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The Day the Towers Fell

Every year, on this day, I post or share this excerpt. I don’t know what it is about 9/11, perhaps the fact that I was actually alive for such a huge historic event, but I can’t get enough footage of it. I need to know everything about it. I want to hear all the stories. So much so, I created my own, embedded in the backstory of one of my main characters. Grayson Cross of my Halo series. (Due out in 2017). I wanted to write a story about that day, and I wanted it to be historically accurate. So I spent two weeks researching and studying and drinking in all the articles and news footage and documentaries I could find just to write one chapter. But it was important to me. And I hope it makes you feel something. Anger, sadness, compassion. Something.

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The Day the Towers Fell by Melody Robinette

He’d been fourteen then. An irresponsible, miserable teenage boy who’d lost his mother and had no knowledge on the whereabouts of his father. Chief Joe Mancuso was all he had, a man Gray always admired and looked up to. Joe was never particularly good at discipline or laying down rules. He let Gray make his own decisions and mistakes—said it would help shape him as a man. Joe was the bravest man Gray knew, always the first one in to a burning building and the last one out. He had saved countless lives. He saw it as his duty and was nothing but humble when family members thanked him for rescuing their loved ones.

The morning of 9/11 was like any other. Joe was on duty at the firehouse so Gray was left alone in their tiny, efficiency apartment that cost more than a large house in Texas. Gray didn’t mind it, though. He was happy to sleep on the couch as long as he had somewhere to sleep. That morning he had contemplated skipping school, but remembered he had a test in his History class, so he reluctantly climbed off the squeaking couch and walked the four blocks to school. Five minutes after the first bell, he made it to class just as the teacher was beginning to pass out the exams.

“Nice of you to join us, Mr. Cross,” the teacher, Coach Sims, had said in a wry tone.

“No problem,” Gray had answered, eliciting a chorus of giggles from the group of freshman girls in the seats behind him.

Gray hadn’t studied for the test, but still managed to pull out a B. History was a strength of his. Plus, it was multiple choice. He probably could have passed the thing without ever having looked at the material simply by process of elimination.

After the test, Coach Sims plopped a pile of worksheets on everyone’s desk and told them to get to work. Not much teaching involved in that class. Gray hated worksheets and rarely completed them. He could remember the information well enough without having to fill in the blanks on a piece of paper. So he cupped his hands over his eyes to make it look like he was studying the book intently when really he was attempting to catch another thirty minutes of sleep.

Just as his head began to feel heavy and his eyes were sliding shut, a massive sonic boom—or, at least, that’s what it sounded like—echoed throughout the classroom. Gray’s eyes shot open and he looked around at the other startled faces.

“It was just a jet passing by,” Coach Sims said irritably. “Go back to work.”

“That didn’t sound like a jet,” the boy next to Gray whispered nervously.

Minutes later, the eccentric English teacher from the class next door came rushing in. “Turn on the news,” she said breathlessly. “The World Trade Center has been hit by an airplane.”

Gray craned his neck as Coach Sims pointed the remote at the classroom television and tuned the channel to CNN. A horrifying picture filled the screen of the North Tower with a gaping hole near the top. Smoke billowed out and malevolent flames licked the air.

“My mom works there!” one of the girls in his class sobbed, her shaking hands covering her gaping mouth.

One of the news reporters on the television was saying a small aircraft had accidentally crashed into the tower. A small aircraft? Gray thought. That hole is way too large to be a small aircraft. Sure enough an eyewitness began telling the news reporter the plane looked more like a twin-engine passenger jet.

Gray’s school was within walking distance of the World Trade Center, so the entirety of his class rushed to the windows, pulling the blinds open, and peered out, trying to catch a glimpse of the Twin Towers.

  The towers themselves were not visible, but clouds of smoke could be seen pumping into the air in the distance. Fire engine horns blared as they passed by and Gray’s thoughts went to his uncle. He was on duty. He would be there. Suddenly a nervous worry clenched his stomach and he listened more closely to the news as he watched the smoke fill the sky. Time seemed to simultaneously stop and speed up.

Gray glanced back at the clock on the wall.

8:59.

Three minutes passed as quick as seconds ticking by and then came another loud explosion followed by an enormous fireball blossoming in the smoky sky. Almost in unison, the class turned to look at the television and saw what Gray feared. The second tower had been hit. And it was clearly not an accident.

