Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Dear Everyone,

If you've been following this blog, my apologies for being such an infrequent blogger!  I think if I was a mathematician, firewoman, or cupcake maker by day I'd be much more likely to need a writing outlet by night to download my ideas, dreams and schemes.  But I'm a writer so by the end of the day, especially if I'm editing or outlining a new book (Book Three of The Key Trilogy is coming along!), I run out of words.  Seriously, I can't even find them to speak!

Anyway, enough excuses, right?

So I want to catch you up on all things Key Trilogy.  BUT, I don't want to bore you so here it is in a nutshell...

1.  Pandora's Key broke the top 20 on Amazon Kindle in the fiction/contemporary/fantasy category.  And PK was ranked #1060 overall (that's for all Kindle books).  When I self-published PK in December 2011 I was ranked #330,000+ and didn't even rate a category ranking so that's a pretty big leap:-)

2.  Pandora's Key sold almost 2000 ebook copies in September on Kindle alone.

3.  A new and very savvy PR agency called Arts Seen and Heard PR in Portland, OR took me on.  As a result I've done radio and podcast interviews, been in several newspapers and even had a story in The Oregonian!

4.  Thanks to Jax Botteril, who started Skype's SITN (Skype in the Classroom) program, I'm going to be chatting with young adults from all over the world who've read Pandora's Key and loved it:-)  This is by far my favorite thing to do - hear from readers and learn what they liked and what they want more of in each successive book.

5.  Best news last...  I now have a literary agent!  Her name is Fiona Kenshole and she's really wonderful.  Fiona was the Publishing Director of Oxford University Press Children's Books and the former Vice President of Development Acquisitions at Laka Entertainment (they make movies!).  The cherry on top?  Fiona loves Pandora's Key:-)  I can't wait to see what we can accomplish together!!

Sooooo....  good stuff, right?  I feel incredibly happy and grateful for all of it.  That's what happens when you self-publish--the great things that result matter even more because you work ten times as hard for them.

People keep asking me why I want to return to traditional publishing and it's definitely not because self-publishing was a bad experience.  It was hard, lonely at times, but always fulfilling.  Self- publishing allows an author to test their book, create a platform, and develop options.  Most of all, once you've self-published you never take the good stuff for granted:-)

So why try to return to traditional publishing?  I guess the main reason is because I'm a social creature and a team player and I miss working with agents, editors, and marketing teams.  Believe it or not, I like expectations, deadlines, and pressure!  I also really want to see Pandora's Key in more bookstores (especially in other countries), and to give Evangeline the chance to have a bigger following because I think her story matters.

In the end The Key Trilogy is about fulfilling your own destiny, becoming the hero in your own life's story, and hope.  These aren't new concepts, but considering all the atrocities people around the world commit against each other, and a political climate that's embarrassing for all involved, I think that's a message worth sharing.

xo
nan


Monday, June 4, 2012

Yippeeeeee!!

Hi Everyone,

So guess what?!  Yesterday Pandora's Key won first place in the IndieReader Discovery Awards (IRDA) for YA Fiction!!!  The winners were announced live at the Book Expo of America (BEA).  Seriously - PK WON!!

I want to thank the IndieReader panel for all the time they spent reading and reviewing submissions for the IRDA's.  Your work in support of Indie Authors is really important and much appreciated.  I also want to thank all the readers, reviewers, and bloggers who have supported Pandora's Key.  Without you, it would be super hard (if not impossible) to garner attention for independent authors and their work.  You guys are AWESOME!

But here's the thing I most want to say...  When you're an indie author it is incredibly... quiet.  Other than the phone ringing, the dog barking, or conversations with my husband, there's not a lot of interaction.  I write this blog when I'm not working on a book.  And I message my Goodreads and Amazon buddies (without them I'd feel very isolated).  But it's quiet because writing, in general, is a solitary profession.

