11/26/14 Ruthless

Mob Boss Series 1 FB Cover


“Had me hooked from page one…” – Anja 

“The chemistry is blazing!” – Michelle

“Bought the second book three seconds after finishing the first!” – Suzanne F.


Two years out of college, Angelica Bondesan spends her time working as a barista, keeping in touch with her prodigal brother, and trying to figure out how to bridge the gap with her father, a wealthy real estate developer.

But all of that changes the night she’s kidnapped. Thrown into a windowless room, Angelica is positive there’s been some kind of mistake — until she meets Nico Vitale.

Gorgeous and frightening, Nico became the boss of New York City’s Vitale crime family after the execution style murder of his parents two years earlier. Since then he’s turned the old-school mob into a sleek, modern army of ruthless men who understand that physical violence — while always an option — isn’t the only way to get what you want.

Now Angel is forced to face the truth;

Her father is not the man she believed him to be.

Nico Vitale is dangerous, possibly lethal.

She is falling in love with Nico Vitale.


The love story of a lifetime starts here;




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09/11/15 Indie , inspiration , Life , Uncategorized # , , ,

A Head Full of Fear

Head_Fear_QuoteI saw this quote about a week ago and have been thinking about it ever since. I’ve always had a saying that has served me well;

Never make a decision out of fear.

You’d be surprised how many decisions are fear-based when that is your litmus test.

Now because this is the internet and the internet is full of trite sayings that, when dissected under the magnifying glass of critical thinking, aren’t helpful and might actually be harmful, I’m going to give you a disclaimer.

Fear can be good. Fear makes you look both ways before crossing the street. It makes you think carefully before making a career decision that might have lasting implications for you or your family. It keeps you from driving too fast and eating too much junk food.

That’s not the kind of fear I’m talking about.

I’m talking about the kind of fear that paralyzes you. The kind of fear that keeps you from taking a step in any direction because something might go wrong. Like many people, I struggle with that fear on a weekly basis. The burden feels greater because I am responsible for other human beings, and I don’t want to fuck things up for them.

But friends, I am so, so, SO glad I have not let fear rule my life. I didn’t let it rule my life when I got out of two bad marriages. (yeah, my track record there isn’t so great, but you know what? Everyone is happier now, my kids included). I didn’t let it rule my life when I ditched a very high paying but unsatisfying job in my home state of California for a quieter life in rural New York where I didn’t know anyone and didn’t have a job. I didn’t let it decide whether I should write back in 2004, when I got serious and started writing the books that led me to Prophecy of the Sisters and my first deal with Little Brown. I haven’t let it rule my life while I’ve experimented with a bunch of different genres – from YA Gothic fantasy, contemporary fantasy, Steampunk, and contemporary fiction to adult romance and psychological thrillers.

That doesn’t mean I haven’t been scared. It doesn’t mean I haven’t made mistakes either. But I haven’t regretted any of them, because I’ve been in motion. I’ve been MOVING. And even the things that seemed like mistakes at the time, later looked like exactly the thing I needed to lead me to the next good thing that WASN’T a mistake.

Isn’t life funny that way? I’ll bet if you look back on the “bad” things that happened to you, you’ll find that the vast majority were precursors to something good that wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t been confronted with the “bad” one. If you think about taking away that one negative experience, what would you lose that was good?

And I’ll let you in on another secret; almost always, the thinking about doing something scary is worse than the actual doing. That’s because we build up all these scary scenarios in our head, and statistically, they aren’t ALL going to come true. Plus, when you’re moving, you don’t have as much space in your brain for worrying and being scared. You’re too busy taking steps, looking around, making something happen.

For the first time in a long time, I feel in control of my situation. Wanna know my one regret?

Not taking control sooner. Being so scared that I stood still for so long, or if not still, that I didn’t move in the one direction that offered the most promise.

So look your fear in the face, dear friends. What’s the worst that can happen, really? What’s the best? Is your avoidance of the worst worth sacrificing the possibility of the best? Will you be satisfied later, when you’re still in the same place because you were afraid to take a step? Because here is one absolutely universal truth; nothing in your life will change if you keep doing the same things over and over again.

And you know what? Taking a step isn’t very hard. It’s just one step. Take one today and another one tomorrow. You will be two steps closer to the thing you want, and you’ll be so busy moving, you’ll be surprised by how your fear recedes into the background. Free up all that space in your brain and psyche and imagination for something better. Because there is always something better than fear.





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09/06/15 Fearless , Indie , Mob Boss Series , Reading , Romance , Ruthless # , , , , , , ,

FEARLESS is Now Available!

Fearless_front_V2Technically, it’s not out until tomorrow, but I’ll let you in on a little secret; I always pad my release dates by a day or two when I don’t set up a pre-order. That’s because each retailer has wildly different upload times.

Amazon is always the first to make a book live, so those of you reading the Mob Boss series on your Kindle are in luck; FEARLESS IS NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON.

I’m still waiting for B&N and iBooks to make the book available for sale, and the paperback is also in processing, but those should be available tomorrow on the technical release date.

In the meantime, happy reading to those of you who are able to pick it up today!

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09/02/15 Fearless , Indie , Lawless , Mob Boss Series , Reading , Romance , Ruthless , Self-Publish , Uncategorized , Writing # , , , , , , , ,

A Big First Month for RUTHLESS

front_6ix9i_RGB_300dpiIt’s September 2nd. A month ago today, Ruthless, my first self-pubbed novel wasn’t out yet. I had no idea what was in store, how well (or not) the book would sell, if going hybrid would change the landscape of my career like I hoped by giving me more control over my work and how it’s published and marketed.

Hard to believe that so much can change in a month.

But it did, and I’m happy to report that Ruthless sold over 6,000 copies in August. It’s a number that was far beyond my wildest expectations back when I was hoping royalties from the first month would just cover the money I spent on covers, formatting, marketing, etc.

One of the biggest reasons I decided to give self-publishing a try is because of all the Indie and hybrid authors who went before me. For context, it’s important to note that discretion is highly valued in traditional publishing. One doesn’t talk openly about advances or royalties, about the editors we find difficult, about publishing houses who have reneged on promises (it’s okay to shout from the rooftops about those we love, and we do!).

I get it. Being professional is important in any business, and much of this information is of a highly personal nature. Still, it’s been difficult not having easy, timely access to sales numbers and earn-out rates over the past few years. It’s hard to know if you need to make changes to your marketing plan or do something different without data.

One of the most refreshing things about going Indie with my adult work has been the utter transparency, both among many Indie authors and with regards to real-time data. It’s been a little exhilarating to watch my numbers climb, and those moments were well worth the few times when they dropped and I was left wondering if it was a trend, if it was due to everyone going back to school, if maybe I’d simply reached the end of RUTHLESS’s novelty as a new book. In a way, those moments were good for me, too. They were a reminder that you can watch your numbers all day long, but when push comes to shove, you need to keep your head down and write more books.