Silence. Then—

“It’s a terrorist attack!” a girl screamed.

And Gray bolted out the door.

“Get back here, Grayson!” Coach Sims called down the hall, but Gray was already sprinting to the exit. His uncle was in the thick of a terrorist attack. He couldn’t just sit in a classroom and watch as it unfolded on a television.

So he ran.

Two blocks away. One block away. Legs pumping, heart racing, he sprinted through crowds of people running away from the burning towers as he ran towards them. Papers, ash, and pieces of the buildings fell from the sky like deadly flakes of snow. The air smelled of smoldering metal and burning paper, and something else. He shuddered to think of what that something else could be.

Many people fled in fear, but just as many stood transfixed, staring up at the two burning skyscrapers. A cacophony of noise blared in Gray’s ears. People sobbing. People screaming. Sirens. Policemen and firemen calling out orders. Periodic explosions from above. Debris raining down on the ground.

As he neared the buildings, he was blocked by a policeman telling him to stay back.

“But my uncle is a firefighter—”

“I’m sorry, son, it’s too dangerous,” the policeman said.

Gray moved away from him, his eyes constantly being pulled to the terrible sight above. He wondered if his uncle was already in there. Already thirty, forty, fifty stories up. He may have been the chief, but he would have wanted to help the people. As many as he could. He wouldn’t be at the command center.

And, as he thought this, Gray noticed large objects falling every few minutes from the top stories of the towers. He squinted his eyes to see what they could be. Were the people throwing desks out of the windows? Chairs? But desks and chairs wouldn’t move and twist in such a way as they fell. Then understanding washed over him.

The objects were people.

People falling. No…worse. They were jumping. He tried to imagine how horrible things could be up there for so many people to choose to jump. How utterly hopeless it must have felt for them. And he momentarily forgot about his uncle while he watched as, one by one, another life was extinguished.

“God, help them,” he whispered.

He couldn’t recall how long he stood there with the other souls who couldn’t pull themselves away. He watched the base of each tower for any sign of his uncle. Several firemen he recognized came out of the first tower and moved to the second, but none from his uncle’s battalion. They remained in the first tower. Gray’s eyes moved from one tower to the other, trying to ignore the bodies that continued to fall from the upper levels.

Then something on the second tower caught his attention. The place where the plane hit was bending outward, nearly buckling. Glass began shattering out from the area and Gray was just realizing what was about to happen when a deafening roar erupted before him.

The second tower was collapsing.

It crashed straight down like a burning ship sinking into an ocean of cement with waves of debris splashing up into the air. It was the wave of debris that sent him sprinting in the opposite direction. After a few seconds he realized he wouldn’t be able to outrun the impending cloud of dust. He came upon a pickup truck sitting empty against the curb, its front door resting open. Gray leapt into the truck and slammed the door shut just as the dust cloud passed over him.

Everything went dark.

Ash rained down on the windows of the pickup until Gray could no longer see out of them. The smell coming in through the vents was indescribable. It burned his nose and throat and pricked his eyes. It took several minutes for the dust to settle enough for Gray to see anything more than dark shapes. It took the same amount of time for his heart to not feel like it was trying to escape from his chest. He cracked the door of the truck and peered out. What was once a crowded street was now a gray wasteland. A few dust-covered people remained, coughing and retching on the street from inhaling the toxic ash.

  The North Tower still burned, pumping black smoke into the sky to accompany the white cloud of debris. Gray bent down and ran his fingers over the ashy ground, wondering what these particles were before. Glass from a window? Part of the floor? A picture of someone’s family? Or…someone. He hastily wiped the ash off on his pants, shuddering.

  Strange that the second tower collapsed first, he thought. Though it was hit lower and had more weight to bring it down. The first one shouldn’t be far behind. Then his stomach sank at this thought. There weren’t as many policemen blocking his way this time and he was able to slip past one who was rinsing his mouth out with water and spitting it on the sidewalk.

Gray almost ran into the first tower, but thought better of it. There was still large amounts of debris falling. Bodies still falling. And firemen were already beginning to pour out of the building. Some looked badly injured from the other tower’s collapse. He recognized a man his uncle called “Father Judge” being carried out by several firefighters. Gray watched as they laid his still body in front of Trinity Church before he tore his eyes away to watch for his uncle.

