Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Author Kim Cox



Today, it is my absolute pleasure to host a fellow member of Rave Reviews Book Club, Kim Cox.  I thoroughly enjoy her writing, and if you're a fan of romance, you ought to give her work a try.

Today, Kim is sharing with us her thoughts on being an indie author, as opposed to a traditionally published writer.


Doesn’t everyone dream of finding an agent and a publisher handle all the details? Don’t know. I did once. So how did I end up where I am now, an Indie Author?

I did everything I thought an aspiring author was supposed to do. I joined clubs, all the RWAs that I could join, and I went to virtual meetings. I joined critique groups. I even worked for a few clubs and groups as treasurer, contest coordinator, etc. I entered a few contest to get feedback.

I wrote a romantic suspense book and rewrote it until I felt it was publishable. I researched what to do next, and I purchased Writer’s Digest’s book, Writer’s Market which lists agents and publishers, their addresses, and their guidelines.

I queried a publisher that I liked, that had authors I loved to read. They requested a synopsis and the first three chapters within a month. After, I received a rejection but it told me what didn’t work for them. So I rewrote the book and sent a query to Harlequin Intrigue.

Harlequin sent for the synopsis and first three chapters. Then they sent for the whole manuscript. I thought this could be it. I tried to work on other writing, even started writing another book. I wrote some articles for a website and some short stories while waiting to hear if they’d publish my book. Eighteen months later, I received their rejection letter.

I was devastated. Because it was taking so long to hear something, I just knew they would accept my baby as one of their own. I had heard from a source that it had gotten to the last round before deciding to publish. While the rejection letter was a good one, it didn’t tell me why Harlequin decided to pass on it.

One of the clubs I belonged to had a workshop where an ex-editor was the guest speaker. I attended. During the workshop, she said she would give a FREE edit a manuscript to the first three aspiring authors to send her an email. I was one of those.

She told me why my manuscript was most-likely turned down for publication. I followed her advice and rewrote the book again, but I didn’t want to wait over a year to find out if it would be accepted or not.

By this time, small online publishers were starting to open their doors and publishing books in a new format, ebooks. Hey guys, this was before Amazon became to being. Anyway, I thought it was a great idea, and I knew a few authors who’d already gone that route. I did some research and found a publisher who had a good reputation.

One thing I loved, things moved very quickly. There weren’t the months or even years of waiting for an answer about publication. It was almost instantaneous when compared to my experience thus far. Did I say I loved it? I loved the speed.

You heard me say, I found a publisher who had a good reputation, right? Well, they did, up and until after I signed the contract. Then I started hearing stuff about non-payment to their authors, editors, cover artist, etc. Many were leaving the company. But I took the "wait and see" attitude. Some of the authors I knew still stood by them, and so I would too for the time being.

At that time, my contract said I had to keep my book with them for one year of publishing and that’s what I did. I know I sold quite a few when the book first released but my book had to make $100 in royalties before I receive any money from them. Not sure if it did or not but I never saw a dime.

During the next exodus, many of those authors and editors who'd stood by them the first time left, and the ones I knew well started their own publishing company. So as soon as my year was up, I left too.

My second online publisher, Amber Quill Press, was great. They knew exactly what not to do from the old company which went out of business within the next couple of years. I’d had a couple of other online publishers too but none as good as Amber Quill. But I had lost faith in making any money. I had a few sales here and there over the years but not much. Sales became almost nonexistent.

By this time Amazon was selling electronic and print books. I talked to other authors I knew who'd gone the self-publishing route. Then I read everything I could get on the subject. Something happened. I was excited about writing again. I pulled my books from one publisher and eventually from Amber Quill. I had to wait a while to get my rights back though. A few months before my rights were returned from Amber Quill, they announced they were closing business like so many before them already had.

So that’s how I became an Indie Author and I love it. I love the control over pricing and sales, and I love the creative and technical process of creating covers and formatting my own books. The promotion, though, I don’t love so much but that’s something I'd had to do with a small publisher anyway. From what I hear, unless you’re and author who already has a big-name, you’re not promoted by the publisher very much anyway.

On my own, I've sold more books than I ever have. I have also spent more money even with doing almost everything myself, mostly on editing and promotion. Keep in mind that finding a good editor is a must, and you should research for the one who is right for you, because there are those out there who say they’re editors who aren’t that great. So be careful.

I understand that there are authors who just don’t want to deal with all the other stuff that comes with self-publishing. There are companies who offer these services for authors, designing covers and formatting books. Some prices are reasonable and some aren’t. Some are reputable and some aren’t. So look around and make the right connections.

Like in all things, if you’re paying for a service, research and talk to others who have already used the services.



Thanks for your insights, Kim!  Did her story resonate with you?  What thoughts do you have to share about your own publishing experiences?

Kim is hosting a giveaway, where FIVE lucky winners will receive one of the following prizes: (1) ebook copy of "ALL THIS TIME" and a $10 Amazon Gift Card or (4) ebook copy of ALL THIS TIME. To enter Kim's giveaway, simply leave a comment anywhere along the tour!



This tour is sponsored by 4WillsPublishing.wordpress.com.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Sale on Fantasy by Herb Mallette

As a huge fan of Herb Mallette's Charms and Witches, I was stoked to find out that his Delvonian Series is on sale this week.  The first three are reduced in price, and the last one is free!  I'm sharing the blurbs below to give you a taste for the series.  Happy reading!



The Last Tragedy

When two of the world's greatest adventurers disappear, it falls to their heirs - Jake Warbler and the half-sprite Noxie - to retrace their steps and confront whatever evil took them. The only clues point to a literary enigma from the depths of antiquity: the Last Tragedy of Coeldoetta of Jueln. Missing and unread since the fall of long-ago empires, the Tragedy has doomed a thousand previous seekers. Can Jake and Noxie unearth this legendary play after so many others have failed? Or will they fall victim along the way to the same bloody-minded cult that vanquished their missing elders?

Note: I'm told this one can be read out of order.


Avelia Warbler wakes from two years of magical healing with a price on her head and the minions of a bloodthirsty cult dogging her heels. The world has changed while she slept, and that sleep has changed her as well. Now a sixty-year-old woman in a twenty-year-old body, she must dodge assassins, bounty hunters, and the ghosts of her own past on her way to a sorcerous labyrinth of recollection where the face of her greatest enemy lies hidden.

The Sharp Edge of Memory is the first novel in a trilogy (The Aveliad), as well as the second novel of the Delvonian Tales. It is preceded by The Last Tragedy, but can be read independently.


To save her family from a bloodthirsty, sorcerous cult, Avelia Warbler must kidnap the most powerful woman in the world: The Identity of Cimone, who dwells in a castle beyond mortal approach. But when Avelia calls in all her markers for support, only Shoje Keindan shows up -- a master thief of extraordinary skill who is also madly in love with her. Can she manage to steal the cult’s high priestess when her only ally is bent on stealing her heart?


The might of an empire has been roused against Avelia Warbler as the cult of Cimone pulls a thousand strings to regain its kidnapped priestess. While her love and a cadre of loyal friends work to foil these pursuits, Avelia must attempt a harder journey still -- a search for some enchantment, if such exists, that can break the will of the most evil woman alive. For if the Identity cannot be made to reveal her secrets, then the cult she leads will inevitably swallow the world in darkness . . .


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Wednesday Work in Progress: Naval Battle


The action is heating up in my YA high fantasy work in progress. Here is a peek at a little magical naval battle I'm sketching out.


