Thursday, 31 July 2014

A Rocking Interview With Gamal Hennessy

Today we have a rocking interview with author Gamal Hennessy. Learn more about Gamal on his website. Check it out!
Website/ Facebook/ Twitter/ Goodreads

What are you working on right now?
My latest book is titled A Taste of Honey. It’s a crime fiction novel about a young woman forced to spy on arms smugglers so she can steal evidence of their crimes. The sequel A Touch of Honey will be available in February of 2015.


What advice can you share with other Indie and aspiring Indie authors?
Write because you enjoy the craft. Money and fame might not happen. The craft is always with you.

Which authors inspire you?
Although my primary genre is spy fiction, I take inspiration from a cross section of current and historical writers. I try to create books that can match crime thriller masters like Barry Eisler and John Le Carre. At the same time, I try to emulate Anais Nin's internal struggle with sexual expression and Oscar Wilde's gift of dialogue and subdued social commentary. I still have years to go before I reach the level of any of these artists, but I'm trying to live up to those standards.

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
I try to write for 1-2 hours per day during the weekdays, but that time could be spent in pre-production (creating story structure and outlines), post production (editing) or actual production (writing). During most weeks, I’m working on three books at the same time, one in each stage of the production process.

Do you work to an outline or plot, or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?
I have modified a screenwriting method for my novels, so I start with a premise and flesh out the broad concepts in the story. From there I break the story into acts, the acts into chapters and the chapters into beats. Along the way I add in subplots and modify the inciting incident and spine into the climax that I feel works best. After the outline is done, then I start writing, knowing that the final manuscript will be significantly different from the plot.

How long, on average, does it take you to write a book?
The whole process takes about 9 months. It takes me 1-2 months to create a plot. After that, the first draft of the manuscript takes about 4 months to write. The initial editing takes about another month and after my beta readers send back comments, the internal edit takes about 2 weeks. I send the book to a professional editor who takes about 4 weeks to get it back to me. Once I add in the time for formatting, cover design and initial set up, the whole process takes about a year.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Writer Tip: Less is More

My two cents worth of writing advice for the day...
Less is more.
Places where "more" kills your writing (complete with cheesy examples):
  • explanations
    • "The tribe of elves needed to suck the blood of their victims during the last night of the festival because Zorko, the warrior god of bloodletting, had gotten his start centuries before on that certain night, and so his powerful magic was more available to his elfin ancestors during this time frame because... yada yada yada."
  • descriptions
    • "The dark green velvet chair was placed on the left side of the room at an angle near the doorway, across from a carved wooden table upon which a lace doily..."
  • emotional dialogue
    • "I just love you so much," he whispered.  "I have never been complete without you, and now, I'm so incredibly complete because I have you.  I mean, I'm so damned complete.  You complete me.  I love you."
  • narrative attempting to convince the reader to feel a certain way
    • "Johnny had gotten the wrong end of the stick.  Everyone treated him so badly, and no one ever considered his feelings.  Poor, poor Johnny.  But really, he was a hero.  He was selfless and bold and... Etc."
Instead, try getting to the essence of the scene or description.  
  • Explain the necessities during the course of action.
    • "Calling upon the dark magic of Zorko, the elves fell upon their unwitting victims on the final night of the festival, when the power was at its strongest." 
  • Add a couple of key details during description, and allow the reader to place them, unless placement is absolutely necessary.  Include all this in the course of action.
    • "I sank into the dark green velvet chair and propped my muddy feet unceremoniously on the carved wooden table.  My eyes settled on the starched lace doily, now crumpled under my boot.  I glanced at the old woman who was scowling at me."
  • Overdone emotional dialogue = cheese.  Just like in real life, love is more believable through action than through words, and that happens in the rest of your story.  Balance can be tricky in certain situations where you want to get a lot of impact.  Remember not to repeat yourself too many times.  That applies to extended repetition as well, unless you do something new with the emotion in question.  So... if you are inclined to over-emphasize your romance, edit like crazy:
    • "I love you," he whispered, his eyes filled with the pain of longing.
  • Instead of telling your reader how to feel, let them see through the eyes of another character, or the character in question:
    • "She turned her face away, not wanting to witness the pain in Johnny's eyes.  Her anger would not allow her to feel sorry for him, but still, a part of her remembered the time he'd taken her place-- and her punishment."
This is just a starting point for the "less is more" rule, but hopefully you get the idea.  It's one of the most common issues I see with developing writers.  The good news is that a little awareness can go a long way.  Keep your eye out for these things, especially during editing, and you can easily smooth out anything that was accidentally overdone.

