Friday, 31 October 2014

Trick or Treat!



Well Happy Halloween everyone!

I hope you’re all looking forward to a spooktacular evening. I know I am. I’ve been working pretty solidly for the last few days on my costume, and I’m very excited to show it off this evening.

I’m also excited because my newest book has just been released! Yay.



Blood Calling is possibly the perfect book for Halloween. Deliciously devilish vampire? Check! A fair bit of blood and a lot of death? Check! Witches, werewolves and a whole host of other supernatural creatures? Check!

But as if that’s not enough Chasing Freedom is also on a Kindle Countdown deal this weekend! More werewolves, vampires and witches!

Obviously I’m super excited about the new book being out, so as it’s Halloween I’m going to leave you with a little taster from the book…

The darkness was complete. Absolute. I couldn’t see, or feel. I was alone in the blackness with only the memory of teeth and blood to distract me.

“Byron…”

The voice calling me seemed to come from a great distance, but it rung in my ears like a bell seeming to connect with something deep in my very bones.

Slowly, painfully, I forced my eyes open. It took a moment for them to focus, but when they did I gasped. My vision was perfect. The slight blur I had lived with all my life was gone, replaced with absolute clarity. Though all I could see for the moment was a wall rising on my right and a smooth white ceiling far above me.

“He’s awake,” a new voice purred by my ear. A woman. “I’m so glad you chose him, Loxley. He’s pretty.”

I felt a hand stroke my arm and I tensed, my lips pulling back in an involuntary snarl.

“You’d best watch out, Evelyn,” Loxley’s voice said from nearby, the same voice that had woken me. “He’s not like the others. He’s not a play thing for you.”

I turned my head slowly towards her. She was exquisite, perfect. From her thick dark hair, to her clear, abnormally pale eyes. She smiled slowly as I looked at her.

I went to take a deep breath in to speak. It was a reflex, nothing more; it was the first breath I had taken since I woke. For a moment the thought terrified me, but then a taste, a smell, hit the back of my throat that erased all thought.

It was delicious. My whole body seemed to welcome it. My throat ached with thirst, with hunger.

“He smells it,” Evelyn said with a delighted smile.

Loxley stepped up beside her. “Of course he does. Are you hungry, Byron?”

I nodded eagerly, the hunger stronger than ever, wondering what food could smell so appealing.

Loxley thrust out one arm and drew a young girl into my eye line. She was terrified. Tears spilled down her cheeks as she struggled against him.

“Then feed,” he said as he flung her at me.
My body reacted faster than I could have expected as I caught her. Somewhere at the back of my mind the tiny spark of me that was still human screamed in revulsion and disgust. But her warm blood filled all my senses. The hunger reached an almost unbearable peak.

I felt my teeth change in my mouth and I dragged her towards me. My teeth pierced her skin with ease and she screamed. I felt hot blood flood my mouth. It was water to a man dying of thirst. It was more than food, it was ecstasy. I clutched her body tighter and drank deeply.

Erasing my thirst and hunger, and every last hint of my own humanity.



Have a great evening everyone!
 

Thursday, 30 October 2014

A Rocking Interview with Sasha Leigh

Today we have Sasha Leigh sharing her experience as an author. To find more about Sasha, visit her website, blog, Facebook page, Goodreads, or Twitter.

What do you think is the benefit of going Indie and self-publishing your own work?
The biggest benefit of going indie and self-publishing your own work is that you can retain all of your rights to the stories you've spent your time perfecting. Nobody tells you to change things or that something "just won't work." Your successes and failures are yours alone to own.

What do you think is the biggest challenge an Indie author faces?
In my opinion, and excluding the writing and editing process, the biggest challenge an indie author has is exposure, especially when they are just starting out. Building a readership is hard for indies. Many promotional sites charge for services, which makes sense from their standpoint, but a lot of indie authors are people who work full-time jobs and write because they have a passion for it. They have bills and other financial obligations that make utilizing paid services a challenge, limiting their spectrum for exposure. Consequently, this causes them to spend more time searching for services they CAN use, and less time writing.

