Guest Post: Dominic Green

Hello. It’s me, Dominic Green. I write things. Mostly I write things in Interzone, a British magazine, and one of the things I wrote in it was once nominated for a Hugo award (Clockwork Atom Bomb, 2006). A Hugo is a shiny thing won by other people <sob>. I am British. I am more British than Winston Churchill (whose mother was American), the Queen (who is essentially German) and my dog George (whose father was French, and who is ethnically Canadian in any case. Following Brexit, I’m thinking of reporting George to the authorities).

One of the newest things I have written is called Warlords of Llantatis, which you should buy a copy of for every member of your family, including your elderly Puritan aunt Temperance. She’ll dig the bit where the guy shoves the game console up his bottom. You can find it on Amazon UK and Amazon US.

llantatiscropped

Warlords is set in a near-future online roleplaying game – an old one, bypassed by more modern products, and now only favoured by older players playing it out of sheer nostalgia. In this game, a character has appeared who has no name. Not just no player ID, which the game mechanics shouldn’t allow in any case – his player has no idea what his real-world name is either, or even where on the planet he lives. He claims to be living in one room, held against his will, his only means of communication a games console one of his jailers has foolishly given him without realizing it connects to the outside world. In order to find out where and who he is, it will be necessary to keep his character alive for long enough to ask a great number of questions. Luckily, the players he has fallen in with, though two overweight middle-aged men in real life, are in the game the mightiest warriors Warlords of Llantatis has ever seen.

Let’s play a game. Let’s imagine that you just asked me how long it took me to write the book, what prompted me to write it, and how I write books, and that you care about my answers. I’m glad you asked me all that, and I’d like to structure my answer into eighteen separate parts. Okay, I’m kidding, put down all those sharp objects and stop aiming them at my head. It took me five years to write the book, but only because I was writing parts six and seven of a series of YA science fiction novels (Ant and Cleo) and a novel (Smallworld) at the time. I wrote the first couple of chapters of Warlords in 2009, then waited till 2013 before I started on the rest of it. The first couple of chapters are rather different from the rest of the book, being the Silmarillion part of the story that comes before the Lord of the Rings part. This Silmarillion part comes before the action and describes the creation of the world of Warlords, not by Iluvatar, but by a gaggle of jobbing programmers (fun fact – the book J R R Tolkien always wanted to write was The Silmarillion, but his publishers forced him to write four books about tiny people with hairy feet before reluctantly agreeing to publish The Silmarilion after his death, the miserable bastards).

What prompted you to write the book, Dominic?elder-shepherd

The same thing that makes most people want to either write or game – a feeling that I wanted to be on the inside of the story, looking out, the same feeling you get at the moment where you finish the book and think to yourself: ‘Tomorrow morning, I will wake up, and I will once again be in a cheap hotel in Euston, not in a log cabin in the Misty Mountains.’ So you make your own story. That’s the reason why I started tabletop roleplaying in the 1970s, and it’s the reason why I have World of Warcraft and The Secret World accounts. Warlords of Llantatis has a cast of thousands of characters who are all in the game of the title because they want to feel they are the heroes of their own story, rather than cops, insurance salesmen or IT managers.

How do you write your books, Dominic?

Well, shucks, ma’am, I just plumb sit at the keyboard and durn it if stuff doesn’t just come out of my head. I don’t have difficulty writing. I have literary diarrhoea. I don’t just have it, I can spell it too.

I do plan books out beforehand. Sometimes I even draw maps of castles and deck plans of starships. The Ant and Cleo series, in particular, is now getting complex enough for me to have to keep detailed data files reminding me who everyone is, what planet they come from and what colour their skin goes when they’re embarrassed. In Ant and Cleo, the main characters usually age about a year per book, so I also have to keep track of everyone’s ages.

I find volume is easy to do – a two-hundred-page book will flop out of me onto the page in no time at all. The big problem is making sure it makes sense once it’s there (I’ve read White Shark by Peter Benchley, and P.B. definitely didn’t do that last step with that one). If the weather’s fine, I write sitting outside a café with George sitting next to me. He provides an unbiased critical viewpoint. The only negative point is that I frequently have to wipe his drool off the laptop screen. Hell, sometimes I have to wipe my drool off the laptop screen.

ws-saucerers1_sized_for_smashwordsI’m going to pretend now that you asked me What Gives Me Inspiration To Write. Well, that’s a very interesting question. This particular novel contains elements of cyberpunk, elements of object-oriented programming, and huge unashamed chunks of Dungeons and Dragons and World of Warcraft, seasoned with cartoon violence and genuine real-life weirdness perpetrated on me by friends and enemies in the roleplaying hobby. If you feel any of the characters in this book are too weird for real life, just log on to a MMORPG server some time. I once walked into a bar in Stormwind and was greeted by a dwarf (a player character) dressed as a maitre D. He greeted me, showed me to my table, asked me if I’d like to see the menu, served me a very nice virtual meal, stood dutifully by the table while I ate and drank, and then bade me a good day. I have absolutely no doubt that he did this to everyone who ever walked into the bar. Some people want to vanquish dragons. Others just want to serve you a glass of Dalaran Noir.

Here’s a link to Saucerers and Gondoliers, the first Ant and Cleo book, which is suitable for children:

Here’s a link to Elder Shepherd. I’ve just published this, and it’s my take on the James Bond genre. It is not suitable for children, and contains class A drugs, guns, lesbians, Christians, explosions, tax accountancy, literati painting and cars being driven unsafely from the outset and throughout.

