7:00 AM

What are your thoughts?

Since I'm getting close to releasing my first e-publication, I thought I'd take the time to ask you folks some questions in regards to e-books.

Let's start with covers. I love a good cover and one of the things I get sad about with e-books is the fact that you don't really get a good look at it unless you hunt it down (in your reader menus you can normally click to go to it). Sometimes, they have the front (and if you're lucky back) covers all the way at the end. That's a nice surprise, but I wonder why they don't put it in the beginning. I can understand that if you have too much front end info, people might get annoyed about how many times they have to click to get to the start of the story, but I'd think to have the cover image come up first, it'd be just like reading a hard version. What do you guys think? Would you be annoyed by having the cover image come up before the title page or first page of text (chapter/prologue)?

Then there's a table of contents. I kind of never understood why fiction books have them. I guess maybe if you always stop reading at the end of a chapter and don't use a bookmark, they'd be handy, but do people really read like that? In an e-book, the only plus for them I can think of is if you know something is in a certain chapter and you want to go back and look at it, the table of contents is a quick way to get back there, but again, how often do people do that? I think they're kind of pointless for the most part. Do you ever use it in a fiction book?

I've already discussed bio pictures before. I'm putting one in. You don't want to see it? Too bad! ^_^  I dislike most pictures of myself but I know I like to see what an author looks like so I figure you guys might want to see as well.

What are your thoughts about excerpts from other novels at the end of the book? Does it have to be from the book's sequel (if they have one) or is another novel from the author acceptable? Do you even bother to read them?

I think that's about all I can think of at the moment. If I've missed something important you want to comment on, please feel free! I want this to be an enjoyable experience for everyone so your thoughts and comments are really helpful. Thanks in advance everyone!

7:00 AM

We're looking for a few good men & women

 Did a vampire kill your brother? A mother? Another
loved one? Are you filled with unquenchable rage and
sadness?  There's a way you can heal and help your
community at the same time!

Follow the information on
the attached PSA posters and
join your local Vampire Force!

For more information, pick up Patricia Lynne's
vampire story,
Being Human
today!

The illustrious author has this to add:
In Being Human, vampires are not a myth, they are a reality to humanity - a scary one. In order to combat vampires, a special branch of police force was created: Vampire Forces. But they don't use stakes or garlic to combat vampires; that ended up being a disaster with a lot of deaths. VF is very much like a normal branch, guns are issued, tasers and batons. As such, they will seek out people to join in a very normal way.  Thanks MaryBeth for creating these Public Service Announcement Posters. And thanks to the people who provided the images. Remember VF needs you to shine a light in the darkness!
  



 
/photo credit goes to the following people. Thank you!

Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image: phanlop88 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image: Pixomar / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

7:00 AM

It's a whirlwind!


Announcing the In Leah’s Wake Social Media Whirlwind Tour—WooHoo!



You guys might remember I interviewed Terri Giuliano Long a couple of months ago about her book, In Leah's Wake. Things have really blown up for her since then and when I was approached to be a part of her Whirlwind Social Media Tour through Novel Publicity, I couldn't pass it up. Not only did I enjoy the book, but I've spoken with Terri often since then and she is a lovely person and a great writer. I hope you guys will take part in the festivities and learn a little more about her and perhaps pick up the book!


As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the In Leah’s Wake Kindle edition has dropped to just 99 cents this week.

What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes, including a Kindle, 5 autographed copies of the book, and multiple Amazon gift cards (1 for $100, 3 for $25, 5 for $10, and 10 for $5 – 19 in all)! Be sure to enter before the end of the day on Friday, August 26th, so you don’t miss out.


To win the prizes:


                   
  1. Purchase your copy of In Leah’s Wake for just 99 cents
  2.                
  3. Fill-out the form on the author’s site to enter for prizes
  4.                
  5. Visit today’s featured event; you may win an autographed copy of the book!

And I can win $100 too if you vote for my blog over on the author’s website. The blog host that gets the most votes in this traffic-breaker polls wins, so please cast yours right after purchasing In Leah’s Wake and entering the contests!


