Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 December Reading List

November was a tough month, and the beginning of December was even worse, so Bujold became my comfort read. It was either that or eating unhealthy amounts of chocolate. So:

The Vor Game by Lois McMaster Bujold – The story felt disjointed. I liked the first part, but the second used too many clichés. 3/5 stars Amazon

The Mountains of Mourning by Lois McMaster Bujold – Short, good read, but I didn’t enjoy the overall bleak feeling. 3/5 stars Amazon Bookdepository

Cetaganda by Lois McMaster Bujold – A bit too many parties for my taste but it was almost as good as The Warrior’s Apprentice. 4/5 stars Amazon Bookdepository

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer – The main character spends the whole time obsessing over her dead husband instead of focusing on the terrible things happening around her. The  absence of any kind of explanation at the end makes it feel like one long hallucination. 3/5 stars Amazon Bookdepository

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison – Normally, this would get 4 stars from me, but I had a few issues with the book. My grandma was called Maia, so all my life I believed Maia was a woman’s name. It took me several chapters to get used to associate it with a man. The other names are much worse, long and hard to remember, and too similar, which makes it hard to tell the characters apart. The writing is good except for some debut novel typical issues, which makes no sense since this isn’t the author’s first book. But this isn’t what annoyed me. We have this uneducated 19 y.o. boy, who has never dreamed about becoming an emperor so he’s totally unprepared for it, but still he never makes major mistakes, not even once. Really, no one is that perfect! And he keeps whining, and being afraid, and blushing constantly like a bride on her wedding day. He should have been a girl. The other part that didn’t sit well with me was the plot that didn’t seem to go anywhere, we just go with the motion, day after day after day of the emperor’s reign, and then the book stops with no ending at all. Huh? 3/5 stars Amazon Bookdepository

The Iron Trail by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black – Kiddie stuff. Not as funny as Clare’s other books. It brings nothing new, and all the characters behave like idiots for illogical reasons at one point or another.  I don’t think I’ve ever been at the right age for this. 2/5 stars Amazon Bookdepository

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff – A sweet, fast read, not very deep and often exaggerated. I would have enjoyed it more if I had been familiar with more of the titles mentioned in the book. 4/5 stars Amazon Bookdepository

The Paper Magician by – It reminded me a lot of the magic system in Brandon Sanderson’s The Rithmatist. It feels better written, but we spend too much time inside the magician’s heart. That’s a good way to bring in back story but not when it lasts for half a book and the plot stands still all this time. Oh, and the magician is too perfect and swoon worthy. 3/5 stars Amazon Bookdepository

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 Recap

2014 was an exhausting year. A lot has happened, and each bit took its share of work. Let's take a look...


- in Romanian

4 short stories meant for anthologies, out of which:
  • 1 story submitted; project status unknown.
  • 1 project cancelled because of lack of contributors
  • the other 2 projects are still on going, and I'm supposed to send the texts in the beginning of next year.
Note: It's getting harder and harder to write in Romanian. It took me forever to write those short stories.

- in English

1 novel
1 short story collection (7 short stories)
1 fanfic written in the spring for good old times' sake.


- in Romanian

Short stories included in anthologies:

2 short stories submitted to print magazines; 1 was supposed to be published at the end of this year, dunno about the other one.

1 short story published in an online magazine:

- in English

1 short story collection
1 novel
1 omnibus
1 short story
  • The Nightingale Circus (Broken People, #0.5), December, 2014 
  • Broken People (Broken People #1), November, 2014
  • The Impaler Legacy Omnibus, March, 2014
  • The Third Wheel (The Impaler Legacy #3.5), March, 2014


about 70 books read (my list doesn't always correlate with the one on Goodreads)
24 read on paper, the rest on Kindle (I really want a Kindle Voyager! mine is getting old and dirty LOL)


over 160 books formatted for ebook and print.


I know this is a big logic jump, but we had two litters this year, one less successful than the other, and they all took a lot of our time and energy. We began the year with two cats, and we're ending it with four, including two males, which wasn't part of the plan at all. :P


We spent a lovely week in Istanbul in August, in between kittens. Great weather! And cats, a lot of cats among other things.


Several minor, nagging aches, but less colds than usual, which was a relief.

And we had a nice Christmas with a big tree despite the cats, no accidents, and now we're ready for the new year. See you soon!

Story: The Blade Masters

We couldn't end the year without having at least one short story published in a magazine. So...

The Blade Masters (one of the short stories included in The Nightingale Circus collection, the prequel to Broken People) can be read in issue no. 20 of Suspense Magazine.

It features our favorite prosthetic-designer knife throwers, Rake and Spinner, and it reveals the events that led to joining the circus.

Happy reading!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Self-Publishing in 2014

This was my third year as an indie writer. I had two big releases in 2014, The Impaler Legacy Omnibus in March, and Broken People in November, followed shortly by The Nightingale Circus in December. Let’s study each case separately.

