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:


Friday, June 26, 2015

Indie Friday: Chasing Down the Night


Guest post by Francis Guenette

Chasing Down the Night is the third book in the Crater Lake Series. All the novels transport readers to a rural setting on the shores of a lake where they encounter characters who quickly become friends and family. Youth issues, family dynamics and relationships are explored while challenging stereotypes of right and wrong.

The latest book in the series opens with a scene that sets the tone for everything that is to come. A cougar stalks the dreams of a young boy. Trauma counsellor and contender for main character, Izzy Montgomery has taken on the role of director at nearby Micah Camp (a home for young people coming out of the foster care system and trying to make decisions about the next stage of their lives.) Liam Collins, a man who has fought a hard struggle to find peace of mind, is busy caring for chickens and children while preparing for an upcoming wedding. Beulah runs the organic bakery and organizes a memorial ball tournament. Her same-sex partner, Bethany, takes on a research job at the Camp and begins to discover her own strengths. Bethany’s niece, Lisa-Marie (who is, for many, the main character) arrived as a troubled sixteen-year-old on the first pages of the first book and from that time she has been head-over-heels in love with Justin. Now eighteen, with exciting opportunities for her future spread at her feet, the sparks fly between the two of them as they continue to feel the impact of the past and must relearn valuable lessons in order to move on.

All of the novels dig deeply into the emotional landscapes of the various characters. And yet, life is so much more than problems to be faced. The everyday rural realities encountered often leave readers chuckling.
The setting, characters and real-life dilemmas described in my novels come out of a blend of my own work and life experiences. I throw them all into the melting pot of imagination and out pops fiction. What an amazing process!

Reviewers have commented that what is unique about my writing style is the ability to tell stories from multiple points-of-view within the same novel. This style creates intimacy and evokes emotion. I was surprised when reviewers found my writing unique because I couldn’t conceive of any other way to tell these stories. Life is not black and white. The best path to empathy is found when we can envision the situations people end up in from as many viewpoints as possible. 

Writing subsequent books in an ongoing series has unique challenges. For example, how much do I tell of the previous books? I work hard to ensure that each novel is stand-alone and that involves a delicate balance between providing enough information so the story makes sense without bogging it down.

By far, the most satisfying part of my writing process is seeing the characters I have created evolve and grow from what they were in the first book to the people they are now.

What do I hope to accomplish by launching these books into the world? The answer is simple. I want readers to feel as though they have been changed. A new way of looking at some part of life has caused an ah-ha moment and thus, what they know about themselves and the world around them has shifted. That epiphany is what I am chasing down the night to capture.

~~~~
 
Chasing Down the Night by Francis Guenette

Available on: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Kobo

Official website: http://disappearinginplainsight.com

Follow the author on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/francisguenetteauthor/377139735716267

and Twitter: @FrancisGuenette


Friday, June 19, 2015

Indie Friday: Feng Shui for Writers


Guest post by M.C. Simon

Hello, Ioana. Nice meeting you and your readers.

What is your book about?

First, this book is the product of my love for all the writers. While being an engineer, one year ago I decided to write. Not only to write as a hobby, but to do it so I can quit my job. I even drew a two-year plan for quitting. Now after one year… this book has officially been born. I poured all my heart inside it. Suddenly finding myself into a new world, the writers’ world, I fell in love with it. Being an eternal student, I started researching this world and… a passion arose; the passion of helping writers fulfill their dreams.

And now here comes my book…

In many cases, to understand what something is, it is easier for us to start grasping what that thing isn’t. When I talk about Feng Shui, somehow I find it inappropriate to start with this; for the only reason that Feng Shui can be all things. It is a concept, a technique, an ancient art that finally stands behind anything; that is because all is energy and Feng Shui masters energies.

It approaches the architecture of the so-called Chi, the invisible force that populates the universe, earth and man altogether. Feng Shui is, in fact, an art of improving the quality of life through analysis of the person’s environment.

In our days, most of the people consider that Feng Shui is a fashion and a decorating art. In truth, it is not and will never be related to fashion; more than this, Feng Shui is a science, one of the most ancient sciences we know. It is about Chi in the living environment and it explains how to use this Chi to help with specific goals.

This book doesn’t intend to address the writer’s work or artistic skills but rather it addresses each writing category. We have to do this because what is harmony for a romantic novel writer is different than what is harmony for a journalist writer and for sure very different than for the writer writing for the horror domain.

To bring the Feng Shui technique into the writer’s life, it is not enough to only explain general principles and ideas; we have to dig deeper because the branches of writing are so numerous.

How did you get the idea for the book?

To make the explanation short, while I was working on a novel, I realized that my surroundings didn’t influence me as I wanted.

I suddenly noticed that the Chi flow around my desk and office was stagnant for what I needed to write. Instantly the cogwheels in my brain started working at a high-speed level, and a new creative idea was born… I have to Feng Shui my office, to let the Chi flow freely, to accurately boost my environment for this writing project. I did it… and for some time I wrote like never before; I almost couldn’t be stopped by any external influences.

But… after a while I realized something; I couldn’t keep this information only to myself. I had to share it with my fellow writers. Thus started the process I dubbed “the birth of my second first book”. Yes, like this I referred to my project through which the book “Feng Shui for Writers” was born. I called it “the birth” because even the smallest ideas we have, cross through a birth process before manifesting into this world. I called it “my second first book” because it is my first published book, but the second one to be implemented and emerge from the embryo phase.

And this book was born for YOU - the Writer!"

What does your book bring new to its genre?

This is the easiest question to answer. Feng Shui for Writers, it not only brings new elements to its genre, but it is unique to all the Feng Shui books. At least, until now, I haven’t found any other Feng Shui manual written especially for writers.

What struggles did you encounter while writing this book?

I have to admit that while writing this book I didn’t struggle at all. At that moment, my environment was already arranged according with Feng Shui advice. Instead, I struggled while painting and digitizing all the illustrations included. To write the book I needed three weeks, but to have all the pictures ready, we needed about six months. Hearing a lot of weird stories about copyrights and using someone else's pictures, we decided to do our own. Today I saw the paperback book. The moment when I opened its pages, I knew that all our efforts have been rewarded.

What was the most satisfying moment while writing this book?

Well… I have to admit that I had chills when I wrote the final words. That moment I told myself, “You did it. You really did it”. And at the same time a deep satisfaction embraced my whole being.

What do you hope to accomplish with this book?

Thank you for asking this question. Here the answer must touch two sides of the story. First, I hope to bring into the writer’s life a new approach for their working plans. Being aware of the energy around us and having knowledge of how to influence it, can give the writer a boost in any aspect of their work.

Second, even if it's not about a hope, because I planned each detail and nothing can stop me now, what this book will give me is the confidence in knowing that I just completed the first official step of the bigger plan which I designed one year ago, and which will last for two; quitting my job as an engineer to be a full-time writer.

Thank you for having me here. I hope Feng Shui for Writers will change your life.

~~~


Feng Shui for Writers by M.C. Simon


Available on: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Amazon IN  
 
Website: MCSimonWrites.com  
 
Twitter: @mcsimonwrites
 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/MC-Simon/526773840785287