Thursday, March 31, 2016

Review of Redemption's Requiem by Jolie Mason

I love Jolie Mason's blend of sci-fi and romance.  Spaceships, mechs, war, and love . . . how can you go wrong?  In her new release, Redemption's Requiem, Mason wraps up (for now, at least) the universe in which her Lancers Series resides.

This swan song focuses on Cat and Murphy of the Redemption.  Cat is a brilliant pilot with a lot of healing to do, and Murphy is the ship's captain who wants to help that along.  There is a big bad weapon to go after, and it's going to take a bunch of our old Lancers friends to go after it (Hopper, Dahlia, etc.).  Both the mission and romance plotlines move quickly and come to satisfying conclusions.  Mason once again brings good, reliable outer space fun.

If you've ever read any of Mason's work, this is one not to miss.  If you haven't, and if you liked Battlestar or Firefly, then what the heck are you waiting for?

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Vampires? In my Livermore?

Several chapters of my new novel, She Lights Up the Dark (November Snow Book 2), are set in lovely Livermore, California, where I happen to reside.

I enjoy setting my paranormal adventures in local places for a number of reasons.  For one thing, when writing, it is much easier to use locations with which you are familiar.  The references come across much more naturally than when you're using street names or locations you dug up on the internet.  I also love the incongruity of writing a story in which vampires are running around doing crazy things in locations I see and visit on a daily or weekly basis.  I feel as though I know a secret every time I walk into Espresso Rosetta or take my kid to Les Knott Park.

And then there's the fact that Livermore is an awesome little city, and I feel it deserves to be more well-known than it is.  We have beautiful landscapes, parks, and open spaces.  We have science and ranching, industry and vineyards, arts and sports, all in one town.  We have a welcoming population that is ever-increasing its diversity.  It's a pretty great place-- way more interesting than Forks. ;-)

If you ever have the good fortune to be in my adopted hometown, see if you can track down the locations you'll be reading about in She Lights Up the Dark, and post the photos on my Facebook page.  Speaking of which, have you pre-ordered your copy yet?  Tick-tock: April 19 will be here before you know it!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Music to Read and Write By

Writer and musicians live to evoke emotion.  When I'm in the process of writing a book, I often notice songs that possess the same feelings being experienced by the characters about whom I'm writing that day.  So, as I go along, I gradually build up a playlist that goes with the book.  I did this with the my first book, She Dies at the End (click here for the playlist), as well as with the upcoming sequel, She Lights Up the Dark.

You can find the Spotify playlist for She Lights Up the Dark here.  It is quite an eclectic mix.  I'm going to highlight a few of my favorite selections and how they tie to the book.

"Twisted Little Man" by Michael Sheehy is creepy warning of a song, with overtones of desperation and longing for redemption.  It always makes me think of Ilyn and Luka and their strange relationships with November.  I first heard it while watching Deadwood, where it was used during the ending credits one episode, and fans of that show will remember how well it applied to Al and the Sheriff alike.

Regina Spektor's "Apres Moi" calls to mind November's strength and her need to just keep fighting no matter how tired she gets.

"Me, Myself and I" from G-Eazy and Bebe Rexha is the anthem of someone who just feels like saying goodbye to love and to friends and going it alone instead.  I think we all feel that way sometimes.  One of the new characters in the novel has a history of disappearing and trying to sever connections.  Fair warning: there is a lot of swearing in this one.

Joni Mitchell's iconic "Both Sides Now" makes me think of Ilyn, who has seen it all and then some.

In case you don't have Spotify but you still want to listen, here is the complete list of tracks, in no particular order:

Me, Myself, & I by G-Eazy and Bebe Rexha
It's Too Late by Wild Belle
Astronauts by Rachel Platten
Mr. Midnight by The Devil Makes Three
Straightline by Pete Bernhard
Graveyard by The Devil Makes Three
The Bullet by The Devil Makes Three
Ne Me Quitte Pas by Regina Spektor
Two Birds by Regina Spektor
Apres Moi by Regina Spektor
Like a Rolling Stone by Bob Dylan
Mr. Tambourine Man covered by Judy Collins
Both Sides Now by Joni Mitchell
Paper Bag by Fiona Apple
Waiting Around to Die by The Be Good Tanyas
Twisted Little Man by Michael Sheehy
Broken Arrows by Avicii
Can't Catch Me by Avicii
Dark Eyes covered by Dawn Landes
Hands to Myself by Selena Gomez
Adore by Jasmine Thompson
Learn to Love by W. Darling
Fast Car - Radio Edit by Jonas Blue, Dakota
Ex's and Oh's by Elle King
Run Run Run by Celeste Buckingham

I'll let you guys try to figure out the ties between this music and my characters and their experiences.  I'm sure you'll come up with some that I missed.  Download the playlist and pre-order your copy of She Lights Up the Dark, and you'll be all ready to listen as you read on April 19.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Author Profile: Christian Boustead

As I promised in my profile of Adam Boustead on Wednesday, today I'm telling you a little bit about his brother Christian Boustead, a fellow member of the Rave Reviews Book Club.

A prolific writer residing in the United Kingdom, he has published several collections of poetry, one book of short stories, and an epic fantasy novel.

His poetry can be found in Dreaming, The Voice of Nature, and Wizard Bound, written with his twin brother Adam.  Wizard Bound focuses on mythological creatures.  Dreaming and The Voice of Nature are more focused on Mother Nature and the beauty of the elements.

His book of short stories, Death and Rebirth, is built around the idea of arguing with the Angel of Death, which I must admit is a cool concept.

And, finally, The Awakening of Magic: Book One of the Wereding Chronicles takes you for an epic fantasy ride.  Hint: supernatural creatures are involved.  One reader writes:

The Awakening of Magic: Book One of the Wereding Chronicles by Christian Boustead is a real page turner. Make sure that you have your seatbelt on because you're going on the fantasy adventure ride of your life. Once you open the book it will grab you, hold you down tightly and the pages will turn and turn and turn some more until you get to the last page. You'll even find some twists and turns that will keep you on your toes. I have read Christian's other books but this is Christian's first novel and I love it. He is a writer to keep watching, he just keeps writing and sending his books out of the ballpark.

The second novel in his Wereding Chronicles series, Dragon Games, should be available in the next few months, so keep your eyes open.

If you're a lover of fantasy, Christian Boustead may be your next favorite writer.

Rave Reviews Book Club and Me

Today, I'm going to tell you a little bit about one of the professional groups I belong to, the Rave Reviews Book Club.  It is open to both readers and writers, and writers pay a small annual fee to belong.

I have to admit I was initially skeptical.  When my friend Stephanie Collins encouraged me to join the Rave Reviews Book Club, I had my doubts.  I didn't know if I wanted to spend some of my limited marketing budget on joining an author group.  I'm pretty involved with another group I love, so I wasn't sure I had the time.  But in the end, I decided to go for it.  I have a new book coming out soon, and I figured it was worth a try to raise my online profile and make some new writer friends.  I am glad I did.

First, it's educational.  You get to see how people who've been in the game a long time market their work: how they blog, how they tweet, etc.  You get exposure to genres you never knew existed written by people with diverse perspectives living all over the world.  You may get to participate in things you've never done before, like being a guest on a podcast or attending an online chat about a book you've read.

It's also fun, at least it is for me.  It turns out that I really enjoy promoting other people's stuff.  The Club is all about being a team player.  You read and review each other's books, at least 4 a year.  When someone needs promo help, you help them.  When it's your turn to need a boost, they are there for you.  Checking out people's Amazon pages and coming up with something clever or sweet to say about them is fun and rewarding, and it improves your skills at selling your own stuff.  You get to feel like you helped a fellow writer each day, and that is a good feeling.  You also pick up twitter followers like crazy.  There are often little contests with prizes, and if you are involved, you have a good chance of winning.  And it honestly doesn't take up that much time.

Then, of course, there's where the rubber meets the road: does it help your sales?  Well, in my case, it definitely has.  I'm not raking in the dough or anything, but I sold more books the first month I was a member than I had in a long time.

If you are looking for a group to join to help you with marketing, this is a good one, as long story you are willing to put in the work of supporting other people.  If you aren't,  it isn't going to work for you.  If you like to read,  it's a fun way to meet a lot of talented indie writers.  Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Author Profile: Adam Boustead

I've very much enjoyed "meeting" fellow indie authors through the organizations to which I belong.  The Rave Reviews Book Club has connected me to many such writers, including Adam Boustead, the topic of today's post.  A blind author residing in the United Kingdom, he is a prolific writer of fantasy short stories and poetry.

Adam has published one of his books of poetry with his twin brother Christian (whom you will see in this space on Friday).  Wizard Bound is a collection of poems inspired by myth and by mythological creatures like dragons and unicorns.

In addition, he has a poetry book of his own called Mist Palace Hall One.  The poems feature characters and situations from familiar myths and legends.

For more mythological fun, check out his series of fantasy short stories and poems, The Dragon Chronicles.  Amber Dragon and Dragon Fireside Tales can be read in any order.  A third volume, entitled Black Dragon, is currently in the works.

Adam is a unique voice, and any fans of mythological creatures would do well to give him a look.  Happy reading!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Author Spotlight: Lizzie Chantree

One of the wonderful things about the internet is the ability for writers to meet, network, and get to know one another online.  This combats the loneliness of what is largely a solitary pursuit.  It also affords us to opportunity to hone our craft by helping each other with our works in progress, and it helps us to reach new audiences with our work.  Plus, you get to discover talented people you would never have found otherwise.  To that end, today I'm highlighting a fellow writer from one of the groups I belong to, the Rave Reviews Book Club.

Lizzie Chantree is a true renaissance woman.  She's an inventor and artist as well as an author and entrepreneur.  Her first novel, Babe Driven, taps into her experience as a young, female entrepreneur.  The main character has to try to juggle the personal and professional in her quest for success.  Check it out for a taste of girl power.

Her newer novel, Love's Child, is quite different.  It is more of a medical thriller / mystery, set in a world like our own except for an unexplained decrease in fertility.  Desperation to discover a solution leads to a lot of intrigue.

A third book, Finding Gina, will be released this year, but is not yet available for pre-order.  You can, however, check out the trailer here for a taste of what's to come. 

This U.K. writer is definitely one to watch!  Follow her on twitter or Facebook so you don't miss out on her next release.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Trailer Time: Watch my trailer and read my tips

Today, I'm excited to share with you the trailer I've created for my upcoming release, She Lights Up the Dark (November Snow Book 2), available now for pre-order on Amazon Kindle.  Here she is:

I'd be ever so grateful if you took a moment to watch, like, comment, and share.

I had some trepidation about trying to create this trailer, and I had a few false starts until I hit upon the idea of letting November herself explain her situation.  As you can probably guess, things are looking rather dire in book 2.  I had a great time choosing photos and coming up with the music.  I thought I'd pass on some tips gleaned from what I learned along the way.

1) Always be ready to snap a photo

Smartphones are great for the indie writer.  They allow us to record inspiration wherever we find it.  Most of the photos I use for my marketing come from my snapshots. whenerver I see something beautiful or ugly or interesting that could represent an aspect of my characters and their journeys, I grab it.  This gives me a ready-made pool of material for when it's time to put marketing material, including trailers, together.

2) Find a stock photo source you like

Sometimes your own pictures aren't enough.  Find a source for stock photography that you like and that is easy to use.  I love Canva, because they are inexpensive and a one-stop shop for desiging.  Which brings me to . . .

3) Find design software you like

You need a way to crop and filter and otherwise mess with images.  Picmonkey and Canva are my favorite.  Canva is awesome.  I use it almost every day.  It's free for your own images.  Stock images are only $1.  They save all your previous projects.  Their customer service is amazing.

4) Find audio software you like

If you want to do your own narration or music, you need a way to edit it.  I love Audacity.  It's free, open source, and easy to use.  You do have to download a plugin to export mp3 files, but if I could figure it out, you can, too.

5) Find movie software you like

I use Microsoft Movie Maker, which I know makes me kind of lame, but for the casual, inexperienced user, it's simple and easy to figure out.  And it was already on my computer, so it won.

6) Find a free or cheap source of audio

There are a lot of public domain songs out there.  Just do some digging, and you'll probably find something that works.  You can start with

7) Have fun with it

Making a trailer is a creative endeavor, just like writing is.  If you're not having fun, then pay someone else to do it.  Life's too short.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Importance of Pre-Orders for the Indie Author

My new book, She Lights Up the Dark (November Snow Book 2) will be released on April 19th and is available for pre-order on Amazon!  If you have any intention of reading the sequel to She Dies at the End, I beg of thee, go ahead and pre-order your copy today.  If any of your friends read it along with you, please take a moment to let them know about pre-ordering Book 2.

Why does this matter?  Becoming visible as an independent writer is exceedingly difficult.  There are just so many books out there.  The wonderful thing about pre-orders is that those sales get posted all at once on the day of release.  This can help the book soar, at least temporarily, to the top of the new release and bestseller lists on Amazon.  And that, in turn, can help new readers to discover and take a chance on a writer they've never heard of, like yours truly.

So, if you enjoyed She Dies at the End, pre-ordering the sequel is one of the best things you can do to help other readers discover the series and to help me continue to be able to write.  Besides, you don't want to be the last to read it and get spoiled by everyone else wanting to discuss all the twists and turns, do you?  I thought not.  ;-)