As with all writing "rules", I just want to say...  break and bend it as necessary.  There are a few times when more is actually more.  

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

A Rocking Review of The Dark Citadel by Jane Dougherty

Evil is slouching into Providence, crawling into the rotting core of the Elders’ regime, and only a pariah girl seems to care.

Even in Providence, city of eternal night, there are rebels. Deborah refuses an arranged marriage and runs. But more is at stake than her unhappy future. Her destiny is to become the catalyst that brings down the whole corrupt edifice and its creator—Abaddon, dark angel of the bottomless pit.
Deborah runs to find her mother, the legendary Green Woman, who is drawing a host of dreams and heroes from the Memory of the world to defeat the evil that thrives in Providence. But the Green Woman’s strength is failing—she needs her daughter to take up the burden.
In the apocalyptic wasteland outside the city, Jonah, another runaway, is waiting—to give Deborah his help, then his heart. Together they brave the terrors of the desert. Together they believe they can change the world.
A girl, a boy, and a pack of wolf-dog pups search for the Green Woman, but Abaddon has set horrors on their trail that not even courage and boundless love can defeat.

The Dark Citadel is the first volume of The Green Woman series, an epic story of evil, heroism, bravery, treachery, hatred, and the invincible power of love.

Why this book rocks:

Jane Dougherty has simply created something amazing.  The feel of The Dark Citadel is Anne McCaffrey meets Clive Barker-- incredible language, immersive world-building, and truly complex characters, all rooted in a landscape that combines the best aspects of a dark, twisted dystopia and a rich, magical fantasy realm.  I could draw comparisons to so many things, but this book ultimately stands on its own, and there is nothing to compare it to that will do it justice.


The language is rich and beautiful, but not overly heavy.  As I read, I continually found myself pausing to savor the writing.  My favorite quote from the book:  "Jonah felt the shadows take his hands, leading him into a darkness that was full of a silent menace."  Chills!  This gave me chills!


The Dark Citadel begins in Providence, a bleak and truly horrible dystopian city.  Dougherty gives us all the gory details we need to feel truly oppressed along with the rest of the citizens of Providence.  Brutality, apathy, and injustice are absolutely rampant.  The people are used to cruelty.  If the whole story took place in Providence, it might be too much to bear.  But there's so much more to this fascinating world that continues to be revealed to the reader piece by piece, just as it is revealed to the characters.


When we first meet Dougherty's heroine, Deborah, she's not very likable.  She's feisty and fiery.  She acts on gut impulse, often without thought.  There is something sympathetic in her nature, though. The more I learned about her, the more I realized I would probably not be the nicest of people under those circumstances, either.  And the longer I followed her journey, the more I saw her grow.  By the end of the novel, suffice it to say she is an entirely different person.  

The same goes for all the characters we encounter-- they change, grow, and affect each other in subtle and deep ways.  Even the cameo characters have personality and depth.


After the incredible harshness of the beginning of the novel, the romance caught me completely off-guard.  I mean, I expected there to be a romantic thread somewhere in there, but I never expected it to be rendered so tenderly or with such potency.  


This book is beautifully rooted in mythology, borrowing symbolism and power from a spattering of ancient stories, all twisted into a modern legend.  Somehow a huge variety of things-- centaurs, demons, post-nuclear potatoes-- are all brought together into a picture that makes sense.  A world with so many different elements could easily seem disjointed, but Dougherty has managed to pull it off in a way that works, which is pretty impressive.  

Dougherty is what many people might call a "storyteller".  Her world is so vivid and complete, and her story has an epic feel that makes you think (and hope) that it will go on and on.  At the same time, she carefully creates a story that is always moving, never boring.  She directs and subtly misdirects at all the right times.  Every time I thought I knew where it was all going, she'd yank the carpet out from under my feet, and I'd have to start figuring it out all over again.  

Who would I recommend this story to?

Pretty much everyone. 

