Friday, January 31, 2014

New Release - Entangled Souls by Felicia Tatum

Happy Friday, good people of the blogosphere! Today, I have a new release announcement for you. Entangled Souls by Felicia Tatum. I'll be writing a review for Masked Encounters by Felicia next week. For now, enjoy checking out this awesome new book!

New Release!!!

entangledsouls_ebook

Mangled Hearts become Entangled Souls

Cade is on the road to recovery with Francesca’s love and support guiding him. His life is changing drastically, from attempting to mend the rift between he and his father, to trying to have a normal relationship with his now fiancé. Most of all, Cade must find a way to control his urges so he can be completely released from rehabilitation.
Francesca is building her law firm with the help of those she loves most, but when a close friend reveals her true feelings about Francesca's engagement, it sends her emotions into a tailspin. Through all of this, she is forced to put her feelings on the back burner for everyone else, until the anniversary of Josie’s accident rolls around. Francesca must learn to put herself first before she falls apart.
In this novella, join Cade and Francesca as they explore their relationship and begin their lives together.

Get caught up on book one now....Free on all channels!

mangledhearts_eboo
Francesca and Cade

Can two loves find their way back to each other despite an addiction and a hardened heart? Will their love overcome it all?

Francesca Taymon is young, successful, and broken. A tragic accident years ago haunts her to this day, and she blames only one person--the one that holds her heart. When she finally gets her first case, will she be able to handle seeing him again? Can she do her job and keep her heart intact?
Cade Kelling doesn’t take life seriously. He’s reckless and irresponsible, drinking all his problems away. When his parents bail him out for the last time, will he be able to handle seeing Francesca after all of these years? Will he be able to tell her what really happened that night 5 years ago or will he lose her forever?

And the most important question...
Can these mangled hearts be mended?

Goodreads Amazon B&N Smashwords

I hope you guys grab the starter book and give it a read. After all, it's free, what do you have to lose?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Blogger Interaction - Why it Matters

Happy Thursday, good people of the blogosphere! OMG they've cancelled school again! What kind of perverse version of the South am I living in? Hello? Is this thing on? For anyone who's listening out there, bring back Spring! I've had quite enough of this cold crap to last me a lifetime. I live in the South for a reason. If it doesn't get warm soon, I'm moving to Tahiti. That is all. Enough about that. Today, I want to talk about blogger interaction and why it matters. Grab your pens and notebooks and let's get going!

If you write a blog, chances are people are going to come by and read it. If your post moves them, helps them, or creates a reaction, they may deign to leave you a comment and tell you what they thought.

Oftentimes, I pop over to a new blog and leave a comment on something I read that I found interesting. I like to ask questions in my comments sometimes, too; or help the author out with a handy recommendation. If I stop back by the blog (if I asked a question I always come back in a couple of days) I'll check to see if my question was answered or my tip proved useful.

Imagine my horror when I discover my comment wasn't acknowledged at all. I was ignored like I didn't exist. I'd become invisible, and my tip/question/comment had fallen into the realm of "it doesn't matter because I'm a blogging god and you're a peon who will worship me."

Really?

When that happens, I look like the lady on the left here and stop visiting that person's blog. Why? Because, chances are, I didn't subscribe on my first visit (it takes building of trust and stuff) and I was made to feel unimportant.

For shame.

Now, I do have blogs I comment on where I don't expect replies. Those people are kept up with on other forms of social media and I comment to let them know I was there. I neither expect replies nor acknowledgement on their blogs. Most of the time, any replies come back when that person comments on my blog. Yes, it's strange to communicate that way for many of you; but, it works for us. We're happy with it. A number of blogs I used to comment on religiously have fallen off my good grace radar. Those folks neither returned the favor nor acknowledged I was there to begin with.

But new readers you don't have that unspoken pact with won't understand. They'll feel rejected by you.

Guess why?

Because, in a way, you are rejecting them. Your readers who bother to leave a comment expect to be noticed by you. Even a simple "Thank you for the comment!" goes a long long way.


Remember, it takes a new blog at least a year before it starts getting serious traffic. Help your readers want to come back. Take the two minutes to write that reply, say those words of thanks, or give a head nod in their direction. It's like clicking the "like" button on Facebook; if you do that, you'll see more of their stuff. Maybe they'll even tell their friends what an awesome blog you have!

I wish I could figure out how to say thanks on Tumblr...

Think about it. A blog is a form of social media. Are you making it social?

How about it, bloggers? Do you respond to every comment? If not, what do you do to encourage your readers to return?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Indie Authors! Sell More Books and Learn to Launch!

Happy Wednesday, good people of the blogosphere. Today I'm gonna be talking about a series of books I recently picked up and why you need to check them out. As you all know, I get ZERO kickbacks from any of this. Every opinion expressed is my own, and there are no affiliate links on the Jo Michaels Blog so you can always click with confidence, knowing I'm not goading you so I can make money. I gave this series a test drive during the release for I, Zombie to see if it worked and have been busy remodeling my entire book library to follow the suggestions in the guides. Now, I have my results (tested for a month) and am prepared to share my findings with you in the hopes that you see success with this method.

Bet you're anxious to know what I'm talking about, huh?

Strap in and let's get going!

Like I said above, I've worked my rear off remodeling my books since reading this series. Since the remodel, I'm doing much better. But I have eleven books on the market, and some folks will say I sold more books because I have more books available. I disagree. I think I wasn't using the right sales approach. This series of how-to guides walked me through how to use my books to sell more of my books. I'm convinced they go hand in hand.

Yes, it was a lot of work. No, it didn't happen overnight. Yes, there were times I wanted to tear out my hair and scream. But I didn't. I kept at it. As a matter of fact, I went so far as to whiteboard a strategy for updating all my books and attacked it that way.

First up, we have Bestseller Tactics: Self Publishing techniques to help you sell more books on Amazon and make more money. Advanced Author Marketing by Glyn Williams. Here's the cover and the buy links to the Kindle version:

Amazon Kindle $3.95

The book description on Amazon is long but full of good stuff. I suggest you check it out from there.

I used this one to help me reorganize my library and rebuild it from the skeleton out. Williams brings some things to light that were smack my head duhs. I thought, why didn't I see that? Well, because I'm not a numbers/marketing person primarily. Sure, I have some great marketing ideas, but I've never understood how to make (and keep) my book visible to those who may want to buy it.

Second, and the one I used when I launched I, Zombie, we have Bestseller Tactics 2: The Ultimate Book Marketing System. Advanced author marketing techniques to help you sell more kindle books on Amazon and make more money. Self Publishing by Glyn Williams. Here's the cover and buy link to the Kindle version:

Amazon Kindle $3.95

Again, the description is longish so I'll let you check it out for yourself.

I attribute I, Zombie's mad, out of the gate success to this one. It got noticed, it got reviews, it got love. It hit the paid bestseller list on launch week and hit it again during the free promotion. I was stunned. Heck, I still am.

I'll be using the tactics in this book over and over again as I write and launch more books. I have plenty of WIPs to test it on to see if it was a fluke and if my success was mostly because I wrote a niche book in a popular genre (YA and Zombies).

We shall see...


Last, is a book I haven't bought yet (but plan to). I'm not putting a recommendation on it yet, but keep your eyes open. It's Bestseller Tactics 3: Facebook for Authors - How to sell more kindle books on Amazon with an automated marketing machine by Glyn Williams. Here's the cover and buy links to the Kindle version:

Amazon Kindle $3.95

Again, I don't know how well it works, haven't tested it, haven't bought it, can't recommend it. With the way Facebook is changing their algorithms lately, I'm not sure this book isn't already outdated or if it can possibly be kept up to date without the author losing a lot of time (and his mind).

So, purchase book 3 at your own risk.

 Remember how I talked about blog tour companies last week and why you might want to steer clear of them? It was this series of books that caused me to start looking at the numbers and checking statistics on blog life, sales of books via tours, and how tour companies do their own marketing (it's to authors, not readers). Link to that post: A Look at Blog Tour Companies. Yeah, it stirred up some poo. Yeah, some people unfollowed me. Why is it that when you're honest, folks don't stop and look at what they might be able to do differently, they take it to a personal level?

