New Year’s Resolutions, Romance Writing, and the Death Knell of Social Media…

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Happy New Year!

Phew! We have made it to 2022!

But how are we all doing? A little (ahem… a lot) worse for wear? Tattered around the edges? Physically tired and mentally exhausted?

What about the base level of worry we feel for the loved ones still with us? And those twinges of sadness for those whom we’ve lost?

Not to mention the world we lost…

At the start of our new year in 2022, I’m experiencing all of those things.

And yet, overriding all of that, I am vibrating with an effervescent hope. Bright enough to drown out all the negative of the past two years. Strong enough to make me fight for the goodness and generosity in my spirit. Overflowing to such a degree, I radiate it out into the world.

Yep. I can’t help it. It’s part of my optimist nature. Finding that brilliant silver lining. Seeing the good in the world. Feeling gratitude—even through great challenges and struggles.

It’s also where my love for writing romance and determination to fight hard for our happily ever afters comes from.

And so, with all that in mind…


Below, I share my New Year’s Resolutions, News from the Bastion Writing Desk, and my opinion with The Death Knell of Social Media (from an optimist’s perspective, of course… 😉


New Year’s Resolutions

How far should we go to redefine ourselves? All the way, in my opinion.

You see, I’ve never been great on making or keeping New Year’s Resolutions.

But I’ve also never needed a transformation more than I need one right now, going into 2022.

Because I’m standing at a precipice of my health. Like… a do-or-die in a very literal sense precipice.

Which forces me to make a big life-altering choice. I can gift myself a real chance to survive and flourish. Or I can do nothing, and tumble further into the dark abyss of deteriorating health.

What do you think optimist me is going to do?

A little background-reveal on my health…

What I’ve never shared publicly before—what my optimistic nature railed at even voicing—is that I suffer from chronic illness. Looking back, I’ve suffered from the effects of this illness all my life. Originally induced when I was a young child, from the stress of emotional abuse delivered by a narcissistic parent.

As you might guess, to save myself, I’ve had to cut that parent completely out of my life.

Stone marvels that I’m an optimist coming from that kind of abusive environment.

I believe my optimism bursts forth from a romantic spirit that simply cannot be smothered. That I survived in spite of my toxic parent. And gained an inner strength because of the experience.

However, due to decades of abuse, and my internal struggle and systems of dealing with that kind of ongoing stress, I’ve developed severe health issues: hypothyroidism, adrenal fatigue, and mast cell activation syndrome. And with those underlying issues, I’ve suffered from a long list of strange and debilitating autoimmune symptoms, including brain fog, not being able to sit upright (heartbreaking for a writer), and an abnormal adrenal response to any kind of stress, even the mildest of things.

Circling back to the silver lining, my New Year’s Resolutions…

I choose saving myself. Gifting myself a real chance to survive and flourish.

Which entails two resolutions…

2022 New Year’s Resolution One:

A mindful calmness, transitioning into undisturbed tranquility

First and most important, I’m establishing a mindful focus on my health.

Mindful, in the sense that I’m going to work on increasing my awareness of how I’m feeling every moment of the day. In a downshifted way. Nice and slow. Easy and calm. Calm being the operative word. With undisturbed tranquility being my goal. I’m hoping to become so attuned to my mental and physical state of being that I become the embodiment of peace.

Sound a bit Dalai Lama-esque? Maybe.

But… it’s the exact opposite of stress.

Which, for my health, is what I am in desperate need of.

And there’s a bonus. A wonderful reward.

By achieving success with my health in Resolution One, I get to enjoy my other resolution…


2022 New Year’s Resolution Two:

Full-time writing with joy, including daily minimums, goals, and rewards

I’ve never instilled a daily writing minimum. With my health, I’ve been afraid to do so.

Deadlines never work well with someone who cannot handle stress on any level. The pressure alone, knowing I have to do something because of a commitment, even to myself, dooms the project before I even begin. I chafe at the self-imposed deadline.

And who wants to write under those conditions?


However… this one resolution, I’m treating like a gift to myself.

My reward for keeping Resolution One, a mindful calmness, is keeping Resolution Two, being able to write full-time with joy.

I’ve already charted out what’s possible. Then I had an honest conversation with myself about what’s more probable and realistic. (I may share details about my writing schedule and how I’m keeping it in a future post.)

My hybrid solution, a cozy medium between probable and possible with writing, is this…

First, a minimum of 1,000 polished, edited words per day, every single day of the week, no misses.

Second to that, I can keep writing, to hit a greater goal of 2,500 words a day. And I could do that 2,500 for the first six days in each week. And if I hit that six-day goal, then Sunday becomes a bonus/flex day to do as I please, write… or not.

For me, the 1000-word daily minimum sets the realistic floor. The second component gives me something greater to reach for.

Either is a great accomplishment for me. A steady and healthy pace. A streak to aspire toward. Two streaks, if I accomplish them both.

And look at what will happen at the end of it all. The 1,000-wor daily minimum produces six novels a year.

The greater goal? Produces twelve novels in one year.

Wow. Six to twelve published novels in one year.

Sound exciting? Sure does to me. Our best year so far produced four novels in one year.

And… therein lies the reward of keeping both of my resolutions: publishing more novels every year.

But totally doable, if I stay mindful of my health, plant my butt in the writing chair, and focus on writing with joy.

So… yeah. That’s my New Year’s Resolution Two:

A 1,000-polished-word daily minimum, with a reaching-goal of 2,500, six days a week.

For me, achieving even one of my resolutions would be a godsend. Accomplishing both? It’s a dream worth fighting for: a brand-new healthy full-time writing me in 2022.

Results of my resolutions (and possibly progress blogs along the way) to follow… So stay tuned.

News from the Bastion Writing Desk

As you can see above, this section’s header says Bastion Writing Desk, as in one desk, not two.

For any of you who didn’t catch the news this same time last year, Stone is focusing his efforts elsewhere at the moment. Which has enabled me to be able to write full time. A gift I’m incredibly grateful for.

Stone remains first reader/copywriter of everything I write. As well as being an invaluable developmental editor, whenever I need to further flesh out ideas and concepts.

In the coming years, Stone hopes to set up a small sound studio to create audio versions of all our books. Then everyone will get to hear his sexy bass voice…

But the news from the Bastion Writing Desk?

