My career in a single chart 📈

They say a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. It’s been more than six years since I took that first step and set off to be a writer, armed with nothing but thousands of books read and a vague dream I didn’t dare hope would come true. Unlike many writers who studied the craft and did everything by the book, I fumbled around like a bat in the sunshine, and over the years I made just about every mistake one could make in this industry. But I wouldn’t change a single thing, because each failure was a lesson learned. My career took shape with each book I wrote, with each publishing contract I signed, and each publisher I left. Six years ago I was scribbling my first novella on an old notebook, and today I’m still in awe of the technology that has become my business partner. Authors nowadays have access to incredible resources, for which I’m grateful every day. I am always excited to learn new things, always on the lookout to learn and improve both my craft and my marketing skills. And I’m even more excited to see my hard work is paying off.

This is most of my career in a single chart – my evolution as an author on Amazon. Picturing that vague dream that started six years ago, now I can’t believe how close I stay to that illusive #1, among thousands of brilliant authors and their fine works!

Author rank 15 august 2019

A new kindle book is published EVERY FIVE MINUTES on Amazon. According to the numbers up to date, there are over SIX MILLION EBOOKS on Amazon alone, and that number increases exponentially every year. It’s humbling and exhilarating to know I manage to stay afloat in this sea of words, and it motivates me tremendously that people all over the world read my stories. Some like them, some don’t, but I am happy they make an impression either way. As I’m expanding and exploring other genres, it’s my fondest wish to prove an author can be successful writing in several genres, and it’s my mission to write at least one story for each type of reader. Watch this space to see if I’ll succeed, and if you haven’t already, subscribe to my newsletter to receive the latest updates of my crazy, beautiful, breathtaking, heart-wrenching journey!

Yours,

Melinda

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Less than two days to get your FREEBIE!

Hi guys! If you haven’t seen my latest posts, I just wanted to send you a reminder about my FREE book promotion for my suspense romance, THE PLOT. You have until tomorrow night at 23:59 EST to download the eBook for FREE, and get the audio book for only $7,95 from AMAZON.

For those of you who don’t know the story, here’s the 30 second uncensored trailer. Subscribe to my YouTube channel to see more of these! 😉

Download your FREE ebook here and if you enjoy it don’t forget to please, please leave a review. 😀

And because one treat is never enough for me, I have another one for you too. Check out the Authors’ Billboard July contest, enter to Win one of 2 X $20,00 Amazon gift cards, and check out more great book deals to stock your Kindle!

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Have a fabulous summer! ❤

 

“Love, Christmas 2” made it to the Best Movies eBooks of All Time! @BookAuthority

Holy Moly, I’ve been off Twitter for a couple of days and here’s what I missed: the anthology Love, Christmas 2 – Movies You Love (The Holiday Series Book 2) published by our group, Authors’ Billboard, made it to BookAuthority’s Best Movies eBooks of All Time:
https://bookauthority.org/books/best-movies-ebooks?t=izqov2&s=award&book=B07G4K5YR2

BookAuthority Best Movies eBooks of All Time

BookAuthority is the world’s leading website for nonfiction book recommendations, helping people find the best books on any topic.
It covers topics that range from startups, marketing and finance, through javascript, artificial intelligence and bitcoin, to fitness, history and personal development.
BookAuthority serves millions of book recommendations every month, was ranked #1 on ProductHunt, and has been featured on CNNForbesand Inc.
Every day, their site scans the web for notable books on various topics, then collects dozens of different signals about each book (such as public mentions, recommendations, ratings, sentiment and sales history) and uses a propritary algorithm to rate each book.
Only the very best books are featured in BookAuthority’s lists.
To keep the site objective and unbiased, ratings are calculated based purely on data. BookAuthority does not accept authors’ requests to feature a book, nor do they charge any money to be featured.

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BookAuthority collects and ranks the best books in the world, and it is a great honor for my wonderful co-authors and me to get this kind of recognition. A million thanks to all our readers for your support! It’s moments like these that make us happy, accomplished authors. ❤

Is it worth admitting you made a mistake and trying to fix it?

