Cover reveal of Stones and Finger Bones!

Today I’m taking part in the cover reveal for Jessica Minyard for her debut novel Stones and Finger Bones. Here’s  a synopsis:

Aurelia Barone, Jewel of Starry Stone, harbors no illusions about the purpose of her life as heir to the throne. But after two failed betrothals, she starts to feel like nothing more than a pawn being moved aimlessly about a game board.
 
Until the night she loses everything.
 
Kidnapped by a wise-cracking mercenary with more than one identity, Aurelia embarks on a mission across land and sea to avenge her father’s death.
 
But an evil is rising from the ashes of memory. Insidious magic is stirring. The dregs of a once-powerful nation are thirsty for blood and revenge.
 
They seek to harness Aurelia. To tempt her. To manipulate her.
 
And if necessary, to destroy her.
And here is the cover:
stones_promoIsn’t it great? And here’s some info about Jessica:
Jessica lives in Kentucky with a spoiled pitbull and has a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing from Murray State University.

She wrote and illustrated her first story in the fourth grade. “The Dragon of Grindley Grun” was about an evil wizard, a princess, and a dragon who was actually a prince. She likes to think her writing has evolved since that very first story, even though she still writes about magic and evil wizards, sometimes.

Thankfully, she no longer illustrates her stories. Stones and Finger Bones is her first novel.

Social Media Pic_edited-1
Here’s where you can connect with Jessica:
Twitter: @jl_mizzle
Instagram: @jl_mizzle
Cover design by Ravven (www.ravven.com)

Advice needed

OK guys I really need some advice here. As many of you will be aware, I’ve self-published two novels, The Inheritance and Reunion of the Heart, on Amazon Kindle within about a year of each other (September 2013, August 2014).

The thing is neither of them have taken off – I mean AT ALL – and I’m feeling really low about it. I will admit that I haven’t done a huge amount of promotion for either and I guess you would all say that that is why they haven’t sold much.

But here’s the thing: I’m not entirely convinced about the positive impact of lots of (and sometimes costly) promotion. I’m not convinced that putting them on a number of different promo sites would make a massive amount of difference. Or tweeting about them. Or Facebooking etc.

About a year ago I put The Inheritance on a free promotion. I got nearly 9500 downloads. But I was really disappointed that it didn’t translate into sales. I think part of the problem was that around that time Amazon stopped promoting free books hence my struggle to get more sales afterwards.

So anyway last weekend I decided to do an experiment and put The Inheritance on sale at 99c. I thought maybe I might get a few more sales. I did tweet about it but so far nothing.

I’ve read some ebooks about getting to know how Amazon and its algorithms work and how to use that to my advantage. I’ve tried changing some of the keywords on Reunion of the Heart but that hasn’t seemed to make any difference either.

Some of these books have also suggested various ways to promote your novel strategically, things like setting up a mailing list. But would these work or affect my sales if I haven’t got a book coming out soon? I would also struggle with setting up a mailing list as I haven’t got a clue how it’s done!

I feel frustrated because I think (maybe erroneously!) that my books are as good as many other people’s that are out there and doing OK for themselves. The main problem is that no one knows they’re there. Also, as my husband has pointed out, I write in a broad genre (i.e. contemporary romance) and so it’s hard to target my potential audience with things like good keywords because there are so many titles out there.

Argh! Anyway, I feel like I need to create a good strategy, a plan to give my books a bit of a kick start so that I can somehow let people know that they’re out there and are worth a read. But I don’t know where to start. I’m also tired from my new day job (which is great BTW – I can be thankful for that at least!) and I don’t want to take on too much extra work at the moment.

Any suggestions? Or anyone going through a similar experience?

*I should add that I’ve heard from a writer friend that ebook sales (particularly in the UK) are down which I guess doesn’t help!

My journey writing ‘Reunion of the Heart’

RotH-Cover

I publish Reunion of the Heart tomorrow! Woo hoo! I can’t tell you how excited I am. It’s taken me a while to get to this point and today I wanted to write about… well how I came to write it.

