Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Joined 4 other talented writers to form YA Beyond: Breaking Boundaries

I am very excited that I’ve joined with four other talented multi-published authors to form YA Beyond: Breaking Boundaries ( This site will highlight everything teen related. We are a diverse group and our writing styles vary as much as our experience in the writing field. Like many young adult writers we’re all using pseunonyms. For me, Renee Pace, is a reclaiming of my maiden name and I couldn’t be happier writing YA under my birth name. I’m a mother of four children, three boys and then our girl and I’ll soon gab about how that little girl came to be but the journey to writing for all us began first with our love of reading.

I read a ton of books. I usually read at least three books a week. Books are everywhere in my house. Picture my night table by my bed piled high with books and that’s me. Magazines also fill my bathroom but books line my bath tub – nothing makes me happier than a long hot soak, glass of wine and a good book. This habit is something two of my boys have developed – minus the wine so far but I encourage reading at a young age and so what if I had to fork out $30 for the last book my 10 year-old dropped in the tub – he was in there for an hour reading – such a wonderful gift we can pass to our children. If I’m falling in love with a book I’ve been known to sit on the sofa all evening reading, somehow the children’s homework gets done and usually I’m oblivious that the TV was left on.

This brings me back to yabeyond. We’re going to be frank and honest and talk about teen issues, the joy of writing teen stories, how we do research, books we love, how to encourage healthy teen living, talking about those hard topics like sex and drugs with your teen, how writers get pulled in many directions but must learn to manage time and much more. I can’t wait to showcase some new and exciting YA Indie authors I’m discovering. I’m hoping we can get them to do guest blogs later on. And most importantly we’re trying to reach out to teens. The biggest question YA authors have is how do we get our books in teen hands? It’s not a simple question but I’m a firm believer in engaging teens in reading and the creative process.

My 13 year-old son is reading my first YA novel Off Leash and besides being a bit shocked at how much he’s liking it (again he’s my teen) one of his nicest comments was how my writing reminds him of Eric Walters – that would be his fav author and one I’m sure I’ve helped finance a trip somewhere considering I always go out and buy all his books asap for my teen. So saying that I realized I had never read an Eric Walters book. Since he has an entire bookshelf of his books I’m about to fix that.

So let me say a huge shout out to fellow bloggers:

Cat Kalen author of Pride’s Run and debuting soon Pride Unleashed, an edgy paranormal

Tawny Stokes, author of Static, and Demon Whisperer, dark paranormal YA stories that will leave you breathless

PJ Sharon author of Heaven is for Heroes (so loved this book), On Thin Ice and debuting in 2012 Savage Cinderella

Anne Rose, who is a multi-published author under a name and the best writing coach ever – she recently launched TheRedPenCoach and Anne is working on her first sci-fi YA – which I have to say is great!

December 1 is out debut day on We’re also on twitter@yabeyond. We’re hoping to hear from many of you.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Day 24 and Nano Panic Has Set In

Day 24 of Nano and yes the panic has set in. I’ve got 33,000 words written in my third nitty gritty novel, Off Stroke and I’ve hit the part where I’d like to rest and go back and edit. Yeah, you read that right, edit. But alas if I go back I won’t finish. And now I’m calling it that damn book, that’s what happens when the pressure is on.
I will confess I’m writing this book by the seat of my pants. I’m not a plotter but I usually know the beginning and ending of the books I’m writing. Off Stroke is going to surprise me. I can feel it building. My characters have done their intros and we’ve passed that first kiss scene, which is a first for me in my YA writing journey and we have moved into the nitty gritty reality of life. When I left my characters this morning Eje, my main guy, had just had the crap beaten out of him. Finally. I could sense it coming but wasn’t sure how or the circumstances to they why. But I had faith in my voice and the creative process. And now I’m excited.
The tension is building between Eje and Shannon, the lines are being drawn in the sand to speak but will their friendship survive all the obstacles I’m going to throw their way (insert evil laugh here). This is where the pace is going to pick up. Tomorrow another 2,000 words to plug out so I’ve got six more days to reach 50,000. Okay, yeah I’m totally worried, but this book will be done by the first week of December, and hopefully by then I’ll have nailed down the ending.
And the good news is my cast comes off Dec. 1st - so excited! I'm seriously hoping they'll put me either in a boot cast or let me attempt to walk on two legs. This will be my best Christmas present.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Marketing Update for Off Leash

