Book Review: Obsidian by Kayla Curry

Novel Review by Lisa Lester

Book review Obsidian by Kayla CurryKayla Curry’s Obsidian is the first book in her planned Mystic Stones series.  I wasn’t familiar with her work prior to this one, but after reading the summary on goodreads, I was intrigued.  Set in the year 2020, the world has become completely dependent upon technology, to the point that societies can no longer function without it.  Then comes the day that the technology fails.  Cars stop working because they are dependent upon GPS satellites to simply drive down the street; computers won’t work without the internet. And on islands like Hilo, Hawaii where our story takes place, food supplies can quickly become scarce when ships can no longer travel the oceans.  Within the first few chapters we meet our protagonist, Ava, a building manager whose company rents out office space.  We also meet Tom, another main character, who we quickly discover is one of the vampires behind the technological collapse in order to coerce humanity into trading their blood for use of technology.  When Ava spurns Tom’s offer of becoming a vampire like him, she goes on the lamb and we meet a colorful group of characters including surfers, rogue vampires, and an immortal with a secret of his own.  This group decides to band together to try and take down the vampires and save humanity, starting with the group on Hilo.

Overall, I loved the premise of this book.  It was a fresh and original take on the vampire/supernatural mythos.  I really, really, wanted to like this book.  However, the main plot of technological failure quickly takes a side rail to the romance between Ava and Tom, and later Ava and Jesse.  There is a brief Twilight-esque love triangle between Ava and the two men, which further muddied the plot for me.  While the love story interwoven in the main plot isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I felt that she could have done much more with the technological angle.  If the lack of technology is supposed to be such a world-changer, it isn’t really shown as much more than a minor inconvenience in Ava’s world.  Newer cars won’t start, and computers won’t run, but paperwork still exists in the year 2020.  Restaurants are still able to cook and serve food, and there are still plenty of cars and motorcycles and boats that work perfectly well without GPS.  There’s also some aspects thrown in that defy the suspension of disbelief, such as when one of the characters, Hui, asks Ava if she still throws [knives], and she replies with a comment about being rusty, but yes.  Nowhere in her back story does it ever mention that she would have a hobby such as throwing knives, and there would be no reason for a building manager to have a skill like that.  Another such example is (minor spoiler here) Ava’s own progression from mere mortal to powerful immortal.  In the course of a few chapters she experiences a build-up of power that defies logic and sense.  Even characters such as Laurel K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake and Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan went through a progressive buildup of power.  Even to say that Ava was born with this much power, there should have been hints of it earlier in her life, and even earlier in the story, that would have made more sense.  The aforementioned examples also had their moments of failure with their powers, which makes them more believable, while Ava’s powers never go awry or fail her at any time.  The other consequence to a power build up so great this soon in the series is that the author leaves Ava no room to grow as a character.

This book had a lot of promise.  Like I said, I really wanted to like this book, but the more I read, the more I felt as if the story pacing and character development was lacking.  The characters were likeable, and I enjoyed the use of Hawaiian slang and pidgin. Unfortunately I would hope that in future books we would see more of the main story and less of the romance, and more character development, but I have to say I was disappointed with this one.

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About the Book

Ava Tanner finds herself in a world without satellite technology in a time of GPS, Smart phones, and Tablets. When she discovers that a corporation headed by vampires with sinister motives is to blame, her world is turned upside-down. After a narrow escape, she learns a mystical secret about herself that could aide her in her fight against the vampires. Unfortunately, the vampires see her either as an asset or a target.

When the world is on the brink of complete social and technological destruction, one must ask themselves: Would I give up my blood for the modern ideal way of life, or will I risk my life and wage war with the overlords of chaos?

About the Author

Kayla Curry lives in North Platte, Nebraska with her husband and two year old son. She is always getting ideas for stories from random thoughts and places, but a lot of inspiration comes from the wide range of people she sees while working front desk at a local hotel.

In her free time, Kayla likes to do arts and crafts and also dabbles in knife throwing. As of late, her son and her writing take up most of her time, as well as preparing for a new addition to her family. She plans to continue writing even with a new baby in the family. Follow her on Twitter and Goodreads, or visit her website. You can find Obsidian at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and many other online retailers.

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Lisa Lester lives in humongous house with three cats, three dogs, two dudes (one of which she’s married to, the other one is a refugee from New Jersey) and a partridge in a pear tree…okay, just kidding about the pear tree.  And the partridge too. When she’s not working for the Man. she’s reading or killing stuff on World of Warcraft. She also enjoys nerdy things like Star Wars, crocheting, and pretty much any kind of music.  


Finding Balance and Bravery

Balancing Personal Beliefs with Entertainment in Writing

Guest post by Sydney Logan

Balancing spirituality in writingMy journey into publishing has been a whirlwind with its fair share of stumbling blocks. Interestingly enough, my biggest writing “struggles” have come from trying to find a balance between my real life and my life as an author.