What are you working on right now?
I am currently writing two series simultaneously: Twisted Fate and Cast From Power, though the latter has yet to be published. Book two in Twisted Fate, Fate's Return, was released on October 27, 2014, and the third installment, Fate's Demand, will be released in December (just in time for Christmas!). Fate's Exchange, the first novel in the series, is currently available for free on Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, IBook, etc., and I am halfway through writing the fifth novel, Fate's Disguise. It is a six-book series about a girl who dies and is given a second chance to change her circumstances. The Sisters of Fate pull the strings behind the scenes, tasking angels to protect Alyssa, and as the series progresses, Alyssa is revealed to be the only one who can help them all. It is a YA Fantasy Romance, and reads like a mix of The Lovely Bones and Lauren Kate's Fallen series.


What advice can you share with other Indie and aspiring Indie authors?
Never stop writing and use every critique, no matter how negative it may seem, as a tool to help you improve your skills.

Which authors inspire you?
Traditionally, I've read and enjoyed books by Lauren Kate, Jennifer Estep, Cassandra Claire, Richelle Mead, and Alyson Noel. My favourite indie author, Amanda Hocking, turned traditional, but her books are amazing.

When did you decide to become a writer?
I've always written poems, and I love art, but writing novels (excluding those I wrote and then deleted when I was younger) did not begin until just over a year ago. However, I spent the year prior to that reading and researching everything I could find about writing fiction. In the end, there was a story I couldn't shake, and decided that the only way I could move past it was to write it all down. After all that research, I realized that the only thing I really needed was a love of writing and the ability to take what I knew from the hundreds of books I read throughout the years, and use it as an example. So I wrote a book, and then another, and posted those on critique sites because I was too shy to share with anyone I actually knew. A lady found and read what I had posted, and asked a simple question: do you have an agent for publication? The rest... well, obviously my novels are published now :)


Do you write every day, 5 days a week or as and when?
I write a minimum of 2000 words per day, every day, even when I am on vacation. Because I work full-time in insurance Monday-Friday, this happens whenever and wherever I am able to complete it. Most of the time, however, I will fit it in after my daughter is in bed and on the weekends, and I always make sure I've met my quota before beginning any editing on books that have already been completed.

Do you work to an outline or plot, or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?
For my first novel, Casting Power (Cast From Power, #1), I wrote an outline for plots, timeline, schedules, characters, locations, and every little meaning behind descriptions and objects. However, once the writing began, revisions changed the story as it had been plotted. I started Twisted Fate as a distraction from Cast From Power, and didn't outline a thing. It started as a stand-alone novel, but quickly grew beyond what I had imagined, and now that I am in the middle of writing book five, I find myself going back to previous novels to make sure that everything is consistent.

How long, on average, does it take you to write a book?
It takes a month or two to write a novel, depending on my schedule i.e. exams to study for in order to obtain a designation for work, my daughter, the hours I have to put in at work, and editing. I write everything longhand, and then type it out on the computer. While this saves the story from the dreaded delete button, and allows for a first edit during transcription, it is time-consuming. The fastest I have completed a novel is during the 2013 Christmas holiday when I spent a week house-sitting for my sister and took vacation from work. Both Fate's Return and Pulled Away were written during this time, becoming what I aptly refer to as "My Christmas Vacation."


Tell us about the cover/s and how it/they came about.
I am a very visual person, and before I ever thought of putting pen to paper, I was always painting, drawing, and browsing other artists' work. A single picture, for me, has the ability to inspire an entire story - and has. While I am writing, I try to think of the biggest theme of a novel or series, or even a pivotal scene, and then sketch an outline of what I want to have depicted on the cover. At that point, I find the pictures that fit, and create the cover myself.

How do you market your books?
My life doesn't have a lot of free time, and when I don't write, I get cranky. My marketing strategy hasn't followed any kind of plan other than post what I can where I can when time allows. I've utilized critique sites such as Wattpad, and posted promotional images and excerpts on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. Once in a while, when I have time, I submit my novel to be featured on book sites and request reviews. For now I am happy knowing the books are out there and readers seem to be enjoying them. When Cast From Power is launched, I will be following a more strategic plan by using what I've learned from Twisted Fate's release as a guide of what works and what doesn't.