One by one, firemen from his uncle’s battalion trickled out of the building and onto the streets. Luka, his uncle’s close friend, came within earshot of him and Gray had to call out his name several times before the fireman turned his ash-covered head to look in Gray’s direction.

“Sonny?” Luka said, approaching him. “What’re you doin’ over here? It’s dangerous. Go to the firehouse and—”

“Where’s Joe?” Gray interrupted.

“He was a few flights behind me. He should be out soon. Why don’t you go to—”

“I’m not going back to the firehouse!” Gray exclaimed.

“Okay, okay!” Luka said, holding up his hands. “Just keep away from the tower, alright?”

With that Luka turned and trudged back towards a group of firemen.

Then Gray saw him. His Uncle Joe. Carrying a bleeding woman on his back. Paramedics soon relieved him of the woman and took over. Joe was given a water bottle by another fireman who was yelling in his ear and pointing towards the collapsed tower. Joe shook his head, looking angry. And Gray knew then what Joe wanted to do.

Ignoring his better judgment and Luka’s warnings, Gray raced across the street to his uncle. “You can’t go back in there!”

“Gray?” Joe said in surprise.

“This tower is built the exact same as the other. It’s only a matter of time before it collapses too.”

“Then I better hurry,” Joe said.

“Uncle Joe! You can’t—”

“I don’t wanna hear it, Gray. There are still people up there. I’m goin’ back up,” Joe said, turning back to the remaining tower.

“If you go back in there, you’ll die,” Gray shouted angrily.

“Then I will die knowing I did everything I could,” Joe yelled over his shoulder.

“There’s nothing else you can do!” Gray called desperately.

But Joe was already in the building.

A couple of firemen watched Joe go back in with grave expressions and Gray knew they were thinking the same things he was. They were not good things.

And it was only a minute—maybe two—before the first tower began to fall around them. Gray ran, but he was too stunned to get far. Something crashed into him and he was pulled by invisible hands under a nearby fire engine.

The cloud of ash quickly filled his lungs and he was sure he was going to die there, suffocating on the clotted air. The last thing he saw before he passed out were hundreds—perhaps thousands—of colorful, pulsating orbs of light circling around the air where the buildings had once been. They were breathtaking. Some were colors he could neither name nor recognize.  To this day, Gray still didn’t know what it was that made him hallucinate like he did. Perhaps the lack of oxygen or the chemicals in the ash. Or maybe his mind was trying to conjure up a pleasant image with which to leave him when it thought he was dying.

The next thing he remembered was water being poured in his mouth and over his face. Slowly, he sat up and looked around. He was laid out on the sidewalk in a layer of dust. The others around him sounded like they were coughing up their lungs, but his felt fine. He was breathing normally. Though he did have dust in about every exposed orifice.

Luka was there. He handed him another bottle of water and Gray rinsed out his mouth for the second time before pouring the rest over his head, the soot turning to mud in his hair. It took a few gallons to get the stuff out of his ears, nose, and eyes.

The area that was once the twin towers was now a pile of molten metal, ash, and pieces of the building jutting out of the ground. He imagined that was what the entryway to hell looked like. Compared to the earlier noise that had assaulted Gray, the silence was even more unsettling. He wanted to yell or shout something. Or sob. But he couldn’t. He could barely move, much less speak. Not from pain or injury, but from shock.

Luka made Gray come back to the firehouse to wait for the other firemen from their battalion. Through a haze of numbness, he washed the muck out of his hair as they waited for the others to return. One by one, the men returned looking downcast and, at the same time, relieved. Some were bleeding. Others were crying. Some had a dead look in their eyes as if they had completely shut their brains off to avoid further mental damage. As they trickled in, they were engulfed in hugs and pats on the back. No one had been sure of how many of their people made it out.

By afternoon, everyone was accounted for except for three: the youngest guy in the firehouse named Tyler, Luka’s brother, Larry, and Gray’s uncle, Joe.

The televisions in the station were tuned on, replaying the day’s events. Over and over and over again. Some of the guys recounted their experiences and disbelief of what happened. Others sat in silence or called their families. Gray had no one to call. His last bit of family was either dead or trapped in the rubble of the towers.

“What do we do now?” one of the men asked, sounding helpless.