I am a public school teacher, and I write contemporary romances with grown-up people who do grown-up things (curse, have sex, etc.). I also live in a rural conservative community where the church is the moral compass.

I know what you’re thinking – what I do on my own time is my business. Well, in a perfect world, yes. But when you live in a tight-knit community where everyone knows everyone’s business, it doesn’t always work that way.

I worried and stressed over how my first novel, Lessons Learned, would be received. It was a fine line I had drawn for Sarah—she didn’t agree with homosexuality, but she loved Matt and wanted to protect him. Not to mention, the deacon of the church (also the school principal) bullies the gay teenager and blackmails his teachers. My characters also have pre-marital sex and say curse words.

In my mind, offending someone was inevitable.

I worried endlessly about how the book would be received here at home. Would I upset Baptists? Liberals? My students’ parents? My colleagues?

(Yes, I care far too much about what people think of me. It’s a problem. I’m working on it.)

Despite all that worry, I still published the story I wanted to publish.

It has been five months since the release of the book, and I have to say that my fears (so far) have been unwarranted. Sure, I’ve received some online reviews wishing I had taken a stance one way or the other on the issue, but that wasn’t the purpose of the story. Lessons Learned isn’t about “taking sides.” It’s about tolerance. It’s about finding a way to hold true to your beliefs without persecuting someone for their own.

It’s a lesson we all need from time to time.

I’m not fanatically religious, but I am a spiritual person, and when I’m feeling anxious, I turn to Scripture. This is my favorite verse:

balance and braver

So, with my second book (Mountain Charm – July 2013), I am determined to be courageous and brave.

As long as I don’t offend any Appalachian witches, I should be in good shape.


On Editing: What Exactly Does a Developmental Editor DO?

What Happens the Morning After?

Guest post by Stacy Teitel

Developmental Editing

© Rinderart | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

Revision. That word is not music to every writer’s ears.

But I love it. LOVE. IT.

I revise extensively in my own writing, and as a developmental editor I help writers strengthen their manuscripts.

You, the writer, fell in lust with your story, although you can’t remember why as you look at the tangled, messy draft before you. It’s like the morning after a hot one-night stand, and the person snoring next to you isn’t as good looking as your vodka-induced brain had thought.

Well, now you have to shower, brush your teeth, and put on your big girl (or boy) pants. Then you call your developmental editor.

I answer my phone; don’t worry.

Because let’s face it—revising can be overwhelming. The word count goal is suddenly replaced with The Goal. And sometimes, the thought of revision is enough to make you crawl back to what’s-his-name from last night and convince yourself you could overlook all those bothersome things and fall in lust all over again.

As they say, write drunk but edit sober. It’s time to put away the vodka.

A developmental editor assists writers in revision, comes up with fresh ideas, and offers specific solutions. In addition to editing, my goal is to help writers get focused and organized, to a level where they can feel good about sitting down to revise so it’s not so daunting.

These are some of the tasks I do to a writer’s manuscript (and ones writers can use too):

  • Organize content to make sure plot points line up and are timed well within the structure (acts, moments of no turning back, final battles, etc.), identify gaps and loose ends, condense info dumps and look for ways to apply information in more useful contexts.
  • Ensure the conflict (opposing forces) is strong, and that the hero and antagonist have motivations.
  • Analyze characters for consistency and find opportunities to further develop traits, habits, reasoning, thoughts, and actions.
  • Check the pace and correct areas that may bore or confuse readers. This can be anywhere from heightening tension in a conversation to adjusting the timing of action moments and scenes for plausibility.
  • Look for areas to layer more setting detail and description to help ground readers, or to condense backstory and info dumps. This includes expanding on descriptions, helping descriptions work harder to reveal more information than what’s on the surface.

Additionally, make sure every scene has a purpose and that the end of chapters keep readers turning the page.

I’ve seen many a first draft, and when I work with writers, I want to get the best out of them, no matter what purpose they’re writing for.

Revision is only part of a writer’s journey, (or a necessary evil, if you prefer). But don’t you just love falling in lust love again? A final draft is something to hum about.

I’m always interested in how writers revise, how they tackle levels of revision, and who they rely on in their process.

So, how do you feel about revision? I love hearing from writers!

Also, I’m collecting feedback to keep myself informed about what writers struggle with the most in their work. If you would like to answer a few questions about writing and editing, you can fill out this form anonymously.

Stacy Teitel is an editor at Apoidea Editorial, a developmental editing service to help fiction writers strengthen their manuscripts. When she’s not working with authors, you can find her copyediting and managing content for eMarketingVS. Some of her favorite things to do are watching political and crime shows, drinking good-quality coffee, and snuggling up with her Kindle. Follow her on Twitter @ApoideaEdits or visit her website.


