Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Cancellations, Loss of Ratings, and Spring Break

Well, I had somewhat of an interesting week and it's only Wednesday!

Let's see, we'll start with Zazzle. Apparently, I cannot use my Albert Einstein quote, as it violates their content policies, so my business card order was cancelled. Ugh! But instead of emailing them to explain that a quote that is properly credited is not in violation of their terms (not to mention that the fact that I'm not making a profit by selling the business cards), I simply removed the quote and reordered. It wasn't worth the effort to make a big stink about it.

THEN Amazon had itself a lovely little glitch in their system on Monday, resulting in a lot of indie books losing their ratings. Not only that, but those with print and ebook versions were unlinked, resulting in riots, angry protesters, and authors jumping off ten story buildings. Ha, just kidding. But do I feel sorry for all the customer service rep's at Amazon that must have fielded at least a million calls these last couple of days. I did manage to speak to a very nice rep at Author Central and he manually linked my books back (thanks Andrew!). I got my ratings back, but it still might take a day or so for my books to be linked.

In book related news, I am almost done with my edits and will be sending it off to my wonderful beta readers hopefully by the end of the week! Yay! The timing couldn't be more perfect, as I realized that next week is SPRING BREAK (one of the perks of teaching at a college)! It'll be nice to have a week off and take a break from writing while my beta's tear my book apart! And it also means, I can take a mini-break and spend two days camping with the hubby and pugs. I'll probably take the rest of the time to clean the house, which has sorely been neglected these last few weeks.

It'll be a far cry from the Spring Break's I grew-up with in Texas, but being able to spend some quality time with the hubby, take a break from writing, and relaxing is just what I need.

For three months out of the year, South Padre plays hosts to partiers from all over the US during Spring Break. It's my native home and I love it, but I can do without the crowds (but I do miss the beach!). 

I hope everyone has a great writing week and Happy Leap Day!! And extra day in February is always welcome, especially if you're on a publishing deadline! 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Updates, Projects, and Einstein

For those that missed my post on Friday, the cover for PARADOX was revealed! It feels like the days and weeks are getting closer and closer 'till publication date. I am already getting emails and comments on Goodreads asking when the release date is. That's a great feeling and I appreciate all the readers that are excited to continue with the Travelers series.

I'm still at the point I was since I last updated on Wednesday. I got another 5k words in and I am now officially in the editing process. I hope to have PARADOX out to my beta readers within the next week or two and my editor has already been given the heads up. Yay! I probably sound like a broken record, but the last stretch is pretty repetitive until the final draft is finished.

So, to change things up a bit, here are some projects I worked on last night:

Business cards! For months I've wanted to get some simple calling cards done. I run into people all the time and I never have anything to offer them once I introduce myself. I am in the business of selling books, so I finally bit the bullet and purchased these on Zazzle.
Isn't is cute? And the back of the card is my favorite part. If you've ever received an email from me, you'll notice I use the same quote as in my signature, "If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales" - Albert Einstein. It only seems fitting that I would use a quote from Einstein. Being a physics teacher, my dad always referred to Einstein as "Tio Beto". I guess you can say that he was not only considered a member of the family, but a favorite uncle at that.
But I didn't stop there! I also created these great rack cards. I realized that every time I shipped a book out for a giveaway, I didn't have anything nice to accompany the book. Personally, I like receiving a little something extra, even if it is something as small as a bookmark. This is the design I cam up with:
I added the tag line from PARALLEL and some quotes from book blog reviews on the first side. For the second side, I included the cover of PARADOX and my contact info. I purposely left room to either sign or write a personal message (using white marker, of course).
The great thing about using Zazzle is their prices. For 100 business cards and 50 rack cards, I paid around $40. Not a huge business expense, considering how nice both products came out. So, don't be surprised if you end up seeing the final product if I ever send you a book!

OH, and last but not least, I FINALLY got myself an author page on Facebook. After a lot of internal kicking and screaming, I decided it was time to create yet another presence on a social media outlet. If you have the time, I'd love a LIKE!

Have a great week!

Friday, February 24, 2012

PARADOX Cover Reveal!

