Tuesday, October 29, 2013

You, Too, Can Review

Today the lovely Christine Rains is here, writing about the importance of reviews:
You, Too, Can Review

Book reviews are a vital part of marketing for authors. Not only do they help you by letting you know what readers liked and didn't like about your stories, but more importantly, they help attract other readers. The big problem is getting readers to write reviews.

I've found a lot of people are intimidated by writing reviews. They're worried about their opinions being voiced out loud, so to speak, and about sounding like a gushing fangirl/boy or being too critical. But you know what? Authors love it when you gush about their books. I get giddy when I read someone rattling on about how much they love my story. I also appreciate it when someone tells me what they didn't like when done in a respectable manner.

It's not that difficult to write a review. No one is expecting a deep analysis. Just a couple of sentences about what you liked and didn't like is wonderful. Here are five quick and easy things you can mention when writing a review:

  1. Characters. Who was your favorite and why? Who was your least favorite?
  2. Plot. What was your favorite part of the story? (Please try not to give any spoilers!) Did the author move too fast or too slow? Any glaring plotholes?
  3. Setting. How was the world building? Was it realistic? Beautiful or uninspired?
  4. Style. What was the writer's style like? Was it fast-paced, poetic, or gritty?
  5. Originality. What makes this book stand out from others? Or what makes it stale?

Give it a try. You'll make a writer's day.

Do you write reviews for the books you read?

Six supernatural tenants
Living in a haunted apartment building
On a floor that doesn't exist.

Six novellas telling their tales.

A retired demon acquires a price on his head.
A werewolf is hunted by her pack.
A modern day dragonslayer misses his target.
A harpy challenges Zeus for the soul of the man she loves.
A vampire is obsessed with a young woman he can't find.
A banshee falls in love with someone who's death she has seen in a vision.
And a sweet ghost must battle a primal monster to save them all.

All the stories take place at the same time intertwining their lives together on the 13th Floor.

Includes “The Shadow,” a bonus short story.

Amazon / B&N / Kobo / Goodreads 

Author Bio:
Christine Rains is a writer, blogger, and geek mom. She has four degrees which help nothing with motherhood, but make her a great Jeopardy player. When she's not writing or reading, she having adventures with her son or watching cheesy movies on Syfy Channel. She's a member of Untethered Realms and S.C.I.F.I. The 13th Floor series is her first self-published series. She has eight novellas and twenty-one short stories published.
Website / Blog / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads

Also, check out the cover of Lexa Cain's up coming book, Soul Cutter. I love all things Egypt, so I'm looking forward to reading this young adult novel when it's released on 6th December 2013.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

M. Pax: Top Five Highs and Lows of Publishing

Please welcome M Pax to my blog today. She is a truly amazing person with a lot of drive and talent. A great combo. Take it away, Mary.

This author gig is tough, rife with ups and downs. Here are the highlights of mine:

Top Lows
  1. Rejections. I still submit short stories and still get rejections.
  2. Bad reviews. Most of them are for my perma free The Backworlds. This used to really bother me. Lately, not so much. It sells my sequels. It does its job. And it’s a darn good story.
  3. The Renaissance of Hetty Locklear not selling. That one is like pushing water up a hill.
  4. Mistakes. I’ve hired editors I didn’t like and a cover artist I didn’t get along with. I’ve learned to get recommendations from writers I know and to get them privately. Just because a writer lists an artist or editor doesn’t mean she or he would use that vendor again. I’ve also learned to trust my gut and intuition.
  5. Slow sales days. Husband Unit hates these, too. He has to listen to me whine about how it might all be over. Yeah, I can be a bit melodramatic.

Top Highs
  1. Fan letters. There is nothing better than contact from a reader who says he or she loves my writing. It makes all the lows worthwhile. Every single one.
  2. Dr. Joseph Geary being a fan of the Backworlds series. As the innovator of modern telescope optics, this is an uber geeky victory for me. One that made me squee. It also impressed my astronomy boyfriends.
  3. Being contacted by a publisher this past summer with an offer to include Semper Audacia in an anthology. She paid me, too. Space Jockey is now out, selling very well, and gaining me exposure.
  4. The Backworlds series selling steady and growing. Yay! The fans now help shape the stories. Originally, it was Lepsi’s skull found under the ash sea. I received a lot of letters telling me how much my readers loved Lepsi and Talos. So yeah, Lepsi is not dead. Not anymore.
  5. Doing what I love – writing stories. It’s a real high when each one is finished and is sent out into the world.
M. Pax-- Inspiring the words she writes, she spends her summers as a star guide at Pine Mountain Observatory in stunning Central Oregon where she lives with the Husband Unit and two demanding cats. She writes science fiction and fantasy mostly. You can find out more by visiting her at:

Website / FB / Twitter / Goodreads / Pinterest / Wattpad

Beyond the Edge
Some truths are better left unfound.

For two years Craze’s dear friend, Lepsi, has been missing. The murmurings of a haunted spaceship might be a message and may mean his old pal isn’t dead. The possibility spurs Craze and Captain Talos to travel to uncharted worlds, searching. Out there, in an unfamiliar region of the galaxy beyond the Backworlds, they stumble upon a terrible truth.

Meanwhile, Rainly remains on Pardeep Station as acting planetlord, dealing with the discovery of her lover’s dark and brutal past. Alone and questioning her judgment, her introspection unlocks more than heartache. Latent protocols in her cybernetics activate, forcing her to face a sinister secret of her own.

In the far future, humanity settles the stars, bioengineering its descendents to survive in a harsh universe. This is the fourth book in the science fiction series, The Backworlds. A space opera adventure.

Amazon / AmazonUK / Nook / Smashwords / Kobo / Other Outlets

Photo: Please note, barring author pics, most of the photos on this blog were taken by me. However, this one of the girl rock climbing is not one of them. I don't think I could climb that high. Mary kindly provided this pic for the post.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Out of Control

Spiralling Out of Control by Michelle Dennis Evans
Temptation, depression, seduction, betrayal ... Not what Stephanie was expecting at fifteen years of age. Uprooted from her happy, all-girl high school life with a dream filled future and thrown into an unfriendly co-ed school, Stephanie spirals into depression.

When charismatic high school senior, Jason notices her, Stephanie jumps in feet first and willingly puts all her faith and trust in him, a boy she barely knows. Every choice she makes and turn she takes leads her towards a dangerous path. Her best friend is never far away and ready to catch her … but will she push Tabbie too far away when she needs her most?

This novel contains adult themes.
Recommended reading audiences 15+

About Michelle
Michelle writes to inspire, take people on a journey and escape their world. She believes you can find healing or hope when you read about someone else’s story – fiction or truth. Michelle is married to an awesome man. She spends most of her days educating, socialising and sporting their four children and her nights writing. Her life is full and at times overflowing but she wouldn’t have it any other way.

Spiralling Out of Control via Amazon

My review
Set in Australia, this is a story about a fifteen year old girl named Stephanie who spirals out of control and goes from popular student with so much potential, to a drop out involved with sex and drugs. After moving away from all her friends in Sydney, Steph finds herself bullied at the new school, neglected by her parents, and in desperate need to find a connection with someone, anyone.

I love the occasional use of verse scattered throughout the novel. The poetry sometimes portrayed more raw emotion in its simplicity than the main body of the novel. I got the impression this was because, since the story is written through Steph's point of view, she was more able to express herself through the freedom of verse than she could with her family and friends.

Because I became so deeply invested in the character of Stephanie, the story became increasingly difficult to read as I watched her fall further into her downward spiral. I kept wondering what would make Steph wake up and take control. At each terrible event, I'd think, 'this is it', but she kept making catastrophic decisions and all the adults around her turned a blind eye, or made things worse.

It's a heart wrenching story of how easy it is to fall so far. It's an unsettling read, but one that will stay with me for a long while.
My thoughts and prayers go to all the people affected by the bushfires of New South Wales in the last couple of days. I live in the south of Sydney and took this photo last Thursday from my front balcony, showing the smoke from the fires. Over two hundred homes have been lost. As I type this, there are still fires burning out of control.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Time Travel: Where and When Would You Go?

Today's post is in honour of PK Hrezo's grand cover reveal for her nifty time travel novel, Butterman (Time) Travel Inc, due for release 12th November 2013.

Welcome to Butterman Travel, Incorporated
We are a full service agency designed to meet all your exclusive time travel needs. Family-owned and operated, we offer clients one hundred years of time travel experience. A place where you can rest assured, safety and reliability always come first. 

