Amazon has done a lot to make author dreams come true. Until Amazon, rejected manuscripts moldered in drawers, unloved and never-read. They gave authors the power to share stories with the masses.

So what has Amazon changed?

In November 2016, Amazon made two key changes to their author business model:

  1. They changed the rules for carrying inventory of print books. Rather than stock a minimum number of a specific title in a warehouse, they shifted focus to third-party vendors with titles on hand. Plus, they gave third-party vendors the ability to bid for the “Buy Now” button. Users don’t pay attention to who they’re buying from. Amazon orders fewer books and lowers inventory carrying costs. Customers don’t know the difference.
  2. Authors must pay for advertising to be seen on Amazon. Before November 2016, Amazon routinely offered users “recommended for you” or “similar books” on the product page for a particular title. Authors garnered additional sales because their books were being recommended. Now, those same slots are available for purchase through Amazon Marketing Services. Don’t have the budget to pay for pay-per-click advertising? Then nobody will see your books.

How these changes impact readers and authors

Third-party vendors often carry books obtained for free. Whether gotten through a Goodreads contest or as an advance or donated copy, many third-party vendors list books for sale when they obtained them for free. Authors don’t make a royalty on copies given in exchange for a review, used books, or copies won in a contest. Yet, both third-party vendors and Amazon are able to profit from our work. Why this matters: Most authors don’t bring in enough money to exist at the poverty level. I made more money as a twenty-two year old accounting clerk than I do today. Readers who truly care about supporting good stories shaft everyone when they buy into this system. Don’t complain about the quality of books if you’re not diligent about supporting authors who matter to you.

Authors have no way to know how many AMS clicks are legitimate. Authors can pay AMS MORE than their earned royalties. You read that right. AMS delivers thousands of impressions per ad. They know who’s likely to click on ads. Therefore, they show ads to shoppers who click, whether or not they buy. Why this matters: Amazon has touted its 70% author royalty as generous. Why publish with a traditional publisher who pays pennies per unit when you can get 70%, right? With AMS, it’s no longer that simple. In fact, it’s more likely that an author will PAY AMS more than their royalties earned in a given period. Clever to make authors pay more than they earn for the chance to be read.

Don’t want to spend money with AMS? Or participate in Kindle Unlimited? Then nobody will see your titles. In 2017, my online sales fell 90%. No, that isn’t a typo. I killed myself to keep my books high enough to be offered to shoppers as frequent alternatives. Very often, readers chose to give them a try. That exposure didn’t cost me anything, and Amazon still made money. Thanks to AMS, 2017 was my worst year as an author. (To help me turn that around in 2018, CLICK HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE).

What YOU can do to support hard-working authors

  1. Opt out of Kindle Unlimited.
  2. If you want to keep your favorite authors writing, BUY their books.
  3. As a corollary to 2 above, request those same authors’ books at your local libraries.
  4. Recommend your favorite authors’ books to other readers in your life.
  5. Or better yet, GIFT electronic copies to others.
  6. Try to buy NEW books whenever possible. Remember: Authors make NOTHING from used/won/free copies of their work.
  7. Communicate with your favorite authors directly. Join their e-newsletter lists. Be an enthusiastic fan. Make sure these authors know you’re on their team…..because Amazon will NEVER tell them.

Don’t have my books? RECTIFY THAT OMISSION RIGHT NOW! Get your very own shiny copies in your favorite formats BY CLICKING HERE.


Lately, I’ve been a busy girl. Here’s a short list of where I’ve been, what I’m working on for 2018, why I’m reading AND writing, how I plan to spend Thanksgiving and MORE.

Where I’ve Been Lately/Where I’m Going Soon

I got back on the appearance train with NINE appearances all over Wisconsin. In the featured photo, I’m with Vicky Calmes, director of Colby Public Library. They partnered with Colby Rural Arts Museum to bring me to the home of Colby cheese. (Yes, I bought some.)


I also had my first Los Angeles area appearance last week, AND I got to spend time with the exquisite Debra Fetterly. If you don’t read her blog, GET THEE THERE NOW!

Next week, I’m headed to Portland, Oregon for five appearances, including Tigard Public Library. TELL EVERY PORTLAND BODY YOU KNOW!