Monday, 27 October 2014

How to Grab Your Reader's Heart with Emotional Scenes

Fleshing out characters, outlining physical descriptions and backstory that may or may not be used, picking locations, revising and editing, and choosing the perfect formats are all important aspects that are involved in creating a great story. But, after that is all complete and your hard work is placed into readers’ hands, it is up to them to decide if they want to look past its cover and add it to their reading lists.

It’s up to the author to make a reader want more. 

In order for a story to catch on, to draw the reader in, an author must find a way to write with an immersive quality. If you ask someone why they love their favorite book, do they ever say it’s because the author wrote a great follow-up? Gave them a signed copy? Was it a good idea poorly executed?

It only takes a sentence to break the flow in a story. One misused word has the ability to break the flow of a story, and sometimes, if it is blatant enough, the reader won’t return to finish. For multi-book authors especially, they not only lose possible word-of-mouth marketing and the prospect of this reader picking up other titles they’ve penned, they run the risk of negative reviews by publishing ill-rounded stories for public consumption.

So what can you do to keep a reader hooked?

By making a reader care about characters and their problems—giving the reader something they can relate to or fantasize about—an author can rest knowing that one or two slips will not cause a huge drop in readership. That’s not to say you shouldn’t put out the best book you are capable of creating, of course, but nobody is perfect. Some of the main immersive qualities that keep readers turning pages are the author's ability to produce a unique voice, a pace that fluctuates while still remaining fluid enough so as not to jar the reader out of story, and its believability. By no means is this ALL there is—you can have a great story with mediocre characters that lack depth, or great characters and no story. For now, I aim to confront the believability, or at least one aspect of this concept: emotions.

If you ever listen to someone while they are upset, sad, or afraid, you’ll notice that their voice changes in direct correlation to how they feel. People who throw five six-syllable words together for a ten-word sentence suddenly speak as though they haven't graduated into a two syllable vocabulary. Some people stutter, raise their voice, or even speak so fast that nobody can figure out what it is they are saying. It all depends on the situation and the person. But it isn't often that there will be forty-word sentences in an emotional scene, or purple prose spouting the beauty of a scene as though describing every petal of a rose.

Next week, Sasha will share 8 helpful tips that will help you grab your reader's heart.



By Sasha Leigh
Sasha Leigh is a self-diagnosed dreamer. When she isn't stuck in worlds of her own making, listening to characters squabble for attention in her head, she's immersed in stories created by others. A lover of all things "weird", Sasha's world is considered complete when she has her daughter at her side, her sketchpad, notebook, and something to write with - even if it's just a piece of chalk. Working by day in the insurance industry, she spends her evenings and weekends devouring or writing new tales of magic, mythology, and all things supernatural (except dragons).



Check out her newly-released book, Fate's Return.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

A Rocking Interview With Angela Mcpherson

Today we have Angela Mcpherson sharing her experiences as an author. Find out more about Angela on Facebook, her Website, Goodreads, Twitter, and Amazon.
What do you think is the biggest challenge an Indie author faces?
The biggest challenge would be exposure, getting your name into readers' hands.

What are you working on right now?
I'm working on a few projects at the moment. Hope's Deceit (The Fated, #2) is in early editing stages. Hopefully, HD2 will be completed by the end of Aug/Sept. However, I do have another project I'm secretly working on. The title hasn't been released yet ;)

What advice can you share with other Indie and aspiring Indie authors?
I'd say to never give up, keep writing. Sorry, I don't have anything original, but never giving up is the best advice I could give. The more you write, the better you get. True story.
Which authors inspire you?
All of them...but here's a list: Christopher Pike, Jennifer Armentrout, Colleen Hoover, Richelle Mead, Elizabeth Reyes, Jen Wylie, Lynn Vroman, Heather Van Fleet, J. A. Campbell, Sean Hayden, John Green, Jamie McGuire, Joanne Wadsworth, Ingrid Nickelsen, Katy O'Dowd, Laura Thalassa, Troy Lambert, Rachel Brune, Julie Kagawa....Oh, my goodness, this list could go on. I'm gonna stop here.

