SciFanti-Con Magazine V1 Now LIVE

We are so excited to announce our first edition of SciFanti-Con Magazine is now LIVE. You can grab your free copy by clicking here and downloading the PDF. As always, we would like to thank our contributors to this first edition. We have an exciting line up of articles, short stories, and lots of photos from some of our local comic-cons.

In addition, we’d also like to thank all of our supporters who have purchased us a virtual cup of coffee. All supporters have access to supporters-only content through our Coffee account. You can become a supporter by purchasing us just one cup of coffee through our account. Be sure to follow us so you never miss an update, special content, and more.

We are still accepting applications/inquiries for future editions so if you are interested in being a contributor, please click here to fill out the interest form. Right now all advertising fees have been waived, so it’s the perfect time to get some free promotion for your business, book, event, or brand.

How Scammers are Ripping Off Authors Now More Than Ever – And Why You May Fall Victim

“The only constant in business and marketing is everything is constantly changing.”

These were the words my professors told our class in both my intro to business and intro to marketing classes in college. I have found no truer words in all the classes I took while studying for my business management degree. If someone out there insists that they know how something in business works every. Single. TIME, without fail, I have one word for you – run.

Anyone who has spent more than two minutes in any type of business, but especially in the publishing industry, knows the one thing which never changes is nothing ever stays the same. There is no one-size-fits-all marketing plan that will work 100% of the time for 100% of the authors for 100% of all fiction books, without fail. Anyone trying to tell you different doesn’t know as much about business as the average college student still sitting in Intro to Business/Marketing 101. Veteran authors know you have to go back to the drawing board every single time, every single book, every single launch. Just like we have to have our fingers on the pulse of the next hot new trope, we also must be able to roll with the latest marketing strategies that get results.

Not sure if someone is trying to sell you snake oil or if they really know what they are talking about? Take a look at how they are actually making their money. Does the bulk of their income come from selling courses and other services that target authors, or are they making their money off doing the thing they are teaching? If you are not sure, then ask yourself these two simple questions.

Question 1: If this course worked so well, and they were able to truly turn anyone into a bestselling author making thousands of dollars every month, then why would they want to share that secret? Why wouldn’t they just do this wonderful business strategy they are peddling to produce their own bestselling books and make thousands of dollars like they claim they can do for other authors?

Question 2: Why would they also then create more competition for themselves in the publishing industry by helping other authors hit bestseller status?

The long and short of it is – it simply doesn’t make economic sense to sell an earth-shattering money-making secret and simultaneously create even more competition for yourself in the market, unless the way they are making their money isn’t by using their own advice, but selling said advice to other authors while promising them the moon (and a six figure income to boot).

This brings me to an important case study I came across when I began researching the best ways to market an indie book. Everyone knows what a “success story” 50 Shades was (and still is, considering we recently got the same book from a different POV which also sold millions of copes). However, what most people don’t know (and what EL James has tried to scrub from the internet but hey, screenshots are forever) is James used a combination of gorilla marketing and a huge pot of her own money to basically buy her way into bestseller status. Let’s take a look at the backstory.

Some people may not be aware, but before James became a world renowned author, she was relatively famous in her own circle of readers on a Twilight fanfic site. That’s right, 50 Shades started out as fanfic. But you probably already knew this. The book was initially called Master of His Universe and after prompting from readers, James self-published the book. She coerced her former fanfic fan base into nominating and then voting for the book in one of Good Reads’ many lists and contests that used to frequent the site where it ranked very well. The book would later be picked up and published by an Australian press before Vintage Books (now owned by Random House) offered her a contract. (there is a lot of interesting details to this story and I highly recommend doing some in-depths search if you can still find anything from the old archives. You’ll want to look for articles written between 2010 and 2013, anything written in the past 3 to 5 years mentions little to nothing about the origins of how all this really came about) According to one case study I came across, James spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $100K of her own money on marketing and promoting the book. If rumor serves, I believe the deals for the first movie was also signed, or at least in the works, when she was signed on with VB.

Now, James will vehemently deny spending this much money. In her own words, “I didn’t even have $100K!” But as I said, the internet is forever, and try as she did to scrub this sordid backstory from the catacombs of the past, those of us who were lucky enough to see the articles and the original posts, etc. know the real story. Fanfic and bitchy attitudes aside, there is still a correlation between this story and what it has to do with selling and buying marketing courses in the publishing industry. As far as that goes, there is a direct correlation between this story and what it takes to actually make money as an indie author. That in itself is no big secret – you have to have money, and lots of it. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

In a nutshell, if you toss enough money at it, you can literally make any book into a bestseller. And while I used 50 Shades as an example, there are other books out there where authors have tossed even more of their own money into marketing their books in order to crack bestseller status. I came across one romance author who admitted to sinking $1K a day into Amazon ads just to keep her books ranked in the top 10K overall on Amazon. It’s the age-old adage where if you throw enough shit at the wall, something will eventually stick. To be blunt, publishing has turned into a pay-to-play industry where only authors who have a hefty marketing budget are able to gain any real traction. And this is a tiny little tidbit which many marketing gurus and those peddling author courses that promise to turn you into a $100K/year earning author conveniently leave out of their own marketing pitches.