Marilyn

Have you ever noticed most people are far quicker to criticize than to praise? I know it’s probably human nature, I even do it myself sometimes without wanting to, but since I was subjected to this treatment more than the average person, I learned not to be so quick to judge.

I became a writer six years ago, and like in any other job, I learned along the way. Even Nora Roberts and Stephen King have bad books. Nicholas Sparks admitted he will never publish his first two novels, because they were not as good as his later work. Unlike him, I published nearly everything I wrote. I don’t know if that’s unfortunate or not, because I learned everything I know about writing from actually making all the mistakes in the business. Sometimes I made them more than once, just to be sure I learned my lesson.  😒 But some readers don’t understand that one can become a better writer only with time and practice. Writers are human, like any other people, and no book is perfect. I’ve managed to revise most of mine, and among them is Unabridged, a romantic comedy that was a bestseller at the time of its release in 2015. Back then, the first edition received mixed reviews, and while it got a lot of five-stars, there were plenty of one-star ratings and comments from readers. Some of them were mean for the sake of meanness, but others raised valid points, which in the end helped me make Unabridged a better book.

This year I have finally managed to rewrite it with the help of my great editor, Susanne Matthews, and republished the new edition with a new cover to match.

I was happy about my accomplishment, and naïve enough to talk about it in one of the author groups I am part of. To my surprise, one of the members asked me in a somewhat harsh tone why I had published Unabridged in the first place if I thought it wasn’t that good. Her question took me by surprise, especially since this is an author of average romance with terrible cheap-looking covers (see, I have a mean streak too, but I try to keep it tamed! 😜 ). Anyway, I answered frankly, the way I always do, and told her I published the book because at the time I was proud of my accomplishment, I wanted to share it with the world, and yes, I needed to make money from my writing—because the damn bills won’t pay themselves, no matter how much I sweet talk them. What shocked me the most though was that no one in that group thought of saying a nice word about the fact that I admitted my mistakes, and that I cared so much about what readers thought I decided to rewrite my book.

Some of the reviewers said Unabridged was mean and judgmental, yet here I was, in the real world, among real people, on trial for admitting and fixing a mistake I made. WTH? I certainly did not expect any medals, but I hardly expected to be judged for being less than perfect.

In the end, this was a good lesson regarding the way people think. And although I have read several terrible books lately, some of them from my favorite authors, I decided not to leave any bad reviews. Because I know that writing a book, even a bad one, is a tremendous effort, and I’m in no position to cut off wings I haven’t built. Life is too full of drama as it is, and I agree with Marilyn Monroe: imperfection is beauty. Who wants to be perfect? It must be boring as hell.

10/25/2018 – A small step for humanity, a huge milestone for me 🏆

A little over a year ago, the seed of what seemed like a crazy dream took root in my mind and heart: to become a USA Today bestselling author. Not only that, but I realized that if I made it, I would be the first Romanian in history to achieve this prestigious title. Since that moment, I worked relentlessly toward this goal, and I’m still amazed by how many incredible people I met on the way, people who joined me in my journey and fought hard to help me achieve my dream.

Together, we did it. I am a USA Today bestselling author!

https://www.usatoday.com/life/books/best-selling/week/2018/43/page/12/

USA Today

There are so many people I owe this accomplishment to, and if I miss anyone I apologize, but my hands are still shaking with excitement. Thank you Carmen, Mimi, Sue, Jackie, all my wonderful co-authors of Love, Christmas 2 and to all of you, my dear readers and friends, who bought this box set.

The hardest part was the torture of waiting and not being able to access the USA Today website – either because of GDPR or our famous hackers – but my dear friends kept me posted and sent me screen shots of our success, while I was stalking their posts and messages like a headless chicken. All in all, it was an experience I will never forget!

The most special THANK YOU goes to my husband, for being here for me, for believing in me, for offering moral and financial support, emergency hugs, pep talks, for playing housekeeper, tear-wiper, even chef when I was too exhausted, and never complaining when I worked twelve hours a day until 2 or 3 am, for keeping my spirits up with his endless supply of optimism, and for putting up with me – which is no easy job.