Guest Post: How My Book Came To Be by Ian Lahey

Today on the blog is Ian Lahey talking about how his book, The 45th Nail, was written. Thanks for stopping by, Ian!

“Words is just words without the place.”

That’s what Uncle Jim, the co-protagonist of my book, “The 45th Nail”, says. And, when writing his story I too took his advice.

Jim has a story to tell, and this story is made of different events which happened to him during his life as a soldier and later, as a deserter. He needs his nephew, Robert, to know where he’s been and what he’s done, but Jim will not just sit on a park bench and mutter it all off at once. He needs to be understood, and for that he needs to take his nephew where those events took place. He needs the rocks and walls and grenade holes to testify his words, else they will just be that…words.

The stones speak. This is what my father, Michael, used to tell me, when we ourselves were traveling around Italy. I was just a child and I’d stare stupidly while he placed his hands on an ancient column somehwere in Rome and closed his eyes. He’d make me try and then he’d tell me something about Roman history, like how they used to march war prisoners past that same column. The day after that he made the entire family squat in a ditch in a field under the abbey of Montecassino in Frosinone, south of Rome, just to explain why the abbey, a beautiful monument, built by St Benedict himself, had been turned to rubble by an Allied airstrike. We saw it with the eyes of the American soldiers who were trying to advance towards Rome, and my Italian mother, reluctantly, had to admit that it loomed like a fortress over the entire area. It did. Of course you’d have to be there to understand.

Thirty years later I found my dad’s notes about that trip. There were sketches, journals about each monument we’d visited as well as me and my brother’s misbehavings, and there were interviews. My father had met and spoken to the many people who had been there in 1944, when the American troops had landed in Anzio and had started pushing up North. Italian people who had lost relatives to one side or the other, who had survived impossible odds and who had found themselves surrounded by German soldiers when the radio had declared that Italy and Germany were not allies anymore. I had seen all those places, and met all those faces, and I could tell Jim’s story. Jim is a fictional character who connects all those true stories and real places together. Jim insists that Robert visit those places too because that is where those stories still live. As a writer, I feel the book has done its job since my readers have told me how much Jim’s story has made them want to come to Italy. They may have heard the whispering of the stones from afar and want to experience more than just the words. I remind them about the squat part.


ian-laheyIan Lahey teaches English Language and Literature in Italy. An incessant traveler, he has visited the country from coast to coast (which doesn’t take much), and from head to toe (which is somewhat longer).
Florence, Naples, Rome, and then Venice, Verona and Genoa are his second homes but he will never admit this in the presence of a tax agent. Although he’s visited many times he never tires of them and of the stories, both ancient and modern, which these places tell.
These stories he re-tells, sometimes as they were, other times hidden beneath the veil of imagination and scientific speculation, but always with a good sprinkle of humor.
He can often be spotted taking long walks with his wife around his hometown near Udine, and can be easily led astray with offerings of fresh beer or Dr. Who marathons.

He is also grateful to his editor at www.sandhbooks.com for getting the book out in time for his father to hold a copy in his hands before he too became a part of history, earlier this year. 

The book, “The 45th Nail” has its own website at www.45thnail.com and is available both as paperback and e-book on Amazon.com

Ian Lahey’s author page is at ianlahey.wixsite.com/author

Guest Post: How Twitter Saved My Novel by Ashleigh Bonner

Today we have Ashleigh Bonner on the blog talking about the things Twitter taught her about writing. I can definitely relate to that frustration at the number 140!! Thanks for stopping by Ashleigh 🙂


HOW TWITTER SAVED MY NOVEL

Have you ever been frustrated by the number 140? Have you ever wished images weren’t included in your character count? If you’ve been affected by either of these things, you’ve been tweeting. When I joined Twitter I lamented the tiny word count, but after two months I can now say Twitter is the reason my first draft is nearly done.

I didn’t learn to write succinctly until I started tweeting. I’d ramble. In my mind and in my writing. Twitter forced me to know my point and get to the point. In the beginning, I didn’t want to twit, twut, or tweet anything. I didn’t see the use of Twitter, just that everyone said it was needed. But eventually, at the advice of others, I took the short but wild roller coaster ride that is joining Twitter.

After scrounging up two email addresses and two phone numbers, I had two separate accounts. I’m so glad I signed up because Twitter saved my writing life. It could save yours, as well.

By forcing you to express yourself in 27 words or less, including spaces, Twitter can help your manuscript in the following three areas:

ORGANIZATION/CLARITY

With such a limited amount of words at your disposal, you can’t waste any of them. There’s a long-held saying in the writing world, “Make each word count.” While using Twitter your words are literally being counted, and as you approach 140 characters you organize as you go. Twitter makes you consider whether or not there’s a better word for what you’re trying to say. It makes you consider the overall message. It makes you consider each separate thought, and whether or not it flows into the next. As you watch the character count drop until it goes to negative one and turns red, your brain is working hard to find your message, and fit it into the narrow space.

As you type, you think:

How can I get my idea out?

Is the meaning correct?

Will the readers retweet and like my message?

After obsessing over these three things, you reread your post to make sure it’s organized, clear, and concise enough to be sent out.

And finally, when your message (novel) is as close to right as possible, you hit post. Similarly, you hit publish, or drop your manuscript in the mailbox. And then wait to see if someone resonates with it.

You, like every author, want to be heard. You, like every author, want to convey what you see in your head. You want to be read and understood. Writing your masterpiece is like writing a Twitter post, except on a much larger scale.

Twitter benefits your writing in ways that will help get your first draft written by not allowing edits. The advice is to “Turn off your inner editor and just write.” By threatening you with having to start a post over, Twitter helps you turn off your editor until the post is written, and edit when it’s complete. This stream-of-conscious writing gets words on the page, quickly. Which is good news for you because it’s impossible to edit something that doesn’t exist.

Trust me, you have to write it. I tried editing my novel in my head. It was a disaster filled with a perpetual headache.

All of these strategies: weighing the importance of words, organizing sentences, rereading and editing, and turning off your editor and just writing, play crucial roles in a book, poem, short story, or memoir. Twitter encourages (forces) you to consider these every time you put finger to keyboard.

DIALOGUE

When quoting someone else I get a lot of training listening to the flow of their words. I focus on getting the quote correct first, then hearing the beauty of it. Finally, I interpret it.

Twitter can help your dialogue because you get to hear many different voices. Whether you’re writing or reading someone else’s quote you’re hearing their tone of voice and mood. Sarcasm, humor, joy, anger. All these are in the posts that people share. Each quote has emotions, and body language, behind the words. Every time you stop and read you collect another person’s mindset.

OUTLINING/STORY ARC

I’m a pantser. I’ve never written a full outline in my life. After joining Twitter I finished an outline of my entire book. Through Twitter’s 140 characters I learned to break the big picture into small chunks and tie those chunks together.

As I write a post I can feel my brain reorganizing my thoughts. The videos that play in my head smooth out as I type on my phone’s keyboard, and I can rewind and fast-forward them easier. Having to restrict my communication length and put a deadline on my imagination helped me rise above my novel and see it from many different angles.

Twitter can help you see your character’s story and emotional arc through its small bits of information. Each hunk of knowledge melds with another hunk to create a conversation. This skillset can be translated to an outline, which strengthens your manuscript because scenes that you setup must get paid off later.

Twitter saved my novel. I hope it saves yours, too.

Thanks for reading.

Good luck, fellow world creators!

ashleigh_bonner_image1Ashleigh Bonner can be found on Twitter at @AshAnAuthor

Her website is Post It Note Dreams

 

Guest Post: Stan Lee and Nan Klee by Nan Klee

Today we have Nan Klee, author of the Dreagan Star Saga, telling us about the times she met her idol, the great Stan Lee.


Can you picture the great hall that convened the Republican National Convention in San Diego in the late 90s? It is one Big room.

One afternoon my former husband, Douglas, and I stood in THAT massive room, which was now the San Diego Comic Con’s trading and sales floor. This was my first ComicCon. Doug had attended every Con since his mom let him ride public transportation when he was a kid. This was all new to me.

I was looking in a showcase of original Mike Biasi statuary when Douglas nudged me and pointed over my head, behind me.

“See that man over there in the white jacket?” He whispered. “That’s Stan Lee.”

Straightening, I spun and gawked.

There he was: The Great Stan Lee!  My hero! A Founding Father of my comic book world! The man who had a cameo in every Marvel comic film (except one).

Stan the Man Lee and his comic company had shown me as a child that reading brought adventure. I had loved the action/adventure genre ever since. He had inspired the many Spider Man and Man from U.N.C.L E. stories I had written as a child.

“Be right back,” I muttered to my spouse, as my feet got me moving and in 20 feet I was standing a respectful distance for the thin, gray haired celebrity, who was concluding business with some Suit.

Mister Lee glanced at me as the other man went away, and then he smiled at me. Stan’s fans know that twinkle-in-his-eye smile. I was a slim fangirl in my forties, a young woman to him.

“Can I help you?” he asked in a good-humored tone.

“It’s all your goddamned fault,” I replied strongly as I grinned like an idiot.

“Excuse me?” was Stan Lee’s response as he looked around the hall, concerned and confused.

“I started reading your comics when I was 8 years old.” The words spewed out of my mouth.  “And now I am not only qualified to but I do  teach Shakespeare.”

Stan Lee focused on me, amused and speechless. He started to grin.

Much to my dismay I finished up with “And it’s all you’re goddamned fault.”

And Stan Lee kissed me.

 

Fast forward five years.

Alone, I systematically worked my way through the same massive San Diego Comic Con’s trading and sales floor. At the wide end of a long, long aisle, I discovered that Stan Lee was signing autographs and pictures, and the line of waiting fans snaked around and into the next aisle.

Not a collector, I made my way around the turmoil, until I was parallel to Mister Lee’s table which was ringed by fans and a few security jacks.

Finding a spot to stand above the crowd, I drew a deep breath, and shouted in my big-crowd-voice:  “GOD. BLESS. STAN. LEE!”

Stan the Man looked up from his signings, caught my eyes, grinned, and then yelled back.  “Hey! Hello!  I know you!  You teach Shakespeare.”

You can find more information about Nan Klee and her novels at her website.

Guest Post: Editing – The Most Important Thing You Can Do by Richard Ayre

Another day, another guest post, this time by Richard Ayre, who is here to tell us about his writing experiences, and how important editing is. Thanks, Richard!


Editing. The most important thing you can do.

Long, long ago, in a pit village far, far away, I wrote a story. It was called ‘Point of Contact’ and I thought it was quite good. It was a sci-fi thriller about the mysterious deaths of a number of people who were being burned alive. When it was finished I confidently sent it off to the first publisher I came across (Hodder and Stoughton) and waited for the accolades and money to roll in. When it was rejected I sent it off to the next one, sure that they would eagerly wrestle it from my sweaty palms. Of course, they didn’t. And neither did the next one. Or the next. (Insert as many ‘nexts’ here as you want. I’ve forgotten now.)

Undefeated, I started working on another manuscript, a horror novel entitled ‘Minstrel’s Bargain.’ This was much better. It had gore aplenty, some good character development, and it was set in the world of rock music. I had listened to the advice of writing about what you know, and I knew a lot about rock music back then (the early 90s.) So it was about a music magazine reporter who finds out that the lead singer with a major new band is actually a demon who steals people’s souls. Once more I sent it off, not quite as confident this time but still sure that my future was to be a slightly more successful version of James Herbert.

However, the early 90s were not the time to be writing gory horror stories. That bus had left, and of course Minstrel’s Bargain got nowhere, just like its older brother Point of Contact.

By this time, I was the father of a young daughter, with another soon to appear, and sadly, like a lot of people, I came to the realisation that I was not going to be a millionaire writer. The manuscripts went to live in the loft. And there they stayed for more than twenty years. It was only much later, with the advent of eBooks and POD that I looked at them again.

And this is the rub. It’s no wonder they were rejected. They were awful. Point of Contact in particular showed me, in no uncertain terms, the true meaning of the word ‘cringe.’ In fact, reading it again felt like I had tattooed that word on a rollerball glove and was sitting punching myself repeatedly in the face with it. Minstrel’s Bargain wasn’t as bad but it was far, far away from being perfect. It still is, even though it has been published now. I have recently re-edited it again because I’m not happy with it and I plan to re-release it. I’m even working on a sequel to it which I’m really enjoying.

Anyway, all this meandering is a roundabout way of saying how important editing is. In the words of the Tramp from Minstrel’s Bargain; it is the most important thing. Yes, we all know the rags to riches story of Fifty Shades, and I suppose we have all shook our heads and scoffed at some of the dialogue, wondering how that happened. Some writers get lucky. But for the rest of us, getting that story as tight as possible means we have a chance if someone (an agent, a publisher, Stephen Spielberg) reads it. It may only be a slim chance. It may be a chance as slim as Slimmy Slimson, the slimmest man in the world getting through to the finals of ‘Fattest bloke on the telly,’ but it’s a chance. Point of Contact has been revised and revised again. To the point that it is now unrecognisable as the steaming pile of dog poo I first confidently threw into the face of those poor publishers all those years ago. Extended story, new characters and even a love element are in there now. Result!

It needs to be tight. Because the edit is your story. It is the edit that creates the mystery in a whodunit. It is the edit that makes a reader flip pages faster than their brains can keep up with in a thriller. It is the edit that makes someone terrified to read what happens next in a horror novel, and it is the edit that makes someone laugh out loud with delight in a romantic comedy. It does not matter what the genre is. The edit is the one thing you should make sure is right. You can always change a cover. You can always change your blurb. But it makes life very difficult when you find you have to re-edit once you’ve got your book out there. I know this from experience.

So please, make sure you edit your work. Then edit it again. Then, when you’re sure it’s edited completely, edit it again. Make sure it is as tight as you can make it. Put it away for a couple of weeks, then get it out and edit it again!

My books have been anything but best sellers. And to be honest, I’m not writing now because I believe it will make me rich. I know it won’t. I write because I enjoy it. I write because if I didn’t write I would have let myself down. I see other books doing really well and I try not to get jealous, because I am (really and honestly) extremely happy for anyone who gets results. I try, but sometimes I look at these books and think; really? Is this what a successful book looks like? Then I look at my own work and wonder. Are these the best I can make them? Should I change them to fit the current trends? But of course I don’t. Because I write for me, not some ephemeral, untouchable ‘target audience.’ I am by nature a cynical person, but where my books are concerned I have a terrible, fatalistic optimism. I still think they will eventually be ‘successful’ whatever that means.

But I would hate it if success called and people started to say; ‘How the hell did this book make it? Have you read it? The writing is awful. My main concern, regardless of how many of my books actually sell, is that the reader enjoys them. That they are immersed so deeply in the story that they become part of it. And how does this happen? Do I need to repeat it? That’s right. It’s the edit. If it’s done well, people actually forget they’re reading a story, and they become involved in it. The one thing I, personally, would like to be remembered for, the one thing I would like readers to say about my work is this; I know his books never sold well, but by God, they were really well edited.

Make it as good as it can possibly be. Because if the call comes, if that glorious day arrives, you want to be able to hand over a work of art. You want to be able to hand over a masterpiece.


Richard Ayre hails from Northumberland and now lives in Newcastle upon Tyne. Point of Contact is his second novel. His first, Minstrel’s Bargain is a tale that mixes ancient evil and heavy metal music. Set in 1980’s Tyneside it is the first of a planned trilogy featuring the demon Minstrel. He has also written several short stories for books and magazines. Richard teaches History as a day job and in his spare time he enjoys riding around the Northumbrian countryside on his motorbike, Tanya.

You can find out more and contact Richard at http://richardayre1.wix.com/richard-ayre-author

Amazon author page

Guest Post: A Character In A Blog by Nicholas Bridgman

Today we have Nicholas Bridgman on the blog for a guest post that gives us a flavour of his novel A Character In Reality. Over to you, Nicholas!

Detective Gladstone looked around, but his surroundings did not look anything like his San Francisco apartment.  All he could see was lines and lines of text, columns, menus, and the words “Liberty Falls Down” at the top of the screen.  So he did what he usually did when things around him looked unusual, he addressed the narrator and asked, “What’s this text I’m in here?”
“You’re in a literary blog,” the narrator said.  “This is where bloggers—that is, electronic journal writers—write their feelings about literature, reviews, guest posts, that kind of thing.”
“So how did you put me in this blog?”
“Just like I put you in my novel: the power of the pen, or more accurately, the computer.  When I want you to show up I just write you in.”
“I see a lot of posts here about fantasy and paranormal fiction.  How does that relate to me?”
“Ha, I guess you wouldn’t see that, would you?  Your whole concept is fictional, it belongs to the imagination and that alone.  No one would seriously believe a character could become real—and yet, here you are, in my stories.  That’s what makes it a fantasy, you’re not real, you just appear real when people read about you.”
“I really don’t like you, you know that?  You’re so negative.  What about my life, my potential?”
“Your potential is to help people, entertain people, and inspire people.  Although you are not real, your fictional presence in the world enriches people’s lives.  The world is better for having read of you.  I know that’s not much consolation for your not being real though.”
“It’s not, but I guess as a lowly character, I have to take what I can get.”
“You’re not lowly at all.  Lots of people will read about you, if they buy Nicholas Bridgman’s novel, A Character in Reality.  It documents your life, and how you adjust to becoming a real person.  How you face down anti-illegal immigrant protesters, people who think fictional characters belong in fiction, not in reality.  How you ultimately claim your place in the real world.  Of course, that in itself is just fiction too, written by Bridgman.  But when readers read it, who knows what will happen?  Maybe the characters will become real for them too, and the cycle will continue.”
A Character in Reality
To learn more about Bridgman’s novel, A Character in Reality, visit http://www.nicholasbridgman.com/#!a-character-in-reality/i1c9l

Guest Post: Promoting Your Ebook by Ronelle Antoinette

Today on the blog we have a guest post from author Ronelle Antoinette, who is sharing her experience of promotion since publishing her first book. Thanks for stopping by, Ronelle

Promoting: Where I’ve applied, who’s accepted, and my take on their services

Let me start this by saying that my experience is with listing a FREE novel. Since Errant Spark is the first in a series, I chose to list it for free in hopes of getting more exposure. So, with that being said…

Nobody ever told me that writing my novel wasn’t going to be the hardest part of being an author. Errant Spark has been out for around eight weeks and I’ve spent every, single day of those eight weeks trying to get it in front of those willing to review and promote it. I’ve developed an understanding for why many traditionally published authors get lower royalties; SOMEBODY has to pay for that shit! Marketing, ‘professional’ reviews, book blasts/blitzes, tours…it can aaaaadd up, and fast.

But a little digging—inspired by my shoestring budget—proves that it doesn’t have to.

There are a lot of people, both groups and individuals, willing to help you get the word out about your work without breaking the bank or requiring you to enter indentured servitude to PayPal. Google led me to a great listicle at https://kindlepreneur.com/list-sites-promote-free-amazon-books/ that gave me a place to start. (Some of the best sites were suggested in the comment section.) What follows is a list of the promotions I’ve pursued for Errant Spark, along with my perceptions of and experiences with them.

  1. eBookasaurus FREE

https://www.facebook.com/FrugalFreebies

I’ve listed with them and the process was easy. I can’t say how much of an effect it’s had on my sales and they have A LOT of books listed, so after the first day it was hard to find my listing without searching it. Perhaps their paid service offers something that stands out a little more. But for a free promo, I won’t knock it!

  1. Indie Book of the Day

http://indiebookoftheday.com/

I submitted my nomination and have not heard back.

  1. Indie Book Butler $5-$205

http://indiebookbutler.com

IBB offers a range of promotion options, including tweets and author page listings. They were quick to respond to e-mail and got my page up-and-running in short order. I chose the Follower Package @ $69 and have been happy with the results so far. I’ve only been with them a short time, so I’ll let you know how this program looks in a year.

  1. BookPromo $9.90-$49.89

http://bookpromo.net/

I chose the BP Excerpt Listing and ! Month Twitter Blast. Unlike some of the other Twitter-centric promos I’ve seen and participated in, they seem to put out different tweets every day rather than just blasting the same one over and over.

  1. It’sWriteNow FREE-$10

http://itswritenow.com

I chose the $10 *guaranteed* option, and it was well worth the money. I was listed on their front page, listed in their book blog, featured in their newsletter, shared on social media, and had an author interview. To me, that’s A LOT of exposure for $10.

  1. Awesomegang $10

http://awesomegang.com/

I opted for an interview, and while it was a cookie-cutter form, it was thorough. I didn’t opt to pay for a book listing at the time, but I may do so in the future.

  1. Armadillo eBooks FREE

http://www.armadilloebooks.com

I filled out their form, got the confirmation email…and then nothing. Multiple attempts to contact them have gone without response. Their free, so submitting can’t hurt, but do so at your own risk. You may or may not see any results.

