Friday, October 31, 2014

The Wanted (The Woodlands Series, Book 4) by Lauren Nicolle Taylor (Excerpt, Giveaway)

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Title:  The Wanted
Series:  The Woodlands Series, Book 4
Author:  Lauren Nicolle Taylor
Published:  October 31st, 2014  
Publisher:  Clean Teen Publishing
Page Count:  363
Genre:  YA Mature Dystopian Romance
Content Warning:  Graphic Violence
Recommended Age:  16+
What would you be willing to sacrifice to get what you Wanted?
It’s the question facing both Rosa and Joseph as they are pushed and pulled in unimaginable directions.
It’s the question Superior Grant answered with a resounding, “Anything and everything.”
The only thing they want is to be back in each other’s arms. But what will it cost them to get there?
Separated after a failed mission, they are caught in dual hells. Joseph, sinking as he struggles to face what he did to escape and who he had to leave behind. Rosa, straddling the divide between fighting the evil, calculating Superior Grant and trying her best to stay alive.
When what they Wanted seems unreachable, can they find the strength–the will–to keep trying? To keep fighting? And find their way back to each other and to Orry?
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads
I searched for movement, but I could see none. My eyes squinted and strained, staring at the side of the concrete wall. Smooth, dull, and perfectly curved.
A puff of dust pushed out from the wall like a hard cough. A few moments later, a small, popping sound followed.
Then sirens wailed thinly as if mildly displeased. The only indication of how serious the situation was seemed to be the way all the lights swung around to focus on the explosion site.
The screen opened in the sky minutes later like daylight had cut through the night accidentally. The clouds were the perfect backdrop for the show. I waited, barely breathing, as the video began.
I didn’t notice Elise until she sat down with a thump next to me. “Great view,” she said breathlessly, pulling her sleeves over her hands.
I wondered why she’d followed me up here, but I tried to hide my annoyance.
“Yes, it is,” I replied absently. We were silent as the video played through.
She started talking just as Rosa appeared in the lines of pregnant girls. “How are you feeling? Should I check…?”
“Sh…” I said, putting my hand up to her face.
She crossed her arms over her chest and pouted like a child. “That was really rude,” she muttered.
I groaned, pulling my hair back with my hands and froze, my hands fixed over my head. There she was. I stared into the clouds, trying to will them closer.
“Rosa,” I whispered before I could stop myself. She blinked back at me, sad, disappointed. How could you leave me? she seemed to say.
“I’m sorry,” I told the clouds and the image of her from two years ago. That Rosa loved a different Joseph. I tried not to think about the Rosa of now and what was happening to her at this exact moment, because my mind conjured horrible things.
Elise played with her fingers. “It’s ok… you’re obviously stressed about something.”
“What? No.” I wasn’t talking to her.
God, she sounded like a doctor when she talked.
“Wow, look at that girl with heterochromia. Amazing eyes. She’s beautiful.” Elise said, pointing in the sky.
You don’t even know.
I should have told her, that’s Rosa, but I didn’t. I was hoarding her memory. I didn’t want to share it with anyone.
The image faded.
She was gone.
This was torture.
 photo Lauren-Nicolle-Taylor.jpgAbout the Author:
Lauren Nicolle Taylor is a 33-year-old mother living in the tiny, lush town of Bridgewater on the other side of the world in Australia. She married her high school sweetheart and has three very boisterous and individual children. She earned a Bachelors degree in Health Sciences with Honours in Obstetrics and Gynecology and majored in Psychology while minoring in Contemporary Australian Writing.
After a disastrous attempt to build her dream house that left her family homeless, She found herself inexplicably drawn to the computer. She started writing, not really knowing where it may lead but ended up, eight weeks later, with the rough draft of The Woodlands.
In 2013, Lauren Nicolle Taylor accepted a publishing contract with Clean Teen Publishing. Her first published novel, The Woodlands, was released in August 2013 and quickly became a best seller. The second book in The Woodlands Series titled: The Wall, was published in October 2013 and followed suit, maintaining its position on the best seller charts for three months in a row.
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Clean Teen Publishing Links:
Giveaway Details:
There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:
  • A bookmark swag pack and winner’s choice of any Clean Teen Publishing eBook.
Giveaway is International.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Sometimes Greek myths are deep, and sometimes they're asparagus

I've mentioned my love of Who's Who in Greek and Roman Mythology before. Seriously, this was one of my favorite books when I was a kid and definitely when I was in the fifth grade, so I try not to judge too harshly when one of my sons wants to read things like Minecraft and Pokemon guides.

