Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 December Reading List

Sycamore Row by John Grisham – I wish I could remember A Time to Kill better so I could evaluate how Grisham’s style has evolved over the years, but too many years have passed and back then I wasn’t giving much consideration to style while reading. 4/5 stars
Ferestrele timpului. Antologie de fictiuni speculative (Windows of Time) edited by Stefan Ghidoveanu – Since one of my stories is included in this anthology, I was very curious to read what the other writers have imagined related to time travel. My favorite stories were written by Adrian Buzdugan, Narcisa Stoica, and Florin Pitea.

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie – This book frustrated me to no end. First, because the premise is so cool, but the engagement for the reader is lacking big time. Second, whenever I became invested in one storyline, the focus jumped to something else. Instead of making me hurry to read further, I just put the book down, knowing that a large chuck of text that didn’t particularly interested me at the moment followed. 4/5 stars

Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 Recap

2013 was a year rich in events. Let's start with the writing first.

I wrote 5 short stories, 2 novellas, and almost finished a novel. It might not sound like much, but I think it's better than writing 20+ short stories. To this I'm not adding the dozen of RPG threads and about 50k in critique on CC.

I published:

6 Romanian short stories

one traditionally published Romanian short story collection

one traditionally published Romanian novella (the English edition was self-published in 2012)

3 short stories in Romanian anthologies

one self-published English series, The Impaler Legacy, (3 novellas and 2 short stories)

I have short stories included in 3 upcoming anthologies, and 2 texts commissioned for another two.

So, I debuted with not one but two traditionally published books, which I guess entitles me to officially call myself a writer.

I also received the Encouragement Award from the European Science Fiction Society at Eurocon.

I was interviewed for Suspans.ro, Galileo Online, Argos Magazine, Revista de Suspans.

As far as reading goes, I barely managed to finish 75 books this year. Since getting a Kindle, I've been in a hurry to catch up with my reading, and this isn't really working for me anymore. When I got to the point that I actually felt guilty for not reading for several days in a row, I realized something wasn't right. Reading is supposed to be fun and not add even more stress to your daily life. From now on, I'm determined to enjoy what I'm reading and not worry about the length of my to-be-read list.

Health was no better or worse than usual despite the unusual, cold summer.

Part of the highlights of the year was the two week vacation spent in Croatia and organized by yours truly.

Oh, and we got a new kitten, which meant we had to get a tiny Christmas tree in fear that she might ruin it. Both the kitten and the tree are fine. :)

See you next year!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

The tiniest tree in the whole Visan family's history, but the little guy is full of life and light.

Merry Christmas!
Best Wishes for 2014!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Self-publishing in 2013


At the end of 2012, I wrote a series of posts about my six-month experience as a self-published writer. Now it’s time to share what I learned during the past year so prepare yourselves for a long post.

For those who don’t know me, I write English ebooks in the sci fi and fantasy genre – only novellas and short stories for now but there will be a novel soon too. I publish through Amazon (Kindle Direct Publishing) and Smashwords (it also delivers to Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, Sony, Diesel, and a few others; they recently added Oyster and Scribd to the list too.) My ebooks are DRM-free, and I don’t do KDP Select. I ven’t bothered with printed books based on the consideration that novellas don’t sell that well.

Last year, I published two titles: Human Instincts (an apocalyptic novella), and Blue Moon Café Series: Where Shifters Meet for Drinks (a paranormal short story collection). This year, the focus was on publishing the entire The Impaler Legacy series:
- The Impaler’s Revenge (The Impaler Legacy #1) in April – novella
- Sweet Surrender (The Impaler Legacy #1.5) in April – short story
- A Victory that Counts (The Impaler Legacy #2) in August – novella
- Casualties of War (The Impaler Legacy #2.5) in August – short story
- Order Restored (The Impaler Legacy #3) in December – novella


The biggest part of The Impaler’s Revenge was written in December 2012. I continued writing the rest of the series in the spring of 2013 with a few breaks in between a couple of short stories written for magazines and various anthologies. At the end of June, I had the final draft of Order Restored done.

The editing went well and felt less rushed. I tried both sending bigger and smaller chunks of text to the editors, and the total amount of time seemed to be about the same. I lost some editors on the way, and while some were already starting to work on Order Restored, a few were still stuck on The Impaler’s Revenge. What I learned is that after the editing is done and before publishing, it’s still worth going through the entire manuscript once just in case.


Initially, The Impaler’s Revenge was planned for March, but I had to postpone it because my traditionally published Romanian short story collection Efectul de nautil came out and I didn’t think I could handle two book releases in the same month. Then I had to move the release of A Victory that Counts towards the end of August because of my vacation. After the experience with the Blue Moon Café Series from last December, instead of releasing Order Restored closer to Christmas, I did it in the beginning of the month. Everything worked all right in the end, but this is why I don’t advertise an exact release date months in advance.

