Friday, January 30, 2015

#FreebieFriday: #Audiobook #Giveaway

It's done! And I want to celebrate! Thanks to my fabulous narrator, Hollie Jackson, my second audiobook, Dying by the Hour is complete and available on Audible.

In honor of this monumental occasion, I'm giving away copies of the audiobook. 


Didn't read (or listen to) to the first book, Dying for a Living? No problem! I'll give the winner(s) a copy of the first book too.


Just enter the giveaway below to win.

Have a great weekend everyone! :)


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Oh and if you didn't catch my post about Dying for Her, the soon-to-be-released third book in the series, you can catch up with us here.  Or for you NRD virgins, you can find out what the *&$^ I'm even talking about here and here.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Sticking To Your Ticket #amwriting

Most writers understand that some times it is hard to write. Most writers also understand that other times it is hard to be a writer. 

I have a third problem--for me, it is hard to stick to being a writer.

This morning I received an email from WWF, thanking me for my December donation and encouraging me to see all the progress they made with the tigers last year.

Somehow, this simple email completely sidetracked me. One minute I was turning on Pandora, settling down to do my morning pages and do that last email check just for my piece of mind--and BAM! The next thing I know I am looking up degree programs in ecology and wondering how long it would take me to get qualified for a conservation job!

That's a helluva derailment. And I'm ashamed to admit it happens ALL the time.

For someone who can easily say "I am a writer", I sure as hell try to not be.

Part of this is simply because I love so many things. I care deeply about the environment, animals, ecology, sustainability, children, human rights, education, libraries, books, art, music, languages, travel, communication, poetry and so on. The fact I love so many different things often means I want to be an ecologist one week (thoroughly romanticized by the vision of myself in khakis and boots, binoculars raised as I look out over the land, cheetahs running in the distance) and the next week, I see myself a Lara Croft-esque gunslinger taking down sex trafficking rings. (I believe it is pretty clear that I have an active fantasy life).

But as romanticized as my fantasies are (because let's be honest, Africa is hot as Hell and has HUGE bugs and those cheetahs will certainly want to tear off my leg and EAT IT), here is the reality: 

I am a writer. 

I'm also a teacher, but mostly, I am a writer. Does that mean I should let go of all my other passions? 

No, not necessarily. Good writers have wide and varied interests that inform their writing. My wide range of reading and passions make me better at world building, characterization, and emotional intelligence--all key elements to a good story.) By taking in so much of the world, I am able to better portray it, or something like it.

But is there a way to use my writing, to stick to my ticket, AND do something about all the other issues I care deeply about?

I hope so. I haven't figured that part out yet, but I really, really hope so.

After all, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Frederick Douglass impacted slavery. Upton Sinclair forced the government to care more about food safety. Darwin's On the Origin of Species set us on the path of evolution--this says nothing of Plato, or Shakespeare, or J.K. Rowling--all of whom has made the world what it is today. How many people know the word Hogwarts, which began simply as an idea in a woman's head?

So I think the lesson here is to be exactly what I am--a writer. And keep my eyes open for all the ways I, a writer, can make the world a better place.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Plotting, pantsing, or zen living? #amwriting

For the last week or so, I've been doing this thing called a "Miracle Morning". The premise is that you get up earlier than usual and you spend your first hour (six tasks, ten minutes each) in quiet self-reflection. I decided that I would try it out (mostly because it was my partner's idea and we both sleep better if our alarms are synced). I chose 7 AM as a get up time. I thought if I could open my eyes at 7:00 AM to begin with, it would already be a $%^#*&% miracle.

To say I am a nightowl is an understatement.

So imagine my surprise when I realize, about 8 days later that I LIKE to get up at 7:00. I like having  an excuse to sit on the couch with a warm pug in my lap and meditating, reading, journaling and then visualizing my super awesome future.

So that is what has been going on--wait for it! I have a point here.

In this morning's reading time, I was reading a post about having "no goals". Here it is, if you want to read and come back.

So I read this post and immediately I'm like: "this dude is *&^$% crazy. What do you mean no goals? I LIVE for goals." I twisted his idea this way and that way--sure, making them too big can be discouraging, but small doable goals are the key to success!...etc. I tried really hard to have a open heart and mind (wah wah zen dialogue), but mostly I realized I'm just not ready for such a radical idea. He mentions something about lying on the couch all day eating Ho Hos or something and I thought--damn right, that is exactly what I look like when I don't plan my day! 