When I was in the fifth grade, I was drawn to the big ticket items in classical mythology, namely the Pantheon, the demigods and the major kings and queens. But even some of the "bit players" didn't escape my attention. Some of the stories, however short, make you feel like you've been punched in the gut.

To wit, Caenis:

Daughter of Elatus and Hippea, and the sister of Polyphemus and Ischys. Raped by Poseidon. (It's funny how often he, Apollo and Hermes show up in stories being rapists. The god you might expect to be the most likely to rape? Ares. However, so far I've only seen him in one story featuring a rape- and that was when he killed the rapist of his daughter Alcippe. The rapist? Halirrothius- son of Poseidon. Go figure.) To make up for the rape, Poseidon agreed to grant Caenis any wish. Her wish? To be turned into a man, henceforth known as Caeneus. Caeneus went on to father a child named Coronus, and died because he offended Zeus (always a lousy idea, but perhaps forgiven after what happened with Poseidon?). He was buried under pine trees, and then changed into a bird.

So much about power and sex in that matter what Caeneus received from Poseidon, Caenis was dead.

But then, flipping through the pages, I come across this:

Melanippus, son of Theseus and Perigune (which baby mama was that again?). Father of Ioxus, ancestor of the Ioxids.


Ioxus, son of Melanippus (another poor, motherless child). Ancestor of the Ioxids. And then...."The Ioxids held the asparagus to be sacred, a cult started by Perigune."

Asparagus Tip
What does this vegetable have to do with a family of serial killers? Let's ask Greek Mythology!

Perigune, daughter of Sinis, mother of Melanippus by Theseus. Started the Asparagus cult.

*blinks* And who was Sinis?

Sinis, son of Damastes aka Procrustes and Sylea. Nicknamed Pitocamptes or "Pine Bender" because he would tie victims to the tops of pine trees and catapult them into the air. Theseus, in his tour of cleaning up the countryside, killed him the same way.

Damastes, nicknamed Procrustes or "The Stretcher", invited people into his house and made sure they fit the bed exactly. If too tall, he'd cut off their legs; if too short, he'd stretch them. Theseus, our hero, gave this guy the same treatment.

(And you people wonder why I don't need to watch horror movies.)

Er, who was Sylea, the grandmother of the Asparagus-loving Perigune? (And was she crazy too?)

Sylea, daughter of Corinthus, mother of Sinis...

Corinthus, King of Corinth (wow, psycho outlaw is a big step down for Sylea then!). Son of Marathon, Father of Sylea. Because he didn't have any sons, his rule of Corinth passed to Medea and Jason. (We can feel bad for poor Sylea- until we contemplate that her husband and son were sadistic serial killers. And...huh. Medea was Theseus' stepmother for a little while.)

Well, okay, let's climb out of the Greek version of hillbilly psychos...who was Marathon?

Marathon, son of Epopeus and Ephyraea, father of Corinthus.

Epopeus, king of Asopia...evidently without parents worth noting. (Same for his wife Ephyraea.)
Which leads me to wonder: is Asopia on the path that Theseus used to get to Athens? And more importantly, do they grow asparagus there? And, oh yeah, is this story of serial killers and the brute who killed them better or worse than the one about the girl who was raped by a god?

These and other light thoughts brought to us by the Ancient Greeks. Good morning!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Angus MacBain and the Agate Eyeglass (Angus MacBain Series #2) by Angela J. Townsend (Excerpt, Giveaway)

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Title:  Angus MacBain and the Agate Eyeglass
Series:  Angus MacBain Series #2
Author:   Angela J. Townsend
Published:  October 28th, 2014
Publisher: Clean Teen Publishing
Page Count:  132
Genre:  YA Fantasy
When Angus MacBain finds that a Sea Hag has cast a deadly spell on Vanora’s father, he must once again set aside his life in the outside world to plunge into danger to save his friend’s father. But when he seeks out Fane, advisor to the MacBain Kings, Angus discovers that Vanora’s father is not the only one in dire peril. Now with two souls in mortal danger, Angus and Vanora must face the unknown challenges of Fingal’s Cave alone this time—without the aid of his trusted advisor. But what new and dreadful dangers lurk in the Hall of Kings? Armed with only the ancient weapon of the MacBain Kings, the heirloom amber eyeglass, Angus is about to find out.

