A plea to readers everywhere

This is going to be a very personal post, so I apologize for the interruption.

First and foremost, please assume positive intent while reading this post. I am beyond grateful for the readers I currently have and the people who have connected with my characters. I appreciate them all. I interact with them regularly. I am fairly certain they know how much they mean to me. This is not about me being unhappy with the readers I have.  


As most of you know, I have held a full-time job all of my adult life. All throughout the concept building, outlining, writing, editing and publishing stages of all eight of my novels and two novellas, I’ve worked 40-hour work-weeks. I’ve been holding down what are essentially two full-time jobs for the past six and a half years since I started all of this writing business back in the winter of 2008. Some months and years were more productive than others, as I’ve switched jobs a couple of times and had to get used to new routines.

This year, for reasons I’m not permitted to disclose yet, I’m facing the realization that I’m going to have to start over again with a new job… and I’ve already started thinking about my options. While I’m good at a lot, I still feel so limited in what I can do professionally.

Much of that has to do with what I already know: I know that my passion is writing fiction. I know that I’m good at doing that. I know I’m one of the best at bringing out emotions in readers, and at character development, and dialogue.

What I’ve never been good at is marketing my books. And I’ve always believed the books just need to get in that one reader’s hands… that one reader who has significant influence over others. If she likes my books, and puts out a good review, then maybe more people will notice them.

Yes, I’ve had decent successes in the past with some big-name book bloggers. In fact, any time they mention my books, there’s a bump in my sales. It’s never been enough to push me to a best-seller list, though, or to sustain sales over a couple of days, or a week. And it’s not that I’m not grateful, I absolutely am! Every time I see a post, I make sure I thank them and share their posts and pages.

When I started this in 2008, I figured it would just be me and my friends reading my books. I never expected people from Brazil and Panama and South Africa and Ireland and the Philippines to read my stories! It has been so vastly fulfilling that they have. And if this is all the success I ever have, I can’t complain, and I wouldn’t. It’s phenomenal, and I’ve met so many wonderful people on this journey that I am so much richer for it.

But once I started making a little money, I aimed for a lofty goal. I want to write full-time. To do that, I have to have an income that allows for it, and I don’t right now. Faced with finding another job that I may not be very passionate about, I want to try everything I can to live my dream.

I’m a writer, but what I do is also a business. Just like your favorite independent bookstore needs a steady flow of customers to stay in business, so, too, do I. There isn’t a whole lot of repeat business authors can get from current readers. They need new ones to take a chance on their books every day.

So here is my plea: please consider reading one of my series and reviewing it. If you haven’t read Emi Lost & Found, you can certainly start there. It’s the series I’m most known for– but it’s also the first series I wrote.

Emi Lost & Found is one woman’s story of love, loss and sacrifice. The three-book series takes the reader through the emotional highs and lows in one epic story told by three different narrators. Emi is a twenty-something New Yorker looking for a fairytale romance. Nate is Emi’s best friend, who has been in love with her for twelve years. Jack is an acquaintance from college that left an indelible impression on Emi.

This is not a love story without consequences. Emi faces devastating losses over the course of the series, but with love, support, trust, and a little self-discovery, she finally finds her happily ever after.

My writing has come a long way, so I would really love for people to check out my spin-off Choisie series. Many of my Emi readers have still not branched out to read my second series, even though they loved the first one. In my humble (and biased) opinion, I think the Choisie series is better. (Emi Lost & Found is not required reading to start the Choisie series.)

The Choisie series is a Young Adult-to-New Adult story following a teenage girl as she struggles to find her footing under the scrutiny of local media and the cautious eye of her overprotective father.

Livvy was adopted by a generous and wealthy couple as a child. Now sixteen, she is a burgeoning artist, encouraged by her mother and inspired by a man she was never able to meet. Feeling estranged from a loving father whose mind works much differently than her own, she questions whether or not she was paired with the right guardians. In her plight for independence, she reconnects with a fellow art student who grew up alongside Livvy.