One issue I hadn’t expected was that, unlike Goodreads, Amazon and Smashwords only accept integer numbers for the book order in the series. This kind of diverted my plans so I decided to host the short stories on my website since I wanted them to be free anyway. This caused another problem as it turned out several readers didn’t know where to find them. I usually go to the author’s website if I need information about the books, but apparently not everyone thinks like me. In the end, I had both Sweet Surrender and Casualties of War published on Amazon and Smashwords without a number in October.

This gave me the opportunity to figure out how free titles work on Amazon. First, there’s no option to make an ebook free. You need to have lower price reported by several customers and then wait for Amazon to catch up and match the price. I did that for Sweet Surrender. It shot up into Top 100 in the vampires category for free ebooks and stayed there for a while. I promoted the heck out of it on Twitter, Facebook, and any site for free books I could find, and the result was 500 downloads in a month which I find an okay number since it’s a short story and not the first in the series. After that I was busy with the release of Order Restored and did no promotion at all for Sweet Surrender, and it still got 100 downloads in three weeks. Granted, most of them are compulsive buys and will probably never be read, but I did notice a spike in The Impaler Legacy series sales while Sweet Surrender was in Top 100 so it’s something worth remembering in the future.


I came to the conclusion that reviews help sales best. After The Impaler’s Revenge came out, the readers’ opinions were split. I knew it would be a tough sale because the market was already saturated with vampire stories, but I was counting on the unique take on the vampire myth. It turned out I was wrong on both accounts. When they hear about vampires, it seems people expect either YA or erotica, and then they’re disappointed when they discover my books are neither.

A book blogger described the first book in the series as “a political thriller with vampires”, and I think the description fits it perfectly. The second book focuses on action, while the third one is more character centric instead of going global like most second sequels tend to do.

Another popular complaint I got was that the books are too short. Well, they’re novellas and clearly labeled as such in the book description so those readers haven’t bothered reading it or forgot all about it by the time they started reading the book. Besides, there’s just as much information you can cram in a 35k book.

Two good things came out of this. No less than 4 star reviews came from readers who actually bought the books, which means all of the 3 star reviews were written by people I have personally contacted and offered them a free copy in exchange of a honest review. It stands to reason that those people wouldn’t have bought them in the first place, but it’s hard to say no to a free book. The less than stellar reviews helped trim down readers, helping them decide whether the books are for them or not, so after a while only 4 and 5 star reviews showed up.

In order to get some of those most needed reviews, I contacted people who had already reviewed some of my books, but many other book bloggers too. I offered the first book in the series, and if the review were favorable, I would offer the next book too. Several Goodreads groups were very helpful with this. I also tried to offer them on Tomson, but I was less pleased with the quality of the reviews received. After each release, I did a giveaway on LibraryThing. It’s hard to say how many of the winners read the book, but at least it got the word out.

For Order Restored, I ran a giveaway on 20 book blogs for a week and received over 1200 entries. I wasn’t expecting such a high number, especially since it was the third book in the series, and I regretted I hadn’t offered more copies. The amount of time put into organizing the giveaway was almost as high as for a blog tour, I reckon, so I’ll think twice before doing it again.

What else helps selling books? I have no data showing that Twitter ads do. In fact, I think they don’t. Spamming Facebook groups works best for free ebooks and only moderately so for $0.99 priced ebooks. Facebook fan pages are a bust since most posta don’t reach over 200 people, and if they include links they’re barely seen by a handful. I’m almost tempted to start friending people with my personal profile, but I’d rather not bore my friends and family with book related posts.

I haven’t tried any paid advertisement. I wouldn’t know where to start, and the books aren’t making enough money to afford that. And, honestly, I’d rather write instead. At the end of the day/year, when I did the math, it turned out that my best seller is Blue Moon Café Series and I did no promotion for it at all. Shrug.

January, August, and November had the most sales. Amazon is leading the pack, followed in the distance by Barnes & Noble, Apple, and Smashwords, with Sony and Kobo far behind.

Aside from publishing and obviously writing, I’m also offering ebookformatting services for indie writers and started a book blog where I plan to spotlight indie books.

So now the entire The Impaler Legacy series is out, and I’m working on the Broken People series.

That’s about all for this year, let’s see what the next year will bring!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Impaler Legacy Reviews

A whole bunch of new reviews has appeared now that The Impaler Legacy series is complete. It makes me so happy to see that those who decided to stick with it weren't disappointed in the end.

