Elizabeth Isaacs https://elizabethisaacs.com Bringing Fantasy Into Reality One Story at a Time Sun, 18 Aug 2019 19:37:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.2 https://elizabethisaacs.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/cropped-Untitled-design-37-32x32.png Elizabeth Isaacs https://elizabethisaacs.com 32 32 31619703 Understanding Narrative Distance https://elizabethisaacs.com/2019/08/understanding-narrative-distance/ https://elizabethisaacs.com/2019/08/understanding-narrative-distance/#respond Sun, 18 Aug 2019 16:02:49 +0000 https://elizabethisaacs.com/?p=1606 Read More]]> Recently, I’ve been doing a slew of content editing, which is difficult for me at best. There are two reasons for this. One, as a writer, it’s my natural tendency to interject my voice into anything. I struggle to assess a story, the characters, the pacing, the voicing, the plot and any holes there might be, without changing the style and artist’s voice. Second, I’m a close narrative writer, and I love books that explore the human condition on a deeper level. I want to feel what the character is feeling. I want to see the light glinting off the frosted window. I want to feel the bite of the chilly morn; I want to be that hero, that heroine. And I want to walk away from the book still thinking about it well after the last page is turned.

But sometimes that’s not what a story calls for, and some writers don’t write that way–and that’s okay. This past year, I’ve come to realize it’s difficult for me to edit works that keep their characters at a distance.

If you’re not familiar with narrative distance, Chris Brecheen over at Writing About Writing explains it better than I can. Click here if you want to read the article, it’s a good one, but the basic premise is that stories can be told up close, at a distance, or a great distance. The closer we are to the character, the more critical show-don’t-tell becomes. But at a great distance, writers can use predominantly telling prose to craft a good novel effectively.

Both can yield beautiful tales that are riveting and keep the reader engaged. The trick is knowing your story, your style, and your audience.

I find it extremely difficult to read a first-person narrative that is written at a far distance. The reader is looking through the eyes of just one character. This already narrows the story’s lens and gives us only what our protagonist can see and feel. By choosing to write a novel in this perspective, the author is making a conscious decision to color the story with the protagonist’s psyche. How we view that world is literally filtered through their perception, their past experiences, flaws, and vulnerabilities. To then limit the story again by distancing the reader through prose makes it challenging to care about the protagonist and the situation that character finds themselves in.

It’s difficult, but not impossible.

Take Veronica Ross’s Divergent series, for example. The story is written in a minimalistic first-person present narrative that keeps a distance between the reader and the protagonist. The present tense forces a consistently fast, real-time pace, which gives little opportunity to stop and steep into Tris’s emotions. And yet, even with that distance, the story riveted people worldwide and sold well into the millions.

Third-person very distant narrative seems to be a little easier, but writers must have a good grasp on the characters and their development.

Take Harry Potter. The entire series is written from a third person limited perspective, meaning the majority of the time the reader is in Harry’s head. But Rowling uses a distant narrative. Rarely are we given insight into Harry’s thoughts or emotions, and yet we are completely invested in his journey. Rowling is a master at world-building, and her characters are exceptionally well developed. We can see their authenticity in their dialogue and how they interact with the world around them.  Using a closer narrative would have slowed the pacing, which isn’t a good idea in a plot-driven story. Also, I’d like to point out that this is a children’s book. Writing prose that is up close and personal would steep young readers in Harry’s abandonment, abuse, and fear, which isn’t appropriate for this demographic.

Again, it all comes down to knowing your story, your style, and, most importantly, your audience.

In the wise words of  Chris

“Why does narrative distance matter? The short answer is sympathy. The closer you go, the more sympathy you are asking for from your reader for your character. While that’s usually good if you want it (and want it THEN), it’s not always the right choice. Many great stories can be told through the filter of time or the filter of redemption or with a distance that allows a less sympathetic character to still be compelling in less interesting ways.”

The artistry is knowing what is best for the story you want to craft.

 

 

 

 

 

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Running a Lean Mean Marketing Machine https://elizabethisaacs.com/2019/07/running-a-lean-mean-marketing-machine/ https://elizabethisaacs.com/2019/07/running-a-lean-mean-marketing-machine/#comments Mon, 29 Jul 2019 23:01:21 +0000 https://elizabethisaacs.com/?p=1534 Read More]]> I did a post on Facebook’s latest changes regarding groups and pages last month, but even authors that had prepared for the switch were shell shocked at the results, both in sales and in reader interaction. Algorithms have destroyed any hope of reaching new readers without paying for an ad or running a sponsored post.