How about the amazing rewards from my achieving the above resolutions?

Six to twelve novels a year…

Plus short stories and novelettes in between. The perfect gifts for our Bastion Family Adventurers.

Novels In the Unbreakable Series:

The first two novels, which I’m diving into with joy starting tomorrow morning, are the last two novels in the Unbreakable series: Ball Breaker and Icebreaker. Wow, have those characters been knocking about in my head, bursting with attitude and passion, begging for their stories to be told.

Ball Breaker comes first, telling the story of Kendall and Jax. A delectable steamy enemies-to-lovers romance.

Then follows Icebreaker, when Chloe and Daniel finally give in to the sexual tension rising between them.

Novels In the Secretly Named Yet-to-be-revealed Series:

And… after those two final novels in the Unbreakable series?

I begin writing in an exciting small-town contemporary romance series. More teasers on that to come.


For the record, I have been listening to your wishes, my cherished readers. You loved the holiday short stories in Half-baked Holidays, but many of you wished the stories were longer, more developed.

When writing short stories or novelettes, the shortness of the format requires a compacting of events. In essence, the shorter romance highlights the coming together of the couple, their meet-cute.

But this year, I plan on at least one full Christmas novel. The first one, within our small-town romance series. After that, we shall see where the writing gods lead me…

I shall let you know. So… stay tuned.

Which is the perfect segue into the opinion piece in the blog post…

The Death Knell of Social Media

This is just my opinion (Stone’s too.) But it’s an opinion based on our personal experience and through the lens of our perspective as writers, (mostly former) social media users, and members of humanity.

Did any of you watch The Social Dilemma on Netflix?

Wow. If you have not yet watched it, it’s an eye-opening documentary of the sad state of affairs of social media, brought to you by the creators of many of the social media platforms. They are afraid for humanity. And we have been too. For many years.

Some of you remember, back when we first came on to the social-media scene in June of 2012, that we were active daily on Twitter. We formed this blog, which I posted on semi-regularly. And then we created my first personal Facebook profile and the Kat Bastion page (now the Kat & Stone Bastion page.)

I’m not sure exactly when we abandoned our daily activity there. But it coincided with the ditching of our smartphones. Not actually throwing our smartphones into a ditch. But close.

We left the social media scene, to save our mental health… and our marriage. That was sometime back around 2015, or so.

You see, we’d both become addicted. Craving that dopamine hit with each post, like, Retweet or Share.

What we didn’t know back then, and what The Social Dilemma reveals, is that the programmers within social media designed their platforms to be addictive. And they apparently have added in more and more features to make it even more addictive.

What does that have to do with writing? Or reading, for that matter?

We have a Facebook page. And we each have a Twitter account.

Regarding Facebook…

What some of you may not know, is that on Facebook pages, Facebook holds each page’s followers hostage. Each Facebook page has to pay to have its own followers see its posts. The more followers you want to see your post, the more you have to pay. The more posts and interactions you have, the more they “release” more followers to see your subsequent posts, but not ALL of them.

It’s a game. Designed to benefit Facebook by lining its pockets.

Who does it hurt? Every single Facebook user.

Because everything Facebook does is designed to get the user addicted to Facebook. So that they stay there longer, get exposed to more ads and paid posts, and add to Facebook’s coffers.

We’re sorry if you love Facebook. Maybe there’s a Facebook group you enjoy being a part of. And that’s cool. But there is a gatekeeping price to pay. The Silicon Valley folks are in on it, and many reveal their concerns in The Social Dilemma.

How are we going to help?

We do not want our readers addicted. Hell, we don’t want anyone addicted to social media.

As an act of defiance (as opposed to simply deleting our account, which we’re sorely tempted to do) we’re going to post a “The Last Facebook Post” over on Facebook, pin it to the top, and leave it up there for all to see. It’s essentially going to serve as our message of protest for holding our followers hostage. And for directing readers to the true places for staying connected with us, this blog and our Bastion Family Adventurers email group.

We’ll see if Facebook leaves our last post and account up.

Some Facebook page users (like who we’ve become), use their Facebook pages as a photo-announcement timeline of sorts. A place to learn about recent happenings of an author or a business. And that, to us, is the only worthy function of any Facebook page anymore.

A thought or two about Twitter…

Do any of you go to Twitter to regularly communicate anymore?

We aren’t sure of the value of the ever-scrolling Twitter timeline.

It’s there for a flash, and then it’s gone.

Meanwhile, we hope that no one we know is addictively scrolling the feed.

We do post an occasional Tweet. In the event someone is out there watching. And values what we have to say. And this very blog post auto-Tweets, to share that we have something new to say over here on TalkToTheShoe. We hope your seeing our Tweet is a coincidental finding, while you’re over there on a small break.

We hope all of our followers and readers have robust, healthy, and happy lives off social media.

It’s an awful catch-22 with any social media platform. While it seems like a great place to connect with other readers and fans, most (if not all) of those platforms exist to make money through planned addiction of its users.

Of course, since our exodus from Twitter and Facebook, popularity of other social media platforms has risen. Instagram and Tiktok (and further Booktok) have come to the forefront.

We took part in neither. Because we didn’t see the point of fueling yet another addictive fire, neither ours nor our readers’.

What I’d rather be doing is writing. And, once I’ve hit my writing goals? Reading.

We hope you’d rather be reading too.

And it’s our fervent wish for all of you be as healthy as possible.

With all the heat social media is taking, from documentaries like The Social Dilemma, to pressure from congress, to various users leaving to seek more balance in their lives, we wonder what the future holds for social media.

It all sounds a lot like the death knell of social media, to us.

Even with our limited perspective, we understand many social media users value their posts and connections with followers, in the book world, and other venues. Is there a way for social media users to “use” the platforms without the platforms “using” them? We certainly hope so. We figure there is already a small but mighty segment, many of whom are social influencers, who have done just that.

Do any of you have a safer or favorite place you like to connect with authors and other readers? If so, please share your positive experiences in the comments below.

Annnd… on that note…

On the heels of our social-media opinion sharing…

A huge shoutout goes to all of our social media and promotional posters, old and new. Most of whom we’ve connected with through Twitter and Facebook over the years. Some of whom we’ve made new connections with through Goodreads and NetGalley.