To quote The Godfather: "It's not personal, it's business." Keep that in mind.

I hope you enjoyed this post and that it helps you find your own success. Publishing is a big world with a lot of hungry readers on the receiving end. May we all get our books into the hands of those that wish to read them. I'm all about the sharing.

If you'd like to grab a copy of I, Zombie, you can do that here. Yes, I do make money off that sale. But it's win-win. You get a great book to read, and I get a sale. If not, no hard feelings. You can still subscribe to or follow my blog and show your love that way. *grin*

If you've read these books, what did you think? If not and you plan to, what are you hoping to learn?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Book Review - Keepers of Arden (The Brothers Volume One)

Happy Tuesday, everyone! Sorry I'm late. I, apparently, am not invincible, and I have come down with a raging sinus infection. Just returned from the doctor's office. Have antibiotics, will write! Now that you know why I'm a little behind, let me get to it. Today I bring you another book review from my Indie Fever 2014 Reading Challenge. If you've never heard of the challenge, I invite you to join us! Just go to the signup page here, choose your challenge level, add your name to the linky list, grab the badge from the sidebar, and start reading! Easy peasy. So sit back, relax, and enjoy!


First, as always, a little about the book I'm reviewing today:

Title: Keepers of Arden (The Brothers Vol. 1)
Author: L. K. Evans
Genre: Fantasy & Sorcery
Length (print): Approx 459 Pages
Buy Links: Amazon Kindle $2.99

Synopsis:

"Slowly, year by year, day by day, hour by hour, the evil grew stronger while he grew weaker. It found ways around his shield, and, even as he sat in the sun on a beautiful spring day, he could feel the tiny nibbles the evil bit off from his soul."

This is just the beginning of the Laybryth brothers' journey to not only rid the lands of Arden of a vile evil, but for one brother to save the other from the darkness that lives within him.

 ***Will not appear in review elsewhere***
You all know by now how much I love book covers. This one has such a dark feeling to it. I love the imagery, I only wish there was the shadow of a person or a couple of young men in the background-a little secret to be delved out of the fog by a keen eye. I love the typefaces (these two [three?!] look similar enough anyone without a trained eye probably wouldn't pick up on the differences; but I warn the designer to be careful when doing this) and layout of the title, but I would like to see some kerning on the letters and see the K and S moved in a smidge from the edges. It's like when you see two people barely touching, it's kinda uncomfortable. If you're gonna overlap them, let them overlap; if you're gonna keep them away from each other, make sure there's space. Also, the author's name should be centered. This isn't a preference thing, it's more of a designer's rule. If you center some of it, center all of it. Color choices are perfect.

On to the review of what's between the covers!

I grabbed a sample of Keepers of Arden during a December contest I ran on my blog. I have to say, the sample took hold of my mind and I bought the book. I wasn't able to stop thinking about it and was happy when it was next on my TBR list. L. K. Evans created a magical world that captivated me and kept me glued to the pages. Enough about all that, let's get to the good stuff.

From a Reader's Perspective:
In the beginning of the book, we're introduced to a placed named Arden. I could see the city clearly in my mind from the descriptions on the pages. Not long after the story began, I was dragged into a melee of emotional turmoil as fierce, dark creatures were described and the mother in the story showed her evil. There were times the descriptions brought tears to my eyes. As the tale moved along, it began to slow down. I kept waiting for something big to happen. As it was, this book has everything a first novel in a series should have and I'm anxious to read the second installment. But that big thing never happened. I felt the story dragged on a little, but I was so vested in the outcome, I kept reading. I love the brothers and how close they are. From chapter one, we're shown how they share a piece of one another and it's reinforced throughout the story.

From an Editor's Perspective:
I'm a stickler for errors and highlight any I come across. Misplaced pronouns weren't bad. What I did find was that the text could use a good proofreader to pick up on little errors like: dropped punctuation, homophones, and incorrect tenses of words. None of it was enough to throw me out of the story, but there were over 20 errors in the book.

Rating:
+1 Star for phenomenal world building
+1 Star for keeping me engaged
+1 Star for description of creatures that really kept my toes curled
+.5 Stars for making me have an emotional reaction to the mother and son
-.5 Stars for the never making anything big happen
+.5 Stars for a couple of highlighted sentences I loved
-.5 Stars for need for a proofreader
Overall, 4 out of 5 stars! Recommended for anyone who loves magic, mages, and dark forces.

I never do this, so you know these passages moved me. My favorite two lines: "Until you place yourself in another man's shoes, do not pass judgment." and "Every man has a weakness, and one must never judge a man for succumbing to that weakness because at one point you might succumb as well. And wouldn't it be nice to have another man understand your pain and mistake?"

I mean, wow. Love it.

I hope you all enjoyed that review. I do encourage you to grab a copy of the book. Link is above.

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Monday, January 27, 2014

A Guest Post by Ripley Patton

Happy Monday, good people of the blogosphere! As with every Monday from now until June, and UtopYA Con 2014, I'm featuring one of the authors attending the event. Today I have a guest post from my featured author, Ripley Patton. She's gonna talk with you all about what it's like to become a novelist. I did an interview with Ripley last week. If you missed it, you can find the post here. If you don't have your tickets to join us yet, get on it. Prices go up in two weeks! Just click the name of the con to be taken to their page. Enough of my yapping, grab your pens and notebooks and let's get going!

Five Things I Learned by Becoming a Novelist
by Ripley Patton

1. Writing is Hard. 

I was in a conversation with a friend recently who wants to become a writer. He was asking me questions about how to produce and market his first book, so I asked him when he had finished it. "Oh, I haven't even started it yet," he said, "but writing's the easy part."

Nope. Writing is not the easy part. Writing a book, any book, is really hard. Writing a good one that other people will want to buy and read? Even harder. In fact, in my experience, there is NO EASY PART. Every aspect of the writing process is difficult, and challenging, and rewarding. Easy is not a word anyone who has actually done it would ever employ to describe it.

2. We don't write for the money, but it sure helps.

Most writers and artists don't pursue their passion because they want to get rich quick. Art is not a fast track to wealth. Even the rags to riches stories we hear, like J.K. Rowling's, don't happen overnight. It was seven years after Rowling first conceived the Harry Potter series that it finally saw publication. During the time she was writing the first book, her mother died, she got divorced, and she found herself living in abject poverty. And during that time her book was rejected over and over again by publishers. J.K. Rowling didn't know if she would ever make a single penny on her books. But she wrote them anyway.

We writers write because we love to. Because we have stories inside of us yammering to get out. Because writing helps make sense of the world and the turmoil inside of us. We write because we must. And, I know for myself, I would continue to write for the rest of my life without pay.

But I also have two teenagers who like to eat.

3. Books connect people.

I'm not just a writer. I'm also an avid reader, as all good writers are. And one of the things
I've always loved about books is how they connect people.

First, there is the connection between the writer and the reader, that magical moment you enter someone else's internal world of story. Then there is the connection between the reader and the characters in the book, how they become like old friends or dear family members – people you've met in your mind, and traveled with, and now know intimately. And finally, there is the connection between you and all the readers who have loved that book before you and who will love it after you. You are connected to them through story, a story you've all shared. You've been to the same places and loved the same characters. When you meet someone who loves the same books you do, you are meeting an old friend.

4. There is no such thing as a perfect book.

When I wrote my first book, I wanted it to be perfect. I wanted the plot to be intricately woven. I wanted the cover to look exactly liked I'd imagined it. I wanted to comb the text over and over again until I'd rooted out every typo and misplaced comma. I was determined not to push the publish button until I had produced a flawless book.

However, when I was still finding small mistakes in the manuscript after seven revisions, three full edits (two by professional editors), and five different copy edits, I realized something - I have never read a perfect book.

I have read good books. I have even read great books. But I have never read a book without some kind of mistake in it. And yet, that has never prevented me from reading or enjoying books as long as the story was compelling.

So, I had to ask myself if I really wanted a perfect book, or if I wanted a book that people would get to read.

The answer seemed obvious.