  1. eBook Korner Kafe FREE

https://www.facebook.com/EBookKornerKafe

Here’s another one that I submitted to, got a confirmation email, and then nothing happened. I followed all their directions, and it seems others have had success with them so I may try again.

  1. Bookpromofree FREE

This one was easy. Just use “Via @bookpromofree ” in your tweets and they’ll share them.

  1. OHFB FREE-$100

https://ohfb.com/

I submitted my book for free and was not selected. I have not decided if I will try the paid options.

  1. The Kindle Book Review FREE-$75

https://www.thekindlebookreview.net/

This is another one where I submitted via their free option and was not selected.

  1. CartofBooks, SHOUTmyBook, and ArtofWriting are on Twitter and all seem to be run by the same person or company. They blast the same two or maybe three versions of your tweet for as long as you’ve chosen.
  1. Best Fantasy Books $100-$800

No, this was not affordable for me, they were very prompt in reaching out and very thorough in describing their advertising options. There is also a paid review service that runs $400. This might be a good option if price is no object.

  1. FreeBooks FREE (I think)

http://www.freebooks.com

Still waiting to hear from them.

  1. Naughty Reads FREE, if you’re selected

http://www.naughtyreadsonthecheap.com

Still waiting to hear from them.

  1. eBookLister FREE-$25

http://www.ebooklister.net

Another quick promo with a lot of books listed every day. I think it was worth the five seconds it took to fill out the form.

  1. Free eBooks FREE

https://www.free-ebooks.net

This one has been great! They emailed me when I reached my first 100 downloads (it took about 3 days!) and in the 17 days since I posted Errant Spark, it’s been downloaded 246 times. It’s a clean, simple, and apparently effective promotion. I would highly recommend them for authors who’ve chosen to share their work at no cost.

  1. OnlineBookClub VARIES

http://onlinebookclub.org/

I saved this one for last because I have the most to say about it…and my feelings are mixed. It was the first site I used (before I found some of the freebies) and the experience started with such promise! I paid $179 for a “Level 4” review (yeah, yeah, I know…), which is said to feature:

  • 2 months featured status (after the review, I’m guessing. I can’t even find my novel on their website!)
  • 2 months homepage link to review
  • Guaranteed to get one of a few top-level reviewers
  • Access to premium technical support (no idea what this actually covers)

The turnaround time is supposed to be 1-2 months (they advertise 1 month, with the caveat that it *may* take twice that long). I ordered my review on July 7, 2016. My book wasn’t assigned to a reviewer until August 27, 2016. That review immediately ‘reshelved’ my book, with some rather snide comments. I’m still waiting for someone else to pick it up. On top of that, I received an email through my own website (http://www.ronelleantoinette.com) warning me that OBC is a “nasty, cliquish, and shame-based” organization. It came from an anonymous address, so take the warning with a grain of salt. I’ve contacted OBC’s founder, Scott, through Facebook and on the bright side, he was quick to respond. He apologized and reassured me that I’d get what I paid for

We shall see. I have a Book of the Day promo coming up with them on September 9th, so hopefully that will redeem the experience. . It’s clearly worked for other authors, as many of them see their books skyrocket in the Amazon ranks. I’ve got my fingers crossed that it will be the same for Errant Spark.

These are only a few of the available options. To list them all would take pages and pages and more time than I have! But since I ascribe to the Help Not Hurt school of thought, I wanted to spread the word. As authors, bloggers, and freelancers, we can either treat each other as competition to be vanquished or we can lift each other towards success. There’s a reader out there for everything and a writer on every topic, so why not help connect them? I hope you find the above links and details helpful and please feel free to share or add your own in the comments!

***

RonelleRonelle Antoinette was born in Phoenix, AZ and raised in beautiful Colorado. She currently lives in Grand Junction with her husband, two sneaky cats, and one dog-who-believes-he’s-a-person. While she’s a mother to none, she’s an auntie to a small army…the newest recruit joined them in April 2016. Ronelle dabbled in creative writing for many years and even considered it as her major in college. (She ended up getting a Bachelor’s degree in Counseling Psychology.) She published her first novel, Errant Spark, in July of 2016.

Ronelle can be found on Twitter @RonelleAntoinet, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ronelleantoinette, and at http://www.ronelleantoinet.com

Guest Post: The Future of Books

Guy is here today to give us his thoughts on the future of books. Learn more about Guy here, and read my interview with him here.

The Future of Books

At the beginning there were papyrus scrolls. Later came handwritten bound books. With the invention of the printing press in the 15th Century books became accessible to the masses for the first time, changing the course of history. The first e-book readers (Rocket eBook & SoftBook Reader) were launched in Silicon Valley in 1998. November 2007 saw Amazon release the Amazon Kindle (Cost: $399). It sold out in 5 1/2 hours. We are now on the 7th generation of Kindle, the most recent offering being the The Kindle Paperwhite (3rd generation), marketed as the “All-New Kindle Paperwhite”.

Virtual lending libraries are now becoming increasingly popular. As well as Amazon Prime, there is Scribd, Oyster and Bookmate. More are set to follow these trendsetters.

