November 21, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Holiday Season!

To all those of you celebrating, Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you have a wonderful time with your loved ones!

(To those of you not celebrating, go spend some time with your loved ones anyway!)

Because there has been a lot happening in my life, including a death in the family, I have decided to take a break from posting through the end of this year.

If you would like to stay in touch in the meanwhile, please do, whether through the contact form, social media (top of the sidebar), or my VIP Reader group.

I plan to resume posting in January. (Can you believe it's almost January?) I wish you all a happy, healthy, and safe end to your 2016!

November 14, 2016

Romance Writers are Going Wild—and a Special Offer!

It's time! Once again, dozens of romance writers have come together to throw an awesome week-long party for our readers. And since the party's happening on Facebook, anyone can join—from wherever you are! Pop by for sneak peaks, games, book-loving shenanigans, and to meet new authors in every sub-genre of romance.

Oh, and did I mention the giveaways? Individual authors will be offering all sorts of goodies, and you can also enter to win any of these prizes:

Special Offer!

As if that wasn't enough good news, I've decided to celebrate this fantastic event by offering a discount on Mending Heartstrings

This week only, grab your copy for just $0.99 on:

Amazon US - UK - CAN - AU | iBooks | Barnes & Noble

November 10, 2016

New Release! Black Bullet by L.D. Rose

Black Bullet
Book 2 of The Order of the Senary Series
by L.D. Rose

Genre: Dark Paranormal Romance
Content Warning: Explicit Content (sexual and violent)

Fledgling vampire Jonathan Kerr has just met his match.

Not even his past life as a former Marine and FBI agent could prepare him for the battle against the monster inside him, struggling to take hold. After an old nemesis of the Senary surfaces in Brooklyn, unleashing chaos and terror in the battered borough, Jon sets out to take him down. Instead, he ends up with far more than he bargained for when he clashes with the beautiful half-vampire hybrid, Lawan Knight.

After escaping near death and suffering unspeakable horror at the hands of vampires, Lawan trusts no one, regardless of species. In between bouts of drunken stupor, her only goal is to exterminate all those who've wronged her, including every member of Jon's vampire bloodline. But Jon’s soulful eyes and quick smile crawls under her skin, transforming her black and white world into a hazy shade of gray.

As the days rapidly grow darker, Jon and Lawan turn to one another, but their inner demons threaten to tear them apart. The only way either of them will survive is if they overcome their greatest fear—love.

October 31, 2016

Should You Participate in @NaNoWriMo 2016?
3 Questions You May Be Asking:

Trying to write 50,000 words in 30 days is a little crazy, and it's more than a little intimidating. And yet all over the world, on November 1st, people will start doing just that. What about you? Are you considering trying this challenge for the first or tenth (or whichever) time?

If you're not sure, here are three questions you may be asking—and better yet, answers to all three!
  1. Should I participate in NaNoWriMo?
    • Yes. Pretty much, if you're asking yourself if you should try this, the answer is yes. Regardless of if you write 2,000 words total or reach 50,000 in the first two weeks, NaNoWriMo is transformative, whether you treat it as a personal challenge or your goal is to become an author.

      This is the marathon of writing—some do it to prove they can, and some do it because writing is their passion, but whatever your reason, the experience (even if you don't "win") will impact your life, in a great way.
  2. But it starts tomorrow. Isn't it too late for this year?
    • No! Unlike running a marathon, you don't have to prepare and train for NaNoWriMo. Some people do, spending the first ten months of each year planning their stories, but many people—including me!—just start typing and see where it takes them.

      If you give yourself the freedom to write, even with no idea of where you want the story to go, you might just discover an incredible world and wonderful characters who've been waiting for you to create them. If you decide to participate at the last minute with no idea where you're going, you're not alone. Join the many pantsers who write just that way, and see what you can create!
  3. I have a bazillion life commitments in November, and there's no way I can hit 50,000 words. Is it even worth it to try?
    • Finishing NaNoWriMo brings with it a sense of accomplishment, absolutely, and looking back at the sometimes grueling month with 50,000 brand new words is incredibly exhilarating. But at its core, NaNoWriMo is more about making the time and commitment to write than it is about your word count. Is it less of an accomplishment to run a 10K than a full marathon? I suppose if you're an Olympic runner, the answer might be yes, but for us mere mortals—definitely not. So does it not count if you write 20,000 or even 10,000 words in November rather than reaching 50,000? Absolutely not! And really, for many of those hesitant to try, the question isn't 20,000 or 50,000. It's 20,000 or none. And 20,000 is infinitely more than none.

      So while life absolutely gets in the way, and only you can decide if attempting NaNoWriMo will make you committed to your writing or so stressed jumping off a bridge sounds like a good idea*, don't let the fear of not "winning" prevent you from participating.

      Whether you write 10,000 words or 150,000 (yep, a NaNo writer in my region bangs out about that much each November, making the rest of us feel woefully inadequate), the reminder to prioritize your writing, to give yourself permission to carve out time for it amid all those other responsibilities, will still be worth it.
      • *If attempting to squeeze NaNoWriMo into your life will make you so stressed that you'd rather jump off a bridge or something similar, please take November to carve out some time to relax and do something to restore your sanity instead. Read a book, go have drinks with some friends, go for a hike, get a massage—make time for you!