I’m sure there are marketing coaches out there reading this shaking their heads muttering, “But I show authors exactly what to do and exactly how to word their ad campaigns and exactly where to marketing/promote, and the exact set of keywords they need to use on the Amazon ads to make them effect. If they follow my directions and do what I tell them then they are guaranteed to make big money!”

And what happens when the book doesn’t make the author lots of money? What is the excuse then? Will the coaches then claim it’s because the book didn’t get a proper edit or have a good enough cover or wasn’t a very well written novel? I’m sure they can sell you all those services. And do they even bother to tell authors their books aren’t up to par? What if they don’t? Then who is at fault when authors shell out thousands of dollars on these courses only to find out they didn’t have a marketable product to begin with? Where does the money pit end?

Let’s look at the flipside of that argument. What if their book has everything going for it? What if it has a killer cover, edited within an inch of its life, perfectly formatted, and written to market yet it still fails to become a bestseller? The author does everything to the letter but the book still fails to perform. Who is at fault then? Is it because the author didn’t have the money to spend on marketing (something which isn’t their fault and definitely should have been disclosed prior to signing up for any of these courses), or is it because the one-size-fits-all marketing plan just flat doesn’t work? Either way, it disproves every sales pitch used in order to get authors to sign up for their courses. You can’t very well claim that it’s just the course/advise/service that is earning an author $100K/year if they also have to sink $100K/year into various marketing avenues. When it comes down to it, any book with that kind of marketing dollars behind it will have a fairly decent ROI, as 50 Shades has proven time and again.

Do you see where this is going? There simply isn’t any way anyone can claim to make any author into a bestseller making thousands of dollars a month, no matter how “fool proof” the courses are. When the books fail to thrive, and there are many which will, it begs of the question of where the fault lies.

Thus there are two very important lessons to learn which lies at the heart of marketing courses – the first being how much time and money will ultimately be required for an author to find something that truly works for them (throw enough shit at the wall to see what sticks) through trial and error, even when following step-by-step instructions on what to do. (I wrote another article on this very thing – the three “missing ingredients” or “secret sauce” these courses do not tell you about) And second – when the book fails to thrive, where does the blame fall? Even when the book is up to par, and an author follows everything to the letter, where does the fault lie? Is there a money-back guarantee? .

This brings me to a few important questions to ask prior to signing up for any course.

1.      Is there a money-back guarantee? If the book fails to perform, regardless of the reasons, is there a money-back guarantee offered? If not, or if they offer other of their services instead of a monetary refund, then you may want to seriously rethink their offer.

2.      How much money will you need to spend on marketing and promotions after you have completed their courses and/or services? If they have a very specific marketing plan in place, then they should know how much money their plan will require to at least get it started. If they can’t give you an answer on how much money you will ultimately have to shell out to make their plan/course/services work (it just depends on your book and the genre and the keywords you use, but if you follow my instructions you’ll start seeing a ROI in no time!), then you may want to give pause. Trial-and-Error should not be a part of their sales pitch – they should be giving you hard data that clearly shows how much money their average author is spending on marketing when using their courses/services, how many sales that marketing strategy is generating, and how much net profit the author is seeing. Claims like creating thousands of authors making six-figures or that they have thousands of happy authors or pointing you to a bunch of reviews of their services should not ever be offered up instead of hard data. If the claims can’t be backed up by hard numbers, then you may want to pass it on by. And never, ever, let the company harass you, guilt you, or threaten you. Above all else, do your due diligence and research the person/company across the internet, including keywords such as “scam” and “scandal” with their names. It should go without saying any company wanting to bully, harass, or threaten you or your career, who otherwise act in an unprofessional manner online, even in private groups, should not warrant your money or time. If you even suspect the company of doing this, even in the past, it should be an automatic hard pass no matter how many raving reviews from authors. It’s not worth your hard-built career chasing after rainbows which may end up getting your butt scorched by the lightning that comes out of the thunderstorm. The quickest way to taint your name is to have it associated with a person or company who has been known to scam authors, be in legal negotiations/have been sued, who use threats/bullying, or have otherwise been involved with, suggested, or used black hat/immortal business practices to further their careers or the authors they are selling services to.

3.      Does it require signing a contract or NDA? Again, there is literally nothing anyone can teach you that isn’t already out there on the internet somewhere, in some form, if you know where to look and how to research it. Anyone who thinks otherwise and tries to force you into signing some type of contract or NDA or calling any of their ideas “trade secrets” is an immediate red flag, especially if the contract gives the company/person the right to cancel their services without a refund because the author was “suspected of leaking secrets” or otherwise discussing or disclosing any of the information. This is a loophole which gives the company a legal way to pull their services without a refund and without prior warning. Imagine shelling out thousands for a marketing course only to have the company ban you from receiving any more of the information because they suspected you had “leaked” something from their course. Short of getting a lawyer, there is little recourse for authors so again. It bears repeating for you to do your due diligence and be wary of any company who makes you sign any type of NDA or contract to gain access to courses and marketing information. And if one does require it, have a lawyer look over it before signing it. The last thing you want to do is sink your life savings into these courses only to be banned from receiving the rest of the course/service you paid for because of something in that agreement.