I was going to wait until March 1st to unveil the cover design for PARADOX, but I can't help it! I just got the files back from Robin Ludwig Designs yesterday and couldn't wait to post the cover! I'm really bad about keeping things a secret, so, without further ado:

Yes, it looks very similar to PARALLEL, but I wanted to keep with the theme of the series. But if you look closely, you notice that while the PARALLEL cover features a notebook, this cover is based on a passport design. Etta does a bit of 'traveling' in book two, so I wanted to make sure that's reflected in the cover. 

Can you guess some of the places Etta travels to? 

And with a new cover, comes the blurb. This is always the hardest things about writing...coming up with the dreaded blurb. I had planned on taking my time on this, but once I started working with Robin on the cover design, I realized I needed to come up with a blurb, quick! 

Everything is predestined.

Etta is slowly readjusting to life in her new reality, while still recovering from the shock over the news regarding her relationship with Cooper.

While learning more about her role as leader of the Council, she soon discovers that her future is linked to the five extraordinary individuals she must recruit in order to ensure her safety.

Nothing is at it seems, as rivals become allies and friends become the enemy. 

Oh, and check me out over at LovelyLit. My friend Martha Bourke mentions me in her author interview! And don't forget, LovelyLit is doing a HUGE giveaway that ends 3/1 at midnight. Details here!

Have a great weekend y'all!! 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

ROW80 Check-In

I seriously thought yesterday was Wednesday, and started to post my weekly check-in. I realized that I didn't have much to report, and that's because it was actually Tuesday. So now that I'm on the right date, I can get down to business.

Since Sunday, I've manage to get in another 1,400 words in for PARADOX. I spend a lot of that time doing some editing as I wrote, thus the low word count. But then again, I tend to have a better writing stride during the end of the week.

Yesterday, I contacted my cover artist, the fab Robin Ludwig, and she is now working on the cover for PARADOX. Yay! I already feel as if I'm at the finish line...just need a few more laps to go before book 2 is out!

Another reason I slacked on writing was due to my friend Martha Bourke. I began reading her YA paranormal debut, Jaguar Sun, yesterday and I spent almost the entire day reading it. There's definitely a new sheriff in town and her name is Martha. If you haven't checked out her book, stop reading and pick it up now!

I'm trying to get Martha involved in Round 2 of ROW80, so make sure to show her some blog love to show her how awesome we are at supporting writers!

I hope everyone has a great writing week and I look forward to seeing all your progress! And for you Catholics out there, Happy (does one say 'Happy'?) Ash Wednesday and don't forget it's fish on Friday's from now until Easter! (Once again, I'm a bit disappointed by the new McDonald's fish sandwich commercials this year. I miss the singing fish.)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Book Blog love!

Thought I'd share two new reviews that were posted this week. I can't tell you how motivating that is when finishing up the second book in the series! Yay!

Forbidden Passion Reviews
"I think this first time author did a great job of creating a refreshing YA novel that is not like anything that I have read before. I want to give snaps to Claudia Lefeve for stepping out of the ordinary YA genre."

Walking on Bookshelves
"I'd like to start off by saying that I've never been particularly fond of books about time travel. The Time Traveler's Wife left a bad taste in my mouth. This book however, has made a huge difference in my opinion."

If you have a chance, check out these great book bloggers. Jeannette over at Walking on Bookshelves will be part of a giveaway hop on Friday (Feb. 24). And if you are an author, you might want to stop by, follow, and say "hi". Remember, book bloggers our our friends!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Tentative Publication Date for Paradox!

I got off track last week and instead of posting my progress on Wednesday, I went a little off topic. But, I actually have some substantial updates today. I tallied up my word count since last Sunday and I've managed to get in another 6k words in, which puts me very near the finish line! I have about 10k to go (I'm estimating on what scenes I have left to finish). I should be able to finish up in the next week or two and I'm done! I normally edit as I write, so I will do another quick round of editing before I start sending it off to my beta readers.

So, readers can expect to see PARADOX published sometime around mid-March! Yay! I will be able to complete my goal of finishing up book two by the end of Round 1. A big thank you goes out to all those that have asked when book two is going to be out! It definitely gets me motivated to finish up the second book in the series. I was really shooting for a February date, but I wanted to make sure I got the story right. I didn't want to put in a half-as* effort.

In other news, I have been introduced and have been suckered into checking out Pinterest. If you want to follow me and check out my boards, you can find me here. Keep in mind, I only joined up yesterday, so my boards aren't complete yet.