“I say we go back and help search,” Luka said. “Three of our guys could still be out there.” Gray could tell he was having difficulty keeping his voice steady. His brother had still not returned.

“But they told us to—” the other man began.

“I don’t give a damn what they said,” Luka interrupted. “Let’s go.”

Seven from their battalion left the firehouse, the rest stayed behind in case any of the three returned. The battalion’s fire engine had been buried in the collapse so they had to take Luka’s pickup. No one said anything when Gray climbed into the bed of the truck with the others.

The pile that was once the twin towers was overwhelmingly vast. And dangerous. One wrong step and Gray could fall into a thirty-foot chasm. Hours passed and night fell. A blackout occurred, plunging them even further into darkness. Flashlights were passed around and generators were brought to the site so the rescue teams could continue searching. At around 8:30pm, someone turned a car radio on. President Bush was addressing the nation. Gray missed most of what was said. It was a speech to empower the country. To reassure them retaliation would occur. Frankly, in that moment, Gray didn’t care. He just wanted him to stop talking so they could continue to search for his uncle.

Around midnight, Luka decided to go back to the firehouse to shower, eat, and sleep a bit so they would be rested the next morning when they’d continue their search. Gray showered and ate mechanically, but sleep evaded him. He lay awake for hours in the bed where his uncle had slept, replaying the day’s events over and over as the news stations had earlier that day.

The firehouse was up and ready just after sunrise. School was cancelled that day. Not that Gray would have gone anyway. Luka let Gray ride down to the site in his truck again. The mound of ash and debris was referred to as “the pile” by the firefighters. When their men arrived, they began forming companies of five firemen and one officer.

They helped clear out the debris with buckets and listened and looked for any signs of life beneath the rubble. Every so often someone would yell for quiet and everyone would stop working. Stop talking. They just listened and waited for someone to be pulled out of the pile, alive. Each time this happened Gray’s heart would nearly stop as he waited. Hoping they had found him. That they found his uncle. But, more often than not, it would be a false alarm and everyone would slowly start back to work.

There were no whole objects. No desks. No chairs. No pieces of office equipment. Just dust. There were occasional solitary body parts that forced Gray to temporarily halt his digging and take a few deep, calming breaths.

They spent the day just digging. Then the ironworkers would remove the steel beams and everyone would go back to digging. Several times people shouted that a building was going to collapse and everybody would run away. When things were considered stable they would trudge back and dig some more.

That first day they uncovered several bodies, or parts of bodies. One person was pulled out alive.

Luka, Gray, and a few others came back the next day. Technically their battalion was off, but they still had three guys missing. Luka wanted to find his brother. Gray wanted to find his uncle.

And find him they did….

“Hey! We got a body over here!” one of the workers called. “Looks like a fireman.”

Gray ran over to the spot and froze. It was his Uncle Joe. His uniform had been burned off of him, but one of his boots still remained. Gray had heard many people describe dead bodies as appearing to be asleep. Joe did not look like he was sleeping. He looked dead. Rigamortis had set in, his body was beginning to bloat, and dried blood covered his head. They found him under part of what used to be a staircase. The medical examiner said he had been alive when the towers collapsed. That he had likely died from lack of oxygen due to being trapped beneath the rubble. He had been alive. But they had been too late. If only Gray would have looked in the right place.

Gray watched as they zipped his uncle into a body bag and covered him in an American flag. Luka clenched his shoulder tightly. They never did find the body of Luka’s brother or the young fireman named Tyler. After Joe’s body was uncovered, Luka told Gray to go back to the firehouse. When he arrived there, the others had already heard the news. They wrapped him in hugs, some sobbed on his shoulder. From that day on, the firemen were his family, the firehouse his home.

That was the day he moved his things out of his uncle’s apartment and into the firehouse. That was the day he decided to become a fireman. That was the day his life changed forever…

Absence Makes the Author’s Heart Grow Fonder

IMG_0383   So, I’ve been working on lots of things lately. Lots and lots. Do you ever have, like, a billion projects going on at once and none of them feels close to being completed? Once upon a time, I used to work on one book at a time. Not so anymore. I’m sure I could if I wanted, but, after publishing the Underground Trilogy, I found myself in a perpetual state of writing, plotting, planning, and editing…all at the same time.