When you don't have a traditional publishing house behind you, or a marketing team and PR specialists to chat with, it's just you, your ideas, and the tap-tap-tap of the keyboard.  And a lot of times that's AOK with me:-)  But once in a while, especially after a negative review (and just like every author I get those... that's why ice cream comes in so many flavors, right?), I crave some sort of independent validation of my writing.

And that's what awards provide an author.  A panel of professionals with amazing credentials, who don't know me, decided that Pandora's Key is a great book.  I can't possibly express how much that means!  For my fellow indie authors - I get it, and I'm hoping that today you receive an amazing review from a terrific, impressive blogger, or reviewer, or that you win a contest that makes your day:-)

xo
nan

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Hello there:-)

Hi Everyone!

Sorry it has been awhile since my last post.  I want to welcome all the new followers to The Key Trilogy's Fanpage on Facebook.  I've noticed that a lot of you are from the Middle East - how cool is that!  I'd love to hear how you found out about Pandora's Key and the parts in the novel that resonate with you!

On another note, I'm doing a blog tour on Goodreads this month.  I've never done one before, but I've been told by the moderators that Pandora's Key has been the most popular tour to date!  I just hope that the blogger/readers really enjoy PK because, at the end of the day, that's why I wrote the book.

I do have to admit, though, that it's nerve-wracking having so many potential reviews about to hit Goodreads.  I take all the great 4 and 5 star reviews as a HUGE compliment, and I get super BUMMED when someone doesn't enjoy PK.  Thankfully there have only been a handful of negative reviews, and it's impossible to please everyone (that's why they make so many flavors of ice cream), but I feel like I wasted the reader's time and let them down when they don't enjoy my story.  So for anyone who didn't love PK, let me just say that I worked super hard and tried my best and if you let me know what books you love, I'll try to recommend something that fits the bill!!

And finally, I just want to thank everyone who has been supporting, reading, and telling their friends about Pandora's Key!  Kindle sales have been steadily rising, as have Barnes and Noble, and everyone's super kind offers to help promote PK have been enormously appreciated (ie. Hazel:-).

Have a great day!!!!

-nan

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Hi Everyone,

First, a HUGE thanks for both reading Pandora's Key and telling your family and friends about it!  Together we've sold more than 500 ereader versions of PK this month alone.  That's so cool - especially considering that there's no big marketing or PR campaign to help with sales.  Just you guys!!!!

Second, if you haven't checked out Ellen Degeneris' "reading" of Fifty Shades of Gray, sent to me by my Goodreads friend, Maghon, then click this link:  http://www.buzzfeed.com/whitneyjefferson/ellen-degeneres-reads-from-50-shades-of-grey  It's hysterical!

Third, if you weren't sure why I wrote the last blog, here's a simple clarification. I've seen authors get really upset by unkind reviews.  And I've seen readers get really upset when they feel ripped off by their book choice.  I'm just saying that it's all okay - authors and readers can learn from every situation and make better choices next time. Start with the assumption that no one is trying to be a jerk and everything after that will fall into place:-)

Fourth, check out RadioActive Bookworm's: The Young Adult Challenge Group on Goodreads.com.  Her site is devoted to reading and talking about YA books and her first giveaway is Pandora's Key!  I'll be doing a Q&A with readers at the end of May:-)  So if you want to join a super cool group and potentially win a free copy of PK, go to: http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/68481-the-young-adult-challenge    and join!

And finally, I hope everyone had a lovely Sunday.  Henry and I went to the park with Boone (our Vizsla), met some friends and their kids and enjoyed the sunshine.  Lucky girl, lucky dog, fabulous friends, great guy:-)  Yay!

xo
nan

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Hi Everyone!

Just a quick note to my fellow authors...

You can't please everyone, okay?  I mean, you do your best, right?  You spend hours, days, months, years writing a novel with the best of intentions: to write something that entertains, matters on different levels to different people, is exciting, fun, sweet, dramatic, powerful, unique...  you get it, I know.