The Impaler's Revenge (The Impaler Legacy, #1)

Back stories slowly and naturally unfold to fill in the details of the characters’ lives. I thought the plot was a fresh take on the “vampires among us” theme, interesting and entertaining. The author brings out a different telling of the history of Vlad Tepes. I found myself liking the main characters and at the conclusion of this story I wanted to know more about them and what was going to happen to them. -  Karen 

I like that the female lead, Liana, can take care of and defend herself to some extend. She isn't weak and needy, like some female leads too often are. I like Max a lot, and wish there had been more of him. - Portia

The story line that started from the first page continued at a great pace, with a mastered skill of under current story lines, Ms. Visan threw some curveballs that I didn't see coming, which shocked the crap out of me. The biggest one was just before this novel ended, and it left me saying "WTH?!? You can't leave me hanging like that!!" -  Renee

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a more “grown up” type of Vampire book. Anyone who enjoys a good book with political twist and the added benefit of having Vampires involved would enjoy this book. - Melanie 

Sweet Surrender (The Impaler Legacy, #1.5)  

I really liked the story, because it captures the first moments between Liana and Jesse and his love confession. At first, I was skeptical about this character and I did not appreciate him as much as I do now, but he turned out to be a great and mature guy who would not hesitate to risk his life to take care of the persons he loves, even skipping the fact that he hates vampires. The bond that encloses both makes them more human, more sensitive, in a world where the thirst for blood and power is ready to conquer all. Also, together are stronger, but are they strong enough?  - Diana

It tells the heartwarming story of the romance between Liana and Jesse. It's a nice short story great for reading in a waiting room or anytime you have an hour free. Tracy

A Victory that Counts (The Impaler Legacy, #2)  

This was a great continuation of The Impaler Legacy. I really enjoyed the interactions between the characters. I was frustrated by Liana and Jesse's interactions. I felt that they seemed to be drifting apart. I was definitely intrigued by the New Breeds. I wanted to know who was creating them and for what purpose. The warlike setting was interesting, and the torture scene was not for the faint of heart. Overall, this was a great book. It was easy to read and well written. -  Tracy

I love the parallel worlds in this series, where humans coexist with vampires. And I love the introduction of a third vampire species in this book--a new, super-enhanced vampire. But after the first book I was anticipating more romance between characters--more passion and angst--which seemed like a natural progression. Instead, the love scenes were behind closed doors, leaving me wanting more. -  Kelli

Casualties of War (The Impaler Legacy, #2.5)  

You MUST read this story before you start the third part of the series, Order Restored, because it contains precious, vital information to understand the plot. I loved this one very much, despite the bad news I encountered about my favorite characters. This is the moment when the stakes are highest and every decision can make them win or lose the battle.  - Diana

Again it is a wonderful short story, just right for an hour of reading. It keeps your attention and is well written. It has a cliffhanger that leaves you craving more. I can't wait for the next book. - Tracy
Order Restored (The Impaler Legacy, #3)  

I loved this book. Again I really enjoyed the interactions of the characters. The twists and turns this book took me on were astounding. I wasn’t sure which side Max would end up on in the end or if Liana would betray Max to save Jesse. Would Liana even be able to save Jesse? This was a great book that was well written, easy to read, and had just the right amount of action and romance. - Tracy

As a conclusion, I really enjoyed Ioana Visan's fantasy series, an original story about vampires, with attractive characters and thrilling action. I was hooked from the first pages, due to the author's writing style and the way she created this unique universe that appears so real for the readers. - Diana  

More reviews can be found on Goodreads and Amazon, but, of course, I could always use more. So if you want to make me a great Christmas present, write a review of one of my books. :)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Impaler Legacy Various Download Links

Major ebook retailers have updated their catalogs so you can find below the download links for the most recent titles in The Impaler Legacy series.

Sweet Surrender (The Impaler Legacy #1.5)
Amazon (US, UK, FR, DE, IT, ES, CA, JP, IN, BR, MX, AU)
Barnes & Noble

Casualties of War (The Impaler Legacy #2.5)
Amazon (US, UK, FR, DE, IT, ES, CA, JP, IN, BR, MX, AU)
Barnes & Noble

Order Restored (The Impaler Legacy #3)
Amazon (US, UK, FR, DE, IT, ES, CA, JP, IN, BR, MX, AU)
Barnes & Noble

Friday, December 13, 2013

Short Stories on ReadWave

I've been on ReadWave before, but since the last time I checked in the summer the rules have changed. It turns out only short stories under 800 words get featured on the main page so this week I posted three shorts that were just lying around on my pc. So far the feedback is good, though not as many reads as expected. You can find them here:


Blogger Extraordinaire

For the Love of a Man

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Impaler's Revenge Giveaway

The Order Restored giveaway is going to end in a few hours, but because Christmas is coming, I'm feeling generous so you might like to check LibraryThing for a chance to win The Impaler's Revenge, the first installment in The Impaler Legacy series. There are several copies available, and the giveaway ends on December 25.