The Impaler Legacy Omnibus included all three novellas and two short stories in the series, plus one bonus short story, The Third Wheel, which was also released as a free short story for those who had already bought the series.

To promote the release, Alina organized a blog tour for the omnibus edition. I’m afraid I drove her crazy with my control freak tendencies and need to know everything every single day. The blog tour took place over one week in April and included 40 blog stops on various book blogs, featuring reviews, interviews, character interviews, guest posts, and spotlight posts. I was hoping for more reviews, considering the amount of work we put into it, but the ones I got were favorable ones. Still, I didn’t see the spike in sales such tour would make you expect. Instead of the omnibus suddenly becoming my best-seller, the other installments in the series sold more than usual.

For the omnibus, I also released a print edition via CreateSpace. It took a while to figure out the interior layout and the cover requirements, and after that it took even longer for the proof copy to get here, but once it arrived, it looked good and only required some minor tweaking to finalize it. The good part was that I gained confidence in my skills and started offering book formatting services to other indie writers.

I probably should have promoted the omnibus more, but I was already working on a new novel and kind of skipped that part. The sales spiked again in October when I announced the price would go up from $3.99 to $4.99. The novellas kept selling all through the summer, and some people even bought the $0.99 short stories that were free everywhere but on Amazon.

When nothing else sold, Blue Moon Café Series still did despite being a short story collection and me doing no promotion at all. I should write more paranormal; unfortunately, it’s not exactly my thing. However, I took pity on the little book and invested in a professional cover. It wasn’t something planned, I just happened to run into it on a design site, liked it and bought it.

In October, my critique partners finished critiquing the novel Broken People and the companion short story collection The Nightingale Circus, and the final drafts were quickly done. I hired an editor for the novel and a proofreader for the short story collection. The editing process went smoothly and didn’t take overly long. The cover art, however, was a different story. Both illustrations took several extra weeks to be completed, which forced me to delay my plans, and what should have been a double release turned into two separate releases more than a month apart. If I didn’t like the results, I would still be ranting about it. I paid for all this with the earnings made from formatting books all summer.

This time, I didn’t organize a blog tour. I sent to my newsletter subscribers one of the short stories from The Nightingale Circus collection and asked them who wanted an ARC. I also offered ARCs to reviewers who enjoyed my other books. Reviews started to trickle in. For the cover reveal of Broken People, I created a Goodreads event and invited my Goodreads friends. Then I used a Thunderclap campaign to spread the word about the new release. I can’t honestly say either of them were overly helpful.

Another new thing I tried was making Broken People exclusive to Kindle via KDP Select and also have it included in the Kindle Unlimited program, which makes it free for the Kindle Unlimited subscribers. So far, I don’t see any downloads via KU, but it’s still early.

While waiting for The Nightingale Circus to be ready, I started serializing The Impaler's Revenge on Wattpad. A new chapter is posted every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. It didn't get many comments, but it did get read since it entered top 200 in Vampire category. Wattpad is full of vampire stories, so it's not too bad.

The Nightingale Circus was a quiet release, only announced on my blog and social media and accompanied by the usual LibraryThing giveaway. I guess the reviewers were relieved to finally have a cover to associate to the review and a place where to post it other than Goodreads.

It was time for another email blast sent to the newsletter subscribers, announcing the new releases and the upcoming KDP Select free days on Amazon. On a really short notice, I scheduled them for December 25 and 26. I have nothing to compare the results to, but Broken People reached #2 in Cyberpunk category in Amazon Free Top 100 in US, entered top 10 in multiple categories in all of the other countries, and it was #600 in Free Kindle Store. At the end of the two days, there were 800 downloads, including some in the countries where I had few or no sales before that, and The Nightingale Circus sold too.

Bottom of line, it was a good year. The sales doubled each year compared to the previous one, so I must be doing something right. For now, enjoy reading the Broken People series. I’ll start working on a new installment in the series soon.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

KDP Select free days on Amazon – short statistics

Granted, this could have used better planning, but I decided to make Broken People free for two days for Christmas only the weekend before that. I wanted to give my readers a present, and if other people downloaded it, even better.

Since the time was short and the book had been released for only a month and didn’t have that many reviews yet, I didn’t bother with well-known promo sites that do paid promotions. I only sent the dates to a dozen of sites and blogs that feature free ebooks, and a few bloggers I had collaborated with before. I informed my newsletter subscribers, created a Goodreads event and invited my Goodreads friends, announced it on my blog and social media. And then I sat back and waited.

During the two days of the free promotion, December 25 and 26, I was very active on Facebook and Twitter, reminding people the book was free and keeping them updated with the climbing in ranks. Once per day, I posted in several Facebook book related groups, announcing the free dates. And I kept refreshing the sales dashboard page to see the download numbers increase.