And while I can't buy into the "no goals" idea completely, or maybe I'm having some kind of linguistic hang up, I do think he is touching on something important about creativity.

For example, I am what is called a "pantser". In the writing world, this means that I do not follow a strict outline when I begin writing my novels. I have some ideas in mind, interesting high points that pull me toward a "destination", but I do not meticulously plan out each scene of the book.

I prefer to do it this way because I think overplanning kills creativity. If I plan to have something ABSOLUTELY, NO QUESTIONS, IT MUST happen on page 237, then I am missing out on the super awesome thing my brain could come up with instead. So I think I get what Leo is saying here about letting oneself go, without aim, and see what happens. From a creativity standpoint, I can see, comprehend, and agree  with this.

However, I think instead of the term "no goals", I prefer this zen idea: "Tell the universe what you want and then let it go. The universe is always conspiring in your favor and if you tell it what you want, it will make it happen. So just throw it out there, and let the universe work out the details."

So while I can't just throw my ambitions to the wind (sorry, Leo!) I can see the value of taking the saddle off my creativity and I can definitely see letting go of the reins enough to let the universe surprise me.

After all, at least in fiction, these surprises are usually better than what I've got planned. :)

Friday, January 23, 2015

Taking It On The Chin #amwriting

Today I was doing the prep work for my creative writing class on Monday. In addition to the lecture on poetry and imagery, I was also trying to prepare them for workshop.

Mind you, most of them have never participated in a workshop before. They have no idea what it means to look at another student's work and offer valuable feedback. And while I definitely want to start with the logistics: what to look for, how to convey your impressions kindly, and so on--I also want to make it clear that there are limitations to workshop, and it will require a great deal of honesty with oneself and good listening skills to discern exactly what can be done to improve one's own work.


“Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.” --Neil Gaiman


A person may understand that something is wrong with a passage:
"It sounds funny."
"I'm not sure what is going on here."
"I don't like this character. He doesn't seem like a real person."
"Why are there space vampires looking for lemons in the supermarket?"

But the same person will likely have no idea what exactly rubs them the wrong way, or how to fix it. Also, there is certainly danger of  overkill. People can be so desperate to offer feedback, that they tell you all the things:





The desecration of the Dickinson poem as seen above, commonly happens in writer workshops. Never mind the fact that poor Emily, had she ever been so ruthlessly assessed by a room of strangers, may not have ever written another poem in her life, and American poetry would've suffered a sad loss. (Or she did attend workshop and that is why she became such a recluse!).

My job Monday will be to make it clear that despite the flaws and dangers of such an undertaking, feedback from a room full of people who have read your work can be very valuable in taking it to the next level. So wish me luck!


But furthermore, for those of us in the trenches who long ago had the innocent dew shaken from our leaves, it might do us well to remember that as Gaiman said, we must take the good with bad and embrace all the ways the universe tries to guide us into being that bigger, better, version of ourselves. Even if the universe is speaking through the mouthpiece of an awkward, college freshman who doesn't know what the #$&*%* (s)he is talking about. ;)


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Release Date for You Jesse Fans #Wednesdaytreat #Coverreveal #books

March 24, 2015
Book 3 of the Jesse Sullivan series

James T. Brinkley lives to protect. First as a special forces officer and then as a federal agent asked to find the people no one else will look for. But the most hopeless case is his own. In a world where a man can know the day he will die, Brinkley's fate is sealed. In this confessional, Brinkley takes readers back to the place it all started. He wants you to know his darkest secrets so he can die with a clear conscious. He doesn't expect forgiveness for what he has done. His only hope is that he will find a way to keep Jesse safe, even after he is gone.


Cover courtesy of the fabulous John K. Addis

Monday, January 19, 2015

#Mondayblogs: #interview,#giveaway & honoring our #veterans @Mark_aberdeen

Meet Mark! He wants to give you 5 signed books, a cool coffee mug, and a poster. What a sweetheart. Even sweeter, he's a veteran that cares about other veterans. So 50% of his online sales (from now until Memorial Day) will be donated to the Wounded Warrior Project. 

Keep reading to learn more about Mark and his new book, Dex Territory.