On October 8 I launched Off Leash as two books. I sold 4 copies in total at $2.99 with 70% royalty rate. I also quickly realized this angle was not going to work. Offering the book with two endings selling it as two different books was saturating my market and sales. So a few days later I reworked both books into one book –Off Leash: Bonus Content and tagged the nitty gritty ending on as the 2nd ending all in one book. My stats at this point remained about 80,000. I also changed the price to .99 cent which meant a drop in royalty to 35%.

Marketing: Fired off queries to about 10 YA blog sites asking if they’d read an e-Arc of Off Leash.

Three YA blog sites responded. Again good exposure but no increase in sales.

Blog: I attempt to be more active with blogging and reading more YA books.

Twitter: I made it a point to really up my tweets and start following more YA authors/bloggers. Not sure if this increased sales but this is something I enjoy and again it’s tied into exposure. I also make it a point to always respond to 4-6 people when I log in. Whenever someone starts to follow me I also send them a note of thanks.

Goodreads: I joined and added a number of YA/Indie groups. I confess here I find it hard to utilize this site for promotion so would welcome any helpful hints. Even getting my book listed on Goodreads was hard.

Digital Book Today – On November 7 Off Leash was posted. In order to get posted you need at least 5 reviews (this can be very hard to get for an Indie author), but once I got them I fired off a note and they agreed to feature it. This was free.

The Frugal E-Reader – Launched Off Leash on Nov. 6th – the double exposure really helped to move Off Leash up to the Top 100 Amazon Kindle list. In terms of sales all together that day 6 books were sold.

The Kindle Daily Deal – This was my first paid ad at $59 (US). It was worth it. I sold 23 books and moved as high as #13 on the Top Amazon Kindle List for Best Children’s Books for Boys and Men. Four days later I was still ranked in the Top 100. This was great for exposure. A lot of new people on twitter started to follow me also.

Total sales todate: 38 books

What’s next?

I booked a Pixel of Ink ad for Off Leash which is about $119 (US) and I’m slated for Dec.10, 2011 – this is perfect timing. My second book, Off Limits I hope to have live on Dec 5th and I’ll be keeping that priced at $2.99 with 70% royalty in the hopes of making more sales.

Goodreads – goal is to better utilize this site

Facebook – attempt to get more exposure about the series through my Renee Pace site

Twitter – continue doing what I’m doing

YA reviews sites – research more and attempt to get more reviews – nice to have 20 reviews so I can approach other Kindle Nation sites that require this.

Locally – Mail my print copy of Off Leash to local Teen Magazine so they can have one of their teen reviewers read and post a review – aim is January.

Emailed my local library asking them to purchase a copy for their collection. Also emailed library to see if they’d be willing to host a local YA Indie group workshop – still waiting for reply.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

RWA Takes the Spotlight off First time Author Sales

It’s Sunday morning and when my children were younger Sunday wasn’t so crazy. Now it’s filled with the race to make it to Church on time, soccer practice and usually a basketball game. I still crave my early morning reading time so this morning I picked up the latest November RWA magazine and sat down to read it. I always read the “Sold” section because I’m applauding all those wonderful authors who got their first sale. But then I turned the page and read the article called, “What Constitutes a Sale?”. I read the article a few times because honestly it wasn’t clear to me.
The article goes on to cite the definition of sale and then states how historically authors were paid an advance on signing which earned them the right to be listed in the First Sales column, and wear a ribbon recognizing their efforts at conferences. It further states, “It is a big step to move from the ranks of unpublished to published.” Yeah, you heard it but there’s a huge but coming up. The gist of it is that based on 778 first sales published in the RWR since 2007 only 65% of sales – meaning authors here – did not make $1,000 to qualify for PAN membership.

