August 19, 2015

Cross-Genre Authors - Do You Follow?

Today I'd like to talk about something near and dear to my heart - authors switching genres and hearing whether or not you take the journey with them.

I always thought that if I detoured out of the fantasy/science fiction worlds I loved to live in, then I would do so using a pen name. I also never had a story strong enough to write so it wasn't something that I really had to address.

Until now.

I am currently working on an adult contemporary (sweet) romance. The first book is nearly complete and there are a total of three planned for this particular series. It's no secret that contemporary is popular, and in fact, I pretty much missed that new adult CR bubble. But for good reason - I didn't have a story to tell (more about that later). So now that I've made the leap into a completely separate genre with no fantasy, magic, supernatural creatures, or post-apocalyptic worlds, I wondered if I should use a pen name.

And this is what I ultimately decided:


I did not want to carry on two separate personas, social media accounts, emails, etc. Plus, I may just find a totally different audience that would eventually love to live in a world filled with mermaids, witches, and cambions. So ONE MORE BREATH (Book One of The Georgia Girl Series) will be published under AMBER GARR (at some point) and I will officially become a cross-genre author.

So what do you think? Do you follow authors into other genres? Comment below and be entered to win an ebook of your choice for my #HumpDayGiveaway.
August 12, 2015

Do You Judge a Book by its Cover?

As an author, and especially an indie author, it's difficult to turn your head without loads of people offering advice. This information could be on topics such as marketing, self versus traditionally pubbed, editing, formatting, and so on.

But the one piece of advice that hasn't really changed throughout my four years doing this professionally is that PEOPLE WILL JUDGE YOUR BOOK BY ITS COVER.

I would imagine it's good to have a catching blurb and a lot of reviews, but as people browse through their phones searching for the next book, most likely they will click on the one that captures their eye the best. I'm a reader as much as I am a writer, and I will confess that my attention will go to the cover before I decide if I want to read the blurb or a sample.

It is also important to have a cover that doesn't look like it was just slapped together in an hour. Especially self-published books. They need to compete and they need to stand out. And the beauty of being an indie author is that you CAN change your cover if you don't think it's working for your book.

That's why many of my covers have evolved over the years. For example:


Each time I changed these covers, it was a tough decision but one that I thought had to be made in order to grab attention of potential readers. So what about you? Do you find that you judge a book by it's cover?

Comment below (now through Sunday) and be entered to win in my weekly Hump Day Giveaway!
August 5, 2015

Did We Overreact?

Unless you've been living in a hole the past few weeks, you've probably heard about the unnecessary and senseless killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe. An American dentist has been identified as the killer, paying upwards of $50,000 for a chance to shoot this magnificent species with a bow and arrow. And once they lured it out of the park, tracked it for 40 hours, they cut off his head, his tracker, and his skin.

I posted on several of my social media outlets about how disgusted I am with this human being. And I'm not alone. Many people feel this way. And let's not forget about this piece of work who also boosts on her Facebook page about how she's a "conservationist" because she pays a lot of money to go to Africa and kill rare animals.

Trophy hunting is a way that humans continue to show their ignorance over our role on this planet. Yes, we are the dominant species. But we also have the power to recognize our impact and MAKE CHANGES.  I was never a hunter (don't even kill spiders) fact my sister and I were some of the only students in my high school that didn't take advantage of the built-in three days off we got for the start of deer season each year. All of my friends were hunters. Most people in my family hunt. And every time they kill an animal they EAT IT!

I believe this is where most of the outrage from "trophy hunting" comes from. These people are killing animals for the sake of having a head on the wall or a rug on the floor - not for the sake of feeding their family. I understand that local villagers often get the meat but wouldn't those $50,000 (and up) fees be better served improving water quality, or supporting infrastructure for education, or even SUPPLYING FREE DENTAL WORK (yes, Mr. Dentist - there's a novel idea)?

In 2000, I had a chance to go to Tanzania. It was the most amazing experience of my life and I can still remember it like we were just there. Seeing these animals alive and well and living as they should (well, the best they could) is something that profoundly impacted and solidified my opinions about being a human. As the dominant species, we have a responsibility to be the stewards of the community. We are the ones whose actions impact the world. We are the ones who need to have the foresight to protect, conserve, and make the wise decisions.

I'm not going to discuss how much I despise the idea that killing an endangered/threatened animal is supporting the conservation of said animals (I mean, I could write a book about the stupidity of that statement! Hmm....) but I did want to discuss something else that has come up with this story. Are we overreacting?

I've seen several posts similar to this story where people are outraged that we're outraged about the killing of one lion in Zimbabwe. Is it the "moral flaw in our humanity" that we care so much about a lion but not about the insane number of humans being slaughtered around the globe every day? Do we care only because Cecil had a name? Are we not humanitarians if we're outraged about the killing of a lion?

I, for one, am actually a little offended by these statements (and I really don't offend too easily). Just because I'm angry that trophy hunting is still allowed in today's society doesn't mean that I don't care about human beings and their rights. I teach environmental science and try to educate the next generation about what it means to be HUMAN. What our responsibilities are on this planet. I care about school shootings, water shortages, world hunger. We wouldn't be HUMAN if we didn't.

But I'd like to argue that outrage can be GOOD. It can inspire CHANGE when, in this world of instant social media, an American dentist who did an unnecessary and greedy thing, can spark a world debate in just a few hours. So are Delta, American, and United Airlines overreacting when they banned the transport of trophy hunted remains? No! They are responding to something that should have been stopped a long time ago because people are outraged. Outrage can lead to change. Just look at some of the recent Supreme Court rulings (more on that in another post).

So this is what I want to ask you today - did we overreact? Is the outrage and are the subsequent actions justified/appropriate/necessary? Or should we stop caring so much about one lion and instead focus on the injustices committed to humans by other humans?

Comment below and be entered for a chance to win a signed paperback. #humpdaygiveaway