I hope everyone had a great Valentine's Day this past week and to those lucky ones, I hope you enjoy your day off tomorrow in honor of President's Day! I unfortunately have to teach tomorrow, so no holiday break for me!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Contest Winners!

A BIG thank you goes out to all who entered my 1,000 Books Sold Giveaway and for all of you who have enjoyed PARALLEL. It means to much to have so many fabulous readers!

And now for the winners:

1st Prize: Kindle/Nook Touch (winner's choice) and a signed copy of PARALLEL:


2nd Prize: A signed copy of PARALLEL:


Congratulations to you both, and I will sending an email out to you for your mailing information. 

And for those that didn't win, I have an extra special surprise....for all those that entered, I will be giving away a FREE eBook copy of PARADOX, the second book in the series!! I anticipate publication to be early-mid March, so keep an eye out!  

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Pricing Debate

I have thought long and hard for several weeks on this issue: pricing. Do I keep PARALLEL at $0.99 or bump it up. Now, there seems to be a trend when it comes to indie books...price the first in a series at $0.99 and all subsequent books $2.99. For the most part, this method seems to work. The low price for the first book entices readers to read your book. To take a chance on you, so to speak. If they like what they read, they'll certainly be willing to pay more for the second.

It's a great marketing strategy, and again, one that have proven successful, but it is indicative of the book's worth? Not only that, but being a writer is a business. No, this is not to say that we, as writers, are in it for the money. Perhaps some are, but for the most part, indie writers publish books because we love to write and want our stories to be read. But there comes a point where we lose sight of the fact that we are still working.

In my previous job, I was paid roughly $32 an hour. Before taxes, that's about $256 a day, for 8 hours of work. As a published author, I don't make $256 in a month. I roughly make anywhere between $60 - $125. Now, I still have a full-time job, so I am not relying on my book income to support me, but the point is, as a writer, I probably put in around 30-35 hours a week. If I were to apply my hourly rate of $32, I should be earning about $1,000 a week.

Again, this isn't about greed or making money. It's about an author's self-worth.

Now, let's look at the numbers from a business standpoint. Indie authors do not have the financial support of a large (or small) publishing house. Sure, publishing on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, etc. are free. But what about the other aspects of publishing? What about editing! This is a part of publishing that is non-negotiable. We have to hire editors! I know there are many indie authors that use critique groups and trusted friends to edit and that's a personal decision...I'm grateful to have a fabulous editors that is not overly expensive. (FYI: Readers appreciate good grammar.)

Most authors contract out when it comes to cover art. Even if you create your own covers, you still have to purchase cover stock images. And what about formatting? Yes, you can learn how to format for eBooks for free, but personally, I like to contract that out too. My books look nicer and I do not have to worry about possible formatting issues. (FYI: Readers appreciate pretty covers and don't like badly formatted books!)

Then there's promotion. Again, this can all be done for free, but there are many indie authors that provide giveaways. And there's a cost for that.

So while the big chunk of publishing a book boils down to a small investment, you still have to take into consideration the time that is invested in writing a book. And as we all know, time is valuable.

So what, as indie authors, do we do? We can bump our prices and take a chance that our books will be purchased or keep our prices low to encourage new readers. Then again, it takes less books sold to generate more royalties, should we price our books higher. I'm not suggesting raising prices to reflect legacy publishing standards, but is $3-$4 too much? Are we being held to a different standard? That our stories aren't worthy enough, all for the sake of marketing?

There are many other arguments to this issue, one that I have studied and reviewed with great interest. But the bottom line is, what am I willing to spend on a book? Personally, I don't mind paying $2.99 when it comes to indie books. Even if the author is new to me. If it's not great, well, I can think of a lot of traditionally published books that I bought for $7.99 or more that weren't all that either.

What determines your pricing?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Kindle/Nook Giveaway Ends Wed!

Don't forget, the last day to enter the Kindle/Nook Giveaway is Wednesday folks! That's a little less than three days to get that email out to me for a chance to win either a Kindle Touch or Nook Touch. So if it's time to upgrade that eReader, or you would like to try out a different device, now's your chance! 

Giveaway Rules: 

For those that have read Parallelplease email me (claudia.lefeve [at] the first sentence in Chapter 20. If you haven't read the book, you can still pick up an ebook copy ($0.99) for a chance to win!! 