J to tha M: The eBook Revolution

What Would You Pay for an eBook?

how much would you pay for ebooks?

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M:  I did something I never thought I’d do

J:  oh, do tell

M:  I’ve always thought how ridiculous it is to pay $14.99 for an ebook and how I’ve never ever done it.

I would have laughed if you said I would up until about a few weeks ago, when I pre-ordered the new Black Dagger Brotherhood book–Lover at Last–out at midnight tonight on Kindle

Qhuinn!

I think a whole shit ton of people are waiting for that little story to appear on their e-reader at 12:01AM

so go ahead and make fun of me being stupid excited for my guilty pleasure

J:  and you paid $14.99 for it?

M:  yes I did

and I’m only slightly ashamed.

but I can’t stand it

J:  you know what, though?

we all pay more money for the things we really want

I mean, compare it to a Wal-Mart handbag or a Coach bag

no one gives a girl the side-eye for buying a Coach bag

$.99 for $14.99

if you’re going to love it, what does it matter?

M:  I lurve him. I seriously do. I haven’t been this giddy over a fictional hero since Jamie Fraser.

It would kill me to know the story was out and I didn’t have it in my hot little hand as soon as possible. Especially since I’m certain it’s not going to be for sale anywhere on the island

I will stay up all night and read it

J:  well, the fact of the matter is that some authors are the Coach bags of the publishing world

Coach charges so much for bags because people are going to buy them

some publishers charges so much for ebooks because they know people will effing buy them

people can roll their eyes if they want to, but they have their own “must haves” that they’ll pay for

so if you must have Qhuinn (omg, did I spell that right?), then by all means

and no need to be ashamed

I should probably also mention that I don’t even have an eReader

and when I do read, it’s usually a paper book

but that I have zero qualms about paying for the hardback version of a much-coveted book at the stroke of midnight the day it’s available. I have before, and I will again

 M:  hardback is different, though

there’s some cost involved in producing, shipping, etc. those. Not so much for the e-versions

J:  no, but in the end, it comes down to what you want

M:  I didn’t have an ereader until last Thanksgiving. I got a Kindle Fire, and I love it. I mostly got it so I can read in bed at night without having to turn on a light and disturb hubs when he’s actually home.

As much as I do like reading a book, there’s something just really exciting about pressing a button and instantly having access to a story

especially when he and I have always lived a million miles from nowhere. It’s a planned outing to go to any bookstore

and then, when we moved…oh, boy. All my books. Boxing and then paying per pound to ship them across the country.

Not to mention, I can carry over one thousand books in my purse when I travel. Don’t have to pick and choose and then lug them all over with me.

J:  I’m honestly afraid if I had one, I’d never get anything else done

M:  I think it’s opened up a whole new world

Good one for readers and writers, maybe not so good for publishers, booksellers, libraries. I’m not entirely certain how much it’s affected them.

J:  with the decreased overhead, it seems as though ebooks would be a good thing for publishers

all the same preparation goes in, but fewer materials are needed

of course, they also have to have people on staff who can format for ebooks

probably more staff needed for that than for setting it once and going to print

I don’t yet know how formatting is different for each epub type

can you just set it once and it works for kindle, nook, etc.?

M:  Pretty sure each is a different format

it has affected booksellers, though, as evidenced by Borders and Barnes & Noble, the neighborhood bookstores

it just seems the world is always change, adapt, move forward, or die

I’m kind of getting the same vibe from the Big Six publishers that was hanging around the Big 3 automakers, and look what happened to them

J:  that was a point Nathan Bransford made on his blog recently

that as an agent, it’s his job to sift through what’s on his desk for the books that will be profitable. How many books throughout history were rejected when they might have been classics? World changers?

the ebook and self-pub phenomena (both separate and combined) have taken that power away from publishers and agents and given it to the readers

including those readers who would pay $14.99 for an ebook

sure, there’s the chance you’ll pick up something self-published that lacks in quality

but it’s the same for anything from a big six anymore, too

I do think an established author with a reputation for quality has a better chance of pulling in such prices for an ebook than a debut self-pubber

there is a big difference there

M:  oh, yes, but that’s more established reputation. that can be either self pub or traditional

people are less willing to spend money on anything they aren’t sure about

J:  would you have paid $14.99 for JR Ward if you hadn’t read the rest of the series?

M:  no, but I’d spend $14.99 on a self-pubbed author in the same position

If I’d read their books and fell in love with the story or character–but again, that’s more about experience and reputation, which isn’t exclusive to any publishing format

J:  really, it comes down to an individual’s feelings

and what they want to spend their money on

while one person is astonished at a $14.99 price on an ebook, the next is just excited they can read it at all

M:  I’m a little of both

I’m a serious goner for this boy. I cannot wait for him to get his man

J:  oh!

this is that one

You’ve been excited about this one for a while

M:  Monday night, baby

midnight

J:  I hope it’s everything you hope for and more

M:  my first $14.99 ebook. Likely won’t be my last. I’m hooked on the ereader.