My friend LK Griffie has been saying for years that authors are relying too heavily on social media for marketing, and she’s right. Unfortunately, social media is no longer about meeting new people; now it’s all about suppressing the ones you already know.  Not very helpful when trying to reach new readers, is it?

So what’s a writer to do?

If the content is king, interaction is the queen. For them to work in tandem, we must hone in on those that are interested in our work, cut the bloat that’s suppressing social media posts, and create a lean, mean marketing machine.

Know where to post original content

Few people realize that social media sites rely on us for their content.

Ironic, huh?

So many authors I know create excellent Facebook posts that could easily convert into a blog post, and yet they choose to use a format that suppresses their content. Running that post through their website and then sharing the link directs readers back to the author’s home turf. This not only boosts SEO but enables new readers to scroll through past posts or see other books that the author has written.

Having a lower number of authentic followers is better than a ton of “vanity likes.” 

We all know people who have paid for followers to hit that golden 10K threshold. And, honestly, if I had an Etsy store or was an influencer that sold things through a ton of affiliate links I might be tempted to do just that. However,  even “swipe up” features need interaction to be seen. Empty followers hinder growth.

Nowadays, the easiest way to grow followers is by creating content that hopefully goes viral. Either that or pay to play. That’s about it.

Purge your newsletter list

If you’re mentally flipping me off right now, I don’t blame you. But hear me out.

Let’s pretend that five years ago, I participated in a Kindle Fire giveaway with a ton of other authors. A hella-big blogger ran the event, and man was that sucker a success! I got three thousand new subscribers from the campaign, and it really bolstered the ol’ newsletter list.

Great! Or so it would seem.

Now, five years later, 99% of those subscribers never open my email, or worse, they threw my newsletter into spam the first month after they didn’t win the giveaway. And because my email has been marked as spam a few hundred times, Google thinks I’m the princess of Twatwafflery, and no one with a Gmail addy sees anything I send unless they search their junk folder.

To make matters worse, my budget for the newsletter ballooned from ten to one hundred bucks a month, and my open/click-through rate is abysmal.

Frustrating, isn’t it?

Taking the time to go through your “inactive” email subscribers and thinning the list improves your email stats and also frees up marketing dollars that can be spent elsewhere.

Quit Preaching to the Choir

I’ve been very blessed to be surrounded by authors who genuinely believe in the “lift as you climb” philosophy. But sometimes in our attempt to support a fellow writer, we end up shooting each other in the proverbial foot. Following someone but never interacting hurts their organic reach. Signing up for a newsletter but then deleting it destroys their click-through rate. And continually retweeting/reposting/whatever with no explanation as to why you’re sharing can sometimes turn readers off because it seems “spammy.”

I’ve created a little infographic for funsies.  🙂 Enjoy

So what’s next?

I still do giveaways, but instead of asking strangers to “like this page, or follow me here,” I do exclusives as part of the email newsletter or in the Society as a way to say thank you to my readers for allowing me to be a part of their life.

This year I’ve branched out and have started doing videos, which is so far outside my comfort zone it isn’t even funny. But I’ve come to understand that readers enjoy seeing authors in real settings. It might be awkward, but I think they appreciate the effort. 🙂

I’m pairing down on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and I’m spending a little more time on other platforms to expand my reach. And instead of going with the traditional “stick to the places you know,” I’m branching out and trying new avenues–ones that haven’t suppressed anything yet.

Bottom line:

Slow growth is better than no growth.

Stay positive.

Be open to new ideas.

Be kind, always.

Be patient.

And keep writing.

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The Currency of Life https://elizabethisaacs.com/2019/07/the-currency-of-life/ https://elizabethisaacs.com/2019/07/the-currency-of-life/#comments Fri, 12 Jul 2019 11:00:27 +0000 https://elizabethisaacs.com/?p=1496 Read More]]> I was complaining about chasing rabbits (which is a euphemism for doing a little of everything and getting nothing done) to a friend when she suggested thinking in terms of income-producing activities. I wrote about it earlier this month, but the idea is to categorize daily activities into two-columns, one for income-producing activities, and the other for non-income producing activities.

That idea spurred in me a heaping plateful of vitriol, with a side of resentment polished off with a tall glass of nope. What good did come out of it, though, was it made me stop and think.

What if our perception is entirely wrong? What if our life’s success is measured by what we spend instead of what we get in return?

Which led to this profound, weird, epiphany–something I’ve always known yet never applied in regards to success. We’re given only so many seconds in this life, and we gift them to the people and things as we see fit.

