Monday, January 30, 2017

Chaos Season and Fifth Season--Free for Review!

This is the final week of the Reviewer Roundup Event on Facebook. Both Chaos Season and Fifth Season are part of the collection of free books being given away in exchange for honest reviews. Please make sure to read the rules pinned to the top of the event page. Happy reading!

Blurb for Chaos Season

Jenna Dorshay t’Reve isn’t your typical farmer’s daughter. Blessed with plant magic, she’s been impatiently waiting to take her place as Summer Avatar of Challen. All she and her sister Season Avatars have to do is tame a Chaos Season, a magical weather storm sent to Challen by a wrathful demigoddess. They’ve done this many times in other lives, but now dangerous plants resistant to Jenna’s magic make Chaos Season worse. Even the assistance of the War Avatar, father of Jenna’s child, may not be enough to stop the plants. Before Jenna can conquer the deathbushes and tame Chaos Season, she must fully link with the other Avatars in her quartet, but to do so means revealing a secret that can tear them apart.
Blurb for Fifth Season

Ysabel became the Goddess of Fall’s Avatar to care for animals, but her kind heart may prove fatal to her loved ones.

When a pair of strange animals, part bird and part lizard, invade the country of Challen during a magical weather storm, Ysabel must learn if they’re ordinary creatures or if they’re connected to Salth, the Season Avatars’ sworn enemy. However, the clawfeet, as she calls them, are resistant to her magic.

After tragedy strikes the Avatars, Ysabel comes up with a desperate plan to allow all twelve of them to face Salth together as required by the Four Gods and Goddesses of Challen. Jealousy, however, tears an ally from the Avatars during their most vulnerable time as even more beasts rise against them. If Ysabel cannot control the strange animals and use justice as well as mercy, she will not only lose her position as Avatar but the people she loves. 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Cover Reveal: The Dwelling of Ekhidna by Lauren Jankowski

Today I’m helping reveal the cover for Lauren Jankowski's The Dwelling of Ekhidna, Book Five of the Shape Shifter Chronicles, designed by Najla Qamber Designs. This action-packed urban fantasy is releasing this Tuesday, January 31, from Snowy Wings Publishing!

Title: The Dwelling of Ekhidna: Book Five of the Shape Shifter Chronicles  
Author: Lauren Jankowski  
Genre: Urban Fantasy  
Release Date: January 31, 2017  
Publisher: Snowy Wings Publishing
Twitter: @lauren_jankowsk

Add to your Goodreads list here!
The home of the guardians, the Meadows, has always been a place of peace and safety, untouched by the ongoing war against the Grenich Corporation. But that could only last so long. During the guardians’ autumn celebration, a bomb goes off, shattering the Meadows’ tranquility. In the aftermath of a tragedy, a deadly virus is released that afflicts only healers. The only cure to the virus is hidden in the Seelie Court, in a location that only one knows: Eris, a legendary trickster, locked away in the dungeons of the Pearl Castle for her crimes against the peoples of Earth. When the Four are forced into a temporary alliance with the unpredictable Eris, their journey becomes more perilous than anyone expected.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Reviewer Roundup for Seasons' Beginnings and Scattered Seasons

Just a reminder that the Reviewer Roundup event is still going on through Facebook. Currently, Seasons' Beginnings and Scattered Seasons are both available, though of course there are many other books you can choose from as well. Next week, it'll be Chaos Season and Fifth Season. Please read the rules listed in the pinned post at the top of the Facebook page. Hope you find some good books and are lucky enough to win a signed book or an Amazon gift card!

Monday, January 23, 2017

The Women's March and Crowd/Protest Scenes

Authors are advised to avoid discussing politics on social media so as not to alienate readers. Of course, my thoughts on gender roles and diversity are reflected in what I write, so my intended audience will probably share my views anyway. I participated in the Women's March on Chicago, and as I write this on Sunday morning, my head is still full of my experiences, the images, and the discussions still taking place. So I thought I'd look at them from a writer's perspective, say perhaps preparing to write a crowd or protest scene, and try to keep this post as politically neutral as I can.