The first drops of rain splattered onto Shiloh’s face. The swells grew higher, and the ship began to rock. Shiloh’s stomach lurched in time with it.

“You know Kirkland’s spell of revelation?” Hatch asked.

“Yes, sir,” she replied.

“I'll calm the seas. You look for their vessel,” Hatch ordered.

She looked up to the crow’s nest. She knew it would take her an age to climb up there, but it would give her the best view in all directions. She sighed, hating to reveal one of her new tricks so soon, but there was nothing for it.

Holding her wand aloft, she bent her knees deeply and called out a spell in Estan as she leapt. A moment later, she landed lightly in the crow’s nest. Looking down, she saw Hatch throw back his head and laugh, then turned her attention to her task.

She began on the starboard side, aiming her magic in a line that began just off the deck rail and extended into the distance several hundred yards. When nothing appeared, she turned about ten degrees and repeated the process. It was exhausting work, sustaining the magic for so long. At least Hatch had been successful at calming the water, so her precarious perch ceased its, frankly, terrifying lurching.

Luck was with her, and a small, swift vessel appeared out of thin air. Quickly, she bound it, lest it disappear anew. The ship shuddered as cannons began firing beneath her, now that they had a target.

She pulled up the hood of her cloak, but her hair had already been soaked by the pelting rain. She turned her mind to setting a ward, assuming the fire would be returned. The water between the dueling vessels was lit by the curses now flying back and forth, as every sorcerer on board took aim at their attacker. She could make out Lord Mosspeak himself throwing curses off the starboard bow, his burgundy hat perched precariously on his head.

Remembering her riding instructor's advice, she cast the ward she had modified to dissipate energy. The ship the barely rocked when her shield lit up with the impact of incoming curses and cannonballs. Whoever was casting wards for their opposition had not been so thoughtful. She watched the smaller vessel rock so far over on its side that its mast nearly touched the water. She felt a twinge of pity as she watched men tumbling helplessly into the water.

Trusting her ward would hold, she continued to probe for another vessel. When she found it, it was just off the port bow, casting hooks to board while all were distracted fighting off the attacker on the starboard side.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

New Release: Brother's Keeper by Jolie Mason

Jolie Mason turns up the heat in the second offering in the Brother Assassins series.  Brother's Keeper follows assassin Bry's efforts to protect a whistle-blowing journalist named Cari as their society begins to implode around them.  Complicating matters is a heartbreaking deception Bry undertook to protect both Cari and her family.



Mason's tale is engaging as always, with a fun mix of excitement and romance.  The sex is a little more explicit this time than in some of her previous work, but it is still tasteful.  The emotions are heartfelt and touchingly rendered, and the characters are sketched beautifully.  The action is suspenseful and crisp.

Brother's Keeper can be enjoyed without having read Brother Mine (Brother Assassins Book 1), but I would recommend you grab that one first.  The emotional impact of the events will be far greater if you understand the back story.

If sci-fi romance is a new genre for you, Jolie Mason is the author to start with.  Happy reading!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Luka's Dawn, Episode 1 Available for Pre-order

The first story in my short story series about our favorite vampire villain is set to drop on Amazon on June 27th!  You can pre-order it for $0.99.  Or you can sign up for my newsletter and download it for FREE on June 22nd.  You know you can't resist reading it five days early.

I intend to publish three of these stories this summer, releasing them about every two weeks.  My subscribers will be getting the first crack at them, so don't miss out!


Luka's Dawn, Episode 1 picks up between the end of the final chapter of She Marches Through Fire and that novel's Epilogue.  So if you haven't gotten around to reading  November Snow Book 3, you'd better get cracking.  And if you have finished She Marches and haven't reviewed it yet, I would be most grateful if you would take a moment and drop by wherever you purchased it to do so.  Even one sentence makes a big difference.


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Luka's Dawn

Wednesday is traditionally "Work in Progress Day" in the indie publishing world. Today, I'm sharing with you an excerpt from a short story series I'm working on, November Snow Epilogue Stories.  Major SPOILER ALERT for those who have not yet finished She Marches Through Fire!

These tales focus on Luka's life after the loss of November at the end of November Snow Book 3. Here's a peek at Luka's Dawn, Episode 1.



“When was the last time you ate?” Raina asked her brother.

Luka shrugged. “I haven’t the slightest idea.”

“That fairy, Briar, put a hex on you to bind you from killing or enthralling people. But you can still feed on them. And you can hunt, enthrall, and kill animals, no problem,” she reminded him, for the thousandth time. “There’s moose and deer. Bears, if you need to get some feelings out. Wolves.”

“I am well aware of the particulars of my magical leash, dear sister, as well as of the menu,” he replied coldly. “I’m not hungry.”

“You need to eat to heal, Luka. You know that,” she scolded.

He looked up from the page he was reading. For once, he appreciated his much despised father. At least the old bastard had thoroughly stocked his hideaway with books. Luka and Raina had been there four months, and he hadn’t yet run out of ways to hide from his own thoughts.

“I don’t care,” he replied.

“Obviously not. But I do,” she countered. “And November would.”

“Then maybe she shouldn’t have gone and gotten herself killed for people who didn’t deserve her sacrifice,” he spat, shocked at his own vehemence. He reached up to his mouth and felt fangs there.

“Anger is a normal part of grief, you know,” Raina pointed out patiently, taking a seat across from him.

“You don’t seem angry,” he retorted.

“I just took all mine out on a bear,” she replied. “And, for the record, I’m not hungry, either. But I’m also not going to act like a baby and starve myself for spite. You’re extra annoying when you’re haven’t fed. Go eat.”

He rolled his eyes and sighed. “Fine. Only to please you, dear sister,” he acquiesced, setting aside his volume. Only to shut you up, dear sister, he groused silently.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Fantasy / Science Fiction Instafreebie Group Giveaway



Today marks the start of an epic fantasy and science fiction book giveaway that I've organized.  We have most of the popular sub-genres: paranormal, high fantasy, steampunk, hard sci-fi, sci-fi romance, space opera, etc.  So, if you're looking for summer reading, you should stop by my webpage and check it out.  Happy reading!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Wishing Shelf Book Awards Feedback for She Dies at the End



I was pretty chuffed today to receive the reader feedback from a contest I entered, The Wishing Shelf Book Awards.  The certificate was nice, but the quotes made my day.  See for yourself:

‘This author works very well with description of character, setting and with speech to offer the reader a fascinating story, well plotted and packed full of wonderful characters. I enjoyed it very much.’ Male reader, aged 42 

‘This book is all about pacing. It’s got it in truck-loads.’ Female reader, aged 27 

‘There is nothing better than a fantasy where the author is capable of creating a fantasy world you can fall into. Well, I fell – pretty hard. Excellent. I’d highly recommend it to any fantasy lover.’ Female reader, aged 54 

‘November Snow is a memorable character. She’s strong, but not always, susceptible to love, but not endlessly (see Twilight for endlessly boring I’m in love with a vampire) and, best of all, her powers are fascinating. The author has a light pen, able to describe the world in depth but also keep up the pacing. I look forward to reading the rest of his author’s books.’ Male reader, aged 24 

‘One of the best things about being a reader for The Wishing Shelf Book Awards is that I get introduced to brilliant new authors. This author is one of them.’ Female reader, aged 61 

You can see why I was so excited.  It's nice to get a little encouragement.  You can read She Dies at the End for only $0.99.  Get your friends hooked.  :-)



Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Wednesday Work in Progress

I am about 45k words into writing my next novel.  No vampires this time!  It's a young adult high fantasy novel with a strong heroine, naturally.  My two point-of-view characters are Shiloh Teethborn, a 15-year-old girl headed to the Academy, and Silas Hatch, the king's "fixer," who is in his early thirties.  Regularly spaced flashbacks from each of their lives reveal back story and motivations.

