I need your help! Crimson Moon releases March 5th, 2017 and I need a few more people to support the HeadTalker campaign to make the book go viral. Supporting costs you nothing. It just allows the app to post to your social media of choice. Please click the link below, hit support, and pick the icon(s) you want to support from. Media support is possible from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Tumblr. Thank you!
Crimson Moon releases March 5, 2017. It’s the first book in The Dark Woods series. Get your pre-order copy here:
In the old days, people whispered about the wolf, said he came only at night, and only by the light of the full moon. They locked their doors and huddled close to their fires, safe in the knowledge they could prepare for his coming. The truth is, no one is safe, because the wolf walks in the skin of the man. Always.
Harlow Hayes is a runaway, thief, and failed Southern belle. Forced to grow up fast after what her mama delicately referred to as, ‘the incident,’ she learns the hard way not all strangers are kind, real monsters hide in plain sight, and family can be found in the strangest places.
Harlow Hayes is about to meet the Wolf.
I just wanted to drop in and wish everyone a very safe and happy New Year! I’m happy to announce that the prequel short story of “The Immortal Sorrows” series is now available through Amazon! So since I’m shameless self-promoting I’ll go ahead and leave the blurb right here…
Clotho has everything; beauty, power, and immortality. She has everything she could ever want, except the love of the one she wants the most.
Witness the moment when obsession turns to hate… and love to madness.
Author’s Note: This is a short story and serves as the prequel of “The Immortal Sorrows” series. Attached is a free sample of book 1, “Wings of Darkness.” I hope you enjoy it!
There’s the old saying which says, ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover.’ Now, we all like to think we don’t, but to be honest, most of us do. A beautiful cover is the first thing you notice about a book. It’s the thing which draws you in, entices you to maybe read the book’s description, possibly crack it open and take a peek inside. Many would argue that it’s the content which sells the book, and there’s a lot to that theory, but it’s the cover’s job to draw you in from the start.
A wonderful friend of mine, Ms. Heather Slaughter of Bookpressed, once referred to the right book cover as wrapping for your present, and honestly, I can think of no better description.
When I first decided to publish, I didn’t want to sink a small fortune into my little project. You know, just in case my book bombed. Indie authors come and go, but if a book isn’t going to sell, there’s no point in sinking your life’s savings into a cover. So I went the cheap, er, frugal route and did it myself to start with.
I knew a few things about cover design, but precious little. One of which was, I needed a royalty free image for the cover. So I found a beautiful picture of a creepy, gothic doorway. It cost me a whopping $15 to make the original cover.
For those of you who have read “Wings of Darkness,” I think you’ll agree it was a nice nod to the graveyard scene in chapter 6. For those of you who haven’t read it yet, it’s just a pretty picture which makes absolutely no sense if you’re cruising through Amazon’s 3 million books. It’s pretty, but it’s vague.
Then, wonder of wonders, I started getting some pretty outstanding reviews (if I may say so myself.) My book wasn’t flopping at all. It was floating along, holding its own. Book 2 was about to come out when I decided to bite the bullet and have a professional redo the first cover, and I’m so glad I did.
Finding the right person to do your cover takes some work, but that’s for another blog post. I lucked out pretty quickly. A friend of mine introduced me to a very nice lady, Danella Miller of Danella’s Designs. She actually does a bit of everything. A photographer originally, she also designs websites, graphic design, and now book covers.
I highly suggest, if you’re in the market for new covers, that you go pay her a visit. Her pre-made covers are just gorgeous and start at less than $100. Custom jobs are a bit higher, of course, but well worth the results.
This is the new cover.
It captures my main character perfectly. The colors stand out and it does exactly what it’s supposed to do, which is draw the reader in.
Book 2, “Wings of Shadow,” needed a cover, too. This is what she came up with. (Special thanks goes to our model for Izzy, Miss Katie Durant.)
The cover changed in February, and I really should have gotten this post up earlier, but I wanted to see how the cover change would effect sales. A few other authors I know were wondering about how it would change my bottom line, too. Happily, I can report that the new covers have just about quadrupled sales! Yes, I sank some money into professional covers, but they’ve paid for themselves in no time. I was so happy with Danella’s work, in fact, I commissioned her to do the rest of the covers for “The Immortal Sorrows” series. Each cover has come out more beautiful than the last. She not only wrapped the present, she put a giant bow in top!
I’ve been asked by a few loyal and lovable readers for a teaser from book 3, “Wings of Defiance.” Keep in mind, it’s always prone to change. Hope you like it! The entire book should be out sometime in the late fall of 2015 if everything goes as planned. Happy reading!