What genre do you write in?
Hope's Decree (The Fated, #1) is a young adult, paranormal romance and Distraction is a new adult, college romance.
Why do you write in the genre that you do?
I love romance, in any sub-genre it may be in. I'm in love with love, I guess.
When did you decide to become a writer?
I've always liked creating stories in my head, but it wasn't until reading a Christopher Pike book that I really decided to write. That was about 4 years ago.

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
I WISH I could write in the daytime, but sadly, I write better at night.

Do you write every day, 5 days a week or as and when?
I write everyday, it's like a drug. I can't stop.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
With every story I write, I learn a better way to create scenes. This comes from reading, listening to whatever helpful advice my editors give me and listening to what my readers want. Oh! And listening to music, I must have music to create anything, and coffee. Music and coffee or I can't listen to anyone. ;)

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

David Estes talks about Indie success: Beating the Odds



https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18050390-brew?from_search=true

Today's blog post comes to us from David Estes, an author who has proven that Indies can overcome the challenges of the market and create successful writing careers for themselves.  If you have not yet read any of David's books, check them out.  I just finished my first one (David's new release, Brew) and I am now officially a *fangirl*.  Enter to win a free copy in the giveaway below.  - Kate

Beating the Odds

by David Estes


Due to the explosion of ebooks and the destruction of publishing barriers, there are now literally thousands of Indie authors all screaming at the top of their lungs that their books are worth reading. That’s pretty daunting if you’re trying to make your book(s) stand out amongst the crowd. When I started seriously writing four years ago, I was CLUELESS as to what I was really getting into. And yet, somehow, some way, I’ve managed to “make it” after a zillion mistakes, a lot of hard work, and plenty of good old-fashioned luck. Although I don’t pretend to have all the answers or the magic bullet for success, here’s my story along with a few tips that have helped me get from bored full-time accountant who liked to write stories to full-time Indie author.


Roll back the tape of my life. I hated being an accountant. Desperately hated it. Long hours, high stress, corporate politics. So I quit my job and switched to another desk job that I’d heard would be less hours and less stress. I had two weeks off in between, and my Aussie wife asked what I was going to do with my break. “Uh, sit on the beach?” I said. She gave me that raised-eyebrow look and said, “Why don’t you start writing that book you always talk about?”


Although the thought of even looking at my laptop during my vacation gave me a stomachache, I listened to her pointed advice. I did it. I started writing. She hasn’t been able to get me to stop since. In four years I’ve written twenty books and published sixteen of them. Two years in I was able to quit my boring day job to pursue my dreams: I became a full-time fiction writer. 

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12974693-angel-evolution?from_search=trueMy first trilogy was a huge success, right? Um, no. Not even close. When I published The Evolution Trilogy (a unique non-religious spin on angels and demons) a year after I started working on it, I was ready. Ready for success. Ready for a big payoff from all my hard work. I’d been reading about Amanda Hocking’s success as an Indie author and I said, “Hey, why not me?” Well, because my writing wasn’t good enough. My book idea was awesome and unique and had huge potential, but my writing was amateurish, sloppy, and in desperate need of a good editor. While I wouldn’t say The Evolution Trilogy bombed (it has sold 3,000 books in 4 years), it didn’t come anywhere near my expectations, and it most definitely wasn’t paying any real bills. The reviews were mediocre at best, which was a major reality check. Writing wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. At first I was heartbroken. Thousands of hours of hard work down the drain. All that hope dashed on the rocky coastline of failure. I didn’t have what it takes—never would.


SCREW. THAT.


