Friday, July 31, 2015

Indie Friday: Strength to Let Go


Guest post by Alina Popescu


Hello everyone!  A pleasure to be here on Indie Friday and have a little chat with you all about my latest release, Strength to Let Go, the first book in the Tales of the Werewolf Tribes series. Yes, I know, another Romanian author writing vampires, werewolves, and other paranormal stuff! It’s weird, I am close to two Romanian authors (Ioana and Aimee) and they both love the paranormal realm as much as I do. If you see a pattern there, relax, it’s pure coincidence!

As a lot of authors will tell you, things rarely go according to plan. Strength to Let Go, for example, wasn’t even supposed to be the first book in the series! And that’s the least of my problems. It was supposed to have a completely different plot, but things got twisted and the main character, Shiki, was too chatty. So after a lot of plotting and planning, the book was written (mostly during last year’s NaNoWriMo) and here it is today – rewrites and a few rounds of editing later. 

The werewolf series was not actually inspired by a wolf, not a real one anyway! The idea sparked because of my White Swiss Shepherd. I was watching all the Cesar Millan series I could find (along with a similar British show), trying to get a better understanding of my dog and how to get him to obey me more. I then thought it would all be so much easier if I turned into a werewolf. I’d be his alpha of sorts and he’d follow my lead :D Another white wolf took the idea further – the Great White Wolf of local Dacian myths spawned the first tribe I envisioned, the Dacian Wolves, then several more followed. 

Research-wise, writing a werewolf book was a lot different compared to writing a vampire one. Why? Because I did a lot of research on vampires over the years due to a long time interest in how these creatures are portrayed. I wasn’t as familiar with weres, and I wanted to look into wolves in religion and mythology, not just the lycan stories. I combined a bit of mythology with a lot of cultural and historical references in how tribes are created (and how they fight each other).  For example, the Chinese and Mongols aren’t very friendly, there are a lot of tribes covering a relatively small territory in Europe—but they fight each other all the time, and the American tribe is deeply rooted in Native culture. 

The best part about writing this was Shiki. I’ve spent a lot of time with this character in role-play writing, so I knew him better than almost all my other characters when I started writing. It’s fascinating to have a complete story on your lead, to know exactly what makes him tick or how he’d react to certain situations. That does not mean I wasn’t in for a few surprises! Oh, he made sure I wasn’t just relaxing through it, so he’d challenge me once in a while. 
 