Readers:  If you like dystopian stories, fantasy, sci-fi, or epic adventures, you will probably love this book.  The only thing I would say is be prepared, because, yeah, it's powerfully dark!  In a good way!  The quality of the writing is fabulous and on par with some of the most famous fantasy writers out there.

Writers:  This is the kind of book that you want to read, because maybe you will absorb just a little bit of Jane Dougherty's magic, and it will make you a better author. 

As for me, I am now officially a Jane Dougherty fan, and you can be sure I will be buying and reading the rest of this series, and probably anything else that Jane Dougherty ever writes.  :)


See The Dark Citadel on Amazon  

The Dark Citadel on Goodreads

Jane Dougherty's blog 

Monday, 28 July 2014

World’s Best Story: Rewarding readers and book bloggers for telling the world they found a great story!

I am really excited to tell you about an innovative new contest platform for both readers and writers. Laura Fabiani of iRead Book Tours is now a proud sponsor for World’s Best Story!

More and more authors and writers are discovering the power of readers. Books are written for the reader audience, so why not have a say in telling others we think a writer’s story has blockbuster potential? That’s what World’s Best Story allows you to do.
In view of this, I hope you will join me in helping to spread the word and to sign up as a member of World’s Best Story to find talented storytellers and get great prizes. 

But first let me tell you more about World’s Best Story.

World’s Best Story was launched at BookExpo America on May 28. It’s the first social contest to reward readers and writers with exclusive partner prizes. So what does this mean for you?

If you are a writer:

1. Submit your story. Entering is free and the entry period ends Aug 12.
2. Prizes include publishing contracts, celebrity master classes, trademark and IP protection, book tours, big box retail distribution, PR and marketing support and more!
3. Top ten finalists and grand prize winner will be announced at the Toronto International Book Fair on November 15, 2014.

If you are a reader:

1. You get the chance to be the judge, discover new stories and win great prizes.
2. When you sign up to become a member, you automatically get $10 to spend at Beyond the Rack. Signing up is easy, requiring only your name and email.
3. When you rate and vote you’ll get a chance to win cool prizes, and the grand prize package includes a $2000 shopping spree at Beyond the Rack!

So how can you help spread the word? There are several ways:
  • Write a post about it and you can enter in a giveaway for a $20 Amazon gift card and one of 6 $25 Beyond the Rack Gift Cards
  • Add the World’s Best Story logo on your blog with a link back to their site.
  • If you are an iRead tour host, your post will count toward your incentive program if you do the above.
  • If you are not yet an iRead tour host, join and you will qualify for the incentive program
  • Tell all your readers about WBS through social media networking.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Friday, 25 July 2014

Finding the Balance

“Just two more minutes on Twittter”
“I’ll just go online to check my emails. It’ll only take a minute.”
“Food can wait. Let me just finish this blog post.”
Any of these sound familiar? If you’re an Indie author then I would imagine so. There’s always something to do, something to finish, or start.
More often than not people who know what I do assume that being an Indie author means I set my own hours and work as little as I like. Unfortunately it’s a million miles from the truth.
I don’t know every Indie out there – so I don’t like to make generalisations – but it seems to me that the Indies I do know are the opposite. Instead of working as little as we like, we work overtime. In fact, we never really stop.
In just over a month I go on vacation with my lovely other half (starting off in Harry Potter world in Florida!!!) but I know full well that it won’t be a full vacation. My laptop will come with me, as it always does, and I will make time to work. I will still be writing every day. I will still be heading online to write blog posts, check emails and keep up my social media presence. I know I’ll do all these things, because even if I don’t want to, I don’t quite know how to stop, how to switch off.
And I don’t think I’m alone in this.
We all want success and sadly success doesn’t simply fall in your lap. We have to work for it. But is it possible to work too hard? I wonder if we will all have far shorter careers than we would like because we’ll burn ourselves out? All those creative juices it takes to write a book need recharging now and then (ideally with vacations to Harry Potter world in Florida).
So fellow authors, we need to find balance. Or else the next book might be the last.
Here are a few tips for making sure you have enough down time:
       Set working hours and stick to them. Break it up between writing and promotion/marketing, but when the time is up step away from the computer. It’s hard to do, especially if the writing is flowing, but at least take a break, even if you decide to go back to it later.
    Have at least one day a week where you don’t go near the computer. I try to do this on my other half’s day off. We watch a movie, go to the beach or read, but we both stay away from the computer. I crack, often, but the intent is there, and I’m getting better!
    If you must work whilst on vacation then set aside a small slot of time each day to do it, keep it as small as possible and stick to it. Focus on the essential stuff.