There is no such thing as a perfect book. But there are millions of wonderfully-told stories.

5. The most important story is your own.


People often ask me why I became a writer. Why didn't I stay with the career I went to college for, or choose something easier or more lucrative? And there are lots of different answers for that question but the simplest is this; I became a writer because I want to read the stories only I can write.

Sometimes, I'll pick up a book, or two, or five or six in a row, and put them aside with a sigh because they simply aren't the story I want and need to read. My heart is hankering for a very specific story – a story that resonates deep inside me and says, "Yes, this is true. This is about you. These are the words you were looking for."

And sometimes, if you can't find that book, you want it so badly you write it yourself.

~ Ripley Patton

Okay, Ms. Patton, you've officially blown me away with that post. What a lot of great information and advice for Indie authors!

If you guys would like to know more about Ripley, why not give her a follow on the web?

Goodreads
Website


Again, if you want to know more about Ripley, check out the interview I did with her last Monday!

Do you have questions for this awesome lady? Pop them into the comments.

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Friday, January 24, 2014

Breaking News: Seven Young Adult Authors Go Crazy - Give Away Paperbacks

Happy Friday, good people of the blogosphere! How about that post yesterday, huh? I know, I know. Sorry. Sometimes, I see what's going on around me and it makes me so angry on behalf of others. Yet other times, I read something in a book that sparks me digging around further. Yesterday was a case of both. What book was I reading? Well, that's coming next week. You'll have to wait and see. Trust me when I tell you, it'll change the way you look at writing and publishing forevermore. Anyway, on to the news! Grab your mouse, get your clicking fingers ready, and let's get going!

**Any and all quotes below are fictional. Photos do not depict actual authors. Authors quoted did not actually say any of this, but I thought I'd have some fun with the post today. Enjoy!**

This just in...

Several sources say a group of seven young adult authors have gone crazy and have begun to give away paperback copies of their books. These books range in sub-genre from Horror to Paranormal.

Authors included in the giveaway are as follows: Heather Topham Wood, Shawna Romkey, Jo Michaels, Lindsey R. Loucks, S. G. Daniels, Tia Silverthorne Bach, and Meghan Riley.

We were able to get in touch with a couple of the authors and asked them what possessed them to offer free copies of their novels. Shawna Romkey said, "We were like, hey, readers love books, we write books, why not connect A with B?" When asked who came up with the idea, she responded, "Heather did. She's so awesome we couldn't help but join in, you know?"

Yes, we do know.

Heather Topham Wood is the author of the popular New Adult Paranormal Second Sight series. It's a four book set telling the stories of a psychic named Kate Edwards who saves women and children that have been abducted by madmen. We attempted to contact Ms. Wood but our queries have gone unanswered.

We were able to contact author S. G. Daniels and ask what she thought the cause of the insanity was. "I think Heather may have what's know as Authoritis. It attacks writers who've just finished a new novel and causes them to act overly happy and generous. Symptoms are extreme and usually include flash giveaway fever (where the author is prone to giving away swag and other items suddenly and with no warning), social media shaking (this includes many Facebook and Twitter posts over the course of a few hours), and word wooziness (self-explanatory)." When we asked Ms. Daniels how an author stricken with Authoritis would treat symptoms, she appeared terrified and refused to answer. All we were able to get out of her was a violent shaking of the head and a short comment. "No, no, no. I can't talk about it." Ms. Daniels then fled the scene.

When asked about the affliction, Authoritis, author Jo Michaels fell into a trance and began repeating the word "insanity." We were unable to get any further comments from Ms. Michaels.

Apparently, the only thing that can cure Authoritis is time. It seems these authors just have to live in their happy heads until it works its way out. There is no way to prevent the catching of Authoritis unless you simply refrain from writing a novel. We asked Tia Silverthorne Bach why this tactic isn't used. She responded, "Wow. You really don't get it, do you?" Ms. Bach refused to elaborate.

We could find no mention of Authoritis when we did an internet search. It only returned: "Did you mean arthritis?" It shall remain a mystery. Ms. Wood is preparing to release her new novel, Falling for Autumn, expected to release April 15, 2014, therefore is a prime candidate for the illness.

If you'd like to enter to win one of these novels, the Rafflecopter entry form will be included under this article. To find out more about the books up for grabs, please visit Ms. Wood's blog at AuthorHeather.com.

Article courtesy of Tammy Thibodeaux, Channel Nine News, Lake Charles.

I hope you all enjoyed that. Tammy Thibodeaux is the fictional news anchor in I, Zombie (just in case you didn't know).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What do you think of the post? Did it at least get a chuckle out of you?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Look at Blog Tour Companies

Happy Thursday, good people of the blogosphere! Not a lot of lead-in today, because this post will be a long one. Warning you now so you don't get your knickers in a twist over it. Of course, I imagine a good number of people will be rankled by what I have to say below. Hopefully, my words will make you stop, think, and spend your money wisely or reconsider the way your tour company works to truly provide the promotion your authors need. Grab your pens and notebooks and let's get going!

First of all, let me say I won't be quoting prices from any particular blog tour company. We'll use my fictional one called A-1 Super Great Fantastical Wonderbar Blog Tours (A1S). I did a search and they don't exist as of the date this post is going live.


Now, A1S offers a tour that's all inclusive for $300. This money gets you:
  • 1 Month of Promotion
  • 30 Tour Stops
  • 10 Reviews
  • 1 Facebook Party
Your other 20 stops will be guest posts or author interviews. Great! Sounds good to have 30 blogs feature your book over the course of a month, right?

Let's look at the numbers.

A1S has 15k followers on Twitter. 250 people subscribe to their blog. 12k people like them on Facebook. Seems like a pretty good deal, huh?

But... Come on, you knew that was coming.

How many of those followers are readers of your genre? Better yet, how many of those followers are readers at all? Even more intriguing, how many of those followers are readers hungry for exactly what you're offering?

My guess is, most of them are authors who have previously used the service OR are tour hosts with the company and not your target market: readers of books. My second guess is, you'll either get 1 or no posts on their blog. Most often, Tweets are marked #BookTour. I don't know about you, but I glaze over those when scanning my feed.

Before I jump ahead, I'm gonna break down what you've paid for above and show you why there's a flaw in the system.
  • 1 Month of Promotion - This includes all the items listed above on various blogs. I've learned (from speaking with other authors) that you oftentimes appear on the same blog more than once. And you get, what, one tweet a day? Oh, my bad, you get two.
  • 30 Tour Stops - 10 of these stops will be reviews so no work there. But now you have to come up with either a guest post, an interview, or an excerpt from your book for the other 20 days. All of these are things you have to provide. So what? Well, if it takes a day away from your writing and there's no return (I'll get to that in a moment) you just wasted a whole day. Besides that, there's no guarantee these blogs target your genre of book or that the blogs have been alive more than a year (do you know the statistics for blog life?).
  • 10 Reviews - Reviews are an Indie author's life blood. I get it. But if that review doesn't get posted to Amazon, what good is it doing you? A review that sits on a blog, stagnating, rotting in the archives, doesn't do anyone any favors. Oh, and those reviews can be any star rating. While I admire honesty, the tour companies don't guarantee they'll match your book with bloggers who prefer your genre. This could be an EPIC fail.
  • 1 Facebook Party - Really? What are they gonna give away? Free copies of the book you sent? Swag (you have to mail)? Paperbacks (again, that falls to you)? And people show up because they're hungry to win something and go away, never giving two sh*ts about you or your book. It's likely the partygoers are the blog tour hosts.
What's the flaw? These posts aren't targeted. You could have a book about witchcraft that ends up on a Christian blog. Do you really think their readers are going to rush out and buy your book? Is it conceivable to think the blog owner would write a glowing review? No. No. NO!

Another problem with touring blogs is: You can't guarantee your book will land on a blog with a good following of readers. If the blog hosting your book only has 13 followers... Well, you can see where I'm going with that. And is it crazy to suggest maybe those "followers" are previous authors who appeared on that blog? I think not.

Don't even get me started about those tour hosts who don't post when they're supposed to. Dear me...

