Scribd Free Trial Link!

GET A TWO MONTH FREE TRIAL! I recently converted my free Scribd ebook trial to a monthly subscription because I was using it so much.  I love it!

Sign up for a free 60 day free trial to Scribd

My favorite thing is their audiobook library.  I've listened to ERAGON, THE SELECTION series and THE RAVEN BOYS series so far.  This month they changed their audiobook service so I only get 1 free audiobook/month, but it's still worth it, thanks to the thousands of books from major publishers and self-publishers I can read free as part of my subscription.  

The books and audiobooks they carry are more to my taste than Amazon's Kindle Unlimited program, and I think it's a better deal than Audible's program.

Scribd has apps for your PC, Android, and Apple devices. You won’t be able to use it on a device that is only an ereader, but they’ve got you covered for your tablet and your phone.  My favorite way to listen to a book at home is to download it on WiFi and play it over my Bluetooth speaker while I clean the kitchen or make dinner.

To get the Scribd free trial, just click here and give them your information. You will have to give them either a Paypal address or your credit card at the time you sign up, so remember to make a note about when you need to cancel if you decide not to continue a subscription. It is easy to cancel by accessing your account and choosing “Order History” in the Account section. There will be a link to unsubscribe at the bottom of the page.

Let me know if you would be interested in reading my series on Scribd!  I haven't ever published through them so I'm not sure how difficult it is, but if there's enough interest I will figure it out.




Read or Write Anywhere Giveaway

Summer is about to begin! 

But just because it's summer doesn't mean we should stop reading and writing. I’ve teamed up with the YA Chicks and many participating authors on a global campaign to encourage readers, writers, students, and teachers to share pictures all of the places—both ordinary and extraordinary—where they are reading and writing. This is open to all readers/writers of both middle grade and young adult books!

You can also take part in...


Every author participating in this campaign is giving away books, critiques, swag and/or Skype visits.

So are you ready?  Drum roll….

Can you guess where I am? 

Here are some clues to help you:

  1. The thing behind me is one of my son's favorite foods
  2. It was also my High School mascot - The Russets (Seriously!)
  3. This museum isn't in my hometown, but it's just down the road
  4. I'm not from Iowa!
  5. "Famous Potatoes"

 Once you’ve figured out where I’m reading, head over to the YA Chicks site and enter the giveaway by inputting each author’s name and your guesses about our locations. Every author location you guess correctly increases your chances to win.  

  For even more chances, post a picture of yourself reading or writing on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #ReadOrWriteAnywhere (must have the hashtag).

And for more chances to win a copy of Outage, enter the Goodreads Giveaway, the Apocalypse Whenever Giveaway, and my Facebook launch party on Friday night, May 29th.


For writer prize packs:

  Post pictures of yourself writing in a fun location on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #ReadOrWriteAnywhere. Then follow the directions on the Rafflecopter giveaway to let us know you did it. 

  For even more chances, gather your writer friends together and post a group shot with the hashtag #ReadOrWriteAnywhere (must have the hashtag). And hey, since you're already together, why not host a write-a-thon?


For teacher prize packs:

  Post pictures of your class reading or writing on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #ReadOrWriteAnywhere (must have the hashtag). 

  Then let us know you did it when you enter the Rafflecopter. If you don't have a Twitter or Instagram, you can email your picture directly with the picture pasted directly into the email (no attachments--we won't open them) AND the subject, “Read or Write Anywhere.” 

  You can also check out the YA Chicks Read or Write Anywhere lesson plan, available on their site


Now, what are you waiting for? Get out there and READ OR WRITE ANYWHERE!



Why I Wrote Outage

It's been just over a year since I started writing Outage, and I've been getting questions from people that want to know how I came to write it.  They ask me about my inspirations and how I chose the genre and characters.  I never would have guessed that I would forget those things, but I did!

I remembered that a friend and I did NaNo together last year but I couldn't remember whose idea it was, or why we did it, so today I went back through my email to see how this whole thing started.  It's kind of funny re-reading it all because I had no idea what I was doing.  

Here are snippets of some of our conversations, shared so that next time I have to answer questions I'll remember how clueless I was and how spontaneously the whole thing started.  Also, in case I'm ever tempted to romanticize the process or my motivations maybe this will keep me honest.  :)


Me - I'm probably not doing nanowrimo next month.  I'm too unfocused.  My life is blurry.  :)


1:15 PM (fickle) Me - I have decided on the spur of the moment that I will take the november writing challenge.  Since I haven't planned for it I will probably fail, but I need to write.  Are you doing it?

1:19 PM My friend (such a great friend!  Look how she jumps in with both feet) - I will do it with you.  We will compare daily writing numbers. I need to write too.

5:19 PM Me - Now if only i knew what to write about.

8:08 Me - I'm thinking girl (15ish) on grandpa's farm while her parents are off on an exotic vacation when an EMP attack is launched over the US.  Grandpa dies of heart attack, girl has to survive on farm with no electricity, eventually turning it into a refuge for other "orphans" of the attack.