Jon has led anything but a privileged life. After his father passes away, he is left to care for his two half-brothers while his mother’s alcoholism threatens to tear his family apart. All he wants for himself and his brothers is a better life. His dreams for an Ivy League education are coming to fruition, thanks to a lifetime of hard work and ambition. This is not only important to Jon himself; he also knows that the man who will win Livvy’s heart has to be someone exceptional. Her father would accept nothing less–and Jon believes that Livvy deserves the best of everything, too.

That may be the only thing Jon and Livvy’s father agree upon.

Over the course of their courtship, these two teens will experience the bliss of true love, but their immaturity and differing lifestyles will also threaten to tear them apart. They both begin to question the other’s devotion and commitment; only time will tell if their first love is meant to last a lifetime.

This series, comprised in totality of four books, allows the reader to experience first love for a second time. All four books– Contessa, Olivia, and Dear Jon and Livvy– are available now! And Contessa is on sale for 99¢ through April 5th!

Thank you for taking the time to read my plea. For those of you who are willing to now read my stories, here are some purchase links:

Emi Lost & Found series

Emi Lost & Found books (sold separately)

Choisie series

The Best Review Ever Written

In early July, I set out to get some bloggers to review the ENTIRE Emi Lost & Found series. Although a few bloggers have read all the books, most of the reviews I’ve seen focus only on Lost and Found, the first book in the series.

Kelli from Alphas, Authors & Books Oh My took the challenge. I was following her on Twitter, and she posted about her progress. Honestly, I was just excited to see that she was going to get all the way through the series. When she ordered a set of paperbacks toward the end of last week, I thought, “Hey, I guess she liked them!”

I did not expect the review I got.

The title of it was “The Best Books You’re Not Reading.”  Her rating? 

“Incomparable brilliance. Off the charts perfection. 5+ stars!”

Here’s a highlight, but I really want you to go to her page and read the whole thing yourself:

Can you get PTSD from reading a book? Because I still haven’t recovered from the distress I suffered at the hands of Lori Otto. I absolutely LOVED book one. It is literary perfection. Great love story, great characters, perfect pacing – why would I need Kleenex? Oh. The end of the book makes things clear. I cannot even lie, I needed a break after finishing. You get left hanging and though the direction the story is heading seems clear, you’re holding out hope that things will turn out the opposite of what you’re fearing. After about a half hour (and a quick chat with the book twin), I started book two. The immediate reaction was relief. Seconds later this was followed by complete heartbreak and heartache. Cue the ugly cries. Instant, complete, and utter devastation at the hands of my iPad. I felt betrayed. How could she (Otto) do this to us?? It wasn’t fair! – Kelli, Alphas, Authors & Books Oh My

She continues a little later:

Book three is beautiful. The story is ready to conclude, and as much as you want it to end, you also don’t. You want it to go in forever. This book is about moving on and it too is filled with some agonizing moments. These characters have come a long way since the first book and it’s beautiful to watch them grow.– Kelli, Alphas, Authors & Books Oh My

She says more amazing things that touched me personally, and give you reason to read the books. I cannot thank her enough!

If you’re on the fence about reading this series, at least read Kelli’s review. It may change your mind.

Turn the Page Book Blog reviews my books!

Wow. I just got an email from fellow author Megan McCooey, and she told me she reviewed my books. I knew she had read Not Today, But Someday, and I knew she liked it, but I didn’t know if she’d finish reading the series. She did… and she loved them! She said I was BRAVE! Awesome. I am, damn it! 😉

I’ve had some book-related disappointments this week, but this makes up for them all. She reviewed all three books separately, so know that SPOILERS are revealed as you read through these reviews. If you haven’t finished the series yet, know you may stumble on something you don’t want to read quite yet.

Thank you so much, Megan, for taking your precious time (as a fellow writer, I know how precious it is) and reading about Nate, Emi, Jack and their crazy families and friends. It truly means the world to me.

Oh! and she also nominated my blog for an award, so that’ll be a separate post tonight. 🙂

Contessa is IndieReader Approved!


From IndieReader.com’s review:

Contessa is an enthralling work of young adult fiction, offering poignancy and depth in dealing with the adult themes of regret, guilt, poverty, and serious relationships. Female young adult readers, especially, will be able to connect with this novel, as they mature and “walk that fine line between child and adult.”