At the end of the promotion, there were 700 downloads in US and 800 over all Amazon sites, bringing Broken People to #600 Free in Kindle Store. It reached #2 in Cyberpunk in US and stayed there for a while, and it entered top 10 in several categories on all of the other Amazon sites that had downloads. Spain, Italy, The Netherlands, and Mexico had none, but Japan, India, and Brazil did for the first time ever. It was nice to see my Canadian and Australian readers again; they’re always so prompt at downloading whenever I release something new. Germany’s reaction was surprising because I never had many sales there and now it beat UK by far. I did expect more downloads in UK, but it didn’t happen. Shrug.

It was nice to see the free downloads being accompanied by some sales, particularly for the other book in the series, The Nightingale Circus, but other titles too.

It remains to be seen how this whole experiment with free downloads will affect future sales. If nothing else, it will be like a major LibraryThing giveaway which might or might not bring more reviews in time. Hopefully, it will. And also hopefully, those who actually read the book might discover they like it and turn into dedicated readers. I’d be happy with that.

Oh, what did I tell you? There are two new reviews already, and they are great. :)

"Broken People by Romanian author Ioana Visan is cutting edge science fiction, with a thread of mystery and suspense running throughout. Visan does a great job of creating characters who readers can relate to, and situations that, though science fiction, seem real. Broken People is more than science fiction – it’s a commentary on society’s treatment of those who are different, and how they cope with it.
You don’t have to be a sci-fi fan to enjoy this book."
- Charles A. Ray "Geronimo"

Yes, this is exactly what I want my readers to think after reading this book!

"Keep going, Ioana, you just made me curious about The Nightingale Circus's further adventures. Maybe a war story with the Japanese robot army!" - Liviu Szoke

He he, patience, my friend, we have to get them there first. ;)

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Broken People is FREE on Amazon!

Good morning and Merry Christmas!

Did you have your coffee yet? Something sweet to start the day well? Did you check or recheck your presents? Any chance you found an ereader under the tree and now you're looking for something to read for the holidays?

Well, guess what? Santa left under my tree a present for all the book lovers out there!

Broken People is free on Amazon on December 25 - 26.

So go and download it. And when you finish it, you might want to check The Nightingale Circus too. You can thank me by leaving a review. ;) Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Happy Holidays!

Last year, I was whining about having the tiniest tree in our family history because we also had a kitten and we feared he (she at the time - long story, don't ask!) would destroy it.

This year, we have two kittens and two adult cats and a big tree! And everyone's happy. :)

Merry Christmas!
Best Wishes for 2015! 

Monday, December 22, 2014

New Release: The Nightingale Circus

The Nightingale Circus is out! If you read Broken People and liked the characters, this is your chance to find out why they came to the circus and why they stayed. Read a sample here.

About the same time last year, I was in the middle of writing Broken People, but the winter holidays got in the way, and when they ended, it was hard to get back to writing. The novel had taken an unexpected turn, so I started to think about my characters, who they were and what they wanted for real. I had the first three short stories written in no time.

After that, I returned to the novel and finished it, but I kept adding one short story per month just for fun. I guess I had a hard time letting go of the characters, too. And so I ended up with a short story collection aside from the novel.

If you read The Nightingale Circus first, know that all these characters return in Broken People and work together on a big heist. 

The Nightingale Circus is available via Amazon and Smashwords, and soon through other channels too. If you read it, please take the time to leave a review on Amazon and GoodReads. Thank you.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Cover Reveal: The Nightingale Circus by Ioana Visan

The Nightingale Circus
by Ioana Visan 

Don’t be shy and come inside! The Nightingale is waiting to take flight!

Welcome to The Nightingale Circus! Listen to the singer with an enchanting voice. Watch the knife throwers who are also prosthetic builders. Here is a telecharger on the run and a ballerina with no lungs. There is a broken pole dancer and an Asian bot. You’ll be amazed by a regular girl who becomes exquisite and frightening at the same time.

They’re better known as the famous Nightingale, the Blade Masters, the Magician, the Swan, the Firebird, the Rocket Girl, and the Golden Lady.

They are all waiting to tell you their story about how they came to the circus and why they stayed.

This is a companion short story collection to Broken People.

Coming to your ereaders this December! 

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Impaler's Revenge Wattpad Serial

A year ago, the last novella in The Impaler Legacy series, Order Restored, was being released. To celebrate this and bring more attention to the series, I'm starting a new experiment. I'm going to serialize the first novella, The Impaler's Revenge, on Wattpad. So, yes, you will be able to read it for free, provided you have enough patience to wait for each installment. New chapters will be posted on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

The goal is to get more readers interested in the series, especially those who aren't so sure they want to read yet another story about vampires. But this story is different. It's a political thriller with vampires, no YA, no erotica, no paranormal romance. So give it a try.

If you don't like to wait, The Impaler's Revenge is available on Amazon for only $0.99. Or you can get the omnibus edition, which includes the entire The Impaler Legacy series. Your call.

Either way, start reading here.