In the end, turns out what happened was so much better than the plan, and Strength to Let Go became the kind of story I always wanted to tell. 


~~~~
 
Strength to Let Go by Alina Popescu
 
Available on:
Amazon

Official website: http://alina-popescu.com

Follow the author on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authoralinapopescu

and Twitter: @alina_popescu

Thursday, July 30, 2015

2015 July Reading List



The Smell of the Night by Andrea Camilleri – Not as gripping as the other books in the series but still good. 4/5 stars

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.  E. Schwab – A bit too wordy, the real action starts only 30% in, and I didn’t need all the repetitions about how the worldbuilding works, but other than that it was a great book. 4/5 stars

Armada by Ernest Cline – Ready Player One was one of my best reads of 2012. I remember at the time wondering whether the author will stay in the same genre for his next book and whether he could write something just as good. Well, he did, and he didn’t. If Ready Player One felt like a strategy game, Armada feels like a first person shooter and I never really cared for those as I tend to find them mind numbing. I was 10% into the book when I first thought “This isn’t working.” The story simply isn’t engaging enough for me. Add to this the highly unbelievable core premises… and, of course, Ender! 3/5 stars

Half a War by Joe Abercrombie – I had trouble figuring out who was who in the beginning of the book. I didn’t care much for the new POVs and there was way too much fighting while ignoring more interesting plots like the elf mystery. One of my favorite characters died, and despite all his scheming that is merely hinted at, Yarvi is fading in the background. 3/5 stars

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake - I kept running into this book all over the place and avoided it because I wasn't keen on the title and the cover. It has a Supernatural vibe, many gory bits, but I didn't really care for the MC and the plot is rather thin. It works as a vacation read, I guess, but nothing more. 3/5 stars

The Dark Tower by Stephen King - I got bored repeatedly during the first half then it got better, but the characters started dying. I would have appreciated it more if King hadn't chosen the safe ending. I guess after such a long trip, it's hard to come up with something outstanding. 3/5 stars

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor - Interesting worldbuilding, overly stretched romance and cliffhanger. Mostly flashbacks and nothing much relevant happening. I was hoping to see more of Prague. 3/5

Friday, July 24, 2015

Indie Friday: Matchbook


Guest post by Desireé Prosapio

One day I was sitting at my desk, glancing through writing contests and I came across one that sounded intriguing.  The prompt was to write a short story based on one key action: someone discovers a phone number written in a matchbook.

The story ended up being a finalist in the contest, and while it didn’t win, I found the story was one I couldn’t let go. Carol, the protagonist just grabbed me and she came alive in my mind.  I felt like she deserved to have her story told.

Matchbook is set in Downtown San Antonio and is the story of Carol. Told in first person, Carol has that sharp wit and snarky come backs that draw you in – even though she’s homeless. In the course of the first few chapters, you learn that her daughter’s death unraveled her life. Carol is convinced her daughter didn’t die of an accidental overdose; she believes her daughter was murdered.

Matchbook is filled with a few other characters that also stood up in my imagination and demanded their share of the spotlight.  The favorite of many of my readers is Maurice, her fellow homeless person, who helps Carol uncover clues and make connections. But Maurice, with his cross-dressing fashion sense and over the top sense of the dramatic, manages to give Carol something she hasn’t had in so many years: someone to care about.

Matchbook isn’t just a story of solving a crime; it’s a story of a mother’s journey out of grief and into healing.

Writing Matchbook – at least the first draft – was pretty easy. It was one of the stories that pours right of you. What was tough was what came afterward. Once it was done, I was fortunate enough to land an agent, and she made great suggestions about the story. While it never found a traditional publisher, I learned the value of having a complete stranger give me feedback. From that point on I went through the book with writing groups and beta readers, learning and honing along the way.

The most satisfying moment was sending out a notice to my fans letting them know the book was finally done and available for download.  Seeing so many people who had said they were interested then actually download a novel gave me a thrill like no other. I was hooked!

Matchbook definitely shakes up the gender on a number of levels. The character is vulnerable in a way most of us can’t imagine. She is not a woman with training and expertise that helps her rise to the challenge before her. And yet she is heroic in a way that satisfies and delivers that emotional, immersive read we all love.

What has been the biggest challenge with this book? Frankly, I think some people wonder if Matchbook is the right fit for them because it does involve the issue of homelessness and alcohol addiction. But at its heart Matchbook is the story of one person’s journey, a story that starts and ends in the heart, with plenty of laugh-out-loud and action scenes in between.

~~~~
 
Matchbook by Desireé Prosapio
 
Available on:
Amazon

Official website: http://www.wdprosapio.com

Follow the author on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DesireeProsapio

and Twitter: @desireeprosapio

Monday, July 13, 2015

Breaking the Chains - Cover Update

Breaking the Chains ebook cover got a facelift over the weekend. The fonts were hard to read on the old version, and since this is a short story and only available as an ebook, it is important for the title and author to be legible online on the small-size image. So we added new typography to the original illustration, that is TheBookLady did and I only fiddled with it a little. It looks better now.

Breaking the Chains can be downloaded for free via Kindle Unlimited, or it's $0.99 as a regular download.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Weight of a Wing is FREE on Amazon! - last chance

On June 9 - 10, The Weight of a Wing is free on Amazon.

This is your last chance to download it for free. The book will stay in the Select program for at least another term, but I won't be running free promotions for it anymore.

I'm just not sold on the idea of 'free', and I definitely don't see any favorable results. After over 1,000 free downloads, I was expecting at least a dozen of reviews showing up, but they're not there.

