Thursday, August 30, 2012

My journey into the world of independent publishing by Ally Thomas


My journey into the world of Independent Publishing in 2011 wasn't a planned event in my life.  I became an Indie Author before I knew what I was doing really.  I jumped the gun, let's say, and I’m glad I did.  I like to visualize it as the scene from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”  Max, the dog ends up riding on the sled with the Grinch when he should be at the front pulling.  The momentum of the sled passing him by throws Max on the back of the sled.  He waves to the Grinch and hangs out for the ride.  I call my publishing journey “launching the cart before the horse” and here's why.  Please note that you may or may not want to approach your publishing adventure this same way.  It's simply one way, the way I did it.
If I had taken the traditional steps to get into the world of publishing, I would not be a published author today.  Independent publishing through sites like Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon turned me into a published author overnight.  I don't regret that rather spontaneous decision one bit.
I have dreamed of being a writer since I was a teenager.  And I’ve always dreamed of writing vampire fiction since I read Anne Rice’s “Interview with the Vampire” when I was 15.  I recall a comment from a college professor  when I was in getting a Bachelor’s in Journalism (who I didn’t really like by the way).  I told her I wanted to write vampire novels someday, not news articles.  She replied, “We all want to write the great American novel, but we have to make a living.”
I abandoned any realistic hopes of becoming a fiction writer after that and set my sights on getting a job as a technical writer after I graduated.  If I couldn’t write fiction, at least I could have a job writing computer manuals, I thought.
As I worked in the corporate technology world of the dot com era, I longed to write vampire stories, something I'd be proud to say I wrote.  I read every book I could find about vampires and scribbled ideas into my journals.  When the shift of vampires being written as heroes instead of villains started, I knew I wanted to write in the paranormal genre.  But I had no idea where to start.  How could I get published?
From 2000 to 2007, I struggled with my demons and they got the better of me.  I assumed nothing I wrote would be of interest to anyone, and nothing would be any different than anything else that was out there.  So why try it?
I didn’t think I could become a published author like the ones I saw on until I learned about ebooks and joined a community called  Their motto is “Your ebook, your way.”
Other writing friends of mine had been diligently writing their 100,000 word manuscripts since about 2008.  With my having a Masters in English, I volunteered to read and edit their drafts.  It was my little sideline hobby.  I spent those years with my friends, talking about their writing, plot, characters, reading and editing their drafts, and dreaming about being an author someday.
When I asked what their next steps were, they discussed submitting their manuscripts to writing contests, agents, editors, and the like.  While I looked on at their progress, my hopes of becoming a writer seemed like a far away concept.  Being paid to write books seemed unimaginable.
While I read and edited their drafts, they joined organizations like Romance Writers of America and Writer's Digest.  As they received feedback from judges in contests, they struggled with achieving their goal.  Everyone had an opinion about various aspects of their manuscripts.  Some helpful, some not, some picky, and some downright mean.  My friends grew hesitant, lost their confidence, and struggled with moving forward.  Getting published was a long shot at best, a dream only a few people could achieve.
Finally in 2010 I decided to take some action.  My New Year’s resolution was to get something published.  I decided to start small.  I’d write one short story.  If I could get the story published in a magazine, I'd be happy.
Also I wanted to learn more about a few new concepts I had heard about.  I went online to google “publishing ebooks” and “independent publishing.”  There had to be another way to get published without going the traditional route.  I wanted to find out more.
I took a short story class at a local college in the summer of 2010.  By the end of December, I had a polished short story of 20 pages that I thought was a nice piece of work.  My writing instructor was a published author of paranormal romance.  She had gotten published the traditional way (getting her manuscript accepted by a major publishing house).  When she read my story, she startled me with two observations: 1) She had enjoyed reading my story, and 2) She suggested my looking into publishing it online.  “Publishing Ebooks is the up and coming thing,” she said.
I shared this news with my writing friends and asked if they had thought of publishing their books as ebooks on sites like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Smashwords.  I couldn’t sit still with the new information I’d received (literally).  Seeing a book I wrote on the site was a wonderful notion.  And I could do it all on my own?  I could help my friends get their manuscripts published as ebooks.  It was possible!  It was a great spark I needed to ignite my dream again.
I had heard of a site called in 2002 and had thought then that if I ever wanted to get serious about publishing a book I'd check the site out.  My friends weren't too sure what to do or where to start with creating ebooks, so I offered to check it out.
