IAM Feature…Being a ‘social’ Indie

Guest Feature

Event Feature

No guest author today, just lil oil’ me pondering the value of marketing and social networking for indie writers 🙂 Mel x

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The one thing most writers will agree on, is that you think the writing part is hard…until you release your book and then have to consider how you actually get people to read it! Even over the last couple of years since I released my first book Hope’s Daughter as an indie, I’ve seen the indie writer world change: Goodreads seems to have exploded with people coming to the e-book scene; people are getting more savvy with blog tours, book trailers, well-designed covers…oh and marketing…

No matter how you look at things, everything takes time. When you’re writing, you might give up reading, TV, friends, family…maybe even eating any food that you can’t do with just one hand…but there is an end in sight. Your book has a beginning, middle and end (unless it’s some strange contemporary thing that comes as loose pages in a box that your reader puts together themselves…sorry – I digress) – and when you come to the end of writing the book, edit it and then send it out for the world to see, that part is done.

What begins then is the (perhaps) endless task of promoting your book and getting people to read it. After a while, I imagine some books can gain some momentum and begin generating attention for themselves, but, until you have some reviews on Goodreads, Amazon and co. – until you have a few bloggers reading your book and featuring it on their sites, it can be a very tough nut to crack.

What is tough for any author, but more so for indies, is being your own promoter. If you’re spending time blogging about books or your writing, networking with readers and other authors through websites, blogs and twitbookpindiggit.com then the one thing you’re definitely not doing is writing. Take me for example, right now – the last few hours of free time I’ve had to get on with anything writing related have been spent popping up the guest features for the indie month, posting tweets about the event and now, writing this post. In economic terms, I suppose today, I’m electing to accept the opportunity cost of using my time to do this, rather than the spare hour to progress my ‘Faris’ story.

Does this stuff – Goodreads, blogging, social media – help you get more people reading your books?

Maybe yes, maybe no.

Perhaps a person reading the blog today will say “Hey – I like the waffling style of this person, perhaps their books are equally odd,” then go off to check them out. Or perhaps, I’ll meet another book blogger on here, whose stuff I like reading, which gets me reading other books or thinking about my own writing in a different way, and then I’ll do something different than I might have done before. Sometimes you meet other lovely authors (Mister Talbot is in this group!) 🙂 who become book-buddies and indulge your crazy writing obsession more than ‘real world’ friends might. Plus, it can be worth it for the odd time a reader comes back to you and let’s you know how much they loved reading your book – the positive feedback can make all the time spent cruising the interweb, working out what to post and frittering away good writing time, worth it.

I suppose it all comes back to being about the writing – even if it feels at times like it is completely unconnected (and perhaps even unproductive). So – to help you guys out a little, I’ve shared below some links to interesting blog posts on how to improve your social media stuff as a writer, as well as one for if you want to avoid it altogether. Hopefully then, you’ll find something useful yourself from this blog post and it won’t have been a waste of your time reading it 😉

Links

Duolit SelfPub Team are one of my favourite writing / publishing tip blogs around – I’ve always found their features interesting, useful and real – check them out on Twitter @duolit or online at their site: http://selfpublishingteam.com “Shannon’s the author. Toni’s the geek. As Duolit, we love indie authors, self-publishing, book design, author branding and book marketing. Oh, and Mountain Dew!”

Author Jade Varden blogs on all things writing and has everything from grammar assistance to marketing and social media advice – take a look on Twitter @JadeVarden or her blog: jadevarden.blogspot.com With 24.5k followers on Twitter, she must know something! 

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Mel is currently working on book 3 of her indie sci-fi dystopian series, The Ambrosia Sequence, as well as dabbling with a couple of old ideas for children’s books. She launched Aside from Writing in 2012 and blogs here and at her author blog regularly.

Want to know more? Check out the links!