Anyway, I’m not sure I would have taken the plunge if not for all the authors who were generous and brave enough to report their experiences before me. Because of this, I feel like I owe a debt to pay it forward for anyone else out there thinking of going this route. This is where it gets a bit squicky for me, because I don’t like talking about my personal income any more than the next person, but it’s impossible to share sales numbers without talking royalties (mostly because anyone can figure it out knowing that the standard royalty on a self-pubbed book at $3.99 is 70%), and it’s impossible to give you an idea how life-altering this experience has been without talking sales numbers.

With that in mind, I’m going to be totally straight with you, with the caveat that I will probably not do this again, at least not to this degree of detail. I’m sure there are lots of ways I can screen shot and post graphs, but it’s the first day of school and I’m running on three hours sleep, so I’m going to keep it simple

August 2015

Total Books Sold (all formats) – 6,218

Print Copies Sold – 13

Digital Copies Sold (iBooks) – 19

Digital Copies Sold (Nook) – 41

Digital Copies Sold (Kindle) – 6,145

Total Royalties – $15,198.69

These numbers are with only one book – RUTHLESS – for sale. I never once discounted it, because I feel strongly that authors (and all artists) should be paid fairly for their work. This means all 6,000+ copies of the book were sold at my current full price of $3.99.

This is what it looked like;

Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 11.26.51 AMThe vast majority of sales were from Amazon for the Kindle platform. To be honest, I wasn’t very surprised. I had heard that Kindle sales compromised a majority of the digital marketplace — I just hadn’t realized how much. And while I know this isn’t going to be popular with some, I have to say; I can see why.

Buying in the Kindle store and reading on a Kindle device is so easy, and from an Indie author’s perspective, Amazon is by far the simplest to work with in ease of upload, speed of listing, access to foreign markets, and resolution of problems/questions. Like anyone, I feel a little nervous knowing that so much of my income is tied up with one distributor, but if another retailer wants that to change, they need to do better to compete in this space. Because frankly, Amazon is killing it on every level. I don’t always love the decisions they make, but the truth is, I haven’t always loved the decisions made in traditional publishing either.

Another interesting trend; RUTHLESS killed it in the UK Amazon store. Even now, nearly a month after it’s a release, it’s sitting at 503 in all Kindle books and 29 in New Adult Romance. The book also did well in Canada and Australia, with a few copies sold in Europe, and even in India.

If you read my post two weeks into the month, you know that the Facebook ad set up by AuthorBuzz was instrumental in giving the book the push it needed to get more visibility (you can see on the graph the crazy turn things took when the ad kicked in). That continues to be true, and I can’t say enough how much I recommend them for marketing and ad consultation. The ad image was just one part of what gave the books legs. Without the design expertise of the people at AuthorBuzz (they know how to work within Facebook’s parameters for maximum success) and keyword knowledge, the ad may very well have sat in the sidebar with no clicks. As it is, I have received thousands of clicks on the ad, and it’s still going strong. That traffic to the book got me more sales, which pushed Ruthless up on the list of Hot New Releases on Amazon and gave me yet more visibility. For a long time, the book was on pages 2-4 in several categories, and that really helped as well. As more people read it, more people reviewed it, talked about it, added it to their Goodreads shelves. It was a beautiful circle of momentum that began with the ad, and I plan to continue using AuthorBuzz for marketing on an ongoing basis for both my Indie work and my traditionally published work.

There was a bit of a learning curve — and a courage curve — with preorders. I didn’t list FEARLESS (the second book in the Mob Boss series) for preorder because Amazon has some rules about preorders that made it scary for me. Namely, you have to upload the final file ten days before the release or lose your preorder privileges for a year. As someone who’s sometimes tweaking small things right up until the book goes live, I just wasn’t ready to commit to it, especially since I was working to get the books out close together for my readers.

But I decided to do a preorder for LAWLESS, the final book in the series. I want readers to be able to see that the final book will be available the month after Fearless releases, and I wanted to be able to put the link in the back of Fearless to make it easy. This meant I had to upload the Lawless preorder before Fearless is even out in order to have the Buy link for my formatter. I’m sure it’s a little confusing for anyone digging around on Amazon for book two to find only books one and three available, but it will all make sense in a few days when Fearless is up on Monday. Next time, I’ll build in lots of time and list each book for preorder before publishing the first one.

I can’t tell you how much fun this has been, and how, well, RELIEVED I feel. I don’t think I realized how scared I was all the time. Scared that I wouldn’t be able to keep selling books to trad pub, scared that my advances there would dwindle, scared that I had zero control over the fate of my career and my ability to support my family. For now, I still hope to sell my YA stuff to trad pub, but for the first time in a long time, I am resting easy in the knowledge that there are people who want to read my stories — and that I have the ability to get those stories to them for the foreseeable future. I’m excited to write the next series (based on characters introduced in Ruthless), and maybe to play in the serial space, too.

I know not everyone will get these results out of the gate. I’ve been lucky to have a career in traditional publishing that gave me a platform, and some of those readers have followed me to my adult work. But there is a place for good books that might not find a home in the traditional publishing marketplace, and there is some comfort to that. For you, too, I hope.

Thanks to everyone who has supported me and cheered me on. Biggest thanks of all to those of you who bought, read, reviewed, and recommended RUTHLESS. None of the stories would matter if you weren’t there to read them.


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08/25/15 Book News , Fearless , Indie , Mob Boss Series , Romance , Ruthless , Self-Publish , Uncategorized # , , , , , , , ,

FEARLESS Cover Reveal

Fearless_front_V2You guys! Ruthless has raced to the top of the Amazon rankings in both the UK and the US. I’ve been absolutely stunned by the response, and I can only hope this means you’re ready for the release of FEARLESS on September 7th (less than two weeks away!).

Assuming you are… I thought you’d all like to see the cover. I’m sure you’ll notice that Nico looks a little rougher around the edges. That is intentional (because…. story), and I think you’ll be really excited by the continuation of Nico and Angel’s story in this next book. You can add it to your Goodreads shelf here.

In the meantime, if you haven’t read RUTHLESS, now’s the perfect time to do so. Thanks so much to everyone who has read, reviewed, and recommended to friends.

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08/20/15 Indie , Mob Boss Series , Reading , Romance , Ruthless , Writing # , , , , , ,

Romance Readers… I <3 You!

Just a quick thank you to the many readers who have recommended and reviewed RUTHLESS. The book continues to defy in convention in how well it’s doing during its debut month, and I’ve been especially gratified by the number of favorable reviews that have been posted on Amazon and Goodreads.

Reviews are so super important to a book’s success, and it’s always felt a bit like an uphill stubble to get people to leave them, even when they’ve loved my books. I get it! We’re all so busy now. I actually had to make a pact with myself about a year ago that I would leave more book and product reviews, because I noticed that I relied heavily on them when making my own purchases, then never bothered to leave them for others.


Now I do try to leave reviews as often as possible, and I see that YOU GUYS DO, TOO!