I’m the type of person that hates failure. I don’t like losing, especially at something that I love. And I LOVE writing. That’s a major key to success as an Indie author. If your goals (like mine were) are to make millions and be rich and famous, then you’re in the wrong business. Most of us will make a few bucks here and there, and a lucky few will be able to scrape out a living. Even fewer still (the Amanda Hocking’s, Elle Casey’s and Hugh Howey’s of the world) will hit it big. Right now I’m in the middle category—scraping out a living. I’m not complaining, I’d rather scrape out a living as a writer than be earning six digits a year in some job I hate. I’m happy.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13931214-the-moon-dwellers?from_search=truehttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16047633-the-sun-dwellers?from_search=truehttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15747708-the-star-dwellers?from_search=true




https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16160701-fire-country?from_search=trueMy second series was the one that allowed me to quit my day job. Originally I planned another trilogy, but eventually the project turned into a 7-book epic series that combined two separate trilogies, The Dwellers Saga and The Country Saga, in a 7th book that brought characters and plotlines together. So far it’s sold in excess of 30,000 copies in just over two years.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17609113-water-storm-country?from_search=trueThat brings me to another key for success: Building your backlist. Unless you’re extremely lucky and far more talented than me, writing one book a year like most traditionally published authors simply won’t cut it as an Indie. I wrote and published the 7 books in the Dwellers/Country Saga in 20 months. By that point I’d written 1 million words in three years. There are a few good reasons for writing and publishing like a fiend. One, practice is the only way to get better. By having a crazy-aggressive writing schedule you’ll force yourself to improve. Two, every new reader multiplies your potential sales. Suddenly a new reader doesn’t mean just one sale. It means a potential sale for every single one of your books, particularly if your books are in a series. It also means you can magnify the impact of giving away free copies of your books. I’ll pretty much give away an ebook of The Moon Dwellers to anyone who wants one. Why? Because if they like it, they might buy the other SIX books in the series! Quick side note: the BEST way to give away free ebooks is buy making your book free on Kindle through Amazon’s KDP Select program. The BEST way to advertise that is via BookBub, which seems extremely expensive but which is WELL worth the money. As an example, I advertised The Moon Dwellers for FREE on BookBub and had 30,000+ downloads in three days. Then I did Fire Country a month later and had 27,000+ downloads. Obviously, I made zero royalties from these downloads, but sales of the sequels took off, and I had four straight months of 2,000+ full price sales. These months changed my life. You might have tried BookBub. You might have been rejected multiple times. I was too. They are extremely selective, which is also what makes them so valuable. Keep trying. Continue to build your reviews on Amazon. If you can get over 100 with a decent average rating, that’ll give you a chance at being accepted by BookBub. Don’t give up!





https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16160701-fire-country?from_search=trueSo you’re probably thinking the Dwellers Saga was an instant success, right? Try again. My third year as an Indie was decent, far better than I ever could have expected. Although I wasn’t making enough to live on, my wife and I had savings and we decided to quit our jobs to make a go of my dream, with her as my editor. A big risk, but that’s what life is anyway: one massive risk. My writing was improving, and I wasn’t going it alone anymore. I’d learned the hard lesson that good writing takes work. It also takes serious criticism from serious critics. I started using a beta reading team, and I stopped brushing negative feedback aside as “Just one person’s opinion.” I realized my writing sort of sucked and that I needed to learn how to improve it. I focused on every single sentence, every single chapter. Making them tighter. Making them better. I read books on writing, like Stephen King’s On Writing and Donald Maas’s Writing the Breakout Novel. I improved with each book, and my readers noticed. They appreciated my efforts. They were fully along for the ride. 


Partway through the third year I started a Goodreads fan group. Right off the bat I had 300 members. Woohoo!! I was ecstatic. Over the moon. Six months later I was churning out the sequels to The Moon Dwellers and I still had around 300 members. What? I couldn’t understand why my membership wasn’t growing. The Dwellers Saga was getting great reviews, but my fan group was dead. No activity. No interest. I decided to change things up. My biggest problem was that I made the group all about me. And who was I? Nobody. Just another person who writes books, another tree in the forest. So I changed things up. I made the group all about books. My books, someone else’s books, reading in general. Anything was fair game. It became a place where anyone could hang out and talk about their interests, passions, and experiences. The group started growing and now has more than 2,600 members, many of whom have never, and may never, read my books, which is perfectly fine by me, so long as they read other books. You see, it’s NOT all about you as a writer. It’s about READERS. The more readers we have, the more readers enjoy reading, the better it is for everyone. Become part of a book community, not for the purpose of selling your books, but because you love books like all the other people. I recommend Goodreads, but there are many others out there. Take it seriously. Participate in discussions. Make friends. Don’t spam about your book. Readers will realize you’re a valuable member of the community and they’ll click on your profile and discover you’re an author and get EXCITED about that fact and potentially try your books. I’ve had numerous people message me on Goodreads to say they’ve been my friend for over a year and never knew I was an author, but loved all the book recommendations I gave them (books that weren’t mine!). In most cases they said they’d give my books a shot. 