     Enlist the help of friends and family to distract you now and then. I have a great group of friends who are very good at keeping an eye on how much of a hermit I’m becoming and are quick to badger me into going out with them when they think it’s getting too bad.

   Try to remember that you aren’t Wonder Woman/Superman. Sometimes you can’t do it all yourself. Admit when you need help and accept it when it’s offered. Find other Indie authors who can support you, and support them in turn when they need it.
Accept that at the end of the day ‘the book’ is not that important. Family and friends should still come first. And when it comes down to it, you can’t force people to buy the book, and stressing about it will only make you ill.
  Give yourself a break. You’re doing a great job.
And finally, take vacations to Harry Potter world in Florida. (Yes, I am very excited about my trip there this summer – how did you guess?!?)
Now to go and take my own advice!
Happy writing!

Thursday, 24 July 2014

A Rocking Interview With Krysten Lindsay Hager

Today we have Krysten Lindsay Hager sharing her insight into the publishing world. 
Check her out!

Which authors inspire you?
F. Scott Fitzgerald is my "literary boyfriend." I love his essays in particular. Susan Shapiro writes amazingly funny, honest, and raw memoirs, and I read a lot of YA like Judy Blume, Erika Tamar, Cathy Cassidy, Cathy Hopkins, and many more. I can get lost in a bookstore so easily.

What genre are your books?
Younger YA/older middle grade would be the best way to describe them. Astraea Press is a clean reads publisher so it can span a wide age range.

Why do you write in the genre that you do?
I was a huge fan of middle grade and young adult books growing up. They were my escape at the end of a bad day. I always thought what an amazing thing it would be to have someone feel the same way about something I wrote that I felt about the authors I loved liked like Judy Blume, Ann M. Martin (How great were those Baby-sitter Club Books?), Francine Pascal, and so many more. I always loved the genre and when I was in college, one of my history professors knew that I wrote and mentioned I should write a YA novel. I still love middle grade and YA books now as much as I did when I was growing up.

When did you decide to become a writer?
I liked making up stories when I was growing up, and my mom used to let me watch soap operas with her. One of my favorite things to do was finish off cliffhangers on those shows with my Barbie dolls. If I didn’t like the way the soap writers handled the storyline, I’d change it and play it out how I wanted it to end. That’s why two of my characters, Landry and Ashanti, are obsessed with soap operas, too. They decorate their bedroom doors with pics of soap actors, and I might have done that as well…ahem. From then on I started writing little stories for fun and really, by the time I was in the fourth grade, I knew I wanted to write a book.

Do you work to an outline or plot, or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?
I don't do outlines, but I always start out by editing to get back into the story. A lot of writers don't edit until they are done with the first draft, but I edit as I go.

What advice can you share with other Indie and aspiring Indie authors?
Helping other indie authors out only helps you, too. By sharing knowledge & hosting each other on blogs--you can go far.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Internalization: the first step to creating deep, believable characters

No matter how fabulous your plot...

how beautiful your language...

how incredible your world building...

no matter how many explosive action scenes...

or daring twists and turns your novel might contain... is destined to fall flat on its face if it does not have characters that your audience can connect with.  Character is essential, because it is the human factor.  We relate to characters, even when we can't relate to the world they are in.  Even in fantasy, sci-fi, and paranormal settings that are completely foreign to us, we are still anchored to the world through the characters.  Even in an explosive action flick, we don't give a damn whether or not the characters die if we don't connect to them.  (Raise your hand if you've ever read a book and you've been like "Wow, I really hope this character dies.")  *Raises hand*

There's a lot of advice on building character out there.  I would suggest a take-it-or-leave-it approach on all writing advice (including mine), because not every writer works in the same way.  You have to do what works for you.  But since the comment I get the most about my book is something to the effect of "the characters are amazing", I figured I would share my personal process with you.