I was thinking of making her a Mormon, but not being heavy-handed with it or making it the point of the book.  It's the kind of thing I like reading.  It just doesn't have anything about it that makes me say, Wow, that sounds amazing.  Or Wow, I haven't read anything like that before.  I hate to go into it thinking it's a mediocre premise.

9:17 PM My friend - Your idea isn't mediocre. That'll come.

10:12 PM Me - The mediocrity will come?  lol


6:42 AM My friend (she's in an earlier time zone, so here's her response the next morning) - LOL not the mediocrity!  The 'pow' moment.

1 AM Me -  I started liking my story better as I went through the outline.  It's still all very standard apocalypse fare, but maybe my characters will make it interesting.  I didn't write any of the book-book tonight because I'm giving myself credit for coming up with the idea for the story and writing chapter summaries for the whole book in just one day.


11:07 AM  And here's a (not) proud moment for Me:  I'm so not a writer, lol.  I just want money.

My friend - Is it fun for you though? It must be fun, or you wouldn't do it! Painting was fun for you. This must be, too, you don't stick to things you hate. And I don't know that you're not a writer, because you write. You've written more than me!

12:45 PM I'm not a total lost cause, since I decided on a noble theme less than 2 hours later.  Me:  I am going to make the importance of family the most major theme.

This was a turning point for me.  Once I figured out that Outage would be a post-apocalyptic exploration of family relationships, I was ready to write.  I didn't know the details and I still had to get to know my characters, but once I defined that theme a lot of things really fell into place.


5:00 PM Me - If I finish I'm going to thank you first in the credits.  I'd never do this if I couldn't complain to you about it the whole time.

11/7/13 My friend - One day I'll actually have a book published and it'll be partly because of you because if I can't talk to you about it I'd never write!

Thank you to my very best writing friend for always having my back and talking me down from all of my ledges.  One of these days I'll put credits in the back of a book, and you'll be the first one I thank.  

And to all aspiring authors - Find a writing buddy.  Mine has made all the difference in the world to me.





State of Pursuit and Book Giveaway

One of the unexpected benefits of writing Outage has been discovering other authors that share my love of post-apocalyptic story-telling.  Summer Lane is one such author, and her new book, State of Pursuit, just released today.  

State of Pursuit is the fourth in the Collapse series by Summer Lane which starts with State of Emergency.  I had to read the first book as soon as I found it, because it's an EMP story with a fantastic female leading character.  

Her 4th book, State of Pursuit, is just as good.  It's a post-apocalyptic military adventure novel, with just the right amount of romance between main characters Cassidy and Chris.  The author has a real knack for writing dialogue as well as action scenes, and I'd say her newest book is her most polished yet.

Hop on over to Summer's blog where she's hosting a giveaway of six free dystopian, post-apocalyptic and mystery books (including Outage) and where you can get to know Summer better.  She is an amazing writer and person.  A huge congrats to her on her launch of State of Pursuit.  Go check it out today on Kindle or in paperback.


Cassidy Hart is alone.

Her Commander and the love of her life, Chris Young, has gone missing in action. A horrific battle with Omega has left too many good men and women dead, and Cassidy must bear the burden of leadership in the militia on her own.  But she's not about to give up.

With the help of her faithful friends - and former enemies - she will stop at nothing to rescue Chris and ensure victory for the militias in their fight against the all-powerful Omega forces.

The game has shifted.  This time, Cassidy is one step ahead of the enemy.

This time, Cassidy is in charge.



Here’s the thing that nobody tells you about being in love: 

It’s hard.

Anything good in life takes work, and lately, a lot of blood, sweat and tears. My relationship with Chris Young has always been defined not just by mutual attraction, but by the fact that we were brought together in the middle of a post-apocalyptic warzone.

Flowers and dinner dates? Never had those.

Firefights and battle fatigue? That’s more like it.


 About the Author:

Summer Lane is the author of the national bestselling Collapse Series, which currently includes State of Emergency, State of Chaos, State of Rebellion and State of Pursuit. She owns WB Publishing, Writing Belle, and is the founder of The Art of Storytelling, a creative writing curriculum program for children. She is also a creative writing teacher and journalist.

Summer lives in the Central Valley of California, where she spends her time writing, teaching, and writing some more. When she is not writing, she enjoys leisurely visits with friends at coffee shops, watching movies, reading, and visiting the beach.

June 6th -- 1,000 Copies Sold

At a little after 10am this morning California time, the 1,000th copy of Outage was sold.  Yay!!  The book has been out a little over 3 weeks, so this is a huge milestone for me, and very humbling.  I'm grateful that so many of you have chosen to pick up my book and read it.  I love hearing that you're enjoying it and that it's helping you think more about being prepared.  When I started this process last November I didn't have a clue that 8 months later, more than a thousand copies would be out in the world.  So amazing.

Today is June 6th, and I've finally caught the blog up, yay!  Now I can write about some other things besides how Outage came to be, like books I think you might like or authors I recommend.  I also want to share some neat survival products I've tried, and I'm definitely going to write a post about cooking zucchini bread in my solar oven.