With my having a background in technology and online training, I agreed to research a few ebook publishing sites and let my friends know if this was a path to take.  We had heard of internet publishing sites who took advantage of writers by asking for money up front, but not giving them anything in return.  I knew Smashwords was a good choice because they were still in business since I had heard of them.  The company with now 12 employees went public in 2008.  They provide publishing services for over 35,000 Independent authors and the number keeps growing.  And yeah like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, they are reputable.
(When I say I have a background in technology, I should list the jobs I've had.  I've been a technical writer (writing software manuals and help systems), a graphic designer, web programmer, and most recently an e-learning developer which is a fancy way of saying I write online training or online lessons.  I know enough about a smattering of technology topics to be dangerous.  I wouldn't venture to say I know everything about every position I mentioned above.  I'm not an expert in each field.  I’m a generalist.  The benefit of having such a diverse skill set (writing, creating graphics, developing training, and so on) means I can figure out my way around areas of the Internet, especially documentation and training materials.  And I know from testing web applications that if I can't find the answer or need help, I email customer support, search the Help file, or call technical support.)
As I researched the company’s publishing services, doubts and fears immediately rolled in.  I questioned if it was a mistake publishing any way other than with a traditional publisher.  I didn't have an agent.  (I still don’t by the way.)  I didn't have a complete manuscript even.  I had a simple short story and I didn't know if I could publish a short piece.  What was the word limit?  (Currently there isn’t one by the way.)  I really didn't know where to start.  It was a ludicrous idea trying to publish just a short story.  I stressed about continuing on to write a full-length novel and considered giving up.
Somewhere during late 2010, I grew stubborn about completing my goal.  I told those little doubtful voices in my head to “Sit down and shut up.”  Let’s see what happens, I thought.  “So what if I get laughed at or get dozens of awful reviews for my story.  Maybe someone will read it and like it.  Maybe they’ll want to read more about Rayea, my vampire from Hell.  Besides I won’t know if I don’t try.”
I was tired of letting a million excuses surface in my brain to remind me I wasn’t good enough to be a writer and that I didn’t have anything new to say.
Short story or not, I wanted to get published.  Period.  I’m usually not like that.  The old Ally would have waited and completed a full hundred thousand word book, writing for years on a manuscript she wasn’t sure anyone would even like, contemplating every aspect of every step in the writing and publishing process, while the demons of doubt danced around in her head.
The new Ally, the one you know today, did something else.  She published a 20 pages short story in January 2011 as a Free part of a new series called “The Vampire from Hell.”  She crossed her fingers, threw caution to the wind, duck taped the mouths of the demons racing around in her head shut, and prayed for positive feedback.
Needless to say, I haven’t looked back since.  I’m too busy writing and marketing my books while I still work for a few clients writing online training.  I don’t make a ton of money on each ebook I sell.  It’s less than a dollar per purchase.  I like to offer books that are affordable and throw in some freebies along the way.  That was one piece of advice from an established author that I am thankful now I took.
The short story (Part 1 – The Beginning) averages between 2,000 and 5,000 downloads per month on Amazon since January 2011.
Now I realize the series is taking on a life of its own.  I have six installments planned out.  How many more I’ll release I don’t know for sure.  I’d like to say as long as you, my readers want to know more about Rayea’s story, I’ll keep writing the series.
Why am I bringing this up?  Well because in my opinion ebooks are the future.  As long as we have e-reader devices, ebooks are certainly going to be a part of the publishing industry.  The shift is right now in the making, and the big publishing houses are more than a little concerned.
This is from the Introduction in a new book published by the owner of, Mark Coker.  It’s a free download by the way at
“Even authors previously published by big New York publishers are starting to go independent.  These authors are questioning what Big Publishers can do for them that the author cannot do for themselves.  It’s only a matter of time before authors begin speaking of the stigma of traditional publishing.  Indie authors have the ability publish faster, distribute more broadly, price lower, sell more books at higher royalty levels, reach more readers and earn more income than they can by surrendering their rights to a traditional publisher.”  (“The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success”)
Many authors are making a living selling their books through these internet sites like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Apple, Sony, etc.  I’ve heard a few stories of established authors, dropped by the publishing houses, have turned to publishing ebooks on their own.
If you’re an aspiring writer and you want to publish your manuscript through any of these sites, go for it.  Don’t let doubt or fear stop you.  Do a search on google for “publishing ebooks” or go to Amazon and look for “how to” books.  A lot of good resources are available.
I’d suggest joining because they have several guides that lead you step-by-step through the process such as the one mentioned above.
I’ve already helped two of my writing friends realize their dream, and I have two more friends in the wings.  Once they told me they wanted to publish their book as an ebook, I didn’t forget that comment.  It’s the vampire in me, lol.

