Indie Author Month 2013 – Aaaaaaaand, we out!

Guest Feature

All done! 

So, it’s June 1st, which means Indie Month is done for our second year…

We hope you’ve enjoyed finding out about new books and authors, reading the guest posts about why people write, and possibly found some new stories to add to your own reading lists this summer. For us, it has been a pleasure hosting such a lovely, and enthusiastic, group of authors. They’ve tweeted and re-blogged the event all over the place, and come back to check out the other authors regularly – thank you for taking part so actively.

Our giveaway winner has now been selected – congratulations to Karen E 🙂 our email is on its way to you, as I type!

This year, we featured more authors than in 2012, and were able to offer each a different type of post, so we hope you liked seeing something different. The posts attracted just under 2000 views in the month, which was also more than last year, so overall – we’re happy.

Thanks again for taking part – hopefully see you next year!

Mel x

 

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IAM Guest Post…Why I Write Indie

Guest Feature

We’re nearly at the end of Indie Author Month – IAM2013 – and to close the event we’ll be featuring some special posts today from the authors who contribute most frequently to Aside from Writing. For our first feature of the last day, regular Tony Talbot is here to tell us why he is an indie author. 

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Believe it or not, way back in the mists of time (I’m talking pre-2009), there was a mark of shame upon certain writers.

This mark meant they wandered the literary world, lost and forgotten, their voices echoing, unheard. They were The Unworthy, the ones who failed the climb The Five Steps of Publishing. Instead, they toiled in the mines and the valleys and could only look at the shining lights on the summits, dreaming and writing their dreams.

They were The Self-Published.

They all dreamed of one thing, these lost men and women. They dreamed that one day they would find themselves the most precious gifts of all – an agent and a publisher – and their voices would be heard across the world.

Those on the mountains scorned those below. Not good enough, they would shout, loud enough to be heard in the valleys and the mines. The insults would fly from the hills: Self-published! Vanity Press! Might as well throw your money away! No one wants to read what you’ve written! Not for us!

The music makers and the dreamers of dreams below would tell themselves anyway that they were good, they were worthy, that one day They Would Find an Agent, that someday their voices would be heard. They told themselves that, and toiled on.

And so it began to change. There were whispers of rebellion down in the mines. Fires were Kindled. Words were Smashed. In Nooks and crannies down in the dark, things began to change. Slowly at first, but they changed.

The men and women of the valleys slowly stormed the hillside Palaces of The Agents, broke down the Gates of The Publishers and simply rolled over them. No longer would they be needed.

The Lost had found the power of digital light in their hands, and the light was good, the light was powerful. The light had set them free.

***

I was one of those who toiled in the valleys and looked skyward. I was one of those who dreamt of agents and publishers, of seeing my name on a bookshelf in a bookstore (They still had those in 2010, would you believe).

For a while, I think I was getting there. I jumped through all the hoops the agents wanted, some of them incredibly restrictive: Submit only one story at once, double spaced, one sided, loose leaf, first three chapters only, Times New Roman size 12. We do not accept emails. (Seriously. What century were these people in?)

I got a few interesting replies, but if an agent looks at an extract and thinks it won’t sell a million copies, they aren’t interested, and they weren’t. Fair enough; they have mortgages to pay like the rest of us, but what that lead to was a blinkered vision of what they wanted.

You have a short story of 3000 words? Forget it.

Book of Poems? Hold the phone away from your ear until I stop laughing.

Want to publish your book on the 19th century sewage system of Vienna? No chance.

And it was a stigma, that’s what the writing magazines and books called it, a mark on your failings as a writer and human being if you couldn’t get an agent and had to…(rinses out mouth)…self-publish.

It was a dark time for the rebellion.

 ***

It took me a while to realise I didn’t need an agent. I’d already written two books and was starting a third when I read a magazine article about electronic self-publishing. That was when I decided to join the revolution and storm the gates. (This same magazine was one of those who looked down upon the self-published as the lowest of the low – I picked it up again recently, and how their tune has changed!)

So I joined Amazon’s publishing program. I joined Smashwords. Later, I joined Goodreads and Facebook and Twitter and Booklikes, and I did guest posts and blog tours and all the other electronic stuff I do alongside making people and places up for fun. I joined them because I wanted to be in the revolution. I joined them because I wanted my voice to be heard.

 ***

I self-published my first short story on Amazon – The Trunk – on Christmas Day, 2010. Mainly because my mother-in-law had received a Kindle for Christmas and I wanted to see if I could send her the story, and it seemed a good place to start, with something small like that.

