Amazing sci-fi shorts by Nicholas C. Rossis #free!

Nicholas C. Rossis is an amazing sci-fi, fantasy and children’s books author and a very giving blogger and person. I’ve read his entire body of work, including his two short-story volumes free and on sale till Monday, September 21. Read on for the book details and my 5-star reviews, and don’t miss out!

Infinite Waters: 9+1 Speculative Fiction Short Stories FREE!

by Nicholas C. Rossis
Publication Date: June 28, 2015
Genres: Science Fiction/Fantasy
Pages: 124
Purchase Link: Amazon

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Ten speculative fiction short stories and flash fiction. The anthology includes the following stories:
  • Infinite Waters“: A woman seeks her future at a carnival. She discovers more than she expected.
  • The Things We Do for Lust“: Beware of time travelers bearing gifts.
  • James’ Life“: A man with nothing to look forward to but oblivion, discovers it’s not that easy to escape his life.
  • Two’s a Crowd“: Blood runs thicker than water. Especially when you spill it.
  • What’s in a Name?“: A trip to the tropics has an unexpected ending.
  • The Lucky Bastard“: How far will the luckiest man alive go to escape his luck?
  • A Twist of the Tail“: A confused woman meanders through a sleepy town. But not all is as it seems.
  • Is There a Doctor in the House?“: A high school student just loves to experiment.
  • Sex and Dinner“: A timeless combination. Or is it?
  • Would You Like Flies With That?“: Nothing’s scarier than a supermarket.
  • The Hand of God“: Nothing has prepared a grizzly veteran for this meeting *.
    (* first published in The Power of Six)

My Review

Uplifting or dark. these stories make for an easy yet rich and satisfying read. I enjoyed Nicholas Rossis’ first short-story collection, The Power of Six, and had to try this second installment. Nicely tied together through one story that unfolds throughout the book, and seemingly diverse (which adds to the reading pleasure) the 9+1 shorts are rife with questions about the nature of reality and perception. Well-written, fast-paced, clever and thought-provoking. A great collection!

The Power of Six 6+1 Science Fiction Short Stories for 0.99!

by Nicholas C. Rossis
Publication Date: May 4, 2014
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 138
Purchase Link: Amazon

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Six science fiction short stories written by the award-winning author of Pearseus and Runaway Smile. This edition includes one extra story, written by Amos M. Carpenter, and “What’s in a Name,” published in Infinite Waters: 9+1 Speculative Fiction Short Stories. 

The anthology includes the following stories: 

  • “Simulation Over”: How far can we trust our senses?
  • “For the Last Time”: The law of unintended consequences meets Merphy’s law during a man’s unexpected time travel.
  • “The Hand of God”: Nothing has prepared a grizzly veteran for this meeting.
  • “I Come in Peace”: an award-winning short story that poses the question: how far would man go to alleviate his loneliness?
  • “A Fresh Start”: If we were free to go anywhere in time and space, where would we choose to go?
  • “The Sentry”: What is a Sentry to do when the monster that steals away his family’s most precious possessions reappears?
  • “Big Bang”: A friendly game turns into much more in this short story written by Amos M. Carpenter.
  • “What’s in a Name”: A trip to the Tropics takes an unexpected turn. *
(* first published in Infinite Waters)
Humorous and poignant, these short stories are exciting, intriguing and imaginative

My Review

Having read and thoroughly enjoyed Nicholas C. Rossis’ bestselling Pearseus series, I picked up this anthology, knowing that the short story format would make the book even more readable. I was right. I read the stories in one sitting (Simulation Over I had already read on Wattpad).

An all-powerful computer, an Adam Sandler-esque remote that enables time traveling, a real life/video game mesh, a willing host to an alien form of life, a haunted house/portal to the multiverse and a David-Goliath metaphor are Nicholas’ vehicles to portray his version of the Cartesian doubt: the fallibility of sensory perception. His main themes—ambition, greed, the need for human contact—all lead to questioning pure knowledge. What we see and feel is not necessarily the truth.

But if this concept sounds profound and philosophical, its delivery is anything but. The stories are very well written with surprising twists, rich detail (where needed) and a general light feel that makes moving from one to the next smooth and easy. What I particularly appreciated was that the main concept interconnected the stories, making this a seamless read. The writer’s choice not to bog the reader down with dozens of names for his stories’ characters also helped. All in all, I found this anthology a fascinating read, and I highly recommend it.

About the Author

Nicholas Rossis lives to write and does so from his cottage on the edge of a magical forest in Athens, Greece. When not composing epic fantasies or short sci-fi stories, he chats with fans and colleagues, writes blog posts, walks his dog, and enjoys the antics of two silly cats, one of whom claims his lap as home. His children’s book, Runaway Smile, earned a finalist slot in the 2015 International Book Awards.

Nicholas lives in a forest outside Athens with his lovely wife Electra, beautiful dog and two remarkably silly cats.

Author Links

Bloghttp://nicholasrossis.me
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Nicholas_Rossis
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NicholasCRossis
Site: http://www.nicholasrossis.com
Pearseus Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Pearseus
LinkedIn: http://gr.linkedin.com/pub/nicholas-rossis/0/b7b/122/ 
Google+ http://google.com/+NicholasRossis

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Blurb Thursday #2 (What’s hot and what’s not)

After talking up the blurb of A. Star’s Wish For Me (which I’ve also raved about here), today I’ll showcase the blurb of a dystopian, young adult novel that grabbed my attention.

Aftermath (After the Fall Dystopian series Book 1)

by Tom Lewis
Publication date: March 28, 2015
Purchase Link: Amazon
Genres: dystopian, yound adult

Official Synopsis

The end of the world came fast. Between the time the warning had sounded on the TV, till when 16-year-old Paige O’Connor awakened sometime later, civilization had been crushed.