But at the end of this article I was left scratching my head. “…RWA is changing its recognition of a member’s first sale.” Really, how? The article left me hanging, so I guess I’ll have to wait until December to find out how they’re going to showcase first sales.

Here’s the thing that bugs me. If RWA doesn’t like the terminology of the words First Sales – how about Recognition of Authors Hard at Work? Okay, maybe that title sucks but surely some marketing RWA guru can come up with something jazzy that can truly shout out to me, the RWA reader, look what your fellow writers have accomplished this month. And, isn’t that the purpose of RWA? To support authors, encourage writers to keep on writing, showcase marketing trends, and talk about the changes in the publishing industry.

I think many RWA authors if you asked them started the journey of writing books firstly for the love of writing. Sure making money is great but tying a specific amount to what qualifies you as a writer, to honor your first book deal, is honestly none of RWA’s business. What RWA should be doing is what I did this morning—applauding all those writers who wrote a book and sold it. That’s a lot of hard work and worth a lot more than the $1,000 profit you are supposed to make.

I would like to see RWA stop nickelling and diming writer’s accomplishments and get with the program. I think RWA should read the article a little later on called, “Keeping Readers for Life” and think how they can best work on keeping members for life.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Heaven is for Heroes by PJ Sharon - Great YA Read for Remembrance Day

I have tears in my eyes again. I just finished P.J. Sharon’s amazing YA book Heaven is for Heroes and I think it’s only fitting that on Remembrance Day I highlight it. Heaven is for Heroes starts off with a funeral but quickly becomes a journey for both Alex (aka Coop) and Jordan who both have to learn to get over the loss of Lee, brother to Jordan and friend and marine buddy to Coop.

I loved how the book took me inside Jordan’s head, from her trying to be normal, wishing to uncover the truth about her brother’s death to her growing feelings for Coop and her struggling sense of what the future holds for her. There’s such struggle between Coop and Jordan that I was rooting for them from the get go to get together, but I’m not going to tell you how this ends because it’s worth reading every page of this book.

I loved how Sharon was descriptive with her prose, so much so, I could picture Coop trying to learn how to cope with one leg, how often he cursed at the nurses and at himself. Guilt is a huge layer in this book but it doesn’t take away from the fact that Jordan and Coop are teenagers wanting to explore each other like any normal teens. Those awkward ‘almost’ moments were precious.

For anyone who has family in the military this book is a great teen read, and for those that don’t it certainly will give you a true appreciation of how the effects of war reach well beyond the people who fight in them. For a person who has never read a YA book about an injured marine, I highly recommend this book.

For more information on PJ Sharon and her books check out

Purchase link -
Heaven Is For Heroes

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pride's Run Review- YA Psychological Thriller of a Read

Cat Kalen’s debut YA book Pride’s Run is a wild rollercoaster, paranormal psychological thriller. The minute I started reading I fell in love with Pride—a strong, wounded teen wolf who craves freedom more than anything. But freedom at the cost of her fellow friends who are still trapped in a crazy man’s state-of-the-art military styled prison won’t cut it for her.

Pride might have been born as the runt of the litter in the puppy-mill prison but she’s anything but weak. She’s pride of heart and mind and her journey from the compound, through the wilds of a National park and her exploration of discovering “herself” were honest, heart-wrenching and powerful.

Kalen did an amazing job drawing me in to Pride’s wolfish nature and her attention to detail blew my mind. I don’t want to spoil things for other readers but I loved Logan, the alpha male teen who encourages her to embrace both the female side of her and her wolf side. I equally loved bad wolf teen, Stone. Reading Pride’s Run felt like watching a great paranormal teen movie and I want more. Can’t wait for the sequel, Pride Unleashed.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Accomplishments: Defining them in the grand scheme

All 4 of my accomplishments on our Disney trip last year.
Notice teens grimacing.
 I got thinking this morning about what I could write as my blog this week and then it hit me how much I didn’t get accomplished. I must have said this out loud because hubby promptly told me to get real. He cited I can’t move but still seem to manage the household of four kids and himself (insert here he’s going out of his mind) and Off Leash made it on an Amazon Top 100 list on Monday.