Text copyright © 2015
Sherri A Wingler
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED WORLDWIDE
The girl knelt beside two freshly cut graves, so new the earth seemed newly wounded. No headstones marked the remains of her dearly departed, but I knew who lay below. This was the final resting place of the bodies of Izzy Maitland and her father, Edmund. Izzy’s best friend, Gwen came here often to haunt the grave as one of the walking wounded. Barely eighteen years old, and already she’d seen too much of the world.
The girl was a wretched figure, all bundled up against the biting wind. Usually, I let her have her space, but she was spiraling farther and farther into depression. She was of no use to me there.
I watched her for quite some time, in that other place, between one reality and the next. Gwen was a problem for me. One I really should eliminate. At best she was a distraction. At worst, a sharp annoyance. I felt a certain responsibility for her, though, and it irritated me endlessly. It wasn’t really my fault she was changing. She’d bitten me, not the other way around. Conscience prickled. It was my blood changing her.
The moment I shifted back into her reality, her spine stiffened and her head came up as if pulled by an invisible string. She scrubbed the heel of her hand hard against her swollen eyes and sniffed back her tears. “Go away, Grim. I’m not in the mood to deal with you.” She enunciated each word so carefully, as if afraid her voice might break. She wouldn’t shatter in front of me. I liked her for that.
“You’re much prettier when your face isn’t all puffy and red.” I perched on the headstone directly across from her and studied her with a critical eye. “You look horrible. Have you bothered to brush your hair this week?” She glared at me. The girl had no respect for her elders. No fear, either. I rather liked her for that, too. Most of the time.
“Nope. I’m thinking I might stop brushing my teeth while I’m at it.” There were hollows beneath her eyes and her face seemed slightly thinner. It might have been a trick of the light, but she had a drawn, used-up look about her. She’d not been sleeping well
“Look, sweetheart, I know you’re grief-stricken, and all that, but I need you to brace both feet and pull your head out of your ass.” I nodded toward the graves she knelt beside. “There’s nothing in those holes, but rotten flesh. They’re not here.” She flinched as if I’d slapped her.
“They’re not here because of you,” she snarled. She came quickly to her feet, hands balled into fists. Ah, there it was, that glorious temper of hers. Better her rage than her grief. Something else was there, too. The first glimmer of red in her pupils. It slid across her eyes as gently as a shadow slips across the moon. There and gone. The glimmer of red was my problem. No human should have the eyes of a Reaper.
I was happy to see her anger. It beat the hell out of the hollowed-out, broken look she’d adopted since losing her only friend. “You might as well stop wallowing in self-pity. There wasn’t anything I could have done for her, and certainly nothing you could have done, except get yourself killed.” I was a bastard for pushing her like this, but I refused to feel guilty about it. Sometimes it takes a bastard to get the job done.
“If you hadn’t kidnapped Izzy in the first place and dropped her into Fate’s lap, she’d still be alive.” Her cheeks were flushed with more than the cold. If I concentrated, I could hear the rush of blood as her heart picked up. Much better.
“If I hadn’t done it, another Reaper would have. I thought I could help her if I was the one who took her. I thought I could help them both, but I was wrong. You have my humble apologies on all counts.” As much as it galled me to admit it, my part in Izzy’s death may have been my biggest regret, but it was mine to deal with. My intentions had been good, no matter what anyone thought.
“If you hadn’t taken me away in the first place, I could’ve stopped her.” She really believed it. She clung to that idiotic notion.
“Asher couldn’t even stop her.” Her eyes flickered. Was anything I said getting through her thick head? Did anything I’d said to her register? Probably not. “Her death was beautiful, Gwen. She destroyed her enemies in a blaze fire and glory. You can’t ask for much more than that. I was actually rather proud of her.”
“Her death was shit and you know it. Fate got away, and Izzy and her dad both died.”
Apparently, there was no getting through to her. I don’t know why I bothered. “She saved you. She saved Asher. It was enough for her.”
Gwen chuckled, and it had a brittle quality to it. “I’m not stupid. She didn’t save me for long. I’m surprised no one has come knocking at my door, yet.” She eyed me suspiciously. “Or is that what brings you around? Come to clean up your mess?” There was a hard edge to her voice. It wasn’t in any danger of breaking, now.
“You think I’m here to kill you?” I must admit, her words stung a tad. Granted, I’d thought about it, but I thought we understood each other better than that.