But, Jo, it's about the exposure!

Really?

Let me clear that up for you with some numbers. We all love numbers because they don't lie.
  • 30 stops where each blog has maybe 100 people that actually read their content (and that's really a generous number). Okay, that's 3,000 right there. You're right. It is. 3,000 random, non-targeted people who may or may not be readers. Most likely, you'll be lucky to reach 10 readers of your specific genre who actually read the content on one of the 30 blogs your book appears on. Oh yeah, I forgot you're on some of those same blogs more than once. Nevermind. See my point?
  • 10 reviews that could all be one or two stars and slam your book into the nether. This is gonna hurt you more than it helps. In this case, you PRAY those reviews don't hit Amazon. Yikes. If the tour host does post the review on Amazon, you've provided a copy of the book. There's no "Amazon Verified Purchase" on the review, and the reviewer has to state that you gave them the book. *shifty* So your 4.42 star average on 35 reviews (20/5*, 10/4*, 5/3*) could plummet to 3.8 stars with just a couple of bad reviews and you have no control over it. As a matter of fact, if your tour company isn't targeting people who enjoy your genre, the likelihood of that happening increases ten-fold.
  • 1 Facebook party that gets you 10 additional likes on your author page by the hosts of the tour company and a lot of stuff to mail out afterward (does the money ever stop leaving your pocket?). Totally worth it. Not. Even if you get 1k new likes, with the way Facebook has changed things up, you'll be lucky to reach 5 of those people.
After day one, your exposure post sits on that blog, buried day after day by new content created. Unless someone searches specifically for your book, they probably won't stumble upon it.

And don't tell me you aren't out there through the whole tour, marketing your rear end off to drive traffic to those blogs. Oh man, are we crazy or what?

After all that, I'm now going to hit you with something you may not want to think about. But I need you to think about it. How many sales did that tour get you? How did you go about tracking those sales? A good rule of thumb here is to use a specific, shortened link with a marker attached. Use bit.ly for this if you have to so you see with your own eyes I'm not blowing smoke up your bum. Chances are, you'll get maybe 20 clicks.

Oh, wait! Most tour companies won't let you send in your own links. Why? Because they add their affiliate code to them and they probably don't want you tracking those clicks anyway. If you still feel you must tour, avoid companies that won't let you use your own links. They're in it for THEM, not for you.

I have a couple of friends who recently paid for blog tours and I'm going to share a little of their experience with you.
Friend A has a very popular YA book with great reviews on Amazon. This friend did a month long tour much like the one above (sans FB party). While the book was on tour, it was on sale for $0.99 (regularly $2.99). A number of great reviews were written, with maybe half of them making it to Amazon. A couple of the tour hosts never posted about the book (most tour companies say they aren't responsible for this if it happens... Like HELL they aren't).

Guess how many sales this author got over the course of the tour?

NONE. That's right, not a single one. And that book hit Amazon's top 100 overall during its free period. It has a very high rating and not a single one or two star review on over 20 reviews. Plus, it's in a popular genre. Go figure.

Friend B has another popular YA book that's been hailed as unique, fascinating, and well written. This one also did a blog tour recently. At least 10 or so reviews went up on blogs during the tour. Very very few made it to Amazon.

Want to take a guess at how many sales there were? This book is also well reviewed with a very high average.

Now that I've completely disheartened you, it's time to tell you where your money might be better spent.

I have no personal experience to back this up with, but I know many people who've used it and they swear by it. Plus, the company isn't afraid to show you their statistics. Best of all? They target people interested in your genre. There's also no additional work needed from you beyond producing a great book! Holy crap!

Book Bub.

I'll say it again:

BOOK BUB.

Take a look at the prices here. Now scroll down to the Teen and Young Adult genre (which both of the books above are in). Look at the average sold numbers.

Why does it work? Because they're in the business of connecting readers to the books they want. Their target market isn't authors.

Now that you know, what the heck are you waiting for? Again, numbers speak for themselves.

Blog tour companies would be wise to follow that business model. Build a list of blogs that target specific readers, have been around a long time, and who are trustworthy. Guarantee you'll put the author's book into the hands of people who enjoy their genre, and, for the love of all that's good, have some sales numbers to back up your business.

Rethink what you're doing.

I'm not compensated by anyone for my thoughts and opinions on my blog. I'm just tired of seeing Indie authors waste their money. We don't have a lot to spare to begin with. Will I be gracing Book Bub with my business very soon? You bet your butt I will.

Guess what else? You have a pretty good author clique going, right? Why not organize your own tour if you want/need exposure? It'll take about the same amount of time and it's free.

I know that was long. I'm sorry. But I hope you were paying attention. I do speak my mind.

What have your experiences been? Did this post help? Leave me a comment and let's talk about it.

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Character Interview - Trixie Collins from I, Zombie

Happy Wednesday, my wonderful peeps! Today I have a fantastic surprise for you all. I'm giving you my dream cast for I, Zombie, the movie, and a short interview with our leading lady, Trixie Collins. Grab your coffee, get situated, and let's get to it! I hope you get a kick out of today's post.

For our leading lady, Trixie, I'd like to see her played by Amber Tamblyn.




Angela Thibodeaux could be Amanda Seyfried.








Tammy Thibodeaux I'd like to see as Rachel McAdams.





Jack would be played by Chord Overstreet!





Lucy Fry would be honored with the part of Samantha.








And Henry would be Taye Diggs.




Now, on to the interview with our leading lady, Trixie!

Jo: Hello, Trixie! Thanks for joining us for an interview today.
Trixie: It's nice to be here, Jo.

Jo: I'm not sure everyone here is familiar with I, Zombie, so we're gonna start with a couple of questions about your infection. How did it happen?
Trixie: I was at this party and decided to dance with a boy named Matt. He got a little too frisky and when I pulled away, his fingernails cut me. *shakes head* Jack was so mad. When it was obvious I wasn't going to get away easily, he jumped in and punched Matt. Luckily, I was spared, but it caused Jack to get infected. It's all my fault.

Trixie Collins

Jo: You can't think like that. Jack did what he felt he had to. *puts hand on Trixie's arm* Where did your telepathic gift come from?
Trixie: *sniffles* My mom says it came from her mother, my grandmother. She was a Cherokee Indian and had some rather odd powers. I said it was a bunch of malarky one time and my mom told me about a man who cheated my grandmother in a business deal where they traded a bunch of chickens for a mule. The mule keeled over shortly after the deal was done. Two days later, the chickens were sick. He brought them back, accusin' my grandmother of poisoning them. She talked him into leavin' them (because they'd be dead soon anyway). They all survived. Healthy as they could be the next day. I don't question any of it anymore.

Jo: Wow. That's some seriously crazy stuff! So, can you hear what I'm thinking right now?
Trixie: *laughs* No. It doesn't work that way. Since the outbreak, the only one I can hear is Jack.

Jo: And is he with you all the time?
Trixie: Yeah. Sometimes, it drives me a little crazy because I can't get a moment to myself. But I never had any secrets from him so it's okay. Bathroom business is a little strange. I always wonder if he's watchin' and snickerin' at me.

Jo: I can't imagine. So what are you doing now that you've graduated and are a hero to the world?
Trixie: Easy on the hero stuff, okay? All I did was bring attention to somethin' someone else already figured out. If you recall, I found an article on the web that talked about where the disease originated from. All I did was print it out and get it to the right people. There was no guarantee we were right. But, man, I sure was relieved when we were. Back to your question, though, I'm gettin' ready to head off to college. I was accepted at LSU on a full scholarship.

Jo: Congratulations! I imagine, with your status, you could've gotten in anywhere.
Trixie: Yeah, but I wanted to stay close to home. I really love Louisiana.

Jo: Speaking of Louisiana, would you mind telling us all how to pronounce that city you guys hid in?
Trixie: I O W A?
Jo: *nods*
Trixie: Sure. It's easy! Say it like: eye oh way.

Jo: Ahhhh! Got it! Thanks for clearing that up.
Trixie: *grins* No problem. It's a common question. For anyone that's interested, I recently wrote to an advice columnist about having Jack in my head. You can see what she said if you visit her blog. If you're a fictional character, too, she may be able to give you some sage advice.