Right now I know there are multiples of you shaking your head mumbling, “But what about the ones who truly want to help authors out of the kindness of their heats?” To this I’m going to say, “Bull. SHIT.” and here’s why. If they were really interested in helping authors they wouldn’t be charging for their services. I’m not saying charging for things isn’t good, but let’s not sugar coat this. We’re all adults, and whether you want to admit it or not, making money off of authors has become big business in recent years. No one is doing this because they legitimately want to help others make money; they are selling these types of courses and services for one very simple reason: to make money for themselves. And that’s fine, but thanks to an influx of authors over the years because of the ease of self-publishing, it now means scammers and snake oil peddlers have a never-ending supply of authors who do not know any better, who do not do their due diligence, and are easily taken in by anyone claiming they can make all your writing dreams come true. While it is a sad fact, it is still a fact nonetheless. So again, ask yourself – if their advice works so well they claim they can easily make you rich as an author selling books, why aren’t they using this advice themselves and getting rich off of selling their own books?

For all you authors out there, be you a newbie or a veteran, take heed and use caution. If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

** Chances are, I’ve hit a very big nerve with this article. Authors who were taken in by these companies and individuals who don’t want to admit they made a mistake, scammers who are pissed that I’m shedding light on this sordid topic and will begin to do damage control, and readers who may feel they were taken advantage of by buying into a hyped up book that turned out to be just another average story written by an average author. I don’t write these articles for anyone but my fellow authors as a warning. So long as we are quiet about the dark side of this industry, it allows the scammers to thrive and spread like a cancer. By not talking about it, we are indirectly supporting such companies and scammers. If nothing else, do your due diligence and stay away from any suspect company or person. Even if you are not shouting names from the rooftops, at least warn your closest author friends who may not do as much research as is required to fully steer clear of the sharks swimming in the waters. I also know there are going to be those out there who wonder what my qualifications are that makes me such an expert on all this. 30 years. That’s my expertise. I’ve spent 30+ years in this business. I have spent decades researching authors, marketing courses, promotional strategies, and everything remotely related to the publishing industry. I have been both traditionally and independently published. While I may no longer be a “bestselling” author, I have been an Amazon international “bestseller” several times over the years. What I haven’t done, however, is lost thousands of dollars on sketchy author courses and marketing classes. I did research, I compared the information available in the classes to what I could find for free online, and I asked questions of my fellow authors, many of which who were more than happy to share their own research, experiences, and techniques. I researched the hell out of companies and classes, I scoured old archives, articles, and message boards (those message boards are a treasure trove of “author beware” information on companies and individuals), and no matter how great a company looked, there was always some dark secret that surfaced when digging deep enough. Take my years of wisdom or don’t.**

Are Book Marketing Courses Worth the Money?

What can I do to sell more books? This is THE question every author drives themselves crazy asking. So they dive into marketing and promotions, reading up on what to do, how to do, where to do, watch countless videos, and they still aren’t ranking or making bank. Eventually, and inevitably, they turn to marketing “gurus” to help them attempt to turn a profit. There are two very high-profile “gurus” who come to mind. But, you are probably wondering, as I often have, if these courses are worth the money.

Before dishing out cold-hard cash, I invite you to read this article: https://www.hiddengemsbooks.com/is-mark-dawsons-ads-for-authors-worth-price/

This is a very interesting read, and echoes what I have discovered for myself through years of research, trial, and error. Please read the article and then come back to this post as I would like to further break down what the author points out.

First, I’d like to bottom line this for you. There is literally nothing Mark Dawson, or any of the other gurus promising to turn you into a 6 figure making author, can teach that you can’t already find for free on the internet. Honestly, marketing isn’t that big of a secret. The hardest problem is hammering out a marketing plan and executing it. Sure, there are 6 figure author coaches who will “coach” you on how to create a marketing plan, they may even hand you a one-size-fits-all marketing plan. They may offer you dozens of services to help you sell more books. But no matter how good your plan is, no matter what courses they offer or what services they offer, if you don’t have the three “missing ingredients” (or as I like to call them, what the gurus don’t want you to know) that the author of the above article talks about, you won’t sell books. And even if you do have all the missing ingredients, you still won’t make money.

Wait, what? How can I have an exceptional marketing plan, all the missing ingredients a.k.a the “secret sauce”, and still not make any money? It’s because of the way these gurus teach you to sell books. It’s the “dog chasing its tail” mentality. Meaning the only way to keep making sales is to keep funneling more and more money into the machine, keeping it greased so your book stays in front of people. Unfortunately, the entire industry has become filled with authors who are taught to “publish fast” and sink as much money into marketing as they can get their hands on. It’s just not a viable marketing tactic. But why, you may ask? Let’s break it down.

The above article talks about whether or not Mark Dawson’s Advertising for Authors is worth the money. The article could have been written about any marketing guru – the root analysis is basically the same regardless of who is claiming they can turn you into a 6-figure earning author. What the article uncovers holds true no matter the coach, the guru, or the marketing plan.