So thank you.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

For being part of RUTHLESS and this first foray into self-publishing, for cheering me on, for leaving reviews and recommending the book to friends online and IRL, and for inspiring me to write more stories from my heart.


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08/16/15 Fearless , Mob Boss Series , Sneak Peek Saturday , Writing # , , , , ,

Sneak Peek Sunday; FEARLESS

I know, I know. It’s supposed to be Sneak Peek Saturday. But better late than never, right?


While RUTHLESS is killing it in the Amazon rankings, I’m already ramping up for the release of FEARLESS, book two in the Mob Boss trilogy. The cover is currently being redesigned for the September 7th release of the book. In the meantime, maybe this sneak peek will tide you over.


The car was more animal than machine, its undulating curves sensual even rendered in steel and fiberglass. She shouldn’t have been surprised. Nico was all man — not exactly the type to drive a low-key sedan — and this car wasn’t about subtlety.

“Shouldn’t we be laying low?” she asked.

“We are laying low,” he said. “I had someone change the plates.”

She raised an eyebrow. “Someone? I thought the point of meeting Luca here was to stay under the radar.”

“Trust me. I’ve covered our bases. And when in Rome…” He took her elbow and guided her to the car.

“We’re not in Rome,” she said drily.

“No, we’re in Miami. Now get in the car.”

She slid into the seat with a sigh, sinking into the plush leather interior. He reached across her and buckled her seatbelt, just like he had the night they’d fled New York for Maine. His touch was no less electric now, and she breathed in the scent of him as his fingers brushed her skin, imagining the way he laid his big hands across her naked belly just before he spread her legs to enter her.

He clicked the buckle into place and retreated from the car. A moment later her door slid shut with a quiet hum, and he got behind the wheel. The powerful engine came to life somewhere between a roar and purr.

Like Nico.

He put his hands on the wheel slowly, like he was savoring the feel of it under his hands. He shifted into gear, and then they were flying through the parking garage, Nico taking the turns sharp and smooth until they exited into the Florida sunshine.

They got on the highway and headed south. It was like being in a different world, the bright colors and fast cars standing in sharp contrast to the wild Maine coast, the historical solemnity of Boston. Nico rolled down the windows and looked over at her with a grin, then accelerated through traffic. The wind whipped back her hair, and she was surprised to hear laughter bubble up from her throat.

She wasn’t a car person, couldn’t have cared less about what she drove at home, but the speed and agility of the machine connected with something deeply erotic inside her. She looked over at Nico — his muscled thighs moving as he shifted gears, dark hair ruffled by the wind, eyes hidden behind sunglasses — and grew wet with desire for him. She felt her old life falling away with a startling lack of fear.

A half hour later, Nico pulled into the Coral Gables address Angel had given him. The house was one of many owned by her father — now owned by her and David  — and occupied only sporadically. It wasn’t one of her favorites — she’d always thought it was a little garish — but now she could appreciate the gated entry, the long driveway that led to a brick courtyard at the front of the house. It wasn’t a fortress — as far as she knew it had been built for privacy, not impenetrability — but at least they would have a warning before someone made it through the gate and up the driveway. She didn’t expect anyone to know she and Nico were hiding out here, but they couldn’t afford to take anything for granted.

Nico pulled the car to a stop in the courtyard. He leaned forward, his arms on the wheel, and gazed up at the Spanish-style mansion. It didn’t look huge from the front, but Angel knew it was an illusion. The house was enormous, with eight bedrooms, a wine cellar, and a gym, among other things. The exterior was faced with ivory stucco, the windows framed with blue shutters, and palm trees offered just enough shade to the interior without blocking the sunlight.

“Nice,” he said approvingly.

“Thanks,” Angel said. She heard the note of sarcasm in her voice and felt like she should explain. “I still don’t know how I feel about all of this stuff.”

He turned to loo at her. “What stuff?”

“All the stuff bought with my father’s blood money.”

He nodded. “How do you know the house wasn’t built with legitimate income from Rossi Development?”

She thought about it. Everything was all tangled up together. The good and bad, moral and immoral, love and hate.

“I guess I don’t.”

“Maybe that’s a blessing,” he said, taking her hand.


They went inside, and Angel opened the windows and the doors leading to the balconies and terraces. The house was just like she remembered it, with soaring ceilings, expansive rooms, and an elaborate iron banister that wound upward with the curved staircase to the second floor.

When she was done airing out the house, she returned to the ground floor to find Nico standing on the terrace, looking out over the infinity pool and lagoon, and beyond that, to the open ocean in the distance.

“Will this work?” she asked him.

“It will,” he said. “Thank you.”

She reached up to smooth the crease in his forehead. “What’s wrong?”

“I wish you’d go back to New York.”

She dropped her arm, stung by his words. “You don’t want me here?”

“That’s not it.” He pulled her into his arms. “Sometimes I think I can breathe without you.”

“Then why?” she asked.

He looked down at her. “I won’t be able to live with myself if something happens to you. You know that, right?”

She nodded, then stretched to kiss him. “Which is why nothing is going to happen to me. We’re going to meet Luca, get a handle on what’s going on, and decide what to do next. No one even knows we’re here, and it’s not like anyone would suspect I’m hanging out with my former kidnapper.”

A brief flash of misery crossed his features in the moment before he was able to hide it, and she wrapped her arms around his neck. “Don’t.”

“Don’t what?” his voice was gruff.

“Don’t torture yourself over the past,” she said. “Trust me, it doesn’t change anything. And I don’t think I’d want to change it anyway.”

He shook his head. “You can’t mean that, Angel. If I hadn’t had Luca and Dante kidnap you, your life would be just as it was before.”

It was what she’d once wanted. Her old life back. Her old naivety. But that meant not knowing Nico. It meant never feeling the mysterious and powerful connection to the man now who felt like part of her. Would she wish him away? Wish away what they had? The answer was obvious; she wished her father hadn’t died in the flat in London, wished she and David had a chance to talk to him about all the lies he’d told. She wished finding out the truth hadn’t been so painful. But that was where her wishing ended. To wish anything else would be to undo what had happened between her and Nico, and whatever the future held, she was surprised to realize she didn’t want to undo what had happened between them.

“What I had before was a lie. I’ll take the truth.” She pressed her body to his. “I’ll take this.”


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08/16/15 Fearless , Indie , Mob Boss Series , Romance , Ruthless , Self-Publish , Uncategorized , Writing # , , , , , ,

Self-Publishing; Week Two Lessons

You guys… it has been a CUH-razy couple of weeks. After a modest start, things EXPLODED about a week ago. I was selling about 25 books a day (if you remember from my first week blog post, I was happy with those numbers), and then one night, it jumped to 37. By the next day, it was a 158.

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 11.33.02 AMThis is what my ranking looks like today.

Monday is the start of my third week, and I’m currently selling about 300 books a day (it’s 11:30am as I write this, and I’ve sold over a hundred books today).