Internalization.  It's as simple and as complicated as that.  No worksheets, lists of favorite colors, or anything of the sort.  Just large amounts of time staring into space.  A realistic character grows out of the author's empathy.  You have to be able to put yourself in that character's place-- to become the character, in a way.  You have to move beyond knowing about the character, and actually start knowing the character.  There is a huge difference.  (It doesn't involve favorite colors.)

So how, exactly, do you do this?  Basically, it's professional daydreaming.  Imagine your character, put them in a scene, and let your mind run wild with it.  I do this without writing it down, because I feel that words can get in the way at this point.  I am more concerned with seeing, with understanding.  Many, many times the scenes I imagine do not happen in my book.  They may take place before, but often they are 'alternate realities'-- an outcome that would happen if the tiniest detail were changed.  I run through countless numbers of alternate scenes until I am satisfied.  I edit out nothing, make no attempts to reign my characters in.  I let them be what they will, and see what happens.  As for the scenes themselves, I go where my mind wants.  Something that I feel sucked into.  Usually something with deep emotion.  That's where I find the most useful information about my characters.  Sometimes I learn about things they might keep secret.  Sometimes I learn about past traumas.  Sometimes I learn important things that would happen if my world had allowed it, and the insight gleaned helps me understand reactions to things the world does allow.

This is by no means the full scope of character development, but I would recommend giving it a try if you have never worked like this before.  It is a really good starting place for getting your characters out of the can (no one wants canned characters for dinner) and helping them to glow with real life.

OK, one last thing:  Don't just do it for your main character.  The more, the merrier.  Take time to know all your characters, and BAM, your writing just got so much better.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

A Rocking Review of Procythian Reign


Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
Rating: 4 Guitars

Welcome to Proceena, corporate capital of the Procyon 2 System, a place where Humanity leads a double life: One of opulent wealth and one of crushing poverty.  Now, these worlds will collide, forever changing the lives of those caught between them.  Laura Clabar is the niece of the local ore baron and reigning corporate authority. She lives a life of privilege and comfort.  But after falling for an idealistic politically active indigo (Proceena's working class), she begins to question if there is more to power and status than a life of creature comforts and luxury.  Does she have a novel obligation to protect those less fortunate? Or, should she just go on living her life of opulence, blind to the suffering of others? Eric Phillips is an officer in the Guild of Proceena's Workers, and a fiery, intense radical.  He wants change and he wants it now.  When a stranger enters his life, it looks like he just might get it.  But is there room in the Progyon System for both of them? Can an angry revolutionary work hand-in-hand with a sworn class enemy, or will Laura soften his iron temperament?  And, can they stay one step ahead of her uncle's relentless henchman, Leo Krisminski?  Get this, dark, fast-paced space opera and find out!

Why It Rocked:
When I first picked this book up I had to take some time to get into the writing style of the author, but once I did this book engulfed me in a well-established futuristic world.  The fact that the author took the time to allow the reader knowledge of the world and the classes shows how well established and researched Proceena is.  At first the jump between characters like Mike, Eric, Laura and Leo Krisminski is a bit disorienting but once the characters are established the writing really settles into a flow and make the read much faster and an easier read.  There was not one second of this book that wasn't packed with action to keep readers on their toes!  I would recommend a more mature audience for this book due to some of the language and content of this book.  However for an adult audience I felt that the more mature scenes and content were done with tact and class which is something that, as a reader, I really appreciate from authors.  I know there is already another Proceena book out and I can't wait to pick it up!

A Rocking Review of Anna: The Starseed Series #1

Anna (The Starseed Series, #1)

Genre: YA Sci-Fi/Mystery
Rating: 3.75 but rounded up to 4 Guitars


To the outside world, Anna appears to be an ordinary high school senior...

Anna has a lot of questions. Should she pursue her desire to leave home for college and live out her dream of becoming a physicist? Or should she stay home and help care for her family, which has struggled ever since her father died in Afghanistan? Is her crush, Steve, really interested in her, or is he only using the highly intelligent Anna to try and boost his grades in school?

These questions, plus the ordinary trials and tribulations of high school, distract Anna from noticing some very... strange things that are beginning to happen to her.

For as long as Anna can remember, she has had a haphazard smattering of freckles on her arm. But these freckles are starting to change, and cause a series of unnerving hallucinations and odd side effects that only Anna seems to notice. When a strange shadow man starts to haunt her nights, she decides to go on a hunt for the truth to discover, once and for all, what is happening to her. The hallucinations continue growing stronger, however, and each new visit by the shadow man appears to become more and more threatening. Eventually, Anna realizes that she can no longer hide from her friends and family what is happening to her.

But as she shares her secret with those closest to her, Anna never imagines that her very life, and the lives of those she loves, will be put in jeopardy.

Who, or what, is Anna?

Why it Rocked

I was really intrigued by Anna when I got hold of this book. The synopsis sounded fascinating, and I loved the cover, so I was excited to get reading.
The writing was smooth and easy to read, and I was caught up in the first scene and to want to find out more – always a good sign.
I loved the mystery of this book – there were a lot of questions posed in the first few chapters to keep me wanting to read more.
However, I will say that I did have a bit of an issue with this book. There was a fascinating mystery and sci-fi element and I did feel like after it was introduced for long chunks of the book it seemed to be almost completely forgotten and all the emphasis was on the teen drama of dating and boys. Whilst I appreciate a romantic element in a novel I felt like too much time was spent on that for long stretches of the book and the sci-fi mystery was ignored.
The sci-fi stuff didn’t really come back into play to any significant degree until towards the end of the book and so when it did it felt a little rushed and hurried. I was a little disappointed by that. I would have loved to have seen a far greater focus on the mystery. What was there felt out of place amongst the romance.
That said I really liked Anna, the main character. She was bookish and smart, but in a proper way instead of how a lot of authors simply tell us the MC is a geek/nerd and then just throw in a few references to classics or something. Anna really seemed like a smart girl.
All issues aside I do want to read the next book in this series. I’m really intrigued to find out what’s going to happen next as a lot of questions were posed right at the end and it finished on a bit of a cliff hanger.
I’ll be interested to see where this series goes and I still recommend this book to any readers who enjoy sci-fi elements in their books!

Monday, 21 July 2014

My Two Cents on Pricing

One of the fabulous things about self-publishing is having the freedom to set your own price. For many, setting the price for their book is quite a conundrum. There are lots of opinions out there, and I am weighing in with my two cents.
I like to take a look at similar self-published e-books in my genre and price accordingly. I don’t price much higher than that. Some publishers are getting hip with their e-books and are pricing them much lower than paperbacks. For example, Harlequin prices most of their e-books under $4. So I try to stay competitive by checking out prices of kindred books.

I'm willing to be flexible with my price. You can often drive sales by lowering your price for a certain period of time and promoting it through social media. I like to do this over the holidays, when readers who might normally think $0.99 = Crap, now think $0.99 = Holiday Deal.
You might want to give away the first story in a series, a short story or some other special treat for your readers. If you want to make it free permanently, list it with an online retailer that allows you to, like Smashwords. Then alert retailers that don’t permit you to list it for free, like Amazon. Eventually, they will match your price. This takes a while, so I wouldn’t do it for a temporary giveaway.

For temporary giveaways, try using coupons with Smashwords. You can set the percentage off or choose 100% to make it free of cost.

Pricing a book for free is a tough call. Many like to load their e-readers with free books and then never get around to reading them. I know I've downloaded free books that I've never read.

If you don’t like the idea of giving away the first book in a series, try setting the price at $0.99. $0.99 books have had their moment in the sun. I wouldn’t price my book at that price point nowadays, unless it is a shorter story or the first book in a complete series. Again, the idea is to let readers know this is a deal, not crap.

For paperbacks, make your book as cheap as competitively possible. Most Indies make the majority of their sales with e-books. So don’t sweat a big royalty with your paperbacks. Again, look at similar self-published books in your genre to get a good idea.
So those are my two cents. 
Do you have any ideas that have worked for you? 
Please share!