How did you come up with the idea for including the title? 
The original idea was born in gaming session with some friends back in the mid-90s. We'd been playing a fairly typical fantasy game using the GURPS role playing system and we decided to mix it up with superheroes. It was the most fun gaming we'd ever had. Ten years later I was sitting at a keyboard and I started writing those down, but the jokes were mostly in-jokes and the characters needed to be changed up for them to work properly, then some were scrapped, others added and I was still left with not much.

I added a point of view character, Rick O'Shea and made him a police detective attempting to solve crimes in world where anything was possible and that he was always going to be outclassed. That seemed fun to me. I figured out the one piece to make this story work; don’t tell a superhero story. Make a good mystery, action, thriller that happens to have people with superpowers.
I rewrote it and by the time I'd finished I'd rewritten it dozens of times, but I had something that I felt really good about.

Dex was short for Spandex and it becomes the slang word for supers in this world. The title was originally a play on the word Dexterity, but Dex Territory works on multiple levels in the story including the name of a website used in the book.


Is this a standalone book or will it be a series?
This book is a self-contained story, but there are a lot of threads to pull for more. I’m currently working on a sequel that ups the stakes and expands the world. I'm also making notes for an eventual book three, but I have enough story ideas to write these indefinitely. Whether it becomes a series, depends on how well it's received. Please give me a reason to write more, I've got some good stories to tell.

What is your favorite genre to read and do you have a favorite author?
I used to read a lot of fantasy, but I've really lost interest in the genre, I've wandered over the urban fantasy, I think Jim Butcher's Dresden Files are amazing. I'll read anything by Stephen King, but if I had to pick a favorite author it would be Neil Gaiman. One day a long time ago and a very influential age, I picked up a comic book called Sandman and I've been hooked ever since.

Is there any specific author that has impacted the type of writer that you are today?
I think there's a little of Harry Dresden DNA in Rick O'Shea. To say I wasn't influenced by the Dresden files, would be a lie. Rick is constantly outclassed and I heap pain on him in piles. If he know what I had in store for him he'd go weapons hot on me and he wouldn't finish until all his magazines were empty.


Are you working on any other projects that you would like to share with us?
Right now the Dex World has me pretty wrapped up, but a few years ago I wrote a story for Shallow Graves magazine and it was a straight up urban fantasy about a woman, Julia Hart who was born a child of an angel a demon while they possessed human form. She had pieces of both of them in her. She made her living as a relic hunter. I'd really like to revisit that as a series. I think that would be a lot of fun.

Who does your book covers?
TWBPress put the cover together, but when my editor showed it to me, I offered some suggestions and some artwork from my friend Paul Littlehale, who is very much a creative partner to me. I'd give him character descriptions and he'd produce artwork for me. It really fueled me. He was also a member of the original gaming group, so we'd work out scenes together and he'd offer up suggestions. He had concept art for Pink Panther and it seemed very fitting that she be on the cover.

What one thing that readers be surprised by if they knew about you?
I'm half human.

Who is your biggest supporter?
That would have to be my wife, Nadine. She's my cheerleader and she's still around even when I emerge from my office months later looking like Tom Hanks in Castaway and unable to look at direct sunlight, smelling of stale coffee and desperation with a few pages a dialog clutched in a grubby fist.

What advice would you give to new authors just starting out?
Park your butt in the chair and write. Talking about writing your book isn't the same as writing it. Don't worry that your first book is going to suck, and probably your second and your third. No one gets it right out of the gate. You learn it by doing it. It's also critically important to find a group, or editor, or someone that won't put up with your bullsh*t. You want your story torn apart; every piece questioned and defend your choices. You'll know if they're BS, or not. It does you absolutely no good if someone it telling you how great it is. You want to hear that after they purchase one, not before.


What is your favorite word?
Apparently


What is your least favorite word?
Literally - so many use it wrong. I'm not a grammar Nazi, but I've become very aware of it.


Any words you hate?
The C-bomb. I love swearing, I think it's one of the great joys, I also believe in using them as sniper shots rather than suppression fire. A well-placed f-bomb can just make my day, but under no circumstance will you ever catch me using a C-Bomb. In fact, I'm making you say it in your head, so I don't have to. It really offends me that much and I'm not easily offended.


If you could have any (but only one) super power, what would it be?
It would be the ability to fly. I even explore it in my book. Rick is fascinated by it too.


If you could pick the brain of any writer/poet/artist from anywhere across space and time, who would it be and why?
I'm a history buff and it was something I studied a lot in college. I would love to sit down and talk with Thomas Jefferson. If I can take this question a step further, I'd love to add John Adams to that talk and at the point where the two has reconciled and become friends. It would be fascinating to talk with them about building a nation and the politics surrounding it.