My soul mate, this victory is yours, as much – or even more – than it’s mine.     

we are the champions

Please help me make HISTORY today! 🏆

 

One of my favorite authors, Paulo Coelho, once said, “If you stop dreaming you stop living life.
I suppose he was right. I used to be a big daydreamer in my teens, but as the years passed, life and the inevitable disappointments got me down to earth. So I’ve decided I would set realistic goals for myself and work relentlessly to achieve them.
You may not believe this, but today it’s up to you to help me realize one of my biggest dreams: to be the first Romanian in history to become a USA Today bestselling author. And it costs you only 99 cents.
As I mentioned in my previous newsletter, I’m part of a Christmas anthology alongside 25 amazing authors, writers with incredible credentials who worked tirelessly for the past months so we can make my dream come true – together. To be part of our magic team, you just need to spend less than a minute and purchase the box set for 99 cents from one or all of these venues: Amazon,   iTunes,    Barnes&Noble  or   Kobo.

We need to sell as many books as possible to readers who support: B&N, Kobo and iBooks. Therefore, to encourage you, our readers, who buy books at those venues, if you reply with a link showing a purchase from any one of these 3 places, we will enter your name into the Giveaway, with a $100 Amazon gift certificate or a Paypal payment as the prize. You can enter as many times as you have purchase slips. The draw will be picked on Oct 23rd.
Just email your proof of purchase to authorsbillboard@gmail.com

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What’s your biggest dream? What steps are you taking to reach it? Join me and the rest of the authors today and tomorrow at our Facebook party and let’s chat! There will be great prizes, lots of giveaways, and we’ll simply have fun. Besides, it’s my first Facebook party, so I could use your support. 🙂
Thank you to everyone who has already purchased Love, Christmas 2, and for those of you who haven’t, I would appreciate it immensely if you invested 99 cents in my dream. Who knows? Maybe one day it will get back to you a million times more. ❤

The Diary – one year anniversary!

The Diary

Well, technically it’s been longer, since The Diary was initially published under another title, but last year on August 13th I was republishing the freshly-edited version of my suspense gothic romance. I thought I was done with it, I was and still am very proud of this book, but over time its magic has clung to my subconscious. Which is why I wrote Celebrity, another novel that shows how The Diary would be turned into a Hollywood movie. BTW, Celebrity is FREE this week, so if you want to grab a copy, all I ask for in return is a nice review 🙂

BUT this is not where the story ends. Prompted by readers, reviewers and my own urge to continue weaving stories about Hunter’s and Serena’s adventures, I have decided The Diary is the first book in a hopefully prolific series. So right after I finish editing my work-in-progress (I’ll treat you with a sneak peek next week! 🙂 ), I’m going to start writing the next Hunter and Serena book. No, I don’t have a name for the series yet, so if you’ve read The Diary, I would love to learn your impressions and ideas in the comments, as well as your suggestions for the next book in the series.

Until next week! ❤

Thank you_The Diary

Are you in on this Top 5 favorite TV shows?

Hi guys!

Summer is here, holidays are the lights at the end of the work tunnel, and some of us might actually have some free time for relaxation soon. 😍

As most people, I enjoy a good TV show, but since my hubby and I have SUCH different tastes (he likes the typical guy thing: crime, drama, things blowing up, blood and gore all over, and I prefer rom-coms and chicklit), we have some trouble choosing stuff to watch. Nonetheless, we both enjoy family shows, and those are the winners in my Top 5 favorite TV shows. 

So, let’s start with

#5: TWO AND A HALF MEN – the CBS show that basically paid Charlie Sheen to play Charlie Harper (which is 100% Charlie Sheen), and get awards for this! Not your average family show, but it certainly teaches us a thing or three about family, and how disfunctional things can get. Sick at times, rarely serious, always lough-out-loud funny!

Two and a half men

#4: SIREN – a new show from Freeform that–well–shows promise, not because of the newbie actors who are sometimes quite bad at it, but because the storyline is super original. At least, it’s nothing I’ve seen/read about before. I can’t decide if this show is horror, fantasy, or just an unlikely romance between man and mermaid, but so far I am hooked by the gorgeous settings and eerie atmosphere. The downside is that the first season, which just ended, had only 10 episodes, and the next season is scheduled for 2019. 😦

Siren

 #3: OUTLANDER – the rising star of Starz, which is already 3 seasons down, with season 4 expected this November. I was in love with the books loooooong before they became TV material, but at first I wasn’t sold on the show. However, the exceptional actors and incredible settings bring to life beautifully the powerful love story of Jamie and Claire, as well as their adventures while they try to change history. Diana Gabaldon certainly did!