A few month’s ago, I entered Lost and Found and Contessa into IndieReader.com’s Discovery Awards. I didn’t think I’d win, but I was told I’d get reviews for any books I entered. I wanted to put those books out there to test the waters.

Yesterday, I found out one of them received 5 stars, and was therefore marked with the IndieReader Approved stamp. I knew it would be Contessa – not that I know it’s that good, but I know for certain that Lost and Found isn’t perfect. I can’t expect it to be, either. It was the first book I ever wrote, and today, more than four years after I started writing it, I see changes that could be made. That being said, I love Lost and Found, and I love Nate, and I have no regrets about what I’ve put out there for you, the readers.

When it was confirmed that it was Contessa, I was pretty proud of my little girl. I was anxious to see the review, but I’d have to wait 24 hours before it was posted. Still, I wasn’t prepared for the compliments that review contained. Here’s the link to the whole interview on IndieReader, but this part really touches me deeply:

One of the most compelling qualities of this novel is the intricacy and depth with which Otto develops her characters. Free from dull archetypes, each of these people harbors his or her own unique complexities and idiosyncrasies, filling the work with emotional appeal rarely found in young adult fiction. In addition to humanizing detail, Otto also gives her characters smooth, realistic dialogue. This element helps the reader connect to the characters by making them feel like real people instead of simply literary constructs, and livens many scenes with humor.

I pride myself on two things: character development and dialogue… and it feels good to see it recognized by a book critic. Even with its flaws, I think the reviewer would find the same depth of characters in Emi Lost & Found, too.

This just blows me away, and not only that… it’s invigorating me at a time when I haven’t been able to settle on which character to write, and on a day that I’ve been struggling to decide whether or not I can leave my 9-5 job. It’s perfect timing, really, because it makes me want to get back to Livvy and the rest of the Holland clan, and get her second book cleaned up and ready to go. I think this is just the push I need to get back on track.

On Facebook, one day before I found out about this, I’d posted a status about needing to get back on track. Someone up there listens to me… and I truly believe all things happen for a reason.

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop!

What is a blog hop? Basically, it’s a way for readers to discover authors new to them. I hope you’ll find new-to-you authors whose works you enjoy. On this stop on the blog hop, you’ll find a bit of information on me and one of my books and links to four other authors you can explore!

My gratitude to fellow writer, Pamela Caves, for inviting me to participate in this event. You can click the following link to learn more about her work. Website: http://www.PamelaCaves.com

In this blog hop, I and my fellow authors, in their respective blogs, have answered ten questions about our book or work-in–progress (giving you a sneak peek). We’ve also included some behind-the-scenes information about how and why we write what we write–the characters, inspirations, plotting and other choices we make. I hope you enjoy it!

Please feel free to comment and share your thoughts and questions. Here is my Next Big Thing!

1: What is the working title of your book?

Olivia (Choisie, book two)

2: Where did the idea come from for the book?

This is the second book in the Choisie series. The idea for the series came to me as I was considering what kind of a father Jack (from Emi Lost & Found) would be. I knew he was the most patient man that ever lived, but I wanted his teen-age daughter to make him prove it again.

3. What genre does your book come under?

This book would be considered New Adult, based on the age of Livvy’s boyfriend, who’s definitely earning a leading-man role in this book. He’s 18-19 in this book, and while Liv is 17 and still at the tip of that YA age-qualification, their experiences in this book push it a little outside of a YA comfort zone (in my opinion, anyway).

4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I would be the happiest little author in the world if Hailee Steinfeld played Livvy, and if Logan Lerman played Jon.

5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

In the face of grief, a teenage girl loses her passion for the thing she loves best, and attempts to replace the void by clinging to the boy she adores.

6: Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency?

This will be self-published, as all of my books currently are. (If an agent wants to pick me up, though, I’m interested!)

7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

It took me about four months to write the first draft. It’s taking many more to write the second!