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22960811-boil?from_search=true
Year four. The best year. Part luck. Part hard work. Part good timing. The Dwellers Saga was listed as one of 15 Series to Read if you Enjoyed The Hunger Games on Buzzfeed. Sales shot up. A couple movie inquiries came in, as well as a TV inquiry (nothing has panned out so far, but it’s still cool!). An agent contacted me and eventually signed me. I wrote another trilogy, Brew, and although it had interest from publishers including a purchase offer, my agent and I decided to sign on with Amazon White Glove. Brew, and its sequel, Boil, hit the top ten on genre bestseller lists almost immediately. I stopped eating away at our savings and started paying bills with my royalties—ALL our bills. It could happen to you, but don’t expect it to. Expect to have to fight for every reader. Treat every reader like your ONLY reader. Be generous with your free books, especially the first book in a series. Never stop writing. Never. Do it because you love it and good things will follow.

Never give up. 



For more specific Indie Author Advice from David Estes, check out his dedicated author advice page on his blog here: http://davidestesbooks.blogspot.com/search/label/advice

Also, David Estes loves connecting with fellow Indie authors as well as readers, feel free to contact him on one of his favorite social networking sites:


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Thursday, 16 October 2014

Read some of Amelia Thorne's latest: Beneath the Moon and Stars




Beneath the Moon and the Stars is released on October 18th, the gorgeous new debut from Amelia Thorne. Here's the blurb:


Home, sweet home…
Joy Cartier has been to some of the most beautiful places in the world – but none of them have ever felt like home. So moving into a tiny cottage in the idyllic village of Bramble Hill, walking distance from her childhood home, seems like the perfect plan.
That is, until she gets there. The surly inhabitants of Britain’s Friendliest Village are anything but welcoming. Even her neighbour, reclusive Hollywood star Finn Mackenzie, takes one look at her and walks in the other direction.
But when the village animosity steps up a gear, it is the infuriatingly brooding Finn who keeps coming to her rescue. Slowly Joy begins to realise that maybe a happy home isn’t about where you live, but who you’re with…

Read this preview of Amelia's newest novel:

A Rocking Interview With Nikola Yanchovichin

Today we have author Nikola Yanchovichin. Find out what he has to say about the world of writing.
 Smashwords/ Barnes & NobleKobo/ Scribd

What made you decide to go Indie and self-publish?
I just wanted to join this fever. 
Maybe the next time I will send the stuff to a traditional publisher.

What do you think is the benefit of going Indie and self-publishing your own work?
It's not the money, I think, to me is more the desire. To me, that's creating the opiate of writing - just the pure possibility to feel big.

What do you think is the biggest challenge an Indie author faces?
Competition. Maybe the're are millions of readers out there, but the're also so many books.
And the situation is getting harder and harder.
But every author should give it a try.
In my country, due to numerous circumstances, people are buying less then one book in entire year.
But believe it or not, every single day books are being published.
What are you working on right now?
Few short stories and one novel.

What advice can you share with other Indie and aspiring Indie authors?
Every word and every dream is a struggle, but the end is totally worth it.

Which author inspires you?
Maybe the author which has inspired me the most is Nikos Kazantzakis. With simple words, he tells you how to be become a man. And that, folks, means a lot.
What genre do you write in?
Fantasy and horror for now, but I want to create Sci-Fi/ action adventure books too.

Why do you write in the genre that you do?
I like the freedom in it.
If you want, you can create a god, demon or man.
And that's something no other source will give you.

Is there anything else you would like to add that you haven’t included?
Don't forget to download my e-book. It's free.
Grab a free copy of "Crematorium for Phoenixes" and tell me what you think.
That's all I want.