The story is set in a world where magic is real, and it is hoarded by the ruling class.  Commoners with magical abilities are forced into serving the crown or the church and are generally forbidden from marrying or having children, in order to keep magical abilities from spreading through the population.  Those with the most impressive abilities are brought to the Royal Academy to be educated alongside the children of the nobility before being chosen for various posts at court or in the church.  About fifteen years prior to the events in the book, the kingdom suffered through a civil war in which two siblings fought each other for the crown, and the repercussions of this conflict resound throughout the story.  Shiloh is "hexborn," born with birth defects and chronic ailments caused by dark magic used by her mother during the war, while Shiloh was in the womb.

My inspiration for this story came, in part, from my interest in British history, especially the War of the Roses and the Tudor dynasty.  I also wanted to write a story in which the heroine lives with a chronic condition.  People with disabilities are often invisible in popular culture.

It's still early days, so anything can change, but here is a short excerpt to give you an idea of what I have created so far.  I hope that when the book is finished, you will love Shiloh and Silas as much as you do November and company.

***

“Eyes open, men,” Hatch directed. “Wand out, Percy.”

Percival swallowed nervously. “I’m starting to wish you’d brought an extra wand for the weirdling.”

Just when Shiloh was starting to think they might make it to safety without incident, she heard the familiar whistle of an arrow. “Get down,” she cried, throwing herself off of Hatch’s horse. More arrows soon followed, and she heard a cry of pain as one of the men proved too slow in heeding her warning.

Hatch remained calm under attack, sending out well-aimed hexes from his wand of flame. Percival seemed to be firing at total random, taking out more snowdrifts and tree branches than Wildlings. Shiloh could hear the cries of the ones Hatch had managed to hit, but the volleys of arrows kept coming. She heaved a sigh and looked around for something she could use as a weapon.

Shiloh broke off an icicle from the tree behind which she’d taken shelter and yanked her glove with her teeth, grabbing the ice in her bare hand. With this makeshift wand, she harnessed the power of water to cast a shield of protection around them, one which allowed the curses from Hatch and Percival to pass through unimpeded. The arrows of the Wildlings, meanwhile, didn’t simply stop dead upon hitting the ward; they turned and sped back toward their points of origin, betraying those who’d loosed them.

Silas threw his head back and fairly cackled in delight when he realized what she’d done, then continued to cast his curses. The rest of the men stood up now that they had no further need to fear incoming projectiles, save Bryan who lay bleeding in the road.

Shiloh, too, stood as to see the effects of her ward. In the heat of battle, her hood had fallen back. Her hair had escaped from its thick braid and blew in the wind, forming a halo of pink set aglow by moonlight. The remaining Wildings turned and fled down the mountain, speeding on their skis until they were out of sight. The three attackers who couldn’t stand remained behind, turning the snow red.

Hatch disarmed the wounded Wildlings with a few flicks of his wand. “If you wish to pray before you die, now would be the time,” Hatch told them. One of them began to beg mercy; Shiloh found herself feeling grateful when Hatch cut short his desperate plea.  She watched as he proceeded to kill the other two without so much as another word, then closed her eyes. She pushed herself through the shock and dismay that threatened to overwhelm her and turned to assess the damage to their party.

Thankfully, Bryan’s wound proved to be fairly superficial. Shiloh knelt and quickly yanked out the arrow and stopped the bleeding, focusing a spell with the help of her ice wand.

“You’re alright, now,” she said soothingly, as though the brute were but a little boy. “I’ve got you. You’re going to be fine. We’ll get you some whiskey for the pain when we get to town. You’re alright.”

She looked up to find Hatch looking down at her, face unreadable. He raised an eyebrow toward her hand, and she dropped the icicle into the snow. She pulled her glove back on with her teeth.

“Mount up. They might have friends,” Hatch ordered.

Their journey warily recommenced, Hatch whispered to Shiloh, “You are a dangerous little thing, aren’t you?”

Unsure how to respond, Shiloh held her tongue. She could have sworn she heard him laugh again, but it was hard to tell above the wind.

At last, they began to descend the pass. The cheerful sight of the well-lit village gilded in white brought the bedraggled group some much-needed cheer as their horses struggled through the deep snow.

“There’s a pub with an inn. I am told it is comfortable enough, compared to most,” Shiloh informed Silas. “You and your men should be able to get a warm bed and a decent meal, anyway.”

“Yes, I know it. I'll pay for a room for you, as well,” Silas hastened to assure her. “They are expecting us.”

Shiloh shook her head. “They'll never let me in.” She pointed to her hair, peeking out from her hood. “The best I can hope for is the stable. They might not notice I'm hexborn if I duck in there straightaway, as long as I hide the arm under my cloak. If they make me and see us together, they might not let you in, either.”

Silas shook his head. “I think you underestimate the effectiveness of my reputation in obtaining cooperation.”

“I think you underestimate how superstitious and ignorant my fellow Teethtrash can be,” she countered. “They will lose every other paying customer if I walk through their door. Mountain folk do not break bread with the unclean.”

“The cleanliness statutes were outlawed years ago, during the Reforms,” Silas protested.

“They keep to the old ways up here. The Reforms have not yet taken root, as I’m sure you are more than aware.”

“The innkeeper works for me,” Silas countered.

“One of your many sources of vital information, I presume? If he’s valuable and you want him to keep working for you, you won’t force me on them. I’ll be fine in the barn,” she declared. “The horses keep it warm.”

“Miss Teethborn—“

“Master Hatch, even if they let me in, they’ll be muttering and staring and spitting in my food. It simply isn’t worth it to me. Respectable people do not want me in their company, and I am willing to oblige them.”

***

If you want to be the first to know about developments in this new series, sign up for my newsletter.  Happy reading! 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Author Spotlight: LAURA LIBRICZ

I'm so pleased today to be hosting fellow author and Rave Reviews Book Club member Laura Libricz! Laura was born and raised in Bethlehem PA and moved to Upstate New York when she was 22. After working a few years building Steinberger guitars, she received a scholarship to go to college. She tried to ‘do the right thing’ and study something useful, but spent all her time reading German literature. She is now the author of the historical fiction novel The Master and the Maid, book one in a planned trilogy set in 17th century Germany.

 


Intrigued? I am. Here is the blurb:


She’s lost her work, her home and her freedom. Now, harboring a mysterious newborn, she could lose her life.

In 17th Century Germany on the brink of the Thirty Years War, 24-year-old Katarina is traded to the patrician Sebald Tucher by her fiancĂ© Willi Prutt in order to pay his debts. En route to her forced relocation to the Tucher country estate, Katarina is met by a crazed archer, Hans-Wolfgang, carrying a baby under his cloak. He tells her an incredible story of how his beloved was executed by a Jesuit priest for witchcraft right after the birth and makes Katarina—at sword point—swear on her life to protect the child. But protecting the child puts Katarina at risk. She could fall in disfavor with her master. She could be hunted by the zealots who killed his beloved. She could be executed for witchcraft herself. Can Katarina's love for the baby and Sebald Tucher's desire for her keep the wrath of the zealots at bay?

Set in Franconia, The Master and the Maid is an accurate, authentic account of a young woman's life in Germany in the 1600's, her struggle for freedom and her fight for those she loves.



