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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Monday, January 09, 2017

Blurb for Young Seasons Short Story Collection

I'm still not done drafting one of the stories in my Young Seasons short story collection, but I'm already starting to think about what I'll need to publish the collection. This will be in eBook format only for now. (At some point, I'll combine more of my short stories into an eBook/paper collection, and I'll include the Young Seasons stories.) I'm not ready for Maria Zannini to design the cover yet, but I have started working on the blurb. It's a little more challenging to write one for a collection since there are four separate stories, not just one. Here's my first draft:

A child must tap into the Spring Avatar’s memories of previous lives as she tries to save her mother and baby brother….
A Winter Avatar with newly woken magic faces enemies she didn’t know she had…
The Fall Avatar must protect a kitten she’s bonded with from her disapproving family….
When the Summer Avatar tries to get the attention of her true love, the wrong person responds to her call….

Before the Season Avatars of Challen came together, The Four Gods and Goddesses of Challen sent Their Avatars to vastly different lives. The challenges the four young women faced shaped them as they grew ready to claim their destinies. Learn more about Gwen, Jenna, Ysabel and Kay as Young Season Avatars. Includes the first chapter of Scattered Seasons, Book Two in the Season Avatars series. 

 Any thoughts? I'm sure I'll need to revise the blurb a couple of times before I come up with a final version. Feel free to leave constructive criticism in the comments.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

IWSG: A Rule to Ignore--Cautiously

Welcome to the first Insecure Writer's Support Group of 2017! This month, our co-hosts are Eva @ lilicasplace, Crystal Collier, Sheena-Kay Graham, Chemist Ken, LG Keltner, and Heather Gardner.

This month's question is What writing rule do you wish you'd never heard?

As soon as I read this question, I knew my response definitely had to be about adverbs. While this rule has the good intention of pressuring writers to choose strong verbs, it does so at the cost of persuading them that an entire class of words should be stricken from their vocabularies. Sometimes using an adverb can subtly shade meanings in a way that would be difficult, if not impossible, to do with a single word. For example, "She smiled forlornly." Grinning, grimacing, beaming, and smirking don't convey the mixed feelings of this character.

Adverbs can also be part of a writing style for a particular story. A melodramatic character would use more of them than an emotionally stable character. Similarly, adverbs feel more at home in my fantasy Season Avatars series set in a Victorianesque world than they do in my science fiction, where my POV characters tend to have scientific backgrounds. (Disclaimer: I'm sure there are adverbs in my Catalyst Chronicles series; they're there for the reason I cite above.)

A third reason for disregarding the rule to avoid adverbs is to improve your writing flow. Often as I'm drafting a story, the sentence that first pops into my head comes with an adverb. If I tell myself to rewrite that sentence every time that happens, it would interfere with my ability to make progress on the story. I find it easier to type the adverb and keep going. The best time to decide if a particular adverb is worth keeping is during the revising/editing stages. I remove a significant fraction of the adverbs in my stories when I revise, but I don't eliminate them completely. Sometimes I even add them. For example, I changed "I don't remove all of them" to "I don't eliminate them completely" to remove a word and make the line punchier. Being flexible with my use of adverbs allows me to adjust word counts to the optimum length for each story.

Are you a fan or foe of adverbs? Are there other writing rules you disagree with? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Monday, January 02, 2017

2016 Reading Review and 2017 Goals

Happy New Year! I hope you enjoyed the holidays. I didn't get as many "fun" activities done during my break as I'd hoped, but I purged a lot of old documents and other things from my office. I also updated the back matter (including book links and info about my Instafreebie giveaway) in all my works and put everything in wide distribution.

Anyway, I managed to get a lot of reading done on December 30th and finished the year with 202 books read. (Goodreads includes everything from short stories to multi-book editions as a single book, and my reading spanned the gamut.) Here's the breakdown by genre:

Science Fiction: 34
Fantasy: 95 (this is always my biggest category)
Other: 26
Non-Fiction: 47

Most of my stories were eBooks, but about 67 of the books were paper. The vast majority of those were library books. Only a handful were books owned by me or a family member. My paper To-Be-Read stack comes up to my shoulders, and I doubt it'll shrink much in 2017.

Here are some of the standout reads for me this year:I'm too lazy to hyperlink them all, but please let me know if you'd like more information about a particular book.

The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World
Wonder City Stories
The Ugly Princess
Miss Landon and Aubranael
Sorcerer to the Crown
Too Much of a Good Thing
The Dorito Effect
The Sixteen Burdens
The Deathsniffer's Assistant

For 2017, I've scaled back my Goodreads reading challenge to 180 books. I might unofficially strive for 200 books since that's a more impressive number, but I don't want to worry about making my goal as much as I did last year.

Here are my writing and publishing goals for this year:


1. Complete the Young Seasons short story collection. I'm almost done with the last story, but I'm still working on the resolution.
2. Complete a children's (middle-grade level) book that I've already started. I may publish this under a pseudonym, so I'm not going to discuss it much in detail yet.
3. Draft the first book in a new urban fantasy series. I need to do some more research and story development before I start. This one may carry over to 2018 if necessary.
4. If time permits, finish some of the short stories that have been hanging around for a while.
5. Write a holiday short story set in the Season Avatars world.


1. The Young Seasons collection, tentatively in the first quarter of the year.
2. Summon the Seasons, the fifth and final book in the Season Avatars series. This may come out mid-year or later.
3. The Season Avatars holiday story mentioned earlier, probably in November or December.

Do you set goals for yourself every year? If so, feel free to share them in the comments.

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