Friday, 18 July 2014

Selling Your Soul - AKA Self-Promotion

Hands up everyone who finds it really easy to brag about your own brilliance.
No one? I thought as much.
It’s a true fact that very few of us are comfortable singing our own praises to the world. For a start, we are taught from a young age not to be boastful. I know my parents always drilled into me the importance of being modest.
But the day you become an Indie author, a lot of those rules seem to go out of the window. When you are in charge of your own marketing, the ability to tell the world how brilliant you are suddenly becomes vital. You have to be out there every day, trying to make the world pay attention to you.
Sure, it would be nice to think that a great book speaks for itself, but sadly, it just doesn’t work like that. With literally thousands of books out there on the Indie market, a book can be utterly brilliant and still languish at the bottom of the rankings with barely one sale.
Unfortunately, it is also a sad fact that the best writers, the ones who’ve written the best books, are the ones who find it hardest to do self-promotion. It’s part of being a writer.
I’m going to be a little judgmental here and admit that it seems to me that the ones who are able to shout the loudest are the ones whose books don’t necessarily stand up on their own. And I think this is partly because the best writers are the ones who are always convinced that perhaps they could do better. They are the ones who edit and edit and edit and when they do finally send their baby out into the world, it is with a certain amount of trepidation, because they are sure that one more edit could make it even better. And they are the ones who are most scared that their book won’t be well received, because they have put so much heart and soul into it, and they feel that it should stand up on its own.
They are the ones who feel that self-promotion is like selling their soul.
So I have a message for those authors: I know self-promotion is hard. I know it feels like you are giving everything to it and not necessarily getting something in return. But I swear it’s worth it. Because your book can stand alone – but first you have to push it out there.
Keep the faith. Because I have faith in you. You will make it. Because you’re not selling your soul to the devil – you’re selling your soul to your book. And if you’re honest with yourself, you did that a long time ago!

Thursday, 17 July 2014

A Rocking Interview With Lisa Fender and Toni Burns

Today we have Lisa Fender and Toni Burns sharing their insight into the rocking world of Indie publishing. Check these laddies out!
 Lisa Fender and Toni Burns
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What do you think is the benefit of going Indie and self-publishing your own work?

First I didn't want to wait years for my book to be published, second, you make more money when you don't have to share it with agents, publishers and book stores, and third, you still have to do all the hard work of marketing anyway, you might as well reap the rewards!

What do you think is the biggest challenge an Indie author faces?

Saturation of the industry. There are tons of books out there so it makes it tough to stand out.

What are you working on right now?

We (my sister Toni and I) are working on Lore book 2 of The Lorn Prophecy series. Soon after will be Lineage book 2 of the Djenyre Chronicles.

Fable book 1 of the Lorn Prophecy, is our first book out, already on Goodreads and Amazon. It takes you into two worlds, the one we all live in and the Djenrye world. Stevie is our main character and she finds out there's more to herself than she thought possible!


What advice can you share with other Indie and aspiring Indie authors?

Learn basic creative writing skills so your books will be clean and tight! You want your book to shine! Also, don't forget a pro editor!

Which authors inspire you?
George R R Martin, J K Rowling, J R R Tolkien, also the show Ancient Aliens

What genre are your books?

 Fantasy fiction. Our books are part urban, part epic and soon a little sci-fi mixed in!

Do you work to an outline or plot, or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?

I used to be a panster, but not any more. I've learned with world building you need to keep track of everything.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

Absolutely! Between hiring a writing coach years ago and our critique partners I learn every day. Now I am teaching creative writing skills to beginning writers. I am still discovering new skills!

How long, on average, does it take you to write a book?

By the time we write, send to critique partners, fix critiques, send to Michael, a friend who critiques us again, and then editor, about a year.

Do you market your books?

Yes, every day! We are on all the major social sites and are now building our website. We are hoping to have an interactive site for our readers (fans) to join in on the world building and get their ideas!

Is there anything else you would like to add that you haven’t included?

My goal is to see more self-published authors put out nice, clean books. It's hard to get people to trust that your books are written well and worth the read when they have bought self-pubs and they are filled with info dump, head hopping and the like. They don't want to spend their hard earned money on a book they will just put down. I try to get out the word how important this is to your continued sales and success.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Change in the Publishing Industry

It's no secret that there has been a lot of high emotion between traditional publishing and Indie publishing lately.  The Indie publishing movement has thrown a bit of a wrench in the works for traditional publishers, who are losing some of their best writers.  Even longtime traditionally-published authors are abandoning ship in favor of better royalties and creative control.
It only makes sense that traditional publishers are not very happy about this.  They want to strike back.  They want Indie publishing to stop.  Well, it's not going to stop unless we let it.  (Are you planning on it?  I'm not!)