This conjured images of seconds turning into stacked silver and gold, sitting in piles deep within the magical recesses of some mystical bank. Every second, a coin disappears and is spent for a thought or a friendship or on a social media site. We have no idea whether our pile is vast or small, and we’re not allowed to count it. The only information given is when we spend our last coin we vanish from existence.

Powerful thought, isn’t it? Every time we invest in something cost us a moment. Every relationship. Every thought. Every creative endeavor.

Money means nothing. Accolades go in a box shored in a loved one’s attic. Houses, cars, boats, are sold or given away.

So much of our lives will scatter like dandelion floss once our time is spent. And yet, here we sit, day after day, focusing on conflict, resentment, frustration, bias, and judgment. Our minds rehash the past, wasting our moments reliving the darkest betrayals. We spend time worrying about bills, politics, people who’ve offended us on social media (of all things) or what others think of us.

All of it costs us the only currency we have in life–precious, limited, finite time.

The good news is there are things we can invest in that will continue to pay out long after we’re gone, like relationships, especially with our children and the younger generations. Encouraging those we interact with every day through kindness, service, positivity, and love. Lifting others as we continue to climb, both in our personal and professional lives. Helping those in need and making a concerted effort to leave the world a better place than we found it.

For me, one of the most significant ways to spend my coins is to create stories that have my personal truths embedded within. Long after my vault is empty and I am nothing more than ash and dust, I hope someone will read what I’ve written and learn to appreciate the things people can give and forgive them for the things they can’t. Maybe they’ll stop and think about their intentions before they act. Maybe they’ll look inward and try and define what equality truly is and demand it for them and those around them. Maybe they’ll come to respect knowledge and truth, even if it’s not what they want to hear. Maybe they’ll embrace passion, vulnerability, or their inner strength to rise against adversity.

Most importantly, I hope they understand they are valued in this world, that they matter.

And that makes investing my life currency in writing worth every second.

 

 

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Defining Equality https://elizabethisaacs.com/2019/07/defining-equality/ https://elizabethisaacs.com/2019/07/defining-equality/#respond Tue, 09 Jul 2019 12:29:01 +0000 https://elizabethisaacs.com/?p=366 Read More]]> I’m compiling answers and insights to add to the Scythian F.A.Q. page, which will be featured on the site in the coming months.  But one question keeps popping up, and so I thought I’d give it a post of its very own. 🙂

Why is the Scythian Credo Strength Through Equality?

In order for me to explain, we need to go back to the beginning.

Several years ago, I went on a historical romance binge-read that was so epic it made me consider creating a steamy bodice-ripper of my own. Within writing the first 20,000 words I set it down.

Why?

At first, I had no clue. I loved the premise of the story, but writing sessions were fraught with frustration, especially when creating interactions between the protagonist and her male lead. I’ve read this genre for too many years to count. I love the romantic feel of that time period, the descriptive prose. I love the language, the traditions, the polite manner in which historical romance characters speak.

Why, then, did writing a historical piece make me want to scream?

It wasn’t until I ran across an article by the incredible Chuck Wendig, entitled “How Strong Female Characters Still End Up Weak and Powerless” that I finally figured it out. If you have time to read it, click on the title. It’s a good one. What struck me most was Wendig’s take on agency.

“Character agency is… a demonstration of the character’s ability to make decisions and affect the story. This character has motivations all her own. She is active more than she is reactive. She pushes on the plot more than the plot pushes on her. Even better, the plot exists as a direct result of the character’s actions.”

I realized I’d been used to writing action-driven fantasy, any romantic relationships found were steeped in a world I created. My historical romance was character-driven in a culture where the protagonist had been shackled by social constraints. In her world, she had little recourse other than to react to a man’s decision instead of grabbing the bull by the proverbial horns and taking charge.

That led me down the rabbit hole of researching cultures, starting with the early Greeks. What I discovered was a constant, disturbing trend of civilizations that valued men way more than women. In Western cultures, beauty centered around dainty features and innocence, which was somehow personified by having a small waist. Women in East Asian cultures didn’t fare much better as a young girl’s value was based on the size of her feet. The painful and often debilitating practice of foot binding started as young as the age of three or four. The smaller the girl’s shoe size, the better the chances a wealthy man would choose her for a wife. And don’t even get me started on the genital mutilation that still takes place in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

I’ll quit rambling, but my point is that for millennia civilizations have kept male-dominated societies where a woman’s value was determined by how desirable the patriarchy deemed her to be.  I began to speculate how generations of oppression had altered women’s natural progression. That then sparked the question:

What if women would have been treated as equals from the beginning? How would our society be different today?

The subject turned into a Gordian knot in my brain, and I was wrestling with my thoughts when an article about a newly discovered Amazonian burial mound came through my Facebook feed.