We plan to continue sharing ARCs through NetGalley into 2022. With NetGalley’s rapidly growing reach, and all the NetGalley influencers having their own favorite stomping grounds to share reviews, we hope to keep a network alive where all can share their love for books in the healthiest way for each individual.

Well, that’s it, for a first LONG post leading us into 2022.

I’ll be in my writing cave first thing in the morning, diving into Kendall and Jax’s romance in Ball Breaker.

If you’re curious, The Last Facebook Post will be up on our page by this weekend.

And Tuesday, we plan to give away another copy of Brand New Year, to our Bastion Family Adventurers. So if you’re not yet subscribed, now’s your chance. Sign-up below in the “How To Stay in Touch With Us” section.

We wish you all a safe, happy, and healthy 2022!

We are incredibly grateful for you and your loyal readership.

Your humble shoe and boot,

~ Kat & Stone

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© 2022 by Kat Bastion and Stone Bastion

Endangered Paperbacks and Other Weirdness in the Time of COVID-19

paperback book on greenery shaded by wildflowers

Hello, fellow readers.

What a crazy unprecedented time we’ve entered. The real world plays out like the scene of a dystopian novel that has so many plot threads, our heads keep spinning from news headlines.

Among the latest COVID-19 news in the US?

Governmental agencies are concerned about food supply chains if the PPE (personal protection equipment) shortages impact our food processing facilities.

Then there’s Friday’s “suggestion” urging US citizens to wear a mask, a scarf, or like Stone and I have been sporting…a Buff! Not to protect ourselves, but to protect everyone else. I think it was Vice President Mike Pence who said, “My mask protects you, and your mask protects me.”

Our immediate building neighbors were wearing bandanas that day. When we passed in the hall, they pointed finger-guns at us and said, “Stick-em up!” Much laughter ensued. Because what can we do? Laugh…and protect.

Of course, if you live in Boise, Idaho (like us new residents do), earlier this week, you also got literally shaken by an historic 6.5 magnitude earthquake that lasted almost thirty seconds. It’s been over forty years since Boise’s had an earthquake. And it was on a fault line that apparently hasn’t had a tremblor that big before. Soooo… yeah. Crazy all around.

But one book-industry headline is the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on paperback books.

And our upcoming book Born of Mist and Legend has been swept up in the chaos.

The bit we’d caught had to do with the entire supply chain of books being disrupted. From Amazon diverting priority of shipments to necessities (and rightly so), to printers, warehouses, fulfillment centers, and retail stores’ challenges in keeping workplaces sanitized enough to keep the flow of books moving.

That’s if any of those entities on the supply side are even open. If they’re not labeled an essential business in a lockdown area, they’ve already shuttered. For weeks. Or months. Or… who knows.

We’ve heard from readers that their libraries have “closed indefinitely.”

Of course, with paper-product shortages and the federal government designating paper mills as essential businesses, will there even be paper available to print our nation’s books anytime soon?

Stone said, “Besides, if you could get your hands on a paperback at a library or coffee shop or bookstore right now, would you even want to read it…hold it so close to your face?”

Scientists say the COVID-19 coronavirus can survive on surfaces for up to 72 hours: paper up to 24, plastic—perhaps a glossy book cover?—up to 72. So now we’re disinfecting our paperbacks? Or quarantining them somewhere safe?

Which leads us to the obvious solution: an e-book.

How many paperback-lover holdouts might finally take the plunge and convert to an e-reader?

We suspect many.

Think about it. Your own personal library. No dust-mite-ranch bookshelves. Cheaper electronic books. Perfectly flat pages lit at night. Increase your font size at will. Highlight favorite quotes with a stroke. Look up an unusual word at the touch of a finger.

Regardless of our readers’ personal preference and decisions during this strange time, after nine novels and two novellas over the last eight years, this will be our first book that will not have an accompanying paperback at its release due to the current supply chain interruption.

We’re bummed about that, but getting over it. Because acceptance of reality is more critical than ever these days.

Will we offer a paperback version of Born and Mist and Legend?

At the immediate moment, we hope so.

But that answer is also tied to a book world that was…not a book world that is.

We’re all waiting with baited breath to find out what the greater world will be like next month. Let’s hope our book world is filled with all kinds of reader-friendly options. Something for everyone.

What do you think?

Are you a paperback lover?

Will you clamor to get your hands on a physical book?

Please let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Until then, Born of Mist and Legend is definitely available by e-book in just eight days on a variety of retailers (see book links below for a sampling.) And if you give the e-book a try, we hope you enjoy the adventure.

Stay safe and healthy out there. Much love and well wishes to all.

Your humble shoe and boot,
~ Kat & Stone

© 2020 by Kat Bastion and Stone Bastion

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Exclusive FREE Stories! For a limited-time, shared only with our family.

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The Writer Journey: Elude Burnout by Nourishing the Soul to Fuel Creativity

For a writer, when creative lightning strikes, the phenomenon is euphoric and all-encompassing.

We’re drawn into a wondrous journey, transported to another dimension.

Fingers fly over the keyboard.

Scenes unfold in vivid detail into clear receptive minds.

And as an obedient watcher, we document, transcribe, and hope to capture every sense and emotion as the adventure unfolds.


That’s what we’ve been up to at the Bastion writing desks: tapping into that addictive drug of writing again.

Happy New Year, Everyone!

Going into 2019 feels like the beginning of a blissful crisp glide through powdery snow: hearts beating a little faster, skin tingling from the chill, pure anticipation in our hearts for the undiscovered tracks that lie ahead.

We’ve done much soul-searching this last year…or two…

Eluding Burnout

“Know thyself” became a common phrase we’ve adopted. It’s helped us sidestep landmines of overachievement.

When real-life commitments pull us in too many directions, it’s normal feel overwhelmed. Saying “no” is something we’ve slowly learned how to do, even if it’s difficult for us to accept that we can’t take on everything.

And what has our “know thyself” taught us?

We have to slow down and take time to be in the real world: make social connections, breathe the air, notice the little things, actively listen more—be in the moment.

Not everything has to be done in one day, or that week, maybe not in that month, or even that year.

We need to make time for good food, from the “hunting and gathering” at farmer’s markets and grocer to the joy of preparing and savoring while we eat.