Blog: http://www.melcj.com

Twitter: @melabupa

IAM Interview with…Kim Smith

Guest Feature

Guest Feature

Our guest author for Indie Month today is Kim Smith, author of An Unexpected Performance and several other adult fiction books. Let’s find out a little more about the lady herself in today’s spotlight interview.

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AUPsmallIf you could have any superpower, what would you choose?

I would totally be able to fly. It has been a dream of mine many times. It feels so weird to be shooting through the air and have the ability to look down and see the world below. It would enable me to get, quite literally, a bird’s eye view of the places I want to visit and write about.

Night owl or early bird?

Early bird. I can accomplish more in the hours before dawn than all the others during the day. It may be because I can feel free to focus on whatever task I am doing. Other times, people, and ‘have to do’ things hone in on my time.

One food you would never eat? Chocolate covered insects. No way.

Your most unusual or random habit? Petting my dog with my feet. She loves the constant stroking and her fur feels good. It’s totally weird, but wonderful.

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

A drama award, a theatrical mirror, and two teens destined to be great actors if their roles don’t get them killed first.

 

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Want to know more? Check out the links!

http://www.kimsmithauthor.com

http://www.facebook.com/mkimsmith

http://www.twitter.com/mkimsmith

Kim’s Radio Show-Writer Groupie – http://www.blogtalkradio.com/writergroupie

Amazon link for Kindle

Amazon link for paperback

IAM Interview with…Mari Wells

Guest Feature

Guest Feature

Our guest author for Indie Month today is Mari Wells,introducing herself through one of our quick ‘This or That’ interviews. Enjoy!

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Pirates or Zombies?

Zombies, I’m writing a novel right now about Zombies. I like the monster aspect of them, and their history is quite interesting. My Husband keeps asking me to write about Pirates though, so many soon. I do have an idea or two for a Pirate story.

 

Popcorn or Chocolate?

Chocolate, always hands down Chocolate. You can’t add popcorn to coffee or ice cream. Raspberry popcorn doesn’t sound as good as Raspberry chocolate. Popcorn truffles just turns my stomach.

 

When you were little, what did you want to be when you “grew up”?

When I was little, I wanted to be a mom, and a poet. Some really mean teachers in middle school told me I couldn’t ever be a poet. I believed them for a really long time too. (For that matter, they told me never to pursue a career in writing.) I believed that for a long time too.

 

What’s the craziest writing idea you’ve had?

Hmm, I’ve had lots of crazy ideas. One idea I’m currently playing with takes what society considers as okay for men/ no no’s for women and trades their places. There’s some taboo subjects in this idea and a lot of comedy. Another idea is a mermaid who works for a fishing company or a sushi shop.

 

Reading or Writing?

Reading or Writing is another hard question. I personally think you can’t have writing without reading. Both are my favorite pass times, they take me from this boring world and let me hang out with my own and other’s imaginations.

 

Good Book or Good Film?

A good book. I’ve never been in movie fog for weeks, but I’m often in book fog for that long. Movies also “spoon feeds” me, I like to imagine what a character looks like or what the setting looks like.

 

Vampire or Angel?

Vampire! I like my angels. Angels are cool and if you can create a good “Bad Boy Angel” I’m a content reader, but Vampires have me 99% of the time. There’s something about vampires that stop my heart. Vampires have been my thing since I was a little girl, and they always be my thing.

 

Drive or Be Driven?

Be Driven, I freak out when I drive. If cars get too close to my sides or ride my tailgate. I get all shaking and have to pull over and let someone else drive. Driving is usually at the root of my panic attacks.

 

Early Bird or Night Owl?

I’ve been an Early bird and a Night Owl. I’ve burnt the candle at both ends too. However, as far back as I can remember I’ve been a Night Owl. Night Owl is my favorite, there’s nothing like being awake late at night writing a paranormal story. 😀

 

Quiet Night In or Out On The Town?

This one was the easiest question of all, No Doubt about it, Quiet night in. I’m the kind of girl that would rather curl up with a good book (or writing utensils) than go out to party. If I really have to, I’d watch a movie (Young Frankenstein anyone?) and cuddle on the couch with the whole family than be out on the town.

