Thursday, May 31, 2012

Review: GENTLE WIND'S CARESS by Anne Brear

4 of 5 stars

Isabelle Gibson is a young woman who knows the pain of loss. When her father deserts the family, Isabelle, her sister, younger brother and mother are forced into a workhouse. A life full of drudgery is not for the gentle and weak of heart and Isabelle loses her mother and sister to this harsh life. Determined to save herself and her brother from this life of suffering, she agrees to marry a farmer, Len Ferrell. What she doesn't know is that she has just condemned herself and brother to a life far worse than the one they had left at the workhouse.  When Ferrell abandons her after a robbery gone bad, Isabelle must dig deep to find the strength to run the tenant farm. She meets the landlord, Ethan Harrington, and for the first time in her life, finds someone who treats her with respect. Their feelings grow into a tender love, but it comes with a high cost.

The author does a very good job of letting the reader into Isabelle's mind as she struggles with feelings of abandonment and her fierce determination to provide her little brother with a better life. She is a strong female character who is not diminished by the male characters, Ethan and Ferrell, in the book. I found myself totally immersed in the story, always waiting for the second shoe to drop. Could Isabelle have finally found someone who loves her deeply? Or is their newfound love destined to bring disaster to everyone Isabelle loves?

Without putting in any spoilers, I read this book in 2 sittings. It was that good and kept my attention throughout. Readers of women's fiction will definitely enjoy this story of a strong young woman who must face seemingly impossible odds to save herself and her little brother from a life as beggars in the streets.

The book will be available to purchase on June 7, 2012.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Interview with Jayce Grayson

Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book?
XIANNE: A COMEDY OF CULTURES: VOLUME ONE is basically a sci-fi novel about where our evolving culture will have taken us in about 300 years. Seen in microcosm among the relatively few characters in the story—aboard Captain Tom Duncan’s interplanetary luxury yacht/freighter, Xianne— I try to explore the repercussions of our growing “porn culture” upon interpersonal relationships of the future, keeping in mind that by then many of today’s taboos will have completely disappeared, just as those from 300 years ago have in our day. I certainly would like to inspire serious thought, but there is so much potential humor in the subject that the book has also been described as a “futuristic romantic comedy”. I’m happy with that.

Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?
No. Despite the general consensus that “indie books” are not worth reading, I wanted to bypass all of the delays and entanglements that greet a first-time author when trying to break in to traditional publishing. I also know—from having read them—that there are many traditionally published books that aren’t worth reading, either. Certainly, an indie author should feel a responsibility to his readers to produce a professional-quality book—and by that, I don’t mean the subject of the material. (Readers will like almost anything that they’re interested in, and avoid themes that do not interest them.) I mean the format—the look—of the book. It’s up to the author to go the extra mile and make sure that it’s edited properly, that words are spelled correctly, that punctuation meets acceptable standards, etc. The bad rap that indie books have received is a direct result of certain writers just flinging their words down and paying for publication, seemingly without even proofreading the manuscript! Everyone can tell a story, but not everyone can write one.

What do you feel has helped improve your writing?
That’s easy. Reading. The only reason I have a desire to write is because of the many wonderful books I’ve read in my life. We all have our favorite authors, and actually studying how they write is of great benefit. Of course, I’m greatly indebted to every teacher of English that I had, and I’ve found that paying attention to how a sentence rolls off the tongue can make all the difference in the presentation of my story.

What factors influenced your decision to self-publish?
Well, if you’ve looked at a copy of something like THE WRITER’S MARKET, it doesn’t take long to discern that the traditional publishing houses aren’t interested in “unknowns”. They want authors who have been previously published—and don’t even think of not having an agent! The “slush pile” for unsolicited manuscripts is fast going the way of the dinosaur. YOU HAVE TO KNOW SOMEBODY. I didn’t. Plus, I realized that with the nature of my subject matter, I’d probably come up against overwhelming obstacles anyway. Indie publishing allowed me to keep complete control of my material, avoid the middlemen, and it expedited the publishing of my book. I know of an author, right now, whose book was completed a couple of years before I began writing XIANNE, and he is still wrapped up in a traditional publishing house’s red tape.  Publication for his book is tentatively set for early 2013. This is not a unique case—it’s one of the most prevalent gripes that writer’s have.

Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
I didn’t, and I hope I don’t fall into the very category of writers that I was criticizing earlier. No, I did it myself, relying on my own education and the practice of rewriting at least three times. As well as the extensive reading I’ve done in my life. I’ve always tried to pay as much attention to how an author writes as I do to what he writes. And, of course, there are many variations of style.

What have you learned during your self-publishing journey?
Truthfully, that it was easier than I thought it would be. Also, that, once resolved to publish your book, you must ignore those who parrot the “party line” that your book isn’t as good as those from the traditional publishers. They don’t know that, if they haven’t read it! Knowing what I know now about the process, I’m amazed that these famous authors, who have already amassed their fortunes, actually remain with traditional publishing houses. They’re established, we know their names, and we’ll buy anything they write—They could save themselves a lot of the misery that I hear them relating. Publish yourself.

Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
At Infinity Publishing’s site, Alibris, Barnes & Noble, several other of the web-based bookstores—just enter XIANNE into the search engine of your choice!

Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
A little—and to the detriment of marketing this one. I’ve almost completed the 2nd (and most sweeping) revision of the 2nd volume of XIANNE, and I find that I’m far more interested in that than in making sales of the 1st one. I think that it’s important, as an indie author, to be resolved in your mind that you aren’t likely to become a millionaire. It would be nice, if it happened, but I’m not driven by that. For me, it’s the getting of my ideas down, getting them published, and in feeling a sense of pride in what I’ve accomplished. I think that may be the dividing line between indie authors and traditional authors. Don’t get me wrong—I’d love a big, fat cash advance from a traditional publisher, and I’d probably even compromise what I write about—until I had enough money to have my own way and/or return to indie publishing!

What advice would you give a new author just entering into the self-publishing arena?
Really, what I’ve already mentioned. Take responsibility for producing a professional-quality book—pay someone if you have to. I’ve seen indie books that looked as though they were written by illiterate authors—perhaps they were. Writing a book is more than just telling a story. Even a bad story can be made better by a good delivery. Those English classes were important! And then, don’t expect to get rich—great if you do—but don’t publish yourself with that as your goal. And finally, if you’ve written a good book, and you know it, disregard the naysayers. I’ve paid good money for novels from respected publishing houses that were grave disappointments to me. Everyone won’t like your novel, but everyone won’t hate it, either.

What’s next for you?
XIANNE: A COMEDY OF CULTURES: VOLUME TWO. Hopefully, by early 2013. (No deadlines, either.) There will be four volumes; the third is complete, and I’m roughly halfway through the writing of the final volume. After that, I’ll definitely be ready for a change of subject.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Was Merlin from the planet Otharia?

At least that's what Dave and I are proposing in our Rule of Otharia books. The Arthurian legends of Merlin the Magician and the Lady of the Lake are steeped in mystery and legends. How was Merlin able to do those incredible feats that he's credited with? One answer could be that he wasn't from Earth, but from the distant planet, Otharia. He was a powerful telekinetic and along with Vivienne (Lady of the Lake) who in her own right was a powerful empath, they were able to awe the primitive people with their "magic."

There is a link between the distant planet of Otharia and Earth. Here's the prologue for book 1, QUEST FOR NOBILITY. It will explain how Merlin and Vivienne came to be on Earth in the first place.