The attacks had come by “them” – those things in the ships in the sky that had appeared suddenly, and without warning.

And as Paige would soon discover, the attacks had only been the beginning.

Aftermath is the first book in the new After the Fall dystopian action series, which follows a young girl’s struggle for survival in the wake of civilization’s collapse, and humanity’s domination by an alien race of beings.

My take

First off, the cover is spot on. From the cold color texture to the solid font, it’s an example of excellent dystopian branding. Also,

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But,

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The blurb is good, but I felt it’s lacking in some ways. Instead of giving an outline of the plot, what it more or less explains is the notion of “dystopia”: “The end of the world came fast”“civilization had been crushed”“humanity’s domination by an alien race” (which, apparently, are called “them” in the book).

As a reader, I’m left wondering: What makes this book different from all the young adult dystopian novels out there?

I have noticed that, when writing a synopsis, authors sometimes play up their genre more than the story. When the cover brands the book well, some key words are enough to brand the genre. The rest of the blurb should show the reader why this story stands out from the rest, and vague references such as “the attacks had only been the beginning” and “a young girl’s struggle for survival” are staple notions in a dystopian book (doesn’t everyone struggle for survival when aliens take over?)

I read some of the Goodreads reviews and saw that there’s much more to this book than meets the eye (blurb-wise) that, if added, would give a clearer identity to the plot.

If you’d like more info on this book, here’s the purchase link: Amazon

You can check out its Goodreads page as well.

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What do you think of this blurb? Would it make you click its purchase link?

A visual tour of Alonissos (the setting of Fate Captured)

The culmination of the story of Fate Captured, Book 1 in my Greek Tycoons series, takes place in the beautiful island of Alonissos. Having just returned from my annual visit, it’s only fair I pay tribute with a post choked in stunning visuals.

Location

Alonissos belongs to the cluster of the Northern Sporades along with Skiathos and Skopelos. But, unlike these two larger islands that attract throngs of tourists, Alonissos retains the breath-taking natural beauty of the North Aegean islands without the noise, the clutter and the sometimes offputting touristy feel.

Map image – http://www.greeka.com

To me, the island of Alonissos holds emotional value as it is the place where my husband proposed back in 2002. What’s more, it’s the place that inspired me to start penning my Aegean Lovers series. It was only fair that I chose that setting. And, luckily, it’s an ongoing affair. I visit it every summer as my in-laws have a summer house there. Want to take a tour?

The Beaches

Alonissos has sixteen beaches one can access by car and countless bays accessible only by boat. Here are the most popular.

Agios Dimitrios

Image via http://www.wondergreece.gr

Leftos Yialos

Leftos

Tzortzi Yialos

Image via http://www.wondergreece.gr

Megalos Mourtias

Meg. Mourtias

Kokkinokastro

Image via e-thessalia.gr

Votsi

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Chrissi Milia

Chrissi

Milia

Image via http://www.wondergreece.gr

Alonissos in Mythology

The island’s ancient name was Ikos, and its first inhabitant was Stafylos (meaning “grape”) the son of Dionysus and Ariadne. Its second name “Achilliodromia” references Achilles whose father, Pileas, is said to have been buried there. Variances of that name are still seen as names of inns or restaurants: Liadromia, Hiliodromia. The Achaeans sailed from here to reclaim Helen of Troy and also Jason set off from Alonissos for his quest for the Golden Fleece.

The Old Village

Image via Sightseeing in Alonissos

Offering a magnificent view of the Aegean, Hora (as the locals call the Old Village) bears the trademark windy-street/steep-stairs combo of the Greek islands. More artsy than touristy, the little shops and cafes offer quality products, full of local charm.

Image via Sightseeing in Alonissos

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Patitiri

Image from Sightseeing in Alonissos

The picturesque central port of Alonissos is also the current capital of the island. Its name means “wine-press” in Greek.

Agii Anargiri

The chapel of the Holy Unmercenaries (Agii Anargiri) is tucked in a verdant slope at the edge of a cliff with breath-stealing views of emerald waters. It’s the place that I just have to visit each and every year. I also chose this as the location for a wedding that takes place in Fate Accompli.

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The lilac

Alonissos pushes the envelope forward where colors are concerned. Instead of the traditional white and blue of the Aegean, here you see lots of lilac (my favorite color) as a main color or in trimmings.

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Image via http://www.wondergreece.gr

The Marine Park

The National Marine Park of Alonissos and Northern Sporades is the first marine park established in Greece and a member of the Network of Marine Protected Areas in the Mediterranean. Mostly known for its efforts to protect the Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus Monachus) it is also the natural reserve for hundreds of plants and animals.

I captured a picture of a Monachus Monachus seal back in 2008, and it’s one of my most treasured pictures.

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How to get there

From Athens, you can take a flight to the island of Skiathos and then a flying dolphin or a catamaran to Alonissos. Alternatively, you can use the passenger bus service to reach the port of Agios Konstantinos (100 miles from Athens – one and a half hours drive) and then take a flying dolphin, ferry or catamaran for a three-hour trip to Alonissos. There are also direct flights to Skiathos from various European cities.

With such beauty how can I not be inspired to write my love stories in this setting?

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For a sensual romance story set on this breath-taking island, pick up Fate Captured, free through Kindle Unlimited.

Useful KENP Tips

Those of you who interact with me often know that I’ve been revising Fate Accompli, my one published book, after attending online writing courses. During this time, I haven’t been promoting the book at all. After shedding 8,000 words, I re-uploaded the spicy version manuscript and started tweeting about it effectively, but that’s material for a subsequent post.

After promoting for a single day on Twitter, I saw a 14 and then a 438 KENP hit on my KDP Reports’ blue graph.