What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
Being a writer is that profession. My day job is in telecommunications. This is one of my dreams come true.


What profession would you not like to do?
I used to build submarines for the Navy. While I worked with some of the best people I'd ever known, I'd like to never do that again.


If Dante’s Nine Circles of Hell existed, which circle would you be trapped in and why?
The 6th circle - Heresy. It seem appropriate to my life. I've never been okay with someone telling me what I had to believe.

Where can we find you and your work?

You can find Dex Territory on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Goodreads, at TWBPress.com (please show them some love, they're great folks and amazing authors). You can find me on Facebook mark.aberdeen or like my Dex Territory page and you won't have to see pictures of my dogs. I'm also on twitter @Mark_Aberdeen, but I use that to drive people toward Facebook. I'd rather get to know you and build relationships.

posters not included in picture

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Friday, January 16, 2015

#FreebieFriday T-shirt #contest, #freebook, & $25 Amazon giftcard

So I’ve been working on creating a cafepress store full of fun things for the Jesse Sullivan fans out there. But while I’m creating designs for the various items to sell in the store, I also want the fans to get involved! 

So I’m going to host a T-shirt contest!

Based on the Jesse Sullivan series, what awesome, fun, hilarious, etc. designs can you think up?

If your design is chosen, I’ll give you a $25 Amazon Giftcard and the T-shirt in the size/color you prefer. You'll also get free Jesse stuff and an honorable mention in the back of Dying for Her (Book 3 to be released this spring).

The decision for BEST DESIGN will be done in two rounds.

ROUND 1: I will narrow the best T-shirts down to 10…5…3 (depending on the number of entries we have).

ROUND 2: I will let the fans vote for what should go into the Cafepress store.

To make sure this is as democratic as possible I am going to make Dying for a Living, book 1 of the Jesse Sullivan series, FREE this weekend (until Monday--or maybe Tuesday if I am too busy and forget to change the price). That’s right! FREE BOOKS, B****ES!  

This way, everyone who wants a copy of the book so they can read and play will have a chance. 

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY (see what I did there?) If you can't find it free on Amazon, you can click here.

You can use the Cafepress designer to preview your designs. Click HERE to go to designer.
To make sure you don't duplicate a design I already have, CLICK HERE.

In the rare event that two or more people submit the same the design, I will give credit to the one who submitted it first.

If you come up with something you like, you can email it to kory.m.shrum@gmail.com. The contest will be open until February 19, 2015, 11:59PM EST.

Good luck! 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Power of Ritual #amwriting

Colin Farrell wears the same boxers on day 1 of every movie shoot. Serena Williams always wears the same pair of shower sandals before a match. She also bounces each of her tennis balls 5 times before serving them to her opponent. David Beckham insists on new cleats and new underwear before his matches. And Peter Wentz is terribly anxious if The Count (Sesame Street) doesn’t accompany him on his travels. (Or so says this tabloid!)

Whatever you may think about superstitions and silly celebrities, it is true that the mind responds to habits. When you complete a set number of tasks, you are telling your mind to do something. This can be harnessed and used to your benefit when it comes to your writing.

Sometimes it is hard for us to find the time to do writing, or more often, even when we do have the time, we just can’t seem to bring our mind to the page.

Therefore, may I suggest a little pre-writing ritual? Rituals are highly personal, so I can’t tell you what to do. But I can say that consistency and repetition is essential.---and also patience.
Let’s take my pre-writing ritual for example:

I get up. I make a warm beverage (coffee/tea). I turn on my Pandora radio and search for a station that I’m in the mood for and then open a WORD .doc.

BAM! A writing ritual!

It can be simple or it can be complicated (I must first do 10 jumping jacks on one foot, wearing a red shirt, while juggling three bottles of vicodin….) Do whatever works for you. (Weirdos).
It is only important that you do the same tasks in the same order. By doing the tasks in the same order, it gives you mind the cue that a certain thing must be done next and it helps to prepare, focus and calm you for the task of writing (or so says my Scientific American!)


So tell me, what rituals do you do to help you get into the head space of writing?

Monday, January 12, 2015

#Mondayblogs: What You Wish You'd Known #amwriting #amreading #teacherproblems

This semester I have the fantastic blessing of 4 (!!!FOUR!!!) creative writing classes and one composition class, instead of my usual 5 comp class spread.