With bloody sword in hand, Reaver looked over the scene of the massacre.  It did not sit well with him, what he had done, but he was loyal to his commander.  The orders had been simple: kill them all, and so he had done his best.  Now, with most of the killing done, he had time to reflect.
May the gods have mercy on our souls.
The Telkur duty telekinetic looked up as the unauthorized portal started to form. He checked the coordinates and was shocked to see that the incoming portal was from the planet Earth. That off-world expedition was not due to check in for another month.
“What the...”
Before he could finish his sentence, two bloodied men staggered through the opening.
“We’ve been attacked,” the first man said. “All is lost.”
More men and women stumbled through the portal with varying degrees of battle wounds. The duty telekinetic was stunned. Earth was a primitive planet, but from all the previous indications, its people were peaceful.
Snapping out of his shock, he opened a comm link directly to the Duke of Telkur.
“Sire, we have trouble at the portal station. Some of the expedition members are back and are badly wounded.  Please come immediately and bring the healers.”
The gavel banged and the Master Clerk read the declaration.
“Let it be known that, from this day forward, off-world travel to the planet Earth is prohibited.”
Duke Rael Telkur sat unmoving in the Grand Council chamber room. The decree was final. There would be no more travel to Earth. He had lost a fortune financing the ill-fated expedition.  It had required four 10K crystals powering the portals to transport the hundred-plus explorers and their supplies.  Normally, a 10K crystal would provide a duchy with more than three years of local planetary travel.  But more importantly than the crystal expense, he had lost fifty loyal men and women to brutality.  Only five of his expedition team had made it back to Otharia, but they all subsequently died of their wounds.  The Vogdo team members had fared only slightly better; a mere ten of their men returned. 
Rael glanced down the table to where his partner in this venture, Duke Jaks Vogdo, sat stone-faced. There was nothing more to be done.
Jaks looked at Rael and nodded.  You naive fool, Rael.  If only you knew the truth.
Jak’s duchy was rich in crystal mines located within the Sharellian Mountains.  Everyone believed the crystal veins were bottomless, and the Vogdo family thought the same until the veins started to dry up.
Fate and fortune had shone favorably upon Jaks Vogdo when mineral-rich Earth was discovered. He eagerly agreed to form an alliance with Rael to explore this strange new world. They would share expenses for the exorbitant cost of off-world exploration and divide any potential riches evenly.  
At least that was the plan, but greed has a way of eliminating alliances even among friends. Blinded by unimaginable wealth, Jaks had no compunction about turning on his partner and ordering the massacre of the Telkur team members.
“The crystals must be shipped back here without a trace,” Jaks told his man on Earth.  “I’ll open the portal from Earth directly into my mines and transfer the foreign crystals unseen.  No one will ever know the truth.”
“I told you this would work,” Merlinius Telkur said.
His partner Vivienne shook her head at his boasting.  She hated this planet Earth.  They had been running for days from the Vogdo hunting party and she was at the end of her patience.  Their 10K traveling crystal was gone and they had no way to return to Otharia or even contact them to let them know what had transpired here.  There were so few of the Telkur expedition that had escaped the initial attack, and now they were stuck on this primitive planet. 
“Save your breath, Merlinius,” Vivienne shot back.  “Just concentrate on holding your shield until those bastards out there leave and we can get out of here.”
 “I know that,” Merlinis replied, exasperated at Vivienne’s curt command.  “You make sure your own shield holds.  If they detect our life signs, this ruse will be for nothing and we’ll have to run again.”
Vivienne sighed heavily.  At the moment, she didn’t know which was worse: Merlinius’ bravado, or being stranded on Earth with a band of Vogdo killers outside the cave hunting them.


Friday, May 25, 2012

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday of May. It was formally known as Decoration Day and commemorates all men and women, who have died in military service for the United States. Many people visit cemeteries and memorials on Memorial Day and it is traditionally seen as the start of the summer season.

Memorial Day started as an event to honor Union soldiers, who had died during the American Civil War. It was inspired by the way people in the Southern states honored their dead. After World War I, it was extended to include all men and women, who died in any war or military action.

The current name for this day did not come into use until after World War II. Decoration Day and then Memorial Day used to be held on May 30, regardless of the day of the week, on which it fell. In 1968, the Uniform Holidays Bill was passed as part of a move to use federal holidays to create three-day weekends. This meant that that, from 1971, Memorial Day holiday has been officially observed on the last Monday in May. However, it took a longer period for all American states to recognize the new date.

Whatever you decide to do on this 3-day weekend, say a prayer and a "thank you" for all of the US military personnel who are serving around the world to keep us safe.

I'll be back with a new blog post on Tuesday, May 29th. Have a great weekend and stay safe!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Review: ANGEL FIRE by Valmore Daniels

4 of 5 stars

Avenging angel or murderer? This is the choice you need to make in ANGEL FIRE. The book opens with Darcy Anderson being released from prison after serving a ten-year sentence for manslaughter. This immediately captured my interest and is an excellent opening that kept me turning the pages. Why was she in prison? Who did she kill? The rest of the story focuses on Darcy as she tries to go home and blend in with the good townsfolk of Middleton. Unfortunately for her, people remember her as the girl who killed her parents in a horrific house fire. As if that wasn't bad enough, the Sheriff and her ex-husband Barry will not let the past rest and relentlessly confront her at every turn.