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Want to know more? Check out the links!

Blog

Facebook

Twitter

Google +

www.mariwells4@gmail.com

IAM Interview with…Jewel Thief, Michael Crandon

Guest Feature

Guest Feature

Look whose back again! Our indie guest today is author Hazel West, who is joining us for a very special feature: interviewing jewel thief Michael Crandon, the lead character from her latest book… A Company of Rogues.

We’ve featured Hazel several times before on the blog, reviewing her books, as well as in interviews, so it’s a great pleasure to have her join us again to share her latest book with us – we hope you enjoy her character interview as much as we did, it certainly got me wanting to read the book! If you’d like to know more about Hazel, check out our previous features with her here.

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Company of Rogues coverMichael Crandon used to be an impeccable thief, never leaving a trace and never getting caught–that is until he takes a job with a flamboyant millionaire, Charles Randall who has got it into his head he wants the Dalton Emeralds, famous for belonging to Elizabeth I herself. When the heist goes horribly wrong and Michael is forced into hiding, he decides to swear off thieving and turn to more cultured and safe pursuits, such as knitting and drinking tea–oh, and consulting for other thieves on the side; he has to make a living somehow, after all. Then his comfortable world is turned upside down when the Emeralds are stolen and his old partner tells him Randall is out for his blood thinking him responsible. And as if that weren’t bad enough, he’s found himself forced into the company of a young, naive con man who’s got himself mixed up in the mess as well. Reluctantly, Michael agrees he has no choice but to find the Emeralds himself before Randall exacts his pound of flesh. Along with Reilly, the young grifter, Justine, a romance writer and Michael’s lady love, and Victor, the huge, yet friendly, Russian pub owner, Michael conducts this unlikely company of rogues to the ultimate goal of finding a peaceful existence once again–if that could even be possible for the ever unlucky Michael Crandon.

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Hi Michael, thanks for stepping out of the pages of A Company of Rogues to be with us today, it’s been a while since we’ve interviewed a character. So, let’s get started – can you describe yourself to me?

Describe myself? Very well. I’m a middle-aged, retired jewel thief, now running a consulting business for other thieves when they need help on a heist. I’m rather plain in appearance, nothing special—no flash and dash like everyone seems to think jewel thieves should have—and I rather like a good cup of tea and knitting at the end of the day.

How do you feel about your life right now? What, if anything, would you like to change?

Well, as of now, I finally have a somewhat normal and peaceful existence, and I’m quite happy with it. I run my own business and have plenty of time for the things I like to do, mostly living a peaceful life while knitting and drinking tea as well as pursuing my relationship with Miss Aberline. Yes, it might sound a bit dull, but if you’ve had the misfortune I have in my life, then you would understand my love of the mundane.

How do you feel about your family, now that you’re an adult?

Unfortunately I didn’t really get to live with my family as long as I should have. My mother died when I was very young and I don’t remember her, but my father always told me she was a sweet and loving woman—whether or not that was actually true, I liked to believe it. And my father was killed when I was thirteen so I had to fend for myself on the streets after that. I did love my father, and even though he wasn’t able to provide everything for me I never thought any less of him. I could have had it a lot worse.

What do you want from life?

What do I want from life? Survival! Peace from my past and those who come with it and also eventually a life with the woman a love. I hope to quit the criminal business as soon as I get enough funds to live happily away from it all.

How do you fall in love? At first sight? Over a long period?

I hate the idea of love at first sight. I really do. How could it be possible? And I really hate talking about it. And yet, I can’t deny that when I first met Justine Aberline, I knew I loved her. But it wasn’t just love at first sight fairy tale tripe either, it was just that we knew we belonged together. She read me and I couldn’t let her get away then, could I? But after our initial reaction, yes, our love has grown. It’s only a natural occurrence.

How do you decide if you can trust someone?

Well, first off, it’s a good thing if they don’t instantly try to kill me. Besides that, I am not much in the habit of trusting anyone unless I have known them for a long period of time and even then I can only count the number of people I trust on one hand. Being a thief and having to work with questionable characters has taught me how to read people and most of all not to trust anyone when it comes to money or power.

What really moves you, or touches you to the soul?

 I don’t like to say much about that. I’ve been so many years pushing my feelings aside, I hardly knows what moves me anymore, and I don’t like people to pry into it!

 What do you consider your special talent?

Well, if I do say so myself, I was a very good jewel thief and still am when I want to be. I never got caught, and only got on the wrong side of the Yard when I took on inexperienced partners who messed up an entire heist—thus forcing me to retire prematurely.

What do you wish your special talent was?

Hmm, that’s a tough one. I really would like to be better at fighting. I’m rubbish at it and I end up getting beaten a lot for my troubles. Now, don’t get me wrong, I try to avoid a fight if at all possible, but when there’s no way out, I would like to be able to hold my own.

What are you most proud of about your life?

Very little. Nothing in fact, apart from Justine. She’s truthfully the only good thing in my life.

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done? Why?

When I was young, my family could barely scrape up enough money for one square meal a week, so I got in with some bad people and did some illegal things for them (moving certain items) but messed up and ended up getting my father killed for it. I’ve lived with that every day since.

 (The first book of Michael’s series “A Company of Rogues” will be out September 2014)

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DSCN1821_3 About the Author 

Hazel West lives in Florida and took up writing mostly as an excuse to stay out of the heat. Apart from being an Indie author, she also enjoys reading, drawing, drinking coffee, and knitting and crochet. A lover of all this historical and a good deal of folklore and mythology and enjoys seeing how those things can be written into stories.

And here are Hazel’s answers to our tough, but fun, Gimme 10 ‘mini interview’ – each question has to be answered in ten words or less. Let’s see how it goes…

Where do you find your inspiration? Everywhere, anything has been known to inspire me

 

  • What is your favourite aspect of A Company of Rogues?

The characters are thieves and cons but yet good people.

 

  • Who is your favourite character from A Company of Rogues and why?

Reilly. He’s adorable, and if flawed, a good kid at heart

 

  • What are you working on now?

An urban fantasy about the descendants of legendary Irish warriors.

 

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  • hat do you love about most about writing?

Crafting characters that can become real to the reader.

 

 

 Want to know more? Check out the links! 

Blog: http://hazelwest.blogspot.com

Tales From a Modern Bard (short stories/fiction): http://talesfromamodernbard.blogspot.com

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

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

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5289626.Hazel_B_West

You can find all my books here: http://hazelwest.blogspot.com/2013/03/purchase-links.html

It’s Here! Indie Author Month 2014

Guest Feature

It’s here!

Welcome to our third Indie Author Month! It’s come around quickly, hasn’t it? So, over the next few weeks we’ve got a whole load of new books, authors and characters to introduce you to – so sit back, grab a cuppa and enjoy meeting our 2014 Indies! Mel x

Indie Author Month in 2014…?

IAM - Blog2

Guest Feature

Here comes 2014! 

It’s getting close to that time of year again, when we open up the blog to indie authors for a whole month!

This year I was thinking ‘anything goes’ – so if you’re a writer of any genre (not just YA) and would like to take part with a feature on you and your work in May, then drop me a line now at bonniesyorkie [at] gmail [dot] com

If you’ve featured with us before, we’d love to have you back, and if  you’ve never been on our blog, what are you waiting for? 🙂  We already have some authors on our waiting list from last year, so get in touch quickly to secure your place as we only feature one author a day.

If you are a blogger who connects with writers or an author yourself, please share this open invitation with your networks, so that we can reach as many new faces as possible.

Thanks, Mel x

IAM Excerpt…As You Wake by Amy Martin

 

Guest Feature

Guest Feature

One of our favourite YA books in 2012 was Amy Martin’s debut, In Your Dreams. Today she joins us for a feature on the sequel As You Wake, which is out now! You can check out an exclusive excerpt right here, and enter our grand prize competition to bag a copy of your own!

As You Wake - Cover

Zara “Zip” McKee and Kieran Lanier thought they had put the threats from Kieran’s past behind them in the first installment of the In Your Dreams series. But when danger comes for them once again, Zip, Kieran, and their families find themselves on separate summer road trips that none of them had anticipated. When all paths converge in North Carolina, the two families are forced to deal with each other and the secrets they’ve kept out of love and fear.

But Kieran is keeping the biggest secret of all from everyone but Zip. He hasn’t had a dream—about the future, about anything—for months. And while Zip and Kieran are grappling with what the new twist in Kieran’s sleeping disorder might mean, a mysterious stranger reveals information that could change Kieran’s life–or end it.

Excerpt from As You Wake: 

I grab the section of chain link fence that’s rusted away from the pole and hold it aside just enough for Kieran to crawl through to the grassy area under the press box. As I follow him, the fence snaps back into place, scraping my skin through my shirt.
“You okay?” Kieran asks after he turns just in time to see the fence smack against me. He helps me to my feet, and I lean back against one of the metal pillars hidden away in the shadows.
“Yeah. I’m good,” I assure him before changing the subject. “You probably shouldn’t have rushed through your chem final.”
His arms circle my waist, strands of hair falling into his face as he looks down at me. “It was worth it,” he whispers, the smile I give him quickly swallowed by a wave of kisses. My hands wander up underneath his plain white t-shirt, my thumbs grazing the base of his rib cage on either side. Once we finally come up for air, my head foggy and my fingers nearly stuck to his skin with sweat, Kieran takes my face in his hands and looks at me dead on. “I love you,” he says, my ears ringing on hearing him say those words to me for the first time. “I couldn’t let you leave for Chicago without telling you that.”
I don’t hesitate. “I love you, too.”
“And I’m not just saying it because we’re going to be apart for a while,” he goes on, and I hold myself back from saying Or forever in my head or out loud. “I’m saying it because I’ve known all along.” He must see the question in my eyes, because he continues with “But not because I dreamed something beforehand. I’m talking about after we met…I just…I’ve always known somehow. And I kept telling myself, ‘Kieran, you need to stop being such a wimp and tell her. If she doesn’t say it back, then she doesn’t say it back, but at least you’ve told her—‘”
“You’re babbling,” I point out, and he gives me the goofy grin that endeared him to me the day we met.
“Yeah. Little nervous, I guess.”
I put my hand to his cheek. “Don’t be. I love you, Kieran.” My mouth enjoys saying the words, words I’ve never said to anyone outside my family. “I love you. I’ll say it as many times as you need to hear it, because it’s the truth.”

He doesn’t make me say it again. We merge once more, the now-familiar ache of desire in my stomach and the early afternoon heat building up under the press box conspiring to make me weak. I just want to lie down with him in the scrubby grass so we can kiss until all thoughts of Frank Dozier or anything else become a distant memory, but after a few minutes, Kieran pulls away, my lips straining to stay on his.

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Author Biography

Amy Martin wrote and illustrated her first book at the age of ten and gave it to her fourth grade teacher, who hopefully lost it in her house somewhere and didn’t share it with anyone else. Not counting that early experiment in self-publishing, In Your Dreams is Amy Martin’s first Young Adult novel.

A native of St. Charles, MO, Amy currently lives in Lexington, KY with her husband and a ferocious attack tabby named Cleo. When not writing or reading, she can usually be found watching sports, drinking coffee, or indulging her crippling Twitter habit (and, sometimes, doing all three at once). You can follow her on Twitter at @ThatAmyMartin.

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You can read our 2012 review of In Your Dreams here and an interview with Amy here

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Want to know more? Check out the links!

http://www.theamymartin.com
http://www.facebook.com/amy.martin.writer
Twitter: @ThatAmyMartin

Thank you for supporting Indie Author Month!

 

How quickly did Indie Author Month in May fly past?

We hope you enjoyed it as much as we enjoyed hosting all of the lovely indie YA authors you met during the month. The event giveaways will be drawn this weekend and winners posted on the blog shortly.

Thanks again for your support! 🙂

Just Finished…Shades of Grey by Michael Cargill

To accompany today’s feature on author Michael Cargill, here’s our review of his fantastic short story collection Shades of Grey – make sure you’re entered in the massive event giveaway for your chance to win this and over thirty other books by our featured authors!

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I’ve not read a short story collection for a long while so, as it turns out Shades of Grey, was a perfect choice – because it is fantastic!

I read quite a lot and I have to say that it has been a long time since I found myself so ‘transported’ by a book – to the point that the descriptions and world built in the story feel so alive and real that I feel I could turn my head and actually see what the character is looking at – but that was a regular sensation when I was reading this.

So…what about the stories themselves?

Shades of Grey – Thrust into the tortured mind of an intelligence officer undergoing interrogation the story propels you through this flawed character’s disturbing life and memories in a interesting stream of consciousness style. I liked the erratic jumps through time, which felt right for the character and situation he’s in. The frequent f*%$ language also fitted with the situation. It’s a bit of a roller-coaster ride and reminded me a little of books I’ve read in this genre (Ian Flemming, Robert Ludlum). What is done particularly well is the dissection of the main character’s mind – it felt very realistic and vivid.

There and Back Again – Where Shades of Grey takes you deep inside someone’s mind, There and Back Again takes you into the world of war. Although you again get inside the minds of the main characters, for me it was the landscape and horrors of being a normal human being walking through a world torn apart by war that stood out. The difficulties of trying to get your mind to reconcile the brutality of what you see and do with your rational mind are nicely drawn out and explored in this short story.

Down the Rabbit Hole – I actually think this was my favourite of the three stories – there’s a slightly King-ish vibe to the story: the uneasiness of normal life being pushed slightly out of kilter – and I loved Tom! The depiction of a child’s acceptance of the unusual, the painful and interesting was perfectly delivered and I really wanted to step into this story – aside from the fact it creeped me out! – and put my arm around Tom to keep him safe.

My Overall Thoughts: The writing style is great – I liked the immediacy, the vivid reality created in the minds of the characters we meet in these short stories. Each is quite different in the content of the story and the perspective it’s written from, but at the same time there is a clear voice of the author.

One of the things Michael Cargill does very well is crawl into the ‘heads’ of the characters, places and objects he depicts: whether it’s the convoluted inner workings of a tortured, disturbed intelligence officer; the war-torn landscape of WWII France; or the playtime friend of a lonely little boy; his ability to bring the various aspects of a story to life was spot-on for me and I would heartily recommend this collection to people who like a rollicking good read – you’ll race through the stories and enjoy every minute.

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This review was originally posted at Mel Cusick-Jones’ author blog on 26th April 2012.

Welcome to Indie Author Month!

 

It’s finally arrived – forget about our usual features, reviews and guests…for the entire month of May we’re dedicating the blog to promoting a whole host of indepedent authors from the YA world, covering all genres and tastes to help you gear up your reading lists for summer with something a little different!

Of course, no event would be complete without a giveaway – which you’ll know that we don’t normally do – and one lucky reader will be chosen to win a whole host of hard copy and e-book lovelies. Not only that, but along the way you’ll be able to find free download vouchers and extra giveaways from the featured authors, so check in daily Won’t that be nice to take away on your summer jollies?

So without further ado we’ll get on with the event – visit the Facebook page (HERE!) or the giveaway page to enter for your chance to win anything up to THIRTY books donated by the authors featuring in our event and then check back with us each and every day this month to see some great books and mini-interviews with the people who’ve written them!

Our first book and author of the day will be up shortly! Enjoy!! 🙂