The girl sighed heavily. The anger was draining away, and the apathy was returning. “The thought occurred to me. I’m sure, after what happened with Izzy, nobody wants a human with Reaper blood running around. It’s such a terrible inconvenience to everyone. Abomination. Isn’t that what you called her? Is that what I am, too?” I squirmed a little beneath her blue-eyed scrutiny.
“I may have been somewhat hasty in my judgment, but you have to admit humans and Reapers are a dangerous mix. They’re unpredictable, at best.”
“And a liability, at worst,” she finished for me.
There was a deadened look to her eyes which bothered me. Once you got past the flash of raw anger, the spark which made her so unique was almost gone. I didn’t like it. I hopped down off the tombstone. “You’re right. You have the life-expectancy of a fruit fly. Is that what you want to hear?” Her eyes widened. I half-expected her to make a run for it, but she stood her ground. She should have run from me.
I stood a breath away from her, made sure I invaded her personal space as much as possible. She didn’t flinch away as I ran my hand from her cheek to the column of her throat. Her flesh was warm compared to the harsh, late autumn wind whipping around us. My fingers pressed, just so, against the smooth skin. Her heart beat picked up in triple-time rhythm against my fingertips. “I could kill you, if you wanted me to. You’d be out of your misery. No more crying beside her grave. No more haunting her old house like a pathetic ghost. No more pain,” I said softly. “What do you think?”
She wet her lips carefully, and gave me the longest stare. I refused to drop my gaze. “I think you’re trying to turn yourself on.”
Surprised, I had to laugh as I dropped my hand. “I know you aren’t indifferent to me, so don’t pretend you are.”
“I never said I was indifferent to you, Grim. I have a healthy and active dislike for you. Don’t ever forget it.” There was a tiny half-smile playing about her lips as she took a step away from me. She looked up at the iron-grey sky and heaved a tired sigh. “I’ve never liked November. It’s a dead month, you know? It’s just sort of a let-down after Halloween is over. There’s nothing to look forward to.” Her shoulders slumped and the fire went out of her eyes as she turned away from me and walked back to her car. “I’m tired. Tired to the bone, and I don’t feel like fighting with you. Nice try, though.” Well, hell.
If you’re new to the series, Book 1, “Wings of Darkness” is on sale until April 25 for only .99. It would be a great time to grab a copy and get caught up. Just follow the link below.
A friend and I were having a discussion on book ratings the other day. I’ve had the same discussion pretty often with other friends who write and thought it might make a decent blog post. What is a rating, really? It’s like a tip you give your author for taking you on an adventure you wouldn’t have imagined on your own.
Amazon has a rating system of 1-5 stars, with 5 being excellent and 1 being awful. I have my own version of this, though. Here’s what ratings look like from the author’s point of view…
5* Excellent, my day was just made so much better because someone out there loved my book. I’m not just shouting into the void. Someone really gets me, and I want to take them to dinner and thank them personally for that validation I needed to get the next book finished. I feel like this about my 5* reviews…
4* Not bad. The reader had some issues with the story, but I can take constructive criticism. Maybe I’ll take their concerns into account and try to fix a few things the next time I go through and polish my book. If the 4* is gushing with praise (and it happens surprisingly often) I might be scratching my head wondering what it would take to squeeze that last star out of them. Occasionally, you get the snarky 4*. Generally full of praise, but it’s clear they believe they could have done the story better. Good luck with that.
3* Meh. It’s just ok. Nothing to write home about and tell mother. The people dropping 3* reviews are pretty rare. Getting reviews are hard. I think the average is about every 1000 purchases will get 1 review, and the numbers get even higher if it was a free promotion. The reason 3* reviews are rare, I believe, is because people have to feel passionately about a book to review it. They either love it or they hate it. To them I say…
2* They hated it, but for some reason just wouldn’t drop the rating to a 1. Usually this type of reader is reading the wrong kind of book for them. Someone who loves sci-fi isn’t going to be happy with a paranormal romance, but if a book is out on free promotion, a lot of people will take anything free and then complain later.
1* They loathed it. Personally, I think these are the people who just like raining on parades. If you go ahead and give into the urge to stalk them, ahem, trace their other reviews, you’ll find they don’t give out much higher than a 2* to anyone. These are the people you just want to grab by the scruff of the neck and ask…
All of this was in good fun, of course, but seriously, thank you to the readers who leave ratings for their authors. The ratings keep us going like nothing else can.
So let’s talk about piracy for a moment. Not the cool kind of piracy, either. I’m not talking about scurvy, pegged legged dudes walking the plank. Although sharks are certainly involved. No, I want to talk about book piracy. As in, the theft of someone’s intellectual property. As in, sites giving illegal copies of books away, unbeknownst to the author who spent months, if not years, writing said books.