As the story unfolds, Mr. Daniels skillfully reveals more details about Darcy and what really happened on the night her parents were killed. Is she a "fire bug" as some call her or does she have an other worldly power to bring forth intense fire at will? The secondary characters are nicely fleshed out and I especially liked her Uncle Edward, a stern no-nonsense kind of guy. Darcy's inner turmoil as she comes to grips with her power is portrayed quite well by the author. Throw in a love interest with a strange power of his own and it's hard to put the book down.

I don't want to put any spoilers in the review, but suffice it to say, this is indeed an intriguing read. Whether you love her or hate her for the things she does, this book will keep you thinking long after you've finished reading. Does the end justify the means?

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Interview with Jaidis Shaw

Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book?
Destiny Awaits is my debut paranormal romance novel and I’m so excited to be able to share it! It follows the life of Alayna Scott who decides to move to the small town of Juniper Grove after the tragic accident that claimed the lives of her parents. After the move, she catches the eye of a vampire and through a series of events, is brought into a world that she never knew existed. Jayden, her super sexy neighbor and love interest, will risk everything to ensure her safety and make sure that she is the one by his side.

Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?
I decided with Destiny Awaits that self-publishing was the route to go so I did not try to get it traditionally published. I am not opposed to traditional publishing and if the opportunity presented itself I would consider making the switch but I just went with self-publishing because I have been working on it for so long and wanted to get it out. I also like the control that self-publishing provides.

What factors influenced your decision to self-publish to Amazon?
I have talked with several authors and have heard numerous stories on both the good and bad aspects to self-publishing to Amazon. I just felt as though going with Amazon was the right choice for me and I needed to try it for myself so I could form my own opinion about it. So far, it has been a positive experience with great results.

Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
Yes. I believe that having a professional editor go over your manuscript is necessary and should always been done before publishing. Readers deserve to have a clean story and shouldn’t be distracted with poor editing.

Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
Currently you can only buy the eBook version of Destiny Awaits on Amazon because I enrolled it in the Kindle Select Program. After it completes the required time frame, I may consider having it available at different sites. It really all depends on the results.

What kinds of marketing [twitter, facebook, blog, forums] are you involved with for promoting your book(s)?
I am active on several different sites in order to promote not only my book but my blog as well. Sites like Twitter, Facebook, GoodReads, various forums and NING groups are great ways to spread the word and reach new readers. I would say that Twitter, Facebook and my blog Juniper Grove are the sites where I am most active.

Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
It is difficult to promote my current book and work on upcoming projects. A writer really needs to find a balance because you can’t slack promoting currently published projects or readers will lose interest but you can’t spend all of your time promoting or you will never get new work out. Personally, I usually have certain days of the week that I spend only on promotion and other days I focus only on writing and it seems to work out well.

What advice would you give a new author just entering into the self-publishing arena?
I would strongly encourage any authors who are considering self-publishing to talk with other authors who already have experience with it. Having close author friends that I know and trust helped me tremendously along my own self-publishing journey.

Do you belong to a critique group? Have they helped improve your writing?
I currently do not belong to any critique groups but am considering joining one. I do have a few close friends and beta readers that I discuss my work with that have helped me. It’s important to have people take a look at your work and offer an honest opinion so that you can make it the best it can be.

What’s next for you?
I am currently working on book two in the Juniper Grove Chronicles series. It will take a closer look at one of the minor characters in Destiny Awaits named Violet as she struggles with finding a balance between being a rare shifter and life as a senior in high school with boy troubles.

Also, I have begun work on a new paranormal suspense/thriller series that I am super excited about! It will be for a more mature audience because it will contain a few elements that aren’t suitable for YA. Book one is tentatively titled The Stager and it follows the life of an assassin who uses her special ability to get revenge.

I can be found at the following places:
Juniper Grove:

Author Bio:
Jaidis Shaw currently resides in a small town located in South Carolina with her husband and her beautiful daughter. With a passion for reading, Jaidis can always be found surrounded by books and dreaming of new stories. She enjoys challenging herself by writing in different genres and currently has several projects in the works.
When not reading or writing, Jaidis fills the position of Book Tour Coordinator for Nurture Your Books™, maintains the Juniper Grove blog and loves encouraging her daughter to let her imagination run wild.


Monday, May 21, 2012

RESEARCH IS A 4-LETTER WORD by Michaelbrent Collings

Or is it?