Anxious to attend a special event from the past? Or for a glimpse of what the future holds?

You’ve come to the right place. We’re a fully accredited operation, offering an array of services; including, but not limited to: customized travel plans, professionally piloted operations, and personal trip guides. *Terms and conditions do apply

Conference us directly from our Website. Our frontline reservation specialist, Bianca Butterman, will handle all your inquiries in a professional and efficient manner, offering a tentative itinerary and free fare quote, so you can make the most of your time trip.

We look forward to serving you at Butterman Travel, Inc., where time is always in your hands.

Find PK Hrezo: Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Website
If you could walk into a time travel agency and book a time trip, where and when would you go, and why?

I used to travel a lot. I had a particular love for Britain and Europe because of their ancient sites. If the place had a castle, fort or other kind of ruins, then I had to visit. The ancient sites always made me wonder, what was life like back then, what happened to the people there? This question never rang so loudly than it did at Skara Brae, a Neolithic settlement, located at the Bay of Skaill on the largest island in the Orkney archipelago in northern Scotland.

It was a village with eight clustered stone buildings, which housed no more than fifty people at any given time and was occupied from roughly 3180 BC–2500 BC. Those dates make my mind boggle.

For 600 years or so, the village flourished, then one day the people who lived there abandoned it. Evidence from artefacts found at the site suggested the inhabitants fled in haste. There are many theories floating around as to why the people left. The most popular one is climate change, with a storm forcing them out. My tour guide, with his heavy Scottish accent, suggested an invasion or the encroaching sea.

So, if I had the power to travel anywhere and anytime, I guess I'd go to that tiny village just to find out what happened.

Where and when would you go and why?

To see the other participants in this bloghop, check out the list HERE

Monday, October 14, 2013

Terri Rochenski: Be Entreatable

Today I'm over at the Insecure Writer's Support Group website, posting about how to turn your writing insecurities into strengths. So, while I'm there, Terri Rochenski is taking over here with a great writing tip.

Terri and I first met through the Make Believe anthology as contributing authors. Her excitement and energy is wonderful to watch, and rather infectious. Her debut novel, Eye of the Soul, is a great fantasy that draws you in from the first page. When she's not conquering the world with her stories, you can find her here: Website / Blog / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads. Take it away, Terri.

Be Entreatable
One of the best ways to date I’ve learned how to hone my craft was through writing forums. I’ve been active in two within the past couple of years, Writer’s Digest and Scribophile. While taking advantage of both, I applied myself not only to posting my own stories, but critiquing other authors’ works as well.

While I didn’t always feel qualified to give my opinions, I stuck to what I knew as a reader—plot lines making sense, engaging characters and stories—those types of things. As I learned more about the craft itself, the more I felt I could offer in terms of feedback.

One thing I noticed while participating in these online forums is that a lot of budding authors carry pride around like a 100 lb. block of gold. God forbid you point out an issue with their baby. Hackles rise and offense is often taken when none was implied. With an unentreatable attitude like this, an aspiring authors chances of learning and going on to become published is slim to none.

While I am by no means an old pro at the writing and publishing thing, one thing I DO know. Be entreatable. Be willing to learn. Allow yourself to be vulnerable in accepting other people’s help. Quite a few have gone on before, paving the way, learning on their own bumpy journey, and have no wish for others to experience their heartache.

My motto, though? Just be sure to chew up the meat and spit out the bones.
Everyone has an opinion and not everyone can be right. While some things boil down to a preference of style, accept what will make you a stronger story teller.

The main thing?

Don’t lose your voice, the style that is all your own. Being unique is what will get you noticed at submission time.
Eye of the Soul by Terri Rochenski

Escape. That should be Hyla's first thought as her people are chained and imprisoned for no imaginable reason. Instead, Hyla finds herself traveling through a land void of Natives, with human soldiers pillaging in desperate pursuit of her, and in search of the mystical Pool of Souls—home to the one man who can save her people.

Or so she believes.

Led by her faith in the deity Fadir, Hyla is met along her journey by Jadon—a human male and fierce King's warrior, and his childhood best friend Conlin—one of the few Natives aware of his Fadir-given Talents. Protected by Jadon, guided by Conlin, and with an unfailing belief in the purpose of her pilgrimage, Hyla carries on.

Like her, though, another searches for the Pool, and should he gain access first, everyone she loves, and everything she knows, could be lost. Forever.