I give you today a petition from
This is a petition to Hachette, regarding a push to raise eBook prices, that would translate to eBooks becoming expensive and thus inaccessible to many customers.  This is a change that could be a huge blow to Indie publishing.  I won't explain the whole issue-- it is explained if you follow the link-- but suffice to say, we probably don't want this.  Check it out, read what it's about, and decide as an Indie author or Indie reader: are you on board?  As of the time I am writing this, 338 more signatures are needed.  If you believe this is an important issue, please share with your Indie author and reader friends.  Go on, rock the petition.  :)
Now, let's be fair about this.  Traditional publishing is a huge industry, and it would be a shame to see its downfall as well.  Personally, I wish there was a better way.  I wish traditional publishers would see where they have gone wrong.  I wish they would pay and support their authors better, because yes, I think there could be a place for traditional publishing.  I believe we could all have a happy future where traditional publishing and authors skip happily through the flowery fields of book-making together, and stuff.  It's just... right now that's a long way off. 

I would love to hear some comments on this issue.  What do you all think?  What needs to change?  Is there a way for everyone to be happy?

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

A Rocking Review of The Doctor's Daughter: Journey to Justice by Belle Blackburn

The Doctor's Daughter: Journey to Justice

Genre: Historical Mystery / Romance
Rating; 4 Guitars
Find it on Goodreads

Everybody, including her mother, believes that Kate's father committed suicide. Determined to prove otherwise, Kate sets out on a fascinating and sometimes hysterical journey through antebellum law and medicine. Set in 1860s Nashville and told with a biting wit, determined Kate finally discovers the truth - but at what cost? Will she ruin her own life trying to defend the life of her dead father?

Why It Rocked
This is a well written and ridiculously well researched historical novel. I haven't come across as faithful a depiction of Antebellum life since Margaret Mitchell. I especially enjoyed the light shed on both rural and modern medical practices of the time and, for one, am very glad of the medical advancement made since the 1860s! Although the book had a slow start (especially with the flashbacks of Kate's parents and early childhood), once it took off, I couldn't put it down. Kate is determined to see that her father's murder is avenged, and that search leads her on an interesting path filled with bad decisions and regret. I wanted to shake her several times for not recognizing certain signposts, but she does grow by the end of the novel, much to my relief. Warning: this ends on a cliffhanger! I seriously had to triple check my Kindle to make sure I had indeed reached the end. I am left with some serious unanswered questions, and I REALLY hope there is a sequel.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Genre Tags: Your New Best Friends

Genre tags are a little hiccup in the lengthy process of publishing your work, but they are oh-so-important. In fact, they just might be the unsung hero of Indie book publishing.

First of all, what is a tag? When you publish a book, the online publisher (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, etc.) will ask you to identify what genre your book is. Usually, you will be limited to about three to five choices and will be provided with a list to choose from.

You need to pick as specific a genre as possible.

Do not pick Romance. That is the world’s largest category with tens of thousands of titles. The more specific your pick, the better. Try Time-Traveler/Paranormal/Suspense/Romance.

Why so specific?

The more specific the category, the easier it will be for your potential readers to find your book. With an online retailer, there is no wandering around the aisles of a bookstore. Consumers have an idea of what they want to read. So if a reader is searching for a Sci-Fi, Young Adult, Dystopian Western, you want your matching categories to come up in the search.
Also, specific categories help you get on Best Seller lists. Getting on the Best Seller list for Mystery might be hard to do, but getting on the Bestseller list for Cozy, Military Themed, Woman Detective, Mystery is a whole lot easier. Once on a Best Seller list, there are a few perks. You can call yourself a “Best-Selling Author." How cool is that? Also, your book will come up more often in searches if it is a Best Seller.

This will translate into higher sales.

So before you publish that book, do some homework. Look at categories that could fit your book, but pick tags based on the categories with the fewer number of books in that category. You will have a greater chance of making that Best Seller list if there are 240 books in that category versus 24,000!
For more reading on the wonders that are book tags and categories, check out Let’s Get Visible by David Gaughram. 
 So go on then, tag your books!