Write what you know.  That’s what they say (whoever “they” are).  And they’re right.  Sort of.

But what if you desperately want to write about a diabetic serial killer who has taken a group of high school students hostage and is killing them one at a time unless the police give in to his demands and provide a steady stream of insulin and candy bars?

And now you’re faced with the question: do you know anything about diabetes?  Insulin?  Serial killers?  High school students (sometimes just telling high school students apart from serial killers is hard enough)?  Candy bars?

Chances are, if you’re anything like me, you have some information about diabetes, less about insulin.  Serial killers?  I’m gonna plead the Fifth on that one.  And yeah, I know I was a high school student, but much of that has been blocked out and the shrinks say something like “mental walls” and “extreme stress-related traumatic amnesia” and “you still owe me five hundred dollars,” so I’m more limited on what high school students are than anything else.

I do know candy bars.

So, by my count, I have a commanding understanding of… (mental calculations)… about 30% of what I want to write about.  Which means I have three options: scrap the project, write it and try to b.s. my way through the stuff I don’t know, or research the stuff I don’t know about and then write it.

Want to know what the worst thing to do is?  Scrap the project.

Second worst?  Research the stuff you don’t know.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I think that research can really improve your work… if you do it right.  And that’s a big muthah of an “if.”  The problem with research is that people either do it shoddily (in which case you’ve just wasted time and gotten no return on that investment), or worse, they forget the research is just a means to an end.  The research becomes the point, and the writer forgets to actually, you know, WRITE! 

This almost happened to me on my last project, a fairly good haunted house story called The Haunted.  Now, as of this writing The Haunted is currently in its second straight month on’s Horror Bestsellers, so I must have done something right (or write… get it?  I crack me up!).  But I very nearly didn’t get it right.  Or even written at all.  See, the story is about ghosts, it’s about things that go bump in the night.  It’s about exorcisms and ghost-hunting techniques, and about a family that has some very serious problems that I have never personally run into.  So I decided (bright guy that I am) to do some research.

And what did I find?


But see, that was the problem.  After a few days I realized that I had wandered far astray from my original goal, which was to research enough about specific things to write the story I had in mind in a credible way.  Now, I was just researching in a neverending stream of Google, read, Google, read, Google, read.  Then lather, rinse, and repeat.  It could have gone on forever (if there’s one thing I absolutely know, it’s that the internet is basically infinite).

For some writers, I think this actually happens to them.  They start researching for information that will support their plot; that will enrich their characters.  But they become so enamored of the information that they follow it too far.  They spend too much time on it, and suddenly they find out they’re feeling over-interested about one thing or another totally unrelated to the bones of their story.  Suddenly, the work has transformed from fiction to a passion project.

This is the kiss of death.  Being passionate about your work is great, but when a writer forgets that he or she is a storyteller first and foremost, and starts thinking of him or herself as a political activist who will slip critical info into a ripping good story… well, you’ve got trouble.

I want to be clear here: having a message in your work is great.  When a fiction writer takes a kick-butt plot and fills it with believable and interesting characters, that’s a win.  Then if the author can bolster the whole thing with thematics or a moral message, you just might have a classic on your hands. 

But that’s the only way it works.  Sadly, too many writers – and this is especially endemic to the highly successful writers, who feel that they’ve got “something important to say” and enough clout that they don’t have to listen to their editor or publisher anymore – suddenly decide that the first thing should be the message.  And then they fill in the cracks around that message with a plot that they crease and bend until it fits around that message, whether it was meant to or not.  Then maybe they throw in a few characters who aren’t really characters, but a series of strawmen and mouthpieces.

Surprisingly to no one but the author, this makes for a second-rate novel, which, at its core, is not a story, but a lecture.

So now, let’s return to the premise we started with.  Write what you know.  And if you don’t know something, fine.  Research it.  But don’t become a researcher.  That’s a different (and usually higher-paying) job than that of a storyteller.  Find out what you need.  Then stop and write the damn story.

Writing a story is what makes a writer.  Not spending time in the library, not getting out there and finding stuff out.  Granted, you have to have a life, and the richer your life, the deeper and richer your writing will tend to be.  But write write write at the end of the day.  Write write write as soon as you know enough to tell your story.

Research can be great.  It can be fun.  It can improve your story… as long as you remember that’s the reason you’re doing the research in the first place.

Research is a means.

Story is the end.

And anyone who tells you different… well, they’re just trying to keep the quality of the competition low.

Michaelbrent Collings is an internationally bestselling author and produced screenwriter.  His first novel, RUN, was a #1 bestseller on amazon’s horror and sci-fi lists, and his most recent project, The Haunted, has been on amazon’s Bestselling Horror for longer than most Hollywood marriages.  He is also a produced screenwriter, member of the Writers Guild of America and Horror Writers of America, and hopes to have a cool robot arm someday.   

You can follow him on Facebook at, or just cyberstalk him at his own website:  He also offers screenwriting and novel writing assistance at reasonable fees, so drop him a line if you need help.  Or even if you don’t.  ‘Cause it can be lonely out there. 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Review: FALSE POSITIVES by Kim Aleksander

4 of 5 stars

Big Brother is watching you. The government is amassing great quantities of data about its citizens and feeding it all to a supercomputer that analyzes it for the purposes of weeding out anyone that poses a danger to the United States. It’s fiction, right? Who is to say, but this is the premise behind FALSE POSITIVES.

The story starts in 1973 when a brilliant UC Berkeley graduate student creates the first computer virus during a drug-induced haze. The program is loaded into the computer, but seemingly disappears without a trace. Fast forward to 2007 and traces of the virus are beginning to corrupt the US’s most powerful supercomputer. Marnie McCloud, a computer expert, is hired by the government to program “Junior” (her name for the supercomputer) and she is the one that begins to see traces of the virus in the recommendations of terrorists that “Junior” spits out. She takes it upon herself to try and track down the original programmer to undue the corruption, but there are some that don’t want her to find him.

The author takes the reader on a thrill ride that will keep the most die-hard thriller fans entertained.  Christian and Muslim ideology is featured extensively and Mr. Aleksander’s knowledge about these 2 religions as well as computer programming is impressive as he weaves a heart-pounding story. The characters are well-fleshed out and there are quite a few surprises revealed.

One criticism is that the book could use the eyes of a good editor. There were many typos throughout the book and they continued to jar me out the story. I also skipped over much of the computer programming paragraphs, not because they were inaccurate, but because I didn’t really care how the computer worked and I was eager to get back to the story. Recommended.

This book was provided by the World Literary Cafe.
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Friday, May 18, 2012

Are You a Good Citizen?

Debra L Martin
I've been thinking about this question for some time. What does this mean for an author? One thing it doesn't mean is to constantly tweet or have Facebook posts that say "buy my book, buy my book!" After awhile, people will start ignoring your tweets and posts because they are always the same.

Every author wants sales, of course, but what else can you be doing to help drive those sales. There are a number of things that will help you to become a "good citizen" in the writing world and in the long run will help your sales. Who knows? Along the way, you'll be amazed at the online friendships that develop when you allow yourself to connect with others.

Here are a few things that I do to be a "good citizen."
  1. Take the time to get to know people and have conversations with them on twitter. Once you get to know people, you'll find that they will be more than willing to retweet for you. Now your book(s) is being talked about in a ever widening circle. Exposure is a great boost for any title. The same things goes for Facebook. Interact with people. Social media is an extremely important component in the publicity of your book. Use it wisely and you'll reap the rewards.

  2. Help spread the word for another author's book. Use twitter, facebook, google+, whatever is available to you. A quick tweet or FB post about a new release is simple.  I have many "new release" posts on my blog and my triberr mates retweet it. Exposure is the key for sales. If people don't know a book exists, they can't buy it. When it's your turn for a "new release" people will be more than willing to help you spread the word.

  3. If you have a blog, offer author interviews. I've done over 200 author interviews. Authors love to talk about themselves and their books. I have a set of interview questions for indie authors and one for traditionally published authors. I change the questions every 6 months or so. Some authors like to mix and match them and that's fine with me. I've met some extremely interesting people through my author interview series and I plan to continue it as long as authors keep asking to be featured on Two Ends of the Pen.

  4. Answer questions when you can for newbie authors. We've all been there and trust me, most all of the questions have been asked before, but if you're online at a forum and know the answer, why not answer it? People remember such kindnesses and who knows, you may be the one asking the question some day. 

  5. Offer to guest post at your favorite blog. Believe me, I welcome guest posts. My only stipulations is that the post has to do with writing or publishing. I've kept quite a few of the most popular ones in the sidebar to make it easy for readers to find them.  As a matter of fact, the guest posts and the author discussion questions are the most popular ones on the blog. Week after week, those posts are clicked on and read.

  6. Offer up contests or giveaways on your blog. The prize could be anywhere from one of your books to a gift card from Amazon or BN. Readers love to enter contests and you'll have the opportunity to gain new readers to your blog. While they may have only clicked on your link to enter the contest, a number of them will stick around to read your content. Keep your blog updated and make sure your books are displayed in the sidebar or on their own page to make it easy for readers to find your book(s).

Above all, be professional and kind. Your online personality is the only avenue for some folks to get to know you. And as your mother always said, "Say thank you." It's such a simple thing, but it speaks volumes.  So, what kind of things do you do to be a "good citizen?" Big or small, everything counts! "Pay it forward."

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Spotlight: REPLENISH by Philip Bullman

Book Blurb:

In February of the year 303, the Roman emperor Diocletian issued the first in a series of edicts designed to destroy Christianity. Striking at the heart of the church, the measure banned Christian worship and ordered the Roman legions to destroy churches and scriptures. This novel opens on the day the first edict was issued. It follows Linus and Priscilla, two members of a small Christian community, through what church historians would later come to call the Great Persecution. Replenish The Earth is a thriller that takes you into the heart of a Christian community and its heroic resistance to persecution.


Buy links:

Amazon US:

Amazon UK:

Reviewer’s Comments:

“In this simply told and competently written novel of the emperor Diocletian's persecution of Christians in third century Rome, the author captures both the essence of the faith and the most extreme challenges of living it.” BlueInk Review

Author bio:
Philip Michael Bulman was born and raised in Philadelphia. He holds a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University, and is the author of two books and many articles. Bulman currently lives in Maryland, U.S.A.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Rebecca Writes About: The X-TREME NOVELIST

by Rebecca Forster

I love to read. Books, newspapers, magazines and food labels are all on my TBR list. Horror has been in the mix with popular authors like Stephen King and Dean Koontz, but I didn’t know what a great horror read was until I read a short story collection by Anoynmous-9 (aka Elaine Ash) presented under the umbrella title of Hard Bite & Other Short Stories. Here was horror at its finest: edgy, scary, fascinating, the stuff bad dreams are made of. While I celebrated the book, I also lamented that this author might never be embraced by the mainstream despite her talent. Why? Because Anyonymous-9 is what I call an X-treme novelist - a writer who does not poke at parameters, but boldly shreds them. Think Tom Wolfe’s Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and his brand of hysterical realism. Hunter S. Thompson and Fear And Loathing in Las Vegas. My favorite, Anthony Burgess’ Clockwork Orange. The X-treme novelist is often ignored, ridiculed, or, even worse, published only to languish in a no-man’s land of genreless books.

Yet when a reader discovers them - or they become bestsellers in spite of the system – there is a sense of uncovering a jewel. They keep us thinking and questioning and curious about what they will come up with next. If their work is done well, their sense of time and place, characterization and plot will challenge the reader in a way traditional novels never do; if crafted poorly, their work is merely sensationalism without direction.  The challenge for the X-treme novelist is to direct themselves without editorial help or an agent cheerleader because their vision is uniquely their own.

Some of my favorite, recently-read indie works by  those I consider X-treme novelists include:

Hard Bite & Other Stories* by Anonymous-9: A viscious, bloody, twisted tale that left me fascinated because of the author’s complete faith in the vision of her characters and their motivation. I applaud the sheer inventiveness of the world she created.

Johnny Oops by Arthur Levine: A fanciful tale of a teenager who believes himself to be a prophet. It is a sexual, angst filled romp that is told with an unapologetic abandon and marvelous style.

Detroit Daze by Conrad Johnson**: A hard, brutal, desperate tale of a teenager’s life in Detroit that seems to lead to the same nowhere the teenager believes is his destiny.  Johnson’s deft communication of humanity within this harsh world, his use of music lyrics, is like poetic graffiti.

The Santa Shop by Tim Greaton: An unsettling, emotionally wrenching story that has little to do with jingle bells and everything to do with despair, self recrimination, and redemption. It is so well written I was actually angry that the book was not what I assumed it would be and then grateful that it was not.

X-treme authors are not pioneers; they are explorers. They are not dreamers; they are trippers.  X-treme novelists are vital to the creative process. It is usually through their efforts that new genres are born and fashions are created. Sometimes we just forget those fashions began with writers willing to put themselves on the line with something new, fresh, and often delightedly unsettling.  If you are one, embrace what you do because there are readers like me who will appreciate it and writers (like me) who will be inspired by it.

*Also look for Hard Bite the Novel.

**Conrad Johnson is the pseudonym for John Byk. Check out his live contemporary author interviews on 2012 Writers Alive

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Interview with Steve McHugh

Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book?
Crimes Against Magic is an action-packed, fantasy adventure that mixes the present day with flashbacks to fifteenth century France.

Nathan Garrett is a sorcerer and thief with no memory of his past. But when the barrier holding his past captive begins to crumble, Nathan swears to protect a young girl who is key to his enemy’s plans. But with his enemies closing in, and everyone he cares about becoming a target for their wrath, Nathan is forced to choose between the life he’s built for himself and the one buried deep inside him.
It’s the first in a series of Urban Fantasy books called: Hellequin Chronicles.

Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?
I sent out the book to agents and publishers at the beginning of last year, and got lots of form rejections and a few ‘we like, but not for us at the moment responses. At some point in the process, I just decided that I’d try it my way.

Do you belong to a critique group? Have they helped improve your writing?
I belong to Kelley Armstrong’s online writing group. They’re an incredible group of writers who are all willing to help anyone get better at their craft. Since I joined them in 2006, my writing came along in leaps and bounds. I don’t critique as much as I used to, mostly due to time constraints, but if I need help on something, they’re the people I go to.

What factors influenced your decision to self-publish to Amazon?
It was a combination of things. Firstly, control over my own book—when it was published, what the cover was and how much the book cost to buy. It was just something that I knew I’d regret not trying out for myself.

The other thing was that, from my time querying and waiting and wondering, I started to hear a lot from the industry about how much of a flux it was going through. They didn’t seem to know where e-books fit, or how to deal with them. It appeared to me like there was the start of something very exciting happening in the publishing world, and I wanted to be a part of that.

Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
A good friend of mine who also happens to be an incredible editor, Emma Duncan, very kindly went through the book with a big red pen and corrected all of my terrible grammar. She knows more about grammar and than anyone I know. I’ve had a few others check it too. 

What have you learned during your self-publishing journey?
I’ve learnt so much. But the one thing I’ve learnt more than any other is how fantastic my friends are. They were willing to give me time and effort to either help promote the book or give me advice about this brand new world I’ve found myself in. And having an awesome artist as a friend goes a long way to getting a great cover.

Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
For the moment, just Amazon. By the end of May, I’m hoping that it’ll be available on B&N, itunes, Smashword and any others that I can’t think of at the moment. As they’re available, I’ll update my blog with the details.

What kinds of marketing [twitter, facebook, blog, forums] are you involved with for promoting your book(s)?
Well, I’ve got my blog: and I have an author’s page on facebook: I’m also on twitter: and Goodreads:
Then there’s Kelley Armstrong’s forum: 

I’m also doing a lot of interviews on various blogs, which I’ll post links to on mine as they come up, and a few guest blog posts here and there. Basically, I’m everywhere and there’s no escape.

Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
I’d really appreciate a few extra hours a day, that’s for sure. But, for the moment at least, I seem to be managing okay. There’s also the fact that I’m married with two (soon to be three) beautiful young daughters. I’m a father first, writer second and marketing guy last. So, far that seems to work out okay. And if anything changes, I’ll get my eldest daughter to do all my publicity. She’s already 7 going on 18, she’ll be fine.

What advice would you give a new author just entering into the self-publishing arena?
As much as the old adage is ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, everyone judges a book by their cover. That’s why publishers spend so much on getting a good cover. So, my advice is to get the best cover you can get for what you can afford to pay. A good cover will help so much. I’ve had so many people message me asking me about the book because they saw the cover and wanted to know more.  It’s marketing before you even released the novel.

What’s next for you?
I was going to say sleep, but with a third daughter on the way in August, that’s not happening anytime soon. I’ve got the sequel to Crimes Against Magic to finish: Born of Hatred, before I write book three: With Silent Screams