So here's what I think. Revel in the people who get what you're trying to do.  Learn from the people who don't - if they make sense.  If not, then learn the most important thing... you can't please everyone... so make yourself proud:-)

I've been thrilled with most of the reviews I've gotten for Pandora's Key.  Kirkus loved it, Publishers Weekly did, too.  Better yet, Danna, Taylor, Anna, Kay, Sandra, Glenda, Jack... they loved the story.  They were caught up, surprised, and sometimes ever transported.  And the few readers that weren't?  That wished they hadn't spent 99 cents?  That's why they make chocolate and vanilla.  And sometimes people pick flavors that don't suit them.  I've done it many times!  And it's okay.

Authors, embrace your fans, learn from them just like you learn from the people who didn't enjoy your story.  Take it all personally and try to be better because then, no matter what, you will be:-)

xo
nan

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Book Review

Hi Everyone,

I thought I'd post my review of Fifty Shades of Gray today.  The reason is that this book is getting tons of press and accolades and I totally disagree!  So if any of you plan to read this book - and please, it's not for teens!!! - maybe my review will give you insight before you decide to buy the book...

Review:  Fifty Shades of Gray (I gave it 3 out of 5 stars)


Thank God I'm done with this book!!  Where to begin this review?  Hmmm...  There's so many reviews, so much hype, and so many accolades, that my opinion about this book doesn't matter much... but since I have such a strong opinion, I've decided to share it anyway.

This is not a book I'd recommend to many of people.  Part of this is because of the strong BDSM theme.  Part of this is because, while it's well-written (and it is), I found it too disturbing to recommend.

Let me state, for the record, that I am in no way prudish about subject matters or my choice of reads.  While I didn't read reviews before I began this book (so the subject matter was surprising), I'm okay with how explicitly sexual the story was and had no issues with the racier passages taken out of the context of the age of the protagonist, believability, etc. which I'll explain below.

If you haven't read the book, note that there will be SPOILERS below and skip this review if you plan to read Shades...

Here are my issues with Fifty Shades of Gray (and some of them are personal, but that's the nature of reviews)...

The idea that a (beautiful) college graduate - that would make her about twenty - has never had a single sexual experience in her life (nor wanted one!!), is willing to throw herself into a non-traditional relationship with an older/insanely experienced man with such ease.  I found this unbelievable on a basic level and that colored the entire story for me.  In addition, the choice of a virgin for this story just felt like it was made purely to titillate.

The insanely creepy nature of Gray's overpowering control issues.  The level of his insanity, too me, was so over the top and made him entirely undesirable as a love interest.  The character of Gray lacked subtlety or any redeeming characteristics (beside money and a helicopter).  Without a flawed but empathetic love interest, the story just didn't hold together for me and felt unbelievable on a basic level.  If I don't care whether the girl gets the guy because the guy is so unredeemable, then I'm not hooked into a narrative about a girl getting the guy.

I love stories, even if I don't like or agree with specific characters and their actions.  It's not like I thought Humber Humbert was a great guy who deserved twelve-year-old Dolores (Lolita).  But that was a GREAT book!  I love character development, journeys, impressive arcs.  But for me, in the end, I was left with a feeling of manipulation and a high level of disgust for the story, which I think preys upon a sense of depravity I can't condone, even in a book.

I want to make clear when I say "depravity" that I'm not talking BDSM.  I'm talking about a strange desire to see women degraded that pervades a lot of our society.  Whether it's taking away women's right to choose how to govern their own bodies, watching violent pornography, or going to strip shows (and telling yourself that the gals there are doing what they want to do with their bodies when in fact a huge percentage of them were molested and abused as children).  I've never considered myself a feminist, but in the end I can't support a book that felt like it took us gals down another notch.