Latest Book Link and Information
The Vampire from Hell (Parts 1-3) – The Volume Series #1
According to Rayea, the oldest daughter of Satan, the origin of vampires started in Hell, and it started with her. Ally Thomas offers the first volume of the Vampire from Hell series in this collection. It includes the first three parts of the series including
·         "The Vampire from Hell (Part 1) - The Beginning
·         "The Vampire from Hell (Part 2) - A Vampire Among Angels"
·         "The Vampire from Hell (Part 3) - A Vampire On Vacation"
The Vampire from Hell, a novella series, is being released in installments and continues Halloween 2012 with "The Vampire from Hell (Part 4) - The Vampire from Hell Returns."

Ally Thomas’s bio
Ally Thomas loves writing fantasy and paranormal books that showcase vampires, werewolves, zombies, witches, and any furry monsters who go bump in the night. She enjoys imagining new origins for these traditional creatures and seeing where it'll take her.Ally lives in the south with her husband and unproductive furry co-workers including two cats and a dog. She is currently working on the next installment of the fantasy paranormal series, the Vampire from Hell and the upcoming paranormal romance series, Fanged Love. Learn more at

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Good reviews, bad reviews, and the "OMG, I suck as a writer!" kind

If you know an author you probably have heard them say, "If you liked my book please leave a review!". If you have author friends online you've probably read something similar. Sometimes a little blurb is added to the back of the books asking for kind words on social review sites.

The good reviews probably seem like there shouldn't need anything to be said about them, right? The obvious part of them is that when I get a great review, I feel like I'm the best writer in the world. I post the review link on my social networking pages so that others can cheer me on. Sounds good, huh? Well, I hear that if you have too many good reviews, people doubt their validity. A high number of good reviews leads some people to believe that the author's family and friends wrote them, or that the author paid for the reviews. This is insane! But what do you do?

I don't care who the author is, they've gotten a bad review at one time or another. Okay, so I love Rachel Gibson books. She is one of my absolute favorite authors. I don't even read the back of her books anymore. I grab them because I know I'm going to love the book. My favorite of her books is See Jane Score. For the sake of this post, I looked up Rachel Gibson's reviews (because I knew I'd find some bad ones.) and found this:

"This book is boring. So you like Hockey and the guys. Ugh. The jokes are so lame. Oh they drop their pants and she has to pretend it doesn't bother her, well we could have guessed that.
The characters are without any color, no real excitment comes up when you read the chapters. Honestly she followed the textbook of writing a chick flick and forgot to step it up some." To check out the whole review: 

My first thought: What the hell is this reviewer thinking? That is MY favorite book. The book is amazing. I carried See Jane Score in my purse and read it while waiting in line, on the bus, and any place I found an extra minute. I couldn't stop reading it! And that, my friend, is the point. Not everyone likes what you do. Not everyone gets the meaning of what you, the author, is trying to write. When I get a bad review I feel the sting and doubt my writing for a moment. I will never, ever let one person's opinion ruin the passion I have for writing so I focus on all of the good reviews until I move on! 