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In the rest of this post, you'll find out more about the author and about her process. Take it away, Laura . . .

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Welcome to Day 5 of my #RRBC “SPOTLIGHT” Author Blog Tour! I would like to thank the RRBC and my host for this wonderful opportunity! Let’s talk about writer’s block today. Now, I don’t believe in writer’s block. When I’m fed up with a project, I like to write flash fiction. It helps me focus and write short, sharp scenes. I’d like to share one of my favorites with you today.


Human

“We’re all human, even when we’re not.”

Humans are the second most dangerous beings on the planet surpassed only by mosquitos, which now spurs me on to renounce my life as it is amongst the fiends and settle in a world inhabited only by less-menacing denizens.

Professor Ott paid the cab driver, turned towards the red-brick entrance to the train station and snorted at the mongrels filing in and out like the brainless livestock they claimed to be superior to. He had lived in the city all his life but would never synchronize with the existence of these people. Their petty lives and mundane concerns left him empty and unfulfilled.

“Excuse me,” a young woman said and smiled as she disengaged the hem of her jacket caught on his rucksack.

He snorted and looked at the woman through his rimless bifocals like she was an insect under a microscope. “Satisfied with the dullest of nonimaginitive spittle, these creatures will never truly understand.”

He found his platform and a seat on the express train to the airport. The train pulled away and the dingy brick houses sped past; housing resembling rat cages that held anonymous, unsuspecting, dull-witted troops of overpopulation.

The train screeched to a stop and the herd disembarked, moving as one numb mass towards the departures court and into one holding pen, then another. He trudged through yet another holding pen and boarded his airplane. He settled in his seat and looked out the window. The only accomplishment this modern society made that somewhat excited him was flying. Speedy travel. No inch of the earth left undiscovered. The thought thrilled him and saddened him simultaneously.

He woke from an uneasy doze as the landing gear dropped onto the tarmac. The foreign characters on the signs atop the cargo hangars reassured him. He smiled as he surveyed his surroundings. Pulling the small rucksack from the overhead compartment, he snorted at the frail humans sagging under the weight of their belongings, ignored the niceties from the crew and left the plane. He wove his way through hurrying travelers towards the exit of the building.

Humidity and heat hit him and he breathed the sweet, wet, lush air. A bus waited at the designated spot. A classical piano piece played from what sounded like a cheap plastic transistor radio. He snorted and shook his head. One modern invention he insisted upon: superior sound equipment. Rather no sound than bad sound. But that had long ceased to fulfill him as well.

Now all he wanted from these people and their electrified, motorized world was the means to reach his final destination and end his journey. Then he would renounce their bustling, unimportant lives and their world forever. He needed no one. His ultimate goal? To reach a plateau of unadulterated knowledge, a pure and simple clichéd nirvana.

The bus ride was jerky, quirky, hot and muddy. The driver cursed every time mud flew onto the windshield. A child pouted and a woman sneezed. He tried to ignore them and stared out the bus window. Green, lush vegetation darkened the road and he felt enveloped in his new world. A few rays of sunshine penetrated the forest and created impressive images. He smiled wider. The world as he knew it and its cares and fears faded away.

“Dear God!” someone in front cried.

A wrenching jerk was followed by a slamming impact. A woman screamed. Silence.

Professor Ott opened his eyes. His glasses were askew on his face. The bus was on its side. He smelled smoke and diesel fuel. He adjusted his glasses and saw bodies strewn throughout the bus. A young man kicked out a window that faced upward and climbed out. Professor Ott secured his rucksack on his back and followed him out, appreciating what years of diligent physical fitness enabled him to do.

He turned and glanced at the bus. Tiny, white, floating parachutes surrounded the bus and sailed on the breeze towards the sun. It looked like the breeze had blown through a field of overripe dandelions setting the seeds adrift.

As he walked away, he unpacked a pouch filled with hydration gel of his own creation which would bridge him at least a few days before he needed to find water. The glen he had spent the summer before would be a four-hour trek from here, he reckoned. No matter, he had endured worse and this last stage could be mastered. He tried to clear his mind of thought and concentrate on his march.

Tiny, white parachutes crossed his path and floated up towards the sun. There must be a plant going to seed to create such a thing. He thought about his mother. She’d been dead for twenty years. He could smell her lilac perfume and a tinge of vanilla, butter and melting chocolate. He could see her face. Suddenly he missed her terribly. The more he tried to banish the thoughts and her memory, the more insistent the sensations became.

A path opened onto the road on his right. He peered through a gateway in the trees and climbed a small incline towards what seemed to be a sunny patch amidst the forest. The same seed play filled this path. Memories of a girl he had once loved, years ago, flooded his mind. He was never able to express just how deeply he loved her. He felt at the time that such love was indulgent and weak; an uneducated lack of discipline. He struggled for breath.

A bird of prey squawked behind his shoulder and he fell to his knees. A festival of songbirds answered and reminded him of sitting on his grandmother’s balcony, back in Germany. The blackbirds would congregate on the rooftops in the evening. A consuming loneliness like he’d never felt threatened to crush him. He bowed his head and allowed it to come.

Professor Ott got to his feet and started walking back to the bus to see if he could be of any service.


So, now it’s your turn! Tell me, how do you feel about writer’s block? Do you write or read short stories?


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AUTHOR BIO and CONTACT INFO:

Laura Libricz was born and raised in Bethlehem PA and moved to Upstate New York when she was 22. After working a few years building Steinberger guitars, she received a scholarship to go to college. She tried to ‘do the right thing’ and study something useful, but spent all her time reading German literature.

She earned a BA in German at The College of New Paltz, NY in 1991 and moved to Germany, where she resides today. When she isn’t writing, she can be found sifting through city archives, picking through castle ruins or aiding the steady flood of musical instruments into the world market.

Her first novel, The Master and the Maid, is the first book of the Heaven's Pond Trilogy. The Soldier’s Return and Ash and Rubble are the second and third books in the series.

Twitter - @lauralibricz

Facebook - @LauraLibriczAuthoress

Website - http://www.lauralibricz.com



Friday, April 21, 2017

Earth Day Erotica from Patient Lee

Patient Lee, fabulous pioneer of "erotic realism," is releasing a special environmentally oriented story just in time for Earth Day. The story is called "Milkweed and Gossamer" and was inspired by the plight of monarch butterflies.  Caution: adults only.



The blurb:

Jaime just turned eighteen, and she's so passionate about saving the monarch butterflies, people call her Milkweed. Josh Gossamer is four years older than Milkweed, but they fall for each other while delivering milkweed plants and working in the butterfly house. Milkweed's family does everything possible to keep them apart, fearing that Josh will talk her into giving up her virginity and then leave her forever at the end of the summer.

But there's something her family doesn't know about her brother, Scott, and he'll do anything to protect his secret, even lie about Milkweed.

The monarch butterfly population in the United States is in trouble. People can help by planting milkweed to give the butterflies a place to lay their eggs and the caterpillars the food they need to survive. This Earth Day story will teach readers about the plight of the butterflies in a sweet, sexy erotic romance.

Will the first time be the last time, or will Milkweed and Gossamer find a way to be together when he leaves for grad school? Find out on Earth Day.

Not appropriate for readers under 18.