The featured events include:


Monday, Blogaganza on Novel Publicity! We’re kicking-off on the Novel Publicity Free Advice blog. We’ll ask the writer 5 fun and random questions to get everyone talking. Leave a comment or question in response to the post, and you may win an autographed copy of In Leah’s Wake. Don’t forget to visit the author’s blog to enter for the other prizes!

Tuesday, Twitter chat with the author! Tweet with us between 4 and 5 PM Eastern Time, using the hashtag #emlyn. We’ll be talking with the author about her favorite books and best writing advice. Bring your questions about In Leah’s Wake and don’t forget to use #emlyn or to follow Terri @tglong. By joining in the tweet chat at the designated time, you may win an autographed copy of In Leah’s Wake. Don’t forget to visit the author’s blog to enter for the other prizes!

Wednesday, Google+ video chat with the author! Join our hangout between 12 and 3 PM Eastern Time to talk with the author and us via video chat. We’ll be gabbing about great books including In Leah’s Wake and about writing. Did you know that Terri is a creative writing instructor at Boston College? She’s got tons of good advice for aspiring writers. By joining in the Google+ video chat at the designated time, you may win an autographed copy of In Leah’s Wake. Don’t forget to visit the author’s blog to enter for the other prizes!

Thursday, Facebook interview with the author! Stop by Novel Publicity’s Facebook page and ask Terri questions. She’s chosen three of her favorite topics to talk about:  writing, parenting, and gourmet cooking. Of course, you’re welcome to ask about In Leah’s Wake too. Leave a comment or question as part of the thread, and you may win an autographed copy of In Leah’s Wake. Don’t forget tolike Terri’s Facebook page or to visit her blog to enter for the other prizes!

Friday, Fun & games based on the book! We want to close this whirlwind social media tour with a gigantic bang, which is why we've set-up two interactive book-themed features on the author’s blog. You can take the official Facebook quiz to find out which In Leah's Wake character is most like you and learn how that character ties into the story. Then try out our crossroads story game. Throughout the course of the narrative, you'll have several decisions to make. What you choose will affect the outcome of the story. Play as either rebellious teenager Leah or the trampled peacemaker and mother Zoe. Leave a comment or question on any of Terri’s blog entries, and you may win an autographed copy of In Leah’s Wake. Don’t forget to check out the other give-away contests while you’re on Terri’s blog!

About In Leah’s Wake:  The Tyler family had the perfect life – until sixteen-year-old Leah decided she didn’t want to be perfect anymore. While Zoe and Will fight to save their daughter from destroying her brilliant future, Leah’s younger sister, Justine, must cope with the damage her out-of-control sibling leaves in her wake. Will this family survive? What happens when love just isn’t enough? Jodi Picoult fans will love this beautifully written and absorbing novel.






A Twitterview with Terri Giuliano Long, author of In Leah's Wake



You can tweet Terri @tglong. Please do!  To learn more about twitterviews, go here.


Twitterview with Terri, 1Twitterview with Terri, 2Twitterview with Terri, 3Twitterview with Terri, 4Twitterview with Terri, 5

6:50 AM

Calling all book bloggers!

We interrupt the typical Tuesday/Thursday blogging schedule to light the bee signal (well I couldn't very well use the Bat Signal TM as I'm sure I'd get in trouble for that...) to call out to book bloggers and reviewers.  As I have finished a major second run of edits on Near Death (just waiting on some line edits now/the little stuff, so nothing major will change) I find myself anxious to get it out into the world.  This is where you lovely book bloggers and reviewers come into play.

I am looking for people I can send an ARC out to (in digital form - sorry, I haven't gotten anything printed yet since cover design is still in the works). In return I would ask two things of you:

1) Please read and review (honestly!) for Goodreads (and then if you wouldn't mind copy & pasting that info into Amazon when it's up there, that'd be super duper awesome as well!)

2) Review it on your blogs closer to the publication date (right now it's tentatively in mid-September, but I'd give you a definite date as it gets closer). I'm fine if you don't do the typical kind of review on your blog. You'd be free to interview me (or one of the book characters if you'd like!), write a song, do an interpretive dance, draw fan art, whatever you'd like to show how you felt about the book. I'll leave it up to you.