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Naturally, I was thrilled, but when I got a big fat zero the next couple of days, you can guess the questions running in my mind:

  1. what percentage of my book does 438 represent?
  2. can I find how many KENP pages Amazon has my book down for?
  3. did 10 people borrow the book and read 43 pages each, hated it and dropped it, or
  4. did one person devour the entire book in one day?

I found the answer to the first two questions in Molly Greene’s latest blog, which I recommend you read in its entirety as it sheds more light onto the KENP business. (Actually, follow her blog as all of Molly’s posts are totally worth your time.)

How to find each book’s KENP count

Bookshelf

  • Go to your Bookshelf
  • Click on the Promote and Advertise tab next to the title you want to check

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  • Scroll down and check the Earn Royalties box (on the left). The last line shows your book’s count.

Fate Accompli’s spicy version has a 508 KENP count. The story itself has to be a bit over 450 pages, as I have a rather lengthy first chapter of the next book in the Aegean Lovers series added at the end. Establishing that fact, I was even more curious about the high KENP hit I had, so I used the market filters on the Reports’ page. Guess what? The 14 plus 438 (total 452) KENP came from the UK.

Not having seen any mobility in that market for ages, aren’t I legit to conclude that it was one UK-based person who borrowed the book and finished it in two days rather than a bunch of British readers who all decided to borrow on that day (when no American did) read some and dropped the book?

Now, after some more days of tweeting effectively (I’m stressing that as I have to pitch my upcoming post), that’s what my all-markets’ blue graph looks like:

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The 205 plus 271 (total 476) KENP hits came from the US market, again in consecutive days, which again makes me think that it’s more likely a single person read the entire book (they add to the book’s total KENP count and the next day was silent) *doing the happy dance*.

Update: I should mention the formula to calculate your profits from KENP reads. This is:

KENP x 0.0058

(or 0.006 according to some)

Thank you Effrosyni Moschoudi for pointing this out in the comments!

My conclusions

  • If I get consecutive KENP hits, adding up to the book’s KENP count, most likely that means a reader went through the entire book.
  • Twitter being my only promotional tool, it seems I have found a way to “clickable” tweets.
  • My aim is “clickable” tweets not a large number of retweets. I’ve been having plenty of those all this time (and I’m grateful to my loyal writer friends/tweeps) but they didn’t lead to sales or borrows.
  • The link I’ve used when tweeting was that of the book’s landing page, not its Amazon page. It seems to be working better.
  • If a person starts reading Fate Accompli, it’s quite likely she’ll finish it very soon *still happy dancing*
  • Use all market and title filters available on your Reports’ page for more solid conclusions on KENP results.

What’s your experience with KENP so far? Has it given you more insight into your audience or promo efforts?

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Fate Accompli - Clean Version

Fate Accompli is available in two heat versions: Clean & Spicy

Call to Arms – Jackie Weger’s take

A list of “Above the Fold” and “Below the Fold” promoters for your books, recommended by a writer in the know. Great stuff!

Nicholas C. Rossis

Jackie Weger is more than an author of great romance novels; she’s a tireless supporter of Indies, both on her own and through her eNovel Authors at Work group.

Jackie has written a score of posts detailing her (rather extensive) marketing experience. As she includes the experience of the 50-odd authors in her group as well, this is an excellent resource for anyone interested in paid ads. As she puts it,

“eNovel keeps a Preferred List and on the Preferred List, we have Above the Fold and Below the Fold. On Above the Fold are promoters to whom we always submit. Below the Fold are promoters we like and trust, but sometimes do not deliver as well as hoped. If a single author reports dreadful results with a promoter, we note it. However, at least three or more authors have to report less than stellar results for a promoter to…

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Discover the enchanting The Lady of the Pier trilogy

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I’m a fan of Effrosyni Moschoudi’s books. Nostalgia blends with romance and adventure in the fantasy novel The Necklace of Goddess Athena, but The Lady of the Pier trilogy adds a karmic paranormal element that binds worlds and eras in a beautiful tale. Top that off with the beauty of the Greek seascape, and you’ve got yourself a winning combination. It is no coincidence that the The Lady of the Pier: The Ebb, Book 1 in the trilogy, was an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards quarter-finalist.

And now, both The Lady of the Pier: The Ebb and the upcoming The Lady of the Pier: The Flow are on a $0.99 sale. Don’t miss out!

What is The Lady of the Pier trilogy about?

The Lady of the Pier trilogy tells the stories of Sofia and Laura – two girls from two different worlds who have a mysterious connection. In book 1, although similar in some ways, the two stories are seemingly unrelated. In book 2, they begin to merge and in the concluding volume, The Storm, they become one story. The author recommends to start reading from book 1. The Storm is in the editing stage and will be published in December 2015.

For free excerpts, visit http://effrosyniwrites.com/books/

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LOVE WILL GO ON FOREVER, SEEKING A SECOND CHANCE.

BRIGHTON, 1937

Dreaming of wealth and happiness, Laura Mayfield arrives in Brighton to pursue a new life. She falls for Christian Searle, a happy-go-lucky stagehand at the West Pier theatre, but when she’s offered a chance to perform there, her love for him is put to the test. Charles Willard, a wealthy aristocrat, is fascinated by her and pursues her relentlessly. Will Laura choose love… or money?

CORFU, 1987

On a long holiday with her grandparents, Sofia Aspioti meets Danny Markson, a charming flirt who makes her laugh. Although she tries to keep him at arm’s length, worried that village gossip will get back to her strict family, she falls desperately in love. That’s when strange dreams about Brighton’s West Pier and a woman dressed in black begin to haunt her. Who is this grieving woman? And how is her lament related to Sofia’s feelings for Danny?

Only 99c on Amazon!