This is way, WAY more than I expected for this first book, written under a pseudonym (albeit an open one), in a genre for which I am not well known. And the really cool thing is that I can share my experience with you, because in this case, there was a definite turning point connected to a very specific marketing tool, namely a very well-designed, very well-targeted Facebook ad.

I’ve heard SO many people say they tried FB ads to no avail, but I can only conclude that my experience was due to A) a gorgeous looking ad (I didn’t design it, so I can say that), B) a pretty kick ass cover and tag line (Not Your Mother’s Mob), and C) knowledgable targeting by the folks at Authorbuzz, who have been managing my ad. I’m not sure I would have had the same results on my own, but frankly, the people at AuthorBuzz know their shit. They took charge of my ad, and within four days I was seeing crazy click though. As of now, I’ve sold over 2,000 books and have only spent about $110 on the ad itself.

So right now, that’s where I’m putting all my marketing money, and I can’t recommend AuthorBuzz enough for this and other marketing services. I know it’s hard to go out of pocket with this stuff, but if you can at all afford it, IT IS SO WORTH IT. There’s a lot of nuance to making the ad (and marketing campaign in general) work, and in my opinion, it’s harder to get the same result without the services of a company that really knows their way around this stuff.

That said, I know money is sometimes an issue, so following are some things you can try on your own;

1. Spend the money to get an excellent design from a designer who knows FB’s parameters. When I say excellent, I mean this ad has to look professional, like something you’d see in a trade journal. It has to have a super compelling tag line. And if you’re writing romance, it should be HOT (not necessarily to be confused with nakedness, because my model is in a tuxedo). Hiring a freelancer to do these ads is cheaper than you might think, usually between $25-$50.

2. Once you have an excellent design, do a ton of research on FB targeting, because it doesn’t matter how great your ad looks if it’s popping up for the wrong people. If you write romance, for example, thinks about your readers; what would they list as things they like to do on Facebook (be specific)? Which authors might they list as favorites? Probably they’re women, so target females to avoid wasting impressions on middle-aged dudes are unlikely to read in your genre. Author buzz did most of this for me, so I can’t speak to the specifics of my ad, but hopefully this will give you a start.

3. Encourage people to leave honest reviews, because again, the more people interact with your Buy page, the more the algorithms are going to work for you. I always forget to do this! People post on my author page that they loved one of my books, and I say, “Thank you so much!” Then later I face palm when I realize what I should have said is, “Thank you so much! Would you be willing to leave a review?” For readers out there; please leave reviews for the books you love. It makes such a difference!

Screen Shot 2015-08-16 at 5.58.14 PMAfter about five days of very heavy traffic to the Buy page on Amazon (reason enough to run your FB long enough to gain some traction), Ruthless landed on the first page of Hot New Releases for Romance > Contemporary, and I saw a big spike in sales right around that time. So it pays in more ways than one to get people engaging with your book’s Buy page. There’s no way to know exactly what caused this amazing string of events, but I’m told by those who know more than me that it’s probably a combination of the FB ad, a compelling cover and tag line, good reviews and word of mouth, the kicking in of Amazon’s algorithms, etc. Basically, the more people engage with your book on Amazon – – by buying it, reviewing it, etc. — the more you’re worked into Amazon’s algorithms, and that increases your exposure exponentially.

Lastly, I know there is a camp in trad pub that thinks Amazon is the anti-christ, but I have to be honest; they have been the easiest and best to work with by far, from ease of upload and revision of files to number of books sold (I’ve sold 17 books on Nook and 15 on iTunes, the rest of that 2,000 came from Amazon). My questions and problems (minimal!), have been addressed promptly and pleasantly, and they have really made the whole process so easy.

So, thanks, Amazon! And thank you to everyone who has read, reviewed, and recommended the book. It is so gratifying to see RUTHLESS reach so many readers, and I’m totally DYING to share FEARLESS with you on September 7th.


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08/12/15 Indie , Mob Boss Series , Romance , Ruthless , Self-Publish , Writing # , , , , , , , ,

RUTHLESS on the Rampage!

You guys! It’s 12:09am and I still have A LOT of writing to do before I can go to bed, but I have to give a quick shout out to those of you reading RUTHLESS. After posting last week about how happy I was with my numbers, I’ve watched it steadily climb in the Amazon rankings.

Right now, it looks like this;


Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 12.08.16 AMBasically, Ruthless is killing it at #1,182 Paid in the Kindle Store, #69 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Contemporary Fiction > Romance#277 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Romance > Contemporary, and #296 in Books > Romance > Contemporary.

For the record, I was VERY happy when it was hovering around 12,000 overall. This is far beyond my wildest dreams for a book published under a pseudonym in a genre that is fairly new to me.

There are a couple key things that have happened to make this a reality. I’ll share those in a longer post later in the week, but for now, I just wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone who is reading/has read/plans to read RUTHLESS, and for all of you who have spread the word and reviewed the book. And if you haven’t done those things and are willing to do so, I’d be forever grateful.

Now someone pinch me!



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08/08/15 Fearless , Mob Boss Series , Ruthless , Sneak Peek Saturday , Writing # , , , , , , , , ,

Sneak Peek Saturday – FEARLESS

Giving you guys a sneak peek of FEARLESS, the second book in the Mob Boss series, as part of Sneak Peek Saturday!

FEARLESS will be out in less than a month (wheeee!). I hope you all get a chance to read RUTHLESS, the first book in the series, before then.

In the meantime, here’s a Nico and Angel fix to tide you over.


She stepped onto the porch and made her way toward the shadow. He came into view a little at a time, and she had to resist the urge to sigh when she finally saw his face. The chiseled line of his jaw, the sharp planes of his cheekbones under a shock of dark hair so lush she had a sudden memory of it, silky and thick, in her fingers. But all of these were nothing compared to his eyes. In an instant, they pierced the armor she’d built over the past six months, and she was again willing prey to Nico’s predator.

Except now she was under no delusion that she wanted to escape.

She almost forgot to breathe while she was held captive by his gaze. His body was mere inches from hers, and she caught his scent — raw masculinity, leather, and soap — on the ocean breeze.

He headed for the back of the house, then turned to look at her. “You coming?”

They entered through the glass doors off the living room. A fire burned in the hearth, and she had a memory of Nico, his naked body entwined with hers on the sofa while rain pelted the windows. She forced her eyes away from the fireplace, taking in the sweep of wood floor, the stone walls, the glass that made the ocean feel like it was part of the house. She’d forgotten how much she loved this place, how at home she’d felt here.

Nico reached for her bag, and a shock of desire winged through her body when his skin brushed her cold fingers. He set the bag on the ground and crossed the room to pull a blanket off the back of the sofa. She watched as he made his way toward her, his eyes locked on hers while he leaned in to wrap the blanket around her shoulders. She hadn’t realized she was shivering until the warmth settled over her skin. He let his hands rest on her arms for a moment before turning away, and she exhaled a breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding.

She had forgotten how hard it was to breathe around him.

“Drink?” he asked, already heading for the bar.


He poured something into a glass and returned to hand it to her.

“Thank you.”

He nodded, and gestured at the couch. “Please, sit.”

She took a seat on the sofa and felt the sting of rejection when he sat at the other end. Complicated was an understatement for all that was between them, but she couldn’t deny that all the old feelings were still there. Was it simpler for him? Had his feelings for her changed?

“How are you?” he finally asked.

She took a drink, then looked down at the whiskey in her glass. “I’m… okay. Still getting used to everything the way it is now.”

“And David?”

She looked up, somehow surprised that he would mention her brother. “He’s okay, too,” she said softly. “Dealing with all the unfinished business between him and our father.”

“I’m sure that’s very difficult,” Nico said, his voice full of regret.

She nodded, then took a deep breath. “I’m sorry about Carmine.”

“Thank you.”

She looked into his eyes. “What’s going on, Nico?”

“I thought you might know,” he said.

“Me?” She shook her head. “I’m not involved in the Boston operation, but I doubt Frank has the ambition to come after you.”

“I thought the same thing,” he said.

“Besides,” she said, “why would someone kill Carmine? Wasn’t he just a Consigliere?”

She was still learning the terminology of her father’s illegal businesses, but she knew that Carmine had been a kind of advisor to Nico, the same way Frank had advised her father. Consigliere’s weren’t supposed to be part of the battlefield.

“I’m not sure I would use the word “just” to describe Carmine — or anyone in that role.”

“You know what I mean.” It came out sharper than she intended. She didn’t know much about the business, but she wasn’t stupid.

She thought she saw a flash of appreciation in his eyes. Figures. Nico wasn’t the kind of man to be turned on by complacency, however much he might have railed against her stubbornness.

“I do,” he said. “And you’re right. Someone in Carmine’s position isn’t usually a target for this kind of message.”

The whiskey and blanket conspired to make her more comfortable than she should have been, and she let the blanket slip off her shoulders. “What kind of message is it?”

“If I had to guess, I’d say it was designed to remind me that my allies are rapidly decreasing in number.”

“Why would someone want to do that?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” he said. “There could be a hundred reasons.”

She thought about it. “If why isn’t the place to start, how about who?”

“If I knew that,” he said, “I wouldn’t be sitting here.”

“There isn’t anyone you can think of who would want to hurt you?”

A smile touched the corners of his lips. “There are a lot of people who want to hurt me.”

She took a drink of the whiskey, savoring the way it worked its way into her system. Already everything seemed a little less intense. Nico was so close. It would be nothing to cross the space between them, to take his face in her hands and touch her lips to his.

“What are you going to do?” she asked.

He stood, then walked to her end of the couch.“I’m going to go to bed.”

He held out his hand.


Buy RUTHLESS on Amazon

Buy RUTHLESS on Barnes & Noble

Buy RUTHLESS on iBooks

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08/07/15 kindness , Life , quotes # , ,

Morbid… But True

Dead_Midnight_QuoteSeriously. What would happen if we did this? Would we all be kinder?

Because that would be nice.


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08/06/15 Book News , Indie , Mob Boss Series , Romance , Ruthless , Uncategorized , Writing # , , , , , , ,

Self Publishing; The First Four Days

Well, I’ve  been self-publishing for four whole days, and while I’m far from an expert, I’ve learned a few things!



I’ve promised to be as transparent as possible about my experience, so rather then give you one giant post at the end, I’m going to keep you updated any time it seems I have information that might help.

So far I feel pretty good about how well Ruthless is doing. I’m going to wait to give you numbers until everything shakes out at the end of the month, but I’ve been surprised to find that I’m selling a decent number of books every day. I think I’m doing some things that have helped (which I’ll share), but I know I still have a lot to learn. The book is listed at $3.99. It’s held steady at around 20,000 in the Kindle store, and it hovers right around 1100 in Contemporary Fiction > Romance, which is a huge category. This feels good to me given that I’m using a pseudonym and have never written a full length novel in this genre. I’m looking forward to the release of FEARLESS, the sequel to Ruthless, on September 7th. Hopefully having the second book out so soon after the first will bring in new readers (Lawless, the third and final book in this series, will release a month later in October).

For now, here are my lessons learned;

1. Get your cover right. This is a BIG one. Quite possibly THE biggest one after producing a solid story (which is a given here – seriously people, I’m not even going to waste space talking about that). I spoke to several authors before embarking on this journey and they all said the same thing; Cover is King. The problem with a lot of Design-Yourself-Covers is that they just don’t look professional. And professional is really important, especially when it comes to self-publishing which already has an unfairly bad rap for quality. I used an online service called 99Designs on the recommendation of several friends and was over the moon with the results. 99Designs allows designers to bid for your project, which gives you lots of options and allows you to inform the evolution of the design. Prices for book covers start at $300 and go up from there. I connected with a fantastic designer for that price and ended up giving her the work for all three covers (the covers for Fearless and Lawless were quite a bit cheaper). I’m ecstatic to have her on board and will continue to use her for everything, and I’m pretty sure my cover has gone a long way toward making readers feel like they’re getting a quality product.

2. Proofread WAY past the point where you think you need to proofread. I’ve always had respect for my copyeditors in traditional publishing. It’s SO tedious going through a manuscript with a fine tooth comb, and your brain does this thing where it shows you what you expect to see. So “form” looks like “from” even though it’s clearly a typo. You don’t see it — but your readers often do. I went through Ruthless very carefully after uncorrected galleys (which were sent out pre-copyedit because of time constraints) went out to bloggers. I even had someone else proof it. But there were still typos in the uploaded file, and to be honest, a friend and reader has found a few more that my formatter will fix today. It’s embarrassing to admit this! I do freelance editing, and I’m extremely careful about stuff like this, but it just validates what I tell editing clients; you CAN NOT edit your own work and get the same result, and it pays to have more than one person read through your book slowly for typos. Luckily, the digital platform means you can make changes even after you upload — but don’t count on it. Do everything in your power to make sure the book is perfect out of the gate.

3. A great formatter is worth his or her weight in gold. Mine was absolutely awesome and was also very responsive, critical when I was uploading and had a problem that needed resolving asap. Also, she’s been a gem about fixing those typos I mentioned above, which is important because unless you have the formatting software and know how to use it, going in and doing it yourself is more complicated than it sounds (at least for me!).

4. Give yourself plenty of time to upload. I started uploading three days before Ruthless was slated to release. I didn’t tell anyone, because I wanted everything to be in place for release day, and I’m glad I didn’t. I tweaked the description several times, played with the metadata (see below), and resolved problems with an old Nook Press account I had forgotten I had. The Amazon KDP platform was by far the easiest and fastest to use, and their Customer Service team was extremely responsive when I had questions. I also got help from many generous people on the Kindle boards. Nook Press was, frankly, a nightmare. There were all kinds of tricky rules regarding accounts and it took a lot longer  to get help, in part because I think their Customer Service is offshore, and the language barrier became problematic at times (at least two emails were wasted without getting an answer to the question I asked). Once I got everything resolved, the book showed as On Sale a good two days before it actually showed up on B&N online. But one thing I like about the Nook Press system is that you can make changes to the manuscript (like correcting typos) using their system, which means I didn’t have to go back to my formatter to make a small change. iBooks was my least favorite in terms of ease-of-use. First of all, you have to download two different apps to upload the book — iBooks and Producer.  You also need an iTunes connect account, which is different from your regular iTunes account. Then it was around three full days from the time I uploaded the book until it was actually on sale in the iTunes store. As the release date for Ruthless got closer, I was glad I’d given myself extra time to get everything in order.