On the day your post goes live, I will direct folks from this blog and Twitter to go check you out as well and ramp up your attendance.  I think it's a decent trade off. ^_^

If you would be interested, please leave a comment along with the URL to your blog (or if you don't have a blog & just do reviews on Amazon or Goodreads, leave me your name for that site so I can check it out). Oh! I need an email address too please.

Thanks folks! I look forward to reading comments from everyone who participates!


/as I don't know what the response to this will be, I may have to set a limit on the amount of ARCs that go out. If I need to cut it off somewhere, I will update the blog and let you know

7:00 AM

Book Review - A Line in the Ice


Title:  A Line in the Ice
Author: Jamie Craig
Genre:  Sci-Fi Romance


Amazon Summary: 
Bloodthirsty monsters are emerging from the Antarctic ice, the same creatures that once stalked the battlegrounds of World War I. Back then, a group of soldiers valiantly fought off the beasts—and were never seen again. A century later, an elite military squad stands between civilization and the mysterious return of the enemy. Captain Charlie Weller thinks she’s seen everything—until a man crawls out onto the ice, barely alive and muttering about a place called Illyria. Lysander Davies claims to be the descendant of one of the missing soldiers. He insists the monsters are actually gentle creatures, under the control of beings far, far more dangerous… Drawn to the stranger, Charlie believes his stories and agrees to help him. But they both know nothing can come of their feelings for one another, for the only way to save earth is for Lysander to return to Illyria and close the rift behind him, forever…

Personal reaction:
I love a good romance and A Line in the Ice certainly delivers. Sci-fi related romance is new to me, but I enjoy many aspects of a good sci-fi book and this one has just enough to make it interesting but didn’t leave me scratching my head over complicated gadgets or weird political systems, etc. 
I appreciate the strong female character of Charlie. A romance with a woman in a military group is unfamiliar to me too, but the author(s) made her believable and realistic. She was hard when she needed to be, and soft at the appropriate times.
It was an exciting and enjoyable read with action and romance. A good combo.

Questions:

Q) Please explain who Jamie Craig is.
Jamie Craig is the joint effort of Pepper Espinoza and Vivien Dean.


Q) Is this your first collaboration?
It’s definitely not the first book we’ve collaborated on together. We’ve never attempted to collaborate with other people before we began working together, though.


Q) Romance books with Sci-Fi themes don’t seem to be the norm. What prompted you guys to write one?
We’re both big fans of genre--not just romance, but horror, mystery, sci-fi, and fantasy. The great thing about romance is that there’s always room to add another genre or two to the mix, and that’s what we love to do. We’ll write everything from historical westerns to futuristic Sci-Fis because we want to find the most interesting story.


Q) Tell the truth, are those sexy times scenes as fun to write as they are to read?
Of course! Sometimes it can be difficult, I won’t lie. But it’s always fun. So a lot like real sexy times!

Q) Antarctica is cold and bleak. Why choose such a harsh local to set your story?
Precisely because it’s harsh. Actually, this all started with a dream of a woman finding a man in the middle of the ice. Where did he come from? Why was he there? What was his story? The whole novel developed from those basic questions, and so Antarctica was always critical to the project.

Q) Charlie is a tough cookie!  Why make her a soldier? Did either of you have any personal military experience?
When we came up with the back story of why the rift would need to be guarded, we knew we needed to make the team military to mirror their roots. That allowed us to give our characters the skill sets they needed to survive in such a climate as well as make sure the job got done. Also, there’s a sense of self-sacrifice that comes along with the military, that belief that what you’re doing matters and you’ll do whatever it takes to save the people you’re protecting. That was core to what we wanted these people to be. Neither one of us has direct military experience, though Vivien has multiple people within her family who have served/still serve.

Q)  How much research did you guys have to do, if any, before writing A Line in the Ice ?
A lot! There was the military aspect, which we wanted to get right, as well as learning as much as we could about physiology so that we could create creatures that would survive exposure to such cold elements. We had the Shakespeare covered, thanks to Pepper, but we both had to brush up on our WWI history to make sure it all meshed well together.

Q) What can we expect from you guys next?
The final book in our Silver Maiden series will be released by Carina in September--Revealing Silver.