If you're just joining me here, and would like to read some of the journal entries I wrote as I went through the process of writing Outage, I copied them into blog posts and you can read them in order.  Here's a link to the first entry on the blog:  Outage is Born



The Big Day: May 13th

May 13th, a little before midnight, was the day I hit publish on Amazon.  It took until the next morning before it was available.  I didn't tell anyone I'd launched the book that day because I wanted to make sure everything looked okay.  Good thing, too, because I could NOT get the formatting to look good on Barnes & Noble's site, and I couldn't figure Apple out at all that first day.  THEN, Amazon decided to combine the free preview and the full novel into one listing, so it looked like you could get it for free.  Man, what a day.  Just remember that if you think it's going to go perfectly, you are probably wrong.  Give yourself some time to recover and get things right before you send a bunch of people to buy your book.

On May 14th I wrote up an announcement and sent it out to my mailing list and told everyone on Facebook.  I have such nice and supportive friends and family, and between them and my mailing list I sold 90 copies on that first day and 59 on the second.  That was enough sales to help me reach my all-time high on Amazon's ranking:  #2,147.  So exciting!!

Sales slowed down until day 6 which was my low so far:  16 copies that day.  After that, things picked up and have been slowly, but steadily increasing.  My best day (apart from the first day) I sold 70 copies!  The other retailers have been harder to break into, but I've sold a handful on Google and BN, plus a couple on Apple.

Results of Free Preview

Once I got the cover finished I was ready to send my book out into the world.  I don't know yet who I'm writing this blog for, but right now since it's mainly for me to help me remember how Outage came about, let me share a few numbers about the free preview.  It was distributed for 5 weeks before I published the full length novel.  Here are my results from that:  

  • Free downloads after 3 weeks: 627  //  After 5 weeks:  ~1500
  • Facebook likes after 3 weeks: 1  //  After 5 weeks:  5
  • Mailing list signups after 3 weeks: 9  //  After 5 weeks:  92
  • Visitors to my website after 3 weeks: 118 unique visitors  //  After 5 weeks:  over 500 unique visitors
  • Amazon reviews after 3 weeks: 4  //  After 5 weeks: 7

A couple of notable things happened to give those numbers a boost - a link to the preview was distributed in a free book newsletter.  That generated about 700 free downloads in one day.  I didn't know what had happened at first, it was like Christmas.  :)  Second, I won a raffle for a really neat fireproof bag/cover on a popular survival blog, and both the blogger and the owner of the fireproof company mentioned my website.  This boosted my mailing list sign-ups like crazy.

I mentioned in a previous post that the lessons I learned from creating and publishing the free preview were absolutely priceless.  Even if I hadn't gotten so many mailing list sign-ups and free downloads, it would have been worth it, just for the experience I gained.

Original Cover

Just thought you might like to see the original cover for Outage (formerly known as Powerless).  I created this cover using a stock photo and editing it at  I really like their site and almost always use it for editing images.  However, it wasn't powerful enough to do what I wanted, so I downloaded a free editor called GIMP and watched Youtube tutorials until I knew enough to get by.

I still can't get over the difference!  I should also thank the artists and authors at for telling me that if the book was YA I needed to put a girl on the cover.  You'd think I would know that!

March/April - Preparing for Publication

I like to write a novel in the same order it will be read, and I feel like that about this blog too.  I shared the journal entries I wrote as I was writing Outage, so I'll share here a few things I did after I finished to get it ready for publication.

I mentioned in the last post that I had family and friends read it.  This was really critical in the evolution of the book, because they all pointed out different things that I could improve.  There were a few things they all agreed on too.  I think they may have worried that their feedback would hurt my feelings, but it was super helpful!  I am really grateful to have had so many people willing to read it in its rough state and make suggestions.

I also read it over a couple of times from start to finish and experienced it as a whole.  I did this early on, and then read it twice more just before it launched.  Each time I looked for different things.  Sometimes I was looking at story and character development, sometimes I was just looking for typos.  This was also really helpful, as it was fairly obvious where I needed to flesh out an idea or character, and I still catch typos here and there.  

An inspired friend suggested that I package the first 6 chapters in a free preview and published it a few weeks before I released the novel.  Best advice ever!  Making the preview available taught me so much.  It helped me get used to the publishing process at various websites and also brought some flaws to my attention - For example, the cover I'd made just didn't look good on the Amazon page with the other covers.  It looked home-made and it didn't say YA.  Another thing I discovered was that my book title ("Powerless") was already overused, and I would be competing with not only books, but series' of books called "Powerless."  I had time to change the title before going live.  Last, I realized my book description needed work.  Fixing that has been an ongoing process that still continues.

In this same time frame I did a whole bunch of things I'd never done before:  built a website, made a Facebook page, started a mailing list, became an affiliate with Amazon, got a post office box when I realized my mailing list was giving everyone my home address (haha, that took me about 2 hours once I noticed).

I also did a lot of research on how to promote a book.  This may be helpful down the road, but I haven't done much promotion initially.  My Facebook friends and mailing list fans were a big help in getting the book to chart on its launch day, and after that it's been mostly word of mouth and favorable Amazon algorithms.

So anyway, that's a glimpse into just a few of the things I did between finishing the rough draft and hitting the Publish button.  April was an extremely busy month for me as I had to learn how to do each of these, usually from the ground up.