I have tried to answer the most common questions here, but if there’s something else you’d like to know, feel free to send me a message.
Unfortunately, I’m not traveling right now, but any events I do plan to attend will be announced in my newsletter and posted here on my website.
I often offer ebooks for review, and if you’d like to apply to receive one, simply fill out the form here.
There are tons of ways! You can share my books with friends, family, and coworkers. Post about them online or recommend them to your favorite book bloggers. Pre-order books whenever possible. And leave a review! Reviews are a huge help, even if you can only leave a few short lines.
There will be 5 books total in the Fractured Legacy Series. And they’ll all be coming out as soon as I have a moment to get back to the paranormal world. I have gotten caught up in romance in part because it’s a bigger genre that helps me pay the bills, but my heart will always be with paranormal, and I’ll get back there as soon as possible.
I decided to rebrand my paranormal books and in doing so, I also concluded that it’d be best if I can separate them from my romance books–even just a little. You’ll still find all of my books on this webpage, in the same newsletter, and on the same social media pages, but for the purpose of publication, all paranormal works will fall under S.J. and all romance works will fall under Skye.
Well, I picked up a pencil–possibly a crayon, since I was fairly young at the time–and the rest is history. In truth, I don’t really remember much about a time when I didn’t write stories. It’s just always been a niggle in my brain that isn’t sated unless I’m coming up with stories and writing them down.
I stopped writing when I started college, and to be honest, by the time I was studying history in grad school, it wasn’t even something I thought about on a regular basis until I almost hit burnout. I decided to take the summer off and catch up on some fiction. A friend recommended that I read A Discovery of Witches, which ironically was also written by a historian. I finished the book, but couldn’t stop thinking about it, so I read it again. Finally, like a slap in the face, I remembered my love of fiction and my love of writing, and immediately bought a journal and set to writing my first novel.
If I don’t finish a novel, the characters tend to drive me nuts until I do. I actually took a week off at my day job and wrote 75% of Irrevocable in that week–when characters don’t want to shut up… they’re unstoppable. On the other hand, my first novel took me about a year and a half of writing little bits here and there (said book has never been published but it was the first I ever finished).
The more I wrote, the more ideas i had and the quicker I could get them out on paper. I’d say 80% of the time I write by the seat of my pants. I have no idea what’s going to happen, where it’s going to end up, or what my characters are going to say next. Recently, I’ve tried plotting by putting important events on note cards and keeping track of things that way. My characters still tend to go off script, but I like feeling more organized when I do at least some plotting.
Harsh critics are everywhere and I’ve had tons of reviews that make me cry (good and bad), but I’ve learned to surround myself with a good team and good friends. They’re the people I rely on to tell me what needs improved, what sucks, and what works. If you listen to every voice of every single critic that chimes in, you’ll never want to start writing again, because you’ll be too caught up in how everyone else wants you to write, but if you know you have a good team around you who you can rely on, you’ll have all the feedback you need to continue improving.
And above all, remember that you’re writing for yourself. You have to make yourself happy or you’ll just burn out.
It’s a never ending ongoing process that is always getting tweaked.
My marketing actually begins in my business plan where I lay out what social media platforms I’m going to target (for me this is mainly Facebook), nail down a description of my target audience (what other authors/books do they like to read, where do they hang out, where do they find book recommendations, etc), and note top authors and books in the genre. You’ll use this information to focus your time and identify key words and themes that can be used in your own marketing.
Networking is a huge part of it. Book blogs have been a major marketing resource for me and until you have a big budget, word of mouth is going to be the biggest driving force you can find. For my largest release, I gave out more than 100 review copies to bloggers, who not only shared about the book on social media, but provided early reviews. The Book Blogger Directory, is a good place to start identifying blogs who might be interested in your work. Bookmark their websites, follow them on social media, and interact with their posts. Then, when the time comes to market your own book, you’ll know how to best contact them. Most bloggers will at least want to read the blurb, see the cover, and know the approximate length before they’ll consider a review request.
Start building your author website, and as soon as you release a book, start a mailing list. Include sign ups for the mailing list at the back of your ebook and make it a prominent part of your website. You’ll also want to set up a page with all of the information on your book and purchase links, so you have a central location that you control where you can send people to get information.
It all takes time to grow, but that’s where I created my marketing foundation. I can look back at my daily plan from a year ago, and although a lot has changed, my network, mailing list, and website that I’ve built over the years are the most integral parts of the system.
A complete and utter mess: notes on every size and shape of paper, multiple word documents on both my laptop and tablet, and spreadsheets to attempt to keep track of the details.
I don’t work in a linear order from the story sense or the writing process sense. I write whatever scene I’m thinking about and put all the pieces together as I go, then I go back and smooth them out, add a little more, go back and add details, add some more, do revisions, add more, send it to betas, revise again, load it on my kindle to do a read-through, revise again, send it to my editor, revise more, send it to proofreaders, make corrections, and press publish.
It’s rather tedious, and by the time it’s published I’ve probably read over it a couple of dozen times. I also print and/or change the font and screen background color between each step, which helps the brain focus on the details rather than relying on memory.
I haven’t the foggiest idea. Loads of other writers have speculated on the concept, but I just write what my muses (characters) tell me. I usually don’t know where they came from or why they appeared, they’re just always there in vast supply.
I think most people all have their own ideas about when you should quit the day job. Some people told me that I should have enough in my savings to last at least a year before I quit. Some said six months. And others pretty much said, there’s no way to learn how to swim without jumping in.
Personally, I had just published my 3rd book and hit the bestseller charts across all retailers for the first time when I decided to quit my day job. I was making slightly more from my books at this point than I was my day job, but it was still a big risk because the trend could end, my next book might not have sold, etc. But I took a look at the choices I had. 1) a day job at a center where budget cuts were taking a huge toll. I knew I’d never move up because the couldn’t afford to give me a raise. However, things could improve, and I knew I wouldn’t get cut because I did the work of four people on an Intern’s salary. Or 2) I could focus 100% of my time on my own career and take on all of the risk and reward of running my own business, when I knew, at least for the immediate future, that I could sustain my current lifestyle on book sales alone.
I’ve had hard months where I scrape by, but honestly I know I made the right decision for me. There’s risk no matter what you do. Companies can close, people can be fired, nothing is certain, and I decided that I’d rather take that risk on myself than someone else’s business.
The only hard and fast rule I can give you is to make sure you’re earning enough to get by and you’re actually getting the money–some distributors pay on a 60-day delay, so even if you’re selling right now, it’s going to be two months before you see that money.