Purchase Links: Amazon US  |   Amazon UK

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She won’t find peace until she finds redemption.
But it’ll take more than love; it’ll take two worlds, to merge into one.

BRIGHTON 1938

Laura and Christian enjoy a blissful summer, while Charles watches from a distance, waiting for the right time to intervene. This time, he’s prepared to do something truly vile as to leave nothing to chance. WWII breaks out, and Laura does her best to settle in a new life, having paid a terrible price. Will she find happiness at last, or will the past continue to haunt her?

CORFU 1988

Sofia arrives in Vassilaki brokenhearted over Danny. Just as a new boy comes into her life, the strange dreams start anew. Now in Brighton, she meets Danny again, but he blows hot and cold.  When she sees a female apparition on the West Pier, she finds out the locals call her ‘The Lady of the Pier’. Is this the woman in her dreams and why is Sofia the only one who can see her?

Official launch date: June 26, 2015

Available on preorder – only 99c for a limited time!

Purchase Links:  Amazon US  |  Amazon UK

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The concluding part of the trilogy, The Storm, is currently in the editing stage.

It will be released in December 2015.

About the author

profpic 690x884 png 300dpiEffrosyni Moschoudi was born and raised in Athens, Greece. As a child, she often sat alone in her granny’s garden scribbling rhymes about flowers, butterflies and ants. Through adolescence, she wrote dark poetry that suited her melancholic, romantic nature. She’s passionate about books and movies and simply couldn’t live without them, particularly the ones starring Robert Pattinson, who is the constant inspiration behind her vulnerable romantic heroes. She lives in a quaint seaside town near Athens with her British husband Andy and a naughty cat called Felix. Effrosyni is a proud member of the writer’s group, eNovel Authors at Work.

What others say about Effrosyni’s writing:

“Effrosyni layers her words on the page like music.”

~Jackie Weger, National Best-selling Author

“Ms. Moschoudi is proving to be a skilled storyteller who takes her readers on a wonderful ride.”

~David M. Wind, author of Queen of Knights

Connect with Effrosyni

Site: http://www.effrosyniwrites.com

Amazon Author’s Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/effrosyni

Effrosyni at Enovel Authors at Work: http://enovelauthorsatwork.com/effrosyni-moschoudi/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/frostiemoss

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authoreffrosyni

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7362780.Effrosyni_Moschoudi

Tools Tuesday #1 – The mother lode of reviewers

First off, I’d like to thank you all for making my Q&A with Kim Linwood the most viewed post since the dawn of, well, this little blog. It’s my turn to offer something back, hoping you’ll find it useful.

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I’ve found that creating post categories assigned to a particular day of the week helps me stay organized and blog more often. Having collected a number of useful tools or resources for authors, I’ll share them with you through “Tools Tuesday”. There’s also “Blurb Thursday” (blurb critique) and “GIF Friday” (flash fiction where you get to participate).

To inaugurate this category, I, in turn, will share with you a valuable resource that a fellow author shared with the members of the Marketing for Romance Writers group I have joined.

The Book Reviewer Yellow Pages

It’s an unending list of bloggers and reviewers (of all genres) listed alphabetically, which also specifies which genres the particular reviewer accepts.

Reviewer

This awesome list is presented by the Book Reviewer Yellow Pages who also offer it in PDF form through Amazon (paid).

In spite of the abundance of bloggers presented here, the list isn’t exhaustive. For example, it doesn’t include the Tome Tender book blog from where I got one of the richest, most tweet-worthy reviews of Fate Accompli after a simple request through email.

So, add this to where you keep a list of reviewers, and happy pitching!

You might also find of interest

The Dos and Don’ts of a review seeker     |     When beta readers come with an agenda

Critique Groups are for everyone – Guest Post by Jami Gray

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Today, Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance author Jami Gray gives her insight into the benefits of being part of a critique group. It makes an awesome read, especially since it draws on personal experience.

SHADOW’S EDGE, the first book in Jami Gray’s amazing KYN KRONICLES urban fantasy series is FREE for a limited time! For more details on the book and an enticing excerpt, click here.

Guest post by Jami Gray

Critique Groups Are For Everyone 

Let me just start out by saying, I’m a HUGE advocate of critique groups.  If there was one small gem I could share with any writer it would be: Go forth and become part of a critique group.

I can hear the moans and groans now.  “I’ve already tried, but…” and the list of reasons why to avoid a critique group grows by the minute.

“…it was too big”

“…the people were strange”

“…they didn’t get my writing style”

“…I don’t have time”

“…meet new people? Really?”

and so on.

Don’t leave!  Let me tell you how I finally, after three years of critique group shopping, found my home with the 7 Evil Dwarves.  I even stayed for seven years, an eternity for any critique group.

Writing has been part of who I am for…forever.  While in college I thought being the anti-social, reclusive hermit was a pre-requisite for every aspiring writer. I wouldn’t share what I wrote unless I was submitting to publishers. I know (ducking the head), if I could, I’d go back and smack myself for that alone.

Somehow as I was finishing up my first college tour, I managed to come out of my cave long enough to marry my best friend.  A few years passed, writing took a bit of a backseat as I finished an advanced tour of college, (yes, professional student did get mentioned once or twice). Writing got pushed back even further when my little family of two, went to three and eighteen months later, to four.

As you can see, insanity was bound to set in and when it finally began popping up in various forms, I knew it was time to turn back to my own self-therapy—writing.

My first problem was nerves.  I could write. That part was easy.  I could do it hiding in a closet, under a blanket with a flashlight so the little rug crawlers couldn’t find me.  I could jot a few lines in-between real work and family-raising time. Writing is a solo adventure, right? Wrong.

My very loving, and patient, hubby finally dragged me out of the house, pushed me out of the moving car and said, “Go spend some time with this Mothers’ Writing group.”  He didn’t even wait for my response, as if it could’ve been heard over the squealing tires disappearing in a cloud of dust.