What I’m Working on for 2018

I already have library programs in the works for Wisconsin, New Jersey, and New York. We’re in negotiations for a major keynote speech in 2019.



Next January, I’m speaking at West Point’s Thayer Hotel WHERE I SET SCENES IN HARD TO DIE!! I even booked a room in the old portion of the hotel to see what stay there is really like.

Thanks to a lovely reader, I’m working on a coastal North Carolina appearance next February, where I’ll get to talk Theodosia for hours and hours. Ticketed event and advance meet-and-greet!



Plus, I’m headlining my first big-city business association meeting in Atlanta next March.


Why I’m Reading and Writing

Books I’ve Enjoyed Lately:

  1. The Lost City of the Monkey God by Douglas Preston – Set in the Honduran jungles, it provided key elements for my upcoming novel I Am Number 13.
  2. The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin – A little boy keeps asking for his other mother, the one he had before. A suspenseful novel of reincarnation and the lengths a mother will go to protect her son. And yes, I hope it gives my current project some additional flair.
  3. Among the Lesser Gods by Margo Catts – What a remarkable write! I read this one for sheer pleasure and was NOT disappointed.

I’m in the midst of edits for I Am Number 13. Last week, I shared a deleted scene. As I progress, I’ll post more deleted scenes. I’ll introduce readers to new characters, and I’ll tease final scenes as April approaches.


From an appearance in Waukesha, WI.

How I’m Spending Thanksgiving

I’m headed to Nagano, Japan to touch a 1,500-year-old statue of the Buddha. Purported to have healing powers, it is featureless from the millions of hands that have touched it for more than a millennia. The toxo parasite has destroyed part of my right eye, but it lives in my brain, lungs, and intestines. I guess I’ll be groping Buddha everywhere for my study of this ancient miracle worker.

My Japanese experience will be a chapter in my upcoming travelogue/memoir about the lengths people throughout history have been willing to go for peace, for hope, for healing, for a miracle. More than anything, I want this book to GIVE EVERY ONE OF US HOPE. Humanity is seething. We need something hopeful. We need this story, handed down to us through 30,000 years of chants and potions and beliefs and ceremonies.

There’s power in hope.

What have you been up to lately? Share in a comment!

Haven’t read my books? GET BUSY! Click here and read.


Do you have a haunted place?

Actually, I have more than one haunted place. Characters call to me through the twisting corridors of time. They pick the locales, and they nag and wail and banshee until I weave the stories they want revealed.

For Hallowe’en, I’m highlighting one of my haunted places.


Probably even more so since the latest series of earthquakes reduced so much urban fabric to rubble. But Mexico City is built on the ruins of the mighty Aztec nation. Its governmental palace in the Zocalo is constructed from Aztec stone. The beige in the Spanish building below once grazed the sky as pyramids.


As did the stone in Mexico City’s central cathedral.


James Wilkinson, the villain in my Nowhere series, died of an opium overdose in Mexico City. James Monroe sent Wilkinson to Mexico to help shape the nation in its break with the Spanish crown. The author of the Monroe Doctrine wasn’t shy about meddling in the affairs of neighboring nations, especially if the outcome meant a stronger United States.

Wilkinson was happy to play both sides if he ended up with a vast swath of Texas. Before he died, Mexico’s leaders agreed to give him millions of acres of prime Texas land.

How would the United States map appear today if someone hadn’t given Wilkinson too much opium?

Wilkinson was initially buried in Mexico’s Baptist church near the city center. Its dome is visible above the colorful buildings in the picture below.


When Wilkinson died, he was renting a house near the city’s horse track. Sprawl consumed the horse track long ago. City layers tease the ghosts from before. Urban planners preserved the racetrack in this circular city park and roadway.


Wilkinson would’ve strutted across this square many times in his perambulations. Workers exhumed his bones in the mid-1800s.


Today, he rests in a mass grave in the Mexico City National Cemetery. AND THAT’S WHERE READERS MEET HIM AT THE BEGINNING OF I AM NUMBER 13……….

Read more about Mexico City National Cemetery HERE.

Haven’t been to Nowhere? Get my books HERE.