What about the last type? You know the reviews I'm talking about... the kind that leave the author wondering why on earth they'd ever started writing in the first place. Some people are out there that totally bash the book and the author. I have lucked out and never received a review like this (that I'm aware of) and hope I never do, but a good friend of mine has. 

My friend wrote a BDSM paranormal. When it released, her sales boomed! She sold more of that book than any of her others. She called me one day after receiving one of these reviews. The reviewer not only bashed her book but her as an author too. She sobbed on the phone, asking me over and over why she even wrote books. "I suck," she exclaimed. I told her she didn't. Some people might just be mean and that is the reason why they do this, but I think that it goes a lot deeper than that. We have triggers in us that makes us feel certain emotions. Her book might've triggered some deep issue in that reviewer and had to experience the unpleasantness of the reviewers backlash. Who knows? My friend will never find out, but guess what? She moved on and wrote even better books. 

I actual read the reviews I receive and also on books I want to buy. But why since a book review has such a fine line between good and evil? I don't look at the rating when buying a book. I want to check for things I'll like about the book or something I won't. And I always remind myself that this review is one person's opinion. If it has bad reviews but looks promising to me, I'll still buy the book. 

To my reader friends: Leave reviews. No matter what, they'll motivate the author. To my author friends: Don't let a bad review hold you down. Look at Fifty Shades of Grey! Need I say more? 

Happy Reading, 

Wendy Ely 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday- Midnight Secrets

I love Allison from Midnight Secrets! Here you go:

Heat rushed to her face. “Are you going to be able to fix this?” She didn’t want him to leave. Not yet. But he should. She had to fight to keep her attention on the job when he looked at her in his sexy way, a dimple showing in his cheek, washing away any dangerous appearance he might have had showing before, as he gave her a slow smile. Anyone else would’ve fallen to their knees at the chance to be with a guy who so easily aroused them, but not her. She didn’t like the feeling
one bit. It complicated things.
“I won’t leave until it’s fixed. You’re stuck with me even if it takes all night.”

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A very busy week!

Oh wow! I'm glad Saturday has finally arrived. This week was so busy with all my different "author" projects and home life that I decided to take the weekend off. So here I am blogging... hmm...

Anyway, one of my biggest projects this week was putting together my mailing list for my new and improved monthly newsletter. I also started a new book that continues my Desert Secret Series. The books in the series are Confessions and Midnight Secrets. This book will free but only to newsletter subscribers. A chapter will be included in every newsletter. How awesome is that? So subscribe today!

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Author Interview: Laura Vosika!

1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? 

I'm a mother, musician, and writer.  I grew up in the military, which was a great way to see the world and meet a wide variety of people.

2. What do you do when you are not writing?  

I keep myself busy with quite a few things.  With nine children, there's always plenty of cleaning, laundry, and school events, or just spending time with them.  I'm currently working on my home.  I enjoy playing several instruments, writing music, and studying languages.

3. Do you have a day job as well? 

 Yes.  I'm lucky to have a job I love.  I teach music lessons on harp, piano, guitar, and most wind instruments.

4. When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book? 

 I started when I was 8 and wrote on and off through high school and college.  I finished my first book when I was 24.

5. How did you choose the genre you write in?  

I feel like it really chose me, by way of a children's book, a piece of trombone music, and the flash of an image of a man gambling away his livelihood and conning his girlfriend into rescuing him.  Put together, they pulled me right into medieval Scotland and time travel.

