BEWARE! epub.pub – Book Pirates and Scammers!

More scum in the indie author sea – epub.pub  

I found at least two of my books on their site via an author name search on Google. They claim to offer a free version of the book for download, but when I clicked on the “Download Now” button, my anti-virus software flagged it as a “known malicious site” and strongly recommended that I not open it. I did not.

Clicking on the options at the bottom of the page (About Us, Terms & Conditions, Contact us, DMCA, Links, Donate) will only take you to a different page that says “If you require any more information or have questions or suggestions, please feel free to contact us by email: epubpub @ outlook.com This is a dead link and went nowhere.

MAJOR RED FLAG – the only link that works is “DONATE”. There you find five different cryptocurrencies to choose from! It’s no surprise what these slimy bastards are really after.

Apparently, there’s no way to remove my copyrighted property from their site. It seems likely that they are only using the cover and part of the blurb and do not possess the actual eBooks. I certainly hope so, anyway!

Like pirates of old, their ship should be boarded, the crew hung, and the vessel burned. I’d be happy to help if they are ever caught.

Wish me luck!

I’ve just entered my first writing contest! Rise of the Draman has been submitted as a children’s mid-grade entry. The contest winners will be announced in December.

There are lots of contests out there, and I have considered entering a few in the past. Three things held me back: entry fees, dubious claims, and lack of confidence. As Best Indie Book Award (BIBA) appears to be legit, I decided to go for it. Even if I don’t win, this entry may give me the courage to try again in the future.

Find out more HERE.

On the other hand, winning the award would not only boost my public profile, it would validate the sacrifices that have brought me this far. I chose Rise of the Draman because I’m finding it difficult to promote, and it needs some love and attention. Coincidentally, this same book has been selected by Amazon as a Prime Reading title through December 1st.

Perhaps the tide is turning and my brand will get a boost soon. You’ll be the first to know!

MY 2021 PUBLISHING ANNIVERSARY!

It seems like more than four years have gone by since the release of my first book. Having re-visited the last three anniversary posts, I discovered that while the tune has changed, the dance remains the same. Progress? Undoubtedly. Frustration? By the bushel. Pleasure? Enough to keep me addicted. Desire to continue? Yes! Before looking ahead, allow me to share some snippets from the last three anniversary posts.

2018

“l wish I had some fellow authors I could talk to when I need to vent or ask advice.” Unfortunately, this wish is yet to be fulfilled. I’ve always had difficulty making friends and am not very good at putting myself out there. I haven’t the foggiest idea how this will ever happen, short of a writer’s conference or something similar, and I lack the funds and confidence to ever attend one!

“Other than sales, I find motivation in two things: I love to write, and readers enjoy my work.” Thankfully, this is still true! While sales are encouraging and provide the resources to continue publishing, I continue writing because I have stories to tell, and people want to read them. It’s encouraging to note that my skills improve with each new book, confirmed by increased sales and reader feedback.

2019

“I intend to focus on shorter works rather than novels and will probably set aside romances for more sci-fi and fantasy.” The grand experiment of shorter works kept me going during a financially lean year. I posted a series of five stories on my blog in serial fashion, which took most of the year, and finally published them as Rise of the Draman in 2020. While the book garnered wonderful reviews, it’s a tough one to market. Sadly, I can’t afford to write only what I want (yet) if it doesn’t bring in enough income to pay for itself. So, for now, I remain busy with romance and plan on other genres in the future.

Incidentally, readers have been asking when I will write more Sci-Fi. Truthfully, I don’t know. It’s not for lack of interest, and I have some creative and exciting ideas to explore. Aside from no time, one issue is that many sci-fi readers are difficult to please, insisting that only hard science fiction is TRUE science fiction and anything else is garbage. I vigorously disagree, but those same readers have no qualms about bashing authors with scathing reviews if they happen to pick up a story that doesn’t meet their expectations. While I have no desire to paint a target on my back, I refuse to let them win.

2020

“Despite personal setbacks, financial concerns, and the pandemic, the last twelve months have been fruitful ones.” Oddly, the pandemic helped me focus and brought new readers who were locked in at home with nothing to do! I enjoyed seeing increased output and a significant upswing in sales, giving me a much-needed boost during trying times.

“Last year’s goals never materialized for various reasons.” I’m afraid this trend continues, as only one and a half of my five goals were reached! I did manage (sort of) to set up one of my titles for print-on-demand. I started the process last December, and it’s still ongoing due to the pandemic’s impact on the printing industry. My other books will have to wait until the world returns to some kind of normal.