Something small. The Trunk is a VERY short story – about 2000 words – about a small boy who hides from the Holocaust. No conventional publisher would ever have touched it; there would be no profit in printing something that short.

I’ve made about $40 from sales of The Trunk, but more importantly to me, there hasn’t been more than two months when I haven’t sold at least a copy. I’m as delighted to sell one a month as when I sell twenty.

Even more important to me, I’ve had reviewers comment that it made them cry. My writing is out there, it’s in the world and making people cry, it’s making them think. I’m pretty proud of that and not ashamed to say it.

And not an Agent in sight.

***

The Agents told me I was not good enough, that self-publishers were the lowest of the low, with no talent and no voice. The people who matter – the readers – tell me the opposite, again and again.

Yes, I stormed The Palace of The Agents. I screamed with the rest of The Lost that we are good enough. We will be heard across the world.

I’m proud to be an Indie. Hear me roar.

IAM Book of the Day…A Case of Poisons, Hazel West

Guest Feature

Guest Feature

Our featured author today is Hazel West – you may remember her from our February feature on her novel On a Foreign Field. Her latest book A Case of Poisons is due for release on 3rd June, today you can find out more about her in one of our special ‘This or That’ interviews.

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Hero or Villain? Sometimes, really awesome villains are harder to lose than really awesome heroes.

Pirates or Zombies? Pirates! And no, I don’t care for zombie pirates overmuch.

 Popcorn or Chocolate? Chocolate, extra dark.

London or New York? London!

 Classical or Pop? Classical; seriously most of my favorite music is way older than me.

 Elf or Dwarf? Well, if I narrow it down to Orlando Bloom or Richard Armatage, then I’m afraid I would have to choose Dwarves.

James Bond or Jason Bourne? Jason Bourne—love a guy who gets the job done without being constantly distracted by the local female life.

Early Bird or Night Owl? Night Owl, but does it still count on those nights I stay up till dawn working on something?

 

About the Author

I’m Hazel B. West, a self published author who currently has four published titles Freedom Come All Ye, Ballad of the Highwayman, On a Foreign Field, and By Blood or By Bond (along with it’s companion backstories) and the upcoming Anthony Maxwell steampunk mystery series. I love English, Scottish and Irish history, and use my research to write historical novels.

 Apart from being a writer, I love to read, sketch, listen to music as well as play my instruments, and drink coffee. I’m a history buff and bibliophile and would love to hike in the mountains if I didn’t live in Florida.

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A Case of PoisonsAnthony Maxwell is a private investigator, a consultant for the mostly incompetent inspectors at Scotland Yard, on occasion a writer, and always a lover of coffee. He has been working small cases for several years to pay the bills when he’s introduced to the first multiple murder case of his career early one morning, when a witness catches a man trying to unload a body to bury in a nearby graveyard. Soon the first body is joined by three more in the course of a single morning and Anthony knows this is no ordinary serial murder case. And why is the murderer targeting beggars and urchin children? If that wasn’t cause enough to worry, all the victims are covered with horrible wounds and show signs of exotic poisoning. Anthony, along with his partners Tobias—an ex-broadsman and well-know charmer—and Scamp—a street smart and talented young woman—work to find out who is murdering the helpless beggars and children in such horrifying ways. The first book in this new Victorian steampunk series takes the three companions to the limits of their abilities as they go up against canny murderers, bruisers who appear invincible, anarchist groups, and even ancient British royalty in the biggest case Anthony Maxwell has ever worked in his career.

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Want to know more? Check out the links!

Blog: http://hazelwest.blogspot.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/artfulscribbler

Pintrest: http://pinterest.com/artfulscribbler/

Anthony Maxwell’s Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Anthony-Maxwell/978987912241341

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17557133-a-case-of-poisons

Purchase Links: http://hazelwest.blogspot.com/2013/03/purchase-links.html

IAM Interview…Richard Phillips aka Richie Earl

Guest Feature

Guest Feature

Our featured author today is Richard Phillips. This morning we featured a preview of his second book Return to Finndragon’s Den, which launches today – now you can find out more about him in one of our special ‘This or That’ interviews.

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Finndragon Banner

 

Half-Empty or Half-Full? Half-full every time. I’m an optimist and always look on the bright side.

Cats or Dogs? I just love dogs. I have a rescue dog named Benson who’s nearly 10 years old now. Many of the characters in the Tales of Finndragon series are based on people I know, and there’s a dog called Bones who’s based on Benson.

Heads or Tails? There’s a saying where I come from: ‘Tails never fails for Wales.’