When I published my first novel, The Inheritance, slightly less than a year ago, I did it as a kind of experiment.  It was my second completed novel (the first will never see the light of day!!) and although I knew it was far from perfect, I wanted to have the experience of publishing a book and just see how it went.

My husband encouraged me to publish it – he felt it would be a good experience for me.  And it has been.  Although I will say that I was disappointed by the lack of sales.  However I think that one of the main reasons that The Inheritance didn’t sell that well is because it doesn’t fit easily into a genre.  The best genre description for it is a family saga.

I did pretty well when I put The Inheritance on free promotion a couple of months after I published it. But I was disappointed that the free downloads didn’t translate into sales.

I’ve always felt with my writing that I want to write about what I want to write about, if that makes sense.  I don’t want to feel confined to writing in a certain way.  But if you’re writing a novel that’s going to be hard to market, you’re going to have problems, as I found with The Inheritance.

Reunion of the Heart is a contemporary romance, so it fits much more neatly into a genre than The Inheritance did.  However, with Reunion of the Heart, as with The Inheritance, I was writing about what I wanted to write about.  I didn’t simply choose to  write a romance.

With my latest as-yet-untitled work in progress, it’s been more of a conscious decision to write a romance.  I am very much enjoying writing this new one though, so I’m going to stick to romance for the moment.

So now while I’m writing, I do have one eye on my marketing: am I going to be able to market this book, does it fit well into a genre? OK so you might say that that attitude takes all the fun out of it. Not for me.  I’m loving writing romances and it started with Reunion of the Heart.  Writing it was a lot of fun, especially the editing (yes really!) and making it more romantic on the advice of my wonderful beta readers.

Writing Reunion of the Heart has given me so much more confidence in myself and my writing abilities. The pre-publication response has been wonderful.  I’ve had many people tell me they really want to read it.  Well that is just so encouraging.  I think often in life it’s easy to feel like you’re the underdog, that everyone’s doing better than you, while you struggle away and nothing comes easily.  I feel it’s especially true of indie authors: we can feel as though all our fellow writers are doing so much better than us while we’re struggling with that one paragraph or chapter that we just can’t get right.

With Reunion of the Heart I feel that even if it’s not as successful as I’d hoped, at least I’ve given it my all and had some great responses to it.  This writing journey I’m on isn’t always an easy or happy one, but it’s certainly an exciting and rewarding one.  Even though The Inheritance didn’t do as well as I’d hoped, I’ve had a number of sales and nearly 9500 free downloads.  So people have read it and that’s the important thing.  In publishing Reunion of the Heart I have nothing to lose.

See you tomorrow for the launch!

 

 

Review of ‘Bound’ by Kate Sparkes

Bound

I’m very pleased to be sharing with you my review of Bound by Kate Sparkes. Kate is a writer friend of mine and fellow WIPpeteer for our WIPpet Wednesdays.

Anyway she recently published Bound, her debut novel, and seeing as it’s so fantastic, I wanted to share my review of it with you here. I just want to add before I do that it really is a stunning novel, hugely enjoyable and I highly recommend it. So here’s my review:

This story blew my mind – I loved it! I don’t read a huge amount of fantasy novels, but this certainly makes me want to read more.

It’s the story of Rowan Greenwood, a young woman who’s in love with the idea of magic and finds herself taken away from everything she knows and thrown into a dangerous world, where each day she faces may be her last. Having unknowingly saved the life of her one of her people’s worst enemies, Rowan finds herself powerless to help herself as she begins a journey. She doesn’t know where it will end.

I don’t want to say any more than that in case I give away the plot. But this novel was wonderful, so incredibly imaginative, with a plot that constantly twisted and turned and two main characters who I absolutely loved. Rowan especially was an endearing character, brave and selfless. Aren, although flawed, was an amazingly complex character. By the end of the story, I felt as if I knew both of them well.

The world that Sparkes has created is wonderfully colourful, memorable and vivid. I thought her descriptions were fantastic and they drew me right into the world. I liked the whole history to that world that she’s given us and it makes me realise that a lot of thought must have gone into depicting it. It’s certainly paid off – the countries that Rowan and Aren travel through are not to be soon forgotten.

I won’t forget this book for a long while and I would highly recommend it to anyone.

Bound is available from Amazon.com, Amazon UK and Amazon.ca. For more info about the author you can visit her blog here.

Call for volunteers for cover reveal for Reunion of the Heart!

cover reveal

Well this has certainly come around fast! I’m in the final stages of preparing to publish my second novel Reunion of the Heart.

To tell you a little bit more about it (without giving too much away!), it’s a romance and the story of a young woman who returns to her school for a reunion.  She finds that her life won’t be the same again…

I’m not gonna say any more about it because (obviously) I don’t want to give half the plot away.  But to cut to the chase, I need some volunteers to do the cover reveal for it.

I didn’t do one for my previous novel, The Inheritance.  To be honest I was learning the ropes – I still am but last year when I published it, I had no idea about cover reveals, so I simply shared the cover for it on Twitter.

This time around, having seen other people do it, I thought it would be a good way of generating some interest in my novel.

I’ve decided to do things differently in other ways too for the launch of Reunion of the Heart.  Last year when I published The Inheritance, I did a blog tour which I’ve decided I’m not going to do this time.  Organising and promoting the blog tour was a lot of work and while it was quite fun to do, I didn’t have a lot of people commenting on what I’d shared and it didn’t really seem to translate into sales.

So.  That was then and this is now.  I’m doing this cover reveal and I’m going to do some other promotions for Reunion of the Heart… Watch this space!

Yay editing done!

Editing

Well I’ve actually done it! I’ve finally finished editing my novel Reunion of the Heart. OK so technically I told you I’d finished the other day.  But it needed tweaking, so I tweaked it.  Now all it needs is to be proofread by my mum once she’s back from holiday. Hooray!

My husband is gonna work on a cover for me, so I’m hoping to publish it by the end of the summer at the latest. But I was wondering about something – whether, once I’ve published it, to do a blog tour or not? What are your thoughts?

I did one for The Inheritance when I published it last year, but although I worked really hard for it I didn’t get many comments on the blogs I was a guest on.  I’ve actually heard that blog tours tend to generate more traffic to the host blogs rather than interaction for those doing the blog tour.

I’m DEFINITELY doing a cover reveal this time.  I have to say it didn’t even occur to me to do one last time – I didn’t really know much about the whole process of self-publishing and all that I would need to do to promote my work.  Having seen a lot of cover reveals on various blogs, I think it’s a good idea for me to do one.

And now that I’ve finished editing Reunion of the Heart, I can FINALLY get back to working on my next as-yet-untitled project – another romance, this time with a young woman who’s a teacher as my MC and VERY different to my MC in Reunion of the Heart. I’m looking forward to this; it’ll be good to continue on with it.

When I last looked at it, I remembered that, having written a bit over 4K on it, I’d gone back to the drawing board so to speak and I’d made a whole load of new notes which I really need to read through.  I made more notes because I really needed to flesh out the plot and actually invent some scenes for it – I truly am a plotter rather than a pantser.

Although I don’t always stick rigidly to my original plan, I do find that I can get a bit lost in the story if I don’t have a clear idea in my head as to where the story is going.  So for me it’s best if I have a clear plan in place.  That way I don’t become stranded, as I was with this new project before I did some more planning.

To update you with my blogging progress – well I’ve had some hiccups i.e. not doing WIPpet Wednesday this week as I mentioned in my last post.  But I am blogging more often than I was.  I’m not doing so well keeping up with reading other people’s blog posts.  I must confess I delete most of what comes into my inbox!!

Anyway as I mentioned in a previous post, I’m doing what I can and ultimately that’s all I can do.  I’m getting new followers on Twitter all the time and some new followers to my blog, which is slightly harder to see since I linked my blog to my Twitter and Facebook accounts lol.

I would like to change the theme on this blog sometime soon – I’m a bit fed up with all the pink!  It’s a bit much even for me lol.  So I’ll be working on that at some point.  But not today 😛

I also want to sign up to Google+ (although I may be signed up for it already as I have an Android tablet and phone and they keep telling me that so and so have added me to their circle or something like that) and maybe a few more.  But all in good time.