Outlander

#2: THE MIDDLE – No wonder the first episode starts with Frankie dressed as Wonder Woman. Anyone who raises even one kid — not to mention three — is a hero! This is a perfect family show about your average imperfect family. For someone who doesn’t have kids yet, I wonder if I should take parenting lessons from this show… 🤔 Probably not, but it’s still fun and cozy.

middle

And now drum rolls please…

#1: THE KING OF QUEENS –  another winner from CBS! When I first saw this show I told my husband “We have to sue somebody. These people stole our life story!”

You guessed, the resemblance between this show and our life is so uncanny I could swear we served as inspiration, except the show started airing in 1998, and hubby and I got married in 2006. Still, I can’t believe there are three people in this world to resemble us so much, from funny, good-natured Doug, to loud-mouth, pushy Carrie, and… Arthur.😑 The only difference is that he isn’t living in our basement. Other than that, the similarities are downright spooky. Hubby gets an eye twitch whenever we watch it. 😀 Whether or not you have an Arthur too, this show is definitely one you have to watch at least once in your lifetime!

King

I hope you guys liked my Top 5 fav TV shows, and if you’d like to help me expand my list do let me know in your comments what shows you like and why. ❤

 

Review of The Diary from InD’tale Magazine

Good Sunday morning, everyone! It’s a dreary, cloudy day here, one of those days when you just want to cuddle with a good book, a huge mug of hot chocolate and a spouse/kid/pet by your side. Lucky you if you have all of that AND time to read. 😀

My day has suddenly brightened an hour ago, when I saw that InD’tale Magazine has finally reviewed my book, The Diary, which I submitted in August 2017. I was a little anxious  because I know this magazine is quite exigent, and The Diary is one of my best books, so imagine my delight when I saw it got a 4 star review from Majanka Verstraete!

Without any more preamble, here is the much-expected review:

The diary teaser

stars-4 GOTHIC:  In Transylvania, a castle is uncovered that once belonged to Erzsébet Báthory, the infamous Blood Countess. Cameraman Hunter Cole and journalist Serena Scott are called to the castle to make a documentary about the discovery. The more they work together, the more they’re drawn to one another, as Serena uncovers certain hidden depths to Hunter’s character. As tension lingers between them and the attraction between them grows, can they still keep things professional? When in a nearby village, two girls are tortured and killed in a manner very similar to Báthory’s modus operandi, Serena and Hunter fear they might have a copycat killer on their hands. Then the question arises: who will be next?

As far as murder mysteries go, “The Diary” is quite solid, with a few unexpected twists. The throwback to Báthory’s way of working is intriguing too, as the Blood Countess was certainly an interesting historical figure, although quite frightening and deadly too. The author shines when describing atmosphere, not just in the old, decrepit castle, but also in the nearby village. There’s a palpable sense of isolation for both characters, contradicted only by the growing bond between them. Fans of mystery novels, especially ones with a lot of romance and historic twists, will definitely enjoy this book.

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Monday Teaser: THE DIARY

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Hello, friends and fellow book lovers! I hope your week started as well as mine, because today I finally began writing again, after a pause of several months. The novel I’m working on is a complex thriller, probably the first in a series. And speaking of series, I have taken another important decision, based on the wonderful reviews and emails I have received from readers regarding my novel, THE DIARY: I have decided to continue Hunter and Serena’s adventures, and write an entire series featuring these amazing characters! I’m not revealing more at the moment, but I promise 2018 will be a year full of surprises. 😉

For those of you who haven’t already read THE DIARY, this is the blurb:

In the legendary Transylvania, a castle belonging to Countess Erzsébet Báthory is discovered. Cameraman Hunter Cole and broadcast journalist Serena Scott arrive to make a documentary about the discovery, and the sinister Hungarian noblewoman, known as the most prolific female serial killer in history. 
The two Americans could cope with roughing it in a fifteenth-century castle, with no modern amenities. They can even cope with each other, despite their initial mutual dislike for one another, which gradually turns into a mind-blowing attraction. 
But when two girls are tortured and killed in Báthory copycat style, the nearby village is shaken to the core. In terror, they wonder who will be next…

Author’s Note

Erzsébet Báthory (1560-1614) is a known historical figure and was a Hungarian countess, also known as Elizabeth Báthory, The Blood Countess or Countess Dracula. She has been labeled the most prolific serial killer in history, being responsible for the torture and murder of hundreds of young girls. The exact number of her victims is unknown, but is estimated at six hundred and fifty. It is speculated that she kept a diary with the names of all her victims, but if such a document exists, it has never been made public.
*This work is entirely fiction.

The Diary

EXCERPT from THE DIARY

There are certain dreams where one knows that one’s dreaming. Those dreams where one can even choose and control what happens in the dream—the chances of actually fulfilling some of the fantasies each of us have.
Then there are the true nightmares, which seem more real than any reality one has ever known. The kind of dreams that swallow you whole, consume you, enslave your mind and bend it to their own illusory will.
The girl lay on the table in the torture room, her cuffed hands and feet struggling weakly, rattling the rusted chains. Her body was a mass of wounds, cuts and burns. Blood had clotted in rivulets all over her flesh. She didn’t have the strength to scream anymore, just whimpered pitifully from time to time. I stood helpless in the doorway, unable to move or to utter a sound, feeling trapped in my own terrified body.
The Countess stood looking down at Romelia, eyes glinting with cold-blooded madness, just like the knife she used to caress the girl’s naked body. Her splendid silk gown was the same color as the blood staining the blade. Her hair was piled up high, exposing the milky white, graceful curve of her neck. Her beauty was staggering, but poisonous—the beauty a demon is gifted to lure the innocent to their destruction.
Her red lips stretched into a wicked smile as she ran her finger over one of the girl’s wounds and lifted it to her mouth. When her eyes met mine, I looked into the abyss of evil, as paralyzed as the victim of a snake that mesmerizes its pray.
“It’s not only their blood I need,” she said in a low, sultry voice that chilled my bones to the depths. “I need their fear, their cries. I want to test their pain endurance. It’s fascinating how long they last, some of them. Others are a disappointment.” She shrugged her elegant shoulders. “Their minds just shut down. Their eyes become dull, even duller than they usually are.”
She grabbed the girl’s hair and lifted her head, putting her face close to the young woman’s.
“Wake up!” she shouted, but then let the head drop in disgust when she got no reaction. She sighed.
“This one is gone. Better end it. It’s no fun anymore.”
So saying, she put the knife to the girl’s throat and pressed the sharp edge into the soft flesh, bit by bit, as though cutting into a loaf of bread. When the girl’s body began to convulse and her blood gushed, my own scream seemed to tear me apart from the inside.