*Bonus* Now that you know why you should participate,
check out my 9 Tips for NaNoWriMo!

October 28, 2016

Join Author Review Teams & Enter to Win!

Join a Review Team Giveaway

Love reading & reviewing? Like finding new authors? Wanna join a review team/street team?

We have 23 authors of varying genres who would love to find new readers! Why join a team? (Or lots of teams?) There are so many FREE books, advanced notice of sales, giveaways, and new releases. Let's not forget the swag and signed books so many authors give to their team as a reward for the support.

Join some teams and be entered to win $450 in Amazon Gift Cards!

Participating Authors:

Abbie Roads | Amy L Gale | Andie M. Long | Anna Bloom | Ella Jade | Eva Winters | Heather C. Myers | Jennifer Hilt | JL Campbell | Anne Stone | K.L. Shandwick | Kaiden Klein | Kelly Moore | Linda Joyce | Liz Gavin | Maggie Way | Margo Bond Collins | Mary Abshire | Mika Jolie | Monica Corwin | Taylor Anne | Tina Glasneck | Tmonique Stephens | C.E. Wilson | Lena Bourne | Nikki Lynn Barrett | Avery Price | Erin Cawood | Michelle Irwin | Cindy M. Hogan | Aria Glazki | Shelley Munro | Terra Kelly | Brinda Berry | Debra Parsley | Tracy Ellen | Sydney Aaliyah Michelle | Candace Clark | Skye Jordan | Jaime Russell | Marissa Dobson | Amy Lamont | Shaniel Watson | Susan Ward | Lexi James

Enter to win here:

October 24, 2016

How @NaNoWriMo Made Me an Author

In 2012, I was struggling to find my footing. I had moved back to California after a very disappointing work experience in France that left me deflated in every way possible. I was working, but it certainly wasn’t a dream job, and I was still figuring out how to rebuild a life somewhere I hadn’t lived since high school.

Discouraged after my Bachelor’s in Creative Writing (for many reasons, which I won’t get into here), I hadn’t written in a long while. I had heard about NaNoWriMo previously, but I’d never thought to add it to my whirlwind schedule, nor had I thought a novel was something I could write—not since a failed attempt, also in high school.

But there I was, back where I had been the last time I’d considered it possible—at least geographically. Someone mentioned NaNoWriMo to me around the same time that an idea for a story cropped up and wouldn’t let me go. Plus, to be honest, I needed a way to meet people since working from home isn’t exactly a social activity.

So, I made an account on the NaNoWriMo site, joined my regional group, and was promptly overwhelmed by the list of write-ins and the activity on the forums. And yet somehow at midnight November 1st 2012, I started writing.

October 19, 2016

New Release: When It Holds You by Nicki Elson


WHEN IT HOLDS YOU has been selected as a TOP PICK at The Romance Reviews!

“Nicki Elson has become my MUST read new contemporary romance author! The sex is hot, but the emphasis is on emotions in this book. They really are made for each other.”

~The Romance Reviews


    Virtual. That’s where she was supposed to stay—only in my online gaming life. I never intended to meet up with her in person. And I certainly hadn’t counted on her being who she is.

    Cliff Walsh has dozens of hot, smart, and willing paramours in his video games. Who needs to look further? The twenty-eight year old attorney is done getting his heart smashed by real-life women who fit his perfect-mate checklist. From now on, he vows to keep his romances digital-only…until a certain redheaded gamer twists all his preconceptions and touches a place in his heart he didn’t know existed.

    I always thought I knew what love would look like, but sometimes you don’t recognize it until the moment when it holds you. ~Cliff

WHEN IT HOLDS YOU is a standalone novel in The It Series family.

Other titles in the series:

WHEN IT HOOKS YOU, a Top Pick at The Romance Reviews

WHEN IT HITS YOU, coming January 2017


October 17, 2016

A Flash Story for Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Last March, Scripting Change released Breaking Free, an anthology filled with stories and poetry exploring the impact of domestic violence in its many forms. Since October is 2016's National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I've decided to share my story that was included in the anthology, hopefully helping to raise awareness.

Of course, it would be awesome if you would consider getting a full copy of Breaking Free, as 100% of proceeds are donated to support survivors of domestic violence.

Be A Man

    You throw your dinner ’cross the kitchen, furious at its imperfect temperature. She cowers in the corner.

    “A man is always in control.”

    Doors slam as you rampage through the house. She used to hide us in the cupboards, trembling.

    “A man’s home is his castle.”

    “Weak,” you’d call me if I run to her side.

    So I wait, until you tire of your attack. Wait, to catch her sobs in my embrace. And I hide—my drawings, my feelings, my self.

    But your fists find their target, and I flinch. So a smack spins my head as you command, “Man up!”