Another recent innovation, that will inevitably become more popular, are ‘books’ that span different forms of media. In 2014 Rosetta Books published Find Me I’m Yours by author, artist & digital innovator Hillary Carlip. Described as a ‘Click Lit Novel’, it is a blend of words, images, videos, links and interactive elements, which enable the ‘reader’ to participate in polls as well as give their opinions. The story is about an L.A. based artist, employed at a bridal website, who has a predilection for cutting up two different cardigans and then sewing them together again (Why? – I don’t know why). One day she purchases a camera, which contains a video from a man (hunky Romance novel type) requesting to be her soul mate, but only if she is able to find him in time. A delightful pursuit ensues.

In the future there will be ‘books’ that will entail reading, watching, hearing and no doubt a tactile virtual reality element too. Each and every one of the consumer’s sensory desires will be satisfied. One imagines that this approach will prove to be beneficial in encouraging reading-reluctant children.

Mother calls down from upstairs to young son, ‘Darling, if you read up to page 30, you can play the rest of the book.’ ………………………… ‘Yes, there’s a monster’ ………… (sighs) ‘Yes, you get to kill the monster at the end.’

Whatever the future of publishing holds it should mean further good news for trees. As for us, whatever changes technology brings, there is no doubt we will keep reading. Even if a way is invented to directly implant knowledge into our brains, many of us will still read. Reading is cathartic after all.

I am the author of Charles Middleworth, Necropolis & Symbiosis.

Guest Post: Why Fairy Tales?

Kenley, February’s featured author, is here to tell us today about why she loves fairy tales so much. Learn more about Kenley and her writing in last week’s interview here.

Why Fairy Tales? 

There’s this terrifying moment in conversations, when I meet someone new and they find out I’m a writer. To be fair, I’m very introverted, so conversations with new people always have the potential for terror and/or embarrassment, but there’s a special kind of apprehension that I feel when I’m honest about my chosen profession. Up until that point we might talk about books, or ask each other about reading preferences, but when they find out I write they want to know if I’m published, and, if so, what kind of books. And then I wince a little bit because reactions to my answer are varied. “Fairy tales,” I’ll say, while wondering whether anyone will take me seriously now that I’ve admitted it.

Despite the occasional dismissal, I don’t regret my choice. I’ve always loved fairy tales. When I was very little I would beg my grandmother to read them aloud, and when I was old enough to read them for myself I devoured as many as I could find. I’ve watched many of the movies, read multiple versions of different tales, and still enjoy a good retelling, but, up until I began to write, I never really considered what drew me to fairy tales. Why do I feel compelled to read what is essentially the same story, over and over again? The characters are often shallow, the plots frequently lack depth, and there are few surprises, aside from the clearly absurd or logically impossible. It wasn’t that I hoped for a different ending. In fact, I still sometimes experience a bizarre compulsion to make sure that my favorite stories still turn out the way I remember them (which partially explains why I’ve seen all five hours of the 1995 Pride and Prejudice over fifty times—don’t judge). So where is the attraction?

I had this question in mind about four years ago, when I decided it was time to take my writing seriously. Ever since high school, I had been filling notebooks and eventually computer files with character ideas, plot outlines, and scenes that never went anywhere. This time, I was going to write a novel…and finish it! (Said the compulsive procrastinator with too many ideas.)

I chose to base my first novel on Cinderella, a story that I freely admit I picked because I was annoyed with most of the other versions I’d encountered. When I began to write Traitor’s Masque, I planned for it to be short and simple. I knew what I wanted to change and how I wanted everything to turn out. I think I even had a cute little baby outline that I foolishly thought would be simple to follow. And, somewhere in the process of finding out that writing a novel was neither short nor simple and that stubborn characters can make an outline irrelevant, I also found an answer to my question. What is the true magic of fairy tales and why do I love them?

For me, the magic of fairy tales has very little to do with godmothers, or sorcerers, or flying carpets. In fact, I believe that much of the compelling nature of these stories lies in the very quality that I once found irritating—the sparseness of the original narratives.  There is so much we don’t know, and in those empty spaces between the words lies an entire world waiting to be discovered.

It was probably my frustration with the story of Cinderella that drove me to find those spaces in the first place. As my characters began to grow and develop incredibly stubborn minds of their own, I realized how very little we know about any of the characters in fairy tales. Very little, that is, aside from what our own imagination supplies. When we read about Cinderella’s stepmother’s cruelty, Rumplestiltskin’s bargains, or Falada’s talking head, we often find ourselves providing our own explanation. When I was a child, the stepmother was cruel because she was clearly a terrible person who deserved a hideous fate. But as I wrote the character of the stepmother for Traitor’s Masque, I began to wonder what else could be hiding in the empty spaces of her story. What could be driving the stepmother’s obsessive devotion to her own thankless children above all else? What pain might she be hiding, and what does she see when she looks at her stepdaughter?

I think it may be the familiarity of the basic narrative that allows us to ask these questions. We know where the story is going in the end. In fact, we are often counting on it. There is a form of security in reading a story where we already know the end, and within the comfort of that knowledge, there is space for exploration. A space to both hunt for the pieces of the story that we know and explore the wonders of a story that is new.

At least, new in some sense. I’ve read many times that there are no new stories. Many of the fairy tales we know have been told in different versions across many different cultures, and I believe the same is likely to be true no matter whether we write fairy tales or science fiction or mysteries. But there is so much space between the words, not only for the writer, but for the reader, that even the oldest and most familiar of stories can be an entirely new experience when we approach it from a new perspective.