When I found out this would be my schedule for the spring, I was pretty excited! I love teaching writing in all of its forms and probably enjoy reading essays more than most people, but creative writing is my passion and so when you give a good teacher (ratings don't lie, ya'll!) her favorite subject, magic is going to happen.

(you mean I get to read stories instead of essays?)
But I was nervous because while I've taught creative writing online for several years and taught in-seat comp classes for many years, this will be my first "in-seat" creative writing class. (For those who don't recognize the word, "in-seat" it means I meet them face-to-face in a classroom. You know, very old school.)

So I went into the class expecting it to be like my usual face to face courses. We'd go over the syllabus, we've talk about expectations, wah wah wahhhh...

But that's not what happened.

Differences I quickly noticed between Freshman Comp and Intro to Creative Writing students:

1. Creative Writing students WANT to be there
2. Creative Writing students can identify a book by sight, smell, and touch.
3. CW students actually READ books...for, like fun.
4. CW students have favorite authors, genres and are excited to talk about them
5. CW students like to write, WANT to write and are in the class to get better at writing!


Like I always do on the first day, I ask my students what they care about, what they hope to learn and all that. Somehow that awesome conversation full of excitement for writing snowballed into another awesome conversation about who we were reading and why we thought they were awesome. 

The more these students talked the more I realized...


Everyone in the room, all 20+ of them loved to read and write. Just chatting with them for an hour or so I realized, they all have ambitions (small and large) for their own work and they were all excited to be here. They were smart and funny and charming in that adorable/geeky way only we artistic types can be) and they made a million scifi/fantasy references (after my own heart, they are!) 

When the energetic conversation sort of died away and it was time to go, I was just like: THIS. IS.

'A' for you. 'A' for your mother *&^% 'A' for your dog. 'A's for everyone.

We are going to read all the things and write all the things and have the best *&#^$% semester/class ever! That being said, I really REALLY want to do right by these guys. So I ask you, what do you wish you'd known as a writing noob? What do you wish someone had shown you, told you, or explained from the very beginning? Anything you wish you'd read in the beginning? And lastly, any advice for getting into that difficult head space of accepting criticism of one's work gracefully? I think in the beginning it is a challenge for all of us.

Friday, January 9, 2015

#FreebieFriday and @tomswritinglife #Interview #amreading #mystery

Not too long ago (Sunday, December 28th to be exact), I posted a review of Tracks in the Smoke, debut novel by Tom Savage. You can read that review or go straight to the giveaway here, if you like. Otherwise, cuddle up with a warm cuppa (as our friends in the UK say *I think*) and get to know the lovely person that is Tom:

How would you describe this work to someone who’s never heard of it?

Classic Private Investigator novel with unique contemporary components, strong female characters, and a protagonist with an unusual and troubled past. The case revolves around the ruthlessness of today’s music industry.

Who were your inspirations for this story?

There wasn't really a who, it was more what I perceived to be a lack of risk.I always believe that risk creates tension. In so many stories the protagonists never seem to face any real risk, and for me, this always takes away from the tension. I wanted to write a story about a guy who isn’t invulnerable and who doesn’t always have the best quip for every situation. He’s a guy who does the best he can with what he has, and never gives up. I wanted to read a story about that guy.

Do you like a good detective novel as a rule or the exception?

I love detective novels, but I am picky about my protagonists. I was struggling to find anyone new to read and that led me to creating Dante. 

Have you always been interested in writing this story or did you find this story accidentally?

I had originally taken my year off to write a TV show ‘Sentence’. It’s about a young procrastinating writer who is given a tough deadline. Realizing he will never make it, in desperation he tries to get sent to a minimum security prison, believing he will be able to finish it there. I finished the show but then realized there was a problem with the format. I moped around the house for a few weeks, thinking I had made a huge mistake taking time off work to write. Then one morning I woke in a panic, realizing I had to write something I sat down and with no plan wrote the first seven thousand words of the novel, so yes, it was certainly an accident, but a happy one.

What inspired the dynamic between Felix and Nick? (Kory: which is my favorite part!)

Available here--Just $0.99!
I was interested in the idea of lonely people, with different reasons for being lonely. I was drawn to the idea of two people who need each other but the last thing they need is a sexual relationship. Nick and Felix are looking for something more concrete than a fling, and I wanted to challenge the old adage that men and women can’t be friends. Nick know’s Felix is attractive, but his motivations to help her come from a different place, that’s what inspired their dynamic. We will find out more about Felix in book two, about why she is the way she is, which I hope will be really interesting for readers.

Who is your favorite fictional P.I.?

Philip Marlowe, every time. However, I have a soft spot for Joe Hallenbeck (Bruce Willis) in ‘The Last Boy Scout’ (Not sure if a film is cheating?). I love all the guys who want to do the right thing but make poor decisions. I am also currently reading ‘Inherent Vice’ and loving Doc Holliday.


Favorite authors who influence your work?

Raymond Chandler, Horace McCoy, Nathaniel West and Terry Pratchett. 

Can we expect a sequel?

Yes. I wrote thirty thousand words of a second novel, but then decided to hide it away. I am in the process of making a documentary about Ray Krone the 100th man in America to be released from death row due to DNA evidence, and I am talking with Ray about using his story as a template for a Nick Dante novel as a way to draw attention to his case. I loved how you skillfully used a split narrative in ‘Dying by the Hour’ and I think that could be an interesting idea with Nick and Felix. (Kory: *blush* Awww, thanks!)

What are you working on now?

Mainly the second 'Tracks in the Smoke' but I’ve also got a few ideas slowly percolating and sitting on my desktop. ‘Love in Reflection’ a novel about a married couple whose divorce gets put on hold when the wife goes into a coma. Also a Gothic children’s mystery about an introverted piano teacher ‘Hanna Piana’ who tries to find out who killed her elderly upstairs neighbor, Franklin Steinberg, still working on the title for that one. I've got an idea for Young Adult novel with a female protagonist, but at the moment I am trying to pick my way around all of the other amazing stories out there and write something which is unique and original.

What is your favorite word?

Ambidextrous. 

What is your least favorite word?

Shamazing  (Kory admits she does not know this word.

Who is your favorite author?

Grahame Greene, the first half of ‘The Human Factor’ is the best thing I’ve ever read. 

If you could have any (but only one) super power, what would it be?

Hmm, tough one. I went on a hi-wire once and thought; actually flying might on the whole be a bit boring, so I think I’d go for teleportation. Then I could visit my nieces and nephews much easier.

If you could pick the brain of any writer/poet/artist from anywhere across space and time, 
           who would it be and why?

I am always interested in people who approach things differently. I would love to sit down with the producer Mad Lib (who sadly passed away) and learn about the process of how he took music in such a different direction, but one that everyone followed. His sound is so unique you always recognize it when you hear it. I would love if it someone read a paragraph of my work and recognized it and said, ‘That reads like Tom Savage.’


What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
I always wanted to be Atticus Finch, so it would have to be a lawyer. Having recently done Jury Service, I am glad I went into teaching.

What profession would you not like to do?

I worked as a travel agent for a year, and I was terrible. I kept telling people to go away and think about it rather than closing the sale - they invariably bought a cheaper ticket online. Except for one month where - thanks to a Spanish Nun - I was the top salesman in London. That was the only time I ever hit my sales target.

If Dante’s Nine Circles of Hell existed, which circle would you be trapped in and why?
So they don’t exist? Phew! I would imagine I would be in ‘Heresy’ but it would be okay because I could chat to Ancient Florentines about politics and religion.


Thanks for joining us, Tom! And for the rest of you, be sure to enter the giveaway below. Why not? You made it this far :)



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Thursday, January 8, 2015

#TBT: How to Get Good Reviews for Your #Books #amwriting

Throwback post from one of my most popular last year--in case you need it. Besides, who doesn't need more reviews? At 124 reviews for Dying for a Living, I'm not even satisfied myself!

I am working from the assumption that you have written a good book. After all, no amount of trickery can force people to like your book if you’ve submitted terrible content. So make sure your book is well-written, well-edited, and ready for the next part of the process—the reviews.

FACTS ABOUT REVIEWS

Fact #1 People are more likely to buy a product that has good reviews. No surprise right? How many of you have purchased a product (book or nifty hand vacuum) based on what your friend or Amazon said about it? So reviews ARE important.

Fact #2 You cannot FORCE people to review your book. Unfortunately. And it is unethical to ask them to write a good one. Instead, ask for honest reviews.