I stumbled to my feet and cautiously made my way into my very first writing group.  They were great—women from various walks of life, writing in a variety of genres.  This first group became the ones who made me realize how valuable a support group (aka critique group) is to a writer.

Feeling bolder, I waved good-bye to that group and began a long journey on my search for “my” critique group.  Considering I write Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance, it was a rocky road.

The first group was large, twenty people at a minimum, and every genre under the sun was represented.  It was heartbreaking to hear how someone thought my work was “too dark and depressing”, or another couldn’t understand “why anyone would believe magic existed in the real world”. I almost gave up, but do you know what I found?

The core of the 7 Evil Dwarves.  These were writers of Speculative Fiction, a term I hadn’t heard used before.  Soon, four or five of us decided a smaller group would be more productive.  Plus, wouldn’t it help if everyone knew what Spec Fic was?

Our group underwent a great many changes.  Anything important always does.  It took us almost five years to create a solid, steady group.  We had some great members stop and share their creations with us, and then move on.  And yes, we’ve had a few entertaining guests, which I’m under threat of death by zombies if I reveal, so I’ll leave it to your imagination. You’ll probably come up with more exciting scenarios anyway.

There were times I was scared to death to set my stuff before my group.  The whispers of my very loving and supportive critique group twisted through my mind when I wrote. It helped if I was a few (or more) chapters ahead of where they were critiquing, but when they were right behind me—I found myself overanalyzing every word I typed. I became hyperaware of small edit type things instead of getting the basic story out on paper.

See the Evil 7 were damn good. They caught everything. From how many times I used “ing” to how much I truly suck at math anything (do you know what a polyhedron is? I don’t.). They made great therapists. I mean, how many of your friends would take the time to discuss the nature of relationships between dragons and warlocks, or how manipulative a ghost can be with three young friends? Uh-huh, I thought so.

Then came the point in ever writer’s life, I outgrew my group. It wasn’t an easy decision. Seven years I spent with these fantastic writers, mining every bit of advice, hoarding their critiques for more. But things changed, and so did my writing, to the extent that I felt our critiques weren’t quite the chisel they’d once been. So I bid the Evil 7 adieu with many hugs, and back out I went. This time, I found writing partners, two to three individuals I could trust to give me honest feedback, because in the end, that is what writers want and need.

I’m still a firm believer in critique groups. While I struggled to build my worlds into cohesive realities, breath life into my characters, and untangle the twists and turns of my plots, I knew there was this great group who had my back. The Evil 7 might have driven me to screaming when they pointed out how much my new character channeled my previous one, or questioned the depth of trust between characters who’d been to hell and back, but you know what? Even though the holes they pointed out scared me, I was ever so grateful, because when it was all done and I clicked save for the last time, I had a story that was stronger than what I started with. That’s why I loved my critique group, even when they scared me.

Pick up SHADOW’S EDGE for FREE for a limited time and dive into the shadows of the Kyn…

Shadow’s Edge (The Kyn Kronicles, Book 1)

Author: Jami Gray

Genres: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy

Purchase Links:

AMAZON / BARNES AND NOBLE / BLACK OPAL BOOKS / ARe / SMASHWORDS / iBOOKS / KOBO / SCRIBD

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SHADOW’S EDGE: BOOK 1 OF THE KYN KRONICLES

Everyone fears what hunts in the shadows—especially the monsters…

When the supernatural lurks in the shadows of the mundane, hunting monsters requires unique skills, like those of Raine McCord. A series of deaths threatens to reveal the Kyn community and forces her to partner with the sexy Gavin Durand.

As the trail leads to the foundation haunting Raine’s childhood, she and Gavin must unravel lies and betrayals to discover not only each other, but the emerging threat to them and the entire magical community.

Jami Gray SmallAbout the Author

Jami Gray is the award winning, multi-published author of the Urban Fantasy series, The Kyn Kronicles, and the Paranormal Romantic Suspense series, PSY-IV Teams. She can be soothed with coffee and chocolate. Surrounded by Star Wars obsessed males and two female labs moonlighting as the Fur Minxes, she escapes by playing with the voices in her head.

Come stalk Jami at any of these fine locations:

Website  /  Facebook  /  Twitter  /  Goodreads  /  Google+  /  Amazon

First-time author creates a bestseller in two months: the phenomenal Kim Linwood

Yes, you read that right. Today, I have invited a self-published author who has achieved a feat. In March, she was outlining her first book, and at the end of May, she had sold over 12,000 copies, reaching No. 11 in the Kindle bestsellers list. The paid one. Are you okay? Need a glass of water? I’ll wait.

Rebel is a stepbrother romance—the scorching hot trend right now. Still, 9 out of 10 bestselling authors of that sub-genre have a long backlist of books and a strong author platform (trust me, I checked). Today, I brought to you the other … one.

When I checked out Rebel by Kim Linwood and saw that she’s a first-time author just starting her author platform, I had to connect with her. Kim is very sweet and approachable, and it turns out that this is her first interview! Well, we’ll take advantage of that now, won’t we? 😉 Read on for probably the most interesting interview you’ve read in a while.

Rebel

by Kim Linwood
Publication Date: May 13, 2015
Genres: New Adult
Heat Level: 3 (Explicit)
Purchase Link: Amazon

Read an excerpt  |   Read my review

Kim, I can’t begin to describe how excited I am to get to know you better. Your success is every indie author’s dream, and tapping into your approach to self-publishing is an opportunity not to be missed. Before we get down to talking shop, what else can we know about you?