And if we want our bodies and minds to operate at their peak, we need to become attune to and attend to them throughout our day, exercising when and how feels best, resting physically and mentally, and learning what brings us joy.

A new rediscovery? We find the quietest place in nature we can find, lie back on a blanket in the grass, and stare at undulating misty clouds as they float by. We used to do that as a kid. Guess what? We’re still kids.

But in that real-life slowdown, we’ve come full circle to something Stone says frequently:

“The magic of writing is writing.”

The mantra means: Put aside all expectation, forget deadlines, step away from social media, ignore time itself—just write from the heart, with joy.

The magic of writing is writing.

Do you hear a distant drumbeat in a faraway jungle? Feel the cool spray of the water on your face as our low-slung canoe glides along the shore? Swallow hard, inching toward the edge of your seat, as we approach the waterfall and hope we’re all going to come through to the other side okay in the end?

That’s where you’ll find us. 🙂

We’ll also be here on TalkToTheShoe from time to time, sharing some of our behind-the-scenes adventures, possibly penning a fresh “Transparency in Self-publishing” post. Once in a while, when we stumble out of the writing cave, we’ll visit Twitter and Facebook, so drop us a line…we hope to be able to answer correspondence from our remote location, but appreciate your patience with our slow response times.

Feeding our Soul

A few years back, a great article in the Romance Writers of America’s monthly RWR publication shared the importance for writers to take breaks between one book and another for a “discovery” period.

The duration suggested was two weeks.

And during that intentional break, the goal was to immerse ourselves back into our world again: watch the latest movies, attend concerts or shows, read books for pleasure.

We’ve gone a few steps further…

We don’t take two weeks off between books. We take a good long breather. How long? As long as it takes. When the brain juices flow, we get jonesing to write again with our energy for the story all wound up and ready to burst out onto the pages.

We do our discovery daily. We’ve learned to make time for ourselves out in our world first, then we write. Mmm-hmmm… “Know thyself” kicked in big time there. Only when we’re at our best in every respect does the story shine through.

Self-improvement is an essential element for us. This last year in particular, we’ve made huge strides in finding that zenful life we’ve strived for. (Although we’d initially thought to share our journey on a separate blog, we found our path needed to be private, and so, ZenfulLife, the blog, has been retired.) Suffice it to say, we’re now awake, as opposed to being asleep. Or comatose. We’re working on embracing the present moment as often as possible, versus the past or the future. And (epiphany moment) to be creative is to be fully present. The magic of writing is writing…

We now filter our news. Nothing gets us sucked down some rabbit-hole tangent like a cleverly designed news headline; it’s by design.

Besides, as it turns out, we don’t need to know most of those shocking headlines.

You know, ’cause after we moved to Hawaii, the missile-scare happened. But we didn’t hear about it, because our low-tech flip-phones didn’t have the capability of alerting us. (Assuming they’d been turned on at the time.) After we got panicked calls and texts from mainland family and friends, and realized we’d been in bed sleeping in at the time, we decided we were exactly were we’d want to be if the last moments of our life were upon us: blissfully unaware.

We have plugged in to the best news source available for writers: The Passive Voice. Not only do we read his blog on an almost-daily basis, we’ve hit that “Donate” button on the righthand side and have subscribed to supporting our favorite blog monthly. Comprised of a unique and balanced collection of mostly writing-industry related posts, we’ve found his blog to be inspiring, enlightening, and amusing (especially when Passive Guy, PG, adds his commentary.) This morning, he excerpted one of the most riveting online stories we’ve ever read, so much so, that we’ve never been more tantalized to click through to read the full story from The New Yorker: The French Burglar Who Pulled Off His Generation’s Biggest Art Heist. We encourage you to give The Passive Voice blog a try. We’ll be there reading with you.

And then… you’ll find us where distant drumbeats in a faraway jungle can be heard.

The magic of writing is writing…

Your humble shoe and boot,

~ Kat & Stone

Stay in touch with us on our social media pages…
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@2019 by Kat Bastion and Stone Bastion

Transparency in Self-Publishing: The Perfect Book

Good morning, everyone!

Only 2 weeks until the release of Forged in Dreams and Magick!

Which leads into the fourth installment in my weekly series, Transparency in Self-Publishing: The Perfect Book.

The perfect book?

No such thing.

In fact, my supportive husband keeps highlighting typos from bestselling authors to help calm the anal-retentive perfectionist in me. Because at some point, we have to let the book go to get it published.

But . . . we have a variety of tools available to make our book The Perfect Book, or what should be more accurately described as The Best Book Possible.

After all is said and done, and the publishing button is irrevocably clicked, don’t you want your masterpiece to be well written and grammatically correct?

As I mentioned in earlier posts, our published books are out there forever. They are our immortality. Commit early to your level of quality, and hopefully readers will devour your books for decades and beyond.

Below are various resources that helped me write The Perfect Book The Best Book Possible.

Craft and Conferences

If you’ve been following my posts, you know I first began writing in the spring of 2010. As an escape from my Type-A side. The last thing I wanted to do was learn how to write. Nope. The whole writing thing began as a hobby and outlet for my creativity. And so I simply wrote.

After the draft was finished and an inexperienced edit was done (by me, who knew nothing about editing), I thankfully attended a national RWA conference. And promptly buried myself in every craft and editing workshop I could squeeze into my wrinkled, well-perused schedule. From 8am until 5pm for three days straight, I absorbed myself into all things writing, took copious notes, and realized I still had a lot of writing and editing development to do.

I highly recommend attending workshops at conferences. The caliber of talent at the national RWA conference was unparalleled, sage advice being doled out by bestselling authors and other professional experts in the industry.

Still, my aversion to doing anything too formal and outlined governed my learning tendencies. In keeping with my ruling creative, I only retained one or two nuggets of wisdom from each workshop to help improve my fledgling writing.

Writing Contests

Luckily, one of those workshops happened to be about the benefits of writing contests. I have a post from last year dedicated to the topic in Why Writing Contests Matter, which talks about the benefits, drawbacks, and process. But suffice it to say, writing contests were integral for my moving forward with my writing. Knowing key points that needed improvement, such as eliminating repetitive words, avoiding passive voice, and increasing the emotional depth, helped me hone my early craft.