J:  I’m still resisting. I’m afraid I’d disappear into a black hole and you’d never see me again

M:  hey, if it gets you to read, it can’t be a bad thing

as much as I read, if it hasn’t sucked me in…

Speaking of sucking me in…Going to go ogle the cover and pine for a few more hours until it magically shows up on my kindle.

brb

or not :)

How much would you pay for an ebook? Are you excited about JR Ward’s upcoming release? Does Nathan Bransford blow your mind with his wisdom? Let us know!

Book Review: Lessons Learned by Sydney Logan

Novel Review by Vicki Kay

Book review for Fight for Your WriteSydney Logan’s book, Lessons Learned, has plot lines right out of today’s headlines: school shootings, bullying, and teachers accused of having affairs with their students. All subjects we read about and ask ourselves, “How can this happen?”

Ms. Logan’s book addresses those questions. She writes from the perspective of the witness, the bullied, and the accused. Sarah Bray, who leaves her urban teaching position after witnessing a school shooting to teach at the small town high school she attended. Matt Stuart, the Sycamore High School quarterback, who is bullied. Lucas Miller, a new teacher looking for a fresh start.

Although an interesting idea, the characters were difficult to identify with. I had to stop and check the genre, wondering if it was YA, then go back and check Sarah and Lucas’s ages. Their mannerisms, actions, reasoning, and behavior all seemed more teenager than responsible adult. This feeling was only strengthened as the story went on, as none of the adults reacted in a way I could relate to, not only to the situation playing out among their students but also between themselves.

Sarah’s reaction to Matt’s hints for help and attention were more those of a contemporary, a friend rather than a teacher or adult authority figure. Her interactions with Lucas were also more of an immature teen testing hormones and boundaries. Would two adults really park and make-out in the back seat of a car–two new-hire teachers in a small town who know they were trespassing on property where the owner would strongly object and be on the lookout for such shenanigans? And it was really hard to believe they were so overtaken by lust for each other they would take the risk at that point but then are able to control their amorous activities in private on other occasions as the story progressed.

Sarah giggles. A lot. Lucas’s eyes shine, shimmer, twinkle, and ghost over things. He whispers softly and sadly. A lot. I loved how protective and kind he was, how caring, but I just couldn’t buy into their romance. I didn’t get the intensity of their connection or any real intimate tension.

Okay, those are my personal hang-ups. But would a high school principal really do nothing to protect the safety of a student? If not morally or ethically, then certainly legally, no matter his personal beliefs.

Ms. Logan has put much thought into this book and does a good job of showing what the consequences of your actions or inactions can be. I just wish the characters were as strong as the issues.

Book review for Fight for Your Write

About the Book

A young girl needs to spread her wings, but a young woman needs roots.

English teacher Sarah Bray never thought she’d return to Sycamore Falls, but a traumatic event at her inner-city school leaves her desperate for the sanctuary of home. By returning to her roots, an older and wiser Sarah hopes to deal with the demons of her present and confront the ghosts of her past.

She discovers a kindred spirit in Lucas Miller, a teacher from New York with demons of his own. As the newest faculty members at Sycamore High School, they quickly become friends – bonding through Lucas’s culture shock and their mutual desire to build new lives. When they open their wounded hearts to each other, their friendship effortlessly evolves into romance.

Their love is put to the test when Matt, the quarterback of the football team, shares his deepest secret with Sarah. When the conservative community finds out, Sarah and Lucas – along with the town of Sycamore Falls – are schooled in the lessons of acceptance, tolerance, and love.

About the Author

Sydney Logan is an Amazon bestselling author and holds a Master’s degree in Elementary Education. With the 2012 release of her first novel, Lessons Learned, she made the transition from bookworm to author. Sydney has a very unhealthy obsession with music, and her iPod is filled with everything from Johnny Cash to Eminem. She is also the author of two short stories: “Mistletoe Magic,” available exclusively on Amazon Kindle, and “Stupid Cupid,” which is featured in the Romantic Interludes compilation. When she isn’t reading or writing, she enjoys playing piano and relaxing on her front porch at her home in East Tennessee with her wonderful husband and their very spoiled cat.

Her second novel, Mountain Charm, is slated for a summer 2013 release. Visit Sydney’s website, follow her on Twitter, check out her Goodreads profile, and find her on Facebook.  

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Vicki Kay, who loves to travel but hates to fly, lives in the Midwest with her husband. A dog lover and avid book lover, she has passed those traits to her two daughters, both of whom she is incredibly proud. A former majordomo for a small advertising company, she is now all things grandma.