I learned a lot from writing my first book. I learned that I like big words too much, that I have a soft spot for characters who can make me laugh, and that it can be unexpectedly satisfying to write dialogue for a charming and handsome villain (no, I don’t recommend crushing on Rowan, he’s quite despicable, but he’s also a great deal of fun!). Now, after finishing three books, there is so much left to learn that I feel like I’m still a baby trying to figure out how to crawl, never mind all that walking and running that other people are doing. But, in the process, I’ve discovered how much I love this thing called story-telling—an uncovering of the treasure that can be found where the old and familiar meets the new and undiscovered.

Someday, I hope to write stories that are not based on anything in particular, except maybe a strange dream I once had, or that brilliant idea that occurred to me while I was in the shower and therefore couldn’t possibly write any of it down (which is always when the best ideas happen). But I suspect my love for fairy tales will not be going anywhere anytime soon, whether I am reading them or writing them. I will always have the happy suspicion that this time, when I read those same few words, I will be seeing them through a different set of eyes, and find a whole new story begging to be told.

Just as soon as I do the mature adult thing and finish whatever I’m working on at the time…

Featured Author Kenley Davidson

Guest Post: My Writing Rituals

Kelsey, January’s Featured Author, is taking over the blog today to tell us all about her writing rituals. See last week’s interview with Kelsey here.

My writing rituals by Kelsey Ketch

Having moved from place to place, my writing schedule and habits have adapted over time. Particularly whenever my life was in transition from one chapter to the next, or when I transition from one book to another. But there are certain routines or rituals that stay the same, whether it be for Death’s Island, the Descendant of Isis series, or Dark Reflections. These are little things that keep my sanity and keep myself on track.

Isolating myself into a semi-quiet environment.

Though my environment keeps changing, my best writing always comes when I’m sitting a semi-quiet area. Generally a room with few people or in an isolated corner all to myself. In high school, this was usually the empty classroom of my English teacher, who let me have lunch with her, or the hallway near the principal’s office. In college, it was a table at the student union during the more quiet hours or at a table at the Barnes and Noble Café. Now, it’s usually a bench outside my office building.

Writing around noon.

Though I’m not truly a morning person, my mind thinks best during the early hours of the day. Over time, though, as most of my schooling—and now work—consumes that portion of the day, my brain has learned to be creatively productive around my lunch hour. Especially now. The best time ever was when I was in grad school, and I had practically all my afternoons off. I would drive to Barnes and Noble, have lunch, relax, write for several hours, and even people watch. Oh, how I miss that time!

 Carrying a journal or my Surface Pro.

When I first start writing a novel, it’s always in a journal which contains notes, scenes, and even a couple of complete chapters. While the novel is in this stage, I carry the journal with me. This way, if inspiration sparks at any time, I can get the thoughts down before I lose them completely. Once the novel reaches the stage where all journal entries are entered into a Word document, I move from the journal to carrying my Surface Pro everywhere I go in order to continually work on my manuscript when I have a spare moment.

Listening to music.

Never in my life could I just listen to music. I have to experience it! Often, I find myself whisked away into stories or music videos that best fit the lyrics and tone. I use this ability to my advantage for my writing, creating specific playlists that help me immerse myself into the novel’s pages. These playlists mostly contain music from movie sound track or even time period music, since I can find music with actual lyric distracting while writing. The only exception so far is Dark Reflections, but I think this is because of the hard times my characters face. I use music to remind myself that even in the darkest of time there is still hope.

I also throw in some more uplifting tracks that still are relevant, just so I don’t completely get down in the mouth.

Watching related documentaries and movies.

A lot of times I will watch—or more like listen to—related documentaries and movies while I’m writing or researching. I know some would probably consider this a distraction, and yes, I would say it probably slows my progress some. However, the benefits outweigh the costs. It helps build my world by providing knowledge that I can integrate into something I have already written or spark a whole new idea that I wouldn’t have thought of.

Walking through natural areas.

Let’s face it. As much as you want to lock yourself up and get your manuscript done, it’s just not possible. The imagination needs air. Fresh air with trees and nature. As I walk, I go through different scenes and dialogue. I unravel my novel, ask questions I think my audience will, find the logic in my story telling and characters’ actions. It’s even better if I can drag along a friend who I can use as a sounding board. Bounce ideas. See things through a different person’s eyes. Plus, I would look quite silly talking to squirrels or trees.

Burning colored candles, incenses, and essential oils.

There’s nothing like having the lights low and candles burning to get you into a romantic mood. Therefore, when I reach a romantic scene or some sexual tension, I like to burn a couple red and pink candles. Red to represent passion and pink to represent love. I’ll also fill the room with the scent of either Aphrodisia Cones or the mixture of Sweet Orange and Rosewood oils. They’re pleasant and almost hypnotic.

Burning a gold candle.

This is probably more a superstition that a writing ritual, but for the past three novels—the Descendants of Isis series—I’ve been burning a gold candle with their name carved into the wax. Gold is the color of success, and burning a candle is just my way of wishing each novel the best.

These rituals have kept my sanity and helped inspire my novels for twelve years. A lot of things have changed throughout that time. There are even more changes ahead as I step deeper into the real world with my career. But I can always take comfort that, as long as I’m a writer at heart, these habits will never diminish. And my writing will continue to evolve and adapt.