First, take a look at your viewpoint character. (I'll switch pronouns during this post to refer to all types of characters.) Why is she planning to attend? Is this a cause the character is already committed to, one that he's ambivalent about, or maybe one she secretly wants to sabotage? Do they have support from their friends and family, or are they the odd ones out in their group? What kind of prep work does he do before hand? Does he create his own posters or copy from others? Does she pick clothes and accessories to make a statement? Do they plan for the worst? Does he pack light or bring extra supplies? Does she have to make special travel arrangements? Do they have to arrange to take time off of work or have someone else look after a dependent? All of these things reflect on the character and may affect their goals.

Next, consider the setting and the other people present. Weather may affect attendance; I'm sure the good weather on Saturday inspired more people to spontaneously join the march in Chicago. Is the location easy to get to? How much do the crowds affect movement? Is the entire group able to hear what's going on? Often, if the crowd is too big or the speaker system is inadequate, the entire group won't be in touch with the leader. People farther back will have to rely on rumors. How do people in the crowd behave? Are they polite to each other, or do they push and order each other around? How many of them share common symbols? Do they all have the same agenda, or are there special concerns within subgroups? Do local sections of the crowd distract attention from the main speaker? How do the authorities feel about this crowd? Does the crowd behave, or do they go wild? Writers may want them to go crazy to amp up the conflict. Of course, in real life, a peaceful protest will be more effective.

Finally, how does the crowd or protest scene change the character? Introverts and extroverts respond to crowd energy in different ways. An extrovert may make lots of connections at this kind of event, while an introvert may feel drained afterwards. Does the protest give the character new goals or change his previous ones? Finally, if the protest went awry, what happened to the character? Were they hurt or arrested? Was he soured on the cause, or did she become even more committed to it?

How do you feel about crowds and crowd scenes? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Publishing 2017

One of my favorite Billy Joel songs is "Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Down on Broadway)." Written in 1976 and released on the Turnstiles album, this song reflects some of the issues going on in New York City at the time. Billy Joel considers this a science fiction song. I've been lucky enough to hear him perform this song in concert. (If you're not familiar with this song, you can watch a video of it here.)

Now that we're in 2017, I thought it would be fun to share with you my parody lyrics to this song. These are inspired by actual news stories about independent publishing, though some of them are a few years old by now. I've linked to what stories I could find and even changed a line when I couldn't find enough evidence to support it. Ultimately, though, this was a lyric rewrite I did for the challenge and my own personal enjoyment.

I saw the big publishers laid low,
But books went on without Manhattan.
We all joined KDP
And left there long ago.
But this revolt will never end.

I've seen the lights go out at Borders
I saw the ruins at my feet
You know we almost didn't notice it
Cause Kindle Countdowns make indie books so cheap.
They took an ad out in the paper
To spark an author civil war.
The flames were everywhere
But readers didn’t care.
They had more choice than before.

I've seen the lights go out at Borders.
I've watched the smaller houses fall
Thanks to Data Guy and Hugh Howey
The newbies went on strike
They never subbed at all.
They sent a blog post out from Kris Rusch
To switch the midlist over for free.
They said the hybrids could stay,
They blew the suits away,
And sank the pundits out at sea

You know those lights were bright at Borders
That was so many years ago
Now B&N lost so much shelf space
That indie publishing’s the safest way to go.
There are not many who remember;
They say a handful still survive
To tell the world about
The way the lights went out
And keep storytelling alive.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Reviewer Roundup