So this is it, your last chance to download it for free. Of course, you'll still be able to download it for free via Kindle Unlimited.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Indie Friday: Xalien the Purple Alien


Guest post by Michelle Path


Hello. My name is Michelle Path and I am a children’s book author. My first book Suki and the Seedling was released in Australia in August 2014, the same time as my first book published in the UK, called Xalien the Purple Alien, was released.

How I came to be discovered by Rowanvale Books is a serendipitous event. They found me on Twitter. What are the chances? I was impressed by their dedication to helping their authors to succeed in the cutthroat world of publishing. Since Xalien was released, I have had another four books published with them and have another 5 to be released this year.

Xalien the Purple Alien is about a small purple alien who crashes to Earth. She finds herself in a garden, where she is discovered by three children, Jessica, Adam and Sarah. The children take her to the fair where they learn about each other and get into strange and amusing situations as Xalien tries to fit in with humans.

Xalien was created as I walked my dogs one afternoon. This is how I find inspiration and get in the zone. I was thinking of something to write about when the idea of an alien came to mind. My favourite colour is purple and then I began trying to come up with a title. I tried to find a name that rhymed with alien, and Xalien popped into my head. So there it was, the title of my next story. When I got home I began writing the story. It was quite easy to write and came together very quickly. When Rowanvale Books asked me to send them a manuscript, this was the one I chose. They loved it and the first book in my Xalien the Purple series was born. I have since published Xalien the Purple Alien: Xalien Goes to School and have two more Xalien books due for release this year, one about going to the Zoo as well an Xmas special including a limited edition with foils to add an extra bit of sparkle to the festive season.

Xalien almost wrote herself and she brings a cute, adorable character into the lives of children who find her amusing and subsequently fall in love with her. She teaches children messages about tolerance and acceptance as well as telling an enjoyable story that encourages them to read. One little girl would not let her mother give the book as a birthday gift because she adored the alien so much. That alone was great feedback and confirmed to me that Xalien could easily be a character children could fall in love with and enjoy reading about.

I have to admit that Xalien came together quickly. I wrote the story in a few short hours and edited it after letting it sit for a short while, so that I could reread it with an objective mind. This is not always the case and does not reflect the ease of how some of my other books have been written, sometimes slowly and painstakingly with me adding a mere paragraph at a time until the story is finished.

The most satisfying moment for me while writing the book was when I realised I had created something unique and special, an adorable alien that children could not only relate to but learn lessons from. I am very proud of Xalien the Purple Alien and am delighted to be able to present it to readers to enjoy and at times laugh along with.

My hope for this book is that children are entertained and are encouraged to read and learn to have an appreciation and a love for books. Books played a big role in my childhood and it led to me becoming an author. There is something magical about turning the page and identifying with the characters you get to know, as well as being transported to places that are only limited by your imagination.

