz Reinhardt. I was reading the first book in her YA Brenna Blixen series, Double Clutch, and had to get in touch with her to gush about the authentic, gorgeous voice of the novel. 

Coincidentally, she had just finished reading my debut, Grounding Quinn and had praise for the snarky, rawness of Quinn. We mutually gushed. We discovered we each had a borderline obsession with Marcus Flutie (of Megan McCafferty's masterpiece, Sloppy Firsts, et al), Neapolitan style pizza, and good wine. Obviously we became instant friends.

I made a comment one day while messaging back and forth that, "we should totally collaborate and write a book together!" and I attached this pic that'd I found on Pinterest and said it should be our inspiration. 


The next morning, I woke up to an email with a link to this new document Liz had started:


We had no idea what we were writing. We just knew that (at the time) there was a massive shortage of college age romances, and the ones that were out there, were not representative of the experiences we remembered from that time in our lives. We wanted to write something fun. We wanted to include a deep family element. We wanted our characters to be realistic, lovable, unique and flawed. 

Each night, I'd write a chapter in what would become LENGTHS, and because I was West Coast and Liz was East Coast, each morning, I'd wake up to a chapter that she'd written while I slept. 

I wrote most of my chapters from the ocean view deck while vacationing at a friends condo in Coronado, California. It was inspiration and love of craft in it's most basic, perfect form. I hope someday I'm able to duplicate that experience, but I'm wholly satisfied if it was a once in a lifetime thing. 

When we finished the book, we were ecstatic and proud, and so in love with this world we'd created.

From there, we expanded the series to six books (Lengths, Depths, Limits, Ties, Riptides and Drift), and one book in a spin-off series (Almost Lover). Each book focused on the time when you're young and trying to figure your own life out while (sometimes) falling in (and out) of love. They focused heavily on family and the deep bonds of true friendship. We made the books full of a diverse cast of characters, much like the group of friends we grew up with in Jersey and California. 

Three years later, Liz and I are set to re-release the entire series with Entangled Publishing and are excited and hopeful about reaching an entirely new audience than we did the first time around. 

These characters are part of our own friendship story, and we love them so, so much. 
We hope you do, too. 

xx,
S-

(ebook covers may be changed upon re-release)

Monday, December 29, 2014

#isthisreallife

I (semi) joked with a friend that I was going to title this post: 2014: The Year That Shit Rose to the Top. I settled on #isthisreallife, which is the hashtag my friend and I would text back and forth when we saw what was going on in the writing world around us this year. Because, looking back on the past year in indie publishing, holy insanity.

There are a ton of 'what I've learned this year' posts floating around, and those are rad, but I really have nothing to add. To be honest, I think my pal Christa Desir summed it up best in her 2013 post, that basically says: do it your way, whatever way that is. Solid advice from a super smart lady.

Book wise, I read all over the place in 2014. From YA to Historical, to Memoir, to Adult Romance to Cookbooks, so my 'best of' list wouldn't really have any cohesion.

I thought about doing a State of Indie type of post, but Jenn Sterling did a really nice job of that HERE.

Of course I had the option of just saying nothing. Or re-posting something I've written before that still feels very true like THIS. But keeping quiet is not really my bag.

So, I can only tell you what my 2014 was.


2014 was the year that: 

I FELL OUT OF LOVE WITH READING FOR A WHILE. 

I guess we all go through phases where nothing we read really hits it out of the park for us. I've heard people say they were in a major book funk before and never really understood it. But this year, I read more than a few books that made me throw up my hands and think: WORDS HAVE NO MEANING! or GO HOME PUBLISHING, YOU'RE DRUNK! 

I read books that were hugely popular, and it felt like everyone who knows how to read was raving about them on the internets, and unfortunately, I just didn't connect with most of them.
So I stopped trying.
I read broadly, and realized I just like what I like, whether it's #750,000 on the Amazon charts or plastered on every blogs front page. And that's okay.

***
I PLUGGED MY EARS.

There came a point in 2014 where I had to back away from the indie world in a big way. (Looking back, it was probably too big. I attended my first and only signing of 2014 in December and had people come up to my table and say: "You're so elusive," or, "I'll be honest, I've never heard of you or your books." lol) There was this level of drama and backstabbing that I was fortunate to be on the outside of, but it was still gross and discouraging to witness. I took my friend Christa's advice and found things outside of the writing world to focus on. I binge watched too much TV with my oldest daughter and my husband. I drank good wine. I started baking again for the first time in two years. I felt incredibly lucky to have this wickedly supportive, loving, rad family and group of friends to cocoon myself into and blocked out all the noise. Because holy shit, there was A LOT OF NOISE.