The one goal I achieved—to focus on writing new material—resulted in publishing two books last year and writing a significant portion of another. In June of this year, I released my tenth novel!

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Moving Forward

Currently, I am working on a new romance series based on major holidays featuring bear shifters and their human mates. Meanwhile, if time allows and my creative juices provide good plot ideas, I intend to write one or two more Gladstone Shifters stories. My hope is to move on to other projects in the next couple of years.

At present, I have one simple goal – WRITE. Write to the exclusion of almost everything else and publish as many books per year as possible. Each new release creates a sixty-day frenzy of excitement and sales before dropping off. If I can increase from two book releases per year to three or four, it gives my brand that much more exposure and boosts income. Meanwhile, I learn more about the craft and incrementally improve my skills. Everybody wins this way, and I don’t stress out over all the things I’m supposed to be doing.

Even with this stripped-down focus, it’s very difficult to address some of the goals on my wish-list, which include wider distribution beyond Amazon, a newsletter, an updated website, membership in writer’s groups, print-on-demand for my backlist, and the introduction of audiobooks. Unfortunately, all of those things require either time, money, or skills I don’t possess—so they have to wait while I focus on what I can do.

As I said back in 2019, “Perhaps I’ll get a lucky break and win an award or be offered a movie deal.” While that would be wonderful, I’m not counting on it! I believe realistic goals and persistence will eventually get me where I want to be, and I’m looking forward to another great year!

Welcome 2021!

It’s not often I crave to see the backside of a calendar year, but between Covid-19, political hijinks, and personal issues, 2020 was something of a dumpster fire. Good thing the pandemic kept me in the house, or I might have been tempted to run into the street screaming. Oh, be honest – many of you felt that way too! The year wasn’t a total loss, so allow me to share some of the good stuff.

Health. I was very fortunate to have remained healthy throughout the year, along with my sons, extended family, and close friends. (Good thing, too, as I am still without health insurance.)

Finances. The mask requirement in my state cost me my job in early July (long story), but I found a temporary position that met my financial needs until recently. My new job starts tomorrow!

Writing. I released two books in 2020, and my royalties more than doubled for the last nine months of the year. My current MS is roughly 75% complete with a tentative February publication date.

Looking ahead, I still have many of the same goals I set last year and never achieved. There’s only so much I can do while still working full time, so I have to be realistic about what can be accomplished without giving myself a guilt trip. Some of the snooty know-it-alls out there would say I am “not serious about the craft” or that I need to make more sacrifices. I don’t accept that kind of shaming, as every writer labors under different personal circumstances and limitations.

Instead, I choose to use my limited time to focus on writing and publishing new material, with a goal of four books per year. No classes, social media, daily blog posts, or other things that steal precious time. I will, of course, incorporate anything new I happen to learn along the way—something I have done from the beginning.

Eventually, when my circumstances change, I hope to be well-positioned with a generous selection of back titles. Once I’m able to devote more time to writing, those books will help drive sales and get me where I want to be in retirement.

Like you, I have no idea what 2021 will bring. I hope we get the pandemic under control and return to some semblance of normalcy. Regardless, I am blessed to have my writing as a creative outlet, to keep me busy and productive, to bring in a bit of cash, and to provide stories for others to enjoy.

Wishing you and yours a blessed and fruitful year!

Writing Reviews

It’s an established fact that indie authors need book reviews, yet statistically only about two out every thousand (0.2%) readers take the time to write one. If you want to encourage your favorite author and help potential readers make a decision, spend a few moments sharing your thoughts after reaching “The End”.

NOTE—some find it beneficial to wait a day or two, allowing their thoughts to settle before submitting a review. Jotting down notes as you read may also help you remember all the things you wanted to say.

DON’T:

  • attempt to re-tell or summarize the story.
  • include spoilers unless you warn the reader first.
  • be unnecessarily harsh or destructive (if it’s really that bad, write directly to the author with your concerns instead).

DO:

  • ensure it is well-written and free of spelling and grammatical errors (or you risk not being taken seriously).
  • review the book that you have just read, not the one that you wish the author had written.
  • make sure your criticisms are justified and are offset with praise about what you liked.

WHAT TO SAY/QUESTIONS TO ANSWER

The review doesn’t have to be very long; anywhere from few sentences to a paragraph will do.

  • Focus on what most appealed to you about the book and/or about some glaring faults in it that hampered your enjoyment. Be sure to say WHY it mattered to you, as authors are keen to hear your reasons and doing so personalizes the review for the reader.
  • Be specific. Was it the story, the writing style, the characters, the drama, the plot and how it was contrived, the pace, the humor, the climax? Share things that spoke to you personally.
  • Did the book cover the content as described? Did you get your money’s worth? What could the author have done better? How does it compare to other books in the genre? Feel free to cite other books you’d compare this one to.

Keep in mind that a good review is not a diatribe against the author or an opportunity to present yourself as an all-knowing book critic! Share your thoughts as though you’re having a pleasant conversation with a friend. Be honest, be fair, and be kind—the author expended an enormous amount of time, commitment, and creativity to produce the book for you and others to enjoy.

My Publishing Anniversary – Three Years and Counting

It’s time to celebrate!

Somehow, another year has come and gone and I’m still doing what I love. Despite personal setbacks, financial concerns, and the pandemic, the last twelve months have been fruitful ones.

Three books published, for a total of nine

Added a new genre (fantasy)

More interaction with readers

New author biography

Improved marketing and sales

Added “the writing of” and reading samples to each book page on my website

Records reveal that in the last three years my books have sold over 52,000 copies in thirteen countries (96% FREE), along with over 917,000 kindle pages read, generating 59% of my income. Though the numbers look great, I’m not making much money, and all of it goes right back into publishing and promoting. I’m fine with that for now, as the goal is to build my brand and a broad reader base (hence all the FREE books). It feels as though I’m turning a corner here as my backlist grows, and I’m excited to see what it means for me professionally.

Last year’s goals never materialized for various reasons. My new ones, I hope, have a better chance of being accomplished.

Focus on writing new material

Three to four new releases

Set up my books for print on demand and broaden distribution

Make some author-to-author connections

Join at least one writing group or professional association

With each new book, I incorporate what I’m learning about the craft, marketing, and a thousand other things. My long-term goal is continued growth, better writing, and a broader reader base. I’ve seen some encouraging progress lately and anticipate another great year!      

New Release! ABUNDANT MOON

Fans have been waiting a long time for this one, and the book is now live on Amazon! It’s been a strange journey for this third installment of the series. In fact, book three was supposed to be something entirely different. I’m pleased as punch with the story and early feedback tells me I have a winner! Take a look at the book blurb and ARC/Beta reader comments.

Get your copy HERE.

Gladstone is preparing for an invasion – of pups! With five little ones on the way, Ben and Evan have their hands full with first-time parents, a daring winter rescue, and disturbing information from Hezekiah’s journals. If that weren’t enough, a visitor arrives with a troubled past and a bond gone awry. Their only hope lies with a risky True Elder intervention that’s never been tried and could end in tragedy.

Join your furry friends for all the fun, drama, and romance you’ve come to expect in this celebration of love and family. Nobody does life like your favorite wolf pack, in book three of the Gladstone Shifters – ABUNDANT MOON! Notice: contains steamy M/M content.

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“Gladstone deserved some happiness after being under attack for so long, and the book flowed nicely as a third installment. The story has enough drama, fun, and romance to satisfy everyone. Readers are going to love it!”

“I’m loving Abundant Moon. You’ve made me laugh and cry – one time in the same chapter! You have a gift, my friend.”

“I am absolutely in love with the characters, story line, and the culture/society you have created. The characters have great depth and many dimensions. Relationships are well-defined and clear. Dialog seems natural and appropriate. The threads to the first two books have continued and are logical. Alex, this is your best book yet!”

July 4 Memories

Not the real Ginger of this story, but as close as I could get!

Looking back, July 4th was always a fun family day with an evening cookout, homemade ice cream, watermelon, and fireworks!

Before the sun set, Dad would dole out the snakes, smoke bombs and parachutes, since none of these were any fun in the dark. It kept us busy for a while while he set up the bigger fireworks display. They were illegal where we lived, so he would drive to a neighboring state to buy them. His job was to light them while we kept an eye out for the cops! Bottle rockets, roman candles, fountains, pinwheels, firecrackers – he always bought a variety of cool stuff for our private show.

After the main event, he handed out the sparklers and we enjoyed trying to write our names in the air with them (you have to move really fast!). I recall some years we also created floating lanterns made out of newspaper and straight pins. We had a lot of fun every year, and I don’t recall anyone ever getting hurt. Except for Ginger….

Ginger was the mutt my Dad adopted as the house dog – as opposed to Sam, the yard dog. About to be put down at the animal shelter, my father came along to rescue her, and after being treated for distemper and spayed, came home to live with us. From the beginning she showed signs of a nervous condition, most obvious during thunder storms and – you guessed it – fireworks displays.

At the first spark of noise she would start shaking and lose control of her bladder. Often, she would creep upstairs (a big no-no) and shiver in the hallway outside our bedrooms until someone noticed her. More than once I stepped in cold puddles of dog pee on my way to bathroom, or spot her glowing eyes in the dark and almost peed my own pants!