Thank you. I’m so excited to do this interview. It’s my very first one, so be nice to me! 😉

I’ve always loved reading and writing, even though for most of my life I haven’t worked with it explicitly. I love to read widely, and while I think writing bad boy romance is a ton of fun, I’d love to make some forays into other genres at some point, like science fiction or horror. I might have a bit too much fun with my writing for good horror, though. 😉 I’m lucky enough that I’ve been able to make the leap to try to make this my full time job. I’m blissfully married, and have two healthy, talented and bright grade-school age boys who keep me busy when I’m not writing. There’s always something to do!

Rebel is your first full-length novel. Did you have any prior publishing experience?

I’ve written a bunch of short stories, with the goal of honing my craft and learning the publishing process. It’s given me practice in making engaging covers and blurbs, and understanding how to get the process running. It’s also taught me a bit about what I need to outsource. Launching Rebel was a lot of firsts for me, though. First full-length, first paperback (lots of special formatting), first attempts at larger scale promotion and advertising, first ARC team, and so on. It was a lot of new things to learn.

Stepbrother romances are the hot trend right now, but it might not be so in six months, which makes me wonder. Did you set out to jump on that particular bandwagon? When you were testing waters with your short stories, was Rebel already written or conceptualized?

Until I was ready to start writing the novel, I really didn’t know that I’d write a stepbrother book, but I really enjoy bad boys and sassy girls, and love the love/hate dynamic between them, so it seemed like a natural choice. I wanted to create a story with sparks flying everywhere, hopefully with a couple of fun surprises and with a satisfying Happily Ever After ending.

Within that framework, I looked at the Amazon top 10 to see what was selling. I really want to make writing my full-time business, and so there is a balance between finding your stories and writing what sells. I’m lucky enough that I discovered a trend that I found really entertaining and that engaged me, so after reading some of the top books at the time for inspiration, like Prick by Sabrina Paige or Blackbird by Abigail Graham, I set to putting together my own bad boy stepbrother story. I had a ton of fun building the plot and writing the characters of Gavin and Angie, and I hope that shows in the final book.

Most definitely. I read Rebel in almost one sitting. (You can read an excerpt here and my review here.) Confession time: I read the book because I had to establish that it’s quality work before inviting Kim over. Indeed, it is very professional in every aspect. What stands out is the great editing—the weak spot of many new self-published authors. What aspects of Rebel did you outsource to professionals?

I’m very lucky in that I’m close with a fantastic editor who looks at everything from typos and simple proofreading to plot inconsistencies, logic, character consistency and flow. We have a process that puts the book through several iterations, to hopefully achieve a great final product. I’ll give an example of our process here.

First I self-edit the book, doing what I can to get rid of awkward phrasing, inconsistencies, slow points, and anything at all that I’m not happy with. While I write, I’ll usually leave comments to myself for editing as I think of them, so I address all of those as well. Then my editor reads through the book quickly, like a reader, and then gives me big picture feedback. The book’s slow here, or a guy like Gavin would never do something like this, or whatever. I fix those if I agree, then pass it back for a more in-depth pass. This is where it’s important to be humble, because my editor is merciless. Whole passages are cut, rewritten, adjusted and added, all in the name of making a better book. Once I’ve responded to those edits, there’s a final read-over to make sure nothing got broken in the edit process.

Finally, I send the book out to a handful of beta readers who read the book and give their own feedback. Once I’ve responded to those, the book is ready for ARCs and publishing.

What about the cover? The cheeky “what” gesture of the guy makes it stand out from the mass of almost identical covers. Who gets the credit?

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I commissioned the cover from Cormar Covers. I do alright with Photoshop, but not making a cover for a bestseller alright. 😉 The image is stock, but she’s really good at taking a basic stock photo and making it look unique. The credit for the cover is all with my cover designer.

How long did it take you from outlining the book to launching it? (Readers, brace yourselves.)

About a month and a half. It took a couple of days of outlining, about three weeks to get the actual text written, and then a couple of weeks of editing, including betas. Finally the ARC readers got the book a little early, and then the book went live soon after that.

Three weeks to write a full-length novel?  (Rebel is at 61K words.) To most of us, this timeframe is, well, unrealistic. Especially if you include working with an editor. Can you get more specific about how you managed that?

April was easily my most productive month ever, at right around 70,000 words, and May was nowhere near it. Sometimes the words flow quickly and other times there’s too much going on or I’m just not inspired enough. That said (and it was probably a couple more days than three weeks), that’s still a little less than 3,000 words a day on average. It’s fairly quick, but far from superhuman if you put the hours in. I do have an online circle of author friends and we track our word counts on a shared spreadsheet. A few of them routinely put out 100-150,000 words per month. I feel very much in the middle of the pack there. I think Stephen King’s writing advice is to write at least 2000 words a day, and I try to stick to that when I can.

My editor and I are very close, and she isn’t on the market so I get to monopolize her time. I do all my writing in Google Docs, and then I just share the document with her, giving her commenting rights. I split the book into smaller parts, so as soon as she was done with a part, I could jump on that one while she started the next. That gave us a very quick rapport while going through the edit process as a team. I was making corrections almost as quickly as she made comments and suggestions.

For actual writing productivity, I use the Pomodoro Technique, which is using focused time boxes of work. Basically, I start a timer and concentrate on writing for 30 minutes, then a 5-10 minute break, and then back in. It’s a very nice way of keeping focus, since I won’t allow myself to check email, Facebook, etc. while the timer is running. I can usually produce about 4-600 words in a 30 minute sprint, so getting to 2-3000 words in a day is only 3-4 hours of writing. My best day was around 7500 words while I was writing Rebel.

That is amazing. I’m linking to the Pomodoro Windows app, in case anyone (everyone) is interested. You’re truly dedicated. And what does that incredibly productive workspace of yours look like?

authorspace

We live in a fairly small apartment, so I don’t have a dedicated writing space. Instead I’ll carry my Chromebook with me (my writing tool of choice) and rotate between the living room couches, the bedroom or the kitchen. Sometimes I go out to write, at a café, for example. I included a shot from our kitchen for your work space collection.