I hope I have achieved this goal, for it is not only my satisfaction of writing something I am proud of, but that people will enjoy the journey as they turn the pages and discover what adventures lie ahead. Nothing could make me happier than to have engaged my readers and given them something to take with them throughout their lives; a childhood memory of a story that will be etched in their memory and kept somewhere within their hearts and memories.

~~~~
 
Xalien the Purple Alien by Michelle Path

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Indie Pride Day

The lighting was wrong, the photographer was in a hurry, and it's really hard to edit photos with a bright window right in front of you so the colors are a little off, but ... here are my books! :)











Tuesday, June 30, 2015

2015 June Reading List

Nemesis Games by James S. A. Corey – For me, the books work better when the crew is together instead of being split apart. And I would have been more interested in the alien world than a local conflict that isn’t really solved. Still, I liked it better than book 3, a little less than book 4. 4/5 stars Amazon Bookdepository 

Superposition by David Walton – I wasn’t taken by the narrator’s voice and each time the character’s name who was supposed to be Romanian (it’s not!) and the word “varcolac” were mentioned, it threw me right out of the story, but the science was smart and that saved the book for me. 4/5 stars Amazon Bookdepository 

The Vagrant by Peter Newman – Well, this was different. The narrator has a compelling voice, I’ll give him that. But the 3rd person distant POV made it hard to care for the characters and figure out the ‘why’s behind what we were shown. It was like watching a movie. I’m sure the writer had everything clear in his head, but what we were allowed to see wasn’t all that clear or interesting. We never really got to know the MC, and frankly, the goat was much more interesting. 4/5 stars Amazon Bookdepository 

The Gateway Trip by Frederik Pohl – One story was really good while the rest felt like a recap of the other books in the series. 3/5 stars Amazon Bookdepository 

The Girl Who Was Plugged In by James Tiptree Jr. – Imagine a world without ads. Wouldn’t you like to live there? Perhaps not. This was a sad story, but it couldn’t have ended in any other way. 4/5 stars Amazon Bookdepository 

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater – Claustrophobic and overly rich in exposition. Unsatisfying ending. But it has not just one but four broken boys so… :) 3/5 stars Amazon Bookdepository

Monday, June 29, 2015

Amazon is changing its paying terms for Kindle Unlimited

This month, the news broke out that Amazon is changing the way it will pay writers, starting with July 1st. Some panicked, some protested loudly and, apparently, uselessly, and some decided to pull their books out of KDP Select.

To clear out part of the misunderstanding, this change will only affect the books enrolled in the Kindle Unlimited program. Up until now, every writer with books enrolled in KU was paid equal shares of the Amazon KU trust fund, based on the number of downloads/burrows of those books, after 10% of the book was read. Let's face it, this wasn't exactly fair, paying the same for novels and a-few-pages-long books.

From July 1st, writers will be paid based on the number of pages read. Yep, you read it right. It's kind of creepy how much data Amazon has access to, isn't it? Well, there isn't much we can do about that. Most sales come from Amazon, so if indie writers want to make a few (more) bucks, they're stuck with it. 

Now, Amazon claims they will use normalized pages, so font size and line spacing won't matter. I guess they'll go by word count, which makes sense. Since various gadgets have different screen size, word count would definitely make more sense.

One thing is supposed to be sure, from now on people won't get rich only with shorts any longer. And badly written prose won't work either. I guess long series will work best if you manage to write compelling ones and don't get bored writing about the same characters and world all the time. Otherwise, decent novels at least will be needed for a decent income.

From a writer's perspective, the good part--aside from being paid fairly--would be to get detailed reports so we could figure out what are the parts where readers stop reading our books. That would be a great experience. Amazon's report haven't been so user friendly so far, so I'm not holding my breath. I guess we'll find out on August 15th.

The down side, from what I see, would be that, with all the ebook reading options available these days, some read pages might go unaccounted for. 10% is easier to track than a whole book. There probably won't be too many cases, but there will be some for sure.

The other big concern is that there's no way to track the read pages from the outside. We could track the sales/downloads from the live dashboard reports and the book rank, but now Amazon could feed us any data they want with no way for us to check it. Something to think about.

And there's also the issue of the limited profit, based on the size of the KU trust fund, but that's nothing new.

So, how does this affect me? I had Broken People enrolled in KU over the winter, but it never really took off. In three months, it had only a handful of KU downloads, so I removed it from the KDP Select program at the end of the term. At the moment, I have two titles available via KU, an urban fantasy novel, The Weight of a Wing, and a paranormal short story, Breaking the Chains. The short story has been recently released so it's too early to tell how it will do, but the novel is doing rather well because of KU and I'm reluctant to change that. 

Bottom of line, I'll keep things the way they are for now. If everything goes well, the whole The Stolen Wings series will be available via KU in the end. Broken People won't be because it failed to find its target audience there and, frankly, it's too much of a hassle removing it from the other vendors to ensure Amazon exclusivity. I haven't decided yet what I'll do with my upcoming space opera saga. It depends on how things work out over the summer. So we'll see.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Vacation prices on Millennium


Millennium is celebrating 10 years of existence by offering 30% discount for all of its titles until July 1st.

You can get my books:


And anthologies featuring my stories: