Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What makes you buy a book?

I’m interested in knowing what makes you buy a book. Is it the cover? Is it by an author you’ve read before and you like their work? Did a review catch your attention? Is it the back blurb? Recommended by a friend? Adverts? Samples? Price? While browsing in a shop or on the internet? Or is there something else that makes you purchase the tome?

And once you’ve read the book, regardless of whether you enjoyed it or not, do you review it or recommend it to friends? Or do you only review the books you enjoyed?

Like many authors, I find it hard to get people to buy my books, and it’s a fine line between spamming and promoting (some people might say it’s all spam). Now I class myself as a bottom feeder searching for scraps while the sharks circle around taking the prize cuts, which is why every review and recommendation helps, so it would be really cool if you enjoyed a book, you spent a couple of minutes writing a review or just making a quick post to let people know (any book, any author).

And not being one to miss an opportunity, it’s my birthday tomorrow, and any help spreading word about my own book(s) would be a fantastic gift that costs nothing, but means so much :)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Vacation Reads Blog Tour - week 3

Another week, and another blog tour post.

REQUIEM by Heather S. Ingemar

Hattie Locke has a gift: when she sings, the dead dig themselves from their graves to listen. As a death-siren, her life has always been this way.

Then the dead begin to show up in numbers far beyond expected. With each song she sings, they grow pushy and demanding, rushing the stage to reach her. Trapped in a place where her dreams of music become her nightmares, Hattie is left with nowhere to turn.

But then she meets a boy, who promises freedom from her curse.

Now Hattie wonders: is ridding herself of her voice worth losing the music she’s lived to create?

Heather, tell us a bit about yourself and your novella, "Requiem".

In some ways, Hattie reminds me of myself. I came from a musical family, and I delved right into all of it. By the time I was a sophomore in high school, I’d mastered seven different instruments, and it was pretty much thought a guarantee that I’d pursue Julliard, or Berkeley, or some other prestigious music school. Imagine everyone’s surprise when I decided to major in English lit!

Thankfully, I had a more-or-less understanding family who allowed me the space to pursue my words (they knew I wasn’t leaving music completely, and they were right; I still play now and then) – however, I faced extreme opposition from others. It was these experiences that I drew on in creating Hattie’s unusual situation. What if my family hadn’t let me do my own thing? What if they reacted like these vehement strangers and teachers and friends who all thought they knew best for me?

Combine that with my morbid streak (zombies! death! magic!), and "Requiem" was born.

DEADFALL by Shaun Jeffrey

A team of mercenaries race to an abandoned mining village to rescue two children held hostage by rogue ex-soldiers. But the kidnappers are a ruse, the real threat more terrifying than any of them could imagine.

Aided by a couple of unsuspecting eco-warriors, mercenary team leader Amber Redgrave must fight to survive against foes that don’t sleep and don’t feel pain.

Now as the body count rises, so do the stakes, and when the dead won’t stay dead, there’s going to be hell to pay.

Shaun, what are some ways in which you promote your work? Do you find that these add to or detract from your writing time?

As a writer, promotion is one of the hardest things to do as you’re competing against thousands of other authors for a reader’s attention. To promote my work, I participate in things such as this blog tour. I post on message boards. I maintain a presence on Myspace, Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Goodreads and other sites. I help by sending out review copies. I do interviews in magazines and online. But it all takes time and obviously detracts from the writing side of things. I don’t think it matters whether you’re published by a major publisher or a small press one, most authors need to help promote their work. Now readers are a major part of this, and I would ask that if anyone has read a book and enjoyed it, they show their appreciation and help by posting a short review on any of the book sites such as Amazon or Goodreads etc, as it goes a long way towards helping an author along what is a long and lonely road. It only takes a couple of minutes, but I'm sure the author concerned would be most grateful.

For more info on my work, please check out


This week's feature includes a mini-interview with a contributing author, Jaym Gates.

What was it like to write for Aether Age, Jaym?

I have to admit, when I first heard about the Aether Age project, I kind of wrote it off. Like so many other things, I'd heard about it on Twitter, when a couple of guys asked me if I would be involved. At the time, I was in California for a week, on vacation, and heading for some major deadlines.

I said I'd try. I wrote four different starts. My computer crashed, I was trying to put out a wildfire in the writing community I was administrating, I was running too tight on the deadlines as it was. On top of that, it's been established that I don't play well in other people's worlds. I'm an unrepentant devotee of massive, detailed worlds, and had several failed collaborative attempts behind me.

A week before the deadline, I took my retired dinosaur of a computer and hammered out a first draft, a second draft, polished, sent it in 2 days before deadline...before the deadline was extended. The editors asked me if I'd be interested in writing another story. Ok, well, if you insist.

The world of Aether Age is difficult to write in, the first time through. Anything dealing with ancient Egypt or Greece is going to be problematic. The sheer level of detail is boggling, and the confusion. Was this ruler male, female, 1st Dynasty or 20th? Add a complex alternate history, and there are thousands of possibilities. It's like trying to find the one special blueberry in a 5 pound box.

But, it does get a writer thinking. How would technologies change religion? How would airships change economy? How much horror would you get from mixing an unstable, unknown eternity of space with an endless pantheon of gods?

My stories explored the horror. What happens when criminals and monsters are abandoned on a rock, thousands of miles from anything they know, reliant on an atmosphere that goes away every now and then? What are those shadows in the dark? Where did the legends of Hades come from? What new gods would form in the endless depths of space, and how would they be worshiped?

Join me in the Aether, in the Age of Helios, this fall. It will be the adventure of a lifetime.

Check the master site, for links to more blogs and participating authors' info.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Vacation Reads Blog Tour - week 2

If you're planning your holiday, don't forget to pack an exciting book.

This week's Vacation Reads Blog Tour features four new titles, including interviews with the authors, book blurbs, and more. Check for more information at the Vacation Reads web site and don't forget to leave comments on at least one of the participating blogs (see Vacation Reads for the full list), as well as on the site itself, to enter the drawing to win prizes that include copies of the authors' books, and more!

AETHER AGE ANTHOLOGY, edited by Brandon Bell

A past remade…

Take flight on airships, balloons, and wooden rockets. Soar with winged hoplites, exiled princesses, explorers and philosophers. Witness the struggle for equality, freedom, and power like you never have before.

Explore a history transformed and travel into the heavens to discover what awaits the civilizations of Humanity in...

Tell us about this anthology, Brandon. What was it like for you to work as editor?

Aether Age: Helios was my first crack at working as editor. By the time Aether Age grew into something almost ready to open to submissions, Chris Fletcher made the offer for me to co-edit the anthology, probably on the basis of my involvement to that point, coupled with what he knew of me as a writer. Being a decent writer does not equal a decent editor, but I'd also done the guest post on M-Brane outlining my ideas about what makes a good story, so Chris must have believed he had enough data about what kind of editor I might be to feel some confidence.

I've read interviews with editors that I respect and blog posts by writers discussing their experience in magazines and anthologies. Writers sometimes feel betrayed by the inclusion of another story, or otherwise compromised due to an inclusion, exclusion, or lack of editorial vision. And depending on the lens, Chris and I could look either terribly unpromising or a potential win —at least in the matter of a diversity of views: two white guys (ah, hmmm), a gay guy and a straight guy (oh, could be interesting), a non-christian and a buddhist (really?). All these are just details, though. Diversity was never even a discussion we had, it just happened. I'm happy on this point: we have a nice balance of female to male and a great world-spanning contributor list.

Ok, but what about the stories?

Yes, that's what matters. I won't name names, but I find reassurance that the tale I liked least during our reading period has grown into one of my favorites. Story, well told, trumps the most jaded of reader expectations.

Our guiding editorial principle was simply to cover the range of time envisioned with interesting tales that varied in tone. We didn't want a bunch of dark stories or only stories that dealt with swashbuckling and adventure. Though AeA has all that.

Some of the stories are not 'my type of tale'. Not the sort of thing I'd typically read. And I'm really happy about those stories. I know a book like Aether Age, so difficult to blurb or explain, is going to be a hard sell for readers of a more romantic or mainstream bent, but I wish I could put it in the hands of exactly that reader. There's just enough darkness, danger, and adventure to make the gentle moments and so very human relationships echo in the way that only seems to happen when a set of stories are presented as facets of their own history.

We all love superstars. Having a superstar in AeA would help sell copies, for sure. Well, we didn't get the literary equivalent of U2 or The Beatles. And that is good. If you are like me, you've had that pet band you know and love that just never attained the household name-recognition of the superstars. The Mars Volta, The Tragically Hip, Arcade Fire, Portishead... notwithstanding my Canadian readers for whom a couple of these ARE huge bands, down here in Texas these are the good stuff that no one seems to know about.

Maybe we have some future superstars in our midst among the AeA table of contents. We certainly have writers who are widely published and making names for themselves. But for now, here's the short story equivalent to the 'educational mixtape' you might put together in the hopes of pulling your hopelessly misled buddies away from Lil Wayne and Justin Beaber.

In that same spirit I present to you The Aether Age: Helios. For your enjoyment and edification.

THE KULT by Shaun Jeffrey

The Kult - People are predictable. That's what makes them easy to kill.

Tell us about yourself, Shaun.

My name’s Shaun Jeffrey, and having grown up in a house in a cemetery, it’s pretty safe to assume I was never going to be writing love stories, and perhaps goes some way to explaining my attraction to the dark side of the literary spectrum.

I’ve been writing on and off for around twenty years, and it never gets any easier. But then that’s all part of the challenge and the fun. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it, and while everyone may have a story to tell, not everyone can tell it.

Now along with cover pictures, I think taglines are important. They sum up the story in as few words as possible and hopefully entice readers to buy the book. Or at least to give it more than a passing glance. ‘People are predictable. That’s what makes them easy to kill.’ That’s the tagline to my novel, The Kult, which is a fast paced serial killer story that contains a mix of horror, crime and mystery.

Is it true that it has been optioned for a movie?

The book was optioned at the end of last year by Gharial Productions, and shooting on the film begins in September. It will be interesting and exciting to see my story brought to life, a story that award winning author Jonathan Maberry called ‘a bumpy ride through nightmare country’. I have two other novels available, ‘Deadfall’ – when the dead won’t stay dead there’s going to be hell to pay. And ‘Evilution’ – humankind is about to change.

Details of these and any other projects can be found on my website: and sample chapters and my previously published short story collection ‘Voyeurs of Death’ can be read for free at


What is your book about, Alix?

Based Upon Availability delves into the lives of eight seemingly ordinary women, each who pass through Manhattan’s swanky Four Seasons Hotel. While offering sanctuary to some, solace to others, the hotel captures their darkest and twisted moments as they grapple with family, sex, power, love, and death. Trish, a gallery owner, obsesses over her best friend’s wedding and dramatic weight loss. Robin wants revenge after a lifetime of abuse at the hands of her older sister. Anne is single, lonely, and suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder. Drug-addicted rock star Louise needs to dry out. Southerner-turned-wannabe Manhattanite Franny is envious of her neighbors’ lives. Sheila wants to punish her boyfriend for returning to his wife. Ellen so desperately wants children, she’s willing to pretend to be pregnant. And Morgan, the hotel manager— haunted by the memory of her dead sister—is the thread that weaves these women’s lives together.

In this an utterly original read, I try to ask and answer the age-old question; ‘what happens behind closed doors’ while examining the walls we put up as we attempt intimacy, and inspecting the ruins when they’re knocked down.

Alix Strauss

NATIVE VENGEANCE by Julie Achterhoff

Julie Achterhoff is the author of three books, Native Vengeance, Quantum Earth, and Deadly Lucidity. They are paranormal thrillers. She grew up reading such authors as Stephen King and Dean Koontz, which influenced her own writing. She has been writing since childhood, scaring her teachers with her horror stories. Reading has also been a great influence on her. Her books can be found on in regular form, and now on Kindle for $3.19 a piece. They can also be purchased from the publisher at You can read parts of her books on BookBuzzr.

Why did you become involved in your particular genre?

I just love scary stuff! It's exciting for me to write stories that will scare people and make them wonder if something like that could really happen. When I was a kid I read every scary book I could get my hands on. I loved H.P. Lovecraft and others that kept me up at night. I enjoy creating characters who are strong, yet also vulnerable, so the reader can relate to them throughout the story. I also enjoy writing a strong storyline that will keep readers engrossed until the very end. I also like adding a romantic element in my books. I think that gives them a little spice. I believe that thrillers are the most interesting books. They can really get to you!

Read more about these, and other great titles at Vacation Reads.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Vacation Reads Blog Tour

Something a little different this week. During the month of July I’m participating with several authors in a group blog tour called Seasonal Reading that will feature different books to lose yourself in during the summer months. My book will feature on another weekend.


1. Each weekend there will be great prizes, including copies of the featured titles, promotional items, and more! To enter the drawing, please leave a comment on one of the blogs AND on the master site at Seasonal Reads.

2. BONUS DRAWING: If anyone features any of the titles on their blogs and sends the link (in the comments section), they will be eligible for a second drawing, to win more of our great prizes.

Winners will be notified in early August.

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ALIEN DREAMS, by John Rosenman

Captain Eric Latimore leads a four-person crew to Lagos to investigate a previous team’s mysterious disappearance. Once there, he discovers that an ominous alien presence is invading their dreams. Each member of his crew has the same dream–huge, seductively beautiful “angels” speak to them telepathically.

The creatures strand his crew on the planet and only Latimore can free them–if he survives.

What is different about ALIEN DREAMS, John?

I think Alien Dreams stands out from other space operas because I tried to open myself to and expand the vast conceptual possibilities of the genre. Captain Latimore faces a unique threat to his crew on the planet Lagos: beautiful but deadly angel-like aliens who invade their dreams. To save his crew, he must not only change into a gigantic angel himself, but mate with their ravishing queen for thousands of subjective years. I believe this erotic scene breaks new ground, as does the hero himself, who is not one but two: a silent brother exists within his mind and ultimately tries to take over. Finally, Latimore must travel across the universe and do battle with a cosmic Gatekeeper for control of the universe. In such areas, I try not only to explore new dimensions but to illuminate what it truly means to be human.

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UNSEELIE, by Meredith Holmes

When Alfhild was a little girl, her grandmother called her a fairy princess and told her all of her favorite tales.

She’d never imagined they were real.

Anxious to avoid the swarming reporters and ghoulish souvenir hunters who won’t leave her alone when her brother Gulliver is tried and acquitted for multiple murders he almost certainly committed, a grown up Alfhild changes her name to Lorelei and flees Louisiana to the sanctuary she inherited from her grandmother, the ancestral home in England.

All is well until she wakes one morning to find a naked man in her rosebush.

And the games begin . . .

Can you tell about your book, Meredith?

I fell in love with urban fantasy by accident–one day I saw a card in a local metaphysical shop, one of those blank jobs that you fill out for random occasions, when you forgot a birthday or need to send a thank you note and don’t like what the mainstream card shops have to offer (you can only deal with so many dancing bunnies and softly flourished flowers, after all). The card had a picture of a autumn-colored man clad in green velvet and wearing a crown of dark leaves. A story sprang into my head about him and I called him Cadfael. By that night, I had the first six chapters of Unseelie written (in their earliest, raw form); Alfhild, Cadfael and Du had taken off and were running away with my plot and the twists and turns of the Unseelie and Seelie Courts were just pouring out into the digital pages. I blithely called it a romance but within a few more chapters, I realized no, it was urban fantasy, a genre I’d shunned as a fantasy purist… Well, fool me! Now that is my genre of choice when I write and I’ve expanded from faeries to include demons, witches, and creatures of all sorts.

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IVAN AND MARYA, by Anna Kashina

Every Solstice, every year, a young girl dies to prolong the life of a madman.

Every Solstice a hero tries to stop them…and dies.

But this is Ivan’s year. Though his brothers plot his death, and the villagers whose daughters are dying warn him not to interfere, Ivan the Fool is determined to stop the sacrifice.

With the help of the immortals, gotten by sympathy, force, or guile, Ivan believes his love will save the beautiful Marya from herself.

Where did the idea for IVAN AND MARYA come from?

I felt that Russian fairy tales have not been explored enough in fiction, and they have so much to offer to a writer and a reader. I built on a most classical one, but also did something different with it. My story is told from two points of view — Marya, who is on the side of ‘evil’, and Ivan, who is on the side of ‘good’, and the contrast between the two creates shades of depth that amazed me when I was working on the story. It was a pleasure to write, and I constantly had this feeling of revelation, as if I am not making this up but uncovering yet another layer of a fascinating world. I also did my best to make it as authentic as possible, down to the details of the Russian Solstice celebration, an ancient tradition that is very much practiced today.

* * *


Tasmin, William’s wife to be, was chosen by a spell, as all wives and husbands are chosen. It’s a nice, tidy way to find a reasonable mate for almost everyone. Unfortunately, Tasmin is from the North, a place of magic and strange ritual, and William is from the South, where people pride themselves on being above that kind of insanity.

William doesn’t seem in a hurry to send for Tasmin, for which none of his family blame him. After all, she’s a barbarian. She, on the other hand, would like to know what’s keeping him. When he’s framed for murdering his patron, Tasmin takes matters into her own hands. She’s gotten to know William from his letters. He’s not a murderer and she’s going to help him prove it.

Someone out there doesn’t like him and is beginning to dislike Tasmin almost as much, and that someone isn’t at all averse to making sure William and Tasmin aren’t around long enough to celebrate their wedding.

Tasmin, of course, has other plans.

Are you a full-time or part-time writer? How does that affect your writing?

I am a part time writer… like everyone, I’m juggling a lot of delicate porcelain plates… one for writing, one for work, one for family, one for fencing. It splits your focus… but it also gives you a lot of great ideas and experiences to pull from. Would I like to be a full time writer? For certain. But I think that being forced to go out and talk to people every day, being exposed to life, enriches me and therefore will, hopefully, be reflected in my work. So, in that way, it affects things positively… in the whole productivity issue, well… sometimes things are not so positive.

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COMPOSING MAGIC, Elizabeth Barrette

Composing Magic: How to Create Spells, Rituals, Blessings, Chants, and Prayers guides you through the exciting realm of magical and spiritual writing. Explore the process of writing, its tools and techniques, individual types of composition, and ways of sharing your work with other people. Each type of writing includes its history and uses, covering diverse traditions; plus step-by-step instructions, finished compositions, and exercises. Intended for alternative religions, but it can be generalized to others or used by fiction writers to create background tidbits.

Why did you write this book, Elizabeth?

I spotted a gap in previous material — I have a knack for doing that. Pagan/magical books tell people to write their own rituals, spells, etc. but rarely give any guidance on doing it. Writing books tell people how to write in general, but there were no specific guides for magical writing and not many for spiritual writing. I’m good at figuring out how I do what I do and then explaining it to other folks so they can work through the steps. It wasn’t until the reviews came in for _Composing Magic_ that I realized this is a rather rare skill — most of them mention how clear and doable the instructions are. So now I’m trying to make more use of this skill.