Reading or Writing? There’s never enough time in the day to do both. At the moment writing is taking up so much of my free time, that I haven’t read a book for a about a month.

James Bond or Jason Bourne? I must be the only person who doesn’t like James Bond. I can remember watching Roger Moore use a load of crocodiles as stepping stones when I was kid. I thought it was so unrealistic. I like stories, however fantastical to be believable, with rules that can’t be broken.

Summer or Winter? I love the sun, but unfortunately winter seems to last twice as long as summer in Wales.

City or Country? I live in a town, but the countryside is literally on my doorstep. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve spent many happy days exploring the wonderful landscape. I drew inspiration for my novels from the ancient site of Morlais Castle, a 13th century castle within 2 miles of my home. There is very little trace left these days.

Early Bird or Night Owl? I’ve always been an insomniac, even more so since I started writing, often staying awake past 2am. The trouble is I have children to get to school and a day job which gets me out of bed by 7am.

 

About the Author

My name is Richard Phillips and I write Young Adult Fantasy novels, under the pen name Richie Earl. I self-published my first novel, The Legend of Finndragon’s Curse, as an ebook on Amazon in December 2011 and recently on Smashwords. It is the first book in a two part series entitled Tales of Finndragon. I had an offer of a publishing deal from a small Welsh publisher, with regards to book 1 over sixteen months ago, but I haven’t signed as yet. The publisher applied to the Welsh Book Council for a grant to help with the cost of publication, which was declined last summer.

 

Any reader who likes to lose themselves in a fantastical new world will fall in love with The Legend of Finndragon’s Curse. The protagonists are ordinary children without any special abilities, longing to find their missing father and resume their normal family life. The children discover an ancient scroll relating to a fifteen hundred year old Welsh legend and another clue of a photograph in their father’s belongings. So they set off to find him in the cursed Kingdom of Morgannwg. Their epic quest brings them into contact with medieval knights, wizards and magical creatures. It is a story of heroism underpinned by family values. Book 1 has a cliff-hanger ending, leaving readers thirsting for more. I am sure that fans of Harry Potter would be enthralled by these books.

 

I have to admit that I was very naive when I first self-published. Over the last twelve months I have started to build my platform, and I now have a growing presence on Twitter (@finndragons), Facebook (Tales of Finndragon)and Goodreads. As well as the two novels, I have two as yet unpublished children’s picture books written in verse and a collection of poetry.

 

The second book, Return to Finndragon’s Den., is out on 29th May. It will be released as both an ebook and paperback, with a paperback version of book 1 also to become available. I’m also preparing separate versions of both books for the US market.

 

I am 47 years old and have worked as a Registered Nurse since 1985, currently employed by the Welsh Blood Service. I am married with three young children and managed to write my novels despite my hectic work and family life. My children were the inspiration for these books, and I based the leading characters on them.

 

I enjoy running, having completed the past two Cardiff Half Marathons. I also enjoy cycling when I have the time and I recently been joined by my two youngest children on a regular 10 mile ride.

 

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Want to know more? Check out the links!

 

The Legend of Finndragon’s Curse on Amazon

 

Return to Finndragon’s Den link will be available from May 29th.

 

Twitter @finndragons

 

Facebook Tales of Finndragon

 

Goodreads

IAM Book of the Day…Tales of Finndragon

Guest Feature

Guest Feature

Our featured author is Richard Phillips, and he’s joining us today for the launch of his second book Return to Finndragon’s Den. Let’s find out more about him and his books!

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Finndragon Banner

The series starts with The Legend of Finndragon’s Curse

Three children racing against time, desperately searching for their missing father.

A medieval kingdom cursed by an evil wizard.

An ancient legend beneath our very feet.

The Legend of Finndragon’s Curse is the first book in a unique, two book fantasy adventure series and is a fast paced, engaging and thrilling page turner. The story races along with plenty of twists and turns as it heads for the prophesized confrontation between the children and the evil Finndragon himself.

Combining wizardry and magic with modern technology and containing magical animals and terrible demons, The Legend of Finndragon’s Curse is a rollercoaster of emotions that will make you laugh out loud and then fight to hold back the tears, as the children race against time to rescue their father. In doing so they have to kill Finndragon and put an end to the dreadful curse.

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The story continues today with the release of Return to Finndragon’s Den…

Finndragon book 2

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My name is Richard Phillips and I have written a YA fantasy series entitled Tales of Finndragon, under the pen name Richie Earl. Book 1, The Legend of Finndragon’s Curse, was launched December 2011 and has had some excellent reviews. Book 2, Return to Finndragon’s Den, is to be launched May 29th on Kindle and a week later in paperback.