Was it nice to have them praise me for my strong points? Absolutely. But setting aside my ego in favor of learning valuable lessons to improve my writing was the true benefit.

I strongly recommend them, if for no other reason than to get early opinions about your strengths and weaknesses. Later contests were entered with new material, what’s now known as Forged in Dreams and Magick, and I began to final in several, winning two of them. Although I’m immensely grateful for the awards and the validation they provide, the greatest benefit to me was in knowing how much I’d improved as a writer.

Books and Posts on Writing

As someone who did not want to “learn” about writing in a school-type atmosphere (nuts and bolts are too anal-retentive for me), I did shockingly pick up one or two books. Now, truth be told, I only thumbed through and scanned, seeking the get-it-now golden nuggets of wisdom.

Actually, the very first book I ever read about writing was J. R. Ward’s The Black Dagger Brotherhood: An Insider’s Guide. {laughs} Yes. I am a fan, and it’s mainly about the BDB. But you know what? When I was in the middle of drafting my very first book in the spring of 2010, I read a golden chapter in there entitled “For Writers: Writing Tips, Advice, and the Original Proposal for the Brotherhood.” And then I reread it. As a fledgling writer, it was fascinating to understand the entire process and terminology from draft to published from an author I admired. And one phrase sticks with me as a mantra to this day. “Finish the book.”

Another book whose advice went from thumbed-through pages and into my hungry mind? The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass. The absolute two best things I pulled from that book, but there were many others, are the importance of tension and the merits of scene rewriting.

Tension should be everywhere in a good book. If there’s a slow part? If readers (or you) are skimming over something instead of hanging on every word? You are missing tension. In order to create that page-turning, can’t-put-it-down novel, you need emotion and tension woven into each sentence, paragraph, scene, and chapter. Okay. Maybe not every single one. We do want the reader to take a deep breath now and again. But you get the point.

And on the second point, he makes assignments to the readers that involve rewriting scenes. After the internal groaning ended over how long it took me to create the coveted scene in the first place, I realized the exercise creates a talented skill. Soon after, I read a post by Karen Marie Moning (another amazing author I admire) about how she often writes a scene from several different perspectives until one feels so right, she knows she nailed it. Well, hell. If Moning sees value in such massive scene rewrites, so do I. Embrace your inner editor!

Beta Readers

Beta readers are invaluable in the writing process. Usually trusted friends, they are willing to read your manuscript for free and give you their opinion. Done prior to editing, their main role is to find slow areas, missing elements that should be there, or unnecessary inclusions. Ask them to tell you if it sucks. And where. And why. If you insist upon this brazen honesty and can take the brutal truth, your writing and story will be all the better for their invaluable feedback.

You can read more about the topic in my post from January of this year, Beloved Beta Readers.

In my humble opinion, beta readers are a key element in the writing process and an integral part of any writers team.

And keep an eye out this Wednesday! I’m sharing a behind-the-scenes look into my team in The Beta Reader Interview. 🙂

Online Workshops

This spring, about a month before I sent Forged in Dreams and Magick to my editor, I took an editing workshop. Yes. You read that correctly. Unfortunately, I’m unable to leash my anal-retentive side everywhere. Hey, perfectionism is a valuable asset! So I allowed the overkill to occur.

And you know what? I’m SO glad I took that editing workshop.

The professional-editor instructor reinforced things I already knew and introduced techniques I hadn’t considered on my own. I swept through the manuscript and employed all the new nuggets of wisdom I’d gleaned before I sent it off to my editor.

The result? She said mine was the most polished manuscript she’d ever received. Did I take that as an ego boost? Nope. My extra diligence helped to make the product the readers will hold in their hands The Best Book Possible, which is all that matters to me.

The Price and Value of Editors

A strong reason for doing the Transparency in Self-Publishing series is to help writers understand more of the self-publishing process than I did when embarking upon it. Editing is no exception.

Editing is EXPENSIVE.

There. I hope that saves you from the heart-stuttering sticker shock I had. My editor sensed my unpreparedness and blessedly broke the news to me gently, but I gasped for air nonetheless. And researcher me should have known, as pricing is easy to find online. You will also find that pricing and experience varies significantly. After the sticker shock wore off, I vetted my choices carefully, asking for references and speaking to said references before shelling out the wad of cash for the much-needed service.

How expensive? Well, I was initially thinking $500-1000 for my 100,000 word novel. Perhaps, I’d read an article or two on book lengths of 50,000-70,000 words and hadn’t paid close attention. I truly hadn’t paid much attention at all and just had a lower-than-reality ballpark figure in my head. The cost for the developmental and copy edits was $1,750 for my 100,000 words. That didn’t include proofreading or formatting.

Lucky for me, we had a savings account to dip into. From there, proofreading and formatting seemed a bargain at around $400.

The value of the edits? PRICELESS.

I can’t underscore enough the incredible benefit gained from good editing and proofreading. Sure, they caught every typo and proper hyphen usage I’d missed. And I’m apparently the queen of dangling modifier, emdashes, and ellipses. But even greater than all of those corrections? The continuity issues, plot holes, historical inaccuracies, and conflict issues that were captured and corrected.

Every item corrected through the editing process keeps the reader out of grammar-groaning mode. Instead, they get lost in your engaging story, exactly where you want them to be.

How Much Editing is Enough?

Edits need to happen until you have The Best Story Possible.

I imagine the need varies from writer to writer. Anal-retentive me believes the story should be in the best condition possible prior to every stage.

My beta readers deserved to read a sufficiently edited version. Prior to sending to the professional editor, I swept through the story once on my PC with beta-reader suggestions and a second time on my Kindle. Prior to the proofreader? Yours truly proofread my copy edit changes again on my Kindle, reading every single word of the manuscript from the first page to the last.

A side note here: I find reading the manuscript on my Kindle to be invaluable. I catch many typographical errors and reading-flow issues on my Kindle, and believe reading the manuscript on an e-reader helps our eye catch more flaws.

Why go through all the time and effort of reading through before each professional stage? Isn’t that what they’re paid to do?

Well, that baby is MY manuscript. Anything I can do to polish it to shine, I’m willing to do. No matter the time or effort necessary. If each team member has the manuscript in the best condition possible, then they can make it even better.