Which brought me back to old Chuck’s article. I began to wonder if I could create a romance where both male and female characters held equal agency. I didn’t want to develop a matriarchal society where women ruled, nor was the purpose of this story to denigrate the importance of men. I wanted to develop a culture where male characters still had masculine traits, and females were still feminine, but those distinctions would not be the determining factor of their worth within their world.

Thus the Society was born.

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IPA–It’s Not Just for Beer https://elizabethisaacs.com/2019/07/ipa-its-not-just-for-beer/ https://elizabethisaacs.com/2019/07/ipa-its-not-just-for-beer/#comments Fri, 05 Jul 2019 13:40:17 +0000 https://elizabethisaacs.com/?p=1478 Read More]]> This past week, I was discussing with a marketing friend about not having enough time in the day to do everything that needs to be done and still find time to write. She suggested I start thinking in terms of IPA.

Now, living in a state where there are more barrels of bourbon than people, I know a thing or two about alcohol. I’m more of wine or tequila kind girl myself, but my son loves locally crafted IPA beer. (For those that don’t know, IPA stands for India Pale Ale which actually didn’t start in India but England. The term was first used in Australia in 1829, in case there are any history buffs that inadvertently stumbled onto my site.)

At any rate, when I asked her what beer had to do with it, she chuckled.

Apparently, in the entrepreneurial small business/side hustle world, IPA stands for Income Producing Activities. These range from networking to live Facebook videos where you sell your wares to family and friends. And then there’s the follow-up, the cold call, the upsell, the list goes on and on.

“Basically, in life, you spend your time on income producing activities or non-income producing activities,” she said. “Thinking of your day in these terms helps prioritize what needs to be done in order to be successful.”

Now, I will admit, she does have a point. Spending hours on Facebook scrolling through photos of Aunt Ethel’s latest cruise isn’t the best use of time. But boiling life down to a two-columned spreadsheet doesn’t seem ideal either.

I’ve always hated being put in a proverbial box or using labels of any kind. And I refuse to denigrate the meaning of success by measuring it with the number of units sold.

So, for me, that two column thing? Nope. Not doing it. Just ain’t happening.

Most writers lavish time on research, world-building, creating characters and plot points, obsessing, really, over the revision process and the subsequent storyline that could be shaped into another manuscript. To boil this process down to something as simplistic as an “income-producing activity” is almost sacrilege.

I can spend all day waxing poetic about the craft of writing, but it won’t change the fact that authors are now responsible for marketing their work. And that, unfortunately, takes time too.

So I’ve decided on a compromise. My creative writing time is now scheduled well before the sun comes up. No getting online, checking email, or anything social media. If I need to research something, I highlight it for later. The wee, small hours of the morning are spent lavishing in my writing cave, coffee in hand, developing characters and moving the plot along. I don’t consider this an “IPA” part of the day. I consider it necessary–like breathing.

After that is more coffee, maybe breakfast, and then on to emails and social media. This is the first of two “IPA” sessions.

Then as a reward, a chunk of time for life and family. 🙂

The second “IPA” session is next and is designated for blog posts, graphics, pins, posting/scheduling social media stuff, yadda, yadda, yadda.

In the evening, one last writing session, but this time it’s free-choice. I can continue where I left off in the latest manuscript, or I can go back and edit what I wrote that morning. (I’m trying to refrain from this practice because I’ve found it’s harder to get back into first-draft writing the next day).

I’ve been trying to keep this schedule for the past few weeks, and it’s working. I’ve written well over 20,000 words and am finally finishing a manuscript I’ve been working on for well over a year now.

So that’s my take on the lunacy otherwise known as scheduled Income Producing Activities. What about you? Do you chunk up your day to be as productive as possible, or do you go with the flow?

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Now You Can Read the Kailmeyra Series for Free! https://elizabethisaacs.com/2019/07/now-you-can-read-the-kailmeyra-series-for-free/ https://elizabethisaacs.com/2019/07/now-you-can-read-the-kailmeyra-series-for-free/#respond Wed, 03 Jul 2019 13:30:56 +0000 https://elizabethisaacs.com/?p=1470 Readers have been asking for this one for a while, so I’ve finally taken the plunge. For a short time, you can now read the Kailmeyra series for free through Kindle Unlimited. Click on the pics below to check it out!

 

 

 

 

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Edna’s One Perfect Day, Part II https://elizabethisaacs.com/2019/07/ednas-one-perfect-day-part-ii/ https://elizabethisaacs.com/2019/07/ednas-one-perfect-day-part-ii/#respond Tue, 02 Jul 2019 03:25:53 +0000 https://elizabethisaacs.com/?p=1439 Read More]]> If you haven’t read Part One, The Long Road Home, you can find it here.