The article talks about three “missing ingredients” that Mark Dawson’s course does not directly mention. The author mentions she specifically asked Mark Dawson what was the “secret sauce” and his replied was simply “there isn’t any.” The author goes on to list three “ingredients” that Mark’s plan doesn’t include or even mention. Whether Mark, or any other publishing marketing coach wants to admit to it, these ingredients are the “secret sauce.” Or as I like to call them, the information they don’t want you to know. And these ingredients are universal regardless of the marketing course, who is teaching it, who the PR or marketing company is, or what service is being offered. Let’s get into those missing ingredients.

The last ingredient the article talks about is “a good book.” While I agree to a certain extent, if 50 Shades  and the plethora of unedited books have taught us anything, it’s that if you toss enough money into something, you can sell it. Unfortunately, all these marketing courses promising to make you a 6 figure earning author have created a market drowning in subpar books. Sure, many of them will tell you if you don’t have a really good book, then it won’t sell. What they actually mean is – if you are not writing to market with the same formulated plot and book cover that looks just like all the others in your genre, you probably won’t be able to sell the book.

Honestly, it’s not that difficult to see why they push this approach in their courses and services. Your book has to be eye-catching, and it has to be marketable. The easiest way to market is to compare it to something already hitting it big in the industry. After all, no matter how great the book is, no matter how well-written, if it’s not a genre or trope currently selling in the industry, you are going to be hard-put to sell it.

Now, here’s the catch on writing to market, which I hinted at earlier in this post.  When you are writing to market, it means you are pushing out the same tired plot line with the same look and narrative voice you can find in hundreds of thousands of other books already on the proverbial bookshelves. It’s considered “disposable entertainment”, and you won’t keep readers around long writing like that. Let’s take a further look at this.

After your book is ready to launch, you activate your launch/marketing plan. It goes well, you make sales which means you make money. But your readers want a new book now. Actually, they wanted it five seconds after they finished reading the one you just launched. They really wanted a new book already sitting on their Kindle ready to go as soon as they finished this last one. So you are forced to crank out another book. Then you have to launch it, which means you shove all the money you just made off the first one into the next one. And thus the cycle of the “dog chasing its tail” continues. You can’t create unique plot lines when you have to crank out a new book every month or two. So you “write to market” because the books sell, but in order to keep those books in front of readers, you have to keep funneling all your money into each new book. To put it bluntly, these gurus turn you into a publishing farm, where you crank out the same plot line repeatedly, producing book after book that looks like, reads like, and has the same tired plot line as thousands of other books. And the only way to keep them selling is to funnel thousands of dollars into marketing.

This is the problem with writing “disposable entertainment” books, or those that are written to market. You don’t keep the same readers for more than a book or two before they have moved on to another author. Can you make money at this? Yes, absolutely. But are you getting to keep any of it? No, and that’s the part these gurus don’t tell you. One of many moving parts they don’t want you to know about. They don’t tell you that in order to make $100K a year, you will shovel $99,900 of it back into writing and launching more books. It’s not money you get to spend on bills or vacations or whatever it is you are expecting to pay for out of those earnings. You have to keep “feeding the machine” to keep that money flowing.

The only way to stop this endless cycle is to strive to become a legacy author, or a “household name.” Think about it. When was the last time you saw Anne Rice, Stephen King, JK Rowling, or any of today’s greats launching a new book every few weeks, or every month? Most of them only release once or twice a year. And in Rice’s case, she can easily go years without producing a new book. But all of their books are unique, their plot lines unique, their world building unique. When you read one of their books, you immediately know you are reading their work because their narrator voice is also unique. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The second missing ingredient, another part of the “secret sauce”, or another moving part of the machine the gurus don’t want you to know that the article talks about is money. This is the #1 thing item which usually trips up most authors. And we’re not just talking about the money you spend on the course or the coaching. What no one wants to tell you is after you spend thousands of dollars on their courses and teachings, you then have to come up with even more money to implement any type of marketing campaign. There are literally hundreds of sites to market to, Amazon ads, Facebook ads, BookBub ads and deals … the list goes on. And it can take a lot of money before you see any results. Because the results aren’t usually immediate. Authors shovel a lot of money into the campaigns and the ads and the marketing, and then it could be months before they see any results. It’s a gamble, no matter who is doing the teacher or how “tried and true” their plans and services are, it’s still a gamble with your hard earned money that you have to spend on these launch campaigns and services. If you don’t have the money to piss away on it, you could easily lose thousands and still not see any results.

Even if the plan/course/whatever they are teaching/giving you have worked for thousands of authors before you, there is absolutely no guarantee that it will work for you. It’s literally a case of throw enough shit at the wall to see what sticks, as the author of this article points out. Simply put, there are no guarantees. You could have the best written book on the planet, it could be written to market, you could have the best cover art ever seen, shove a half-mil into marketing, follow your guru’s courses and plan to the letter, and the book still bomb. This entire industry is a gamble, and if you don’t have the money to play the game, then you can forget about ever getting ahead in it.

The last missing ingredient is time. And this is another big one. The article talks about time to read through the courses, learn it, and then time to execute everything you have learned. But it’s not just that. It’s also the time it takes to write the book, to edit the book, to get the book ready. And then it’s the time you have to wait to see if all your efforts will actually pay off. For those of us who are still working full time jobs, we often don’t have the time required to adequately launch and market a book, especially not on our own. And if you do hire a 6 figure author coach or some other guru, you aren’t just letting them take over. You still have a lot of time and energy you will have to put into launching the book. Unless you are hiring a complete PR/marketing firm who will do it all for you, you will still spend a lot of time learning about and executing a marketing plan. Even a “one-stop shop” company who handles the entire marketing and launching of the book from beginning to end, you still need to be very involved in the process to find out what works and what doesn’t. Otherwise, you could spend thousands of dollars on useless services that just aren’t helping.