6. Where do you get your ideas?

 In general, they come from anywhere, from a conversation overheard, a news article, a human interest story.  For The Blue Bells Chronicles, my ideas came from the children's novel In the Keep of Time, the old folk song and trombone theme and variations, Blue Bells of Scotland,and the image described above.

7. Do you ever experience writer’s block?  

Not often.  Usually, it's more a matter of realizing I have to explain how something came to pass, and being stuck on that question, or doing the necessary research, before I can start the actual writing again.

8. Do you work with an outline, or just write?  

A bit of both.  I find that characters don't always co-operate with an author's outline.

9. Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?  

I would have to say Margaret Anderson, who wrote In the Keep of Time, but really, all authors of great children's novels.  I think one thing that particularly inspired me was books that brought history alive and gave it that human touch, made it matter, as opposed to history classes which often managed to distill it down to dry facts.   
As an adult, I would say C. S. Lewis inspires me.

14. Can you tell us about your upcoming book? 

 I would love to!  However, I'm currently working on The Water is Wide, Book 3 of The Blue Bells Chronicles, and it's difficult to talk about it without giving spoilers for books 1 and 2.  For those who haven't read any of the series, however, I'll talk about that.  The Blue Bells Chronicles revolves around the Shawn Kleiner, an arrogant, self-centered modern American musician, and Niall Campbell, a devout, medieval Highland warrior who is about to head off on a mission vital to struggling nation of Scotand.  When they fall asleep in a castle tower, on the same night, seven centuries apart, they wake up in the wrong times.  Because they look identical, they're trapped in one another's lives.  It's historical fiction, time travel, adventure, and a story of inner growth and redemption.
What is your favorite food? 

How do you feel about fuzzy socks? 

I haven't spent enough time thinking about fuzzy socks to have feelings one way or another, but living in Minnesota, I'm pretty partial to socks in general, especially in the winter!
Share a secret with us!

 Well, there was this guy, years ago, probably in the 1920s. He had a very risque deck of cards. You could even see the women's knees and bare arms! This was such a big secret, he hid them in the rafters of the tuck-under garage in his basement, and 60 years later, while doing repair work, my dad found the cards and his secret was totally blown! Now it's on the internet and the whole world knows. Oh, wait, you didn't mean my secret, did you?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Love to read? Get my books for free!

I'm looking for street team members. As a street team member you receive:

  • Every new release for free! 
  • Special street team promo materials for my books!
  • Exclusive street team gift bags and/or swag bags! 

What is required of a street team member? 

  • Leave a short and honest review Goodreads and amazon! 
  • Occasionally tweet and post my links on your social networking sites! 

Limited openings. Email me today so I can send you my books.

Talk to you soon,
Wendy Ely 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Hot Summer Heroes Blog Hop!

What makes a hero hot to me? Well, I love flawed heroes. I want my characters like normal people, so I always give my characters some not-so-great traits. When I'm reading about that "perfect" hero, I don't find it believable because nobody is perfect. Even with flaws, they have to have some redeeming qualities or must change over the time of the story.

Here are some flaws you'll find in the heroes of my books:

Jesse's Brother:

Noah is secretive and doesn't trust himself to open up to people. He also turned his back on his family and doesn't regret it. His redeeming quality? Once he loves, he does so with his whole heart. He is also honest and loyal to the heroine.

Jordan tried to fake a relationship with another woman when the heroine ran away. He lived a lie for many years. Once the fake relationship ended he waited for Chelsea. What makes this okay? He had unfailing love for Chelsea and knew she'd return some day.

Midnight Secrets:

Miguel did something bad in his past and doesn't want to tell Allison. The guilt he has hinders the relationship with Allison.

Dreaming of Him:

Trace is in Amber's life for his own selfish purposes and she falls in love with him while he is there. His redeeming quality is that he helps Amber while he is there.

You can win a copy an ebook copy of Dreaming of Him! Leave a comment on the blog to tell me what makes a hero hot to you. Subscribe to my blog to be entered twice! 

The grand prize is a $100 B&N gift card!