Q) Where can fans follow and connect with you?
Our website is http://www.jamie-craig.com/, and we’re on both Twitter (@jamiecraig) and Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jamie-Craig)

Q) Lastly, for fun, if A Line in the Ice was being made into a major motion picture, who would you cast for Charlie and Lysander?
Hmm good question! Even though Colin Farrell doesn’t really look like how we envisioned Lysander, we think he’d be great for the role. He can be the charming, romantic lead and then go kick some major ass.
As for Charlie, think Scarlett Johansson in Iron Man 2. The look is perfect, but as an actress, she has tremendous range. She can sell both tough and vulnerable, which is what makes Charlie who she is.

Tour Notes:
Please vote for my blog in the traffic-breaker poll for this tour. The blogger with the most votes wins a free promotional twitterview and a special winner’s badge. I want that to be me! You can vote in the poll by visiting the official Line in the Ice blog tour page and scrolling all the way to the bottom.
Learn more about this author duo by visiting their websiteblogFacebook or GoodReads pages or by connecting with them on Twitter.

7:00 AM

Don't over extend yourself!

Facebook.
Twitter.
Goodreads.
Google +.
LinkedIn.
MySpace.  (welllll maybe scratch this last one...)

There are tons social networking sites out there for you to get involved in and use to help promote your work. The problem with having so many is that you can over extend yourself and spend all your time promoting and making connections and none of it writing!  The other problem is that when these sites keep popping up, it takes a good amount of time to sit down and learn how the site works and how best to utilize it for your own purposes. Yet another thing to take away from important prime writing and/or editing time.

 My suggestion is to pick one network to focus on at a time. Make your mark, build your friend-base and figure out how to promote yourself without it taking all your time and effort. Once you have that one down pat, you can move on and try to add another, but remember, better to just stick with a few rather than spending all your time navigating the social webs.

Another thing to be careful of is spreading yourself too thin offering to help with others. I'm all for lending a hand either with beta reading, editing or reviewing, but be honest with yourself when offering to do these things. Make sure you have enough time to help them and still be able to work on your own projects. If you make too many commitments you may find yourself under a lot of extra stress trying to get them all done on time and your own writing is pushed to the back burner. That's no good!

Do yourself a favor and utilize things like the Google Calender to show what you're working on and when things are due. That way you can refer to it next time someone asks for help and make sure you don't have three or four other projects due at that time.

I understand as an author, especially a self published one, you have to wear many hats which is time consuming and important to your sales, but remember, if there's no writing being done, there are no books to sell. Prioritize, people and don't take on more than you can handle, your stomach lacking in ulcers, full nights of sleep not filled with stress filled tossing and turning and a head lacking in aches will thank you later.

6:30 AM

Please don't feed the trolls

Recently, an aspiring author friend of mine started putting up chapters of his story Heart of Winter  on his blog/Facebook page and someone came along and anonymously posted a comment about how he should stick to his day job, yadda yadda yadda. While it being totally untrue (I've read his first novel. It's GOOD!) it's also ridiculous and quite cowardly in my opinion.

Since this is the internet, trolls are pretty common. People feel brave hiding behind a monitor I suppose.  Many will say people troll because they're jealous and that might very well be true, but I think some people are just down right mean. They have miserable lives and feel like they have to spread that misery. Damn bullies are everywhere. Even on the internet.

If you really don't like something, far be it from me to tell you not to comment, but be an adult about it. Don't be cowardly and post as anonymous. Back up your position. Did you find a bunch of typos? Is my grammar poor? Are my characters one dimensional? Do I have plot holes big enough to drive a Mac Truck through?  To just say "You suck" tells me you're just jealous and/or mean.

If you've got problems with a troll, don't feed them more ammo. To argue back is what most of them want.  They want to debate and keep reminding you how much they think you "suck".  You can do one of two things; either ignore them completely or I  find jokingly agreeing with them and refusing to get angry works for me.

Them: You suck!
Me: I KNOW RIGHT?! It's amazing that they still allow me space on the interwebs!
Them: uhh yeah, uhh you are..umm yeah...you SUCK!
Me: Totally! I can suck a battery through a garden hose!...oh wait, is that not what you meant?
Them: ....YOU'RE NO FUN!
Me: I know
Them: *logs off*

Like the occasion bad review, you're probably going to get a troll here and there. Don't let it get to you and don't take it personally. Let their comments roll off your back and move on. Like all bullies, they'll get bored and soon crawl back under their bridges to wait for another goat who tries to cross.

