Fractured Facade

"A fathers death...a daughter's life...a sociopath's vendetta...FRACTURED FACADE ...a novel written as memoir. Only $4.99 and available exclusively on Amazon. Kindle Unlimited members read for free! Click here for direct link.


THE VALENTINE'S DAY CURSE -- A Short Story, Free everywhere...except on Amazon (boo! hiss!) where it's $.99 to buy! Click here for direct link! Let them know it's free at these stores and they may price match it! Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books...more to come.

Friday, June 29, 2012

It Was Fun While It Lasted

Come July 2nd my 90-day exclusive period for Fractured Facade in Amazon's KDP Select Program is up. I have decided to not click the auto-enroll feature.

Once upon a time, less than 90 days ago, I enjoyed the fruits of this program. The first time I offered a freebie I had almost 10,000 downloads and more sales in one month than I had previously experienced the prior six months everywhere else. The added bonus was my book was getting borrowed, which besides the freebie carrot, was a good reason to enroll my $4.99 novel. The "bad" part of having 10k free books downloaded, besides not getting a royalty on any of them, is that some will wind up in hands of readers who are not your target audience. Oh, and they will let you know via a 1-star rating.

Cut to the next freebie less than two months later. This time I took the advice of other writers who suggested I would have sold more books if my price was reduced. So I went with $3.99. Not as many downloaded, but well into the thousands and high ranking in the free charts. However, when it went back to paid, it plummetted back down to a lower level than it was when I first gave it away. Apparently the changing of the secret Amazon algorithms had struck! It took a day or two before the ranking went up, but by that time, I had probably lost any exposure and momentum I might have gotten. At this lower price point I sold 1/10th of the amount I had sold at $4.99, and worse yet, had only 1 measly borrow.

Now, I don't know if the following red-highlighted Prime Members borrow for free statement was always there under my "borrow this book" or if it popped up since my last freebie, but here it is: "With Prime, Kindle owners can choose from over 145,000 titles to borrow for free – including all seven Harry Potter books and more than 100 current and former New York Times Bestsellers – as frequently as a book a month, with no due dates."  Frankly, if I were a Prime Member those are the books I would borrow since I only get one borrow a month. Those bestsellers charge about $12.99 for an eBook, so I would feel like I was getting my "money's worth." Although, once upon a time, I actually had borrows on my 99 cent short story, I haven't seen one of those in a while.

There's another reason I'm opting my novel out of Select. People are cheap. After reading comments on ENT and POI's posts, as well as across the internet from people who love, love, love the free books, some saying they will NEVER pay for an eBook, or, they're just waiting until a certain book goes free, I think the lack of sales might be due to people having come to expect something for nothing. As soon as they see the book on Amazon with "Prime Members can borrow for free" they assume it will eventually be free during a promotion. And they're usually right.

So, I've decided to run a test. I'm going to un-enroll Fractured Facade, leave it at $3.99 for the summer, and put it back on Smashwords, yet not opt-in to their premium catalogue just yet. In case I have a change of heart and want it to go back into Select, I don't want to have to waste weeks chasing down every location where the book is being sold. Smashwords takes it down pretty quickly, but the other outlets take their sweet time.

I still have a month to decide on what to do with my short story, The Valentine's Day Curse. I might just leave it enrolled, as one borrow (if it ever happens again!) equals over six sales. Also, I'd like to use it as bait when having a freebie, in the hope that someone will read it and seek out other books by me. I know that strategy works well for authors who have series, but I don't. However, I did have sales of Fractured Facade after giving away the short last time, so who knows.

Amazon seems to change things up all the time, so who knows what they'll decide to do next. I wish they had kept the algorithms where they were in the beginning of the year, but since they haven't all I have to say is, it was fun while it lasted.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Night in Asheville

For years I've heard Roanokers say "Roanoke needs to be more like Asheville." After visiting the city, I have no idea why. Maybe it's because I'm not into aging hippies, micro-brews, restaurants that allow dogs, and everything touted as green, green, green. Green is fine, but when the hotel you're staying at doesn't wash the sheets everyday, uses horrible towels, teeny tiny mushy pillows, low-flow showerheads and has lighting that gives the room a gloomy glow, all because they're "green" that's a little too much for me. It probably wouldn't have bothered me so much if I hadn't stayed the night before at the luxurious Harrah's resort.

I have to say the food was pretty good as most places served local fresh fare. I tried dishes I normally wouldn't have, such as a trio of meat with pistachio nuts terrine at a quaint restaurant in the Biltmore Village section.

That part of the city was cute, and definitely geared to tourists. The brick sidewalks were interesting at first, but after walking on them for a couple of minutes our feet started to hurt. Once it downpoured it became even more challenging.

If I was a resident I couldn't imagine visiting that area often, as other than eating at that particular restaurant, there's only so many times you could visit a Christmas Shoppe and other touristy stores. I did find a beautiful pair of earrings in an estate jewelery store, so it was definitely worth getting lost and seeing the underbelly of Asheville on our way there.

Everyone told us we had to go downtown so that's we did for dinner. As luck would have it we found a spot on the crowded street. After my husband parked, we were met with applause from a crew of teens when we exited the car. I asked what that was all about and one kid replied, "That was the best parallel parking we've ever seen. You got it in one shot!" Ummm, ok. We're from New York, we know how to drive.

We walked up and down the crowded street checking out the menus. Most of the restuarants were over-priced which is what one would expect for most downtown cities. We chose an Italian one that had homemade bread, which did not impress us. But, the aracino and proscioutto wrapped stuffed figs appetizers did! We didn't order dessert because I had noticed a European bakery a couple of doors down. We bought a yummy linzer tart, a bland shortbread cookie, a slice of turning-bad cheesecake, and a hazlenut Napoleon. The only Napoleon thing about that pastry was it looked like one. Napoleons should be made with pastry sheets, not cake! It reminded me of Fresh Market's bakery...everything looks delicious, but doesn't taste like you hope it would.

After dinner we walked around some more and saw the usual lousy juggler and street musicians. We were impressed with this old guy playing the blues more than anyone, so we gave him a couple of bucks. Besides older hippies, there seemed to be a lot of "punk rock" or "goth" teens, which reminded me of New York City thirty years ago. My daughter might like Asheville, but I know my son would hate it as much as my husband did. I suggested we walk off the beaten track and see what else there was to explore. Bad move. Just a couple of blocks away the area is very sketchy, and the park reminded me of Elmwood -- a lot of homeless people with mental disabilities. See, Roanoke, you and Asheville have something in common already!

We decided to go back to the room and for a second thought about going into the redneck bar near the hotel. I wanted to soak up more local color. Drinking too much wine will do that to me. Luckily my husband talked me out of it. "Do you really want to go into a place where a guy is standing outside with no shirt on?" Guess not. We tried to get a good night's sleep on the mint-sized pillows and climate-controlled-challenged room, but couldn't. When we found out the hotel was raising the room rate to more than double what we had paid if we wanted to stay an additional night (talk about green!) we laughed, and said we'd find another one that hopefully wasn't so green/expensive. Well, that was the plan anyway.

The next morning was already a scorcher and my husband asked how much I really wanted to see the Biltmore Estate. Turns out, not enough to pay $60 each, walk in the heat, and spend another night in Asheville. My lack of photos shows how impressed I was. Sure, Asheville is pretty, but Roanoke is prettier. Asheville has mountains, but so do we. I saw more slums surrounding Asheville than I have in Roanoke, so all in all, I have to give Asheville a big, eh. Maybe it's because I come from New York City and I look for different "cultural experiences" than Roanokers do, but really, Roanoke should be happy with their own identity and not worry about being more like another Southern city.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Cherokee, NC

Although we had originally planned to spend a week in Brooklyn, I had concerns leaving the puppy alone with my son for that length of time. It would be the first time I would be away from her, and seeing how "attached" she had become to me I feared the worst. So, instead I thought we could do a "test run" mini vacation to see how she and the kids would make out without the parental units.

My husband and I decided we would fly by the seat of our pants and take a cruise down into the Smoky Mountains. That proved to be a wise decision as New York City was having a heat wave. There's nothing worse than being in the Brooklyn home and trying to sleep in an un-airconditioned bedroom. Shudder. Instead, we spent the night in a wonderfully chilly room at Harrah's in Cherokee.

The best part about travelling without children is we could now get a King bed! Most King-sized rooms have couches and tables which is a nice change from having to sit on Queen beds. The hotel is gorgeous and I loved, loved, loved the room. Naturally, there was construction going on right outside our window on the ninth floor. Wave to the camera...

We didn't hear them at all so it was cool. After we settled in, we went downstairs to check out the casino. One! Their slots are tighter than my son's wallet, and that's really cheap. Not only that, but their "progressive" jackpots are a joke. $320? Pffft, not worth it. I quickly realized I would not even lose what I had allowed myself to lose as I hated all the machines except for the Wheel of Fortune ones. There were only five of them in the whole casino! As luck, bad luck it turns out, would have it, I happened to pass by as someone got up so I quickly sat down and proceeded to lose. I lost so quick I didn't even have a chance to get a drink from the waitress.

I looked to play blackjack or roulette instead. Nope, no roulette tables at all, and no live blackjack games. Instead, the blackjack tables are electronically dealt with the "dealer" just watching. The minimum to buy in was $15 a hand. Yeah, right. Pass. I knew at that point that we would be staying just the one night. But before we left I had to scratch my husband's itch...a steak dinner at Ruth Chris' Steakhouse.

The restaurant is newly opened and since we had a wonderful experience years ago in Orlando's Ruth Chris, I agreed to go there instead of Paula Deen's joint. This meal didn't meet our expectations, and like the slot machines, was a total rip-off. I've cooked better steaks on the grill, and at $50 a person (without wine) one would expect not to find a piece of wood in a fillet. When we informed the server of our "find" the manager came over and apologized and explained they use wooden skewers because, "you know when you're cooking a steak, the shape changes, so they help keep the shape." Ummm, no. No steak I ever cooked had the shape changed. To make up for the faux pas she offered him another steak (he was almost finished) or free desserts. Ummm, since we went with the "special", dessert already came with the meal. "Ah," she exclaimed, "but you only get the chocolate cake one with the special, now you both can pick anyone you want." Big woo. The desserts are all priced the same. We picked the creme brulee and cheesecake. Both sucked. At least now I'll never have to hear again how Ruth Chris' steak melted in his mouth and kept the warm temperature throughout his meal. Neither happened.

On our way back to the room we stumbled upon a bar that had a comedy act going on. The first comedian was boring so we were about to leave. Another guy bounded up the stage so we figured we'd give him a chance. We were sitting up close which is a big mistake when you see a comedian because chances are they are going to single you out. Yup. He did.

His name was Chris Barnes and he had us cracking up from the very beginning. He picked on a couple of people in the audience, and he had a field day with me. It went something like this...First he said, "Where's this good-looking couple come from?" Both my husband and I turned around to see who he was speaking to. It was us. "Yeah, I'm talking to you! Hasn't anyone ever told you you were good-looking?" Audience cracks up. Me: "Roanoke." Him: "Roanoke, Roanoke, Roanoke? And how long are you guys married?" I turn to my husband with a quizzical look and reply, "18, 20 years?" Him: "You don't know how long you're married? You must be the first woman in the world that doesn't know how long she's married! You got kids?" Audience cracks up. Me: "Yeah, two." Him: "How old are they?" Me: "18 and 20." Him: "Your married 20 years!" Me: "Okay, then it's 20 years." Audience cracks up.

Him: "What do you do?" Me: "I'm a writer." Him: "You're a writer? What do you write?"  Me: "Books." Him: "Really, what type of books?"  Me: "Novels, short stories." Him: "Really? You sure?" Audience cracks up. I whip out my eBook business card for Fractured Facade and go up to the stage and hand it to him.

He looks at the folded card and asks, "How long did it take you write this?" Me: "Three years." He holds up folded card and says, "This is the shortest book in the world and it took her three years to write it!" Audience is in stitches by this point. I'm a good sport so I let him go on and on about it. I assume he realized it was just a promotion for the actual book, but I had my doubts that the audience did! For the entire set he had my card propped up next to his bottle of Bud, and whenever there was a lull in the laughter he'd pick it up and rank on me again. The audience loved it and I got free publicity. The best part was at the end of the set he put the card in his pocket, and I have a feeling I've just become part of his act.

The last time we were in Cherokee was over a decade ago with the kids. At that time we saw all the sights, rode the Rudy Coaster, and panned for gold. It was sort of sad remembering the fun times we had, and I missed not having little ones with us. Maybe one day I'll have grandchildren and can take them places that kids, and me, enjoy. The one thing that was evident is that Harrah's money has really helped build up the community. Last time it was run-down and shabby looking. I don't know what it looks like beyond the strip, but it's a definite improvement of what we encountered before.

Onto Asheville...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Gone Fishing...

Well, I haven't really gone fishing, but would like to. Whenever I come off a freebie run I feel as if I need a vacation. The preparation time before, and work during the promotion, is a drainer of physical and mental energy. To get the most out of the free weekend I really should still be promoting the hell out of Fractured Facade, but I'm exhausted.

This last run was another success with close to 4,000 copies downloaded. The highest ranking I received was #2 on Family Saga and # 10 in Suspense...not too shabby. The biggest surprise was the hundreds downloaded in the UK. I do believe the one five-star review I received from the last promotion really helped. Germany was on the chart as well with 3 copies. I wonder if it was the same 3 readers who downloaded The Valentine's Day Curse during the last promo. Still, no paid sales from either country.

I decided to lower the price to $3.99 to see if I would get more action than the last time when I had it at $4.99. So far, no. In fact, last time I had more copies sold by the second day than I do now! And thus far, no borrows. My 90-day period is up July 2nd and unless my numbers dramatically improve over the next two weeks I will not be re-enrolling Fractured Facade in the exclusive program.

I think people are getting too used to free books. When an Amazon reader sees they can borrow the book, they know  the book is enrolled in Select and that the author has five free promotion days. I fear too many people are just waiting for those free days to happen rather than spend the money buying the book. An author cannot make a living that way. Hey, I download free books, but also buy books as well.

The only way for an author to make money is to write books, books and more books. The most successful authors are those that have many released, especially a series of books. When a reader likes one that they downloaded for free they will search out the rest of the series, and maybe even pay for them. I do not have a series of books. I am not a prolific writer. I do not write in a popular genre...and still don't know what the thrill is of zombies and vampires!

I read somewhere that an author needs to release 4-5 books a year to be successful. Ha! That's not me. Oh, if you want crap, I could do that with one hand on the keyboard, but that's not what I'm after. I just want to tell stories that mean something to me. Those tales take time. And you can't rush them. But there is something I can do to speed the process along. Get off the internet! Well, not totally get off, but definitely decrease my time, especially on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc. All those FB writing groups and blogs about writing and publishing are valuable, however, they can take up too much time and actually hinder the writing process, so it's time for me to step away a bit. Throw a puppy, running a business, insomnia, & exhaustion into the mix, it's no wonder my creative spirit is sapped.

Although I have two books battling each other to "go first," my brain cannot make the simple decision of which one will. Should I deviate from the first two and go with the more popular haunting/supernatural genre, or, spill another New York story? I do believe I need to take some time and clear my head, and rejuvenate my spirit before proceeding.

So yeah, I'm going fishing...

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Two Hep Cats

Two hep cats -- my Godfather and Dad. Neither are with us this Father's Day. This is how I like to remember them...young, vibrant, cool, and ready to take on the world. The promise of the fifties memoralized.

Both of them had a hard time with women when they found themselves alone. My Godfather's loss occurred after a divorce. Cancer killed Dad's marriage. The last time they dated before getting married, was probably around the time this picture was taken. When they found themselves single decades later, they were unprepared. You could have all the book smarts in the world, but it's useless without street sense. One picked up a brown beer bottle, the other found comfort in bottle blondes.

It's hard to convince a parent they're wrong about something when they "know" they're always right. It's easier to believe someone who tells you things you want to hear, rather than the person who tells you things you need to hear. I wish my dad would have listened to me...He's missed so much. I've missed him so much.

Today's the last day I am giving away my novel, written as memoir, "Fractured Facade" for free. My hope is kids will pick it up for their parents, and parents will share the story with their kids. Learn from our mistakes.

Happy Father's Day...

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Marie DiLuca Interview

So you still haven't downloaded Fractured Facade? Check out this interview with Marie DiLuca on Writer's Block Party. It may change your mind. Oh, and the book is free today and tomorrow. Hopefully your dad is not dating a sociopath, but maybe you should download this for him just to make sure he never does.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Father's Day Freebie

Sunday will be the first Father's Day since I published Fractured Facade. Although I had reservations about ever giving it away free again, the guilt ate away at me. After all my dad went through...after all I went could I not do something special for Father's Day?

A book dedication makes a poor substitute for a crappy tie, but that's the best I could do. Second best is getting this book into the hands of those people who need to read it. I'll take my lumps from those who have a problem with realistic dialogue as long as it finds its way into the hands of those who were meant to read it. Yes, there are curse words in it, as well as "unlikable" characters, so if you are easily offended by reality, this book is probably not for you.

I assume I'm never going to get rich off of it, and that's okay. That's not why I wrote it. Dad knows why I wrote it. Hopefully after you read it, you'll know why this book had to be written too. Still, I wish I never had to...

Free, for the last time -- today, tomorrow and Sunday...6/15-17th.

Click here for a direct link ---->  Fractured Facade -- "A father's death, a daughter's life, and a sociopath's vendetta."

Monday, June 11, 2012

Lost and Found Birthday

For as long as I could remember, my birthday has filled me with sadness. I couldn't even tell you why, although I have my suspicions. This year I decided I wouldn't ruin the day and wallow in pity. Instead, I will embrace the fact I'm still alive and reflect upon the past's a lost and found birthday.

*I lost my beloved Welsh Corgi Max, and recently found a psycho Malti-Zhu.