I’ve lived all my life in Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales, which is quite a large town by Welsh standards. I’m a family man and have been married to Angela for sixteen years and have three children: Katie 13, Lucy 9 and Jonathan 7, who have inspired and encouraged me to write. The family is completed by Benson, a rescue dog who has been with us for nine years. I have based the main characters in the story upon my children.

Writing has been in my blood since an early age, when I particularly enjoyed writing poetry. A talent inspired by my late grandmother. At the time I wrote for my own pleasure and was reluctant to share my work with even close family and friends.

I did start a YA sci-fi novel many years ago, which I will come back to soon. Following the sudden death of a close friend, I wrote a collection of stories about our adventures which I’ll publish in the future. But for the time being I want to concentrate on writing what I love the most – YA fantasy where I can let my boundless imagination run wild. My next project is an apocalyptic, time-changing sci-fi/fantasy adventure for young adults.

I’ve also written two picture books, in rhyme, for younger children. I haven’t decided what to do with these as yet as I’m unsure whether to find an illustrator myself, or to seek an agent or publisher.

I have to juggle my writing schedule with a busy work and family life. I qualified as a nurse over twenty years ago and currently work for the Welsh Blood Service, which involves travelling to various towns across South Wales collecting blood donations.

When I’m not writing or promoting my book, I like to occasionally work-out in the gym, I run regularly and enjoy cycling, particularly with Lucy and Jonathan. I’ve completed the last two Cardiff Half Marathons and I’ve entered the event again this year.

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Want to know more? Check out the links!

http://www.finndragon.com/ (Website)

@finndragons (Twitter)

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6523833.Richie_Earl (Goodreads Author)

IAM Interview…with Jack Croxall

Guest Feature

Guest Feature

Our featured author today is Jack Croxall. We recently spotted a review of Jack’s book Tethers on Goodreads and liked the look of it so much that it’s in our ‘To Read’ pile now. You can expect a review of Tethers in the near future on the blog, but in the meantime, why not find out more about Jack and his writing in today’s interview. Enjoy! 

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Jack Croxall - Author Photo Born in High Wycombe, Jack Croxall now lives in rural Nottinghamshire with his chocolate Labrador, Archie. He has a degree in Environmental Science from the University of Nottingham and currently toils away as a science writer in between working on his books.

 If you could jump in to a book, and live in that world, which would it be?

That’s easy! I’d live in Lyra’s universe from His Dark Materials because everyone gets a daemon (a physical, animal representation of your soul). In the meantime, it’s great fun trying to work out what yours might be. I think mine would be a heron because I’m patient, persistent and I love water!

You’ve found a time machine on your driveway this morning – where are you going to go in it?

I think I’d probably go back to the time of the dinosaurs, if I managed to not get eaten, I could come back and tell everyone what colour they were!

How did you celebrate the sale of your first book?

I jumped around the room madly waving my arms! I wasn’t even alone at the time :S

What inspired you to want to become a writer?

In 2011 I was diagnosed with CFS and subsequently found myself housebound for a number of months. I had always felt I had a novel in me, but suddenly I had the time to produce it. My illness also influenced the mindset of my central characters, Karl and Esther; they are frustrated at being stranded in their small town with no way out to explore the wider world. This frustration was no doubt born from my own aggravations at being unable to get out and do anything.

What has been your most rewarding experience since being published?

Definitely seeing people talk about my characters (in reviews or on social networks for example). They lived exclusively inside my head for so long but having other people meet, enjoy and talk about their company triggers a feeling like no other.

Can you see yourself in any of your characters?

Maybe …

How do you react to a bad review?

Sadly, bad reviews are perhaps inevitable but it doesn’t stop them hurting! Obviously not everyone is going to like your book, which is completely fine, you just have to find a way of hardening yourself to them!

Is there a song you could list as the theme song for your book?

I can’t really think of one particular song, but I have put together a playlist of songs I listened to whilst writing the book. You can check it out here: http://bit.ly/Zr6l9U

What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?

Can I give two instead? Firstly, read as widely as you can – not exclusively stuff from the genre you write in. I’m not just talking about fiction either; blogs, newspaper articles, pamphlets, menus, billboards, DVD boxes, E-mails, all can be sources of great writing – you need to absorb as much of it as you can! Secondly, get involved with the larger writing community. With social networking it’s never been easier and most writers really are wonderfully supportive. I’ve found talking to fellow book/writing types incredibly helpful so, please, get involved; my twitter handle is @JackCroxall – if you’re interested, add me for a chat!

Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.

Because there is so much more at stake than the central characters realise!

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Tethers Cover
In the wake of a cold Victorian winter, two teenagers discover an anonymous journal filled with strange passages and bizarre scribblings.

The journal soon draws them into a covert and sinister conspiracy, a conspiracy centred around an otherworldly artefact with the power to change everything …

Karl and Esther have spent almost every day of their thirteen years in the quiet market town of Shraye. Stifled by their rural surroundings and frustrated by their unfulfilled ambitions, they find the allure of the journal’s mysterious pages impossible to ignore. The book seems to be beckoning them away from Shraye, away from their homes and towards the coast where an unsolved disappearance has set in motion a dark chain of events.

The voyage the teenagers soon find themselves undertaking is one of desperate importance and true peril; it will change the way they see the world, and each other, forever.

Reviewers’ Comments:

The story begins with a break away from home that is reminiscent of the exploration stories of Enid Blyton and Arthur Ransome, the kids find themselves on a metaphorical rollercoaster cart racing down the tracks. And the brakes are off. Sword fights, pistols, unfortunate deaths and curious objects, the plot thickens with every twist and turn. Suddenly Blyton meets H.G. Wells, and a brilliantly paced steampunk tale of machinery and science-based magic unfolds. (Charlotte Morris – MuggleNet)

Somewhere between Pullman’s Sally Lockhart mysteries and Moonfleet sits Tethers, a rip-roaring debut novel. Sharply written with well observed characters that you can root for, Tethers has you turning pages faster that Ronald MacDonald can throw out burgers. (Sharon Sant – author of the Sky Song trilogy).

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Want to know more? Check out the links!

Add on Goodreads: http://bit.ly/13JaDq1

Buy the book

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/WRf4vI

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/12ozq7Q

Connect with the Author

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JackCroxall
Website/Blog: http://jackcroxall.co.uk/
Goodreads profile: http://bit.ly/11UOYPf

IAM Guest Post…The Joy of Sampling


Guest Feature

Today on Indie Author Month we welcome author Sara Zaske as our guest. Sara is an expat American writer living in Berlin, Germany. Her debut novel, The First, is available at all places that sell fabulous books. She’s currently revising a scorcher of a second novel called, Spitfire. You can visit her book blog at YA Fantastic Book Review.

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The Joy of Sampling

I’ll admit it. I’m a serial sampler.

I often cruise Amazon or Smashwords to download free samples of books. I probably have hundreds on my Kindle. Of course, I’m a book blogger, a writer, and an all-round reading addict, but I think every reader should sample books with the same abandon.

Why sample? Because you can. When you pick up a book at a bookstore, what’s the first thing you do? Look at the cover? Read the flap stuff? I open it and read the first line or paragraph. For me, it’s the only way to tell if it’s going to be a good book. Usually though, I like to read 10-20 pages before I decide to get it. But by then, the bookstore employees are looking at me funny.

With ebooks, you can read the first couple chapters of nearly any book that catches your eye and read them at your leisure. This is one of the best ways to discover Indie authors because let’s be honest, there’s a lot of chaff out there in both traditional and Indie publishing world. And who wants to spend time and money on a dud?

No Kindle? No problem. Even if you don’t have an ereader, you can sample books on your computer, iPad or smartphone. Smashwords allows you to sample books in almost any format. And Amazon has free apps that will turn almost any device into an ereader. (So does B&N, see the image next to Nook book buy link: example.)

Of course, sampling is super easy if you have a Kindle or a Nook. Just click Send sample on the right of a Amazon Kindle book page (example), or the Get Free Sample link next to the Buy Now button on Barnes & Noble (example).

What to look for in a sample? I probably don’t have to tell you. You know it when you read it. But here are some of the things I look for:

Grabber opening—Sets up an interesting problem from the get go, usually in the very first line

Great character— A main character who is sympathetic but flawed (problems are always more interesting than perfection)

Voice—A confident storyteller who makes no mistakes, earns my trust, and generally gives me the feeling that my imaginiation is in good hands

Start Now! A great place to begin sampling is right in front of you: this very blog. Cruise the Indie author postings from this month, click their links, download free samples, and start reading.

The First by Sara ZaskeI’ll give you a taste right now. Here are the opening lines from my YA urban fantasy novel, The First:

“I should have never gone to the new girl’s house. The walls didn’t need to melt, and the ground didn’t have to disappear under my feet to know that I should have stayed far away from Violet Starkey . . .“

Want more? Download a longer free sample of The First from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Smashwords)