Part Two–Michael

Edna stared out the old Buick’s window, mindlessly watching the landscape roll by. In the past few hours, her life had spun out of control, but she’d make sure things were in order before she left.

She took a deep breath and sighed. After Arthur had died, her childhood friend and now County Court Judge, Alan, had insisted on revising her will, but she hadn’t looked at it since. Sure, she’d planned to update it, especially after Nora found her way to Michael’s Ridge, but there never seemed to be time.  She’d call him tomorrow and put things right. It was the least Edna could do to help lessen Nora’s pain when it came time to say goodbye. Too bad she couldn’t fix the fact that Nora would be left utterly alone.

The thought of that hurt Edna worse than knowing she was dying.

Gravel crunched beneath the tires as Rose pulled off the main road and onto an old drive. The car slowed to a stop in front of a weathered farmhouse that had seen better days.

“You sure you’re all right?”

Edna took a deep breath, trying to find the energy to smile. “I’m just tired is all.”

“Well, you go on in and get some rest, then. And if you need me, holler.” Rose’s voice drifted across the Buick’s wide bench seat as Edna opened the door and scooted out of the car.

She waved as the engine revved, and Rose pulled away.

Edna doggedly trudged up the stone porch steps, stopping at the rail to rest.  Sunlight slanted through the trees, pouring over the forest’s floor in butter-soft rays. Time never felt finite before. How many sunsets did she have left? How many mornings to make biscuits, or afternoons to take in the sweet smell of hay?

She sighed and opened the front door, setting her purse next to the umbrella stand before stepping back out and walking to the porch swing.

The suspension chains groaned as she settled onto sun-aged pillows that lined the swing’s worn cypress wood. She smiled and looked at the brackets overhead. Years ago, Arthur had reinforced the porch’s overhang. He said all her good home cooking was sure to make him grow as round as he was tall. Years passed, him rocking with her on that swing, and she never once doubted that the bolts would hold, no matter how much weight they gained.

A mourning dove called in the distance, it’s melancholy sound matching the waning light in the evening sky. She had devoted her life to that wonderful man, her Arthur. And she’d never regretted it for one minute. But for the second time that day, her thoughts took her back to her youth, before she’d met her husband—to a day when she’d experienced colors so vibrant, sounds so clear, air so crisp and clean, that Edna thought she’d been taken to another place, perhaps another time.

She’d spent her adult life shying away from that memory, choosing to live in the moment instead. After all, the past was the past—no use fretting over what could have been. And no one knew what the future held, so no use in worryin’ about that either.

But, for tonight, she’d let go and remember the one day her senses had been set free. The day she’d felt laughter and love seep from someplace deep within and settle into the very marrow of her bones. That one precious day she’d truly felt alive.

The day she met Michael.

******

The screen door smacked the threshold with a loud crack. A mousy little woman with her hair pulled back into a stern bun stood with a rolling pin in hand.

“Edna Louis, how many times I gotta tell you to lock the henhouse while you’re in it. I had to chase three hens plum to the barn and back while you were gettin’ those eggs.”

Edna set a basket on the worn farm table. “I know, I know. I’m sorry, Mama.”

“You’ve been as addle-brained as a boxer after a fight. What’s going on with you?” Her voice gentled, but her brow stayed furrowed.

Edna turned to look out the window. “I don’t know. I’m just … restless. Like there’s something out there, waiting for me. And if I don’t pay attention, I’m going to miss it.”

“Well, if you don’t start to pay attention to your chores, your backside won’t be missin’ the smack of my wooden spoon.”

Edna bit back a smile. Her mother had been threatening her with that spoon for years but had yet to use it. “Yes, ma’am.”

“Hmph.” The older woman took the basket from the table and set it next to the stove. “Good thing the hens are happy. I’ll be needin’ most of these to fix those pies for the church picnic on Sunday.”

It was common knowledge around those parts that happy hens laid a lot of eggs. Happy, her foot. More like livid if the peck marks on her forearms were any indication. Edna sidled toward the door, feeling like she’d already sacrificed enough for the church’s social calendar. If she didn’t leave soon, she’d get roped into helping, and the wood-burning oven made the kitchen hotter than blue blazes. And then after rolling pie crusts all day, she’d most likely be put on clean-up duty.

Her mother reached into the cupboard, grabbing a well-loved cookbook from the top shelf.  She started humming as she placed it on the counter and looked at the index.

Edna gently grasped the screen door’s handle and pulled. The door creaked, and she flinched.

“Where you goin’ now, girl?” Her mother never looked up from the cookbook as she thumbed through the pages. “Ah, there it is.”

“I … uh … I was reading in the barn, and I left my book.”

She shuffled to the pantry, already distracted. “Yeah, well, don’t laze the day away.”

“I won’t, mama.” Edna slipped out the back door, jumped off the steps, and hurried across the meadow.

A splash of color flitted in and out of the tree line as painted buntings playfully darted this way and that. Last spring, Mama had teased her that the birds never came out unless Edna was there. She stopped and smiled. They were beautiful little creatures, their bright chirp matching their festive reds, yellows, and vivid greens.

The sun rose from the east, glinting off the dew that hung heavy on meadow’s tall grasses, and she hitched her skirt up to her knees and jogged toward the forest’s edge. There was just something special about this day. It seemed almost—magical. A bunting dipped back and forth, drawing her further into the dense woodland. It finally opened its wings, gliding to the small branch of a budding dogwood tree. Edna’s footsteps slowed as she drew near. The little bird cocked its head one way and then the other, his round black eyes staring at her as if she were a curiosity.

“My, you are a brave little thing, aren’t you?” Edna stepped closer. Her fingers grazed the bird’s soft feathers, and she smiled, amazed that she’d gotten so near.

“They are friendly, aren’t they?”

Edna’s hand flew to her chest as she twirled around, her gaze darting from tree to tree. Early morning light weakly filtered through the dense canopy, leaving dark shadows among the copse and loam.

She squinted, barely making out a broad-shouldered silhouette, and her blood ran cold. She’d wandered too far from the farm for anyone to hear her if she screamed. Not that anyone would be there to help. Her father had gone to town, and her mother would be in the kitchen for the bulk of the day making pies.

She took a small step to the side, and then again, gaining a little distance between them.

“There’s no need to be afraid.”

The deep timbre of his voice washed over her, and she shivered.

He took one step closer. “Not of me, anyway.”

He finally stepped into the light, and she gasped. He was at least a foot taller than she, his frame lean, muscular, and strong. He held a fedora in his large hands, his long, tapered fingers tracing the bill of the hat. His black hair had parted to the side and neatly combed back with the help of pomade. His handsome features were even, masculine. But it was his eyes that took Edna’s breath away.

They were the deepest blue she’d ever seen. They almost seemed textured, like cut stone.

She took a tentative step forward. “Who are you?”

“The name’s Michael.”

“Hello.” Her voice grew husky as she stuck out her hand.

His large palm touched hers as his fingers wrapped around, encasing her hand in a gentle caress.  He took a deep, slow breath as he closed his eyes, gently pulling her closer.

Heat enveloped her like she’d been out in the snow and had just settled into a warm bath. Her pulse sped, tickling the backs of her knees and bends of her elbows, and she shifted in her spot, unsure what to do with the sensation.

He opened his eyes, and she gasped. His irises no longer held that faceted quality but had become endless pools of blue with a light shining from deep within.

“I’m Edna,” she whispered.

He smiled as he brought her knuckles to his lips for a soft, chaste kiss. “I know.”

 


This is Edna’s story, one of the characters in the Kailmeyra Series. If you’re new to the series, click on the pic to get a copy of the first book, The Light of Asteria, today!

 

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Finding Your Tribe https://elizabethisaacs.com/2019/07/finding-your-tribe/ https://elizabethisaacs.com/2019/07/finding-your-tribe/#comments Mon, 01 Jul 2019 20:01:46 +0000 https://elizabethisaacs.com/?p=1430 Read More]]>

Most of my life has been spent feeling like the proverbial round peg in a square hole. Fortunately, the internet has made it easier to connect with intelligent, witty people who love discussing books and other writerly things. I wanted a place we could call our own, and so I started The Isaacs Society. This secret Facebook group is chalked full of genuine, funny, and, best of all,  incredibly kind people. They don’t even mind the awkward monthly videos I post there (which you won’t see anywhere else, which may be a good thing, lol).

Our little group means so much to me that I decided to start having gift-aways. Okay, okay, I just made that word up, but it perfectly describes my intent. Gift-aways are different than giveaways because the ladder usually involves the reader doing something (liking a page, tweeting a promo, following a blog, etc.). A gift-away is what it says. I’m giving my readers a gift. There is no Rafflecopter. No tweet requests. No “enter for a chance to win.” It’s something freely given from my heart to yours.

I had such fun this past week mailing off packages with a secret scene from the Trials and a medallion of my author symbol on a twenty-four-inch chain. Pretty, isn’t it?

A quick shout out to the amazing Feroze Mcleod over at Bada Bink! Tattoo Firm for making such a kick-ass symbol! I love, love, love it! He’s such an incredible artist and I feel so blessed to have his work as part of my author brand.

I hope that readers will wear their necklace to book signings and events. Conventions are fun but hectic, and sometimes I miss opportunities to talk to readers simply because I get addle-brained in the crazy shuffle of the day. But if I could spot my tribe from the crowd, it’d make life easier. Maybe we could meet afterward for dinner or drinks or a show. That idea has sparked ideas of all sorts of shenanigans in the works for future events.

BTW, I plan to do another gift-away in the winter, so if you would like to join in my nerdy-but-heartfelt-fun, click on the link and say hello. 🙂 

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A Different Way https://elizabethisaacs.com/2019/06/treat-yourself/ https://elizabethisaacs.com/2019/06/treat-yourself/#comments Mon, 24 Jun 2019 14:00:23 +0000 https://elizabethisaacs.com/?p=1338 Read More]]> In the South, whenever we get together you can bet food’s involved. Whether it’s meeting colleagues after work, social functions, or a night out on the town, any time a handful of friends meet, food is at the center of the affair.

For someone who swore off sugar and processed carbs three years ago, it can be daunting. Not because I’m tempted to go off plan, but because refusing food in Kentucky is a lot like your grandma going to church in nothing but a G-string and heels.

It just ain’t done.

Worse, when I stick with water or munch on a few veggies, people get paranoid around me, like I’m judging them for eating those seven layer bars. And it only gets worse when I try explaining that I’d never judge someone based on what they eat. I know how horrible that feels–for years it happened to me.

I used to worry about offending the host if I didn’t eat what they had prepared. Or I’d go out of my way to try and make people feel comfortable eating when I wasn’t. But this past year it finally hit home that I’m not responsible for the way other people feel. I’m only responsible for me.

Recently, I was at a gathering when a friend said I should “let go and treat myself.” The Scythian Trials had just been named a finalist in the International Book Awards, and we were celebrating. She said that life’s about balance, and just for this one day, I should cut loose, treat myself, and eat whatever I wanted. After all, “you only live once,” right?

I gritted my teeth as I smiled. She just didn’t get it. Three years and one-hundred pounds ago, my hips hurt so badly I often couldn’t sleep. And when I found myself in a group heading toward a flight of stairs, I’d make an excuse to stay behind, like I’d forgotten my purse/phone. “Go ahead,” I’d say, “I’ll be along in a minute.” I didn’t want them to see how I gripped onto the rail because my knees needed help hoisting my weight to the next step. Or how winded I was once I finally made it to the top. And social events? They were the worst. I’d grab a plate, fill it to the brim like everyone expected me to, and then I’d make some cutesy-but-self-deprecating remark that made those around me chuckle, although looking back on it I never understood why I said it or why they laughed.

And now, after three years and countless hours of finding new ways to cook, eat, and exercise, I’ve finally come out from under the weight of other people’s expectations–and I’m not going back.  If that makes someone uncomfortable, so be it.

Even if I wanted to eat that cream-filled donut or that cheesy-potato whatever, sure, it might be satisfying at that moment, but then what? After all is said and done and I head home, stuffed full of crap my body doesn’t process well, what’s next? Sitting on the couch, no energy, sugar crash, body hurting, feeling horrible while I try to get my now raging emotions under control?

It’s just not worth it.

Some celebrate by going to an expensive restaurant and having a great meal, followed by a decadent dessert. And if that’s your thing, great! But sugary/processed foods affect me more than most, and so I’ve had to adjust accordingly. I’ve learned it isn’t the food that makes the occasion special–it’s the people. I can have a salad and not feel cheated. And while they have that creme brulee, I’ll have a cup of coffee and enjoy their company.

I now treat myself with pedicures, manicures, a long hot bath after a hard day. Taking the pups on a walk, going to new places, experiencing new things with friends and family–these are my favorite ways to celebrate a day.

This lifestyle change has taught me to look at food in a different light, but I still treat myself with food every day. By making healthier choices, I’m treating myself to not having diabetes, to getting to keep my sight, my kidneys, and my feet. I’m treating myself to no sugar highs and lows; to having a healthy liver, and to keeping my heart strong; to knees that don’t give out any more, or hips that no longer ache; to a stronger body that can run and jump and play; to emotional stability; to laughter; to friendship.

To love.

And that’s the best treat of all.

