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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Strong Female Characters

One bit of encouragement I didn't expect involving my book was that I'd written a strong female character.

Yes, my main character is female, but she doesn't hit things. She's soft and gentle. She falls in love and while she's not hopelessly lost without her man, when he doesn't respond with affection to her advances, she's hurt and even cries for a few pages. Sometimes she is very much in need of help. Sometimes she is very vulnerable. Sometimes she lets the boys save her.

I figured most feminist would laugh her out of the room because she's not Xena or Lara Croft or whatever warrior woman you  want to hold up as an example of a woman who doesn't need a man and can take care of herself.

However, I've had at least three writers compliment me on my strong female character. One even called her an "awesome role model".

After I let this sink in, I realized that  I'd been allowing other people to dictate my idea of what made up a strong female character and since I didn't want to write Shannon that way, I just allowed myself to dismiss her as "not strong".

But why can't strong be warm not cold?
Why can't strong be gentle?
Why can't strong be smart but not cynical, able to fall in love, able to ask for help?

There isn't a reason it can't be.

So the point of this post?

I'm embracing Shannon from my book as a Strong Female Character, no matter what definition someone else might place upon the title. She's my version of strength and I think she's just fine.

If you are interested in Shannon, you can purchase Dragon's Curse through the link below:
Dragon's Curse (The Dragon and the Scholar) (Volume 1)

Do you have a favorite "strong female character" who may not fit the role in a traditional manner?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Psych is Ending!

I first found Psych when I was pregnant with Coryn and Matt was in Iraq. It was on after Monk and I stayed up one night to watch it afterwards.

My first episode was "Dislodged." There is a moment in it when Shawn goes into a "psychic vision" and shouts out, "From the Halls of MONTEZUMA!" Missing my Marine, I found that absolutely hilarious at the time. I had to tune in for the next episode, which was the classic "Shawn (and Gus) of the Dead."

The show clicked. In one scene Shawn's dad, Henry, leans in really weirdly close and asks him if he is busy that evening (or something) and Shawn says, "Why? Do you want me to come with you to Awkward Class?"

In the words of Weird Al, "That's when I knew it was true love!"

We still had Netflix at the time when Matt got home and we were in San Diego, I binge watched the first two seasons and then waited expectantly for new episodes on Hulu.

It's my absolute favorite show ever. They do awesome themed episodes. Vampire themed, UFO themed, Soap Opera themed . . . They did a musical episode! It is quotable and clever and funny and doesn't take itself too seriously.

I adore Psych!

And Psych is ending!


How can this go off the air when so much garbage goes on? I don't know. Matt keeps telling me that 8 seasons is a decent run for a show. I'm not satisfied.
This show does musical "Psych outs" where the cast randomly bursts into song!

It reliably makes me laugh. It reliably makes my six-year-old laugh. The humor takes thought. Sometimes I'll find jokes on my third or fourth watching of an old episode that I missed the first three times around because they just put so many layers and references in it.


And tonight is the last episode ever.




How can you so this to me, USA network?

There is no other show like Psych. There is no replacement for Psych. Cancel one of my crime procedural shows, fine, I have four other arguably identical shows to turn to. Sitcoms are virtually interchangeable. Reality shows of whatever variety, don't make me laugh.
But there is only one Psych.
And now it is gone.

Excuse me while I cry a little.  

My daughter takes writing way too seriously

To start off, semi-facetious title. My daughter is six. Her written vocabulary is of the "See Spot run" variety. However, she takes "dictation" very seriously. 
Today it was an email to Grandma.
"Dear Grandma, I hope you have a great time getting ready to come to Florida. I was wondering if you'll go to the beach with me when you come to Florida. What do you want to do when you come to Florida? I am very very happy that you're coming here. Will you have fun? I'm so so proud. Would you like to go to my favorite park in Florida, the Perdido Kids Park? It's going to be lots of fun to see you here. Will you like to see around my house? I'm really really proud about you that you are coming here. Are you packing up to coming for Florida? So that it makes me very proud."
She watched over my shoulder and if I did something like type "I'm" for "I am" she would narrow her eyes at me and say "I said, 'am'." No one is editing HER distinctive voice. Then after she dictated one sentence  "I really really really. . ." she stopped and said, "I said really three times?" 
"Yes, you did," I said.
"Delete one really," she decided. 
She's already editing her work. In the end she wanted to know, "Does this make sense?" I said it did. 
So, yeah, it is pretty serious business. She's also pretty good at fiction as long as it involves princesses playing tag and the like. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Coryn's Cat Art

Amanda’s Books and More

Update: eBook pricing decision

First off, question, ebook, e-book, or eBook? I'm leaning towards eBook. To me is suggests "electronic book" while the other two both look like they should be pronounced "eb-ook" to me. At some point now I will have to name a fantasy character Ebook (pronounced Eb-ook) just for the heck of it.

So, anyway, I did go ahead and raise my eBook price from $1.99 to $2.99 as mentioned in my previous post.

Since then I have made two new sales, which is about average for me. Not an up-swing by any means but definitely not a down-swing. So  I do not think it has adversely affected my sales in spite of the dollar increase.