    Precise punches make for easily hidden bruises. Her stomach, her ribs, her thighs—anywhere clothing will cover. Because you’re always in control.

    The world outside will never see, but you demand I watch, and learn.

    So I wait.

    For the strength to fill my muscles and my heart. For the will to stand against your voice. For the courage to take your blows.

    Fists hit flesh, blood blooms, but now I do not flinch. You taught me better.

    She gasps, hand fluttering to her lips.

    You stumble back—shocked. Out of control. Afraid.

    But best of all away from her, from them, all huddling at my back. My fingers flex as I stand, a wall you can’t take down. A shield to save them.

    At last, a man.

October 10, 2016

What's the Deal with Books You Borrow from Libraries?

Many people don't see the difference between borrowing a book from the library and reading a pirated copy. After all, you're reading for free either way, right? And it's "so much more convenient" to find a pirated digital copy than to go to the library.

Do you see where I'm going here? Because in both cases: WRONG.

Let's start with the fact that libraries pay for each copy of the book they provide (print or digital), and then they pay to replace copies that are worn out by repeated borrows, or for extra copies if there is demand. And yes, authors receive royalties for each of those. 

"But I still have to go to the library to get the book!" 

I've heard this more times than I've bothered to count, and the thing is: it's not true. Libraries now provide both digital and audio books—and you can borrow them right from your home! Just log in to your library account, find the book, and click. (And with library copies, you don't have to be worried about any nasty viruses or other surprises.) Sure, occasionally there aren't as many copies as interested readers. And sometimes your library doesn't have the book you're looking for. If so, many will give you the opportunity to request they purchase a copy, giving you the book you want while also compensating the author. 

It's true that in both those cases you may have to wait a little while. But if you absolutely must read that book right this second, maybe you should be buying it.

Because the alternative is stealing from authors. And make no mistake, reading pirated books is stealing from the person who spent months or years creating that story. So rather than theft, take advantage of the legal, convenient, and mutually beneficial service libraries provide!

And to celebrate the awesomeness of libraries, share the last library book you borrowed in the comments! For me, it was Uprooted  by Naomi Novik.

October 3, 2016

Shana Tova!

Sunset last night marked the start of this year's Rosh Hashanah festivities in the Jewish calendar. Rosh Hashanah kicks off a new year, and it is celebrated with prayer, the blowing of the shofar (a ceremonial ram's horn), and goodies such as apples dipped in honey and pomegranates. A traditional greeting wishes others a happy and sweet year: Shana Tova Umetuka!

There is a bit more to the holiday, but rather than my going into it all and possibly boring you, how about a video by the awesome a cappella group The Maccabeats: 

September 26, 2016

How About a Flash Story?

It's been a while since I've shared any short fiction I've written, partially due to the end of the weekly Flash! Friday contests. So how about a story? This piece was included in Scripting Change's anthology Beyond the Words. (If you haven't yet grabbed a copy, you should—all proceeds are donated to support literacy!) 

In any case, I hope you enjoy, and I'm looking forward to your thoughts!

Immortalized in Ink

Photo by Heather /
CC license
    When was the last time you died?

    They say the pages give you lives—open the cover and step through. Escape into the words and find your solace, or adventure. Everything you never knew you needed exists within a book.

    Until the story ends.

    I’ve lived a thousand lives, and none at all. Each time the cover opens, the path begins anew, an invitation to the reader to walk, hop, duck, devour, run—or linger. Meander through new minds.

    How do you read?

    Infuse the lines with life. You trade yourself for moments, thoughts that aren’t yours yet wait for you—your heartbeats, gasps, and sighs the only way to matter. The pages flip at fingertips then flutter shut, marked, altered. Characters still, frozen and impatient.


    Under your eager eyes they breathe again, huddled in armchairs or splayed out on the floor, cradled in your hands once more until that final page, your fingers’ parting touch a bittersweet caress.

    My story stops but doesn’t end.

    Shut on the shelf, I wait for you, your children, friends. I’ve memorized the words, the whole of my existence, unchanging. Emotions laid out in snapshots, catalogued yet incomplete, mold to their reader’s temperament, rely on your vicissitudes.

    Trapped in my life, I live it over with you.

    You laugh, learn, ache, love, grieve, then shed my story like old skin, discard it on a growing pile. Husks wither, dry, decay, but pages stay, a fresh supply.

    Immortalized in ink, I wait, and never die.

September 19, 2016

Are You a “Real” Writer?

It was pointed out to me that the link in last week's post was broken (sorry!). So I did some research, and I'm not sure what happened to that author's website, but I've decided to resurrect this post here on my own site. The tone of that site allowed me to be a little snarkier than you may be used to, but I 100% stand behind the snark given the topic. Enjoy!

There is no shortage of posts and articles out there explaining what it takes to be able to call yourself a “real” writer. Some have simply outdated guidelines, like that you must have an agent and a traditional book deal, plus an advanced degree of course. Others include absurd requirements, such as creating weirdly codependent relationships with famous authors, entirely in your own head; desperately wanting a typewriter; or huffing the scent of books (rather than, oh I don’t know, reading them?).