Dad’s solution on the 4th of July was to tranquilize the poor dog and lock her in the laundry room for the duration. We couldn’t trust her anywhere else in the house or let her outside. Ginger had other virtues we valued such as running away to raid the neighborhood garbage cans, farts that could clear a room, shedding 365 days a year, eating ONLY buttered pieces of popcorn, and chasing squirrels. She actually caught one once and seemed so surprised by success that it got away!

July 4th always brings back good memories for me, including those of a weird little canine companion who deserves to be remembered.

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So, what have I been doing during my blogging absence? Writing my next book, of course. I removed as many non-essentials as possible in order to get the MS done faster, and am happy to report it’s working! I have only a couple chapters left to write, then edit, send to my beta readers, re-edit, and launch! The book cover is in hand and is beautiful! Check out the Abundant Moon tab above. I expect to release it later this month or early August.

On a more personal level I am working and healthy, as are my kids and extended family. So very much to be thankful for as the country winds up for another blast of the virus. Like everyone else, I am weary of the restrictions and wish we could get through this and out the other side. Meanwhile, my writing keeps me busy and grounded. My hope is that all of you are faring well these days and taking all the necessary precautions. Be safe, my friends!

When Something’s Gotta Give

I’m stepping back from a weekly blog post. I have a self-imposed deadline with my current WIP and need every spare minute to reach it. This hiatus may extend even longer, since I seem to have so little free time to do what I love – write.

Let’s face it – I don’t have much to say of interest and there are tons of other bloggers out there who do. I started it to share my thoughts as a new author, adding other things along the way to make it more relevant to a broader audience. Success, shall we say, has been elusive.

So, for now, new posts will appear when I have the time and something I feel compelled to share. I’m going to focus on two things: writing new material and marketing my already-published books.

I’ll still be around, reading and commenting on the many fine blogs out there and engaging with my readers. Feel free to contact me if you want to say hello, ask a question, or share what’s going on in your world. Another way to follow my progress is to check the “Books in Process” page on my website.

I’m grateful for the engagement of faithful readers and for your understanding regarding this change. You’re the best!

Email: aelliottbooks@gmail.com

Books in Process: https://aelliottbooks.com/books-in-process/

Tripped up – A pantser’s confession

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Yes, I’m one of those.

Despite the fact that I tend to be very organized, thrive on consistency, and pride myself on never being late, it’s not the way I write. Usually, things move along swimmingly with only minor hiccups and the pantser’s life serves me well. Once in a while I end up being tripped by those pants and have to scramble to fix the mess. One could say I’ve been hoist with my own petard.

As you’ve no doubt surmised, I’m busy unwrapping my ankles so I can get to where I really need to be. After releasing my latest book three weeks ago, it was time to begin the next project – book three of my Gladstone Shifters series. Before I could begin writing something new, I needed to go back and re-read the first two books. I’ve been away from the series for more than a year, so a refresher was essential. No big deal, right?

This is where a plotter or planner has the advantage. Why? Because they would already have the series “bible” close at hand with all the needed information: names, dates, ages, physical descriptions of characters, timeline, etc. It was something I should already have done, but thought a cluttered file folder and my memory were good enough. Who has time for all that when there are more books demanding to be written?

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So I began to read, taking copious notes of all the information I might need for book three and typing them up properly for future reference. It turns out this wasn’t the only problem. It quickly became apparent the manuscripts needed yet MORE editing and minor changes. Things which slipped by unnoticed before were now glaringly obvious and must be fixed. Cringe worthy, embarrassing, unacceptable! There’s no way I could release (or begin writing) a new book without cleaning up the first two.

So, my simple task of re-reading morphed into constructing the series handbook I’d neglected, along with a new round of editing and corrections. I should have seen it coming. Since when does one of my easy-peasy tasks NOT become a time consuming black hole? Jettison the goals! Forget the “done by” dates on the calendar! Lower the sails and deploy the anchor! You get the idea – I’ve fallen behind, mired in a to-do list of my own making.

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For me, there was no choice at all. Once I recognized what needed to be done, I had to go back and fix things before starting new material. I know how my linear brain works by now, so trust me, pulling up my pants was the only option if I wanted to keep walking! Not to worry – I have made progress. It’s just going much slower than I’d like.

At this point the plan is to write a shorter in-between novella to pacify my demanding readers. (It’s not their fault, as I’m a year overdue releasing book three). After that, I’ll get to work on Forbidden Moon. I’m not going to promise anything though – after all, I am a pantser!

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