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The Death of Facebook https://elizabethisaacs.com/2019/06/the-death-of-facebook/ https://elizabethisaacs.com/2019/06/the-death-of-facebook/#comments Fri, 21 Jun 2019 22:27:50 +0000 https://elizabethisaacs.com/?p=1347 Read More]]> I know the title seems dramatic, but I’m feeling demonstrative today so stick with me.

It was ten years ago this summer that I stepped outside of my comfort zone and published my first novel. This led to a marketing baptism-by-fire. I did all the things new authors were supposed to do. I started a blog, which led to the creation of a website, I joined Goodreads, and I jumped into social media feet first.

The learning curve was vast and steep, but in those days, the time and sweat equity were well worth it because people actually saw what you posted.

And then came the algorithms, the scaling back of the organic reach, the pay-to-play boosts meant to nickel and dime the little guy.

Am I bitter? Just a little. I spent a lot of time building that audience. It’s not that I blame Facebook for wanting to get paid for advertising. If I’d built a hella site that had millions of businesses using it to connect with people I’d want my thumb in that pie too. But readers that have liked a page or joined a group expect to see it in their feed. And that’s the sticking point for me–hiding posts from the average joe feels manipulative. And wrong. Readers should get to view the content they’ve chosen to see. After all, they’re already swimming through ads they didn’t ask for. Surely, coming home from work and sifting through paid ads to find posts you want to see isn’t too much to ask, is it?

Apparently so.

And according to Socialvert, it’s only going to get worse.

This article linked above is well worth the time, but here are my takeaways.

  • As of June, your organic reach on the news you share will be 1%. One. Lousy. Percent.
  • Stop boosting posts. They only go to people who are online at the time, not people who actually may be interested in your work.
  • Creating one ad graphic with ten buy links will no longer work. You’ll need to make one for iBooks, one for Kindle, one for KOBO, etc. Tighter targeting, combined with more testing, is the key. It will no longer pay to create something and walk away. Analyze the data and the retest or revise to be effective for ROI success.
  • Organic reach for giveaways or contest no longer exists. That means that all the fun stuff we used to do, takeovers and such, won’t work like it used to.
  • Facebook has begun monitoring groups for content that violate their terms. If they remove something, they’ll notify you, but if it seems to be a recurring problem, they can shut down your group permanently. And once that’s done, there is no process to protest the decision to get the group reinstated. 
  • “Likes” are now the lowest form of engagement. Too many angry faces on a post can limit the post’s visibility. Shares are the number one way to show engagement, and GIF comments seem to be leading the charge as well.

Aaaaand, this is why I’m frustrated.

I am an army of one, and I only have twenty-four hours in a day. I choose to spend those hours writing, carving out time for the fam, running this blog and upkeep on the website, sifting through literally hundreds of emails, and maintaining the day job so I can continue doing all of the above. Any time I have left, I spend reading and trying to improve on self-care. I think I’ve turned on the television twice this year. I don’t have the time, love, luck, nor money to test, restest, recreate, and tweak Facebook ads, hoping to bring in new readers. Nor do I have the patience to spend an hour on a post and only have two people see it.

I’ve discovered my most significant investment in this crazy publishing adventure isn’t money–it’s time. And Facebook has been getting a ridiculous amount of it–with little to show for my investment. This past week I documented the time I spent on Facebook, scrolling through things to share, creating graphics to post, commenting, and interacting with others. The total time wasted was shameful, honestly, when compared to the few that actually saw the fruits of my labor come through their feed. And the engagement of those people–it wasn’t just dismal. It was a freaking joke.

I’ve had friends suggest hiring an assistant, but that won’t solve anything–unless I hire someone with a direct line to Facebook’s Algorithm God. Something has GOTSTA change. And it’s obvious Facebook could give a flying fig, so the change has to come from me.

I’ll still be posting weekly in The Isaacs Society, but I’m scaling way back on both my personal and the author page, and I’m playing with the idea of putting the Society videos on here instead. We’ll see.

Until then, we can meet up on Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Goodreads, Bookbub, and, as always, here. And if you like the Amazon page, you’ll get the latest on new releases such as The Scythian Legacy Pre-sale (in 2020, so it won’t be for a while) and Edna’s novella, One Perfect Day, which should be out sometime this fall.

We may not get to interact in the same way we used to on Facebook, but at least with the newsletter, Amazon, and Bookbub, you get what you sign up for instead of some inordinate math program determining whether you see it or not.

After ten years, it’s disheartening to see what Facebook has become. But there’s no use in tilting at windmills. It is what it is. Now, the only thing left to do is figure out how best to move forward. And so, I’d love to know. Other than Facebook, what is your favorite way to interact with the authors that you love?

 

 

 

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