Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Choosing a copyrighted quote?

In Wishing for You, one of the main characters is terminally ill. The reader knows from chapter four that he will not survive. As he's telling the heroine about his illness, he says that he wants "to live hard, right up until the moment my body gives out."

The heroine reacts with empathy, and in the original the manuscript, I had her speak a line from a poem by Dylan Thomas:"Do not go gentle into that good night." The hero responds with the poem's closing line.

Since that poem is still under copyright, I had to seek permission from the Dylan Thomas estate. They agreed to let me use it, but the cost surprised me—approximately a halfpenny per word for every book sold (in perpetuity.)

That works out to about 8% of the book's royalties (for 0.02% of the book's wordcount.) As perfect as the quote was, I decided against using it. While I appreciated the Estate's fast response and their willingness to work with me, I knew I had to find something with less cost.

Looking in the public domain

My editors and I brainstormed other poems that could work and avoid copyright restrictions. After a lot of discussion, we hit upon an amazing alternative: the final two lines of "Ulysses" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will.
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

As much as I would've loved to use the copyrighted quote, I'm glad we kept looking. Tennyson's words were in the public domain, and I was free to use them. They were equally meaningful, perhaps even more so for my hero. And toward the end of Wishing for You, when I needed another related quote, I returned to "Ulysses"--and was able to include a longer passage:

Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will.
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

- Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Dame Helen Mirren recently read this poem on The Tonight Show with Stephen Colbert. I leave you with her glorious reading of the final stanza of Ulysses.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Free tool for getting data and making graphs

I recently put a book on sale and paid for an ad campaign. Since I'm a software engineer in my day job, I was eager to explore the data after the ad ran, to see if I had good return on investment (ROI). I wanted to answer questions like:
  • What percentage of sales came from each major e-book retailer?
  • Did other books in the same series sell?
  • How many books were downloaded from Amazon each day?
Happily, I know of a great tool to help me find answers--and it's free! The tool is called SAS Graphics Accelerator®. It's a Chrome plug-in with a lot of amazing features. I can:
  • create data in the tool (by including CSV files or typing the data in manually)
  • extract data from web pages by "scraping" them
  • create all kinds of graphs, like bar charts, line plots, and pie charts
  • share those graphs with others
The Accelerator is designed to help the visually-impaired (VI) to explore graphics, but sighted users can benefit, too. Each time you request a graph, it is produced twice:
  • the typical visual way--the visualization view
  • through sound--the sonification view--so that VI users can "hear" the graph
Let me show you what you can do!

Here's my first example--a time-series plot to discover how many book units per day were downloaded in the first half of January. I requested a CSV file of sales data from Amazon, imported it into the Accelerator, and generated this graph. It took me 5 minutes of clock time--start to finish.

This second example isn't about my book sales. It just demonstrates how to scrape data, in this case, about Major League Baseball. I found a wikipedia page that has data on the Home Run Derby. I asked the Accelerator to extract the data from a table about TV viewership--then generated a bar chart of the number of viewers per year. This graph only took 3 minutes from curiosity to answer. (Note: simple HTML tables can have their data extracted, but complex ones might not. You are warned if the data cannot be extracted.)

So, if you're ever interested in exploring data and want a free, fun, easy graphics tool to help, check out the Graphics Accelerator.

Disclaimer: This tool is provided by SAS--my day job employer. But I'm not trying to sell you something--because free!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Bookbub deal for Whisper Falls

Whisper Falls is free until January 9! Download it now and read it later. (Or today would be good, too.)

If you enjoy the story, there are 3 more books in the series. You can buy the boxed set (all four books) on sale for 7.99 USD.

4 books for the price of 2!


Sunday, December 23, 2018

Books make great Christmas gifts

In Iceland, they call it "Jokabokaflod"--Christmas Book Flood. Icelanders have a long history (centuries!) of loving literature. Giving books as Christmas presents is a natural extension of that love.

In December, you'll find a lot of great deals on books, especially e-books. So send your loved ones the gift of discovery, new future-favorite authors, travel without leaving their homes, and worlds or ideas they haven't known.

I'll suggest 2 of mine. Whisper Falls (Book 1) is free as an e-book for the month of December, and the entire Whisper Falls series is on sale as an e-book boxed set for $7.99.

Whisper Falls buy links:

Friday, November 9, 2018

Veteran's Day blog hop from Romance Veterans

It's Veteran's Day weekend, a time to remember the service of military members everywhere.

I have joined with a group of fellow women veterans in a writing group called Romance Veterans, aka RomVets. We write romances of all kind. Adult and YA. Sweet to Sexy. In honor of Veteran's Day, we're holding a blog hop, with giveaways at each stop. There is also a grand prize of a $50 gift card, given to one participant.

The grand prize is open for entries from midnight Nov 10 until midnight Nov 12. Enter below.

To 3 winners (US only), I'm giving away a hardcover copy of either Julia Day book, Fade to Us or The Possibility of Somewhere. 

I always include a military character in my YA romances, like:
  • Fade to Us-- there are two heroines: Brooke and her autistic stepsister, Natalie. Natalie's father and Brooke's stepfather is Jeff--a recently-retired Army engineer.
  • The Possibility of Somewhere--the heroine Eden meets a new friend, Mundy. Mundy's late father was a Navy helicopter pilot, who lost his life in a helicopter crash.

My giveaway runs now through midnight Nov 12. Enter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

To continue on the RomVets blog hop, visit Samantha A. Cole next.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

YA Scavenger Hunt - Fall 2018

Hello, I’m Julia Day, your hostess for this stop with TEAM PURPLE!

This bi-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors…and a chance to win some awesome prizes! So enjoy your stop here and at the other 19 stops on Team Purple. Check out the other 6 teams too (blue, gold, green, organge, pink, and red). But play fast! This contest only lasts until Sunday, October 7, 2018.

First, a little about me.
  • My latest release, Fade to Us, is the book I'm featuring for the scavenger hunt as part of Team Purple. It's a sweet YA contemporary romance set during a summer musical theater camp. I'm an autism mom and was proud to write an autistic character as one of the trio of MCs.
  • I have my own giveaway. See the end of this post for details on how to enter.
  • Because I love to travel, I spend my vacations traveling the world. This year, it was England, Scotland, and Wales.
  • While in Scotland, I saw haggis, but I did not eat it.
Next, a reminder about the YA Scavenger Hunt.

For complete rules and instructions, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt - How to Hunt page. Directions: Below, you'll notice that I've listed my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the purple team, and then add them up (don't worry, you can use a calculator!).  Entry Form: Once you've added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.
Rules: Open internationally; anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian's permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by noon Pacific Time on Sunday, October 7. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.
Basically, enjoy exclusive content on each stop on the hunt, collect clues, enter personal giveaways, add up the clues (numbers), and return to the YASH site to enter for more prizes.

Here are all of the wonderful books you could win from Team Purple.

Now, introducing my guest author, Chelsea Pitcher.

Chelsea Pitcher is a karaoke-singing, ocean-worshipping Oregonian with a penchant for twisty mysteries. She began gobbling up stories as soon as she could read, and especially enjoys delving into the darker places to see if she can draw out some light. You can visit her at and follow her on Twitter at @Chelsea_Pitcher.

Now, let's learn more about her book This Lie Will Kill You . (Here is where you can Buy this Book!)

One year ago, there was a party.
At the party, someone died.
Five teens each played a part and up until now, no one has told the truth.

But tonight, the five survivors arrive at an isolated mansion in the hills, expecting to compete in a contest with a $50,000 grand prize. Of course…some things are too good to be true. They were each so desperate for the prize, they didn’t question the odd, rather exclusive invitation until it was too late.

Now, they realize they’ve been lured together by a person bent on revenge, a person who will stop at nothing to uncover what actually happened on that deadly night, one year ago.

Five arrived, but not all can leave.

Chelsea's exclusive content is a Spotify playlist.

Thank you, Chelsea, for joining us this week.

Find and follow Chelsea on social media:

Before you go...

I'm giving away a copy of Fade to Us (winner's choice of print or e-book.) Enter through the Rafflecopter giveaway below. The first question is my favorite team; hint: it's my team on the scavenger hunt.
(Privacy note: you will have to supply your email address to enter. I do not use use your private data for any reason other than to notify the winner.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Fade to Us has multiple main characters: Natalie, Brooke, and Micah. I think there are 22 letters in their names. Or did I miscount?

Don't forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of books by me and many others. Add up my number and the numbers of the other 19 authors on Team Purple so that you'll have the secret code to enter for the grand prize.

For your next stop on the hunt for Team Purple, click here to visit Eric Lindstrom.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Coming soon - YA Scavenger Hunt Fall 2018

The YA Scavenger Hunt is back again. Running from October 2 through 7, join 140 YA authors for fun, exclusive content, and prizes. Lots of prizes.

We are organized into teams of 20 authors. (I'm on Team Purple.) Each team will award one major team prize--20 books to one lucky winner. And individual authors will be giving out prizes, too.  So check us out. Join me here again, starting Tuesday, Oct 2.

For more details, visit the official YA Scavenger Hunt website.