Also, with the 70% royalty rate that this price increase allowed me to implement, I now make about the same profit from one book that I previously made from selling three.

Pretty sweet, huh?

I'm not sure if I made the right decision, putting my book up for a lower price until it got some reviews, or if this did not make a difference, and I would've eventually gotten those same sales (and reviews) at the $2.99 price. My thought was as an unknown I had to draw people in with a lower price point to convince them I had something to offer.

I've gotten eight reviews and Dragon's Curse carries a 4.6 star ratings average on Amazon. I'm happy with that. I feel readers can take a chance on me (and now I have an ABBA song stuck in my head. GET IT OUT! GET IT OUT!). 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Author Decisions: Raising My eBook Price

When I first got into self-publishing, I didn't want to price my eBooks very high. I was a new author. My books hadn't been reviewed yet. Buying them would be a leap of faith. I started out with my book priced at .99. A little later I raised it to $1.99 so that it qualified for some promotional deal Amazon was doing. I thought it would stay there, but last night, I did some thinking (and some math) and upped both my books to $2.99

I now have 8 reviews on Amazon for each of my books (and more on Goodreads), a couple of blog reviews, and everything has been more positive than I had dared to hope. While my book is still unknown to most, it isn't a complete risk any more. Buyers can read the reviews to help them make an educated choice.

And while KDP (kindle direct publishing) does have a 70% royalty option, your book has to be priced at $2.99 to $9.99. Under $2.99 (or above $9.99, I guess, though that seems weird to me) and the royalty rate is 30%.

At 30% my profits per sale were minimal. 70% was alluring.

I still hesitated though, and I'm still agonizing about whether I'll get fewer overall sales because of this increase.

I might update you in a bit to let you know if I've made any sales at the new price and if I feel sales have gone up, down, or stayed the same.

Dragon's Curse Cosplay? Yes, please!

In the 1996 movie That Thing You Do there is a scene  where the new band has just played a talent show and one guy really gets into it. He sees them later and one of the band members says, "Hey! That's our fan!"

I feel that way some times. Producing my books and marketing them to so few readers, can make me feel invisible in the grand scheme of literature, but every so often someone says something nice or seems excited about my books and then it's like BOOM! I claim them for my fandom. 

Today one of the high points happened. Look at this link. A blogger friend I gifted with a copy of Dragon's Curse actually cosplayed as my main character. Her outfit is completely awesome (I want that bag). 

Anyway, check out the Kitty-Ears Adventure blog for more pics.

You can purchase Dragon's Curse through the link below. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Free Ebook Reminders

So this is a reminder that March 15-16 both my eBooks are free. You can click below and download either or both.

I don't see any profit from these giveaways, but the hope is that some of you will choose to read and review and your reviews will help other ebook purchasers to decide whether or not to buy at a later date.

The Ordinary Knight and The Invisible Princess: A Tale in Two Parts

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Clarice's Book Nook: Interview with H. L. Burke

I have been interviewed!

Clarice at Clarice's Book Nook has interviewed me on the subject of Dragon's Curse and the sequel here.

Please check out her blog and leave some comment love. If you are interested in reading Dragon's Curse you can purchase it through the link below (and remember that the ebook version will be free 3/15-3/16, so this weekend.

Dragon's Curse (The Dragon and the Scholar) (Volume 1)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Free Ebook Days-TWO BOOKS

Free Ebook Days: March 15th and 16th

I'm always forgetful about using my free eBook days. Full disclosure, since free eBooks are free I do not see any profit for these days. The point is purely to try to get people to read and review my book. The more reviews a book has on Amazon the better. People are less likely to purchase a book from a new author if they can't see that other people have read it and liked it. Word of mouth and Amazon reviews are an author's best friends. 

So, in order to drum up more reviews, I'm putting my books (both of them) up for free on the days mentioned above (March 15th and 16th, 2014, there I mentioned them again). Please share this with anyone you think may be interested in either of the books listed below and if you do read my book, please share your honest reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, or whatever other review platform you visit. 

A Young Adult Fantasy by H. L. Burke
In part one: The Tale of the Ordinary Knight

It isn’t that Sir Percy isn’t trying. It is simply difficult for a magical negative to advance himself in a kingdom where you are judged on which fairies attended your christening. In Ithelwaite magical powers can make or break a knight’s career, but without them, Percy finds himself assigned to guard the royal kennels: the guard dogs’ guard.
His luck, however, swiftly changes when he catches the eye of the sheltered Princess Matilda. Raised in fear of a fairy attack, Matty is eager to break out of her doorless tower and rescue herself, even if it means dragging Percy along for the ride.

In part two: The Invisible Princess

Born with a disturbing lack of visibility, Princess Elaina of Thale had a childhood filled with quacks and charlatans, all promising to reverse the curse. When her parents determine that the answer to reversing her invisibility lies in matching her up with a perfect prince, Elaina decides she has finally had enough. She will drive off any suitor who dares to approach her.