One lucky winner will win a Kindle or Nook Touch (winner's choice) and a signed paperback copy of Parallel. One second prize winner will receive a signed paperback copy of Parallel. Contest runs from 1/16/2012 - 2/15/2012. Winners will be chosen at random through and will be announced Friday, February 17, 2012. (Sorry, international readers, US only)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

ROW80 Update

I hope everyone had a great ROW80 week! I have finally gotten to the point in PARADOX where I feel pretty good about my draft and can expect to start editing next week before I send it off to my beta's and editor! Yay! I dragged a bit on word count during the week, but I rallied and got in a whopping 4k yesterday (5k total for the week).

As I finish up the final draft, I realized I am psyched about PARADOX and I hope that my readers will enjoy the second book in the series. I already have an outline (in my head of course, I'm a pantser) for book 3! For those that are ready for PARADOX to be released, I promise it will be soon!

In other news, we had a touch of snow yesterday and I'm a bit disappointed we haven't had a really good snow in Northern Virginia yet. I am looking forward to a good snow day so I can snuggle up on the couch and finish up book 2 with my pugs snuggled up against me and a steaming cup of coffee.

That's all I got today folks. Have to get up off my bum and clean up the house. I am entertaining some folks later this afternoon and I'm really looking forward to that. Yummy brunch, complete with mimosas!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Save Fringe!

Okay, so I figured I'd do something different today on my blog and share one of my favorite shows this season. I'm a self-professed TV junkie, so why not highlight not only my favorite, but why it's important to watch!

If you're not watching FRINGE, you need to clear all your plans for tonight at watch. I'll admit, I didn't get into it until last season, but once I did, I no longer make plans on Friday nights!

One of the reasons I love the show so much is due in part to Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble). He's quirky, mad, and brilliant. Walternate (the alternate reality version of Walter) is not so cuddly, but I think we can all agree Walter steals the scene.

If you were a fan of Dawson's Creek, well, it's Pacey all grown up! Walter's son, Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) is another reason to watch. How can you argue with sexy intelligence?

This season also brought us a new timeline with Agent Lincoln Lee (Seth Gable). He is much more reserved and well, geekier than his alternate counterpart (Captain Lincoln Lee) in the alternate reality. How hot is he with his Clark Kent glasses and gun?

Okay, this is shaping up to be more of a post about the 'Men of Fringe' than a reason why the show is so great. But trust me, this is one of J.J. Abrams finest shows to date. It has a mix of everything that is required for prime television viewing. Tiffany A White's Ooo Factor has a great review on the show if you want a quick run through of the show's premise.

And unfortunately, it is in danger of cancellation...not because of it's poor ratings, but because it's an expensive show and they're losing money. Already deemed a cult hit among views, the rumor mill already has us anticipating the worse: no Season 5 = no resolution.

So how can we, the fans help? Watch the show LIVE! Yes, I know, it airs Friday nights, but DVR'ing the show isn't as powerful, so here's an easy solution, if absolutely have to go out, keep the TV on while you DVR. Watching something else? Keep it on live on another TV set during the show.

Another way to help is by participating in the twitter campaign. Each Friday there is different hashtag (#) to get Fringe trending. Tonight's is #breakingout. Hashtags are to be used starting 8pm EST and again 8pm PST (to increase the chance of trending).

If you want more info on how to keep our beloved show, go over to More Than One of Everything, it does a better job of explaining this than I ever could.

For more about the show, check out the Wiki's FringePedia page.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Happy Update Hump Day!

I don't have much of an update today, but in case you missed it yesterday, you can check out my guest post over at LovelyLit this week, as part of Indie Author Month.

And don't forget, there is only one week left in my Kindle/Nook Giveaway!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Weekend Update

Yes, I missed my update on Wednesday, but as many of you fellow ROW80'ers know, life gets in the way! I don't have much of an update today, but I did manage another 1,500 words since last Sunday. It's nowhere near my word count last week, but I hope to make up for that today and this coming week.

If you noticed, I did however post on Friday, as part of the Spread <3, Not Hate anti-bullying campaign. You can still see my post below, as well as the many other authors and book bloggers that participated.