For each copy purchased on Earth Day, Patient Lee will plant an extra milkweed plant in her effort to help the monarchs. This article from 2014 gives a good overview of the monarch problem.  Spice up your weekend, and help a good cause. :-)  Happy reading!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

November Snow Celebrates Read Self-Published Month

I've been participating in a wonderful event all month long. Read Self-Published Month celebrates the creative work being done by indie authors in all genres. Led by Zach Chopchinski, we are enjoying events galore, including this blog tour, giveaways, read-alongs, and Facebook takeovers.

And it's not too late for you to get in on the fun! Join the Facebook group for Read Self-Published month and discover a wealth of talent producing amazing work outside the traditional publishing system. Tomorrow, the blog tour continues with Lucy Felthouse, a U.K. writer of erotic and romance fiction.




Today, I'm sharing a short excerpt from the first novel in my November Snow Series, She Dies at the End. I recently completed the series with the release of my third novel, She Marches Through Fire. I want to give you a taste of my writing style. My protagonist, November Snow, is an eighteen-year-old carnival psychic who winds up in the middle of some very dangerous and supernatural shenanigans. I like to think of it as vampire fiction for the intellectual. ;-)  If you'd like to hear me read all of Chapter 1, click here.


From She Dies at the End (November Snow Book 1), Chapter 1

She watched them bury her again.

Four people stand in a garden. The short redhead, an impatient fireplug, has a dusty shovel in his large hands. His wide shoulders stretch his clothes. A tiny teenager with caramel skin stands beside him and places a hand on his arm, her tunic marred by drops of blood. A tall waif stands apart, distraught, shaking; blue tears fall from her eyes, eyes the same shade of electric blue as her hair. Closest to the grave is the bloody businessman: his dark suit stained darker still with blood, his white shirt ruined, his shoes dusty, his designer tie twisted, now turned more noose than accessory.

His face is stone. His eyes scream. His fangs catch the light. A girl is dead because she tried to help him. His girl is dead, just like the ones before.

Her corpse waits patiently, cradled in the gnarled roots of an old tree. Blood has soaked through her blue silk dress. It stains her mouth, covering the blue tinge of death. The businessman bends down and kisses her forehead. He lifts her up, leaps gracefully into the grave, and places her carefully into her resting place. Her dark blue eyes are still open, but she doesn’t look frightened. She looks relieved. He closes them gently, touches her cheek. A drop of blood wells in his eye, rolls down his cheek, falls silently onto her dark hair, evidence of his grief: her killer's grief.



She watched them bury her again.


***

November Snow awoke with the certainty that she’d overslept and promptly bashed her head against the bottom of her table. That was the one drawback to her little nest, but she’d take a sleeping bag on the ground and a knot on her head any day. It was far preferable to sleeping in her mother’s trailer and the consequent possibility of waking up to sounds she'd rather not hear. It was rather cozy, actually, along the lines of a blanket fort.

The girl crawled out into the dim light inside her tent and began to prepare for another day of work. She jumped to her feet; a quick glance at her watch confirmed that she had better hustle. Her oversleeping was no surprise, really, after the previous night’s shenanigans. She sighed inwardly and ran her hands through her long black hair, yanking out the worst of the tangles and steeling herself to face the day.

Her first task was to wash off the previous day’s dust and sweat, which she did with a quickness as the shower in her mom’s motor-coach lacked hot water. What I wouldn't give for a scalding hot bath, she thought. Pulling on her thrift store jeans and t-shirt, she caught brief glimpses of their former owners. Detergent could wash away many things, but not the imprints of those who'd previously worn the clothes. Thankfully, such visions tended to fade with time as she made her the items her own, but the first few days in someone else’s castoffs were always a real headache. She then attempted to wake her mother from her stupor, which this morning was a futile effort. Not that I'm surprised. The next job was breakfast.

She walked quickly down the midway toward the food stands. She grabbed an apple from Sally’s candy apple counter. Most everyone was busy preparing their games and rides for the influx of marks soon to ensue. Her few friends greeted her. More, however, crossed themselves, called her a freak under their breath, and kept on working.




Here's the blurb:

Bronze medalist in the Reader's Favorite Book Awards
Finalist in the IAN Book of the Year Awards
Short-listed in the Chanticleer Paranormal Awards
Finalist in the Wishing Shelf Book Awards
Second Place for the Rave Reviews Book Club Book of the Year

November Snow has seen her own burial a thousand times. It is the only thing she knows about her future.

In a war amongst vampires and fairies, a small advantage can mean the difference between victory and defeat. And a psychic who can peer across the globe, unspool the past, and probe the future is more than a small advantage. Everyone wants to use her for his own ends: the ancient king, the black sheep, the dutiful son, the lost boy.

But November Snow wants things, too, before death comes for her. She wants purpose. She wants friendship. She wants love. She wants happiness. She wants respect. And she will not settle for less.

Pulled into the midst of a royal family feud centuries in the making, she must forge her own path through violence, betrayal, first loves, and mortal peril as she struggles to come to terms with her gift and her destiny, even as she knows this for certain:

She dies at the end.



I hope you'll give my books, as well as those of the other participating authors, a try.  You can read She Dies at the End for only $0.99.  Happy reading!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Harmony Kent's Book Blast



Today, I am pleased to be hosting fellow Rave Reviews Book Club member Harmony Kent.  She's releasing a new book called Moments: A Collection of Short Stories and Poems.  Harmony's work spans a number of genres, and I'm sure this new work will showcase that creativity.  Learn more about this gifted author and her new release below!



Book Blurb:


Come.

Take a moment to delve into tales from the dark side, have fun with fantasy, dabble in dystopia, and court danger in a little science fiction.

These tales touch upon death, grieving, war, fresh starts, hope, courage, change, choices, and encouragement.

And then, after all that, you’ll find the poems.

From the lonely echoes of an empty house to the soaring heights of unexpected love and joy and learning to live as free as clouds and water.

For each of us, a moment encompasses a lifetime and, yet, passes in but the blink of an eye. In but a moment, everything can change. And in this very moment, life beckons in all its potentiality.

When the shadows fall, what will you do?



* * *


Author Bio and Links:





Indie Author Harmony Kent is an award winning multi-genre author. Her publications include:

·The Battle for Brisingamen (Fantasy Fiction) AIA approved

·The Glade (Mystery/Thriller) AIA Approved/BRAG Medallion Honouree / New Apple Literary Awards Official Selection Honours 2015

·Elemental Earth (YA Fantasy Fiction)

·Polish Your Prose: Essential Editing Tips for Authors (Writing/Editing) New Apple Literary Awards Top Medallist Honours 2015

·Finding Katie (Women’s Fiction)

·Slices of Soul (Contemporary Poetry)

·Interludes (Erotic Romance short stories)

·Moments (Short Stories and Poetry)


As well as being an avid reader and writer, Harmony also offers editing, proof reading, manuscript appraisal, and beta reading services. As well as reviewing and supporting her fellow indie authors, Harmony works hard to promote and protect high standards within the indie publishing arena. She is always on the look out for talent and excellence, and will freely promote any authors or books who she feels have these attributes.


For all books available from me, check out her author pages at Amazon UK and Amazon US.


Book Trailer videos: Harmony’s trailers.

My website: http://harmonykent.co.uk

Twitter: @harmony_kent https://twitter.com/harmony_kent

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HarmonyKentOnline

My 4Wills Author Page: https://4willspublishing.wordpress.com/our-authors/author-harmony-kent/

RWISA Author Page: https://ravewriters.wordpress.com/meet-the-authors/author-harmony-kent/


* * *

The tour sponsored by 4WillsPublishing.wordpress.com.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Book Review: Manifesting Destiny by M. Pepper Langlinais



I was very excited to try something by talented multi-genre author M. Pepper Langlinais. As a lover of fantasy, I thought I'd start with her magical young adult tale Manifesting Destiny. I cannot tell you enough about how much I enjoyed it!