But many “rules” are quite pervasive, appearing countless times, so let’s take a look, shall we? In order to be a “real” writer, you must:
  1. Write Every Day: Because the moment you’ve missed a day, or goodness forbid two, you lose the right to consider yourself a writer. No sick days, no family vacations, no breaks, and no days spent researching rather than writing; if you’re not writing every day, you’re not a writer. But then, if you can go an entire day without a desperate need to write something, which if unfulfilled will make you want to jump off a cliff, you’re obviously not a writer anyway.
    • Couple quick questions, though, how many days in a row must someone “bank” before this rule comes into effect, transforming him/her into a writer? Is two weeks straight enough? 100 days? A full 365 in a row? And does it matter what you’re writing every day, or does a text message count?
  2. Subsist On Coffee / Caffeine: Here’s a little secret: I don’t drink coffee. I wish I could, in fact, but I’m allergic. I also don’t drink soft drinks, and I’ve recently stopped drinking tea except very rarely (and never for the sake of staying awake). Apparently this means I will never, in fact could never, be a real writer. This strikes me as discrimination of sorts, but the title of “writer” must be kept exclusive somehow, right?
  3. Eat, Sleep, & Breathe Writing, and Prioritize Your Characters Over Real People: You have a life outside of writing? You’re clearly not committed enough. You can participate in social situations, and actually focus on the people you interact with rather than the characters in your head and/or eavesdropping on strangers for snippets of inspiration? Clearly you’re not (meant to be) a writer, because real life must absolutely take a back seat to your need to scribble on every surface while borrowing quirks to give your characters, or planning plot points to write next. 
    • Some people take this all the way to prioritizing writing over healthy eating, sleeping, or basic hygiene. Because health problems are inspiration, and body odor will just help keep all those pesky people who distract you away.
  4. Pay Some (Undefined) Percentage of Your Bills Through Income from Writing: Money makes the world go round. By this logic someone who goes running regularly, participates in marathons, etc. can’t call him/herself a “runner” unless s/he gets paid; someone performing in countless unpaid productions can’t call him/herself an actor. Who decides the cutoff here, though? I mean, if you’re paid enough for one cup of coffee per year, is that satisfactory? Or does it have to be enough to fund that addiction to coffee a writer must absolutely cultivate?
  5. Always Carry a Notebook/Writing Implement: This does make all that unplanned scribbling more convenient. It also saves you from digging through your garbage, like that old napkin or the bag from your popcorn, before knowing it’s safe to throw it away—lest it be the home of your latest great idea. I actually think having a notebook and pen/pencil with you is wise, overall, but how many times can you leave the house without those before you’re disqualified from being a writer?
  6. Hoard Books: Not read them, no. Own them, and own many more than you have actually read. Borrow your books from friends or the library? Not a true writer. Why? Well because you must be able to leave your mark on the page (you’re a writer, aren’t you?), with highlighters and margin notes! And if you want to leave your books clean from scribbles, you will never be a writer.
So many more rules are constantly spouted, but how do you measure up so far? I definitely fail according to these rules [Still! Even almost 2 years from the original writing of this post!], so I’m definitely not a real writer. I have written four novels and published three, but that obviously means nothing in the face of this popular wisdom distinguishing between “real” writers, and those who are merely posturing—like me.

Sarcasm aside, no one really knows (or perhaps everyone believes s/he knows) at what point someone truly falls into this special category of “writer.” In some ways, “writer” is a false distinction anyway, as many people actually mean “professional writer,” “author,” or “successful writer,” and variations thereof.

If you’re looking for hard-and-fast rules, I say go do something more easily delineated, like becoming a lawyer or engineer. Otherwise, maybe we should be focusing on being writers, rather than calling ourselves ones. Or go get that MFA in Creative Writing, because earning that sheet of paper will definitely make you a writer.

September 14, 2016

Cover Reveal: When It Holds You by Nicki Elson

Two posts in one week may be surprising, but I'm making an exception to show off the cover for the awesome Nicki Elson's upcoming release: When It Holds You

    Virtual. That’s where she was supposed to stay—only in my online gaming life. I never intended to meet up with her in person. And I certainly hadn’t counted on her being who she is.

    Cliff Walsh has dozens of hot, smart, and willing paramours in his video games. Who needs to look further? The twenty-eight year old attorney is done getting his heart smashed by real-life women who fit his perfect-mate checklist. From now on, he vows to keep his romances digital-only…until a certain redheaded gamer twists all his preconceptions and touches a place in his heart he didn’t know existed.

    I always thought I knew what love would look like, but sometimes you don’t recognize it until the moment when it holds you. ~Cliff

How do you like the cover and blurb? Tell Nicki your thoughts in the comments!

September 12, 2016

Who Am I, if Social Media Says I'm Nobody?

Why do we look to strangers on the internet to define us? I've written before about the phenomenon of people chiming in (with ridiculous requirements) on who is "a real writer." But this isn't limited to the publishing world by any means. Just consider this article from the Huffington Post discussing "62 Signs You Are A Full-Fledged Adult Now." Because apparently we can't know if we qualify as an "adult" without someone else—a random stranger writing an article—telling us that that's the case, assuming we match their view of what an adult is.