8: Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The character, Livvy, inspired me to write this. When I set out to write Contessa, I didn’t think this would be a series. When I finished writing the first book, though, I learned very quickly that her story was not over. She still had a lot of growing up to do.

9: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Well… I know a lot of my readers are curious about what happens next with Livvy. At the end of Contessa (book one), they were left with the lingering question of ‘did they, or didn’t they’ sleep together. This book will answer that question, and take the reader through another year of Livvy’s life, watching her struggle with that move from childhood to adulthood. The question will still linger as to who her father is. That will be addressed in the third book. (I would imagine that people are SCREAMING at me right now, trying to figure out why Livvy’s grieving. Sorry!)

Are you on Goodreads? And do you like Listopia?

There are so many lists on Goodreads’s Listopia that it’s hard to keep them straight. My friend, Angela, has pointed out a few that she thinks my books should be on, so I’ve been sorting through them and sharing.

Instead of posting these exclusively on my Facebook page, I thought I’d post links here.  If you think I (or my books) should be ranked on one of these lists, just go on over and vote!

If the book is already on the list, you’ll see this button by it:

Vote button

If you don’t see the book on the list, click on the second tab that says add books to this list.

Add bookHere are some suggested lists:

You know what?  Here’s something better.  Lists of all the lists each book is a part of:

So there you have it.  I’ve you’ve got an hour or two to kill, get to work!

E-book giveaway offered by Three Chicks and Their Books!

Tuesday night (1/22), Three Chicks and Their Books will have a drawing to see who wins the entire Emi Lost & Found series for their e-reader!  The winner will receive Lost and Found, Time Stands Still, Never Look Back AND the prequel, Not Today, But Someday for FREE!

How do you win?  Click on the image below and find the post that looks just like it on their Facebook page.  Leave a comment and LIKE their page, and voila!  You’re entered!

Click me!
Click me!

They’ll announce the winner on Tuesday at 7PM E.S.T.

How to read the Emi Lost & Found series

I’ve gotten a few questions from potential readers, wanting to know which book to read first. Here is my suggested reading order:

  1. Lost and Found
  2. Time Stands Still
  3. Never Look Back
  4. Not Today, But Someday

But Not Today, But Someday is a prequel, right? Yes, chronologically it is. But the information contained in the prequel is best enjoyed after the series. I actually wrote this more than a year after the series was published after getting a bad review from someone on Goodreads who wanted more information about Nate and Emi’s history.

Does it matter if you actually read the prequel first? Well, you’ll be privy to some minor details that you may have wondered about otherwise, but that’s about it.

Why do I recommend it after? Mainly because the information there is pure backstory, and the format of it is not truly representative of the books. It reads differently. It’s lighter… someone even called it charming. It’s just not as emotionally heavy, while it still does have a healthy dose of teenage angst. It’s also a completely different genre. Where Emi Lost & Found is contemporary women’s fiction, I’d consider Not Today, But Someday more YA. There are no descriptive sex scenes, and there’s only a handful of bad language.

Expecting it to be the start of the series is misleading. It doesn’t prepare you for what’s to come at all, and actually disrupts the flow of the books.

Why include it at all? Because it’s a nice time in Emi’s life to look back on. It gives you a little more time with Emi & Nate. It takes some of the ‘heavy’ off. To me, it’s like dessert.

Anyway. Happy reading!

Read it and Eat! a new blog by Lori and Nikki

My friend, Nikki, and I are starting a new blog! If you like books, food, or music, you might want to stop by!

Read It & Eat

A little over a year ago, I was lucky enough to be contacted by Nikki Haw. We were both fans of this book-related blog, and after reading a post on that site (and then a book that was recommended), she contacted me. We exchanged a few emails and became twitter friends. I offered to send her some books that she wanted, and being a Dallasite, I thought, hey! Shipping to SA can’t be so bad. I mean, San Antonio’s just four hours away, right? No biggie.

She jumped on the offer for me to send these books… and was then, like, “I live in South Africa. That’s still okay?”

Well, my world got a lot bigger that day. I felt pretty fricking ignorant, but I’m not too proud to expose my ignorance. We split the shipping cost, because that’s just how we roll. We share a lot of things…

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