This YA fantasy is engaging, touching, and exciting.  In a world where most people undergo a startling metamorphosis upon reaching maturity, Cee and Marcus face the prospect of their close friendship being forever severed when they realize that they are transforming into members of enemy clans.  Accompanied by two friends, they venture into the wilderness seeking help only to find ever increasing danger.  They face the prospect of losing their very selves and find that their world and its inhabitants don't match what they've been taught to believe.

The writing is clean, modern, and vivid without being fussy or overwrought.  The characters are all realistically drawn, their flaws and strengths combining to render each sympathetic in her or his own way.  The world building is skillfully executed, communicating both the wonder of magical talents and the quotidian oppression of a dystopian society that the characters have grown up to accept. The plot is interestingly woven, and I impatiently await the sequel.


Check out the blurb below:


Sixteen-year-old Cee has a hopeless crush on her best friend Marcus. Unfortunately for her, he’s gay. In the wake of Marcus’s older brother leaving home to join the Aerie, Marcus has become increasingly distant. When Cee discovers she has a troublesome dragon named Livian living inside her things grow even more complicated.

Marcus urges Cee to go to the Magi to have Livian removed, but the more Cee becomes attached to Livian, the more she questions the decision. Should she change her natural self for the crush who will never love her anywa
y?

Friday, April 7, 2017

Free Book Friday: April 7



I'm participating in an Instafreebie book giveaway today.  Check out the wealth of reading material in every genre on offer here.  She Sees in Her Sleep is my contribution.  It is a collection of three short stories set in the November Snow universe, containing back story galore for all your favorite characters.

Here's the blurb for She Sees in Her Sleep:

The past is a long time when you are immortal. Seeds planted long ago in the lives of vampires and fairies bloom and produce unexpected fruit in the present. In the award-winning November Snow Series, our main character reaps the harvest of decisions made long ago. The three short stories in this collection provide a glimpse into the back stories of several key characters as well as insight into plot points that arise in all three novels in the series.
"She Forges a Peace" provides a glimpse into the formation of the ancient alliance between fairies and vampires, an event with a surprising connection to November. "He Worships his Queen" delves into the painful childhood of vampire Luka, the complex primary villain in She Dies at the End. "She Fears the Dark" focuses on popular fairy characters Pine and Zinnia as they take a trip to Disneyland that turns into an unexpectedly dangerous adventure and a commentary on compassion between enemies.

Let me know if you discover any gems!  Happy reading!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Character Interview with November Snow

My newsletter subscribers got first crack at this a few weeks ago, but now it's time to share this interview with the rest of you.  Get a peek into November's thoughts at the start of She Marches Through Fire (November Snow Book 3).  Be warned that there are minor spoilers.  If you like to go in blind, save this for after March 28th.  Happy reading!



So, what’s it like being a vampire with superpowers?
The saving the world part is good.  The teleporting does make me feel like kind of a badass.  Things still somehow manage to go wrong, though, even for a teleporting psychic.  I don’t regret it, though.  Winding up like this, I mean.  This is still a better life than I had before I met all these crazy people.

Better how?
I guess it’s just more honest.  I’m more honest with the world, with myself.  I always had to hide my visions before William found me at the carnival.  I had to lie to almost everyone about what I was going through, every single day.  That’s no way to live.

What is the hardest part of being you?
I suppose that it’s living with the guilt.  I’ve killed people— out of necessity, mostly, not desire— and that is hard to carry around.  The other tough part is the expectation heaped upon me, by others and by myself.  It’s a lot of pressure.

How’s your love life these days?
Ha!  I don’t have a love life.  I have ill-advised flings and doomed romances, also ill-advised.  I’m not really in the right headspace for an actual relationship, nor am I convinced I’m going to live long enough to see one through.  Maybe someday.

How are you feeling?
Like I’m being continuously run over by a bus.  A bus with claws.  William poisoned the heck out of the bullet he shot me with, and we’re frantically trying to find an antidote before I bite the dust.  I’m stuck drinking a ton of vampire blood to try to stay alive.  It’s a pretty discouraging situation.

What are your hopes for the future, aside from saving the world?
I hope I get to see Eden.  It’s this community of fairies, humans, werewolves, and vampires living together.  I know the guy who founded it, and after all the violence I’ve seen lately, it sounds like absolute paradise.

What do you regret most?
I regret killing that boy in Oakland who was attacking my friend Jaime.  It was an accident.  I wish I’d had more self-control. 
I regret how things ended with Ilyn.  I wish we’d had more time together.  Not that I think we would have necessarily wound up living happily ever after, but I would have liked the relationship to begin and end on my terms, you know?  Instead of having him stolen from me because of other people’s machinations.

How’s the vampire family?  Is there drama?
Oh, jeez.  How much time do you have?  We’re driving each other nuts, living in close quarters like this.  Getting to know Raina a little has been good, though.  She’s a hoot, and she doesn’t put up with any nonsense.  Swears like a sailor.  She’s got Luka locked up in silver stocks that he evidently gave her for Christmas, like, 500 years ago or something.  I don’t know where the hell Nigel is.  I hope he’s okay.  William is, presumably, doing something terrible as we speak.  Gregory and Savita are on their way to Eden.  Savita is a total wreck, or so they tell me.  So am I, I guess, when you come down to it.  I’m just trying to keep my head above water. 

I notice you left out Luka.  How is he doing?
Yeah . . . Luka is awfully chipper for a prisoner who has lost almost everything.  He is all up in my business, all night long, every night.  So eager to “help.”  It’s infuriating.  He’s like one of those plants that works its way into the cracks in the wall, and before you know it, it’s knocked the whole damned thing down. 

Intrigued?  Grab your copy of She Marches Through Fire, and find out just where November’s story goes.



Monday, March 20, 2017

She Marches Through Fire Blog Tour



With March 28th around the corner, I'm embarking on my release blog tour for She Marches Through Fire.  You'll want to hit every stop so you don't miss any of the sneak peaks and exclusive bonus material I'll be revealing this week.  If you haven't yet grabbed your copy, you still have time to pre-order!

Here's the schedule:

March 20 Hosted by S.J. Hermann

March 21 Hosted by Pandora Spocks

March 22 Hosted by Jolie Mason

March 23 Hosted by Patient Lee

March 24 Hosted by Mae Clair

March 27 Hosted by Lincoln Cole

March 28 Hosted by Yvette Caillero

I'm so grateful for the talented authors who are hosting me!  Hope to see you there!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Early Review of She Marches Through Fire

I received this lovely early review yesterday from fellow author Stuart Kenyon.  If you've never tried his books, you should.  Swiftly Sharpens the Fang is brilliant, and I'm looking forward to trying his dystopian Subnormal series.  He is a top quality indie author, so his good opinion of She Marches Through Fire means the world to me.  Read on below:



"Author Ms Manay had a tough job if she wanted to top book 2 of the November Snow Series, She Lights Up the Dark, especially given its climactic ending. However, she's done so in style: Book 3 is even smarter, even more compelling and even more powerful than its predecessor.

Young vampire prodigy November begins proceedings in dire straits, poisoned by her new arch enemy, William. Robbed of her myriad powers, she must find an antidote, because so much more than her own life is at stake. The fate of the whole world, of humans and supernaturals alike, hangs in the balance, as a family dispute threatens to trigger all-out race war. November needs not only to regain her strength, but also to realise her full potential, the majority of which remains untapped.