Amazon Paperback / Amazon Kindle / Barnes and Noble / Kobo

Thanks, Terri! Such great advice. That willingness to learn and accepting people's help will take us a long way, not only in writing, but in life. 

Today is Motivational Monday over at the Insecure Writer's Support Group Facebook Group

And don't forget to visit me over at the IWSG website!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Moonless Reveal and Gravity Review

Moonless by Crystal Collier
Young Adult, Historical Paranormal Romance

Alexia must choose safety and an arranged marriage,
or true love and being hunted by the Soulless every moonless night.

Alexia’s nightmares become reality: a dead baron, red-eyed wraiths, and forbidden love with a man hunted by these creatures. After an attack close to home, Alexia realizes she cannot keep one foot in her old life and one in this new world. To protect her family she must either be sold into a loveless marriage, or escape with her beloved and risk becoming one of the Soulless. 

MOONLESS is Jane Eyre meets Supernatural.

Crystal, author of MOONLESS, is a former composer/writer for Black Diamond Productions. She can be found practicing her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, three littles, and “friend” (a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese.
Website - Blog - Twitter - Goodreads - Facebook


I went to see Gravity today, but wasn’t expecting much since most of the reviews I’d read were lukewarm. Well, I don’t know what the reviewers were on about. I loved it. Visually it’s spectacular, the sound and music are brilliant, the acting wonderful, and the tension was so edge of seat that the movie had me engaged from start to finish. It wasn’t the standard space type blockbuster we’ve come to expect from movies like Alien, Sunshine, Serenity et al. The only monsters were a nasty debris storm and the temptation to give up against what seemed like insurmountable odds. It got me thinking about writing… You know where I’m going with this:

Never give up! Keep going, keep writing!

Are you looking forward to reading Moonless? Love the cover? Have you seen Gravity yet? What's the next movie you're planning to see?

A big THANK YOU to everyone supporting the Insecure Writer's Support Group Website and Facebook Group. You guys are truly awesome!!

Due to some unexpected 'stuff' that's come up, I need to focus elsewhere for the week. I'll be back around the blogsphere at full strength next week.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

How to Write from Your Heart and #IWSG

Writing from your heart isn't easy. It's easy to follow the rules, but if all you do is stay within the boundaries, tick the boxes and play it safe, then your story will lack a certain spark. It's the heart that makes a story shine, the heart that pushes your story to a new and riveting level. Below are my tips on how to write from your heart.

Make yourself vulnerable. Get over those insecurities and put yourself in your writing. Bare your soul, showing the world your passion for the story and its characters.

Be wholly in control, but let yourself go, giving yourself the freedom and permission to make mistakes.

Ignore the trends. Ignore what you think other people will want to read and instead write what you want to read.

Be brave enough to break the rules, making certain you have a full knowledge of how and why the rules work in the first place.

Ignore the urge to write for publication, but know what works for publication within your target market and, more importantly, why it works.

Listen to your characters, but decide for yourself if what they want is what you want for the story.

Be honest with your emotions and those of your characters. Delve into the truth of a scene and don't be afraid to explore what you find there.

Know only you can write the story, but be open to outside influences.

Broaden your experiences--this includes reading widely and frequently--because they will influence not only what you write, but the way you write it. They will steer you away from writing copies of someone else's story.

Practise. Like anything, writing from your heart takes practise. So keep writing.

What helps you to write from your heart? 

This post was written for the Insecure Writer's Support Group, founded by Alex J Cavanaugh. Members of the group post on the first Wednesday of every month. Everyone is welcome. If you haven't already, then please sign up HERE.


I have the honour of being one of the admins for the site, along with Joy Campbell, Joylene Nowell Butler, Susan Gourley/Kelley, Michelle Wallace, L. Diane Wolfe and, of course, the Ninja Captain and spark behind it all, Alex J Cavanaugh. As a team, we helped to put it together and are currently working hard to build it into something truly special.

Along with being chock full of writerly resources, the site will offer encouraging and helpful posts on writing. We will post every Monday and the first Wednesdays. We hope to eventually open up the Wednesdays to guest posts too. So please check it out HERE.

We've also set up a Facebook group. We'd love to see you there!

Oh and our twitter hastag is still #IWSG

How has the Insecure Writer's Support Group helped you?