Now your workspace picture is pinned on my Featured Writers’ Workspace board on Pinterest. Having prepared a highly professional manuscript that draws on a hot trend, how come you didn’t submit it to an agent? Would you consider traditional publishing?

I thought about it, and I’ve spoken with several authors about it, some of whom are fully or partially traditionally published. In the end, publishers seem too slow and cumbersome, at least for now. Hot trends like the stepbrother one come and go quickly enough that by the time a traditional publisher is ready to publish your book, the trend has passed. They work with horizons of months to years, while I work with a horizon of a few months, if not weeks. How many traditionally published stepbrother romances do you see out there?

So in the end, I was too eager to get my work out there, and confident enough in my abilities to pull the self-publishing off that I decided to rule out traditional publishers for now. I may revisit that at a later time when I have a more established catalog and hopefully a more attractive potential author for a publishing house, but right now I’m just eager to get my next novel written and released to the world. I’m having way too much fun!

You have found the perfect recipe for fun and profit, Kim. Good for you! You have undoubtedly worked very hard on your first book, but not as much on creating an author platform prior to publishing. In fact, it seems that you’ve launched both the book and your platform at about the same time. How did you market Rebel? 

I launched my Facebook presence a couple of weeks before the book launched and mostly promoted there. I made posts, connected with other authors, and some of them were nice enough to share my cover and blurb reveals. I tried to engage potential readers where I found them, but I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not any sort of social media expert.

However, I do feel like I had a solid book with a catchy hook and a great cover, and I think that helped build a lot of interest. Once the book launched, I submitted it to tons of free promotion sites and review blogs, and I’ve run ads on Facebook and some paid promotions, like My Romance Reads, for example. Those definitely help spark interest.

At this point, I have to congratulate you on your blurb. From where I stand—an avid romance reader who knows trends and has read all sub-genres—I think that readers looking for a new stepbrother romance need only read the first line (“I married my stepbrother”) to one-click Rebel. That was wickedly clever! Giving out something absurdly illicit yet tempting. Apart from the enticing blurb, what else do you attribute Rebel’s huge success to?

Thank you! I worked hard to come up with a blurb that was catchy. I spent nearly a week on the blurb alone, refining it and getting feedback from other authors and readers. Presentation is so important to get someone to click the buy button. I know it is for me, at least, so I made sure both the blurb and the cover were well done.

Beyond those, I do believe in delivering quality, and I think that’s rewarded when the reviews come in and word of mouth starts to build. Still, I’m learning, and this book has succeeded beyond my wildest imagination when I hit the publish button. I have to admit that I’m really nervous about my next book now. 😉

Anything you would have done differently? A faux pas you don’t intend to repeat?

The most common piece of negative feedback I’ve gotten is that the beginning of the book was a bit slow and maybe not as engaging as it should be to draw in readers. In hindsight, I think it could definitely be tightened up a bit and that’s something I’ll be working on for the next book. I think a lot of readers like to check out the Look Inside feature, and if that doesn’t grab her, it might be a lost opportunity. I’m really proud of this book, and I want to share it with everyone! 🙂

By the way, thank you for offering an ebook to one lucky reader. Guys, leave a comment, and one of you will get to read the super successful Rebel. So what’s next?

For now, I’m intending to stick with the stepbrother theme. I had so much fun writing the first one, and I’ve gotten a new idea that I think will be perfect for it, with lots of opportunities for sass, crazy hijinks and hopefully a compelling love story in the end. I’m in the outlining phase now, figuring out how to put it together, and then I will start writing as quickly as my fingers and brain will let me!

Kim, I can’t thank you enough for giving us valuable insight into your success. Many might think you were lucky. To me, luck is preparation meeting opportunity (actually Seneca said that, not me 😉) and in that aspect, you are truly golden. Best of luck with your future projects.

Thank you so much, and thank you for the chat. I really enjoyed it!

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Well, how about that, ladies and gents? Was Kim’s process shocking? Not so much? Is there an aspect that intrigued you? Kim’s success comes as a backup to my growing conviction that newbie writers like me not only overwrite (guilty) but also overdo everything. But that’s material for another post. Again, if you want a taste of Rebel, here’s an excerpt, and here’s my review. Also, leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of the book.

Connect with the phenomenal Kim Linwood

Site: http://kimlinwood.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/kimlinwood
Facebook: http://facebook.com/kim.linwood

Complication Cards: a must-read guest by Ines Johnson, author of The Loyal Steed

Ines Johnson has become a regular on this blog. Whenever she has a new release (and this girl is prolific!) she sends such tantalizing guest posts, I’d make space for them even if my schedule was full–which is not (mental note to blog more 🙂 ).

This time Ines’ guest post is about digging deep into your characters to define their inner needs as opposed to their wants, and how to structure your story based on that. Really worth your time. But before you get there, here are the details on Ines’ latest release The Loyal Steed: A Pleasure Hound, a serialized erotic dystopian story. The first part was released on May 12.

The Loyal Steed: A Pleasure Hound novel

by Ines Johnson
Release date: May 12
Genres: Erotic romance, dystopian
Purchase Link: Part 1 | Part 2 (Pre-order) | Part 3 (Pre-order)

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TheLoyalSteednotext

Synopsis

Jaspir has been in love with Lady Merlyn since they were children, but she has always been out of his reach. Trained as a Pleasure Hound and now surviving by selling his body to rich women, his heart has always remained loyal to his true love.

Liam was promised to Merlyn in their youth, but he’s always known that he’s not the man in her heart. With their betrothal approaching, Liam seeks out Jaspir for help. Eager to ensure the happiness of the woman they both love, Jaspir agrees to train Liam in the pleasure arts.