Where are you at in your writing journey?  Are you happy with the way it’s going?  Do you find it helpful to have a big presence on social media?

Indie Blog Chain

I was tagged by the lovely Laekan Zea Kemp on her blog to take part in a blog hop to help connect and promote indie authors. Laekan is the author of three novels: Breathing Ghosts, Orphans of Paradise (which I’ve reviewed here) and The Things They Didn’t Bury.

So I’ve answered four questions about my work and my writing process.  Here they are:

What am I working on?

I’m currently working on my second novel with the working title Reunion.  It’s a romance, about a young woman who’s invited to her school reunion and what happens to her while she’s there and afterwards.  She has very unhappy memories of her school days so it’s a difficult thing for her to do and she’s only gone along because her best friend, who was also at the school, has encouraged her.

How does my work differ from others in the genre?

A lot of romantic novels I’ve read have been romantic comedies.  This definitely isn’t one.  My character goes through a great deal during the course of the novel.  I don’t give her an easy time of it!!  I think the romance genre is very broad and there’s a lot of scope for how to tell a romantic story.  It doesn’t have to be just romance with comedy or romance with erotica, there are many ways a romantic story can unfold.

Why do I write what I do?

I enjoy writing whatever I feel like at the time.  Having said that I’m finding that in general when writing, it’s a good idea to think about genre and which one your story fits into and to try and tailor it to that.  My first novel, The Inheritance, doesn’t really fit that easily into any one genre which has made it a bit problematic for me to market.  So for me, I feel that writing romance is something that my style lends itself to.  And I’m trying to write for that genre at the moment.

How does my writing process work?

I start off by making a fairly detailed plan – but I seem to end up not sticking to it!  Or at least I stick to the essence of my original plan, but veer from it quite a lot.  The story often goes off on a tangent and I find myself exploring whole other situations and possibilities.  I definitely have an idea in my head of the basic plot though and more or less know how it’s going to end.Jade

I’m now tagging the lovely Jade Reyner who’s the author of Twelve Days – The Beginning and the upcoming Twelve Days – The Future.  She’s a fantastic author and her blog is excellent with plenty of helpful information and humour about the writing process. She also posts short stories and some poetry, so go check her out.

100 followers of this blog!!!

100 blog followers

Just a quick post to say: Yay I’ve reached 100 followers of my blog!!  It’s such a great feeling knowing that there are 100 different people out there wanting to read what I’ve put on this blog, offering me their comments and often advice in my sometimes turbulent life as an indie author.

Thank you to all of you who are following my blog, you don’t know how much it means to me to know that I have your interest in me, my blog and my writing. Having published my debut novel in August last year, it’s been amazing to have the support of my fellow bloggers, many if not most of whom are writers themselves and also on this journey.

And I mustn’t forget to say that I wouldn’t have a blog at all if my husband hadn’t suggested it, so BIG thanks to him too!!

I’m looking forward to an exciting 2014, when I’ll hopefully be publishing my next novel.  So thank you once again and watch this space!

Interview with David Lewis

David Lewis

Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing an exciting new author David Lewis who has just published his debut novel Xakk Marks the Spot.  Here’s what he had to say about his writing process and the path to publication:

When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer?

The dream originally struck between 2nd and 3rd grade.  I had read the entire “Goosebumps” series by R.L. Stine and knew right then I wanted to be an author.  Though the dream came and went over the years, as do many things growing up, it returned in full force around 3 years ago.  I began 2 other manuscripts and decided the stunk.  Finally, the right idea hit and I never looked back.  I’ll continue this in the next question.

 

How did you come up with the idea for Xakk Marks the Spot?

There I found myself hanging out with a friend of mine who happened to live in my garage at the time.  As we were there listening to music and simply relaxing with nothing better to do, a vision popped randomly into my head.  There on the deck of a pirate ship staring back at me were two teenage boys and a girl the same age; a younger boy in the center, on his right a clearly related boy closer to 20, and to the young boy’s left, a blonde girl whose looks could kill.  The ideas began to flow and one day at a time, things became solid enough to begin a book.