*I realize some of you might disagree with the last sentence given the book's ending, but that ending didn't justify the degradation that preceded it and it's clear to me that things aren't over because, after all, there is a Book Two.  And when I say "degradation" I also don't mean the specific "acts," I mean the reasons that Gray, as a character, would commit those acts, and a young girl's willingness to accept that type of treatment.  Many of you might say this is exactly what made the story so interesting, but the author didn't delve into Ana's psyche and why she was willing to go down that road.  The author focused much more on the BDSM - which felt like a cheap trick to hook readers with detailed sex scenes.

To summarize, I felt like this book took something from me instead of giving me the gift that always comes after reading a great story. I gave this book 3 stars because I can't fault the writing. But in the end, the premise was unbelievable and the outcome just made me sad, because there's a second book and I know where it's heading and that a lot of people will flock to read it...

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Doubling sales...

Hi Everyone,

An ENORMOUS THANKS for helping Pandora's Key DOUBLE its Kindle sales this month!!  Thanks so much for passing on your love of Pandora's Key to your friends and family and for reading Evangeline's story.

Here's some exciting news...  Yesterday I worked with fab cover artist Claudia McKinney on the new cover for The Key to Tartarus, Book Two of The Key Trilogy.  Claudia came up with something haunting, ferocious and a tad creepy and I love it and hope you will, too!!  Not sure exactly when The Key to Tartarus is going to be released, but I'm thinking late summer...

And on another note...  I'm starting to conjure Book Three and have an inkling that it's going to be quite the whirlwind of a story;-)  Evangeline has already come a long way toward understanding and maybe even accepting who she is, but in Book Three she's going to be challenged like never before and the stakes will be HUGE.

For all you romance lovers, I don't want to spoil things but the temperature between Raphe and Evangeline will hit an all-time high!!!  And there might be another guy in the mix, too...  After all, the descendant of Pandora is a pretty incredible catch;-)

Have a great day!!

xo
nan

Monday, March 26, 2012

Book Sales

This month, on Kindle alone, Pandora's Key has been purchased by 111 people!  And the month is not over...

I just want to thank all the readers of Pandora's Key for recommending it to new readers, and all the new readers for buying a copy of my book.  You have no idea how happy this makes me!!

Seriously, authors work in a vacuum.  We come up with an idea alone, we write alone, we edit alone, and when we decide to self publish a book we feel very (VERY) alone!!  When people buy Pandora's Key, I feel like out there, in rooms, apartments, houses, trains, planes and cars, I have new friends reading a story I worked really hard on to bring to them.  Really, it makes the angst and hours worthwhile:-)

So thank you for reading Pandora's Key!  I'll be working on The Key to Tartarus' cover in mid-April and can't wait to bring you the second story in The Key Trilogy.

:-)
nan

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Thank you, Pandora's Key, The Key to Tartarus, and a small step...

Hi Everyone,

THANK YOU for being so supportive of the new cover for Pandora's Key.  The feedback has been resoundingly positive and I'm relieved and super happy:-)  I feel like the new cover really reflects the feel of Evangeline's journey and every time I see it, I can't believe it's my book!

I've just finished my first run-through of the edits my FABULOUS editor Emma Dryden did for The Key to Tartarus, Book Two in The Key Trilogy.  WOW!  Emma is amazing and I'm so excited because the idea of writing a mediocre second book is HORRIFYING and I can say now that The Key to Tartarus is (in my opinion) shaping up to be super cool!  There's more adventure--more romance--more at stake (believe it or not!) this time around.  And the best part is that I can't stop thinking about Book Three and how I'm going to do the trilogy and Evangeline justice.

On to, "a small step."  So I entered the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest.  Amazon accepts 5,000 entrants in General Fiction and 5,000 entrants in Young Adult Fiction.  The first cuts were just announced and I made it to the next round.  That means I'm one of a thousand entrants in my category.  Doesn't seem like much, but we authors take validation anywhere we can get it!

Anyway, next Amazon will winnow the entrants down to 250 based on judges reading an excerpt of the book.  On March 20th Amazon posts the quarter-finalists' excerpts online (www.amazon.com/abna).  After that it's up to Publishers Weekly to rate and review each manuscript.

Whew, that's a lot of hurdles to get past!!  Once the top 50 are chosen, Penguin has a judging panel and they'll decide who wins:-)  I'm not expecting to win (though I want to win, I do, I do!) but I'd really like to move farther in the competition.  And the reason I think I can is because of all of YOU who love Pandora's Key and give me a shot on confidence every day.

YOU make me want to keep writing.  YOU make my day when you write a note on my Facebook Fanpage, give me a 5 star review on Amazon and Goodreads, or Skype with me about Pandora's Key and share your thoughts.

THANK YOU!!!

xo
nan

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

NEW COVER

Hi there,

So I did like my first cover for Pandora's Key because it was clean, simple and powerful.  However, it didn't feel quite right for Evangeline's story, which is a mix of old and new with Evangeline caught in the middle of a tug of war between her ancestry and her reality.

Enter Claudia at Phatpuppyart.  She's in INSANELY talented artist and book cover designer and it's her creativity that led to a new cover for Pandora's Key.  Mostly, I tried to stay out of the way because I'm super creative with words, not art:-)

Please check out the new cover for Pandora's Key on Amazon and Goodreads and let me know what you think!!!  *It will be changed on my website, Facebook, and the e-reader and POD versions of my book soon.

For me, the girl on the new cover IS Evangeline and I couldn't be happier with the final product.  It feels magical, mystical, and looks stunning.  Thanks Claudia!!!!!!

xo
nan

Saturday, February 18, 2012

I'm back!

Hi everyone,

So I went on a vacation... except that instead of lounging around I used my time to read 1-2 YA books a day!!!!!

Yep, I'm all caught up on vampires, aliens, werewolves... okay, I'm not caught up but I read about 20 YA books and LOVED most of them!  In particular, Shatter Me and Obsidian were favorites except I didn't like SM's ending but can't fault the author for her blatant attempt at a movie deal (I think she got one:-).

I focused only on YA books because, well, that's my genre right now and because I think that some of the most creative books out there are young adult and a lot of adults know this, too, and are secretly reading YA titles.

I realized a few things after reading all those YA books.

1.  I need a new cover for Pandora's Key.  That's not to say I don't love my cover, but it's just not quite right for PK.  I want readers to see an image of Evangeline that comes from my imagination, and I'd like the magical, supernatural, urban fantasy feel of my book to be better conveyed.

*Please write me on my blog and let me know what you imagine seeing as the cover for Pandora's Key!!

2.  I shouldn't be afraid to delve more deeply into Evangeline's and Raphe's mutual attraction.  In the very first draft of Pandora's Key I REALLY explored this facet of the story, but I think I went too far and scared my editor:-)  So as long as I'm coming up with a new cover, I may add some scenes to the original story.

*Let me know what you think of this idea!  In The Key to Tartarus, Book Two of The Key Trilogy, things definitely get steamier between Evangeline and Raphe...

3.  There are so many amazing readers looking for great stories with twisted plots and deep, flawed, empathetic characters.  This makes me want to work even harder on Book Two so I don't disappoint anyone!

Please write me on my blog or Facebook Fanpage and let me know what you think about Pandora's Key, the cover art question, and what you'd like to see happen in Book Two of The Key Trilogy.  Not only will I write you back, I'll listen to what you have to say and you might see your ideas incorporated into The Key Trilogy:-)

xo
nan

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Shout out to teachers and my Kirkus review!!

Hi Everyone,

Big thanks to all the teachers who are incorporating PANDORA'S KEY into their class curriculum.  I'm really excited to chat with your students on my Facebook Fanpage and to SKYPE with your classes when they finished reading the book!