Fact #3 Certain actions can be taken to encourage people to post a review of your book, increasing the likelihood that you’ll get a review. And that is the focus of this post. I’ve made a list of actions you can take to help increase the number of reviews you will receive. And what credentials do I have you ask? Well, my book has only been published for 2 weeks and I have 33 reviews on Amazon and 18 on Goodreads, last I checked. So I must not be a total failure! :)

STEPS FOR GETTING REVIEWS

1) Start early. You need to send ARCs (advanced reader copies) out no later than 10-12 weeks BEFORE your book is
published. Most of your readers will already have TBR piles and you’ll be waiting in line. If you want that review on or
before your release date, earlier is better.


2) Target the right people. Don’t just throw your book into the wind and hope someone likes it! Find the people who specifically read and enjoy your genre. You can find them on Goodreads, Amazon, book blogs, etc. You can use social media to find your demographic as well, but whatever you do, target. Don’t just shoot in the dark. You will still make the mistake of giving your book to the wrong person sometimes and that is okay. It might mean they don’t love it as much as a diehard (insert your genre here) fan, but if you target more than shoot blindly, your chances of good reviews are much higher.

3) More is better. Not everyone who agrees to write a review for you actually will. Either they forgot or got too busy to review your book or maybe they didn’t like it and don’t want to hurt your feelings. Who knows. But if you are hoping for 20 reviews in the first week, you’d better request reviews from no less than 100-150 people.

4) Be specific in your requests. Once you’ve made your hit list, you’ll want to contact them with a friendly email/tweet/whatever. In this friendly request, be specific. Tell them where you hope they’ll post their reviews (on Amazon, Goodreads, Smashwords, and/or their blog). If you want them to post in multiple places (for example some of my reviewers posted both on Amazon and on Goodreads, then say so. Whatever your specifications, give them upfront so they can politely accept or decline your offer.

And DO NOT tell them that you expect a positive review. Just ask for an honest review and where you hope to see it. If you know the publication date, it would be nice if you gave them that as well, so they have a deadline in mind.

5) Be organized. Keep a running list of who you’ve asked and whether they said yay/nay. This will help you later when you…

6) Send out an email on release day or a few days before. Politely remind your reviewers that your book is now available and that you would love it if they shared your review. This would also be a good time to remind them of your specifications.

7) Be grateful. It takes a lot of time to read a book and write a thoughtful review! Be sure you express your gratitude to those who shared their reviews.

8) Think ahead. Keep the list of reviewers who you enjoyed working with. You may want to contact them again (and repeat the process again!) for future books.

Remember these are just the tips I’ve been using so far. If you have tips, please share them in the comments section! I’m always looking to improve my repertoire ;)


And if you want to read about my favorite reviews that I've received for Dying for a Living so far, click here.

Monday, January 5, 2015

#Mondayblogs: 2015 Resolutions for this #author #amwriting #thewritinglife

I'm aiming for a little accountability here. You see, I have performance issues. If I tell you guys I'm going to do something, then I MUST. I'm trying to use the fact that I'm a bit of a show off to my advantage here. Work with me.

I have altruistic resolutions for the year: be a better partner, take better care of myself, give more and all that...but here I want to focus specifically for my writing/publishing goals for 2015:

In no particular order:

Publish Dying for Her: Brinkley's Story  (Book 3 of the Jesse Sullivan series)
Publish Untitled Book 4 of the Jesse Sullivan series
Produce corresponding audiobooks of all available titles
Publish Badass and the Beast anthology with the fabulous +Angela Roquet
Pursue possibility of adapting Jesse Sullivan series into graphic novels--
                 launch possible Kickstarter
Submit YA novel (tentatively titled Water & Dark  to ABNA contest--or self-pub)
Write a blog post every MWF for the whole year, totaling about 150 posts (*snort*)

Bonus round--release box set of all Jesse books and possible 5th title! 

I have only one concern that may interfere with these big goals:


(sorry about the darkness and the horrible smacking my lips habit; Clearly I sit in the dark with a dry as *&^% mouth and lament about #firstworldproblems #whoisahotmess)

Hehhhh. Yes. So crazy ridiculous or not, these are my goals for 2015. What do you guys think? And better yet, what are your goals?

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year!



I released two novels, an audiobook, and gained over 27,000 new Twitter-friends, so it's been a great year for me!

Thank you!!!

...because I couldn't have do it without you. More than that, I hope your year was just as amazing and wish you only the best in the months to come.

Happy 2015!