Jo: That's awesome! I appreciate you sharing that. Thanks for hanging out with us today and good luck in college!
Trixie: *bows and waves* Bye y'all!

If you want to read Trixie and Jack's story, you can pick it up on Amazon for just $3.99 here. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you had fun!

Questions for Trixie? Post them in the comments below. She'll be happy to answer.

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Book Tour and Review - Illusions Begin

Happy, happy Tuesday, everyone! Today I bring you another book review. This time it's an author I've read before and loved! When the opportunity to read and review another one of her books came around, I jumped on it like a kangaroo on a boxing ring floor. You can check out my review of Twisted here. In addition, Illusions Begin is part of my Indie Fever 2014 reading challenge. You can join in the fun here. What's Indie Fever? It's a challenge encouraging you to read books by Indies all year and link up with other reviewers who are doing the same! Come join in the fun. For now, sit back, relax, and snag your favorite warm drink because it's still cold outside (where are you, Spring?).

First, a little about the book up for slaughter review today:

Title: Illusions Begin (Mystic Seeker #1)
Author: N. L. Greene
Length (print): 295 pages
Genre: New Adult Paranormal
Buy Links: Amazon Kindle $2.99 Paperback $12.95

Synopsis:
Katherine Rebecca has always done exactly what was expected of her. Her prim and proper upbringing taught her the importance of family, sacrifice, and social stature. She has followed in her parent’s footsteps, being trained and groomed daily almost from birth, to take over the family law firm. It was never a question of IF she wanted to but WHEN she would take the reins of the company. She worked rigorously toward that predetermined goal her entire life. She gave up friends, boyfriends, and an exciting social life in order to propel herself through school and college. Katherine Rebecca strived to please her parents. More than anything, she basked in their praise and approval. But now, at 21 years old, she finds herself leading a life that is nothing like the life she imagined for herself.

Becky has always possessed a deep love of magic. Ever since she was a small child she has been fascinated with magicians, illusions, mystery, and the vague hope that there was some sort of real magic in the world. But this is a secret no one knows, or at least that’s what she thought. Until one day Becky finds a mysterious business card in her pocket that leads her to an equally mysterious man. He opens up a whole new world of possibilities to her, one with a tantalizing proposition that she never thought imaginable.

Could magic actually be real?

**Will not appear in review elsewhere** Let me start off by saying how much I love the cover for this book. While I think the author's name needs to be bigger (don't be afraid to shout it out!), I adore the imagery. I feel like it portrays the story on the pages perfectly. A sexy, card wielding maven? Yeah, that's Katherine to a T. If I had one nitpick about the crop, I'd leave more of their faces in. Placement makes me cringe a bit when I think about loss due to bleed cutoff. Anyway, beautifully done and tells a compelling story! On to the review!

I won an ARC of this book in a giveaway on the author's blog and went on to purchase it on Amazon later so I could see how/if the writing improved from soup to nuts. In addition to that, when the opportunity arose to join in on a review tour, I pounced. I've reviewed Ms. Greene's work in the past and found it more than five star worthy. This book had a couple of flaws; but didn't disappoint when it came time to deliver on the story end. I have in no way been compensated for my participation in this tour and all opinions are my own. On to the good stuff.

From a Reader's Perspective:
I didn't like Ms. Hoity Toity Perfect in Every Way Becky at the beginning of the book. She was too prim, too proper, and did too many things just because her parents wanted her to. As the story moves forward, we begin to see all may not be as it first seemed. Little Becky has kept secrets from her mother and father throughout the years. One big one was why Becky had a falling out with her ex-boyfriend, Lance. This is one spot I found an inconsistency in the story though. In chapter eight, Becky talks about her mother setting up dinners between the two families because she was ignorant to what happened with Lance. Later, in chapter eleven, Becky talks about how her mother knew and was okay with what he'd done. As a reader, continuity is something I expect and it did throw me for a loop when I read it.

But, the magical aspects of the story and Becky's well-kept secret helped move the story along. I was fascinated at how she'd kept that aspect of her life hidden for so long and thrilled when she discovered all may not be as it first appeared. I won't go into that because I refuse to give spoilers. You'll have to read the book to find out what I'm talking about.

There are two love interests in the book as well, and I can't wait for book two so I can find out which one wins Becky's heart and why. Neither felt added as an afterthought and both fit into the story perfectly.

From an Editor's Perspective:
Pronouns! These seem to give authors the most trouble. I found no pronoun errors in Ms. Greene's first book, Twisted, and contractions were used well. Illusions Begin could use contractions to make the prose and dialogue flow more easily. There are also many commas missing between statements and names in dialogue. But those are nitpicks most people probably wouldn't pick up on.

Rating:
+1 Star for giving me a truly magical story
+1 Star for showing me Becky's imperfections as the book went on and not letting her remain annoyingly unlikeable
+1 Star for the awesome surprises along the way
+1 Star for the guys in the story
-1 Star for the inconsistency in story and the need for pronoun/contraction/comma oopsie repair
Overall, 4 out of 5 stars! Highly recommended for those who love an engaging story with awesome twists.


About the author:
N.L. Greene, who is 1/2 of the author duo Riana Lucas, has decided to venture outside of the Fantasy world that she and her best friend created with Poppy and The Deadly Flowers Series to write a few books on her own. While she loves working with her best friend, writing solo has allowed her to explore interest that had solely been her own. She spends a lot of time reading her favorite authors which range all over the place and in every genre, but spends just as much time with her husband and two daughters, traveling, shopping, and playing video games. Nichole was born in Pennsylvania but grew up in Florida, where she and her high school sweetheart live with their two children.

Facebook  ~  Goodreads  ~  Twitter  ~  Website

In her awesomeness, N. L. Greene is holding a tour-wide giveaway for a Kindle FIRE!! Yay! Enter below to win:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Here's the tour announcement page where you can see all the stops and find out what others think about Illusions Begin:
Girls Heart Books Tour Schedule: Illusions Begin

Thanks for stopping by to read this review. If you've read the book, what did you think? If you haven't, do you think you might?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Monday, January 20, 2014

Ripley Patton Author Interview

Happy flippin' Monday, good people of the blogosphere! What a great weekend, huh? Besides being cold as all get out, it was actually rather nice outside. As you all know, today I'll be doing another author interview. These fun spots of Monday fun will continue through June when I attend UtopYA Con 2014 at the Millennium Maxwell House in Nashville, TN (get your tickets by clicking on the name). Let's just say it's my way of getting to know some of these authors before the big event takes place and I'm inviting you to join me in the fun. I do hope you've been having a good time reading about authors you may never have heard of. With us today is Ms. Ripley Patton, author of Ghost Hand, Ghost Hold, and a number of shorts we'll talk about in a moment. Now sit back, grab a cup of Joe, and join me as we get to know this lovely lady!


Jo: Howdy, Ripley, great to have you on the blog!
Ripley: Jo, thanks for having me. I'm thrilled to be here.

Jo: I’m not really one to dally around and ask cut and paste questions. I like the gritty, awesome stuff and my readers crave it. So let’s get our hands dirty. I saw you used a crowdfunding program (Kickstarter) to back Ghost Hand. What led you to that decision and what did you learn over the course of the project?
Ripley: What led me to that decision was a need for money. I knew I had written a good book, but I didn't have the finances to produce it to the standard I wanted. I'm a bit of a perfectionist, so when I decided to go the self-publish route, I knew I had to produce a book that would stand up against traditionally published books. And that was going to take some cash. Since I already had a fan base from my short story writing, I thought I might be able to pull off a Kickstarter campaign. Besides, I had nothing to lose.

What I learned from the campaign is that promotion is hard, constant work. I often refer to that first Kickstarter project as my Indie Boot Camp. I also learned that a lot of people believe in my writing. Not only did I reach my funding goal and go over by 10%, I also had professional editing and formatting donated by several of my backers.

Less than a year later, I did another Kickstarter for book two of my series, Ghost Hold, and again exceeded my funding goal. I'm kind of proud of the fact that I crowd sourced my own author advances.