Kirkus just reviewed PANDORA'S KEY!!  Here's a bit of what they said (YIPPEE):

KIRKUS REVIEW:


Fischer’s fast pacing and numerous plot twists are sure to keep the reader turning the pages…

Fischer’s characters are well fleshed-out and sympathetic, and some have hidden alliances that serve to make Evangeline’s plight seem all the more realistic. With this fresh, intriguing novel, Fischer is clearly laying the groundwork for a trilogy that will successfully continue to bring ancient mythology forward into a modern tale of self discovery.

With vivid imagery, compelling characters and plenty of bursts of action, this first novel weaving mythology and contemporary teenage troubles is thrillingly memorable.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Books and Movies

Do any of you get nervous to see a movie made from your favorite book?

I loved The Hunger Games.  Really, I loved all three books in the trilogy.  I just listened to Taylor Swift's song for The Hunger Games movie and it made me hopeful...  something about the mood it conveyed made me think that maybe, just maybe, the movie will capture the sadness, darkness and bittersweet longing I was left feeling after reading the series.

Of course I'd love to have a movie made from PANDORA'S KEY.  And I'm wondering, for those of you who have read the story, and for those of you who are in the midst of it, can you imagine Evangeline, Olivia, Raphe, Melia, Malledy and Tim in a movie?  What actors would you cast?

Just wondering....

Nan

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

What are you reading? What are you watching?

Hey readers, I'd like to know what books you're reading and what books you love.  Are you a Jay Ascher fan?  Did you have trouble putting down Fat Vampire?

How about TV shows?  What are you watching?  Reality shows, sitcoms, dramas?  Is there a TV show you can't wait to watch?  Are you a Teen Mom fan or a Real Housewives of Beverly Hills watcher (in secret)?

I really want to know, so write me!

nan

Monday, January 2, 2012

Exciting....

I don't know if I can even convey how excited I am that so many teachers and librarians are requesting copies of PANDORA'S KEY!!  Every note I receive is so genuine and positive and it makes me remember all the great people who motivated me to read and turned me into a lifelong reader.

First, my parents.  They'd read a chapter from a Dickens novel after dinner.  Every chapter was a cliffhanger and my sister and I hated it when our dad closed the book.  Eventually we began to climb the bookcase and read ahead.  We were hooked.

Second, Mr. Clement, my sixth grade my teacher.  He held a contest and the two people who read the most books in one month won.  Alexis Cundy and I won and were treated to an Italian dinner by our teacher.  I remember feeling so grown up, sitting in a restaurant that was the equivalent of The Olive Garden.  But it wasn't about the prize.  Once I began reading voraciously, I couldn't stop.  And finding a book that I literally could lose myself in; a book that I didn't want to end; a story that hooked my imagination... it was everything.

Third, all those authors out there who put in the time to create great novels.  Who endured endless rejection, because that's how it goes, before somehow getting their books into print.  Its their willingness to sit in front of a computer for hours on end, and then do it again and again, and again during the editing process, that inspired me.  It's their unique voices and stories that made me want to be an author.

And now I get a chance to pay it forward.  In PANDORA'S KEY, I hope I've created a book that kids won't want to put down.  I hope that the story will create more lifelong readers.  I hope that with each book in The Key Trilogy my readers will love Evangeline more and more and lose themselves in her incredible journey.

Thanks for reading...
nan

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year's Day

2012!!!  New Year!  New opportunities for PANDORA'S KEY, THE KEY TO TARTARUS, and Book III of The Key Trilogy...  I'm starting to conjure that story in the back of my mind:-)

Here's hoping all of you have a healthy, happy, wildly fun and fantastic 2012.  And that you write your own amazing life stories!

Any plans?  Tell me about them!  Any ideas about what you want to see Evangeline do next?  I'm all ears!

As for me, I hope to listen more and talk less; to be a really good friend; to make every adventure with my husband a memorable, amazing experience; to love my dog even when he's vorpal; and to knock the ball out of the park with PANDORA'S KEY and THE KEY TO TARTARUS because all of you DESERVE the best books I can write:-)

Happy, happy New Year.  Make it a great one;-)

nan