Characterisation is as sharp as ever, and the dialogue is wickedly humorous. Interplay between the unlikely allies is inspired, with bad-boy-forced-to-be-good Luka stealing most scenes. Most impressive for me is the novel's ambition. Time travel, teleportation, alternate realities, time freezes - somehow, Manay crams all of them into a book without slowing or confusing the plot. Furthermore, she manages to make a salient point about the era in which we live. There are too many Williams in the world today, but not enough Novembers, Guls or Savitas, and if we continue to allow the war-mongers to enthrall us, dark days are ahead.

Usually, books are plot-driven, character-driven or theme-driven. Rarely have I seen all three facets combined with such skill. I take my hat off to the author; SHE MARCHES THROUGH FIRE is an outstanding piece of literature."

You can see why this review made my week.  :-) Now that you've got his endorsement, pretty please head on over to your ebook retailer of choice and pre-order She Marches Through Fire so you can see what the fuss is about just as soon as March 28th rolls around.

New Release From Top Indie Author Lincoln Cole



Lincoln Cole always puts out high quality work, and I anticipate Raven's Rise will be no exception.  Release day is March 21st, and it is currently available for pre-order. This is the third book in the series that began with Kindle Scout winner Raven's Peak, which I thought was fabulous.  Huffington Post agreed with me, naming it one of their Best Self-Published Books of 2016

From my review of Raven's Peak:

This is a very polished horror thriller with interesting main characters and plenty of danger. I enjoyed the contrast between Abigail and Haatim, the way the complemented each other, and the way their bond developed over the course of the book. The writing is clear and not overly embellished. The mythology is parceled out nicely. The story is compelling and frightening in equal measure. The gore is there, but it isn't offensive. All in all, very well done. I have high hopes for the rest of the series.

Check out the blurb for Raven's Rise:

Everything has come crashing down after the events of Raven's Fall: barely anyone is left standing and the Church is blaming Abigail for the fallout.

Haatim and Dominick are struggling to understand how their worlds were flipped upside down so completely, but they are running out of time. The threat that began in the mountains is far from over. They need to find a way to survive what comes next and put a stop to the cult that is threatening their existence before it is too late.


Lincoln Cole is a prolific and gifted author, and you would do well to check out his entire oeuvre, which spans multiple genres.  

Monday, March 13, 2017

Favorite Moments in the November Snow Series



As the release day for She Marches Through Fire fast approaches, I’ve found myself thinking back over the series, recalling some of my favorite moments.  Some are moments of triumph or catharsis.  Others are scenes that, while dark, were a heck of a lot of fun to write.  I thought I would share some of my favorite scenes with you, in no particular order.  There may be some spoilers for books 1 and 2 below, so perhaps you should avert your eyes if you aren’t caught up on my supernatural oeuvre.

1) November’s Visions
I have a lot of appreciation for November's visions.  After all, the first book is built around her only vision of her own future.  They are fun to write, I think, because they are so visual and descriptive.  Which of November’s visions is your favorite?  Mine are probably the burial visions.

2) November Meeting Luka
The moment in the back half of She Dies at the End when November finally comes face to face with Luka is pretty epic, if I do say so myself.  After lurking in the shadows and looming over the action for hundreds of pages, there he finally is, in all his gleeful, sociopathic glory.  He is a villain who likes to speak, and to speak well.  His dialogue, in general, is probably the most enjoyable thing to write in the whole series.

3) November saving Nigel from the Werewolves
In She Lights Up the Dark, November and Nigel have an unfortunate run-in with some hostile lycanthropes.  In order to save Nigel, November manages to teleport herself across town to get a weapon.  This is her first time accessing that particular power.  I enjoy scenes when November grows into her abilities, using them in a new way in order to save the day in the nick of time.

4) The Battle Scene at Luka’s Arizona Fortress
Writing the rescue/battle scene toward the end of She Dies at the End was great fun.  It felt quite cinematic to me.  I am very much influenced by film, and I prefer action, heist, and comic book movies to chick flicks.  In addition, the chance to finally release the tension of the captivity chapters comes as a relief, as a writer and as a reader.

5) The Capitol Attack
I do like the climax of She Lights Up the Dark, in spite of the heartbreaking death contained therein.   (You know what I’m talking about.)  Watching November manage to kick butt and foil evil plans is always satisfying.  And I do love to spring a surprise.  I also like the fact that things don’t go exactly according to plan for our heroes.  People make mistakes, and there are negative consequences.  The other thing I like about that chapter is the revelation of the supernatural world.  I knew when I started the series that I wanted the ordinary and the supernatural worlds to collide in the second book, so to get to that point was satisfying for me.

Now, I would love to review my favorite moments in She Marches Through Fire, but I don’t want to spoil your fun.  We’ll have to wait to discuss them once you’ve had a chance to read it.  You have pre-ordered it, right?  Well, then, what are you waiting for?

Before you go, what are your favorite scenes in the November Snow Series?

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Trailer Tips

Book trailers are practically required these days for book releases.  Those who have the money spend big making videos to rival major movie studio trailers.  The rest of us do what we can with what is available to us for free.  Take a look at the trailer for SheMarches Through Fire here.



This is my third time making a book trailer, and I’ve learned a few things along the way that I thought I would share with you. 

1) Keep it short.  You don’t want to go much over a minute.  You don’t need to describe the whole plot.  Just tell people enough to get them interested and give them a feel for the book.

2) Find good pictures.  Pixabay is a great source for royalty free images.  Think about the images you want to represent your work.  Learn to use a simple photo editor like Canva or Picmonkey to tweak the details to match what you need.  For instance, that green gem up there was pink when I found it.

3) Find a good song.  I sing, so I usually record something in the public domain, like a folk song or spiritual.  My microphone of choice is the Yeti.   Recording your own music may not work for you, but there are plenty of sites with royalty free music available.

4) Get your friends to critique it.  Are the words going by too fast?  Does the music work?  Are you lingering too long on some images and not long enough on others?  Are there typos?  Get some feedback before you share it with the whole world.

With this final volume of the November Snow Series, I wanted to give potential readers a sense of the dire nature of November’s situation and just what is at stake for her, her companions, and the world at large.  What do you think?  Does my latest trailer pique your interest enough to make you want to order She Marches Through Fire?  What are your book trailer tips?

Monday, February 27, 2017

Another Award for She Dies at the End



It's horn tooting time!  Last Friday, I was thrilled to find out that She Dies at the End is a finalist over at the Wishing Shelf Book Awards in the adult fiction category.  This news was some much-needed encouragement at the end of a very challenging week.  The winners will be announced in April.

If you have not yet read my first novel, it is available for free for one more day over at Instafreebie.

And if you haven't pre-ordered She Marches Through Fire, please do so!  Pre-orders are so vital for increasing the visibility of unknown writers.


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Welcoming Linda Mims


Today, I'm pleased to be hosting fellow author Linda Mims as part of her blog tour for her recent urban sci-fi release, The Neon Houses.  You can view the trailer here: https://youtu.be/_JrglVENUOs

From the blurb:

Dr. Noel Kennedy hears screams inside her head, but the screams aren’t hers. While preparing for her annual end-of-summer barbecue, Noel hears her young friend—twenty-year-old Zarah Fisher—screaming for her life. However Zarah is miles away!

Noel knows the exact moment Zarah takes her last breath because Noel has a secret! It’s a secret that not even her husband Richard knows.

As the Deputy Chief of Schools of Gang Territory, Noel has perfected her life. She is a solid, middle-class citizen from New Chicago, Incorporated. New Chicago and Gang Territory have become vastly different societies since the early Urban Wars. Now, year 2087 finds New Chicago’s military-trained police determined to enforce laws that keep “gang people” out.

Harlem Pierce, a New Chicago police detective, has been warned to stay away from this case and he urges Noel to let it go. But a new killing involves Noel’s younger cousin and her boyfriend and links Noel to it in a startling way.

Who can Noel draw on? Must she turn to Warren Simpson—the menacing, treacherous boss of Gang Territory? Or … could he be the killer?







You can really get a feel for the novel from this excerpt from Chapter 4:


Noel fell back into the cushions of the transpo as Tigh started up the engine. When she saw him reach for the sky controls, she touched his hand.

“Will you drive by the park, please?” she asked.

“Dickey will worry about us taking so long,” Tigh said, referring to Noel’s husband. “There’s a barbecue going on at your place that we abruptly left. Your folks—my wife!”

“I know. Drive by the park anyway.”

Tigh stayed down on the pavement and cruised around the park so Noel could see the crowds gathered around the readers. Tigh pulled over so she could get a better look.

Years ago Noel had initiated Reading in the Park and she’d been a reader herself. More than half of the people in Gang Territory couldn’t read, but they enjoyed gathering in the park on a pleasant night as the stories were read.

Tonight, adults were in abundance as Iris Middleton, a popular reader and one of Noel’s favorites, read from a new mystery. Her reading assistant sat poised to pick up at Iris’s signal so that Iris could rest or get a drink.

Noel lifted a finger of salute to a few of her former students and they nodded back as they reclined in the arms of a lover or co-habitant or sat in small groups with their families as dusk settled in around them.

Guards frisked people at the entrances and patrolled the grounds to prevent weapons being brought into the park. The reading program was just two years old and so far no one had been killed, but Noel knew that as soon as a violent act occurred, her husband, the mayor, and their supporters would move to stop this activity.

Tonight, all was quiet. Minstrels played soft music and the smell of buttered popcorn clung to the air. Noel wished that she could sit and listen to Iris but she knew that Dickey and her family would be waiting at her home in New Chicago. She motioned for Tigh to take them up and back to the world from which they’d come.

That world was New Chicago, Incorporated, where Noel had been born and raised. Every time she drove or flew into her hometown, no matter where she’d been, she felt exhilarated and privileged. Now, as they zoomed past other cars flying along in the designated zone, she reminded Tigh to rein it in.

He had laid out the power of the transpo while flying over Gang Territory and she’d loved it, but here, flight patterns were much more controlled.

More citizens had auto planes and some even opted for the solo type body planes where the driver was enclosed in a titanium suit fitted to their bodies and equipped with controls. The body planes allowed them to zip through the air right along with the cars and planes.

“I need to get one of those body planes,” she said to get a rise out of Tigh.

“Kathy would have a nuclear if I bought one,” he said.

“Don’t use Kathy as your excuse. Your wife might be waiting for you to break out your wild side.”

Tigh laughed at that.

“You and Dickey have the adventurous sides, not Kathy and me,” he said. “I don’t know why you visit the Space Colonies so often.”

“We don’t go that often. I’ve only been twice and it was with Dickey on business.”

“Kathy and I don’t feel a need to leave earth,” Tigh said.

“When you do, just say the word and Dickey will have it cleared for you. I’m sure Kathy has been waiting for some spontaneity.”

“Well, Kathy better find her spontaneity on the ground,” Tigh said.

Noel laughed.

“How many times have your folks been to space?” he asked.

“They met off planet. Daddy was an inspector. My mother was an agitator. They met, clashed, fell in love, and had me!”

“Too much information,” Tigh said shaking his head.

Noel chuckled at him and shook her head.

“Poor Kathy, married to a prude.”

Ethni LeDoux Reed reclined against the cool stones of her daughter’s porch balustrade and enjoyed the camaraderie of her friends Leah Palmer Granville and Season Foster Duchamp. Decades ago the women had vowed to never take their husband’s last names, but since they’d gotten older, they’d married the two surnames and wore them as merit badges.

They had successfully solved world crises, started and maintained successful second careers, and in Ethni’s case, raised a child. They were thick-as-thieves and they listened intently now as Ethni got down to the real reason she signaled them to join her.

“Noel and I were in the kitchen last night,” she said in a quiet but animated voice. “I was reaching for a potholder when my hand brushed her arm. The current coming from her was so strong that I swayed and when I looked around, Noel was holding onto the edge of the counter so tightly her knuckles had turned white.”

Leah and Season gasped. Noel was as close to them as their blood nieces.

“At first I thought she’d hurt herself—cut her hand with the knife or something—but when I saw her eyes, I could tell she wasn’t hurt. She was having an experience.”

Leah placed her hand over her heart.

“Noel always keeps such good control,” Season said.

“Unless she’s heavily invested. You know how she felt about that girl.”

Ethni described for them what Noel had heard during her “experience”.

“She couldn’t rest until she got Dickey to send the police over there last night. They searched and luckily, the girl had a chip. In the wee hours this morning, they found her body in an abandoned house in shanty-town.”

“Did they wonder how Dickey knew?” Season asked.

“I told him to say that Dr. Kennedy expected the girl. She had promised to come over and help with the barbecue and she would never have caused Noel to worry.”

“What else could you say?” Leah agreed. “I wonder if this is the beginning of what we’ve been expecting.”

Ethni sighed.

“The Circle meets next week,” she said, shaking her head. “When we all see the same thing, it’s time to put it all together and see what it is.”

Season nodded.

“I’ve seen Noel,” she confided. “But nothing and nobody else.”

“Me too,” said Leah. “Just Noel’s pretty little face.”

“Don’t say anything to anybody,” said Ethni. “Cam doesn’t even know. There was no need to worry him yet. It might be nothing.”

Ethni spoke of her husband and Noel’s father, the second Ph.D. in the family, Cameron Reed.

“We know it’s not nothing, Ethni. If Noel felt this girl’s terror and heard her death screams, then something is coming.”

“Men like to have an opponent—a villain they can grapple with,” Ethni said. “Cameron can’t fight what he can’t see. I’m not going to worry him yet.”

They nodded in agreement.


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Author Bio:

Linda Mims started creating tales in her head as a child. At age 12, she knew she was onto something when she sold a story to her grandmother for a quarter, but it was her dad’s more practical advice, to get a good education and find a real job, that she followed.

After retiring from her “real job” as an educator, Linda began her writing career as an indie author. The tale of The Neon Houses was born out of a careless comment that people had lost interest in reading. The joke was that decades from now we’d need to hold reading nights in neighborhood parks for citizens who wouldn’t be able to read.

Linda rolled that idea around in her head until it turned into a whole society of have-nots. Once the idea got rolling, she worked nonstop until she’d finished the first draft. Writing is now her real job!

Linda Mims resides in a small suburban town 30 miles outside of Chicago, IL where she likes to cook, garden, and blog, sometimes simultaneously. She is married to her long-time love, has two grown daughters and one bossy, bichon-pom, Alexis.

Twitter - http://www.twitter.com/boom_lyn

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/AuthorLindaMimsmbria

Website - https://lindamims.com/blog/


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Please feel free to leave questions and comments for Linda in the comments, and happy reading!

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