It helps because I like to leave books alone for a little while (like the brilliant Stephen King suggests) so I can stop being so attached to the story and re-read it from a reader’s point of view. I also like to do this with trilogies and series because I have found that when I’m writing them one right after the other, I grow tired of the characters and the world. Not because it’s boring or anything, but because I’m a fickle Gemini that is obsessed with change.

For instance, I’ve been working on a trio of books called the Halo Trilogy, which is about a race of half-angels called, you guessed it, Halos, who’ve been called upon to save the world from the fallen angel known as Caducus. Two of the Halos–Aurora and Gray–find themselves unnaturally attracted to one another. They later find out that it actually has an otherworldly explanation.

I love these two characters. I love them because they are different from what I was used to writing. Aurora is headstrong and tough and, at times, even cruelly cold. For reasons wrapped up in her past. Gray, on the other hand, is gentle and kind and helpful. This is different for me because I was used to writing guys with dark secrets and brooding attitudes. Bad boys who wished they were good and all that. Gray sort of shattered all of those stereotypes. He balanced out Aurora and I loved him for it.

But, for some reason, writing these books began to drain me. I don’t know if it’s the world building or the depth I explore each character, but it has literally taken me three years to get through this trilogy. That may not seem like a lot to some writers, but since I’ve begun plotting, I can write books in only a few month’s time. What I’ve been doing with the Halo Trilogy, though, is finishing the books during NaNoWriMo. Something about the competitiveness and tight deadline helps me finish the novels.

And after this past year’s NaNoWriMo, when I finished the second book and started the third, I was so ready for a break from the Halo world. Now, it’s only July, and I’m so freaking ready to return and finish it. I’ve found myself thinking about Gray and Aurora, hating that I’ve left them hanging. I’m itching to come back to them.

Guess what they say is true. Absence truly does make the heart grow fonder.

So, my advice to you, if you happen to find yourself in a place where you are bored with your characters and story…take a break. Maybe even a long one. Your readers and characters deserve a story you’re excited about. Your boredom will be evident between the lines. So, take a break. Eventually, the story will pull you back to it.

And, if not, maybe you were bored for a reason.

Novel #9. Done.

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Am I the only one that gets super sad after finishing a novel? There’s a moment of elation at first. Like, hell yes. I did it. I’m finished. And then it’s like…But wait. I’m going to really miss these characters. I don’t want them to leave. WAHHH.

This novel, Wake You, was the second book in my Dust to Dust duology (two book series) about Dex, a Scythe–sorcerer Grim Reaper–who is assigned to Reap the soul of his ex-best friend, Roland. It’s an M/M paranormal romance and I am obsessed with these two characters. I honestly think LGBT is my true niche. My best novels and characters have been LGBT.

I’ll still write hetero stuff, of course. I don’t discriminate. I love everything 😉

Anyway. Now that I’m finished with this novel, I’m going to move backwards for just a bit, re-editing my first three novels so I can format them myself. (And there were a couple of things in Oaken that really bothered me.) I wanted to learn how to format so I can manipulate the files whenever I need to, like adding buy links to the back and such. Right now, I have to contact my formatter any time I need something changed, which costs me money and time in the end. Both of which I’d like to save.

I’m also going to be writing a prequel to the Underground Series to give away for free as people sign up for my mailing list. 🙂 It’s going to be a novella based on the love story between Autumn and Luke’s parents. I’m excited to venture back into the Underground (and the Outside) again.

THEN I’ll finally be publishing The Choice, another, rather personal LGBT novel of mine.

That’s it for now. I’m going to go mourn over my finished novel some more now.

*Sniff*

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10 Things to Consider Before Self-Publishing Your Novel(s)

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So, if you’ve read my older posts, you know that I took Bethany Claire’s class on self-publishing. It was…eye opening to say the least. As a USA Today Bestselling author, she knows her stuff. She’s got this down.

I thought I knew my stuff. But I didn’t. Like at all. I mean, I had the basics down and that was about it. But now I do. Thanks to her amazing class. And she was kind enough to give her permission to share her wisdom.

When self-publishing for the first time–or even the second or third–you are kind of going in blind for the most part. Unless you are friendly with another author who has done it before you and is willing to share their wisdom, then you are having to do the research almost all on your own.

Some people just want to publish one or two books, just to have them. And that’s great. But some people want to make a living out of writing. In that case, it’s important to look at self-publishing as a business. These 10 things are more for the latter.