Jo: That’s really awesome. Promotion is hard work and never goes away. You’re cracking me up with the Indie Boot Camp reference. Love it! Tell me about SpecFicNZ. What started it, what did you get out of it, and where did it go?
Ripley: Well, I had moved to New Zealand in 2006 after my husband convinced me it would be a grand adventure (which it was). My short story writing was just beginning to take off when we moved, and I was disappointed to discover that New Zealand didn't have any writer's group or association for writers of genre fiction. I made a few friends in the writing community, and I kept asking them and myself, "Wouldn't it be great to have a writer's collective or association for mutual support?" The answer was almost always "Yes. It would be great if someone else would do that."

So after two years, I decided if no one else was going to do it, I would. I didn't do it alone though. I spent eighteen months building a team and planning. I'd never started anything, let alone a national association for writers, so I did a lot of research. And in 2010 we launched the org at New Zealand's 31st Sci-fi/Fantasy Con, Au Contraire, in Wellington. SpecFicNZ has been growing strong for three years now, and I stepped down as President last year when my family and I moved back to the States. SpecFicNZ now runs the writing track of the annual NatCon, has local meet-ups in all major cities of New Zealand, and holds regular writerly events. I'm very proud to have left that legacy in a country I came to love as my own.

Jo: That’s quite an accomplishment! There aren’t many people who would step up and create something they wanted when no one else would. I saw you have two teens. Are they girls or boys and what are their ages?
Ripley: My daughter (shown left) just turned sixteen, and she is one of the most strong-willed, kick-ass females I have ever met. I am very proud of her, but it makes for challenging parenting sometimes. My son will be eighteen in March. Both of my kids are extremely supportive of my writing. They both beta read for me and help me keep my teen characters current and real. My son also does production work for me (like my Kickstarter videos) and I've just recently hired him to be my promotion assistant. They are awesome teens and are going to make even better adults.

Jo: Aren’t kids awesome? I dunno what I’d do without my daughter and sons. What’s been your biggest challenge with raising them?
Ripley: Not taking their adolescence personally. I can sometimes be oversensitive to their comments and actions, and I have to step back and remind myself that they are just exploring they're independence. Plus, I'm a big rule follower and they aren't- especially my daughter. She is a risk-taker and I never have been. That scares me sometimes, but she is also smart and strong and usually comes out the other side of her adventures relatively unscathed.

Jo: It’s hard, huh? I have the same problem sometimes. It’s a thing to balance and I feel for you. Happy late anniversary! I read that you and your hubby have been married 23 years. WOW. Congratulations to you. How does your husband support your writing endeavors?
Ripley: Thanks. Marriage is awesome hard work, much like writing. I am happy to say that my husband supports my writing in every way humanly possible. He has covered us finically for years, often working very difficult jobs as a social worker/therapist to keep me home writing. He believes in me and my work whole-heartedly. He always introduces me as a writer first and his wife second, talking up my books any chance he gets. And when I doubt myself or start to feel afraid, he is the first one to say, "Just keep writing. The money will come. This is what you were made to do." He is both my best friend and my biggest fan.

Jo: Sounds like a great guy. You’re very lucky, lady! You’re kind of known for your PSS Chronicles series. Would you be so kind as to talk about Traveling by Petroglyph and Over the Rim? Tell us a little about them, what spawned the ideas, and what your long-term hopes for them are.
Ripley: Well, before I wrote The PSS Chronicles, I was actually fairly well known for my short stories. I've had over twenty-five short stories published in various print and on-line magazines and anthologies. Traveling by Petroglyph was the first flash fiction piece I wrote and also the first pro sale I made. It was inspired by a family vacation we took in 2005 up along the Inside Passage of Alaska on the public ferry system.

Over the Rim is a YA fantasy novella that was first published in Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine and was later nominated for a Sir Julius Vogel Award in 2010. That story was actually inspired years ago by a sign I saw at Crater Lake National Park here in Oregon when my husband and I were there celebrating our anniversary. Later, we went back to take a picture of that sign and we couldn't find it. Maybe it was never even there. But I know I saw it and the story was born.

Six or seven of my published short stories can still be read for FREE and links to them can be found on my website.

As for my plans for all of them, I hope to publish a collection of my short stories toward the end of 2014.

Jo: That would rock! You must let me know when it goes out. In your best writerly voice, tell me how you felt when you won the Sir Julius Vogel Award.
Ripley: In New Zealand there is a small creek that leads to a large pool at the bottom of a secluded waterfall. In that pool mother seals leave their babies while they go out to fish in the deep dark sea. I have been to that pool and sat at its edge, the water teaming with doe-eyed newborn seals, frolicking until the water broils with their boundless unfettered joy. I have had one swim up, and hop on the rock next to me, and put his wet flipper right on my hand. Winning a writing award was something very much like that.

Jo: How sweet! It sounds thrilling and unreal. I read you’ve lived in Georgia (that’s where I’m from). What was your favorite part about living there or your favorite part about the state in general?
Ripley: I lived in Georgia when I was twelve and we lived on a very large farm (an ex-plantation). The farm mainly produced nuts and had a candy factory on the premises for making chocolate/nut confections and peanut brittle. My fondest memory is going out every Sunday afternoon with my parents and little brother to collect windfall pecans to take back home and crack and eat. Plus, the smell of the candy factory was divine.

Jo: I love pecans and old Georgia plantations. LOL! Speed question! What’s your favorite M&M color?
Ripley: Green. When I was a teen that was the color that was supposed to make you horny.

Jo: *snort* I totally remember that! Oh, man, I can’t stop laughing right now. Favorite reality show (I know you love them)?
Ripley: Survivor by far. I have watched and own every season on DVD. I once worked up an application video for the show, but that was the year we decided to move to New Zelaand and you have to be residing in the US to apply so I didn't send it in. My son is a huge fan too. He has been watching with me since he was six. Right now we are re-watching all the seasons together from the beginning to study strategy because he plans to apply for the show as soon as he turns eighteen. If he makes it and doesn't invite me for the family challenge, I will disown him. Yes, I am a hard core Survivor fan.

Jo: I have a feeling you guys will kick arse! Time for the alien question of the interview. These are kinda fun. Haha! I see there’s a whole alien museum in Portland, your hometown. Have you been there and what’s it like? If not, do you have plans to go there?
Ripley: Unfortunately, I think the alien museum here has closed. I never got a chance to go because it opened and closed while I lived overseas. However, I'm very proud to be connected with aliens in several other ways. First, I share a name with Ellen Ripley, the most kick-ass alien fighter ever to grace the big screen. Second, I've written about aliens, most directly in my award-nominated short story The Derby which can be read or listened to in audio HERE.

Jo: Alien was such a freaking cool movie (took this pic at the EMP museum in Seattle)! What’s the title of the anthology you were in with Juliet Marillier (give us a link, too!) and what was it like to meet an author you admired so much?
Ripley: The anthology is called A Foreign Country: New Zealand Speculative Fiction and it can be found HERE. It is a really amazing book full of talented people and stories. Meeting Juliet as a fellow author was one of the highlights of my career. I do have a funny story about that. The first time I met her at the Con, I fan-girled a little and told her how much I had loved her Seven Waters Series, the first series she ever wrote and one I had read as a teen. She looked at me a little grumpily and said, "Well, you do know I've written books since then, don't you?"

Later that weekend, we were on a panel together on Fairy Tales and Myth in Fiction and something I said about everyone having their own personal mythos resonated with her. I know this because when I attended her reading later that day, she mentioned me and what I'd said and told the audience she had changed her reading material because of it to a story that was more her personal mythos.

If that wasn’t enough, the next morning she sought me out and told me she had read my story from the anthology, which was being launched at the Con, and that she had really liked it.

Since that Con, we've kept in touch and Juliet is very supportive of my work, which means more than I can say. I just recently read her new YA fantasy series, Shadowfell and Raven Flight, and I'm eagerly awaiting the third book. She is such an amazing writer.