To be honest, I really never gave much thought to this subject. I’ve heard horror stories of authors getting ripped off, but I’ve always assumed it was the big name authors who were stolen from. As it turns out, it can happen to anyone. It could happen to me, in fact, and it did.
Here’s how my Sunday played out. I have a big giveaway coming up on March 20-24. So I spent several hours setting everything up with various book sites to shotgun the announcement out. One of those sites happened to need an obscure link. I didn’t have it on the top of my head, so being lazy, I just Googled myself. Easy, right? Ha!
Imagine my shock, horror, outrage, boiling fury… you get the idea, when I found my first book on at least three pirating sites! They looked good, too. There, on prominent display, was my book (old cover) offered as a free download, my picture, and my author bio. They’d even gone so far as to throw in some great Amazon reviews, too. It all looked really legit, except I hadn’t authorized any of it, nor was I aware of it until I stumbled onto it by accident.
To say I was displeased is putting it mildly. I’m pretty sure I made some noises only a dog could hear. What’s the big deal, you ask? I was planning on giving it away on March 20th anyway, right? That’s the big deal, in a nutshell. I was giving it away. Me. Because it’s mine. Mine to giveaway. Mine to sell. Mine to delete, should I ever have a moment of insanity. Mine. Mine. Mine. Give me a second while I climb down off of my soap box… there, I’m all better now.
Now that I’ve settled down a bit, what am I going to do about it? Well, turns out I actually have some options. Which is the whole purpose of this post. I want other authors to know that there are options out there and available to them. I also want them to know that even though they aren’t cracking the top 100, they aren’t safe from stuff like this, either. Google yourselves. Go on. I’ll wait. Did you go farther than the first couple of pages? Google your titles, too. You might be surprised at what you find. You might be the one making up super-inventive curse words!
I had no idea that sites like this existed in such abundance. And not just pirating sites, where they can steal your book and hand it out for free! No, there are also scam sites that can get your book. These are particularly nasty little buggers, but between the two, I prefer them to the straight up pirating sites. Scam sites get a credit card number. Whether they actually give away a book, or not, is up for debate. Apparently, the most people get out of these sites is a healthy virus for their computer. Call me vindictive, but if someone is trying to steal from me, I like the idea that they destroyed their hard drive in the process.
I’ve spoken to several people about this in the last few days. The general consensus is, it’s sort of a back-handed compliment. These sites could’ve stolen any book they wanted, yet they chose mine. (I feel so special. I’m thinking about buying myself a tiara, really. Why not?) The thing is, I’m not special. My book has been out less than a year, and while it’s floating comfortably in the upper percentile of Amazon’s rankings, it’s not raking in enough that I’ll be moving to the south of France anytime soon.
So what attracted the sharks? Where was the blood in the water? I have no idea, and that’s the thing which bothers me the most. It pretty much stays on the top 100 list for its sub-genre, but that’s the only thing I can think of. It may be something else. Who knows? It can happen to anyone. The world is a dangerous place, and scruples are getting harder and harder to come by.
There is hope in all of this. A good friend introduced me to a lovely site called Muso. https://www.muso.com/anti-piracy/ For a low monthly fee, they’ll monitor the web for me. So I can get back to writing and marketing, and not have to worry about someone stealing from me. There are tons of other places, too. Just Google anti piracy solutions and pages of them will pop up.
If you’re a regular reader, and not an author, you’re scratching your head and probably wondering why I’m having this meltdown. Most Ebooks are pretty cheap. Indies seem to hover below the $4.99 mark. It’s not like someone stole my life savings, right? Actually, it is. That book took 8 months to write, a year to market, and 20 years to prepare for. Every spare moment was spent writing, plotting, or dreaming about it. For every practical purpose, it is my essence, condensed down to several thousand words. After all of that time and effort, I have a right to what is mine.
I’m exclusive to Amazon. Which means, I put a ring on it, so to speak. In exchange for that exclusivity, every three months, give or take, I’m able to offer my book free for five days. Which is how I catch readers in the teaming river which is the almighty Amazon. I hook them with the first book, and hopefully they like it enough to read the second, and the third, when it’s finished, and the one after that. I’ve heard horror stories of authors, exclusive to Amazon, who lost their place in the Kindle Select program, simply because of a pirated copy. Hopefully, that doesn’t happen to my book.
I offer “Wings of Darkness” all day, every day on Amazon for the more than reasonable price of $2.99. Here’s a link, and a little shameless self-promotion. Go help yourself to a free sample, and decide for yourself if it’s worth that much. Or if it was worth stealing:)