There are SOOO many things to consider before clicking the “publish” button. But here are 10 of the most important ones:

1. Decide whether or not you will use a pen name

This is not a mandatory thing at all. I don’t personally use a pen name, at least at this time, because I love the sound of my real name and I don’t write anything that I wouldn’t want anyone to know about. Some people think that it’s best to use a pen name so you can keep your professional life and personal life separate. Either way, decide this before all the rest of the steps. Because if you are using a pen name, you’ll want it to be attached to everything related  your business.

2. Buy your domain name

Hopefully, it’s not taken. If your name (or your pen name) is Bob Bobbington, then you’ll want to see if the domain name bobbobbington.com is available. If it is (YAY) then you should consider laying down the $100 or so to own it. It just looks more professional to have your name with .com at the end of it than to include a blog site title in there as well.

3. Set up your email account 

Once you have your domain, you’ll want to consider changing your address from @gmail.com to something like contact@bobbobbington.com or something like that. Also more professional. Fake it ’til you make it! 😉

4. Meet with an accountant

Whether you are wanting to establish an LLC or a Sole-Proprietorship, it’s important to meet with your accountant to discuss your intentions in regards to your business. They will be able to advise you and help you along the way.

5. Open a Post Office Box

This is mostly for those of you who plan to have a mailing list (which should probably be all of you if you want to keep readers coming back). Most sites like MailChimp require a mailing address, and it’s just best not to have your personal, home address listed at the bottom of every newsletter. Especially if you took the time to create a pen name!

6. Get a business bank account

This is mostly for those of you who decide to go the LLC route. It’s best to keep your business expenses separate from your personal expenses. It also makes it easier when tax season rolls around.

7. Open a PayPal Account for the business

Most of the services you’ll be paying for will accept PayPal. You are able to set up a Business PayPal Debit card, which will pull from your business account. They even have some cool features like money back and such. This also helps if you set up something on your website that people will need to pay you directly for (like signed books, etc.).

8. Plan to set aside 30% of royalties received for taxes

Your accountant will tell you more about this. All I will say is that you really don’t want to have tax season sneak up on you and not have enough money in your account to pay what you owe. As my mom used to say, “That money is not yours! It’s the government’s!”

9. Write a series! (Or at least think about it)

One of the secrets to making it big as a self-published author is writing a series. If someone buys book one and loves it, then they will probably buy book two and book three and so on and so on. The more books you have in a series, the more they will likely buy. If you aren’t a series writer, that’s okay. But know that, to make the money self-publishing some of us dream of making, it is necessary to keep producing a product. It sucks to call our babies (books) “product,” but that’s what it is.

10. Make a business plan

If you’re going to treat self-publishing as a business, it’s a good idea to have a plan. Know what you intend to make, know what you want to do in regards to how much you are willing to pay for covers, editing, formatting, advertising, marketing, etc. A lot of the time, you will have to have money up front. Hopefully, though, you will make back what you spent. And then some. 🙂

I will say that, no, I did not have all of this in place when I first self-published. But I SO wish I had. Again, not all of this is mandatory. But each one is something to consider and ponder before clicking “publish.”

 

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Giving it All Away (Free E-Book Option on Amazon)

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Okay, maybe not giving it ALL away. But I did set OAKEN to FREE for 3 days. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I still don’t know how all of the math-related statistical whatchamacallit stuff works on Amazon. I just decided to set my book to free when I released my second book, ASH, blindly hoping that maybe some people would download it and then go on to get the next book. Maybe. What happened, though, blew my mind.

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People started to download it.

I’ll admit, the first day I probably refreshed the “sales” page and my book’s page a million times to see the numbers go up. By the end of the first day, 2,844 people had downloaded Oaken.

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Then, somehow, I managed to go to sleep. I randomly woke up at 1:33 AM, and, of course, checked the page to find that Oaken was #1 in the FREE Paranormal Fantasy category. What’s very strange to me, though, is that I never put my book into that category…because it’s not really paranormal in any way. This is one of the things I need to find out more about because it’s truly fascinating to me. It was almost as if Amazon was putting my book into the category it would do best in–the category where it would be ranked the highest.

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In the Young Adult Fantasy category, I reached the #2 spot and stayed there for the next two days. (Damn Relic wouldn’t budge.)