5. Connect with other writers in your genre. This is true of both self-pubbed and traditionally published writers. Since most of my work has been YA, I didn’t know many writers in the romance genre, but I started reading romance and connecting with the people who write it months before my release. I learned so much about the genre that way, and it’s been gratifying to have their support, even if it’s just in an occasional tweet or share on social media. I’ve been very lucky to have a few friends in the genre who have gone above and beyond by reading and blurbing the book and spreading the word to their readers, and I’m looking forward to the day when I can pay it forward, both to them and to other newbies like me.

One word of advice; don’t be a user. Working relationships, like all relationships, are best founded on authenticity. It’s always a nice bonus when you can help a friend or they can help you, but it’s much more sincere to show a genuine interest in their work and to connect on a personal level where possible. I don’t connect on a personal level with every writer out there, and that’s okay. I focus on building genuine friendships (online and otherwise) and let the rest take care of itself.

6. Get all the help you can afford. I made the decision early on to hire InkslingersPR to do a release day blitz and two-week blog tour for Ruthless. To be honest, this isn’t money I have laying around. It was hard to part with it. But I do think it’s made a difference, and it’s been a relief to focus on writing while the bloggers that are part of the tour take the lead in spreading the word. They’ve done a great job so far, and the peace of mind it’s given me has been more than worth the money I spent. I’m pretty sure a good part of the reason why I’m selling regularly is because of the sustained attention given to the book during the campaign.

7. Try Facebook ads (and others) if you can afford to. I’m still experimenting with this, but so far I’ve been happy with the results. As a disclaimer I have to ad that I have a very knowledgeable friend who has helped me get this done right, but so far my ad on FB (I’m paying  maximum of $100) has garnered about 1500 targeted impressions and 30 clicks to the Buy page (the last time I checked). I’m also going to experiment with a Goodreads ad. It’s a bit more than the FB ad, but I think the reach is a lot wider. I’ll try to keep you posted on my results going forward.

8. Play with your metadata until you get it right. Metadata is the keywords and categories used to drive readers to your book. If you list your book as Action Adventure but it’s really a Romance, the right readers won’t find it. And if you simply use the keyword “romance”, it will get lost amid the millions of other books categorized that way. There is tons of great information online about metadata (I think I’ve read about twenty hours worth), but I’ve found that “keyword stuffing” helps a lot. This means instead of wasting one of my keywords with “romantic mystery”, I use “romantic suspense mystery thriller”. Instead of using “contemporary romance”, I use “contemporary urban modern new york city romance”. Because all of those words are within the commas, they count as one keyword. Try to think about the search strings reader might use to find a book like yours if they don’t know about your book. You can also start typing things into the search bar as if you’re a reader, i.e. “romantic suspense” pulls up previous searches for “romantic suspense kindle books”, “romantic suspense books”, and “romantic suspense boxed set.” If any of these things apply to your book, use them!

Obligatory word of caution; don’t abuse the system by invoking the names of similar authors or using adjectives that won’t always be true (like “new”). You MIGHT get away with it, but you might not, and if you don’t, your book can be delisted. Just be smart and follow the rules, and if you search for your book using adjectives a reader might use but don’t find it, it’s time to tweak your metadata until it comes up higher in the search results.

I think that’s it! But it’s a lot for four days, amIright?



Please check back over the next month for more updates. In the meantime, you can buy Ruthless on Amazon, B&N, and iTunes, and you can add it to your Goodreads shelf here.



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08/03/15 Book News , Mob Boss Series , Ruthless # , , , , , , , ,

Ruthless Release Day!



Please help me spread the word by sharing on social media, adding it to your Goodreads shelf, purchasing the book, and reviewing it if you enjoy it. Many of you have been with me as readers for years, and I’m so excited to finally share Nico and Angel’s story with you!


Add Ruthless to your Goodreads shelf

Purchase Ruthless on Amazon

Purchase Ruthless on Barnes and Noble


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07/26/15 Life , Mob Boss Series , Reading , Self-Publish , Shadowguard Series , Writing # , , , , , ,

Leaning In to Life and Work

Work_Hard_QuoteMan… it has been a crazy couple of months, you guys.

I came off BEA with a huge work high and rode it all the way into July. In the two months since, I’ve written a whole book, completed a big freelance editing project, completed a smaller freelance editing project, built a pseudonym from the ground up for the Mob Boss series (including new name, domain name, new social media accounts all around, etc.), and developed a new YA concept (with character analysis and synopsis). I’ve absorbed information about self-publishing until I’ve felt like my brain will explode (metadata anyone? covers? blurbs? ISBN #s?), and I’ve connected with lots of awesome new people in the romance genre and in the field of self-publishing. I’ve read like crazy to keep up on things, maintained my household (including the weekly monster grocery shops that seem to go with the territory of having four young people in the house), and spent time with my kids when I can (and when they’re home).

And I’m not going to lie; it hasn’t been easy.

The thing is, I’ve considered self-publishing romance ever since I wrote the Shadowguard novella series (a series of adult romances based on the world in A TEMPTATION OF ANGELS) almost three years ago. I wanted more control over my career, both creatively and financially. I wanted to have the freedom to experiment and to release books as often as I wanted. But there was always a reason why I couldn’t.

I was too busy.

I wanted to focus on my contracted YA work.

I was worried about writing romance under a name most well-known in the YA genre.

I was worried about trying to build a new platform for a pseudonym.

All of which were valid concerns, and none of which have really changed or been resolved.

I’m still to busy to be doing this.

I’d still like to focus on my YA work (I’m not under contract at the moment, but I’d like to be).

It’s probably not a good idea to write adult romance under a name most well known in the YA genre.

It is difficult and time consuming and humbling to start over with a new name.

But you guys… I’m doing it. I’m working constantly. Some things have fallen by the wayside. I’m up until 3am most nights, even when I’m so tired I don’t think I can keep my eyes open. Even when it means I’m only getting four hours of sleep. It’s Sunday morning, and I’m writing this blog post instead of doing something else, and I’ll spend the rest of the day working, too.

Basically, this is me right now.


But I’m doing it.

I think a lot about Sheryl Sandberg’s advice to lean in, even though it was directed more at women in traditional careers. She’s right; it takes guts to lean in. It takes courage to risk everything over and over again. It takes heart to choose your dream over and over again.

And one thing I’ve learned is that dreams are built not on the big moments, but on the little ones. Every time you work when you want to sleep or play. Every time you push when you want to settle in. Every time you risk when you want to play it safe. Every time you believe when you want to quit. THOSE are the moments that build dreams.

But you MUST have those moments.

Because dreams aren’t built by sleeping. They aren’t built by doing the same thing over and over. They aren’t built by being comfy. And they sure as hell aren’t built by quitting.

You have to WERK, my friends.

And the truth is, even that is no guarantee of success. You may fail. You may have to recalibrate. You may have to change course, take a detour, even take a break. But make no mistake; you will not get what you want if you aren’t willing to work, sometimes for years, often through countless setbacks. But the time will pass anyway. You may as well pass it in pursuit of something you really want.

This seems like a no brainer, but it’s interesting to me how many people I meet who want big things but aren’t willing to do the big work. After awhile, it gets boring hearing people TALK about what they want to accomplish.

Watching people DO is so much more interesting, don’t you think?

And when it comes to writing, doing doesn’t just mean output. It means honing your craft (go back to school if you must), learning from others, reading constantly, experimenting, and writing thousands of words that no one will ever read.

Write now I am WORKING. Because I can’t control a lot of things. Maybe no one will like my work. Maybe I won’t be able to sell it at all. But the one thing I can control is the work. I can make sure I never have to look back and wonder if I didn’t work hard enough, and WHEN I reach my goals (because I will), I can look back and say, when the ugly monster of unworthiness rears its head (for me it always does), “You earned this, baby!”

And I can mean it.

Now stop reading and get to work.

And if you haven’t added Michelle St. James and/or Ruthless to your social media sites, would you consider doing so? I’d love to keep you posted on my progress, and all content on those pages is unique to those accounts (i.e. not repeated on the Michelle Zink profiles).

Michelle St. James Facebook

Michelle St. James Twitter

Michelle St. James Goodreads

Ruthless Goodreads page


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07/22/15 Reading # , , , , , ,

Mini-Review; Hardwired

Hardwired_CoverI recently started reading the Hacker series by Meredith Wild and absolutely love it. Featuring a young, savvy businesswoman seeking funding for her start-up and a sexy, controlling investor, it’s a love story that manages to represent modern women while acknowledging that love still has a hold of us all.

Oh, and lots of SEXY TIMES.

Because that has a hold on us all, too.



Add it to your Goodreads shelf here!

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07/20/15 Ruthless # , , , , , ,

New Goodreads Account

Hi, Friends!

Ruthless has it’s own official Goodreads page, as does Michelle St. James, my adult romance alter ego. Please follow me over there for adult book news and book recommendations.

T-minus twelve days until the release of RUTHLESS. Eeep! SO EXCITED to share Nico and Angel’s story with you.

And for a little inspiration, here’s my #MCM (just under the wire); Joe Mangienello, a real life #ItalianStallion if there ever was one.



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07/08/15 Indie , Life , Mob Boss Series , Reading , Romance , Ruthless , Self-Publish , Writing # , , , , , , , ,

Some Like It Hot

You guys! I’m going to have a new book for you — in less than a month.


And this one is completely different, both because it’s my first full length adult romance (the Shadowguard books were all novellas) and because I’ll be joining the growing list of hybrid authors publishing both traditionally and Indie.  I’ll be going into the details in a later blog post, but the short version is that after six years, seven published novels, six novellas, one TV/book deal that never happened (the book was written, but the TV part was put on hold which also shelved the book), and countless samples, partials, and proposals, I’m anxious to have more control over my career.

Those of you who know me know that I’m prolific, and this will give me the opportunity to publish as much as I want in any genre. All of which means MORE books in MORE genres– starting with RUTHLESS, book one in a three book series.



Two years out of college, Angelica Bondesan spends her time working as a barista, keeping in touch with her prodigal brother, and trying to figure out how to bridge the gap with her father, a wealthy real estate developer.

But all of that changes the night she’s kidnapped. Thrown into a windowless room, Angelica is positive there’s been some kind of mistake — until she meets Nico Vitale.

Gorgeous and frightening, Nico became the boss of New York City’s Vitale crime family after the execution style murder of his parents two years earlier. Since then he’s turned the old-school mob into a sleek, modern army of ruthless men who understand that physical violence — while always an option — isn’t the only way to get what you want.

Now Angel is forced to face the truth;

Her father is not the man she believed him to be.

Nico Vitale is dangerous, possibly lethal.

She is falling in love with Nico Vitale.


RUTHLESS will be out August 3rd, and the next two books, FEARLESS and LAWLESS, will be out in September and October respectively. It’s been loads of fun to read and write in a different genre, and I’ve been really impressed with the adult romance I’ve read in the past few months.

Best. Research. Ever.

Although fair warning to those of you who don’t like it HAWT; romance has gotten decidedly more wicked in the past couple of years.


As part of this new chapter (see what I did there?), all of my adult romance will be written under the name Michelle St. James. It will be an open pseudonym, which means everyone will know it’s me, but I hope this will decrease confusion between my adult and YA work. I’ll be keeping the two separate to some degree, although I may occasionally post from the Michelle St. James Facebook page (Like it here to get updates, freebies, etc.) to my personal profile since so many of you follow me there. For now, will forward to this site, and you can also follow the Michelle St. James Twitter profile. The Michelle St. James pages will have content unique to the adult genre including hot guys, adult romance recommendations, and anything else that might not be appropriate for my “mainstream” audience.

You’ve been warned!


I’ve watched a lot of my friends go Indie and have been so appreciative of the information they have so willingly shared. I’m going to try and pay it forward by being as transparent as possible, so stay tuned for updates on my progress (and some angst along the way, there will probably be angst). I’m considering this an evolution in my career, and I’m so excited to share the journey with you guys!


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06/24/15 Contests & Giveaway , Lies I Told # , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Beach Read Giveaway!

You guys… It’s summer! The kids are out of school, the sun is (mostly) shining, and I can finally turn off that pesky 6:15am alarm. Not only that, but after years of releasing books in the winter, I finally have a perfect beach read with my name on it.

As many of you know, LIES I TOLD is set in the fictional beach town of Playa Hermosa, California. All of Grace’s lies and deceit — not to mention her love affair with Logan Fairchild, the one boy she’s not supposed to love – are set against the backdrop of crashing waves, surfer boys, and sunshine.

To celebrate the intersection of these two awesome events, I’m giving away TEN awesome prize packs.

You heard that right; TEN!

FullSizeRender-26Each prize pack includes a signed hardcover of LIES I TOLD, a tote bag, a mini-notebook for all your secret summer thoughts, a summer-scented hand cream, raspberry lemonade lip balm, nail polish, tropical candy, peacock pocket mirror, and a LIES I TOLD/PROMISES I MADE bookmark.

As always, there are lots of ways to enter. Some of them you can do once a day and get a point for each one. Others (like leaving a review of the book if you’ve already read it) will gain you up to FIVE points all by themselves. I’m keeping this contest short, ending it on Monday July 6th so you’ll still have plenty of time to make use of your goodies.

Contest open to US mailing addresses only. Pattern on tote bag and notebook, and nail polish color, vary.




a Rafflecopter giveaway

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06/06/15 Book News , Life , Reading , Uncategorized , Writing # , , , , , , , , , ,

Newsletter – Incoming!

After much deliberation I have decided to join the ranks of newsletter-bearing authors. One of the hardest things about authoring in the modern age is knowing how much to share, how often to share it, and whether people are REALLY interested in hearing it. Here, I’m my own worst enemy, because my assumption is always that people are busy and overloaded with information, and it takes something pretty special to compel them to read something else on their computer.

Do I have stuff to share that’s something special? I’ll let you decide. But I do have stuff to share — about reading, writing, and life.

And sometimes I even have NEWS.


So after taking an informal Facebook poll and confirming that a good number of my readers would like a semi-personal, once-monthly, quick and easy to read account of what’s going on — with my writing and everything else — I decided to give it a whirl. My plan is to include a couple of real life things (recipes, things I’m loving that month, etc.) with a personal snippet and a book recommendation or writing tip. I’m planning to keep it one page, and only put it out once a month.

But the big thing is that I’m going to make as many announcements as possible to newsletter subscribers first. And that includes my next book announcement.

If you’d like to stay in the loop, you can sign up for the newsletter here in under ten seconds. And if you decide to opt out at any time, all you’ll have to do is hit the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of each newsletter.


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06/01/15 Lies I Told , Life , Reading , Writing # , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

BEA Fun!

BEA Fun!

Whew! I’m back from the city and still recovering from the whirlwind of awesomeness that is BEA. In short; books, bloggers, books, authors, books, editors and publicists, and more fun and excitement than I usually get in a whole year (which, now that I think about it, must change).

I kicked off BEA with the EpicReads Blogger Party. This was most memorable because I FINALLY got to meet my editor, the amazing Jennifer Klonsky. It’s such a special thing to speak to someone on the phone and online and think they’re special, and then to meet them in person and realize you were RIGHT. Not only is Jen an incredibly talented editor, but it’s also so obvious that she cares deeply about her authors and their work that it’s easy to feel like you’re in good hands. I also got to meet my tireless publicist, Stephanie Hoover, who deserves extra credit,because she planned the party at the Bourbon Street Grille. And it was SO FUN. There were balloons and a photo booth and tons of amazing food and swag bags and just general all-around awesomeness. Of course, I didn’t get a photo with anyone, because I’m always too wrapped up in the moment to bother taking pictures, but here’s one of me cheesing in the taxi on the way to the party.













The next day I arrived at the Javitz Center for my signing and was blown away to find people already in line for me at 9am. This might not seem like a big deal, but almost everyone is out late partying at BEA, so I really appreciate that these awesome folks got up early and made their way to the conference center to stand in my line.  












I saw so many awesome readers, including Rebecca, a former Borders bookseller that I’ve known since Prophecy came out in 2009.






















I had an overflow line, but the people at BEA were nice enough to move me to another table at the end of my signing time, so I was able to keep going until every last book was gone. I was sad to hear later that I’d missed some of my of my favorite readers. Darn it! But these radiant beauties got my last two books.











After my signing, we made our way to the HarperCollins booth, where I waited through an entire cycle of books to snap this picture of my cover on the digital screen. Because I am patient like that.













I met lots of new readers and bloggers, and even got little presents from a few, including this cute little bag of goodies from Swoony Boys Podcast (there was candy, too…. but that’s gone now).














Then I was able to get a picture of Kenneth and Rebekah, who made me laugh, helped spread the word about my signing, and kept me from going insane or becoming dehydrated from lack of water.












We spent the rest of the day walking the floor, picking up tons of amazing books, including the much-anticipated City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg, Expatriates by Janice Y.K. Lee, and Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica. I was also able to meet up with dear friends like M.J. Rose, which is always a special treat for a hermit like me.

But of course, I didn’t get a picture!

Later that night I attended the HarperCollins author party. It was basically perfection, and I had a good mix of time spent talking to other people in the industry and time alone, gazing out at the incredible views from Tribeca Rooftop and really appreciating how far I’ve come, and how lucky and grateful I am to still be writing books for a living, and to be living this wonderful, terrifying, exhilarating writing life. I’m glad I had those few moments when I didn’t need anything else. I didn’t need anything MORE. I’m going to try and remember that feeling for all those times when I feel like what I’ve done so far isn’t enough.

Because really, it’s pretty freaking amazing, and whatever else happens in my life, I will always have published these six (soon to be eight) books. I will always have been here. I will always have done this.

Plus, there were mini donuts, warm cookies, and shot glasses of milk.


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After the party I met up with my sidekicks for a proper dinner (there was so much amazing food at the party, but I never eat much at those things because I’m always too busy visiting and taking it all in) in Tribeca. The lighting for pictures was poor, but I actually took one, and let’s be honest, it’s not possible for these two to take a bad picture.













We left tired but happy. Conferences and workshops are a good reminder of why it’s so important to stay connected to the writing community — and that goes double for people like me. I’m lucky in some ways, because I feel like I can be happy and content in almost any situation. But that can be dangerous, too, because I get stuck in a rut, writing in my isolated barn house, feeling perfectly content until I actually go out and DO SOMETHING. Then I remember that I’m a change junkie, that I LOVE learning and experiencing new things, and I get the itch to do something dramatic.

This trip came at an especially important time. Kenneth and Rebekah just graduated from college and are looking for full time jobs in the city, and Andrew will be going to college in September. Most likely, it will just be Caroline and me in the fall, and she’ll be gone two years later. It was nice to have the reminder that I can still be engaged in grown up life without kids, that I have something to offer and something to gain by being around others. I returned home invigorated about my plans for the next two years (and boy do I have some surprises for you, readers!) and even more determined to begin laying the groundwork for the next phase of my life. I don’t know much about it yet, but I do know it will involve living somewhere else, travel, and lots and lots of writing.

No matter how much fun it is to be out of the routine, it’s always nice to come home. Especially when you’re welcomed by kids who are happy to see you.

And this.



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Michelle Zink is the award-winning author of over seven novels. She lives in New York with too many teenagers and too many cats.
Michelle Zink Online
Michelle St. James Online
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"This arresting story takes readers to other planes of existence…"
- Booklist (starred review)

“An intense and captivating story…”
- VOYA (starred review)

“A fresh and engaging cast of characters, a page-turning plot and lyrical prose add up to an accomplished feat of storytelling…”
- The Guardian

“A captivating tragedy…"
- Publishers Weekly

“Zink’s methodical unfolding of events will draw readers in…”
- Kirkus

“Tingly suspense is craftily managed…”
- The Bulletin



That moment when you're determined not to turn on the heat yet even though it's forty-six degrees outside.
Finally feeling human again. For those of you on the front end of this sickness... I wish you Godspeed.
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