Jo: Wow. That’s kind of like me being put in an anthology with Fern Michaels. *grin* I’d be going bananas! Congrats on being chosen and getting to meet Ms. Marillier! I read that you began writing because you lost your mother to cancer when you were thirteen (SO sorry to hear that). I can’t even begin to imagine how hard that was to deal with. Though it began your writing career, can you tell us how you believed that incident may have shaped you as a writer?
Ripley: A writer friend of mine, Ken Scholes, once described loss as a giant irreparable hole in the middle of your living room floor. You learn to move the furniture out of its way and avoid falling into it, but it's always there forcing you to step around it. All of my writing is a desperate attempt to make sense of the world. Grief, loss, and death inform every story I write. All three are things all human beings grapple with eventually. As far as shaping me as a writer, I learned at a very tender age that writing and story could provide me great comfort. I know some people find it hard to write when life gets difficult, but I find it all the more necessary during tough times.

Jo: Ken sounds like a wise man. That’s a perfect analogy. Sounds like you did a lot of growing from the situation. I’m happy to hear writing provides for you. Isn’t it odd how that works? Time to talk about your featured book of the week. Why did you write it?
Ripley: I wrote Ghost Hand and Ghost Hold for the same reason I write almost anything. I write the stories I need to read. The ones no can write but me. I also write to find out what happens. I'm not a planner or outliner so when I get the beginning of a story in my head, I have to write it to find out the end.

Jo: Ha! I don’t plan either. When I do, I end up throwing the whole plan in the trash after the first chapter or two. Freedom is refreshing, huh? Anything I didn’t ask that you wish I would’ve?
Ripley: What? No, these were the awesomest interview question EVER. But just a reminder that Book one of The PSS Chronicles, Ghost Hand, is currently FREE for Kindle and Kobo.

Jo: I’m glad you enjoyed that. I’ve learned a lot about you! *grin* Thanks for joining me here on the blog, Ripley! It was lovely digging through your world. I can’t wait to meet you at UtopYA Con in just a few months!
Ripley: Me too. I'm so excited about UtopYA. This is my first one.

Jo: Mine too! Eep! Okay, people! Here’s where you get the skinny on Ripley’s featured book of the week.

Title: Ghost Hold, Book Two of The PSS Chronicles.
Author: Ripley Patton
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Thriller
Length (print): 376 pages
Buy Links: Amazon  ~  B&N  ~  Kobo  Price: $3.99 for e-book.


Synopsis:
Olivia Black is back.

And so is her ghost hand.

Only this time she's not the one in need of rescue.

Samantha James, rich, popular, and an award-winning composer at age seventeen, is the next target on the CAMFers' list. In order to convince Samantha to come with them, Olivia and Passion must pose as cousins, blend into the most affluent high school in Indianapolis, and infiltrate a mysterious cult known as The Hold.

Olivia doesn't expect it to be easy. But what she discovers over the course of the mission will call into question everything she ever believed about herself, her family, and especially about Marcus, the guy she is undoubtedly falling in love with.

While you’re clicking, why not give Ms. Patton a follow on social media?

Facebook: WriterRipleyPatton
Twitter: @rippatton
Goodreads: Ripley Patton

Got a question for Ripley? Leave it in the comments!

Well, that’s all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Friday, January 17, 2014

5 Ways to Avoid Insta-Love

Happy Friday, good people of the blogosphere! Man, am I ready for the weekend. I'm hoping this crud flushes out of my system all the way by Monday. Not sure what you Floridians are cooking up down there, but this is one nasty as hell cold. Yeah, I've had it since my (cold) trip south. Fun, right? Anyway, enough about that! Today I want to give you five quick and dirty tips to avoid portraying insta-love in your novels. Readers generally hate it when there's no buildup to a feeling of all encompassing love. So grab your pens and notebooks and let's get going!


  1. Give Your Characters Empathy for One Another. This easy to implement angle gives your characters some reference when they meet again for the first time. In The Hunger Games, Katniss and Peeta have a bit of history together. It made the love he had for her more realistic.
  2. They Have so Much in Common. Again, this is rarely revealed when the characters only spend a few days together. You have to solidify the bond over time. But having things to talk about will help you write the story and show your readers how well your two lovers get along.
  3. Make One of Them an Ex. Perhaps one of them dumped another and a number of years have gone by in which each character matured. This builds on the previous relationship. Think about the movie Sweet Home Alabama. Melanie wanted to marry Jake from childhood. It was a great backstory to work in.
  4. He or She was the Best Friend's Best Friend. Maybe your two lovebirds eyed each other over their significant others years ago but kept it friendly. Now, they're single and things are heating up where they couldn't before.
  5. Friends Forever. Often, the best romantic tales begin with the two lovers being friends without realizing how they feel under the surface. Or, maybe one of them does and is afraid to tell the other on the off-chance that person doesn't feel the same way. Hell, there's a reality TV show that's made millions off this exact scenario.

I'm betting you're noticing a trend in the list above.

If not, I'll give you a moment to read it again and see if you can find the common denominator.

...

...

Got it? Yep, that's right, it's always a love that develops over time. Whether past or present, these people don't meet one moment and spend the rest of their lives all googly eyed over one another. While that might be lovely to experience, it rarely happens in the real world (if at all) and you have to be careful of falling into that trap as an author.

Be sure you're figuring out why these two love one another the way they do and you're letting your reader in on the big secret.

By all means, feel free to describe the butterflies, tingly palms, loss of words, and shortness of breath that occur when one is physically attracted to another human. Apply caution and try to remember: That's not love.

Love is complete trust in someone else to not betray your secrets, a great deal of caring about the well being of that person, and faith they won't leave your side when you need them. In other words, it's two people knowing one another inside and out; and adoring each other just the way they are.

That's why it takes time to develop; even in books.

What was your best and worst case of insta-love (either in something you read or something you wrote)? Share with us!

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Complex Villains

Happy Thursday, everyone! Welcome back to another post on the blog. Today, we're gonna talk about villains and how to make them complex without making them kitschy or accidentally turning them into loveable people. Are you ready? Grab your pens and notebooks and let's get going!

In order to properly discuss bad guys (and gals) we're gonna take a look at some of the nastiest villains ever created and break them down. Who creates the best ones? Well, that's up in the air. But to be sure most of you have heard of the villains I'm discussing, I'll use a couple from Disney films.

First up, we have Jafar from Aladdin:

You all know he was a greedy magician who was after one thing: power.

But let's break him down, shall we?

First off, he couldn't be very bright. Things couldn't always work out exactly as he had them planned in his head. There had to be snafus to overcome and hurdles to jump along the way to ultimate power. Why? Because we had to be able to hold on to hope that he could eventually be defeated. If everything he tried worked perfectly, Aladdin would've had no shot and we would've lost interest in the story, being able to predict the outcome way before the tale got us there.

Second, he had to have a weakness that wasn't endearing. Jafar's weakness was in his greed. His fervent desire for the three wishes the genie of the lamp could provide. He believed, with every fiber of his being, those wishes would give him what he wanted: power. But never could this power be simply the ability to make a bouquet of flowers appear. No, it had to be the strongest, best, most all encompassing power in the world. Greed is not endearing.

Third, he had to be blind to everything but what he desired. Not once did Jafar consider the ramifications of having the same power of the genie who granted the wish. Once it was brought to Jafar's attention that the genie could take that power away (by our clever - keep that in mind - protagonist), there was no doubt what would happen next. We knew Jafar would go for the ultimate, never seeing or stopping to think about the consequences.

There was nothing to love about Jafar. He was mean, nasty, and greedy. No way could he have been mistaken as a good guy.

Second, let's look at Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty:

As I'm sure you're all aware, she was a vain fairy who was bent on revenge for what she perceived to be a slight against her by Aurora's parents.

Like we did before, let's break her down:

First, she had to believe herself wiser and more powerful than any other fairy. Because of this, she neglected to take the time to be sure Aurora had been blessed by everyone else at the birthday celebration. Like Jafar, Maleficent was eager and a bit blinded by her need for revenge. But, without that fatal error, we would've had no hope. Again, our villain had to have things that went wrong during the course of their plan(s). There needed to be a seed of hope.