Think about it: how many posts like that have you seen?

"X signs you're officially a             "
"You Know You're a              When..."

Why do we need someone else to tell us who we are? Why does someone pulling together these criteria into an article or blog post suddenly legitimize us, as "true" fans or "real" writers or whatever else?

I think the answer comes down to social media. Culturally, we've come to a point where having followers on Instagram or Vine or whatever is "in" at the moment makes you "somebody"—get enough and you'll be flying around the world for interviews, being invited on shows like Dancing with the Stars, etc. If no one follows you online, if no one likes your Facebook post, if no one comments on your blog posts, then you're nobody. That's the message being constantly perpetuated by the veneration of social media.

I call bullsh*t, but then maybe that's why I fail at social media. I'm sorry, blog readers, but I know who I am whether you comment or not (though comments are always appreciated!). I know who I am whether my tweets get seen or not. I have no identity crises related to not getting enough likes or retweets or whatever else, even as I recognize that, when it comes to social media metrics, I am failing. I'm happy to connect with all of you lovely people, and let's be honest, it's an important part of being an author or any kind of entrepreneur in today's world, but I am not defined by it, or by random articles online.

According to more than twenty sources I read while writing that post I mentioned, about what makes someone a "real" writer, I don't qualify. Not by their benchmarks. But I have three published novels, and thanks to NaNoWriMo, a fourth one drafted. Why should those posts' definitions of what makes someone a writer take that away from me? I understand why they would want it to—power, theirs over all of us—but why do we, generally, let them?

I slip sometimes, when social media, including this blog, starts to feel like screaming into the void. But what I question is my ability to create engaging content, to connect via social media with other writers and readers—not who I am as a person. And if that makes me a failure at social media, I guess I just have to accept that.

So who are you, outside of internet articles and social media metrics? Because that's the you I'd like to get to know.

September 5, 2016

Welcome to September

Happy Labor Day! Can you believe 2016 is 2/3 over?

September 1st was a sort of "reset" button for me this year. I've been spending a lot of time thinking, about my life and career both, about finding a better work-life balance, about what I want from my writing specifically. Much of that contemplation has been underscored by audio recordings of some RWA workshops, some more useful than others of course. 

One of the main parts of my life I'd like to balance is how much time I spend on social media vs. how well it actually connects me with fellow book lovers. Rather than continually shouting into the world, I'd really like to get back to the root of the "social" part, finding a way to truly connect to those who like reading, and maybe already like my books, and want to chat both with me and other readers in a more intimate setting. 

So, as I mentioned briefly last week, I've created a dedicated Facebook group precisely for that. The structure of the group is still up in the air, and it will be decided by those who join, whether you want dedicated giveaways, access to ARCs, early cover reveals, to help with some creative decisions, or just to hang out and chat—join the group and let me know!

And now, for a little bit of business:

Thanks to all those of you who entered the various giveaways celebrating the 1-year anniversary of Mortal Musings! The winner of the main prize pack, including a fold-up bag, deck of cards, and autographed print book is:

Wendy T. Congratulations, Wendy!

And because I like you guys, starting tomorrow you can enter to win a print copy of The Whedonite, my sweet short story of geeky love, via Goodreads:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Whedonite by Aria Glazki

The Whedonite

by Aria Glazki

Giveaway ends September 18, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

August 29, 2016

The Real Value of Your Book Review

I'd bet every single one of you has—at least once—seen an author share a graphic reminding readers about how review numbers play into our success. Each image mentions visibility of a book and the importance of this new version of word of mouth, and most mention the selectivity of Amazon's algorithm.
    As an aside, some vastly more experienced authors claim there in fact is no magic number of reviews that makes Amazon care more about your book when it comes to including it in "also bought" or "similar product" recommendations. So, who knows.

Some graphics, like the one below from, also try to educate readers about the reality of being an author. No, we're not all best-selling gazillionaires. (I know: you're shocked!)

There are entire businesses built around helping authors get more reviews, because we've all had it drilled into us that reviews are the only way to save yourself from being swept into obscurity by the ocean of (e)books.

But one of the things that is rarely included (though Tall Poppies did touch upon it—go them) is how important reviews are to an author as a person and not just a business. Yes, reviews help authors be considered for competitive ad placements like BookBub, and they might affect how/when Amazon shows our books, but in reality, they're so much more than that, as I was reminded late last week. 

Lately, I've been battling discouragement (to put it mildly), and trying to decide if pushing forward was nothing more than falling into the trap of the sunk cost fallacy. I'm still not sure what the right answer is, but a fantastic review for Tasting Temptation from BiblioManiac could not have been better timed, reminding me that my stories do impact people in a positive way; that, just maybe, they are worth reading. The review was so wonderful, I have a hard time choosing a snippet from it to quote! Is it any wonder, with lines like:
"This story is emotionally gripping and explosive."  Or: 
"I love Gina. Despite everything she's gone through, she really is a fighter and doesn't ever stop. She's brave and strong, and someone I strive to be."
Seriously, after reading Emma's review, even I'm sold on on this book! ;-)

So yes, please, if you've read a book, leave a review. And it's true, the numbers don't care whether you loved or hated the book, or how many words there are in your review as long as it exists. 

But if you've enjoyed a book, then all of this applies to you even more so. Not because we only want positive reviews, but because authors are people, and sometimes we need a reminder that this whole putting-our-work-out-there thing is worthwhile.

Other Important Tidbits:

August 22, 2016

Mortal Musings's 1-Year Anniversary Extravaganza!

Mortal Musings cover

As of Thursday, Mortal Musings will have been out in the world for an entire year! It still hasn't sunk in. 

When I first decided to publish this book independently, turning down several traditional offers, I knew I was taking a huge risk. But now, Mortal Musings is a 2016 Booksellers' Best Award Finalist—and a reader favorite. Just take a look at these lovely reader comments:
"Adorable and genuine love story between truly endearing characters. Their romance was so earnest that I couldn't stop smiling the entire time I read it." —Kris B.
    "A very enjoyable read from start to finish. It’s beautifully and intelligently written, gently developed with a nice degree of whimsicality and sensuality."
    "I really enjoyed this book! I read it from cover to cover in one sitting, couldn't put it down. Very fun, lighthearted read that left me happy—the end was totally satisfying, even though part of me also didn't want to ever end."
    "Allie and Brett are captivating and their chemistry is magnetic. The story is sweet, magical, and marvelously twisty. “Mortal Musings” is a short Romance so the writing is tight and the angsty introspection is blissfully minimal while the character development is plentiful. In short, “Mortal Musings” was short, sweet, and steamy!" 

August 16, 2016

I'm Back!

I'm back! Sorry for disappearing without notice—I'd planned to write a quick post, letting you all know that I was merely heading out of the country, not truly disappearing, but of course, as usual lately, life got in the way (packing, friends visiting (yay!), wrapping up work, etc.).

Stressful as wrapping everything up under a very strict deadline was (and don't even get me started on the disasters of traveling on the way there!) this trip truly came at a great time. I spent two full weeks genuinely not working, and usually not even thinking about work. The freedom from social media and worrying about marketing or deadlines—enforced by a lack of internet access—was incredible, and in many ways eye-opening.

I read eight full books, and the beginnings of two more! Two of them were by the fantastic Susan Elizabeth Phillips, one of my favorite authors ever since I first discovered romance. A few were by new-to-me authors, Nalini Singh and Anna Elliott, with a couple more by Laurell K Hamilton. I can't say I loved every book I read, but I loved being able to spend that much time reading—among sight seeing, engaging lectures on art & artists, and plenty of family time.

I also watched at least 5 movies on the plane rides (definitely more, but I only remember one during my flight there, which can't possibly be right). It was almost like coming out of a haze of work and catching up on what was happening in the rest of the world—while simultaneously being completely separate from that world.

I did miss the Olympics, which I am pretty bummed about, especially since I don't have cable in ay form at home and so can't watch the replays on NBC (boo).

Now that I'm back, of course I'm focusing full-force on the celebration for the 1-year anniversary of Mortal Musings, which is next week! I have lots of fun in store, and I hope you'll come celebrate with me. You can get a head start by joining my newsletter so that you'll be the first to know about everything going on. (And because I can't keep a secret, I can tell you there'll be a special giveaway open only to newsletter subscribers!)

July 25, 2016

I have a good excuse!

I meant to have a full post written by this morning, one about publishing, even. But yesterday I threw a baby shower for a friend, for which another friend flew out from the East Coast, and so the entire weekend was dominated with lovely social time. Both friends are writers, though, so that counts for something, right? Of course, it would be good if I was ahead enough in life to have already written a post for today, but let's not kid ourselves.

However, for those of you who may not have yet grabbed your copy, I wanted to make sure to let you know that The Whedonite is free for a very limited time (ending Tuesday night)!

Grab your copy here!

July 19, 2016

My First Solo Book Signing!

Another day and another post have gotten away from me, but I promise I'm aiming to return to my regular Monday schedule. Really.

This past Sunday was my very first solo book signing. Though I've participated in author events before, this was entirely different, and much less structured. There was a table on the street set aside for me, right outside the door to Recycle Books in Campbell, but absolutely everything else was up to me. Here's how I set that table up:

As you can see, I had all three novels set upright to (hopefully) catch attention. I also had trading cards and two different magnet designs people could grab, a few print copies of The Whedonite, signups for my newsletter, and some chocolate kisses. What do you think? Any suggestions for the setup of future events?

July 11, 2016

Why Publish? Facing Some Hard Truths

This post is coming a little late in the day. There are many reasons, including some health issues and the fact that I've been fighting with Ingram Spark—again—to get correctly printed copies of my latest book. I always question how much of the "real" world to share here on my blog, how big a window to open for you all into my life, including into my life as an author.

We're so often taught that any "negativity" will only come back to haunt us, whether it's admitting our weaknesses or addressing a less-than-stellar experience. It's a big part of why I stayed mostly quiet about my time with GMMG. (And no, that's not what this post is about; for me, that's all ancient history.)

At the same time, we're advised to be honest, genuine, and vulnerable. I try to focus on the first two, giving you all a glimpse behind the scenes and sharing all the excitement without going too far into all the anxiety, and heartbreak, and feelings of failure. Today, for better or for worse, is different.

I've published 3 novels in 10 months (August 2015–June 2016), independently. I've spent a significant amount of both money and time to make that happen. One of my novels (Mortal Musings) is up for an award, which is incredibly exciting (and nerve-wracking, since the results will be announced Wednesday). But readers aren't buying it. My other novels aren't doing so well either, with my latest release, Tasting Temptation, doing the worst of them all in terms of sales, though personally I think it's my best to date. I'm not kidding or exaggerating, folks: it's sold fewer than 15 copies total so far.

I've always known I was terrible at marketing, so I've tried hiring companies to do it for me or paying for ads, as much as I could afford. Those seemed to do as poorly as my own attempts. So lately I've had to confront the question of why I publish my work, as opposed to just writing it and letting it go. Why spend months torturing the draft into something readable and then something decent and then something (hopefully) enjoyable? Why spend hours agonizing over marketing decisions, and cover design ideas, and how to pay for it all?

And part of the answer is that I'm a perfectionist, but the real reason is: you. Readers. And yet the hardest thing for me has been simply getting my books read. So I'd like to try something new, just for those of you who read my blog.

A limited number of copies of Tasting Temptation are available for free right here—first come, first served. All you have to do is click on the link and choose your format. Fair warning: this book contains explicit scenes; please do not download it if that makes you uncomfortable.

I'm truly only doing this because I hope you'll enjoy this book. I'd really appreciate if, after reading it, you'd take the time to leave your honest review. I am toying with the idea of a reviewer appreciation giveaway to come (I'd love your thoughts in the comments on that one). If you have other budget-friendly ideas you think may help, I'd appreciate hearing those too.

Regardless, I will be taking a brief break from publishing for the foreseeable future (at least several months). Partially, this is because I need to have time to work on the actual writing and revising that precedes the publishing, and partially because I have a lot of thinking to do. I don't have any plans to stop blogging, however, and regardless of anything, there are festivities planned for Mortal Musings' anniversary in August. I hope you'll join me.

Thanks as always for reading!

July 4, 2016

Happy Independence Day!

Barbecues, family time, fireworks—how are you celebrating this 4th of July? If you're looking for an excuse to celebrate by reading, Tasting Temptation ends on Independence Day weekend, making this the perfect time to read it!

Did you miss the release-week fun? The giveaways below are still accepting entries (lucky you!), and you can hit the highlights at these posts:

Enter to Win:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Tasting Temptation by Aria Glazki

Tasting Temptation

by Aria Glazki

Giveaway ends July 05, 2016.

at Goodreads.

June 27, 2016

Tasting Temptation Release Week is Here!

The second Forging Forever book releases at midnight! And you can pick up your copy now:

Amazon: US - UK - AUS - CANiBooks
Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords
Wordery (free international shipping!)

There's absolutely no need to have read book 1 in order to fully enjoy Tasting Temptation, but for a limited time, you can grab both Forging Forever books—autographed, if you'd like—for only $25!

As you might have guessed, release week will be chock-full of various fun (including a whole slew of giveaways, of course).

I'm kicking the week off over on the lovely L.D. Rose's site, talking about the process of writing Tasting Temptation, imaginary movie casting, and more. Join us!

"The author does a phenomenal job of describing the wine country and all the scene details throughout the book... Tasting Temptation is an enjoyable read with some very hot naughtiness thrown in."
Teri Lloyd (Review & excerpt!)

Release Blitz — Excerpt + extra giveaway!

"I loved Tasting Temptation even more than the previous installment in the Forging Forever series due to it’s complex story-line, the vulnerability of the main characters, and the passion between the hero and heroine...  [With] passionate and affectionate main characters, a complex story line, and the magic of the Destiny of Love Tasting Temptation is a must read."
(Major SPOILER warning!)

Why Have Sex? (in Fiction): Guest post hosted by Sherry Fundin—& her review!

Watering the Seeds of a Story: Guest post hosted by Mary E Thompson—find out where Tasting Temptation began!

All throughout the week, there will be many ways to win prizes, including autographed print copies, Cavaliere Vineyards wine charms & pins, Tasting Temptation magnetic bottle openers, and Forging Forever cover art prints—in a variety of combinations depending on the giveaway. In addition to the Rafflecopter below, there will be a special giveaway over on Instagram, and also some sporadic giveaways on Twitter, because we all know I won't be able to help myself!

Celebrate with me!

Those of you in the US can also enter to win a print copy via Goodreads:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Tasting Temptation by Aria Glazki

Tasting Temptation

by Aria Glazki

Giveaway ends July 05, 2016.

at Goodreads.