As a well-qualified and hard-working team, we publish The Best Book Possible.


Thank you for joining me for the Transparency in Self-Publishing Series! More on many of the topics can be found in my posts in the Writing Tidbits category, including Seducing Your Story ~ The Magic of Editing

I’ll likely add more posts to this series in the near future, perhaps one on budgeting and another on publishing decisions. Let me know if there is a fresh topic you’d like to see here or one you want expanded upon.


Also, please mark your calendars for the upcoming posts and events:

9/11 – The Beta Readers’ Interview
9/16 – Forged in Dreams and Magick promotion event begins (organized by AToMR Tours) *
9/21 – Forged in Dreams and Magick launch party hosted by Bookish Temptations (begins 7pm EST on blog and Twitter)
9/23 – Forged in Dreams and Magick RELEASE DAY!
9/23 – ARC Review Tour begins and promotion event continues (through 9/28)

* Any bloggers interested in signing up for the promotion event can still do so by clicking on Forged in Dreams and Magick AToMR Tour link here. Sign-ups for the promotion event will remain active until 9/25. Although the Review Tour portion of the promotion is now closed, reviewers can still obtain review copies either by contacting me through my Kat’s Connections page or by requesting a copy from NetGalley.

A huge thank you to everyone posting the wonderful early reviews of Forged in Dreams and Magick on Goodreads. I greatly appreciate each of you for taking the time to read and review the book. That so many of you love the story and are raving about the writing means the world to me, especially given the effort taken to write the best book possible. I’m incredibly grateful and truly honored.

I shall endeavor to write many more of the best books possible for you to read in the months and years to come.

Your humble shoe,

~ Kat

© 2013 by Kat Bastion

Transparency in Self-Publishing Series: The Price of a Book

Good morning, everyone!

Today marks exactly four weeks until the release of Forged in Dreams and Magick, and it’s the perfect time to talk about a very important book-publishing decision.

The price of a book.

Do authors take this decision lightly? Is it arbitrary? Are there blindfolds and dart boards involved?

Not in my world.

There are many components of creating a book, and each one deserves proper attention with research and sound reasoning. While I spent my time over the last year writing and researching, I read along the way from many sources that the four most important elements of a successful book are the story, book description, cover, and price.

Although price is listed last in the list, I centered my attention around price earlier this year. Before I sent the story off to the editor. Before I had polished the book description. Before I had begun to research cover designers.

That is just how important the price of a book is to me. I’ll share with you why, what I found, and what I decided.

Best Price Picture from Shutterstock

Price in a Business Model

I suppose to be perfectly honest, I’d been researching price about twenty years ago. In my last year of obtaining a BSBA, we took a required course on business operations.

The entire semester was a rather unorthodox. The mission? Simple. Be the best team of six in selling widgets. (Yes, I kid you not. Widgets.) First place went to the company who made the most net profit.

We spent very little time in the classroom and an enormous amount of time in a computer lab with archaic machines (even for that time) blinking white cursors at us on black screens. Planning and strategy meetings were held in the business school lounge and the student union.

Of course, my team had to have two fashion divas on it {coughs}, so we ensured our widget was a luxury widget. There might (or might not) have been spying on the other teams to be sure that our widget was the highest-priced, highest-quality widget. {hides my mission impossible gear}

Now, we knew we had our work cut out for us. It only stood to reason that a well-run company with a low-priced product would sell well all on its own. The masses could afford the lowest price widget even if their product quality was sub-par. Our challenge was to compensate for our high price with the best strategy possible. From our budget, we apportioned a great amount of money to developing the best product. We spent the appropriate amount of money into distribution to reach those customers we were targeting. And we spent a large amount of money on marketing.

Miraculously, we came in second. I say miraculously, because in our bravado of thinking we could come out on top even though we’d emulated what every elite brand worldwide had ever done, we’d guessed wrong. Our thinking was flawed.

Guess who won first place in the semester? Who was always destined to win first place? The lowest-priced widget. The entire semester was designed to teach us all that nugget of information.

Aha! So, does that mean the lowest priced book will always make an author the most money possible?

Not exactly, my friends.

Keep reading . . .

Imputed Value

My research earlier this year on price and marketing included reading every article I could find from all sources, but mostly included self-publishing authors, Digital Book World, Publisher’s Weekly, The Huffington Post, Forbes, and the most important and ongoing one of all . . . diligent weekly scanning of the Amazon Best Sellers lists and an occasional glance at the New York Times Best Sellers list.

I first read about Imputed Value in Elle Lothlorien’s fabulous guest post on Joe Konrath’s A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing: Why Your Novel is a Tall, 6-Pump Vanilla, Breve Latte Grande, Extra Hot, Heavy Whipping Cream, Extra Dry Cappuccino (Or It Should Be).

Well, hell. If any of you have read Forged in Dreams and Magick’s early reviews on Goodreads, my book IS all that.

Tall? An alpha-male buffet.

Extra hot? Oh, the scorching, emotionally charged sex scenes . . .

Ooops . . . I digressed.

Lothlorien’s article beautifully illustrates the importance of price from the concept of the inherent value of the item. In other words, a higher price will command more attention simply because it’s perceived to have greater worth.

The college student in me flared to life, and I saw that she was on to something. But with that fashion-diva, second-place win under my education belt, I felt further research, thought, and study were in order.

Considering the Reader

In the fledgling stages of my consideration of book pricing, my first thoughts have been to the reader. The future buyers of my books have been a major factor in consideration of price all along.

That’s right. Ahead of my lining my pocket, I’m thinking of how the reader will be able to afford my book. I think it should be an important consideration of every single author.

I am that reader too.

I’m the reader who is so in love with her husband that when he argued against buying Clive Cussler’s latest release because it cost $12.99, I confiscated his Kindle and downloaded it as my “gift” to him.

I’m the reader who is so addicted to Karen Marie Moning’s writing, I wait on the edge of my seat for her new release and swallow the hard pill of the $14.99 Kindle price to be able to read it immediately.

I’m the reader who just discovered Nalini Singh’s incredible writing in her Psy/Changeling Series who blinks hard every time I download the next book in her already twelve-book series, each one at the Kindle cost of $7.99. You do the math. {hears my credit card groan}

Who decides those outrageously high prices?

I’ll give you a hint. It’s not the authors.

Publishers decide what you will pay for their books. More on publishers in just a moment . . .

In considering the reader, I’ve made a lot of decisions. Because I chose to self publish, I was able to have total control over the process: I wrote the best story possible by running it through several rounds of my own deep edits before my beta readers ever had the chance to give their opinion. I created the best book possible by hiring a professional editor, a professional proofreader, and a professional to do the formatting. I created the best cover possible by hiring a design professional known to create spectacular covers.

When putting the reader first with regard to price, I did not consider the writing hours logged in the over two years it took to write, edit, and promote the book. I did not consider the awards the book has garnered. I am not considering the early rave reviews the book is receiving.

Why? Because the fact that I could charge more for the book makes no difference to me. I want to ensure that readers can buy something of quality for a low price.

They are making the important decision to buy my book, and I want readers who do so to be glad they made the choice in every way.

A final consideration to the reader, which I felt was an important one, is the great amount of savings I realize in the book’s price versus net by being a self-published author. Rather than pocket those savings myself, my intention the entire time has always been to pass those savings on to the reader.

The Department of Justice: Apple, Publishers, and the Price-fixing Case

If you’re a writer, reader, or book blogger, and you haven’t caught wind of the Department of Justice cracking down against Apple and the big five publishers in Apple’s attempt to gain a competitive (and illegal) advantage over Amazon, visit this article and press release on Digital Book World: Department of Justice Wins Antitrust Suit Against Apple. I hope you take the time to read the article. It’s eye-opening.

The decisions of heavyweights in the industry affect the consumer. Us. The readers.

A snippet from the article’s included press release:

““As the department’s litigation team established at trial, Apple executives hoped to ensure that its e-book business would be free from retail price competition, causing consumers throughout the country to pay higher prices for many e-books. The evidence showed that the prices of the conspiring publishers’ e-books increased by an average of 18 percent as a result of the collusive effort led by Apple.”

Don’t despair! Digital Book World also has another fabulous article: Why Ebook Best-Seller Prices Will Continue to Decrease.

Did you happen to catch the last reason listed? {smiles slowly} . . . “3. The rise of self-publishing.”

MmmHmmm . . .

Best Seller Lists

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been scanning the Amazon Best Sellers lists and occasionally glancing at the New York Times Best Sellers list. I say occasional, because I only jumped over there a half a dozen times out of curiosity to see how staying power at the top spots in Amazon’s list translated into placement on the New York Times list.

What did I learn? What can any of you learn?

What I learned is that class in college taught me well. And keeping a watchful eye those lists, I continued to be a very diligent student.

I only watched a hand full of genre lists on Amazon. Namely those categories where my book would be listed, those categories of other books I read, and the hottest best sellers. Those include, under the category of romance: time travel, fantasy and futuristic, erotic, contemporary, and under the category of literature and fiction’s genre fiction: action adventure and coming of age.

(By the way, choosing categories is an entirely different research topic that came to light by watching those lists. I’ll likely share my findings on category selection in an upcoming Transparency in Self-Publishing Series post.)

By watching the lists on a daily or sometimes weekly basis, I learned something very valuable. Most of the time, the top of the list was dominated by books priced $3.99 or under. Any time a well-known best-selling author released a book, it sometimes rose to the top to take the number one spot in its category. If it did, it didn’t stay there long. Lower priced books edged out higher priced books. Those lower priced books, held their spots the longest.

In fact, as I’m typing this post at 10am EST on August 26, 2013, in the romance category, only two titles are greater than $4.99: Risky Business by Nora Roberts is at #13 priced at $5.38 and Burn by Maya Banks is #19 priced at $8.89.

The rest of the titles break out as follows:

8 at $ .99
5 at $3.99
2 at $4.99
2 at $2.99
1 at $1.99

If you watch those lists as I have, you see the same trend happen over and over again.

In the world of price, where the almighty dollar is king, the customers are speaking with power. The cream, as chosen by the reading public, floats to the top. The heavy-priced, even best-selling titles, sink.

The Best Price for a Book

There is no magic price for a book that guarantees the book’s success. Big publishers have been searching for years for the perfect recipe for a best seller, but they haven’t found it yet. Various elements increase the odds of a book’s success. My opinion is that after you write the best story possible, create the most compelling book description, and design an eye-catching book cover, price is the next most important element and carries a large amount of influence, perhaps equal or marginally greater in weight to a reader than each the other three to a debut author, a self-published author, or even a best-selling author.

I say equal or marginally greater influence, because cost is dictating purchasing behavior by readers. I see it on my Twitter timeline. Some are balking at $8.99. Some draw the line at $5.99. Many buy so many books, they have only a few of their favorite authors on auto-buy above $3.99.

Remember when I mentioned that I wanted to pass my cost savings on to the reader? Let me walk you through what I meant by that:

If I went through a big-five publisher at $9.99, it would only net me $.99 at the traditional 10%.

That’s right, 10% on the old-school contracts with publishers. (Now I heard some authors are fighting for 50% of digital sales. But most are losing. I’ve read the most business savvy are striking deals in the 30-35% range. Let’s be generous and assume 30%.) That brings the net to an author up to $3.00. Yay! Don’t celebrate yet. In most circumstances, agents serve as gatekeepers into the big publishers. They take 15%. So now we’re down to $2.55 net profit. before costs and taxes.

Well, guess what?

If I price my book at $3.99, at Amazon, I make about 70% of my list price, which is $2.79.
At Barnes and Noble the royalty is 65%, which at $3.99 makes me $2.59.
Both are equal to or greater than the net I would make at a big publishing house.

That calculation, and the fact that I wanted to pass the self-publishing savings on to my readers, swayed my decision to price at $3.99.

But then, I saw an article that set in stone the decision. The article, New Smashwords Survey Helps Authors Sell More Ebooks by Mark Coker, is a gold mine of information for us price-researching types. In particular, I love the yield graph results described in #6 and their closer look at it in #7:

“I predict that within three years, over 50% of the New York Times bestselling ebooks will be self-published ebooks. It’s possible I’m being too conservative.”

The gist of the entire article, however, demonstrates the point made by my wise instructor so many years ago in college.

{smiles slowly}

You can have the best book, the best description, the best cover, and the best marketing. But only if you have it priced low enough for the greatest amount of readers to buy it, will your book sell well.

Quality AND Low Price

Both quality and low price equals value to a consumer in any product or service. It means we the buyer are getting a good deal.

Please remember the value you receive when buying well-written books at low prices. In fact, write a great review of the books that you discover and love. Your taking the time to do so, helps in each book’s success. Which helps authors keep those book prices down. Which, in turn, helps readers to be able to afford to buy more books. And so on . . .

Eventually, as we celebrate and exercise the power we as readers and self-published authors have in our buying power, the book industry will take notice. They will realize that it’s not in raising prices for them to win that is key.

It’s in lowering prices so that everyone wins that is the most important pricing decision of all.

I hope you’ve all enjoyed my foray into The Price of a Book.

Let me know what you think!

Your humble shoe,

~ Kat

© 2013 by Kat Bastion

Transparency in Self-Publishing Series: Extraordinary Book Bloggers

Wow. I am overwhelmed with how amazing the welcoming group of book bloggers (and reviewers) are.

I don’t even know where to begin with the gratitude I feel toward such a generous breed, but like all good stories, the beginning is usually a good place to start.

An Incorrect Prediction

The past is not always an accurate predictor of the future.

At the writing conferences I attended in 2010 and 2011, several workshops on social media wrinkled their noses at blogging. Back then, apparently something I’d not even become familiar with had already run its course. The prediction and advice with regard to an author blogging was: don’t bother.

Blogging was old hat. Not beneficial for an author’s career. A waste of time and effort.

Boy, have things changed. Rapidly.

Thankfully, I chose to look beyond the dated advice of a few and created my own blog in July of 2012. Meant to be a means for sharing publishing adventures and news about my upcoming books, it has grown into an opportunity to reach readers, other bloggers, and make connections and friends.

Fast Forward to Present day

Book blogging today has become a vast network of readers and reviewers connected by one thing . . . a love of books.

A vibrant community of book bloggers has blossomed, flourished, and continues to grow. Not only are book bloggers a trusted source of reviews and book recommendations for readers (and us authors who love to read), for many readers, book bloggers are the only source of recommendations for both self-published and traditionally published books.

The Brave Solicitation

As the upcoming release of Forged in Dreams and Magick approaches, I’m having more and more interaction with book bloggers. Initially, as a naturally shy person (yes, believe it or not it’s true), I felt enormous relief when I’d secured tour and promotion slots with AToMR Tours to gain reviews and exposure for before and through the release. After all, I didn’t have to ask all these people I don’t know directly. AToMR Tours would do it all for me.

Which they have and did, an invaluable service that I’m immensely grateful for.

But . . . I decided to become the brave warrior I depict in my novel and throw myself out there to solicit book bloggers who might not work with AToMR Tours. I crafted a professional letter, but tailored each email to the individual blog I was soliciting. If their interests in books fell in line with my own, I sought common ground with them in the very first paragraph of the email.

A Humble Approach

My request to the hundred and fifty (or so) bloggers I contacted was very humble. Because I was asking busy people, most who have kids and/or jobs and a TBR (to-be-read) book pile that rivals Mt. Everest, for something very valuable—their time and opinion—I was thankful they were even reading my email. I’d be thrilled for them to request my book.

In fact, after carefully reading each and every site’s review policies and scanning through their blog (which took 5-10 minutes, and I believe is the very least a requesting author should do when asking for hours and hours of their time reading your book and crafting their review of your hard work), I didn’t expect a response from many of them. Some specifically stated they would only reply if they were interested.

In anticipating my book request being among thousands they read through with bleary-eyed apathy, I set my expectation bar low.

The Unexpected Response

Replies began to populate my inbox. And it was not only what the overwhelming majority said but how they said it that surprised me.

First of all, a few responded with a line or two telling me how they really loved the book description, but were too buried under books that they were already committed to reviewing to have the time to review mine. I appreciated their even taking the time to respond.

A couple of the blogs said they wouldn’t have the time to review, but wanted to help me with the promotion of my book.


This was my first clue that I was the new kid on the block. I ask them for a favor, and even with their busy schedules, they want to help me. Incredibly grateful for space on their calendar, I resoundingly replied with excitement that I would love to included in a guest post or interview (or whatever they’d suggested) and thanked them for the opportunity.

Those that did reply requesting an ARC copy to review?

Thanked lil’ ol’ me for giving them the opportunity.

Thanked lil’ ol’ me for thinking of their blog.

And many? Asked me to also provide them with links once the book goes live to share and help promote the release to their social media networks. And they hadn’t even read my books yet.

Again, all I have to say is . . .

Wow. I am overwhelmed.

Above and Beyond

A small group of bloggers I’ve become close to over the last year (about six or so) have always cleared a place on their schedule for me. You know who you are, and I love you for all that you’ve done and continue to do to support my writing endeavors.

With other bloggers, we’d followed each other on Twitter for over a year, and although we’d only talked once or twice, the moment I struck up the heart-racing conversation with my request, they pulled me into their welcoming arms like I was long-lost family.

{takes a deep breath}


And now that some of those bloggers have reviewed my book? They’re touting it on Goodreads, Twitter, their blogs, and even on other author’s blogs. And together we chat. And laugh. And commiserate. And swoon. It’s so amazing how coming together through a book can bond book lovers. I’m overwhelmed daily by the generosity of strangers who embraced me so readily as a friend.


Speechless in Gratitude

Yep. This writer has gone speechless. The repetitive monosyllabic word “wow” keeps coming out. The medical diagnosis for my condition is “mind blown”, but I’m pretty sure they don’t make a pill for being humbled by such awesomeness, and frankly, I wouldn’t want the cure.

I guess that’s what happens when in today’s self-centered society, a class of people show you their hearts first. In my experience, book bloggers are leading by example, rewriting history about how people should treat one another. With kindness, acceptance, and grace.


So when eloquent words fail, and you try to describe how you feel the best way you can, sometimes simple words become the best.

Thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for being the generous-hearted souls that you are.

In my opinion? Book bloggers are awesome! You all rock!

Your greatly humbled and appreciative shoe,

~ Kat

© 2013 by Kat Bastion