 

Did writing Xakk Marks the Spot require much research and if so what did that research involve?

Before I began writing the first book, I went to the library and read deeper into books on writing, and the process as a whole.  It wasn’t my first manuscript, but I was so ecstatic on the idea that I wanted to do everything write (lousy pun intended).  During the same three weeks or so, I plotted out what was originally a series of five books.

I would say more and more research truly came during the actual writing of the book.  The main goal of my new age world of piracy was to avoid becoming the same old 17th century cliché pirate tale with swashbucklers, nearly impossible to understand, go hunting for Black Bar’s cursed gold while on the run from Port Royal.  We’ve all been there and done that; Hollywood, too.  While classics such as Treasure Island, of my favourites, can never be replaced, I felt it was time to give the world something new.  Why not have their tale take place in the future and have them hunting for “lost” treasures of today?

Overall, more of my research went into geographical information, nautical language, and root words of foreign languages in titling elements of the story.  During the year and a half it took to get it to where it is today, I’d like to think I sat on most elements of the story to bring out originality and to avoid nasty plot holes.

 

What’s the biggest challenge you faced while writing it?

My biggest challenge was waking up every day and continuing to work.  Between over 100 rejections by literary agents, people who thought I was crazy and that it would never succeed, stress, and insomnia, the challenges were never ending to say the least.  Though that many agents rejected versions 1 and 2 of my work, version 3 (which is the published work) was only turned down by one agent.  Her response made it feel like she sat on it for 11 weeks, then opened to page one already set on finding something reasons to reject me.  She was very nice about it, but I’d wish she read more than 10 pages.

 

What have you found to be most helpful to your growth and development as a writer? 

Rewriting, editing, rewriting, editing—wash, rinse, repeat.  I look back to the original version of my book, and even at past manuscripts in the drawer, asking myself how in the world did I ever think this was good enough for anyone to spend time on?  It wasn’t.  My biggest growth came from practice, practice, practice.  Tiger Woods never stepped out onto the course for the first time without countless repetition on the driving range.  I had the ignorant opinion that my work would shine through from the very get go due to its originality.  That just wasn’t the case.  There are tons of great books being written by no name authors that will never reach the shelves.  I’d like to think some of the greatest works ever composed will never be read.

 

What has the experience of going through the self-publishing process been like for you? 

The process of publishing seems synonymous to the word migraine.  I found myself in constant mental anguish over every small detail, constantly second guessing my “executive decisions”.  Between final edits, formatting, and the difficult process that is having an artist bring your characters to life, I lost plenty of sleep.  However, being published, regardless of sales success or not, was a major dream of mine since a young age and now it has come true.  Seeing it up on the e-shelves (soon to be paperback) is an indescribable feeling.

 

Looking back over the whole process of writing and publishing Xakk Marks the Spot, is there anything you’d do differently?

I would’ve waited to query literary agents.  I rushed the editing process in a couple months, which felt like enough, only to be rejected again and again.  Even my first full rewrite was rejected again and again.  Also, I would’ve started my social network such as Twitter and Facebook much sooner.  Agents take authors who’ve established a platform much more seriously.  It shows you’re not another hack who read Twilight or Harry Potter with plans of writing something way better.

 

Have you got any tips for other aspiring writers?

Going off what I just said—my absolute number one piece of advice for authors beginning the journey is DON’T QUERY TOO EARLY.  Once you are turned down by your whole list of dream agents, you’re faced with tough decisions.  My next piece—never give up, EVER.  I wanted to quit and give up more times than I can count.  I convinced myself, however, that I’d regret giving up way more than finishing the job and failing.  Once you reach a certain point, failure isn’t an option, as if it ever was…

Thanks to David for being a great interviewee.  If you’d like to find out more about David, his blog can be found here and he can be contacted on Twitter via: @DMWLewis

You can buy Xakk Marks the Spot from Amazon.com or Amazon UK.