Yes, topping that list thrilled me. Was it my accomplishment? You bet. I realize trying to keep up on all the marketing opportunities for Indie authors is hard work. But in the grand scheme of my life that ranking doesn’t top this list.

  • Getting accepted to Dalhousie University - leaving home and not going back
  • Securing my first job which enabled me to rent a room in a house -granting me independence
  • Getting accepted to Ryerson University's Journalism program - omg moment for me!
  • Finding true love – lots of little loves along the way but they don’t compare
  • Saving money for first starter house down payment – not dream home but it was mine
  • Giving birth to four healthy children – I have endometriosis so I had to have surgery before conceiving and viola
  • Trip to Europe with little money and one child in tow
  • Deciding to become a stay-at-home mom (really no choice with 4 couldn’t afford cost of daycare)
  • Sticking with hubby when I’d like to pull a Thelma and Louise because true love is powerful even when teen issues kill
  • Writing first book and securing an e-publisher
  • Securing a job I love now after 10 years out of the market
  • Writing more books after that first one
  • Writing Off Leash – facing my demons and starting something new!


 What do you consider your accomplishments? I’d love to hear them.






Monday, November 7, 2011

Nitty Gritty YA Writings: Off Leash - Top 100 list on Amazon

Nitty Gritty YA Writings: Off Leash - Top 100 list on Amazon

Off Leash - Top 100 list on Amazon

Talk about waking up to a great Monday morning. First I get an email that Off Leash is featured on Emlyn  Chand's Books You'll Adore Section - very exciting.

And, then I get an email that Off Leash just made Amazon's Top 100 list for Best Children Boys & Men's Books. To say I'm over the moon would be an understatement!

This totally makes up for my major nightmare last night and lack of sleep. This still means thought I've got to pound out 2,000 words this morning for the third book in my nitty gritty series, Off Stroke.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Poem Dedicated to my grandmother who turns 100 today!

Me with my leg propped up in a cast on a
chair with my greandmother, who today turned 100!
A blink of an eye – 100 years has gone by

In 1911 with the cold November wind Susan Thelma MacKenzie was born.
A hundred years have passed and life as she knew it changed.
Gone are the horse drawn wagons, buckets full of well water and candles lighting the way.

First it was electricity, trams, cars, the talkies and then black and white TV’s.
Two world wars later, the Halifax Explosion, the 1930’s depression
Thelma, like the tides of Clam Bay which had been her home, survived.

She married, had six children and called the North End of Halifax home.
Furs were fashionable, and making do was the norm.
Christmas was about family, not the presents.

Back to the country, another house built by hand.
Children aged and found their own way. Granny Mac was said to have yelled a lot.

It’s a parade of color now.
Techno-color movies with famous stars like Elizabeth Taylor and Grace Kelly fairy tales coming true. Color TV, vinyl records, and cars fill the now-paved roads where once forests grew.

Two bridges span Halifax Harbour.
Years and seasons pass and it’s tapes, VHSs, DVDs, computers, Internet and HD-TV.
Through it all Thelma smiles.

She’s surrounded by grandchildren who care about picking blueberries and flowers.
Hand in hand she walks with them, up the country road, around another bend, it’s always a “Once Upon A Time Stories,” when tucked tight and snuggled in her bed at night.

One hundred years and the world has changed.
But Thelma taught me much remains the same.
It’s not the things that define us rather
Family, love and caring—those are the traits of a life well lived.

Happy 100th Birthday, Gram
-Love Renee, November 6, 2011

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Comparing Ankle Surgery to Launching an Indie Book

Two of my children have signed leg. They think it's cool - it's soooo not!