June 20, 2016

Typesetting Basics for Authors: Making Your Print Book Look Like a Novel

How do you take the text of your story and make it look like a "real" book? When it comes to print, the answer lies with typesetting, in other words formatting what text goes where on which page, how it's spaced, and more. (Want to know more about what you need to include besides the story itself? Check out this post on formatting your front matter.)

Many authors choose to hire a typesetter, because the work is very particular and time-consuming, especially without the experience or special software. However, it is absolutely possible to learn to typeset your own work correctly, and moreover, you should know at least the basics of typesetting so that you can verify that someone you hire does the job properly. 

So, for you authors or curious readers, here are the basics of typesetting (or formatting) the print version of a book:
  • The rectangle of text across two facing pages must be even. In other words, the width needs to be the same (so your margins need to be equal, and the text justified), and the height needs to be the same. This is basically the most important thing in making your story appear like a normal book. However, due to other rules, this is harder than it seems. 
    • Of course, if the end of a chapter faces the beginning of a new chapter, this rule doesn't apply. Wherever the previous chapter ends on the page, that's where it ends.
  • The height of the text block is the difficult part. If you let the text flow naturally, the tops and sides of your text block will usually match, but the bottoms won't. So when typesetting, the spacing between lines and paragraphs is manipulated to ensure that the bottom edges of the text also line up. If done correctly, this isn't noticeable to readers.
    • Tip: The text needs to align on the facing pages, but it doesn't have to hit at the exact same point on every two-page spread. Pay attention to some of the books on your shelf, and you might notice that some pages are "shorter" than others—but in a professionally typeset book, pages facing each other will always line up like a perfect rectangle.
  • Pages also need to look like they're the same "color"—by which typesetters mean the density of the text. "Lighter" pages have more white space, "darker" pages have denser text, and the goal is to have the pages just about match, as much as that's possible. Text shouldn't feel too dense or too sparse on any of your pages.
  • Avoid orphans and widows whenever possible. Orphans and widows are single lines (or goodness forbid, words), separated from the bulk of their paragraph by the end of a page. I say "whenever possible" because the text block ultimately rules. Sometimes, with three-line paragraphs, it's impossible to have all three lines on one page while leaving the block intact and of the right density.
    • Personally, I stick to the 1–2 rule when in this situation with three-line paragraphs, meaning that the first line stays on its own, and the second two stick together. Why? Because the third line isn't full-length, so it will look especially awkward on its own. The first line, however, always stretches the entire length of your page. Still, I do everything in my power to ensure that paragraphs split 1–2 are on facing pages—so you don't have to turn the page to see the rest of the paragraph after a single line.
  • Avoid multiple hyphens being "stacked"—in other words, multiple lines in a row ending with a hyphen. The argument I've seen from typesetters is basically that it doesn't look pretty, so it draws attention to itself, so it distracts from the reading experience.
  • Also, avoid hyphens as the last symbol on the right-hand page, i.e. someone needing to turn the page before they can finish the word. 
    • I try not to have hyphenated words go from one page to the next even on facing pages.
  • You need mirror margins, which basically means that because the margin on the inside edge of the page needs to be a little larger, this bigger margin goes on the right side of a left-hand page, and on the left side of a right-hand page (the side closest to the "seam" of your book). The good news is: this requires just the click of a check box if you're using MS Word, which has a "mirror margin" feature.
    • This is done because the "seam" of the book—where the pages come together—eats a bit of the page, and you want to make sure that it doesn't also eat eat part of your text or just interfere with people's ability to see the inside edge of text clearly.
  • In print, scene breaks are signified by a blank space (about a line and a half worth, but this is part of the spacing that changes to ensure the text block lines up). They do not have symbols like in digital books, where page flow changes based on reading device.
    • Scene breaks that come at the bottom of a page or the top of a page are marked by symbols—occasionally three stars, but often another character that matches the tone of the book or is simply liked by the typesetter (or author). This is done to make it clear that a) there was a scene break, so readers are prepared for the shift, and b) the blank space isn't a typographical error.
  • The first line of a chapter or a new scene traditionally is not indented. All the other paragraphs are.
    • Some typesetters also add an extra flourish to the start of the chapter, whether it's a drop cap, or a word/line in small caps, or an italicized first line (which I don't recommend, because readers may be confused about it being direct thought). If you do choose to add this type of flourish, it usually only happens at the start of a chapter, not for every new scene.
  • Chapters start about a third of the way down a new page, often.
    • However, sometimes chapters flow directly into one another (with an extra-large break)—usually in mass market paperbacks, to cut down on the number of pages—and sometimes people make sure that every chapter starts on a right-hand page. Sometimes people stylistically choose to do something more complicated as well. But the basic choice for fiction is a new page, partway down.

So there you go, a not-so-brief overview of how to typeset a novel. As I mentioned at the start, this is a very time-consuming process, especially if you're learning as you go, but it is entirely doable. If you have questions, let me know in the comments and I'll try to answer based on what I've learned!