The Benefits of Small Press Publishing

Weighing in on Alternative Publishing Options

Guest post by David J. Kirk

publishing options for fight for your write

Stuart Miles for freedigitalphotos.net

I would like to thank Jen and Melissa for allowing me to guest post on this great new site.  Being a small press author, I am here today to talk about the benefits of publishing in this venue.

I have to begin by admitting that, yes, I have submitted to the big six (or five, or however many there are now).  I also received five or six very nice rejection notices, mostly on postcards so my mailman could read them.  Like many of us who have been submitting for years, my first goal was to get published, and how wasn’t a major concern.  However, I started to look into independent publishers as I became more realistic.

University and small presses have had their famous authors and best sellers.  The Dummies and Chicken Soup books started out this way.  Plus, the independents may also be willing to take a chance on an offbeat story or an unknown author.  I hear they give smaller advances, if at all, although I don’t know this from experience.  However, keep in mind that advances are not bonuses; they are just what the word implies, advances on royalties.  If you receive a generous advance, and your book starts out slow, it may be quite a while before you receive a royalty check.

Generalities aside, I can only speak of my experience with my publisher.  I signed with Martin Sisters Publishing and my experience couldn’t have been any better.  I entered into an agreement with them on April 1st and my book was released August 11th of the same year.  My first expense was the purchase of my marketing copies.  Editing, proof reading, cover design, and formatting were all completed by the publisher.  I was highly involved in the editing process of the entire book via email.  My book is now available in almost every online selling point imaginable in this and several other countries.  I have also placed it in several retail outlets through buyback agreements.

While my publisher did not take out full-page ads in the New York Times, they did keep me involved in the development of my release press kit.  I was allowed input in personalizing press releases to the targeted markets.  I am also free to purchase copies at the wholesale price and sell them as I see fit at signings and other events.

My overall favorite aspect of small press publishing, however, is the almost family atmosphere of the whole organization.  I’m never more than an email away with any question I have for my publisher.  There is just no substitute for the personal attention I receive.  I also have access to a group of accomplished fellow authors, my host Jen Barry being one, who have literally taught me this business.  Many of us MSP authors stay in touch and help each other out with promotion.

I just can’t say enough good things about this publishing venue.  I hope you give it a try.  I also hope that you keep reading this blog as I’m sure Melissa and Jen have many more great things to come.

David is the author of Particular Stones by Martin Sisters Publishing which can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and many other online outlets.  His author page and blog appear at djkirk.net and please follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.  Watch for his new book Cornerstones.


Writing Process: Developing Great Characters

Writing Characters Readers Will Care About

Guest post by KJ Wolf

Writing characters

Original image found here

My youngest teenager recently told me that I’m her favorite cartoon character.  This is on the heels of her also informing me that I’m like living with a Saturday Night Live skit.  Apparently, in her eyes I’m quite a character.

I had no idea.

Characters are my favorite part of fiction.  Write great characters and you’ve got me.  Sure, if the rest of the book isn’t all that great and could use some serious editing or rewriting, I’ll skim and skip to the dialogue.  But I can’t put it down otherwise.

Why?  Because I’m already emotionally invested in the characters.

My daughter sees me as a lovable character.  I make her happy.  She laughs at and with me.  We love each other dearly.  There’s an attachment that will always keep us bonded.  She’ll never want to stop “reading” me.  We’re entangled in through our feelings.

I come from a long line of characters.  My grandmother, a favorite of mine on my blog, is a great example.  She’s got that tiny, white-haired woman with a gentle nature about her that draws people in.  What you don’t expect is her quick wit.

One of my favorite stories about her is when we were playing cards with a bunch of family and the discussion settled on health care.  The conversation got a bit tense until my grandmother, who was 87 at the time, said, “I don’t care what they do as long as they cover my birth control.”

No one could talk because we were laughing so hard.  She’s the kind of woman people are drawn to because of her lovely disposition but the more you get to know about her, you realize she’s sharp, dynamic and quite funny.

Characters come in all shapes, sizes and forms.  Remember Wilson from Cast Away?  Tom Hanks’s stranded character became so dependent on that volleyball, I doubt there was a dry eye in any movie theater across the country when it floated away.

The interaction, companionship and dependency between the main character and that volleyball are all basic human experiences we can relate to in any form.  Tom Hanks was desperate on that island.  Wilson became a crucial character through tangible need.  We were goners for Wilson before we even knew what was happening.

As writers, we need to do the same things with our characters to connect with readers.  Create a relatable situation or emotion with your hero or heroine.

The world provides more than enough situations that writers can use to connect with readers.  Think about how you feel when you’re having a hard time making ends meet.  Are you stressed?  Worried?  Angry?  Desperate?

Maybe you’re in love with someone but you don’t know if they feel the same way about you.  Are you terrified?  Curious?  Resigned to live in the shadows even if they are with someone else?

Every single human being can relate to these emotions.  Tapping into a reader’s feelings makes all the difference when you create your characters and bring them to life.

So what’s my point?  When you write, be a character.  Look inside your leading lady and/or man to find the likable, relatable qualities that would make a reader care.  Then bring them to life.

If you have trouble with your characters, look no further than the people around you.  You see them completely different than they see themselves.  Compile a list of what you love about them as well as their challenges.  Once you’re done, you’ve got a number of recipes for any character you want.

I’m a character.  You’re a character.  We’re all characters.  We spend our lives trying to be characters at least a few people will like.

As a writer, you get to orchestrate this entire process.  Become an observer.  Listen.  Watch.  Learn.  Pull those puppet strings and create the character that will connect with many hearts.

K.J. Wolf lives in upstate N.Y. with her husband, two children and too many pets to count.  When she’s not playing matchmaker in her romance and erotica stories, she loves spending time with loved ones, reading, hiking and cooking.  Eating is just a given.

She’d love to have you stop by her blog, visit her on Facebook, and check out her novella, Change of the Heart, available on Amazon


J to tha M: Buying a Spot on Bestseller Lists

Happy Birthday to M! Here’s Your Bestselling Book.

buying your way to the bestseller list for Fight for Your WriteJ: So, I figured out what I’m going to get you for your birthday today

M: Yay!

J: I’m going to buy you a spot on the bestseller list. That’s a pretty cool gift, right?

ps, my birthday is in September, in case you want to plan ahead

M: uh

J: not awesome?

M: Awesome if you have that kind of money laying around and that you think of me, but…

J: it’s apparently a thing

like, it can happen

I was floored

where was that article…

jasmine referenced it in her blog for us

Melissa: I read about it on my TWRP chat list. One of the authors gave a link

of course, my email crashed this past week, so it may never be found again

J: oh, I found it

http://www.leapfrogging.com/2013/02/18/debunking-the-bestseller-book-sales-spike/

that was a guy who did it

after he read this: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323864304578316143623600544.html

M: Yay, you! My email makes me want to cry still. I’ll get over it in a few days. Anyway…

Yeah. It made me shake my head. Surprised…hmm, not so much, but still.

J: I can’t imagine buying my own way there

but it’s different if you do it for a friend, right?

I don’t know how that would work…

I mean, I consider it like Lance Armstrong or Milli Vanilli

it’s not real

but when someone does it for you… what then?

I can’t imagine a better present than making you a bestseller, but is it real then?

M: I think most people never imagine that kind of stuff happens behind the scenes, so to speak. It’s almost misrepresentation. When you see “bestseller,” you think it’s because individual people are buying the book. Actual readers. Not publishers, companies, affiliates, or a friend who have money burning a hole in their pocket.

J: (I like to look for ways around my conscience, as you can see)

M: I mean, if you have enough money to buy three to five thousand copies of my book, maybe we should use it to rent some tropical seaside cottage with cute cabana boys and try actually writing a bestseller. That sounds like more fun.

or hire a marketing expert to market the book to readers

or just hire those cabana boys. I live by the water. Not exactly tropical, but close enough.

J: i’m coming over

But I totally agree with you. Why not put your resources into doing it right?

is it easy to be proud of a bestseller when you’re the one who bought all the copies?

maybe it is for some. I don’t know. I’m kind of confused by all of it, to be honest

M: But what if it launches a book that deserves to be there into the public eye? What if you use it as simply another line item in your marketing budget?

It’s obviously a very effective way to get your name out there.

bring attention to your book

J: *sigh*

I understand bringing attention to it

but still. it’s false

it’s false inflation

It’s a fake identity

it’s a book photoshopped into the hands of a super-celebrity

maybe it deserves the accolades, but when it doesn’t reach those accolades fairly, what then?

M: I can see the marketing argument. I can the reasoning behind bringing a book to the attention of readers that they will probably like anyway, to distinguish it from all the millions of others. But.

But.

Most readers don’t see the best-seller list as a marketing tool, so to speak.

They think it’s an actual representation of what is being purchased by people like themselves, and liked, and recommended, and then bought by more readers.

J: there are thousands of other writers out there who may have an EVEN BETTER book, but not the means to buy their way onto the list

how is that fair?

I mean, none of it’s fair, and we’d be here all day if we stomped our feet and yelled about what’s fair

but still

M: I guess, like most things, it’s all in how you see things, what conforms to your ethics, and what allows you to sleep at night.

Can’t deny it’s a good marketing tool.

Also can’t deny it happens all the time.

But, being perfectly honest, you also can’t deny it just leaves a bad taste

J: well, if readers all knew, then it would be fair

if they knew people bought good reviews for their books and had basements full of their own copies just to get that spot on the list, that might be fair

and knowing which authors bought that spot and which fucking EARNED it…well, it’s just not that easy

M: Right. If we didn’t think it’s exactly fair, think of the authors who didn’t utilize that neat little trick and earned their way by actually selling copies to readers.

but then, that begs the question, did any of them actually do that?

And to me, that’s where the real damage lies. You start doubting the validity of everything the bestseller list represents

J: also an excellent point. Are these big six books so popular because the publisher can afford to get those books on there?

M: and is it okay because readers ended up really liking the book and bought a million more copies, and that ends up being an honest representation on the list?

J: i just don’t know. I think I’d be upset if I read a book that didn’t deserve to be there and found out later the spot was purchased

I’d feel super cheated

M: I think most readers and authors would

I also think others wouldn’t care.

And still others think it’s a great idea

J: it’s those who think it’s a good idea that govern the rest of the world, too

well, and those who don’t even know it’s going on

M: No matter what you’re involved in, people do crazy things

J: siiiiigh

so no bestseller list for your bday?

appletini instead? I can go either way

M: Let me go find those cabana boys to serve us drinks all day while we write fabulous bestsellers.

brb

buying your way to the bestseller list for Fight for Your Write

freedigitalphotos.net/markuso

Have something to add? Go right ahead! Nothing new to say? Just tell M happy birthday, then! We love hearing from you.

Book Review: Homo Action Love Story! (a tall tale) by Ben Monopoli

Novel Review by KC Beaumont

Disclaimer: Many novels are provided for the purpose of review, but this particular book was not. KC Beaumont purchased Homo Action Love Story! on her own and not for the intention of reviewing. Then she loved it so much, she couldn’t help herself and had to let us know what she thought.

Book Review for Fight for Your WriteAs much as my love for Ben Monopoli makes me hate to admit it, if Homo Action Love Story! had been written by an author with whom I was not familiar (had to throw in a complicated bit of unnatural-sounding grammar to make Clemente proud), I might not have taken a chance on this fantastic novel. I love Mr. Monopoli’s honest writing style and the easy way he can suck the reader into a scene. His characters are realistic, flawed, frustrating, and perfect in their imperfection. Reading the blurb and the quirky title for his latest novel, though, I was expecting more slapstick comedy and porn than believable story and incredible intimacy. As an adoring fan of Mr. Monopoli’s, however, I just had to read it… and it was so zilla awesome, I read it twice.

Homo Action Love Story! kicks off with an interesting author’s note preparing the reader for a little bit of what’s to come:

Homo Action Love Story! takes place in a medically advanced future, where the only risk for two people who go to bed together is the risk of a broken heart.

This is not our world.

Always be safe.”

This tells the reader three things:

  • Sex scenes will not include condoms. While that’s not unusual in fiction, it gives the reader happy, fuzzy feelings at the possibility of a disease-free future, while at the same time, taking away any anxiety a reader may feel at characters putting their health at risk with not practicing safer sex. Blanket permission to suspend belief in such a way makes, for me at least, a more relaxing read.
  • Such a reality doesn’t yet exist, so fans need to take their health seriously.

…and

  • There might be flying cars in this bright and beautiful future.

Okay, so that last bit wasn’t the case in this book. Readers will expect, though, that other advances, apart from medical, will have been made, and other aspects of society at large could be vastly different.

Homo Action Love Story!  is packed with steamy romance, athletic guys, and tons of action… and not just of the bedroom variety. But, my favorite part? All the future tech. It makes my brain happy, okay? Flexiglass is a nifty material used for everything, from Jumbotrons, to TVs, to cell phones, to tablets. In its use with tablets in this tale, it’s paper-like in structure and can be smoothed out and snapped to a rigid state. Freaking sweet. Currency is no longer carried in one’s wallet—one can just “flick” money (and business cards, addresses, etc.) to others with their cell phone. And vehicles are powered with hydrogen engines… yes, please! I want all these things to exist right now. Mr. Jetson can keep his flying cars. Just give me a flexiglass phone that I can use to flick money I don’t have to people I don’t want to give it to.

Another delightful futuristic aspect of this story is how wildly popular the sport of paintball is. Football is a thing of the past, and the Splatter Cup is the new Super Bowl.

Hell to the yeah!

Much like present celebrity athletes, celebrity paintballers are paid exorbitant amounts of money to play the game. Unlike today’s athletes, these players can’t afford to make it big and later slack off on the field and get paid just for showing up. There are consequences to screwing up in a match. If a player suffers a kill shot, one that would be fatal if they’d been struck by an actual bullet, that player has been “simu-killed”. Simu-death, or simulated death, results in exile where a simu-dead player gets whisked off the field via helicopter and taken to a top-secret location to spend the next five years isolated from everyone and everything. Simu-dead paintballers don’t get cell phones, TV, or get to have any kind of contact from anyone back home. The threat of a five-year separation from everything one knows and loves is a pretty good incentive to do one’s best in the arena. And as Boots McHenry discovers, it’s something that can happen to the best of players, and it can turn one’s entire world upside-down.

This isn’t your typical “Boy meets boy, boy falls in love with boy, boy loses boy, boy gets boy back” love story.

(Whoa, that was a lot of “boy”s… how appropriate!)

…it’s more like a “Pro paintballer meets pro paintballer, pro paintballer falls in love with pro paintballer, pro paintballer loses pro paintballer, pro paintballer’s pro-paintballer best friend takes him on a fantastic adventure filled with mixed-martial artists and bitter exes and adorable fans and pirates and sharks and…” (have I mentioned this book is packed with tons of action?) kind of story.

If you love tales with loveable dudes, paintball, intrigue, plot twists, raucously fun sex, high-seas adventure, naked remote-control interviews, and lube wrestling… wait. I didn’t tell you about all that? Well, you’ll just have to read Homo Action Love Story! (more than once, because it’s that good) to find out how incredibly awesome this tall tale really is. You won’t be sorry.

5BrassMonkeys3

About the Book

Boots McHenry and his boyfriend Ryan are young superstars in the North American Paintball League, a high-stakes sport where losers face exile — five full years of it, on an island so secret no one can be sure it even exists. After Ryan has a tragic collision with an opposing team’s paintball, the rules of the game force the boyfriends apart.

Boots is shattered without Ryan, so when his best friend Clemente Santiago suggests a daring, high-seas mission to find the island and reunite the pair, Boots jumps at the chance. They assemble a crack team to join them, including fashion model and mixed-martial-arts champ Colby Kroft, hunky-but-shy sea-captain Marcus Tumble, and Piper Pernfors, the ex who’s aching to make Boots forget Ryan ever existed.

HOMO ACTION LOVE STORY! is a lighthearted, sexy adventure from the author of THE CRANBERRY HUSH and THE PAINTING OF PORCUPINE CITY. It’s a perfect storm of beautiful fishermen, murderous pirates, blossoming romances, and secrets that call almost everyone’s motives into question. Land, ho! This page-turner is sure to float your boat.

About the Author

Ben Monopoli lives in Boston with his husband, Chris. Visit Ben Monopoli’s blog or his Goodreads profile to learn more about his work and buy the book, or visit Amazon and Smashwords.

***

K.C. Beaumont resides in northwest Louisiana with a sweet man who pays her bills and two small people who continuously call her “Mama.” In addition to being a professional child wrangler and clothes ironer, she is an avid fiction reader, a sometimes fiction writer, and a horrible cook. Visit her website to see her great titles.

Buy her books here: Amazon | Silver Publishing


The Writing Process: Finding Inspiration

GETTING INSPIRATION FOR MY WORK IN PROGRESS

Guest Post by Margaret Tanner

Writing ProcessI write historical romance, so how do I get inspiration for my work in progress, or for that matter, all my novels?

Like the heroines in my novels, my forebears left their native shores in sailing ships to forge a new life in the untamed frontiers of colonial Australia. They battled bushfires, hardship and the tyranny of distance in an inhospitable and savage land, where only the tough and resilient would survive. They not only survived but prospered in ways that would not have been possible for them had they stayed in England and Scotland.

I am a fourth generation Australian. We are a tough, resilient people, and we have fought hard to find our place in the world.   We have beautiful scenery, unique wild life, and a bloodied convict history.

I admire heroines who are resourceful, not afraid to fight for her family and the man she loves. I want my readers to be cheering for her, willing her to obtain her goals, to overcome the obstacles put in her way by rugged frontier men who think they only want a wife to beget sons.  A chance for revenge.  To consolidate their fortunes. That love is for fools.  Oh, the victory for the reader when these tough, ruthless men succumb to the heroine’s bravery and beauty and are prepared to risk all, even their lives, to save her.

Then there are the brave young men who sailed thousands of miles across the sea in World War 1 to fight for mother England, the birth country of their parents and grandparents. I also wanted to write about the wives and sweethearts who often waited in vain for their loved ones to return. Who were there to nurture the returning heroes, heal their broken bodies and tormented souls.

This is why I write historical romance, even if it means trawling through dusty books in the library, haunting every historical site on the internet, badgering elderly relatives, and risking snake-bite by clambering around overgrown cemeteries.

Historical novels are informative.  When they contain a dash of romance they are also entertaining. Research is imperative when writing in this genre. Nothing kills your story or reputation quicker than inaccuracy.

I sincerely believe that those who forget the past do so at their peril. Nations should learn from the mistakes of the previous generations and not repeat them, but if the history is not documented, how can new generations learn about it?

Margaret Tanner is an award winning multi-published Australian author. She loves delving into the pages of history as she carries out research for her historical romance novels, and prides herself on being historically correct.  Her publishers are Whiskey Creek Press, The Wild Rose Press and Books We Love.

Margaret is a member of the Melbourne Romance Writers Group (MRWG). Be sure to visit Margaret’s website!