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And in the TOP FREE 100 I reached #46! MY MIND WAS BLOWN.

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On the very last day, I received an email from ebookdaily.com that my book would be featured that day in their Fantasy selection of free e-books.

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I’m telling you guys, I have whiplash from how fast and hard all of this hit me. So, I wasn’t making any money off of Oaken? So what? Look how many people saw and downloaded my book with the potential to buy my other books later. It was so incredible to experience. Truly.

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By the end of the last day (and apparently 49 units after midnight) 7,414 people downloaded OAKEN. 7,414 people that, let’s face it, probably wouldn’t have taken the leap to actually purchase the book for $3.99. I get it. There is a lot of self-published crap out there. But there are also a lot of jewels, hidden in the mountain of books online. It’s an overwhelming thing, really. So, I get why people wouldn’t want to take a chance on a self-published author like myself. But there is nothing to lose when they can download the book for free. And, if they like it, maybe they’ll keep coming back. 🙂

One of the coolest things, though, is that, even after the FREE period ended, I saw an enormous jump in sales. (45 PAID units total by the very end of the day on the 20th)

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As it stands–wait, lemme go refresh the page and give you the latest–Oaken is #82 as of 9:00 AM the morning of June 22nd in the Top PAID 100 of the Young Adult Fantasy category. (This number changes every hour. Yesterday it bounced around from 98 to 117. This morning it was 76) The top 100 is golden, though, y’all, because this means your book is visible. Amazon only displays the top 100 books per category and many people won’t venture much further than this.

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So, if you are self-published, or thinking of self-publishing, and are unsure of whether or not you should take advantage of the FREE book promotion Amazon offers, I can say from personal experience that there is NOTHING you can lose by doing this. It’s basically free advertising for you, thanks to Amazon. Whether 100 or 1,000,000 people download your books, that’s just that many more people who now know who you are, who know about your books. By setting your book to free, you have nothing to lose and SO MUCH to gain.

Trust me. Just do it.

Revelations

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Hello, all!
This will be a quick post because it’s nearly 1am and I have to wake up bright and early tomorrow morning! We are creeping up on the mid-week-hump of the WTAMU Writers’ Academy (longer post on this later) and I am soaking up every ounce of creative energy I can this week. While plotting my Zodiacal Dystopian story, I had the realization that really had nothing to do with it–or with the story I am currently writing.

Do you ever just feel like a story is calling to you, asking for attention? Well, that’s how I felt today about the third book in The Underground Series, Alder. It’s the last of this series. My favorite of the three. And I feel like I need to dedicate more time to going through it. I think I got so caught up in the whirlwind of this past year. First writing a book in 6 weeks, then writing another book in 3 months, then finishing another book in ONE month (NaNoWriMo). Then, of course, I published Oaken and jumped into editing Ash and getting it ready for publication. All of these things somehow made my writer’s brain think that it always has to be moving forward, pumping out product, delivering something and in a timely manner.

But the fact that Alder is pushing at my brain when I’m really “supposed” to be writing Soren (the second book in The Halo Series) has to be a sign of sorts. I realized…it’s okay to not always be producing. I’m not a machine. I’m not a publishing house. Creativity will run dry like a once-damp rag that’s been aggressively twisted into a tight cord, wringing out all of those juicy ideas. I’ve always been–well, except for my first book–a tight writer. I’m an English teacher and a grammar freak. I make sure that my book is at least grammatically clean the first go around. So, I’ve never done much deep editing.

But I feel like I should take a closer look. Go a little deeper. I feel like Alder is telling me to do that, and I feel like that’s why Soren has been such a pain to write. I don’t think I’m supposed to be writing it this moment. I thought I was supposed to be writing because it’s been a whole–gasp–six months since I’ve completed a novel! That just won’t do! I must write! I must produce! I must deliver! Well, I must also deliver a quality product. Forcing my creativity and skimping on editing in favor of more writing will not deliver quality.

We live in a world where people feel they can demand artists to create for them because they are used to binge watching/reading things now. In the age of Netflix, we crave that. We don’t want to wait. “Give me more books!” “When are you going to put out your next one?!” “Hurry up and write the next one!” But I think instead of saying, “Okay, okay, I’m working on it,” I’ll calmly say, “All in good time.” Because that’s what each of my books deserves. Good time.