If you like reading and reviewing books, along with possibly winning signed paperback and Amazon gift cards, then head over to Facebook for the Reviewer Roundup Event! It's hosted by Kelli Smith of Totally Talented Productions, and it's going from January 15th to February 4th. The four books currently available in my Season Avatars series (Seasons' Beginnings, Scattered Seasons, Chaos Season, and Fifth Season) will be available during the second and third weeks of the event. (Only two books per author are available each week, so Seasons' Beginnings and Scattered Seasons will be available from January 22-28 and Chaos Season and Fifth Season will be available from January 29-Feburary 4th). I'm posting about it now so readers have a chance to participate during the entire event, but I'll either post reminders or put up a link in my sidebar when my books are available. It's a multi-genre event, so there should be something for every taste. Be sure to read the pinned posts for the rules and the procedure for requesting books. Happy reading!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Super Simple Quick Start Guide to Book Marketing--Review and Giveaway!

Yesterday best-selling author E.J. Stevens launched two non-fiction books: Super Simple Quick Start Guide to Self-Publishing and Super Simple Quick Start Guide to Book Marketing. I had a chance to review an ARC of the latter. Here's the book description:

Want to improve book sales?

This simple introductory guide will give you the basic information you need to begin promoting your book. Learn how to find readers, increase sales rank, and become a bestseller. Both independently published and traditionally published authors will benefit from the tips, strategies, and checklists provided in this how-to guide.

This book provides an introduction to:

  • Building an Author Platform
  • Website and Blogging
  • Social Media
  • Email
  • Media Kit
  • Creating a Marketing Plan
  • Book Swag and Promotional Items
  • Blog Tours, Cover Reveals, and Book Blasts
  • Giveaways
  • Interviews and Guest Posts
  • Book Reviews and ARC Reviews
  • Retail Product Pages
  • SEO, Keywords, and BISAC
  • Advertising and Price Promotions
  • Building a Newsletter Mailing List
  • Bookstores, Libraries, and Sell Sheets
  • Book Signings and Conventions

Begin using these simple methods to help your book sales soar.

Amazon UK:
Barnes & Noble:

The book is organized into chapters as described above. Although for the most part the book is aimed at novices who are unfamiliar with these marketing tactics, there are also Pro Tip sections aimed at more experienced authors to help them do more with their current marketing campaigns. Although I'm familiar with the basics of book marketing, I did learn about some resources that were new to me. More importantly, reading this book helped me figure out my own marketing priorities for this year. I want to focus on gaining more reviews for my books so my sales will be more effective.

As part of her book release E.J. is giving away a 2017 Planner and Custom Pen, perfect for beginning the year with new writing, publishing, and marketing goals.  Entry is by Rafflecopter.  Giveaway is open to US/UK/CA.  Giveaway begins January 10th and ends January 31st.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

E.J. Stevens is the bestselling, award-winning author of the IVY GRANGER, PSYCHIC DETECTIVE urban fantasy series, the SPIRIT GUIDE young adult series, the HUNTERS' GUILD urban fantasy series, and the WHITECHAPEL PARANORMAL SOCIETY Victorian Gothic horror series. She is known for filling pages with quirky characters, bloodsucking vampires, psychotic faeries, and snarky, kick-butt heroines. Her novels are available worldwide in multiple languages.

BTS Red Carpet Award winner for Best Novel, SYAE finalist for Best Paranormal Series, Best Novella, and Best Horror, winner of the PRG Reviewer's Choice Award for Best Paranormal Fantasy Novel, Best Young Adult Paranormal Series, Best Urban Fantasy Novel, and finalist for Best Young Adult Paranormal Novel and Best Urban Fantasy Series.

When E.J. isn't at her writing desk, she enjoys dancing along seaside cliffs, singing in graveyards, and sleeping in faerie circles. E.J. currently resides in a magical forest on the coast of Maine where she finds daily inspiration for her writing.

Join the E.J. Stevens newsletter and learn about news, events, and ghosts. Monthly news updates, tour photos, and exclusive reader perks (FREE reads & giveaways!). Great resources for authors on E.J.'s "Author Resources" page on her official website.

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