This brings us back to the age-old question – how do I sell more books … when I don’t have a shit-ton of money to shovel into marketing?

Oddly enough, the short answer is very simple. The execution, not so much. I have a business plan already in place, and yes it would take a several hundred dollars to execute. Unfortunately, I simply don’t have the money to spend right now. But the short answer? That is super easy, and it’s something authors already do, they just don’t do enough of it to make it work.

So what is this magic bullet? Networking. But not like you are networking right now. As I said, I have a game plan in place, I have a marketing plan in place, but what I don’t have is the team of fellow like-minded authors who are willing to join me on the journey of breaking out of the cycle of publishing books with meager or no sales. I’m looking for authors who are good writers, who produce a quality product, who understand how important editing and good graphic art is to the equation. I’m looking for authors who understand it takes a lot of work, who are willing to put forth the effort and time, but who may not know how to leverage the knowledge they have gained, or who simply do not have hundreds of hours a week and thousands of dollars to spend. I’m looking to start a team of Legacy Authors to help turn the tides of the industry, those who are team players and willing to work with others, those who can follow directions and are willing to learn and help each other.

Does this sound like you? If you are interested in learning more, and willing to keep an open mind and do your part, please click here to join our group.

Ok, I know you are wondering, what’s the catch? How much are you charging? Right now, I’m not charging anything to get this started. I’m offering my marketing plan and my thirty-plus years of knowledge to my starting team of authors for nothing. No gimmicks, no cost. Because what I’ve learned is knowledge anyone can find for free online, but may not know how to execute or use that knowledge. That’s where I come in. Because there is actually a fourth missing ingredient the above linked article does not talk about. And that’s the secret sauce, the magic bullet, a way around spending thousands of dollars on marketing.

The real question is – Are you willing to take this journey with me?

Blood’s Embrace – Chapter 1

Blood’s Embrace – a Before the Sun Rises Origin short

copyright 2020 Nicola C. Matthews – All Rights Reserved

Note: this will be a 3 part saga.

Foreword: Hello fellow lovers of all things paranormal! Over the past fifteen years I have introduced a wide variety of characters, some of them spanning many books. In the coming year I will be releasing a new spin off from my original Before the Sun Rises trilogy called Fallen From Grace. This new series will introduce a new cast of characters and some old favorites. It seems only fitting that I begin writing some short stories and flash fiction surrounding some of my favorite characters from both series. So sit back, grab some popcorn, and prepare to delve deeper into my fantastic world.

***

Lorian Emerald Leigh moaned softly as she rolled over in her large, four-poster bed. Her dark green eyes fluttered opened as she stared absently at the flickering shadows on her ceiling created by the dying flames of the fire in the fireplace several feet away. Something was amiss, but her sleepy brain could not quite grasp what had awakened her from her sleep.

She heard it again; the light tapping at her window. She turned toward the sound, her brow furrowed as she listened intently. Again it sounded… tap tap tap… a light, insistent pecking on the glass pane.

“Leelee? Leelee, it’s Malcolm. Are you awake?” a deep, quiet voice asked, barely audible through the heavy French doors.

Lorian smiled as she tossed off the thick coverlet. She slipped her feet into the light house slippers before grabbing her thick, brocaded housecoat from the foot of her bed. She wrapped it snugly around herself as she hurried to the doors before stopping, paused, her hand on the lock.

“Malcolm, you shouldn’t be here,” she whispered, her head resting against the coolness of the freshly painted wood.

“I know, my love, but I had to see you,” he said.

She smiled again, her heart fluttering lightly inside of her chest.

How did I manage to be so lucky? she wondered to herself for perhaps the millionth time since her engagement to the most handsome man in all the country.

“It’s bad luck to see the bride before the ceremony.”

She could hear him chuckling lightly. “Our wedding is not for nearly a fortnight.”

She frowned, wondering why the sound of his laughter bothered her so much. Normally it was infectious, happy, but tonight it just seemed… off somehow.

“Please, Leelee, come outside for a bit. I’ve missed you.”

She couldn’t help but smile at his sentiment. His voice always made her weak in the knees, the sound causing a shiver to dance down the length of her spine.

“You saw me four days ago, Malcolm. You act like it’s been a lifetime.”

He sighed, the sound muffled by the bit of wood and glass separating them.

“It feels like a lifetime. Please, my love. Just for a few moments.”

She paused, undecided. They were betrothed, their wedding set ten days away from this very night. They had already purchased a house and ordered all the furnishings for it. It was merely a matter of time at this point before they became husband and wife. She knew he loved her completely, as she loved him. There was nothing which could halt their marriage at this point – yet she couldn’t help but give pause.

“I don’t think I should,” she whispered.