Excerpt from Angus MacBain and the Agate Eyeglass:
Vanora’s eyes went wide. She turned slowly and pointed a shaky finger at the empty chair. “I just sat on someone’s lap.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I mean, there’s someone sitting in that chair!”
Angus sighed. “This was no time for joking around. I think you need a new prescription for your glasses.”
“See for yourself.” Vanora patted the chair. “Feel right there. A perfect set of legs.”
Angus hobbled closer, cautiously leaned forward, and touched the seat. Beneath his fingertips, he felt a warm pair of legs covered in a fleece material. Angus jerked his hand back.
Vanora crossed her arms. “See, I told you.”

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About the Author:
Angela Townsend was born in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Missoula, Montana. As a child, she grew up listening to stories told by her grandparents, ancient tales and legends of faraway places. Influenced by her Irish and Scottish heritage, she became an avid research historian, specializing in Celtic mythology. Her gift for storytelling finally led her to a full-time career in historical research and writing. A writer in local community circulation, Angela is also a published genealogical and historical resource writer who has taught numerous research seminars. Currently, she divides her time between writing, playing Celtic music on her fiddle, and Irish dancing.
Angela’s Young Adult novel, Amarok, was published through Spencer Hill Press in 2012. Since that time, she has published three books with Clean Teen Publishing: Angus MacBain and The Island of Sleeping Kings, River of Bones, and Moonflower. Angus MacBain and The Agate Eyeglass, the second book in the Angus MacBain series, will be released by Clean Teen Publishing in October of 2014.
Angela also has two of her horror novels in pre-production for motion pictures—River of Bones and The Forlorned.
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Clean Teen Publishing Links:
Giveaway Details:
There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:
  • A bookmark swag pack and winner’s choice of any Clean Teen Publishing eBook.
Giveaway is International.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Monday, October 27, 2014

A giveaway- mine! (The Smartest Girl in the Room)

While Goodreads is a controversial subject for authors and now readers, one thing that it is super terrific awesome for is book giveaways. I've done one before, but Catherine Ryan Howard's post on Goodreads giveaways inspired me to dip my toes in again. And if you read her post, you'll understand why this will not be my last. Stay tuned!

And speaking of reading my I mentioned a little while ago, I'm embarking on a virtual book review tour for The New Pioneers next month. If you've already read and reviewed some of the books, you should *really* consider entering. (You're not a real indie author if you don't beg for reviews :-D )

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Smartest Girl in the Room by Deborah Nam-Krane

The Smartest Girl in the Room

by Deborah Nam-Krane

Giveaway ends October 30, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Makeup, MENA and Sex

Last week, as I was getting one of my children ready for her day, I heard this story on NPR about Cosmopolitan, aka Cosmo magazine. A couple of thoughts.

First, a rousing cheer for Joanna Coles' central message that women can be interested in both "mascara and the Middle East". Damn it, yes we can, and this writer certainly is (well, not mascara, because it always gets in my eyes, but no one loves red lipstick more than I do). I realize that some people may think I take chances because what I talk about on my Twitter feed is more about current events than writing tips, but I'm making a very conservative bet that there are plenty of women out there who like to read romance and women's fiction who also care passionately about politics, both domestic and international. I have never understood why being interested in clothing and cosmetics was supposed to preclude an interest in the rest of the world.

Second, while I applaud Coles' mission, it's a mistake to characterize the Cosmo of years past as being strictly concerned with sex. (I read my first sex graphic sex descriptions in Our Bodies Ourselves and then Princess Daisy.) Yes, I read explicit things in Cosmo, but I also read about women trying to navigate their way through the workplace, Camille Paglia, the importance of managing money and profiles of up-and-coming women (and no, they weren't all models). Among the articles about sex wasn't just (an admittedly weird) piece about oral sex in the age of HIV/AIDS, but also sexual harassment, sexual violence and sex addiction. None of it, I might add, was glamorized.

Helen Gurley Brown, founder of Cosmopolitan

Finally, it's great that we live in a world where we can take for granted being sexual as a given, but when the modern version of Cosmo was birthed, that wasn't a given. Our sexual expression, but in private and in public, was more tightly circumscribed. In other words, there were far fewer ways to do it "right" (and not simply in the court of public opinion). And many can argue that even today talking about sex and being in control of our sexuality is still something many begrudge young women (see Purity Pledges). So while Cosmo may be snickered at for talking about sex (what's that about, really?), it's still quietly revolutionary that they do so.

So women (and the men among you so inclined), go forth, be a badass, talk about sex, cosmetics and politics and then go vote. In other words, be a real person- that's still revolutionary.