***

WAS BETTER THAN THAT BITCH, 2013.

There's been a ton of outrage this year about falling sales and the devil that is KINDLE UNLIMITED. I'll be honest, I don't subscribe to the Amazon-is-evil bit. I think we forget veryyyy quickly that Amazon has had a tremendous part in making publishing a viable option for a huge group of people, myself included. There's anger over KU, and posts galore about the tanking of self published sales. It's natural to want something or someone to blame.

Why don't I personally think Kindle Unlimited is to blame? Well, frankly because my sales dropped a year before KU was unveiled. (Yay for me for being ahead of the curve!) That's not fun to admit. In 2013, I sold less books than in 2012 BY FAR, despite the fact that I had 10 more titles than I did in 2011-2012. The difference between 2012 and 2013 (and now 2014)? Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE and their butlers butlers butler has a story to tell and a finger to press PUBLISH with.

The market is beyond saturated, and readers have their pick of free books, $0.99 books, anthologies with a dozen authors for less than a buck... What was once our marketing strategy--price low and gain an audience, is no longer competitive in this market. There are SO. MANY. BOOKS. and trade publishers are pricing low as well.

I'm clearly not an expert and I'm not denying that it's hard to compete with an internal algorithm theoretically set to favor Amazon exclusive books, I'm only saying that KU is just a tiny piece of what is wonky in the indie market right now.

So for me, 2014 was about balancing out. I couldn't fall any further than I had in 2013 and that fact was comforting. In 2014 I could only dust myself off and regroup. I feel very fortunate to have experienced the fall a year ago, honestly. I feel like I'm through the worst of it, and have a much stronger foundation to rebuild on. I have a ton of experience and perspective now. Perspective is always a tremendous gift.

***


I MOVED ON.

There are some really, really rad people in the writing world that I've known from the start. There are some amazing people I've met along my journey that I feel so thankful to know. There's some people that I thought were friends that sort of dropped off the map when I wasn't selling gobs of books anymore... It's always nice to know who the assholes are in your life so that you can move on from them. ;)

***

I LONGED FOR THE GATEKEEPERS.

That sounds ridiculous coming from someone who has built a career publishing independently, but holy crap, I felt like 2014 could have used a little more law and order. Like maybe all of those agents and editors who said the market would implode without them holding the reins were spot on. Something has to change, right? I mean, I don't think the bubble has even burst yet, do you? 2014 felt like the publishing equivalent of the mortgage crisis of 2008. Maybe that's a shitty comparison, but it's been rough out there the last 2 years, with no real signs of it getting better....

***

I FELL OUT OF LOVE WITH WRITING FOR A WHILE.

When I originally self published in 2011, it was after two years of querying two different books (Delicate and Grounding Quinn-which were ultimately acquired by Simon & Schuster UK). I was reading 1-2 YA's a day, and by 2011, I'd reached a point where what I was reading began to feel sterile. Indie publishing felt FREE and AMAZING and AUTHENTIC back then.

In 2014, the pendulum swung and the indie largely felt like.... porn. Porn's fine. But it took over the market.  Definitely no more sterility there. Or subtlety. Or anything that felt like the authentic young adult or new adult experience I remember at least...

NA was originally started as a look at late teen's-twenty somethings. What started as amazing, angsty, beautiful, heartbreaking, hilarious, portrayals of life at that time turned into...something else. And that something else sold. So again, I may be in the minority here, but what was being written and published so widely as NA in 2014 was NOT college age romance. A lot of it was porn. (again, cool, but let's call it what it is...)

(And to be fair, as much as I've seen bloggers and readers alike scream that they want something fresh and new and less sex more plot, the less-plot, more-sex titles are still selling like gangbusters, so make what you will of that...)

All of that felt crushing and discouraging. I felt defeated and tired.

I had so many ideas for new books I wanted to write, but knowing how insane the market was/is left me feeling paralyzed. I couldn't write anything. (And somehow, not writing anything felt more exhausting than cranking out 10,000 words a day.)

I had to step away.
To miss it. To ache to write again.
I had to learn to appreciate the process again.
I had to fall back in love.

***


I released four books in 2014 (down from 7 in 2013) and I'm incredibly proud of each one of them. But there was something tremendouly special and therapeutic about writing Even the Moon Has Scars--not only because of the subject matter, but because (to me) it feels like a true YA. The type of YA I was devouring when I first fell in love with the genre years ago. I was told by many smart people that publishing a tame YA in the current market was sort of pointless sales wise, and that's probably accurate. But it was exactly the book I needed to write and publish this year. It was my 'reset' button.

Even the Moon Has Scars is the absolute book of my heart.
For me, it felt like going home.  