Well it's been 12 days that I've had my right ankle reconstructed and now it’s in a cast and 34 days since I launched my first Indie publication Off Leash. I thought I'd do a comparison for what I've learned going through both processes:

Ankle: Two years ago incident happened
Off Leash: Two years of edits

Ankle: Saw 3 doctors before finding right one
Off Leash: Sent mss to about 21 agents/5 publishers

Ankle: 1 year to convince specialist to do surgery
Off Leash: Jan 2011 enter Amazon Breakthrough Novel contest- 5 month ride

Ankle: Called 8 months in a row specialist secretary to
Off Leash: Send full mss to 3 agents who requested all - happy

Ankle: get on surgery list -1st step and feeling good
Off Leash: Get email from Westside Book – excited

Ankle: Get call  for surgery in June, due to work have to cancel
Off Leash: Get 2nd email Westside Books – they are closing -want to cry

Ankle: Get second surgery call for Oct – accept it.
Off Leash: Decided enough – going Indie route – start research

Ankle: July research cadaver surgery – refused to watch video on it.
Off Leash: Book cover artist, figure out ISBN stuff, join Indie groups

Ankle: Stressing: book other moms to get my kids to school
Off Leash: Oct 3 launch Off Leash on Smashwords/Amazon with different endings

Ankle: Crazy mom in overdrive: clean house/freeze suppers, etc
Off Leash: Send 7 queries off asking YA review sites if they’d like ARCs

Ankle: 1 wk before surgery almost talk myself out of it
Off Leash: Oct 18 want to puke: 2 copy idea not working so cancel both

Off Leash: Create Off Leash: Bonus Content and start relaunch – Oct 19
Ankle: Oct 24 – on my own walk into surgery and wait

Ankle: Surgeon says cancelling; hospital has no bed. I talk him into sending me home - it's a go!
Off Leash: Send out queries for author interviews/start marketing.

Ankle: Puke my guts out/get home/living on pain killers
Off Leash: Slow process, getting booked for interviews, feeling more positive

Ankle: Move from bed to sofa
Off Leash: Taking positive approach: nothing ventured, nothing gained

Ankle: Recovering for 12 days
Off Leash: 2 of my boys want to lend voices for audiobook. Excited.

Ankle: House is a mess, kids trying to be helpful, feeling lonely
Off Leash: Messy house & feeling not so lonely as Indie author

 Today I'm also being interviewed at and would love for you to stop by and comment.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Self-publishing - not sure Chapters/Indigo Know the meaning of the word

Okay, let me say the words self-publishing obviously means different things to different companies – notice I didn’t say people. Since I launched my own Indie publication Off Leash here is what I’ve learned. Getting your indie book into stores is hard.

Last night I tried to get Off Leash into Chapters/Indigo and because they have a bold Self-publishing icon I clicked on that. I read everything, filled in the information and then got my phone call this morning. Here is the jest of it. After I’ve forked out my own money for a cover artist and editor Chapters/Indigo would like me to pay them $599 for their basic self-publishing package which is managed through iuniverse. Oh, yeah, I totally get the I in iuniverse because they own the universe of Chapters/Indigo I’d like to get my book into. That was the basic price structure and trust me it went up from there.

When I spoke with the nice lady on the phone, who I know is just doing her job, I asked her if many people use this service. Hundreds of thousands of people do, she said. Tell me again how this is self-publishing? She told me they’d list my book in their Chapters/Indigo catalogue, ensure book placement in the store and do some marketing. Really if I paid the $4,000 package I’d like you to bark just like my dog Ollie does in Off Leash and shout out “for sale” every five minutes because then just maybe I might make some money off my book. Iuniverse does pay royalties, the polite-lady said. So what?

According to the lady all traditional publishers have to pay to have their books listed in the Chapters/Indigo catalogue. Really, I’m not sure, but again, I clicked on the self-publishing icon meaning I’m not a traditional publisher. I can’t get my head around this.

I explained to her how Smashwords work (FREE and hat’s off to them – they have been great) and how works and yes they do offer platform pricing for more distribution channels but it’s about $40 not hundreds of dollars. She didn’t comment. Why would she? The only person in this self-publishing relationship making money seems to me to be iuniverse.

Now that I know what takes place when I read all those lovely book excerpts on Chapters/Indigo’s marketing site about the “authors that made it” I realize they have something I don’t—money already lining their pockets. Those books don’t look so shiny and great to me anymore.