Also, this is the last week you can get Order Restored for only $0.99 on Amazon. On Monday, the price goes back up to $2.99. Just saying.

P.S. If you read any of them, please leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads. Thanks.

Monday, December 9, 2013


This year, RomCon, the Romanian sci fi and fantasy convention, is taking place in Iasi, between 13th and 15th of December. The program of the convention can be found here.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Order Restored Giveaway

Have you been good this year? Tradition says that on the night of December 5, St. Nicholas comes and leaves presents inside the boots of those kids who have been good all year.

Well, I can't give you all presents, but I can offer 5 ebook copies of Order Restored (The Impaler Legacy #3) in a giveaway that starts today and ends on December 12.

There are several ways to score an entry: you can like my Facebook page, follow me on Twitter, add Order Restored to your to-read shelf on Goodreads, become my fan on Goodreads, subscribe to my newsletter, tweet about the giveaway, and also like and follow the awesome ladies who agreed to host this giveaway on their blogs.

If you can't wait that long, Order Restored has a discounted price of only $0.99 on Amazon.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The giveaway is also hosted on my site and the following blogs so show them some love!

Monday, December 2, 2013

New Release: Order Restored (The Impaler Legacy #3)

The third novella in The Impaler Legacy series,  Order Restored, is finally here, just in time for the winter holidays. Sorry, but this time you won't get a free bonus story. Maybe some other time.

Oddly enough, Order Restored required no plotting in advance. When I finished writing A Victory that Counts, I only knew the opening scene from the sequel and it was enough. The main goals were to save Jesse, deal with the new breeds, and figure out what to do with Max. If you're reading Order Restored, you'll find out what solutions I came up with. I will miss these characters, but they earned their right to rest. There are other stories waiting to be told. See you in the next book!

Order Restored (The Impaler Legacy #3) is available through Amazon and Smashwords, and soon through other stores too. To celebrate its release, the Amazon price will be lowered to $0.99 between December 2 and 15 so hurry and get it while it's still hot!

The website got a new layout to celebrate the new release so you might like to stop by too.

Romanian Horror and Fantasy Roundtable

Mihai Adascalitei from Dark Wolf's Fantasy Reviews invited a series of Romanian writers and artists (Raluca Băceanu, Marian Coman, Oliviu Crâznic, Ştefana Cristina Czeller, A.R. Deleanu, Andrei Gaceff, Teodora Gheorghe, Teodora Matei, Cristina Nemerovschi, Claudia Niculescu, Mircea Pricăjan, Radu Romaniuc, George Sauciuc, Cristina Schek, Narcisa Stoica, Ioana Vișan) to talk about the state of Romanian horror and fantasy not only in literature but in culture, in general, as well. I think our answers describe the situation quite accurately so check them out. Oh, by the way, the interview is in English so, hopefully, it will reach a wider audience.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

NaNoWriMo - post-mortem

At the end of October, I wrote a post about NaNoWriMo and my plans for it. To sum it up, I was planning to write 1,000 words daily in November, including during the weekends.

Now the month of November is over so let's see how it went. Did I reach my goal? Yes. On November 29, I had 31k done so I took the last day of Nano off. :P I didn't write only one Sunday, but I didn't fall behind with the word count because I had already written an extra 1k. The main goal was 30k with hopes to get to 35k. I didn't get to the 35k, but that's okay. The writing flew smoothly with no major roadblocks, even if I only had about half of the plot figured out when I started. 35k was a tentative margin, however, I don't feel like I reached the end yet. There are another two major events that still need to happen in the story so probably another 30k. It turns out it's a novel after all. Oh, well ... I guess the readers will stop complaining about my stories being too short when they expected full novels instead of novellas.

What did I learned? I can do it, obviously, but I already knew that. Will I do it again another time in November? Not a chance! November is the worst month for this as far as I'm concerned, coming in second only after Euros and Worlds. When I decided to do the Nano, I hadn't taken in consideration the fact that the skating Grand Prix events were in full swing and Eurosport planned on airing all of the competitions during the weekends. So in between watching skating on TV and running the AS site, getting the word count done too was pretty stressful. On top of all, my pc monitor broke and for a week I had to work with a borrowed one. Not fun.

But there are some positive aspects too. I have a new story in the works that I hope to finish by the end of the year. I like the characters and the world I created. What I don't like so  much is that I keep getting ideas for sequels. I'll have to do something about that, or I'll get stuck with them for another year. Okay, the truth is I have an idea of how to handle the issue, but I'm not ready to divulge it yet. ;)

So ... plans for December. I'll be busy with promoting Order Restored so I'll try to keep a light schedule: finish the story or get as close to the end as possible, and come up with some kick-ass cover(s) somehow. Wish me luck!