4:48 PM

Want to be included?

We interrupt your Friday afternoon countdown to bring you a contest of sorts. A morbid kind of contest that is. It's not even really a contest (unless I get some crazy out pouring of interested people).

Here's the deal. I spoke with my cover illustrator/designer today and we discussed some ideas for the back cover. Now you're thinking, "Hey, aren't you releasing an e-book? Why do you need a back cover at all?" I decided that in addition to the e-book, I'm going to offer a paperback version using POD (print on demand), therefore, a back cover will be needed. Since I will have what I know will be a beautiful piece of art, I will also add it in the back pages of the e-book after the author bio and pic. This way everyone can see it if they click far enough.

One of the ideas we came up with was an image of "the book".  The book is this horrible little record of all the lives our Angel of Death has taken. It lists the person's name and cause of death. I am going to recreate the book to take a photograph of it and then my designer extraordinaire will work her magic and add it to the back cover, under the box with the summary.

While I can certainly make up all the names and causes of their demise, I thought it'd be fun to get others involved. This is where you guys come in.  Should you be interested in gracing the back cover of Near Death I will need you to leave your name and cause of death in the comments below (I told you it was kind of morbid). If you want to use first and middle initials and then your last name (so your whole name isn't out there for the world to see) that would be perfectly acceptable. As far as the cause of death goes, I'm looking for some creativity, but remember:

1) this takes place in North America so you won't get too many folks being mauled by angry (hipster) koalas 
2) it needs to fit on the line!

If you really want to participate but are leery about putting your name out, say so in the comments. Not all the names will be seen and not all the causes of death will be seen. Below is something I whipped together quickly to give you an idea of what the back will kind of look like.As you can see, the summary text will be blocking out parts of the picture, so I will work your information into the areas where the whole name won't be seen. You'll get the satisfaction of knowing your name is on there without having to worry about people trying to hunt you down or steal your identity or whatnot.

So if you want to join in the fun and be included, remember I need your name and cause of death left in the comments of this post. You have until Monday August 15th to get it in!


7:00 AM

The self publisher's query

So, you think that by self publishing you get out of that dreaded query writing task, huh? Sorry to disappoint, but that's not exactly true.

Being self published means you're not selling yourself (or should I say your work, as we're not prostitutes) to an agent, but to your audience. This is where the self publisher's version of a query comes into play, although it's referred to as back cover copy or a summary. Some people call it a blurb (which I also thought it to be, but it seems blurb stands more for the quotes and praise from other authors or publications that have read an ARC* of the book).

In a query you have to catch the agent's attention, first with the appealing summary and then by going into a little more detail about the genre of the book, how long it is and perhaps some information on your writing background and your other publications.

For the self publisher, most people won't even buy a print copy and opt for an e-book version. That means your summary is going to be front and center on your book's Amazon or Smashword page (or wherever you're selling your books). The cover art will probably be the first thing to draw prospective readers in, but once they click on it to get a better look, your hook, that first line, had better be something amazing. Something to make that browser stop and read further, rather than click along to the next book.  You have to engage your reader as the query would an agent, otherwise you won't be selling very many books.

Now lean in close so I can tell you a secret.  A little closer. I promise I showered AND brushed my teeth today. Ahh perfect. Here goes. WRITING A SUMMARY IS FREAKING HARD! 

Back in January of this year I talked about how writing a query letter was not an easy task, well this is the same damn thing! You have to condense your thousands of words into a mere couple of hundred that will intrigue and excite perspective buyers. You can't give everything away (it's not a synopsis) and you can't be too vague. There has to be a happy medium and I'm telling you, it's not simple. I've written at least a dozen for Near Death, sometimes tweaking things other times doing total re-writes.

You cannot do a half-assed job. It has to be as perfect as you can get it. You can have people review your books and recommend them to others, but even a glowing recommendation is not going to sell many books if the author can't explain to their audience what the book is about. Treat it like any other part of your manuscript. Edit it, ask others to read it, edit it again. I promise you, it will be beneficial to you and your book sales.

Now go get on that, because it's going to be a struggle and you will want to leave enough time before taking your author photo for the hair you rip out during the process to grow back.



*for those not in the know, ARC stands for Advanced Reading Copy

7:00 AM

Should you censor yourself?

The lovely Johanna Harness recently pointed me to a blog post by author Stacia Kane who talks about how being published changes everything.  It's a very interesting read and I suggest you check it out, but it got me wondering if the same concerns apply to self published authors as much as they do traditional ones.

Stacia talks about how if someone has posted a negative review about one of her books and her agent went on to sign that person, she would be hurt and upset and less likely to contribute a comment for their book or help them in other ways.  I can understand that and although everyone's entitled to an opinion, if you're looking to get signed by an agent, perhaps you need to keep those opinions under wraps.

When it comes to someone who is self publishing, I'm not sure it's as necessary. That's NOT to say you should be going around giving nasty reviews. Not at all, even if you hated the book.  As previously discussed, you should be able to point out the good stuff along with the constructive criticisms.

While no one wants to make enemies, I think it's important to be honest if you're going to review. I very much dislike the trend I hear going on in self publishing circles about some authors and friends giving nothing but five star reviews, even if they haven't read the book, just for the marketing/publicity of it all (I will blog more about this in detail at a later date). What happens when someone buys the book and sees it's not even close to 5 star material? That's disappointing and a turn off and they may very well not purchase anymore books from that author.

In the world of self publishing, where authors lack agents, and often editors, to tell them if things should be cut or rearranged, etc., I think reviews by other writers are helpful. We obviously know what goes into the process of writing and publishing a book and personally, I'd rather bring something up that will help the author better hone their craft, then pretend everything about the book was fab. Might this make me some enemies? Maybe. Might it make people take my words the wrong way? It's possible. Might it get used against me in the future? Who knows, but I would rather be known for my honesty and if that's going to come back and bite me in the ass, so be it.

With Twitter and Facebook and all the other social networking sites where we're building our fan bases, I certainly think you ought to be cautious with the things you say. You don't want to come off as unprofessional or nasty in anyway,  but that doesn't mean you can't be yourself. I know I mention her often, but author Hannah Moskowitz always comes off as very real to me in her blog posts and Twitter feed. I also follow her reviews on Goodreads and she's honest there too. I respect that.

As posted before, you can't please everyone all of the time. Even if you're being honest and "nice" about things, there are still going to be people who won't like you, who don't agree and who may come back and argue with you over things. People are different and have different opinions. It's bound to happen, but remember there are times when it's better if you bite your tongue (or tie up your fingers as we're not normally speaking out loud to these folks) or step away from the conversation completely.  While you have a right to your opinions you need to remember that you are also trying to network and make connections and you need to be professional while doing so. Sometimes it's just not worth the possible backlash.

It's said that even bad publicity is good publicity, but do you really want to be known as the nasty unprofessional author? Probably not. I don't really think that will help you sell books or endear you to your fellow authors. Make sure you stop down and use your brain; use common sense and think before hitting that send or publish post button. Remember things linger on the internet and could come back to haunt you.

7:39 AM

Books Read in 2011 - July

Not a big reading month this month. 1) busy busy writing! 2) A Dance with Dragons took me longer than I expected. Monster of a book!  Also, I'm up to just shy of 100 books for the year so far at a count of 98. Woo!

Anyhow, here's the list and ratings! As always, if you have questions or comments on anything, please feel free to ask!


Rating system:

Outstanding. You need to run out & get this NOW!


Great!


Good.

Meh. I was not much of a fan.

Under no circumstances should you waste your time with this.


July
Title
Author
Rating
Out of Time
- Monique Martin
Karma
- Cathy Ostlere
Leaving Paradise (re-read)
- Simone Elkeles
Forever
- Maggie Stiefvater
A Dance with Dragons
- George RR Martin
Beautiful Disaster
- Jaime McGuire
Girl in the Steel Corset
- Kady Cross
Being Human (beta read)
- Patricia Lynne
Specials
- Scott Westerfeld