“Serena, wake up!”
“No, please, don’t! I beg you, don’t do this!”
“Baby, it was just a dream. Wake up now!”
My eyes were open, but I couldn’t see anything. I only heard Hunter’s voice through the ragged sound of my breathing. He was shaking me, murmuring words I could barely understand over the mad thumping of my heart.
“You were only dreaming,” he said again, taking my face between his hands and staring into my eyes. “It was just a nightmare. It’s gone now, do you understand? Look at me.”
Gradually, I brought his face into focus, concentrating on taking slow, deep breaths that cleared my head. When I nodded, he lowered his forehead over mine for a long moment.
“You know, being awakened by your screams in the middle of the night is going to make my hair gray prematurely.”
Though he tried to sound amused, I could hear the worry in his voice. I stifled a sob.
“I’m sorry, Hunter, I couldn’t help it. It was awful, the dream…”
I closed my eyes, unable to fight the shudder that shook me. He noticed and, drawing the sheet aside, pulled me onto his lap, rocking me gently like a child as he held me tight in his arms.
“I know, baby, I know. I was just kidding. What did you dream about?”
I burrowed my face into his shoulder, trying to get as close as possible to his warmth. I felt so safe and protected by the solid shield of his chest that my terror started to fade, even as I recalled the horrible dream.
“I dreamed of The Countess killing Romelia. She… She had tortured her, and then she started cutting her throat, slowly, agonizingly. She spoke to me. She said it wasn’t only their blood she needed, but their fear and their cries. She wanted to see how long they lasted.”
He stroked my hair as I spoke, keeping my face hidden into his shoulder. I dimly noticed that he had turned on the bedside lamp, which bathed the room in a soft, golden glow.
“It’s normal for you to have such dreams after all that’s happened,” he said, angling my head back with two fingers on my chin, to look down at my face. “You’ve taken this documentary too seriously. That alone was bound to give you nightmares, but Romelia’s murder is far worse than that. It triggered something dark in your subconscious.”
“Hunter, to me it’s obvious there’s a connection here. Don’t you agree?” I asked, staring earnestly up at him.
He nodded grimly.
“Of course there’s a connection. When a castle of The Blood Countess is discovered, a girl is tortured and killed in the same manner The Countess used on her victims. A blind man could see a connection, but what is it?”
I tucked my head under his chin again, unable to find a reply that would ease the frustration in his voice.
“I don’t know.” I sighed. “All I know is that I want to get the hell out of here as soon as possible. I know I’ll never forget this, but at least I want to be far away from this place.”
We sat in silence for a while. Finally, I raised my head again to look at him. The low light cast deep shadows over his face and under his eyes. His skin was pale under the two-day stubble.
“I’m sorry I woke you up. I know you need the rest as much as I do. But I really appreciate you coming to my rescue. Thank you,” I added, smiling faintly.
“You’re welcome,” he replied, his voice deep and husky.
At that moment, I discovered he was naked, except for a pair of black boxers. I had been sitting on his lap for at least a quarter of an hour, crawling all over him, but barely now the realization struck me. The smooth skin of his bare chest looked well tanned. His nipples were taut, dark against the dusting of golden hair sprinkled over his magnificent pectorals. It arrowed down over the length of his sinuous, muscled abdomen to disappear under the waistline of his underwear.
I swallowed hard, unable to keep my eyes off his body, so well sculptured it simply defined pure, raw masculinity. My gaze meandered up again and I noticed the tattoo on his left shoulder. It was a dark-gray snake curled around his rounded biceps. Its snarling head with demonic red eyes and bared fangs covered a good portion of the muscled shoulder. A triangle darted through the beast’s mouth, its top corner spearing its head.
“Any special significance?” I asked, indicating the tattoo with a motion of my chin.
“Just a little souvenir I brought from Saudi Arabia.” When I kept staring at him, he elaborated, “A cobra snuck up on me during my last mission in the Force. I was crawling on my belly during a hostage rescue mission, and the son of a bitch jumped right out of the sand. See? The eyes are drawn right where the fang marks were.” He put his fingers on the tattoo, where I could see two small, faint scars beyond the snake’s eyes.
“You were in the Army?”
He nodded shortly.
“Yeah, for ten years or so. But it wasn’t the life I wanted.”
I looked again at the tattoo. Then the light dawned on me. The triangle was in fact the Greek letter Delta.
“Delta Forces?”
He seemed surprised by my perceptiveness, but he nodded again.
I lifted my fingers to trace the marks on his flesh, invaded by an overwhelming feeling of tenderness. My heart melted as I thought of the pain and agony he must have experienced. He had been a soldier. A tough life, for tough men…
“You could have been killed,” I whispered, still touching him gingerly. Absurdly enough, I felt tears sting my eyes for the man who seemed to have such little happiness in his life. I wanted to cradle his head to my chest and comfort him like a child, to stroke his hair and show him the beauties of the world.
“I wasn’t,” he said gently.
He bent his head, lifting my hand to his mouth. His lips were incredibly soft on my palm, his hot breath sending shivers of arousal through my body. Our fingers interlaced and he looked up again. The intensity of his gaze was almost tangible, making my pulse accelerate as desire sizzled between us.

Available as eBook and paperback on Amazon