*I lost my beloved cousin, JP, and haven't found anything to replace him.

*I found extra weight that is a struggle to lose.

*I found out my biopsy was negative.

*I lost a lot of hair and energy due to the chemo treatments, not for cancer, but for rheumatoid arthritis.

*I found ways around being unable to use my hands to their full capacity, ie. screw-top wine bottles and coaster brakes.

*I found that I was able to complete my goal of finishing and publishing my book, "Fractured Facade" as well as a short story, that didn't tear my heart out to write like my first book did.

*I lost my patience (only in my mind) with some readers who have been too judgemental regarding my life. I found those who prefer Christian books have been the most intolerant.

*I found joy in the knowledge that my story touched other readers' hearts, and thankful to those that have reached out to me.

*I lost respect for some people I thought would be more supportive of me, but found strength in the realization that they could only affect me if I allowed them to.

*I found cutting negative people out of my life is a positive step.

*I lost my desire to "try and fit in" and found what I've always known deep inside...I'm not for everyone and I don't need to be.

*I found as long as I keep in touch with my New York friends, or immerse myself in a good book, I will never feel alone.

*I found it's important to be a "friend" to your kids, but more important to be a "mother" first.

*I found what I've always husband and kids love and support me unconditionally, and I feel the same way about them. Everything else is just gravy...

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Puppy vs. Ivy

If she could, Bella would take down the oak tree. She can, and she will, take down the ivy growing up the tree. She's finally earning her keep...

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

My Baby's Graduating

As I sat in the yard yesterday waiting for Bella to do her business, I could hear the happy sounds of the children playing in the park across the street. It was the elementary school's field day. At first I smiled, but then I felt myself getting choked up.

It seems like it was just yesterday when I was one of the room moms filling the water balloons, serving snacks, corralling the children into lines, and helping with a million other little tasks when both of my kids went to school there. I thought back to the days when I had one child on each side, holding my hands as we walked to school. Most days I volunteered at the library or in their classroom, and I loved the way their faces lit up when my kids saw me. I believe they were proud of me as they never held back a hug, a kiss, or a "love you" in front of their friends. I feel the same way about them.

It's hard to believe my baby will be graduating this week. To say I'm proud of her would be an understatement. Anyone who knows us, knows what she has gone through in her life. In fact, if any of you have read Fractured Facade, I guess you realize "Annabelle" is based on her. She's faced every challenge with dignity, and never let it stop her from achieving her goals. Sure, it was a battle, but it was one she won...with honors.

As you can see from the shot below, her graduation gown will be adorned with many honor cords and even a beta sash. Not only is she one of the valedictorians of her high school, but is also the recipient of an academic scholarship from VWCC.

My daughter is the first female to attend college in our family, and she is also the first female to even finish high school on my husband's side. Yeah, that bar wasn't too high, but she chose to raise it, instead of going under it. I forsee a bright future for her and hope she always stays as kind, funny, intelligent, and tough as she is now. The only thing I would change is her taste in boys. Guess the apple didn't fall far from my tree...

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Let Me In!!!

I see you...

Look how high I can jump...

Hmmm, there's a step I could stand on, and if I really stretch I can look inside...Please, let me in!!! I promise I'll be good...

Hehe, I lied.

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Valentine's Day Curse June Freebie

When my 90-day period expired for The Valentine's Day Curse's run in Amazon's KDP Select program I had to make a decision whether to pull it or renew it. After much consideration, the main one being that every time someone "borrows" my 99 cent short story I get a royalty which would be equal to selling 7 copies, I decided to go with another 90-day run. Believe it or not, people actually borrow it. Thank you borrowers!

The last time I gave away over 2,000 free copies, besides the borrows, I also sold quite a few books. It might be different this time. From what I understand, Amazon has changed the algorithms which are no longer as attractive for gaining traction on the best-selling lists as they were when the program first began. In the beginning, every freebie was equal to one sale, so one could shoot up the charts and get some action afterwards. I've heard it now takes 10 freebies to equal one sale, so one moseys up the charts and gets little action afterwards. I imagine Amazon will tweak their system again once authors start abandoning ship.

As of this post, The Valentine's Day Curse ranking is 362,138, so figure it's time to give it a shot in the arm. Even though many folks say never give away free books in the beginning of the month, today and tomorrow, June 1 & 2 this 5-star short story will be free, free, free! Click here for a direct link! And don't forget you do not need to own a Kindle to read it. Click here for free apps for many other devices.

If you like this short story, by all means please leave a review, or at least a "like," but if you're a troll, please ignore this post, my book, and me. Thanks!