Nothing, however, has prepared her for the suspiciously ambitious Prince Randolf or for the charming stablehand, Jeff, who wins her friendship. Before she realizes what is happening, Elaina is swept into an adventure with her father’s crown and her very existence at stake.

A Fantasy Romance by H. L. Burke

On her first assignment out of the Academy,  young healer and scholar, Shannon Macaulay is summoned to the struggling kingdom of Regone to see to the wounds of a young but crippled king. When the unwanted attentions of an aggressive knight and the sudden appearance of a hated dragon turn her world upside down, she decides to take matters into her own hands even if doing so proves dangerous.

Finding herself strangely drawn to the company of the dragon, Gnaw, Shannon must force herself out of her safe world of books and botany to come to the aid of her unexpected ally in a strange kingdom, cursed by a fateful encounter with a dragon and the loss of a beloved prince. Can she learn to put aside her fears, and perhaps sacrifice her deepest desires, to help a friend and restore a family?

Linked at

Clarice's Book Nook: Dragon's Curse Review

Clarice's Book Nook

I was lucky enough to get Clarice from Clarice's Book Nook to review my novel, Dragon's Curse.

You can read her full review here (warning, some small spoilers).

Click below to purchase the book on Amazon.
Dragon's Curse (The Dragon and the Scholar) (Volume 1)

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Crushing Cinders: Dragon's Curse Review

I managed to snag another blog review. This one has some criticism (so you know it is honest), but I'm over all happy with what she had to say.

You can find the review in full at the Crushing Cinders blog here

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Little Steps and Affirmation

To me the only clear advantage traditional publishing has over self-publishing is the affirmation.

I have no personal experience (in all honesty, I barely even tried traditional publishing, never tried to get an agent, sent out relatively few queries and sample chapters, and that years ago), but I can imagine that just getting "accepted" would be a major victory. That you'd dance in the street, tell all your neighbors, someone out there, some agent or publisher or whatever, said YOUR PIECE WAS GOOD ENOUGH!

Self-publishing, while a lot of work, is a more quiet in the response. You launch a book and the best you can hope for are sales and reviews. The sales may come in slowly and the reviews even slower. Maybe you had a lot of people (friends, beta readers, even paid editors if you had the money to invest) look over the manuscript. Maybe you are 90% confident that you made it the best it could be, that it is a wonderful story, and that there is a market for it.

But unless you have the miracle of runaway success there is no way to know for sure if you were ready. That's why every single sale and review means so much to me. It means someone at least thought I did something right (though eventually I am sure I will get the "bad" review, the one where someone didn't like my work AT ALL. . .to date I've scraped by with my lowest goodreads review being 3 stars, which in my book is still a positive.).

But yeah, everything happens at a crawl, and you are never sure whether it is because that's just how self-publishing goes or because you aren't promoting right or because, well, you just didn't write a good enough book.

Part of me is a little bit "I don't care" as a survival method. I told myself that I wasn't doing this for the money or affirmation, just so that someone, somewhere, could read and enjoy my stories, and those moments when that happens, when I do make a sale and do my happy dance, or a new review pops up with blessedly four or five stars on Amazon or Goodreads, or whenever I get any feed back from any one who has any contact with my book, that is awesome.

I'm working really hard to get Dragon's Debt ready and simultaneously trying to write Beggar Magic. I hope to have more books up soon, even if my readership remains low.
I've used this image (which I made. It's awesome) before, but oh well

Reading List: Cozy Reading Spot

Amanda’s Books and More

Willamette Valley Wonder Woman

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Dragon's Curse, Amazon Reviews, Updates

It has been awhile since I updated everyone on my review status. I've gotten five Amazon reviews. Unfortunately, the majority fall under the "I know that person so I feel bad bragging that they like my book" category.

I've given out a decent amount of review copies, but reviewers willing to look at Indie books generally have long waiting lists, so it may be awhile until that pays off. As always, you can check out the book through the link below.

Dragon's Curse (The Dragon and the Scholar) (Volume 1)

Amanda’s Books and More
Wordless Wednesday Hop

Linked at JennyEvolution

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Tiny Little Ad for my Novel

Hey! Look at that! It's tiny little button. I wonder what happens when you click on it?

Well, if you want to know, don't click--just yet anyway--I'll tell you!

If you  click it, your browser will redirect here: http://www.hlburkeauthor.com/h-l-burkes-novels.html

That is my website where you can read about my novels and click links to find them on Amazon and such.

Pretty nifty, huh?

What? You want your own button?

Okay, well, I'm not technical enough to tell you how, but this lady is.


Full disclosure: I have no idea what is on this site besides very clear, easy to follow instructions on how to make a blog button. I found it by googling "how to make a blog sidebar button." For all I know it could be a site devoted to the Serving of Man (a cooking site), but these are very easy to understand and follow blog button making instructions, so I'm passing them onto you.

So, now, you can go click my  button and see where you can buy my lovely books. You can also click the button in my sidebar where I have put it. You can click to your heart's content. Awesome!

If you want to cut out the middle man and just buy one of my books, click below.

The Chicken Chick