***

I REMEMBERED WHY I STARTED. 

I have no idea what 2015 will hold for me professionally, but I've landed on my feet, dusted myself off and I'm writing bold, beautiful characters and books that I love. I have a supportive, loving family and a rad group of true friends. I'm back to writing for me in the purest way--the way it was when I first started. What more could I possibly want?

Happy 2015. 
Cheers. 


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Even the Moon Has Scars is LIVE!!

Guys, it's finally here! Even the Moon Has Scars is live and people are getting to know Gabe and Lena and GAH! I'm so excited. This book holds such a special place in my heart (more on the inspiration behind the book here). 

There's an excerpt, some teasers and a giveaway floating around to celebrate the release!
(HUGE, tremendous thank you to Wordsmith Publicity and ALL of the bloggers who have helped with this release! :) 



(and make sure to scoop Even the Moon Has Scars 
up while it's still at it's 
special release week price of $1.99!)



Wednesday, October 8, 2014

On writing the book of my heart...

My next release, EVEN THE MOON HAS SCARS has been a long time coming. It's something that people have told me I should write for the last couple of years--but it wasn't something I could tackle then. I wasn't ready. The main character in the book, Lena, was born with a heart defect and because of the near-death experience, her parents have kept her very close. As many of you know, our youngest daughter, Britta was born with TAPVR, a rare heart defect and we very, very nearly lost her.
Last year, when the indie world starting going crazy (it's still continuing as evidenced by the drama on FB lately, amiright?) I pulled back a lot. I read a ton, and I stopped writing for a few months (which was the longest I hadn't written in years.) There was just too much noise in the book world, too much competition, too much backstabbing... I'd be lying if I didn't have those fleeting thoughts of: "This isn't worth it..." I did a ton of reflecting, I surrounded myself with people who were real and legitimately cared about me, and where I turned up was a good place. The place where I remembered why I started. The place where I became determined to write the book of my heart, even if it wasn't what was most popular.
There's nothing that is more straight from me and my heart than my family. I wrote this post about Britta on her blog for the one year anniversary of her surgery and this part jumped out at me as I started slowly forming Lena's character:
"...But because of your struggles, because of your tenacity, your display of strength and fight and bravery--even as tiny as you were, you taught us to have faith that we never knew we could. You showed us all that even the most fragile, broken hearts could be repaired..."
So, yes, though my Britta is not quite 3, she inspired the YA character of my upcoming book. And she inspires me. She reminds me what is important every single day. And it isn't Amazon rank, or how many likes you have, or any of that...
Life is short. Stop the infighting. Stop the drama. Be brave. Be bold. Surrounded yourself with positivity and people that love you. Stop chasing trends and go write the book of your heart. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

YA book recs!

With the rising popularity of YA, (yay!) Nyrae Dawn and I got to thinking about books we've read over the last several years that have really stuck with us. Books we loved and hope you'll love too! We are so passionate about YA, and wanted to put together a list of some of our all-time favorite YA reads.

We're hoping there’s something here for everyone, and that it’s helpful when you’re looking for your next book! Happy reading!


(broken down by category--and in no particular order)



Thriller/suspense:

The Body Finder: Kimberly Derting

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer: Michelle Hodkin

Anna Dressed in Blood: Kendare Blake

Name of the Star: Maureen Johnson



Paranormal:

Hemlock: Kathleen Peacock

Sweet Evil: Wendy Higgins

This is Not a Test:  Courtney Summers



Falling Under: Gwen Hayes


LGBT:

Two Boys Kissing: David Levithan

Don't Let Me Go: JH Trumble


Realistic:

Harmonic Feedback: Tara Kelly

Graffiti Moon: Cath Crowley

Speechless: Hannah Harrington

Sloppy Firsts: Megan McCafferty

Cracked Up To Be: Courtney Summers

Some Girls Are: Courtney Summers


Boy POV:

Freefall: Mindi Scott

Split: Swati Avasthi

I Know it's Over: C.K. Kelly Martin

Lovesick: Jake Coburn

Winger: Andrew Smith



Beautifully Tragic:

The Secret Year: Jennifer Hubbard

Twenty Boy Summer: Sarah Ockler


Take Me There: Carolee Dean


Soon to be a movie/already a movie:

The Duff: Kody Keplinger

Geography Club: Brent Hartinger


historic premise:

Between Shades of Gray: Ruta Sepetys



Out of the Easy: Ruta Sepetys


Gritty:

Pointe: Brandy Colbert

Wintergirls: Laurie Halse Anderson

Fault Line: C. Desir


Issue Books:

Stay: Deb Caletti