Friday, October 24, 2014

The SELF-PRINTED 3.0 Splash! (#selfprintedsplash)

As my indie writer friends know, I think Catherine Ryan Howard is the bomb. When I discovered her as a resource a few years ago, I was delighted to find someone who was brimming with common sense and practical advice. Were it not for her, I don't think I could have handled formatting for Smashwords, and I probably would have made a bunch of stupid and costly marketing mistakes, as well as spammed Twitter with every review I've ever gotten and every excerpt I could fit into 140 characters.
I'm pleased to be a part of the splash to get the word out about the 3rd edition of SELF PRINTED: THE SANE PERSON'S GUIDE TO SELF-PUBLISHING. Just to show how insanely knowledgeable she is, she invited one hundred or so of her craziest fans to send in their publishing and marketing questions.
Did I try to stump this brilliant woman? You bet. Did she rise to the challenge? What do you think? ;-)
Q: For fiction (specifically romance), where do you think you get the most bang for your marketing buck: ads or public relations (e.g., reviews, interviews, etc.)?
A: Ooh, this is a toughie.

Normally I say don't spend any $ on advertising at all, but if you have a very specific genre that is known to sell in droves, and you find the most [that genre] popular book blogger site that has a gizallion readers a month who love YOUR kind of book, and that book blogger is offering a banner header for $100, well then: go for it! If you think it'll practically guarantee sales, it'll be money well spent.

On the other hand, word of mouth is what drives all bestsellers, and that can only come from reviews on sites like Goodreads and from book bloggers, and sending them copies of your book costs $ too. Having said that, if you're posting paperbacks, how many can you realistically buy and mail for $100? Could you send e-books instead?

If I ONLY had $100, I'd split it. I'd spend $25 running a Goodreads giveaway (as per strategic way that I blogged about recently) and the rest on a banner or sidebar advertisement on a website I KNOW has lots of avid readers who love just my kind of book OR a newsletter/mail shot that goes to those same kinds of readers - in other words, maximum guaranteed eyeballs. Then I'd try to e-mail out a few e-book review copies too, just to be sure!

Thank you Catherine! 

Want more great tips like this? Then grab your copy of SELF-PRINTED (3rd edition)!

Catherine Ryan Howard is a writer, self-publisher and caffeine enthusiast from Cork, Ireland. SELF-PRINTED: THE SANE PERSON'S GUIDE TO SELF-PUBLISHING (3rd edition) is out now in paperback and e-book and available from Amazon. Follow the #selfprintedsplash on Twitter today (Friday 24th) and/or visit for chance to win an amazing prize that will get your self-publishing adventure started!

“SELF-PRINTED is my self-publishing bible. It taught me how to format, create and upload my e-books and print-on-demand paperbacks. It showed me practical things such as how to build a website/blog and how to promote my books. More importantly, it taught me how to compete with the professionals. Just look at the results - The Estate Series has sold nearly 100,000 copies and following that I got a traditional book deal with Thomas & Mercer too, so I’m now a hybrid author. Jam-packed full of hints and tips all in one place, I’m always referring back to it. In a word, it’s priceless.” – Mel Sherratt, author of The Estate Series and DS Allie Shenton Series

A Place Halfway (SYNSK Series Book 3) by K.C. Finn (Excerpt, Giveaway)

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Title:  A Place Halfway
Series:  SYNSK Series Book 3
Author:   K.C. Finn
Published:  October 24th, 2014
Publisher:  Clean Teen Publishing
Page Count:  229
Genre:  YA Historical Adventure
Content Warning:  Mild Violence
Recommended Age:  16+
Synopsis:  A struggling psychic girl steps out into the big, wide world amidst the murky depths of racial segregation in England, 1961.
As a teenage psychic, Josephine Fontaine knows what it’s like to be different. At Peregrine Place, a school full of youngsters with gifts just like hers, sixteen-year-old Josie is growing tired of her life and looking for excitement beyond the grand manor house’s walls. When an opportunity arises to work in a local music bar, she jumps at the chance, learning to balance her new job with the pressures of studying the ways of the Synsk.
There she meets the charming Tommy Asher, a fellow psychic with a talent for music, and Jake Bolton, a handsome, surly stranger with coffee-coloured skin. Throw in the return of her old crush Dai Bickerstaff, and Josie finds herself embroiled in a drama much bigger than she could have imagined, especially when certain parties take issue to her developing a friendship with a boy who isn’t white-skinned. When a mysterious record mogul offers Josie help to improve her psychic gifts, her world turns totally upside down, and she begins to question everything she thought she knew about the world, her family, and even herself.
Coming of age was never so intense as it will be for Josie in the winter of 1961.
“When you’ve quite finished mumbling, young man,” Miss Cartwright said in her clipped tone.

A few people giggled as the boy sank into the seat beside me. He was smaller with the guitar absent from his back, and he seemed much less sure of himself here than when he’d been trying to convince Frost to let him play at Halfway. I reasoned that he must have recently come to the village ready to start school here and spotted the club on the side of the lane just like us. Miss Cartwright cleared her throat, commanding utter silence from the assembled kids.

“Answer me when I call your name,” she instructed. “Let’s make sure we have no dunces who have come to the wrong room.”

The boy looked down at his desk skittishly.

“Thomas Asher,” Miss Cartwright said.

The boy suddenly looked up again, eyes widening. “Oh, um. Yes, Miss,” he replied, “I mean, here, Miss.”

Miss Cartwright gave him her best glare, but said nothing more on the matter. She began to move across the room as she called out names, studying every face in the rows before her.

It’s Tommy actually, a voice suddenly said in my head. Only my nanna calls me Thomas.

I took a deep breath, pushing my mind towards his. Did I give you permission to speak in my head? I asked him.

Although I was tuning out of the room to speak with him, I could still see the outline of his face as he smiled at me; I was caught somewhere partway between reality and full psychic concentration.

Sorry, Tommy answered, but I certainly wasn’t going to whisper out loud with her staring at me. Scary woman, that one.

I tried my best not to giggle. You have no idea, I answered. She’s been teaching me for six years.

Not cool, Tommy replied.

A book suddenly slammed down on my desk. I leapt in my seat, my old, wooden chair rattling as I looked up into the thunderous face of my teacher. “Josephine Fontaine,” she said, her teeth gritted. “Are we in such a state of distraction that we can’t answer our own name on the register nowadays?”

I gave Tommy a withering glare, watching him bite his lip to hold back a laugh.

“Sorry, Miss,” I answered. “But you do know I’m here. I mean, it’s not as though we’re strangers.” I regretted adding the bit after the apology immediately.

“Oh no, we know each other very well,” she answered primly. “I suspect you’re going to be repeating this class until we’re both white-haired and wrinkled.”

 photo KC-Finn.jpg About the Author:
Born in South Wales to Raymond and Jennifer Finn, Kimberley Charlotte Elisabeth Finn (known to readers as K.C., otherwise it’d be too much of a mouthful) was one of those corny little kids who always wanted to be a writer. She was also incredibly stubborn, and so has finally achieved that dream in 2013 with the release of her first three novellas in the four-part Caecilius Rex saga, the time travel adventure The Secret Star and her new urban fantasy epic The Book Of Shade.
As a sufferer with the medical condition M.E./C.F.S., Kim works part time as a private tutor and a teacher of creative writing, devoting the remainder of her time to writing novels and studying for an MA in Education and Linguistics.
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Clean Teen Publishing Links:
Giveaway Details:
There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:
  • Reader's choice of Clean Teen Publishing eBook and bookmark swag pack. 
Giveaway is International a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Monday, October 20, 2014

There *is* such a thing as bad publicity

I mentioned, in places too numerous to link to, that I originally went the "traditional" route and queried agents. Although I wanted to go indie for a while, I was cognizant of the benefits of traditional, most of which were in the areas of editorial and marketing services. One of the things that convinced me to finally take the plunge was that there is almost no marketing support these days unless you're already really big or unless, for whatever reason, your publishing house takes a shine to you. Because the category I write in doesn't command a lot of shelf space in bookstores (that would be New Adult Romance, FYI), I realized I would not be one of those authors who would get a lot of support, if I got picked up at all.

I am happy with my decision, but we indies are very aware of how much work we have to do to generate our own publicity. I love writing for other blogs, but I realize that those don't have the same reach as a print magazine or newspaper. I am not the only indie who fantasizes about having a big platform to shout from so I could convince people that they should buy my book.

It's just that I always figured if I did, I'd be giving you good reasons to buy from me, not telling you all of the reasons why someone who doesn't like my stuff is so deficient. In fact, if I had a really big platform, I wouldn't want to tell ANYONE about the people who didn't like me. So the actions of two authors last week leave me not only disgusted, but puzzled.

I am not going to write out the name of the first author in question, nor am I going to put her name in the tags. Here's a link to some of Dear Author's coverage of the story. I am not going to give this woman anymore publicity because what this author did falls under the definition of stalking. I don't mean online stalking- I mean real-life stalking. I don't understand why the blogger she stalked hasn't brought criminal charges against her, because I would. And how did this start? Because the author could not handle that this blogger and reviewer didn't like her book.

People are crazy; what else is new? But what has been making me blink for the last few days is that the Guardian, a respected news outlet, published the story the author told about her obviously criminal behavior. It also astounds me that her publishing company, Harper Teen, has said nothing in response to what their author did. Until they do, I can only assume that their silence is cover for their approval.

Slightly less disturbing is the tantrum author Margo Howard wrote for the New Republic. Her book was given to Amazon's Vine Program for early review. She seems to find the idea of pre-publication reviews in and of themselves offensive, never mind that most authors (traditional and indie) long for such pre-publicity. Apparently, the Vine Reviews she received were unflattering, and she in turns feels that these unprofessional reviewers are uneducated mouth-breathers who are only reviewing so they can get free stuff and don't understand that books are different from "pots and creams".

Ah, that again. As a long-time reviewer and a member of the Vine Program, I would like to point out that it is extremely difficult to review the product if we don't have it. And since we are being asked to review it, it just doesn't make sense to charge us for what we review. Hence, what we get is free.

I'd also like to add that I'd been reviewing on Amazon by choice for about six or seven years before I was selected to be in the Vine Program. I have a decent rank, but I wasn't in the Top 1000. To this day, I'm not entirely sure why I was tapped, but obviously Amazon felt I offered something that they wanted for their program. This would, therefore, be the case with all of the other reviewers in the program. In other words: we were asked.

I'm an author; I get how much a bad review can sting. But if we're serious about not just writing but publishing our work, I fail to understand why we would not act like professionals and not narcissists. I also don't understand why the Guardian and the New Republic want to perpetuate the idea that reviews, which are really opinions, and perhaps books in general should only be available to those who are qualified.

Here is my list of qualifications: literacy. Yep- done. All those who qualify are invited to read books and share their opinions.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Last Orphans (The Last Orphans Series #1) by N.W. Harris


Title: The Last Orphans

Series: The Last Orphans Series #1

Author: N.W. Harris

To Be Published: October 17th, 2014

Publisher: Clean Teen Publishing

Page Count: 274

Genre: YA Apocalyptic Sci-Fi

Content Warning: Violence, adult content, minor language

Age Recommendation: 16+

One horrifying day will change the life of sixteen-year-old Shane Tucker and every other kid in the world.

In a span of mere hours, the entire adult population is decimated, leaving their children behind to fend for themselves and deal with the horrific aftermath of the freak occurrence. As one of the newly made elders in his small town, Shane finds himself taking on the role of caretaker for a large group of juvenile survivors. One who just happens to be Kelly Douglas–an out-of-his-league classmate–who, on any other day, would have never given Shane a second glance.

Together, they begin their quest to find out why all of the adults were slaughtered. What they find is even more horrifying than anything they could have expected–the annihilation of the adults was only the beginning. Shane and his friends are not the unlucky survivors left to inherit this new, messed-up planet. No, they are its next victims. There is an unknown power out there, and it won t stop until every person in the world is dead.

A spine-tingling adventure that will have you gasping for breath all the way until the last page, The Last Orphans is the first book in an all-new apocalyptic series.


Born at the end of the Vietnam war and raised on a horse farm near small town north Georgia, N.W. Harris’s imagination evolved under the swaying pines surrounding his family’s log home. On summer days that were too hot, winter days that were too cold, and every night into the wee morning hours, he read books.

N.W. Harris published his first novel—Joshua’s Tree—in 2013. It was no wonder that with his wild imagination and passion for all things word related, that N.W. Harris was named a quarter finalist in Amazon’s Break Through Novel Award Contest. In early 2014, N.W. Harris joined the ranks with Clean Teen Publishing when they signed his new young adult apocalyptic adventure series—The Last Orphans.

In addition to writing, N.W. Harris has been a submarine sailor, nurse, and business owner. His studies have included biology, anthropology, and medicine at UCSB and SUNY Buffalo. He is an active member of SCBWI and lives in sunny southern California with his beautiful wife and two perfect children. He writes like he reads, constantly.


Light faded from the gloomy heavens as Shane climbed over his aunt and out of the passenger side of the cab. Ominous green clouds still choked the sky, but the air was calm and quiet. He walked a few yards away and turned around, staring absently at the wreckage and wanting to die. The truck door hung open, his aunt’s swollen feet sticking out. Crippling numbness overtook him, pressing in on all sides, as if he were being buried in wet cement. It invaded his mind, drowning his thoughts, and leaving only dejected questions that no one could answer. What was he supposed to do now? Why did he have to still be alive when everyone he loved was being taken from him?
“Help!” A girl’s hysterical voice ripped through his viscous daze like a bullet through a soda can. “Can you please? Help!”
The voice was pitched with agony and grief, but also very familiar.
Shane pivoted, the weight of his aunt’s nightmarish demise making it hard to move.
Two girls ran up the Douglas’ long, gravel driveway toward him. The taller one’s tangled, blonde hair billowed behind her. She wore cutoff blue jeans and a baggy, white T-shirt with crimson paint smeared across her chest. She dragged a shorter version of herself by the hand behind her as she ran. It took a second for Shane to register who it was.
“Kelly?” he shouted, his voice hoarse with shock. Struggling to break free of the catatonic state threatening to turn him into stone, he jogged heavily down the driveway to meet her.
“They killed my dad and my mom!” she shrieked, her eyes wild and her gaze darting like she expected some horror to jump out of the fields and attack her. “They went berserk and trampled them!”
“Wait—slow down.” Shane grabbed her shoulders to steady her. Her distress tore his mind away from the despair seeping through every part of his body, starving him for breath and welding his joints together. “Who killed your parents?” He realized the red on her clothes was fresh blood.

The Siren (Laments of Angels and Dark Chemistry # 1) by Meg Xuemei X (Excerpt, Giveaway)

Title: The Siren

Series: Laments of Angels and Dark Chemistry # 1

Author: Meg Xuemei X

Published: August 9th, 2014

Word Count: 80,000

Genre: YA Fantasy Romance Action Adventure

Two boys tied to her irrevocably. One offers life disguised as death; the other leads to death with unfathomable love. Her choice decides whether the world turns or ends.

Lucienne Lam, born to rule as the last of the Sirens, is running out of time. If she fails to find the TimeDust, an ancient power, her enemies will have their wish–her head on a spike. And she’ll never know the love promised by Vladimir, a fierce warrior of the Czech royal bloodline.

Except Ashburn, a genius ‘farm boy,’ has found the TimeDust first, and its power binds Lucienne to him. She must convince him to sever this forced bond so she can return to her first love. But breaking the link seems insurmountable when the TimeDust launches its own ominous agenda and the two boys prepare to duel to the death over her.

Vladimir reacted instantly, catching her before she hit the wall. The impact drove them both to the ground. “I’m glad you’re on top,” said Vladimir with another groan. “I absorbed most of the hit.”
“That’s very kind of you.” Lucienne turned to Vladimir, their faces inches away. His warm breath and pheromone made her forget where she was. Rushing footsteps brought her to her senses.
“Yes, Lucia?” he whispered, his hands pressing against the small of her back.
“We’ve been discovered.”
“I know. But there’s no need for them to yell. That’s kind of rude.”
“They’re not yelling.”
“No, but they will.”
About the Author:
Meg Xuemei X is an award-winning author. She grew up in a backward, southern town in China, went to college in Akron, and dropped out from Tisch School.

She’s the author of Laments of Angels & Dark Chemistry series. Her science fiction novel, Ghost Star, was published by the China Federation of Literature Publishing House. Her romance novella, Dance with Your Enemy, won an International Editorial Award.

She lives in Sherman Oaks, California.

She’d love for you to sign up to her mailing list at

Amazon Author Page | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads | Website

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Monday, October 13, 2014

So maybe this is why you need to diversify your distribution chain?

As you may recall, I agonized last year over whether I should keep all of my books in Kindle Select, which meant exclusivity on Amazon, or whether I should diversify and make them available to Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo and all of the other channels. While KDP Select did offer what amounts to highly visible free advertising, the program simply wasn't offering the same return that it had even the year before, and there was no way to know how it was going to change. Fine- things change- but the more invested I was in it as my only platform, the more vulnerable I'd be to those changes.

Shorter: Don't put all your eggs in one basket.

Which is why this piece in the New York Times is making me scratch my head. Let me be clear: I understand that as an indie author I have a lot more freedom than most traditionally published authors. If I want to change prices, all I have to do is go to my author dashboards on KDP or Smashwords. Also, if I really wanted to, I could sell my books directly on my website, in addition to or instead of selling them through other vendors. Authors who are published through publishing houses generally can't make those decisions on their own.

But...if I had a huge fan-base, I'd put information on my website, Facebook Page and Twitter account as to where else my fans can purchase my books if I didn't feel Amazon was doing a good job for me. I would also create a mailing list if I hadn't already and send out notices with the same information. And I would encourage people to shop for my physical title at their local Barnes & Noble or indie bookstore. I would also jump all over Hachette and demand that they make their website a place where readers can directly buy my titles. (What, that sounds futile? Less so than making demands of Amazon.)

This is not a static industry, and everyone has to constantly adapt. It stinks when we'd rather be doing things like writing, but that's the way it is. If, indeed, Amazon is doing corrupt things (it's one thing to lose your spot on a list due to an algorithm, it's another to lose it because someone took you off of it) then that highlights that we need to be less vulnerable to them. Yes, by all means, report this to whichever regulating bodies are appropriate, but in the meantime work every other angle and advantage you have.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Algorithms, preferences, word of mouth- oh my!

Okay folks- I will let you in on a little secret: many marketing efforts we indie writers employ are all about getting Amazon to highlight us, however briefly, on one of their landing pages so that you, the reader, will say, "hey, catchy cover/title/author's name...let me go check out that blurb...ooh, interesting...hey, not a bad price [especially if we're running a sale]...oh look, the reviews are pretty good...I am here, so why not?"

I'm going to spare you everything that (we think) goes into inducing you to have that conversation with yourself, but it is all contingent on the magical algorithms that power Amazon. It is, for the most part, a complete crapshoot, because we don't really know how Amazon makes its determinations as to what you like. We know that the more you sell, the more you sell, and we have seen some evidence that more reviews get you more visibility than those with fewer reviews (maybe!). And if we can get even eyeballs on our title after someone has looked at something else, that can give us a little bump too.

But maybe the algorithm is a crapshoot too.

As I've mentioned before, I've reviewed on Amazon for over a decade. I've also been known to create Wishlists and Lists for Listmania. Sometimes, I get great suggestions from my purchases, because I've rated something or because I've added something to a Wishlist. Because Amazon knows I like Thelonious Monk (you know, more than the average person with functional ears), they suggested a slew of other Jazz Artists and titles, many of which sat on my Wishlist for years until I recently added them to my Spotify list. And you know what? I found some great titles I wouldn't have found otherwise, certainly not through something like Spotify's Discover engine.

I've also come across a number of resources on cooking and fitness that I wouldn't have found without them. Also, because my sons love the Amulet series, I added the latest title to my Wishlist, and now I have a number of recommendations for age-appropriate graphic novels. Thanks, Amazon- you do a good job in some things.

However, I recently reviewed a Korean movie that was over a decade old. Sort of kind of obscure, but not unheard of- at least ten other people had reviewed it as well. Strangely, I did not see one suggestion when I went through the Recommended For You list that Amazon generates. Perhaps this is due to the fact that they, despite being an international juggernaut, really don't do well with things that don't "speak" to an American or Western audience? (I tell you, that Pankaj Ghemawat is onto something!)

Maybe...but then how do we explain Amazon's lack of recommendations to me for anything related to mythology? You think I talk about it a lot here? You should see how many items I've reviewed on their site. I would LOVE to get recommendations for more books on the topic, especially if it's anything along the lines of George O'Connor's awesome Olympians series. But, on Amazon, utter silence.

(Let's not even talk about how it hasn't had any foreign policy recommendations worth noting since I randomly picked up Arab Spring Dreams and Invisible Armies- or got and loved Lawrence in Arabia through their Vine program. I've got Twitter to scratch that itch. Right...)

Unfortunately, I'm picky: just because I liked one thing an author wrote doesn't mean I'll like everything. The last author I binged on was Agatha Christie- and even she got on my nerves after a while with some references that struck me as simply racist in the 21st century. (And of course I'm only talking about the Poirot series; I've never wanted to read Miss Marple.) So an algorithm like Amazon's can actually be useful to me, both as an author and as a reader, but it's not.

So how do I find things to read? The old-fashioned ways: word-of-mouth from like-minded friends...and browsing the library shelves. What are you going to do?

Excuse me, I'm going to do some research into the genealogies of Greek mythology now. (Are you listening, the internet?!)

Friday, October 10, 2014

Infinite Ink Authors Birthday Extravaganza (Giveaway)

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~ Treehugger ~
~ The Torturer’s Daughter ~
~ Contributor ~
~ Fevered Souls ~
~ The Breeders ~
~ The Scourge ~
~ Daynight ~
~ Virulent ~
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads Meet the Authors 
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~ Kea Alwang ~
~ Zoe Cannon ~
~ Nicole Ciacchella ~
~ SK Falls ~
~ Katie French ~
~ AG Henley ~
~ Ash Krafton ~
~ Megan Thomason ~
~ Shelbi Wescott ~
Giveaway Details:
There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:
  • $10 Amazon gift card (INT)
  • Winner’s choice of a Kindle Fire HD or Kindle Paperwhite (US only) or if winner is INT, winner’s choice of $119 PayPal Cash or Amazon gift card.
Please note that Juniper Grove Book Solutions is not responsible for the handling/sending of the Kindle giveaway.
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