On 2/7, I'll have a featured guest post on LovelyLit, celebrating Indie Author Month. Parallel will also be featured as the Book of the Day on 2/28. So, don't forget to stop in, as LovelyLit will be having some great giveaways. I'll be giving away 3 free copies of Parallel!! Here is a short list of some the indie authors participating in this event, with some great giveaways of their own:

Imogen Rose
Brenda Pandos
Martha Bourke
Michelle Muto
Angeline Kace
Keary Taylor
Michele Madow
Kira Saito

I hope everyone has a great ROW80 week!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Spread Love, Not Hate - A Media Retrospective

I hope everyone takes a moment to read my post today, as I attempt to do my part to speak out against bullying, as part of Spread <3, Not Hate, an anti-bullying campaign, spearheaded by authors K.M. Parr and K.C. Neal.

Why is this topic even important? Because unfortunately, bullying is a topic that often goes unnoticed, despite it's prevalence. Because at some point in our lives, we have all been victim to bullies, whether it's through physical or emotional harassment, either as children or adults.

And with the advent of technology, bullying has evolved right along side it. We are now introduced with the concept of 'cyber bullying'. In many instances, cyber bullying is far more sinister. Whereas before, victims could escape their tormentors within the confines of their home. Now, bullies have invaded cell phones, social media, email, etc. Victims are no longer free from's everywhere.

What prompts individuals to display acts of hostile aggressive behavior? Psychologists feel that these portrayals of aggression is often a socially learned behavior, through parent's or peer groups. Operant conditioning can also explain bullying behavior, in which bully's receive some form of positive reinforcement from their actions.

Sometimes the positive reinforcement is as simple as acceptance. Not all bullies exert aggression behavior because they are bad. Some instigate aggressive behavior for a sense of belonging and acceptance, or rather to compensate for what is lacking in their lives (e.g. self-esteem). Simply put, it makes them feel better about themselves.

Now, remember the cult classic Heathers? Here we had a group of popular girls who embraced their role as tormenters of their school. One character, Martha Dumptruck, felt compelled to commit suicide (unsuccessfully) after being harassed by the Heathers and alienation by the entire student body. Not to mention Veronica Sawyer (Winona Ryder) and Jason Dean (Christian Slater) resorting to a form of bullying of their own, by killing off one of the Heathers and other such bullies in the popular set.

Which brings us to the victims of bullying. Often bullies pursue victims that are passive and are likely not to retaliate when confronted with aggression. However, while there are some victims who resort to suicide to escape the abuse, other victim's resort to violence. Let's revisit operant conditioning. One method of avoiding conflict (i.e. being bullied) is by fighting back, which represents a prime example of negative reinforcement.

Huh? Let's look at one of my all time favorite books/movies: Carrie.

Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) was an outcast. In the beginning of the movie, we see her being tormented and bullied by her classmates (this is the scene where she gets teased and harassed by having tampons thrown at her). Now, let's jump to the final scene final scene where a prank (which can be defined as an indirect physical act of aggression), where Carrie is the target of a bucket of pig's blood poured on her after being crowned queen (another joke). What do you think happen's next? She kills the entire student body with her telekinetic power!

Does this sound familiar? It should. Many school shootings are a byproduct of bullying. One of the hallmarks of school shooters is their feeling of isolation and alienation by their peers. This is not to say that all victims of bullying will resort to violence, but it is something to consider.

In Season 3 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, we find Jonathan (Danny Strong), up in the bell tower of Sunnydale High School, about to commit suicide after feelings of isolation and humiliation have gotten the better of him. Thinking Jonathan is out to kill his fellow classmates, Buffy reveals to him that everyone is in as much pain as he is and have their own problems. He is ultimately suspended and ordered to receive counseling.

So what do we do? As adults and parents, we can make an effort to incorporate early intervention in the home and in schools to prevent bullying. By the same token, efforts can be made to reach out to those victim's to provide the necessary support that is needed.

But teens aren't the only ones that perpetrate or fall victim to bullying. Those that engage in hostile aggressive behavior can continue the behavior into adulthood. We see it occur in the workplace and within social circles. This can affect victims with high levels of stress, reduced self-esteem, and a whole host of issues related to adult bullying.

So again, I ask, what can we do? Take bullying seriously. Often times we tend to look the other way when we see people fall victim to bullies. But together, we can make a difference by taking a stand against bullying by spreading the word, educating our children and peers, and offer our support to those who have fallen victim to bullying.

For more information on bullying, there are many resources available:

Claudia Lefeve, M.A., M.C.J.

Don't forget to stop at all the other wonderful authors, book bloggers, and individuals determined to Spread <3, Not Hate!