“You’re worried about your reputation,” he said, his voice quiet and reserved. “I understand. I swear to you, on my honor as a gentleman, I will not do anything which you do not wish me to.” He paused, but she remained silent. “Please, Leelee. I’ve done nothing to cause you mistrust. I have a gift for you, a surprise for our wedding. I wanted to give it to you, but I suppose I could send it by my footman in a few days.”

She smiled. He knew her so well. She felt foolish for even considering something was amiss. She turned the lock on the French doors; the door swinging silently on its hinges as she slipped out onto the balcony.

It was almost bitch black outside. The moon peeked in and out among the clouds as they rolled in, the tall oak trees a few feet away casting long, dark shadows across the wooden balcony. The snow crunched beneath her dainty house slippers, the soft glow illuminating their surroundings even as the moon’s light failed them. Her platinum blonde hair framed her face like a halo in the dim light, her beauty causing Malcolm’s breath to catch in his throat as she came near.

“It’s freezing out here!” she said as she crossed her arms over her chest. Not even her heavy brocaded robe afforded her much relief from the biting cold.

“I’m sorry, my love,” he said. “I would offer you my coat, but as you can see, I did not bring one.”

She eyed him in astonishment. “Malcolm, we’ll both catch our deaths out here! What on earth possessed you to ride all this way without a coat?”

He smiled, his lips barely parting as he did. She moved closer to him, her large, green eyes staring up at him with so much adoration on her face. She almost couldn’t believe her good fortune, being betrothed to someone as handsome and polite as Malcolm.

Their families had known each other for generations, but Malcolm was the first male heir in almost fifty years. If her older sister had not fallen ill three winters ago, she would have been the one to marry Malcolm. Unfortunately, her sister had succumbed to pneumonia, her body resting in the family mausoleum. It had broken their mother’s heart. Now, their entire family’s continuation rested on Leelee’s young shoulders, a burden she gladly took as she had been head-over-heels in love with Malcolm since they were mere school children.

“It’s quite alright,” he said, beckoning her closer to him. “I hardly feel the cold. Come, my love. I shall keep you warm.”

She giggled as she moved closer, allowing him to pull her into his embrace. She buried her face in his chest, breathing in the scent of leather and sandalwood. She knew she shouldn’t, but surely there couldn’t be any harm in allowing her betrothed to hold her, if only for a few moments.

“How can you not feel the cold?” she asked, her voice partially muffled by his crisp, white shirt. “I fear it may start snowing at any moment.” She paused, suddenly remembering why she had agreed to come outside in this weather, alone, risking her health and reputation. “I thought you had a gift for me?” she asked playfully as she smiled up at him.

He returned her smile, his expression barely changing even as he did so. She still had that nagging feeling that something wasn’t quite right. He felt so cool to the touch, the gleam of mischief in his eyes oddly lacking. Perhaps it was just the eerie glow of the surrounding landscape fueling her wild imagination already running amok.  

“Are you okay? You are acting odd tonight. You don’t sound quite like yourself. And coming out in this weather with no coat. Honestly, Malcolm, you better not get sick right before our wedding. I will be very disappointed if we have to postpone while you recuperate!”

She tried to sound harsh, but her words held no real conviction. She never could stay cross at him for very long. He always gave in to her, no matter what she asked. He always liked to pretend he would not give in, but her wish was always his command.

She shuddered again as the breeze blew softly. She snuggled deeper into his embrace, beginning to feel the chill settling into her bones. The snow beneath her feet was slowly seeping its way through her slippers, her toes becoming numb. She could feel her body beginning to shiver, trying to generate some warmth. She pressed herself against her beloved Malcolm, yet his body offered no comfort.

“Malcolm, aren’t you cold? I can’t feel my toes. Please, perhaps you should come in and warm yourself by the fire?”

“Into your room? My sweet Leelee, what about your reputation?” he asked with a chuckle.

She frowned, that nagging feeling in the pit of her stomach growing. His laughter held no humor, sounding hollow and flat. She swallowed as she rubbed her hands together.

“I’m serious, Malcolm. I don’t understand why you aren’t cold. We are both going to be sick if we don’t get inside and get warmed up. I fear for your health, my love. Coming all this way without a coat, standing here in the snow. I’m already chilled to the bone. We should get inside where it’s warm. You can stay for a few moments, get warmed up before being on your way. I’m sure Father will understand. You could even use our coach to make your way home.” She looked up at him, searching a face that appeared to be completely devoid of emotion. “Malcolm?”

He looked down at her, a slow smile moving across his face.

“Do you love me, Leelee? Truly love me, even if I wasn’t who you think I am? Even if I’ve… changed? Would you still love me, stand by me, be with me—even in death?”

SciFanta-Con Virtual Author Experience

With the global pandemic going on and a huge chunk of the US currently under “shelter-in-place” orders, most of the spring, summer, and fall events have all been cancelled – sporting events, concerts, author signings, comicons, etc. So what’s a bibliophile to do?

Join us for the first ever SciFanta-Con Virtual Author Signing Event and Experience. Can’t leave your home? No problem! Sit back, relax, and join our science fantasy authors this Saturday April the 18th from 11 am to 3pm CST right on FaceBook – live, and in person (or at least as close as you can get from watching a livestream). We have a fabulous lineup of bestselling authors and publishers from across the US who are all waiting to interact with their readers and answering the most thought-provoking questions. No need to get dressed – join us from anywhere, any device – and enjoy this virtual author experience!

 

By Nikki Matt Posted in Events

An Open Letter to Ashley Purdy

I’m going to preface this by saying – I have no idea what to say about this. I do not know the correct words to “make it all better.” I’m honestly not sure anyone does. Despite my complete inability to write something which may stand out in among the sea of good wishes from the thousands of fans, I’m at least going to try.

First, I’m going to say I support you, and your decision. And if you had told this to me in person, I’d give you a big ‘ol bear hug and say, “It’s all going to work out, Ash, and I’ll always support you.”

Secondly, I want you to know that I not only support you, but my inbox in all my social media and my email is always open if you need an ear to listen, want to vent, or just need someone who will nod and say, “I get it.”

Because – I get it.

I don’t want to go into the reasons why I get it, because I don’t want to make this about me. It’s about you, and what you need, what you want, and what works for you. We’ve all been down the dark abyss at some point, some of us further down into the darkness than others. We’ve all stood at a crossroads at some point in time, wondering which path to take. Some of us will get it more than others, but that’s okay. Whatever your reasons may be, whatever you may need or have decided – I support you. And I’m here, if you happen to need a shoulder, or an ear, a supporter, or cheerleader, or even a friend. No strings attached, because that’s not how I operate. Creatives have to stick together, have to build each other up, and I’m all about community, and friendship.

I guess what I’m trying to say is – as long as you are happy, or at least on the road to finding some happiness, then that’s all that really matters. And, if by some miracle you should ever happen to want to take a chance on the crazy writer who tends to be a bit – um, weird – then I’ve always got a spare ear or two which will gladly listen to whatever you would like to talk about – no strings attached.

So, I wish you the best of luck, Ash. Whatever your road ahead may hold, I wish you nothing but continued success and all the happiness in the world.

XOXO

Nikki

Nikki’s Gone Crazy $0.99C Sale!

Been waiting to finish out the Before the Sun Rises series? Putting off finishing up the Sweet Seductions series? Well the wait is over. For a very limited time ( I might change these prices back tomorrow, you just never know) every single book in my catalog is just $0.99 So if you’ve been wanting to catch up on anything Nikki related, today is the day to do it! Grab my entire collection for less than the cost of a really nice meal at TGIFriday’s.

New 2019 Signing Events Added

Nicola has added two new signing events to her schedule for 2019, including CWC’s AuthorCon2019 in August and RidCon2019 in September. Be sure to check out the 2019 Events Page for details on each upcoming appearance.

All Genres Giveaway!

 

Looking for more freebies to continue your summer? How about 36 fabulous tales to whet your appetite? Join us for the fun all July long as we celebrate reading. And don’t forget to grab these freebies before they’re gone. All genres, all the time. CLICK HERE to download freebie books and stories until your heart’s content.

Unpopular Opinion: Yes, Authors are Just as Entitled to Their Opinions as Everyone Else

Okay guys, I’m about to play devil’s advocate here. Why? Because when I see everyone jumping on the bandwagon to completely trash someone’s career, be they author or blogger, I’m not going to sit back and watch the shit hit the fan. After thirty plus years in this biz, I fucking know how hard it is to be an author, how much money it takes to properly launch a book, and how much money and time and energy it takes to try to keep that book in front of someone, anyone, who is willing to pay for it. I also know that you can literally do everything possible, literally move the earth, and it still not be enough to get your book noticed.

So I’m going to try to lay this out as clearly as possible and show the problems I have with how all this went down. First, the jest of it. To put it all into a nutshell (which, honestly, you can’t really do that and get the full story, but we can at least try to recap) a blogger wrote a review on a ARC copy they had received. Blogger did not like said book and gave reasons. Author got butthurt over a bad review and proceeded to post on her blog about her getting butthurt over the bad review. Blogger finds the post on the author’s blog and gets butthurt over the butthurt.

Pretty simple.

Not.

First, I’m going to say that everyone is entitled to their own opinions, in their own damn space. And I do mean everyone is entitled to their opinions. Personally, I think this whole “authors aren’t entitled to get hurt over a bad review and should grow a thicker skin” is a bunch of BS. If bloggers and readers are entitled to express their opinion publicly over how bad a book was to them, then by all the gods authors have the same damn right to express how much it pisses them off, or how much it hurts, to know that someone hates something that took them months, even years to write. Sure, we need to go about it with poise and grace and not go all crazy hunting down bloggers or readers who leave us bad reviews. We have to draw the line somewhere.

But in our own space, among our own fans and tribe, then yeah – we have every right to voice our butthurt.

 

 

Now granted, there are limitations to those rights. I said everyone has a right to express their own opinions in their own space. That means if you come onto MY blog post on MY website or onto MY social media thread and make a comment on MY threads, then you bet your sweet ass I’m going to defend myself. It’s my space, it’s my fans, and it’s my tribe that I’m moaning to. It’s my right to be bitchy in my own space. They get me. They understand.

It’s one thing to go into MY space and moan about my butthurt. I find nothing wrong with that. It’s when authors or bloggers go outside their own space and invade someone else’s to moan about the butthurt that I find unprofessional. And this is why I find this whole situation to be suspect.

The blogger in question admits her fellow blogger confronted the author after she came across the author’s butthurt post. And then she confronted the author herself. Let’s make this clear. The author posted a blog post on HER OWN WEBSITE. She was in HER private space, on HER website, expressing HER feelings about a review. The blogger admits to this openly, and has said this on at least one thread about all this.

Everyone on social media is calling out this author for acting unprofessional, yet the only unprofessional behavior I’m seeing here is a blogger who confronted an author after said author expressed how much a bad review hurt. In her own space. On her own social media accounts. The fact of the matter is, what started this whole thing was the author posted on her own personal blog about how much it hurt to get a bad review. And this is what happened, according to the blogger:

 

 

 

Okay, let’s make sure we have this straight. The blogger posted her review up on GR’s the same exact day the author posts her butthurt post on her website about seeing a bad review. Now, here is where I’m having more problems about all this. The author states the review she was referring to in her blog post was one she had seen on Booksprout, a website specializing in ARC reviews. Below is the author telling one of the bloggers this:

 

 

For those who do not know, when an author offers ARC copies of a book through Booksprout, we have access to see those reviews DAYS before they actually hit the platform they are being posted for. In the case of Amazon and GoodReads, I’ve seen a lag time of as much as four days from the time the review showed up on my Booksprout dashboard til the day it actually showed up on the platform it was posted to. So yeah, I absolutely believe the author when they said they were talking about a review they saw through Booksprout. The blogger assumes the author is speaking about her review because it was the first one posted on Goodreads. However, it is very possible the author was looking at her Booksprout dashboard and seeing a review on THERE that hadn’t actually posted to Goodreads yet. I know the blogger has said she knows it was her review the author was talking about because hers posted to GR first. But, as I said, when you do your ARCs through BookSprout and the reviews post through there, they show up on the author’s dashboard as much as 4 DAYS before the review actually posts on some of these platforms. So, yes, it absolutely is entirely possible the author really was talking about a completely different review that only she could see on GR at the time.

These “assumptions” being made are the very reason why no one should ever confront anyone about a bad review. It wasn’t okay for the blogger to confront the author over her posting in her own space about the review, any more than it’s okay for an author to confront a reviewer or a blogger or a reader about a bad review. Sure, bemoan about it on your own website, page, social media, private groups, etc. but do NOT call out or confront whoever left you the review. By the blogger’s own admission, that is not what happened here. The blogger actually hunted down the author and confronted the author on the author’s own social media pages and platforms. Despite the author apologizing and trying to tell the blogger she was misunderstanding which review she was speaking of, the blogger just wouldn’t let it go.

This is not okay. I cannot, for the life of me, understand why people think it was okay for the reviewer to do this.

And honestly, judging by what was posted on the blogger’s website about all this, if the screenshots taken are as bad as things got with the author, then quite frankly I honestly do not see what the problem is. The author was in her own space. The blogger invaded that personal space to call her out.

If this is not what happened then someone please fill me in. Cause I’ve been all over the blogger’s website and from what I’m reading, this is what happened.

Now – the fall out. The author was dropped by her publisher. Great. The author has been forced to completely erase her social media accounts and start all over again – from scratch. I find it ironic that the blogger specific states on a blog post over all this “I’ve seriously considered giving up everything I’ve spent years working my ass of [sic] for with our blog.” And yet this is EXACTLY what the author in question was forced to do – all because she defended her right on her own blog to post what she wanted to on her own blog.

Hell, maybe the author went totally ape shit and said some really shitty things. I don’t know. Since all her social media is gone now, I have no way of looking into this any further. All I have to go off of is what the blogger herself posted and the screenshots she took. And as I said, from where I’m sitting, I only see one person who was behaving unprofessionally – and it wasn’t the author.

The reviewer struck first, and if someone comes after you in your own space, then I say all fucking bets are off. You would get upset if someone came into your house and started badmouthing your family, right? Same damn principle. From what I’m seeing, the author was merely defending herself.

But as I said, maybe I’m missing something, or a lot of somethings.

But I will say this.

The blogger keeps saying we need a change in the book world.

We absolutely do.

We need for everyone to stop thinking they are the only ones that matter. If authors aren’t willing to write, then bloggers won’t have their review blogs. If authors aren’t willing to give away ARCs, then a lot of reviewers won’t have their blogs or be able to read books for free. And if bloggers and reviewers aren’t willing to review then authors won’t have nearly as many reviews on their books.

Let’s face it – we need each other.

But we also need to respect each other’s right to voice our opinions.

Stop confronting each other. Reviewers, write your reviews and be done with it.

Authors, don’t read the damn reviews and if you stumble across one, take the butthurt with a grain of salt.

Yes, it fucking hurts. Bloggers, do you hear what I’m saying? You know how much it hurts when authors get pissy about your bad review? Yeah, we’re hurting just that damn much because we opened ourselves up to ridicule when we opted to publish – kinda like you did when you decided to post your review. It fucking hurts when someone pisses all over your hard work, regardless of whether that hard work is in the form of a book or a book review.

It.

Fucking.

Hurts.

So everyone, please, can we just pull our heads out of collective asses and get back to what matters – writing?