What starts as rivals in an uneasy truce, soon turns carnal when Merlyn learns of their secret lessons. In a society where men are second class citizens, Merlyn is torn between the attentions of two men who would do anything to rule her heart.

GUEST POST

Complication Cards

THE HOLE CHARACTER

All characters have holes (notice it rhymes with goals). You open the first chapter and find a human being who believes they are lacking something crucial in their lives. Perhaps it’s the dream job, or the right social circle, or their mother’s approval, or maybe it’s love.

Rarely do you enter the world of a character who finds themselves whole. A part is usually missing. For the next tens of thousands of words you will embark upon a journey with that character to fill that void.

Characters fill these holes in one of two ways; with either a want or need.

Remember when you were young and you wanted the fancy pair of jeans? Think Brenda in 90210. Fresh from the Midwest, thrown into the dangerous waters of the Beverly Hills elite, and her working class parents couldn’t afford the patchwork, ripped jeans that cost the same as a car payment. But Brenda wanted those holey jeans so that she could fit in with Kelly and Donna. In Carol’s, her mother’s eyes, there was a need for a new pair of pants for Brenda to wear to school and that’s what Brenda got. Now if we watched that 20-year old episode we know what Brenda did to those new pair of jeans; she made holes in her jeans to fill her social void.

You might want a pair of Louis Vuitton, but in the end you need a pair of functioning heels to go with that cute dress.

A want is a false goal, a red herring that throws both the reader and the character off the true course that will fill the character’s hole. It takes some time and some bumps in the road before the character realizes their want is not likely what they need. The need perfectly fills the void the character has been experiencing.

Exercise

Take a look at your main character(s). What is it that they need in order to be whole again? Now consider if it would serve your story for your character to have a false goal that keeps them from seeing their true need for a good portion of the story?

THE OBSTACLE COURSE

Before a character can see their need, they have to yearn after a want, which takes them on a bumpy ride to nowhere.

This obstacle course consists of four physical and/or internal complications that force the hero or heroine to make decisions that produce dramatic action.

The four kinds of obstacles are:

The Antagonist (Bad Guy)

A specific antagonist lends clarity and power to the dramatic structure because his primary function is to oppose the protagonist. He doesn’t necessarily have to be evil, but he should personify the protagonist’s obstacles.

Example: Cinderella’s Wicked Step Mother

Physical Obstructions

Physical obstructions are just what they seem –material barriers standing in the way of the protagonist. These can be rivers, deserts, mountains, a dead-end street, or a car causing a crash –anything that presents a substantial obstacle for the protagonist.

Example: Arielle’s fin

Inner/Psychological Problems

Inner obstacles are intellectual, emotional, or psychological problems the protagonist must overcome before being able to achieve his goal. For example, dealing with fear, pride, jealousy, or the need to mature fall into this category.

Example: Fiona’s (from Shrek) appearance

Mystic Forces

Mystic forces enter most stories as accidents or chance but they can be expressed as moral choices or ethical codes, which present obstacles. They can also be personified as gods or supernatural forces, which the characters have to content with.

Example: Tiana’s (from The Frog Prince) magical transformation into a frog

Exercise

Which of these obstacles will your character face? Will they face more than one type of obstacle during the course of the story?

THE SCENE

You’ve discovered your character’s need, and potentially their want, which is a false goal. You’ve learned about the four types of obstacles that can obstruct your character on the way to achieving their goals and filling their need. Now, to build a heart-pounding story where you send your character through the toughest obstacle course you can imagine, you should map out a blueprint for the course.

Four Elements of a Story

  1. HERO/HEROINE

Primary character looking to fill the void in their life.

  1. WANT

A false goal that the hero/heroine initially believes is their path to wholeness.

  1. OBSTACLE

One of the four obstacles opposing the hero/heroine.

  1. NEED

The true goal of the hero/heroine which will satisfy their void.

OBSTACLE COURSE CARD

EXAMPLES

Antagonist example

In the Cinderella adaptation Ever After, Danielle (heroine) works tirelessly to gain acceptance (want) from her stepmother (antagonist) until she realizes her family of friends, including the Prince, love her unconditionally (need).

Physical example

In The Little Mermaid adaptation Splash, yes I went there!, Madison (heroine) leaves the sea to be with Allen (want) but when her legs get wet and her fins come back (obstacle) she’s forced to tell Allen the truth of her existence in the hopes that he’ll come and spend forever with her under the sea (need).

Inner/Psychological example

In the unconventional fairy tale Shrek, Princess Fiona (heroine) hopes to be rescued by a knight in shining armor (want) who will break her curse (obstacle) until she realizes that true love is “color” blind (need).

Mystic Forces example

In The Frog Prince, Tiana (heroine) dreams of opening a restaurant (want) but her dream takes a slight detour when she’s turned into a frog (obstacle) along with Prince Naveen and learns to seek and take help from others (need).

Exercise

Now its your turn. Fill out your own obstacle card for you story. If you want to take it a step farther, fill out a card for each scene!

About the Author

Ines writes books for strong women who suck at love. If you rocked out to the twisted triangle of Jem, Jericha, and Rio as a girl; if you were slayed by vampires with souls alongside Buffy; if you need your scandalous fix from Olivia Pope each week, then you’ll love her books!

Aside from being a writer, professional reader, and teacher, Ines is a very bad Buddhist. She sits in sangha each week, and while others are meditating and getting their zen on, she’s contemplating how to use the teachings to strengthen her plots and character motivations.

Ines lives outside Washington, DC with her two little sidekicks who are growing up way too fast.

Connect with the Author

Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Publisher

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Great post, Ines! Thank you so much for sharing, and best of luck with The Loyal Steed!