Second, her weakness wasn't endearing. Vanity is something many of us hold as a sin (like greed - seeing a trend?). No matter how you twisted it, her high opinion of herself and the belief no one was smarter or more powerful couldn't make her likeable. She had no remorse, and no empathy. Humans don't generally like those who can make plans to kill someone who's still in infancy. We had to see how evil she was in her core from the very beginning.

Third, her fatal flaw was her thirst for revenge. Also not endearing. With every fiber of her being, she wanted to see that princess destroyed because of hurt feelings. Maleficent felt she was the most powerful fairy, therefore should be shown the highest regard. Because she was slighted, she never considered there may be something more powerful (true love) and gave her life in her attempt to strike out at those who neglected to recognize her authority.

Like Jafar, no matter which way you twisted it, Maleficent was a villain; never to be accepted into the realm of heroes or good guys.

You have to be careful when writing a villain. Even the slightest hint of goodness inside them will cause your readers to latch on and feel sorry for the baddy. Why? Well, it all goes back to human nature. We naturally look for the good in people, whether we mean to or not. If there's one redeeming quality, we tend to point it out and say, "Ah ha! I knew there must've been something." It's because of our desire to make sense out of things. Because we couldn't behave in such a manner, we search out a reason for the behavior to be present.

Even the best laid plans can go awry. Look at The Bird. I never intended for what happened in that story to occur. I won't go further than that, you'll have to read the book to find out what I'm talking about. But the twist took me by surprise. Be very careful when letting your readers know your villain's past. It's better for them to be shallow than endearing. Consider keeping some details to yourself.

What villain have you written or read about that turned out differently than you thought? Why do you think that is?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Book Review - Tragic

Happy Wednesday, good people of the blogosphere! I hope you've all had a good week so far. Mine keeps getting better and better as this cold makes its way out. Today, we're doing a book review! I know how much you love those. I also have a couple of deals to share with you at the end of the post. Stay with me! Before I get to the juicy stuff, I'm going to take a moment and pop out my reading list for 2014 once again.
This list is for the Indie Fever 2014 reading challenge. You can join in the fun here. Just add your name to the linky, grab the badge from the left sidebar, and you're in!

Here are the books in my list:
Rebecca Trogner The Last Keeper's Daughter Amazon Kindle $7.99
Scott Marlowe The Five Elements Amazon Kindle $2.99
L.K. Evans Keepers of Arden: The Brothers Volume 1 Amazon Kindle $2.99
Sarah Mäkelä The Witch Who Cried Wolf Amazon Kindle $0.99
Felicia Tatum Masked Encounters Amazon Kindle $0.99
Peprah Boasiako The Hitman Amazon Kindle $0.9
David T Griffith The Bestiarum Vocabulum Amazon Kindle $3.99
C. S. Janey Surrender To You Amazon Kindle $2.51
Thaddeus White Sir Edric's Temple REVIEW HERE
Gloria Piper Finnegan's Quest Amazon Kindle $4.99
Elle Todd The Elect Amazon Kindle $2.99
Heather Topham Wood The Memory Witch Amazon Kindle $7.99
N. L. Greene Illusions Begin (I have an ARC)
J. A. Huss Tragic REVIEW BELOW
Morgan Wylie Silent Orchids Amazon Kindle **FREE**
Laura Howard The Forgotten Ones Amazon Kindle $2.99
Pauline Creeden Sanctuary Amazon Kindle $0.99
Casey Bond Winter Shadows Amazon Kindle $7.99
Casey Bond Devil Creek REVIEW HERE
Skylar Hamilton Burris The Strange Marriage of Anne de Bourgh Amazon Kindle $2.99
Christina Marie Morales Ambience Amazon Kindle $0.99
Tamar Hela Feast Island Amazon Kindle $2.99
Molly Taggart Off Target Amazon Kindle $2.99
S. G. Daniels The Druid's Doorway Amazon Kindle $3.99

A number of these books have now been read and the review not written yet. I'll get there!

So make sure you keep coming back for more great reads in 2014.

About the book on the butcher block today:

Title: Tragic (Rook and Ronin #1)
Author: J. A. Huss
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Length (print):  282 Pages
Buy Links: Amazon Kindle $0.99 Paperback $11.69

Synopsis:
Rook Walsh is TRAGIC

Because life so far - just sucks. Some girls get parents. Rook got the foster care system. Some girls get Prince Charming. Rook got an abusive frog. Some girls get lucky...

Rook got a second chance.

And she took it. Because when fate throws you a bone - you grab it with both hands and run.

Antoine Chaput knows the minute he spies Rook in his photography studio that she's got The Look. The dark and desperate look he must have to land the exclusive TRAGIC media contract.

Rook is paired up with top model, Ronin, and he's everything her abusive ex-boyfriend wasn't. Patient, gentle, happy, attentive, and sexy! He knows exactly what to do to make Rook blush for Antoine's camera.

Rook's luck changes in an instant and suddenly she's the darling of the modeling world. It's a dream job to go with a dream guy and all she has to do is look pretty and follow directions. But there's always a price to pay - and Rook is about to get the bill.

***New Adult Contemporary Romance *Mature Content* Recommended for ages 17+ due to sexual situations and language usage.***

I picked up this book during a free promotion on Amazon because the cover was intriguing, and I'm a huge lover of great photography. While the image is striking, I think the type could use some work at the top and bottom because it gets lost in the reddish and white background. I try to review all books I pick up for free as a thank you to the author. Now that you know why I grabbed it, I'll move on with my review.

From a Reader's Perspective:
Rook is one of those girls. You never know what she's gonna do next. One minute she's shaking with memories of her past, the next, she's diving headlong into a situation you're wanting to slap her for even considering. Money is a huge motivator for a lot of people and Rook is no different. If you've never been completely broke and wondering where your next meal might come from, you probably wouldn't connect with the character in general. I think J. A. Huss did a fantastic job of showing exactly what someone in Rook's situation might think/do when an opportunity to never have to worry about money again presents itself. That being said, I could identify with Rook and her situation (all but the abusive husband).

Writing the story from both Rook and Ronin's POV was a smart move. If I'd just seen Ronin through Rook's eyes, I might have thought him a complete cad. He still wasn't my favorite character, but I could tell he wasn't out to destroy her. He's just really confused. Language is strong but the scenes aren't pornographic in the bedroom. Leadups are tastefully written and everything beyond is left to the imagination. It was well done. Kudos to the author for not falling into the trap of laying out the entire scene blow by blow. Does the author go into detail when it's not about the sex, but about the emotions and reactions Rook has to touches during the photo shoots? Yes. But that's when it matters.

My problem with the story was: I kept waiting for something to happen. It never did. I don't know if that was done purposely because it's book one of a trilogy, but it irritated me to no end. Give me something to keep me reading.

From an Editor's Perspective:
This book needs a major overhaul. Sentence construction issues, punctuation problems, and incorrect details run amok. While I usually limit the editing to one star, it bled over into the storyline and will be given a heavier weight. Example: He grabs two lime wedges from a little silver bucket in the ice, and shoves down the neck of each beer. Errors like that could be eradicated with a good editor. As an aside, Corona caps don't twist off. A long time lover of that particular brand, I caught that oops where others may not have.

Rating:
1 Star for giving me a believably naive character in Rook
1 Star for showing what some will do when truly down and out
1 Star for not feeling the need to go into every bedroom detail
-.5 Star for not giving me anything in the way of Rook's career
-1.5 Stars for editing
Overall: 3 out of 5 stars. A book with a great plot and wonderful characters that's lacking in the editing department. Recommended to those who don't mind a couple of errors and like romance that's left to the imagination.

Now it's time to tell you all about those deals I promised!
For a limited time, you can pick up The Druid's Doorway by S. G. Daniels for just $0.99 over on Amazon.
Through the 17th, you can grab a copy of Devil Creek by Casey Bond totally free on Amazon.

So get out there and click, click, click! Don't forget to share your purchase with the world! Amazon makes it easy and the authors will love you for it.

I hope you enjoyed this review. Have you read Tragic? What were your thoughts?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo