Cover Reveal – Earth, Book Four

Finally!  The announcement can be made. ‘Earth, Book Four of the Akasha Series’ will be released on April 22, 2013. This is also Earth Day – how cool is that?!  For those of you buying via iTunes, ‘Earth’ may not be available for a couple weeks after the release date, as you may have experienced with ‘Fire’.   April 22 seem too far off?  Maybe I can satisfy you with the cover and blurb:

OMG – and please keep in mind it is ultra-hard to make dirt look magical!

earth cover hand bigger

After an elemental apocalypse, the fate of Earth hangs in the balance.

 The hunt for Micah in a world that has gone dim leads Kaitlyn straight to Shawn and One Less. While struggling to survive, she battles a side of her that is as dark as the rest of the planet. In the exciting conclusion to The Akasha Series, our heroine is no longer a part of The Seven or One Less. Now she is on Team Kaitlyn; who will join her?

So here you have it – the complete cover set to The Akasha Series and a huge shout-out to Keary Taylor for the cover designs:

Water Cover Image_FinalAir Cover ImageFire V2earth cover hand bigger

I have to admit, I am nervous about releasing the conclusion to the series. ‘Earth’ is a different from the other books. The world has no power, Kaitlyn goes a little crazy, and Shawn tries to redeem himself. Be warned – this is no fairy tale ending. Can’t wait to hear what y’all think of it! Add it to your Goodreads TBR list now…

In Three Days…

In three days, ‘Fire, Book Three of the Akasha Series’ will be available for purchase on Amazon and B&N.  Shortly after that it will be available for iBooks.  Of the few books I’ve published so far, ‘Fire’ – by far – is the most exciting for me!  Let me tell you – it starts out with a bang. If you are squeamish, the first chapter probably won’t suit you. Whatever the case, make sure to put ‘Fire’ on your Goodreads TBR list now.

Each day until its release, I will post the first chapter of each of the books in the Akasha Series.  You know – in case you haven’t read them yet! Today’s first chapter is the opening to the entire series. Don’t forget ‘Water’ is now free on Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, and iBooks!

 

‘Water, Book One of the Akasha Series’, Chapter One:

There is nothing like an avalanche to put your life into perspective.  I leaned forward and the board strapped to my boots responded.  Slicing through the fresh powder, I made a sharp curve to the right.  A quick glance uphill showed the wave of snow was five times my height, and about to catch up to me.

The avalanche roared like an angry dragon, breath stinking of the earth churned up in its path.  The entire right side of the unmarked back country trail was a thick wall of trees, impossible to break through.  I pulled my toes up, arching back to the left side of the trail.  But I wasn’t going to make it.  Ice pelted me on the back of my neck, sending chills down my spine.  I pointed my snowboard straight downhill and put all my weight on my forward leg, hoping to outrun the beast.

I willed my board to go faster than I ever dared before.  The avalanche was faster.  It opened its mouth wide, closing in on me from both sides and overhead.  Gray blacked out the blue sky above and the trees to the side of me.  The mountain slope cracked and slithered forward, like a monster’s forked tongue.  As the force of nature dropped over me, I closed my eyes and threw my arms around my head.  My screams were swallowed by the creature.

Completely engulfed, I moved with the avalanche.  The whole of the trail had transformed into its body; an agitated, unstoppable river of churning snow and debris.  The world became darker and darker, the snow heavier and heavier.  Flashes of light were few and far between.

When I gasped for air I was sometimes rewarded with a clear breath but more often than not I sucked in a mouthful of snow.  Hacking to rid my throat of the slush, I came to the awful realization that I was drowning on dry land.

My hands, flailing for something solid to hang onto, finally caught hold of a tree.  Small as it was, it held fast against the merciless rush of snow.  I fought against nature, literally holding on for my life.  I wrapped myself around the trunk as two large branches just above me ripped away and disappeared in the churning white waves, along with my screams.  I squeezed so tight the rough bark scratched my cheek.  I inhaled the heavy scent of pine, as though the smell alone would keep me tethered to the tree.  I willed the roots to be strong.

They were, but I was not.  My grip started to loosen as my tired muscles and numb fingers were unable to hold on any longer.  I lost the stable trunk and returned to the tumble of snow.

I came to a halt just like the rest of the debris that used to be the Canadian mountainside.  A small air pocket had formed, allowing me to spit out the coppery taste of blood.  Suffocation couldn’t be too far off, encased as I was in an immobile block of ice.  Feeble attempts at movement proved useless.  Silence settled in on me as I heard the last of the snow come to a halt above me.  I tolerated its crushing weight because I had no choice.

As the numbness slowly receded, pain returned to one hand.  I wiggled my fingers.  They were free, possibly above the surface.  I grimaced.  Great – at least the wolves would find me.  Closed casket for me.

 

Hope you enjoyed it! Don’t forget to get ‘Water’ free, now on Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, and iBooks!

E-book AND Print Book; No Versus About It

A few weeks ago, my kids and I were wasting time waiting for a movie to start (Brave – it was great; you should see it), and we came across a small, used bookstore. The experience was, to say the least, awesome. We each found our place in the store, lost among the shelves and shelves of books.

The kids picked a book to buy, and as we checked out the owner commended each of their choices and told them, “great job – keep on reading.”

I’ll say it again, it was a great experience. Compare that with the experience surrounding my e-reader. My Nook is a prized possession. It stays hidden, sometimes even while I’m reading. There is no way I will share it with my kids and their clumsy, dirty hands.

Now, I could choose to get them each their own. But something tells me they will get loaded with game apps, lost, or broken in no time at all. With three kids, it would be an expensive endeavor.

Granted, I would never give up my Nook – and do think it is the future of reading, but why do we have to choose one or the other?  We don’t – it’s all about balance. We can incorporate both into our lives:

Yes, my photo-shop skills need some work. I am sitting on the books while reading my Nook because I couldn’t fit my butt in the tiny purple chair. Also, I am normally wearing shoes when shopping in public…

But to do so, technology – and people – have a long way to go. We need to make content more ‘shareable’: Here’s how, specifically:

1. Allow users to gift their entire libraries. According to one article from SmartMoney Blog, “Someone who owned 10,000 hardcover books and the same number of vinyl records could bequeath them to descendants, but legal experts say passing on iTunes and Kindle libraries would be much more complicated.” Already, my iTunes library has turned out to be quite the investment, at least for my modest salary, so it is definitely something I want to see passed on.

2. Better E-book systems in our public libraries. Along the same lines of sharing, public libraries have lendable e-books, but not a whole lot are available and there are long waiting lists. It is a system worth making the investment to improve.

3. Donate used e-books: When I buy an e-book and am finished reading, it stays put in my e-reader. Why can’t I donate it to a bookstore, school, or a friend? Limited lending programs (two weeks or so) by Amazon and B&N don’t cut it. I don’t own digital rights to the material, so there isn’t a form of transfer that isn’t considered piracy.

Shareable ebook sites are starting to make their debut, but so is the legal department of Amazon. Amazon briefly revoked Lendle’s access, which proves the industry has a ways to go as far as shareable content. Furthermore, most sharing sites are only available in the US.

DRM (digital rights management) is something authors establish with their ebooks when they first publish. No piracy? Sounds great to me. Wrong! My books can still be pirated, and it just makes ‘sharing’ all that more difficult for the reader. Unfortunately, once DRM is selected for a book, the author cannot go back and change it.

So what can we do about it? The e-book industry is largely a customer-driven operation, much more so than the print industry ever was. Let’s use that to our advantage. Give feedback, and lots of it, anywhere you can. Ask for Demand for more shareable content!

I acknowledge shareable digital content may be a difficult thing to accomplish, seeing as how the industry finally has a pseudo-way to control content.  I mean, by sharing and donating hard copy books, were we just committing ‘analog piracy’ all along? Keep in mind, though (and maybe this is something we should remind publishers), they’ve still managed to sell books, despite all the ‘sharing’.   The same would apply to e-books.

On that note, have a great labor day weekend everyone!

Orangeberry Favorites

This month I am participating in the Orangeberry Summer Splash Mini Book Tour Marathon; 100 authors, and 100 blogs. Featured genres include fantasy, science fiction, historical romance, romantic suspense, mystery, thrillers and more.

The event is expected to raise awareness about the growing Indie publishing movement and offers readers a behind-the-scenes glimpse into how imaginary worlds and characters are created. The event includes interviews, book reviews, guest posts, a Kindle Fire giveaway and much more!

I finally got a chance to peruse the book tour myself and was excited over what I saw! Here are some of the highlights that stuck out for me:

Prettiest Participating Blog – Always a Book Lover

Once I clicked on Victoria’s book blogging website, I knew I had to include it on my favorites list.  Website design and the imagery bloggers put across their sites always amazes me, and  Victoria’s is straight out beautiful!

Favorite Participating Book – Two Moons of Sera by Pavarti Tyler

I had the chance to read this one a few months ago, and was instantly captivated by this world Pavarti created! I won’t rehash my review here, but check out the blurb:

In a world where water and earth teem with life, Serafay is an anomaly. The result of genetic experiments on her mother’s water-borne line Serafay will have to face the very people responsible to discover who she really is. But is she the only one?

Would Most Like to Read:

The book tour has a lot of interesting reads to offer; two in particular are at the top of the list for me:

Song of the Fairy Queen by Valerie Douglas and Bactine by Paul Krater

Best Author interview – Lisa Scott, author of 15 Shades of Pink

There are a lot of interviews to go around. Authors answered 20 questions or more from a list of hundreds, and there are also ‘twitterviews’ all throughout August. By far, I thought Lisa’s interview was the best – it had me laughing all the way through!

Best New Feature: Page 99 Test

Okay, not sure if this is exactly new to book tours, but I’d never heard of it before. The Page 99  Test is an excellent way for readers to judge the writing of a book before buying it. See page 99 for my book, ‘Water’, here.

Biggest Thanks

A huge thanks to Pandora Poikilos for organizing the Orangeberry Summer Splash, and for the twitter blasts and twitterviews (see them by following @PandoraPoikilos).

Pandora Poikilos is the international best-selling author of ‘Excuse Me, My Brains Have Stepped Out’, along with several other novels and short stories. She is also the founder of Orangeberry Book Tours, and a social media enthusiast (close to 150,000 twitter followers), who is passionate about blogging and finding her way around the virtual world.

Connect with Pandora via e-mail (pandorapoikilos@gmail.com), on Facebook or at Amazon.

 

It’s August!

Photograph by James Larkin

It’s August, my absolute favorite month! This year August means hot days, afternoon thunderstorms, and the Olympics. I woke up this morning, anxious to get started on another month of 50k words to finish out Earth, Book Four of the Akasha Series. Granted, I fell back asleep almost immediately, but I am not deterred. I am excited, because did you hear? It’s August!

Besides the fact that it is my birth month, it is also my first child’s birth month – so lots of birthday cake to go around. Plus, we have a fun month planned; a trip to the beach and the awesome Orangeberry Summer Splash Mini Book Tour Marathon. A feature of 100 authors and 500 blog stops. With interviews, guest posts, music playlists, giveaways, and much more – there is something for everyone. Please check it out!

Water, Book One of the Akasha Series‘ will be featured. Here is the schedule:

2nd August – Author Interview at Grady Hendrix’s blog
5th August – Twitter Blast with Pandora Poikilos
10th August – Guest Post & Book Feature at Krazy Book Lady
11th August – Twitter View with Pandora Poikilos: follow @harmonygirlit to see
12th August – Book Feature at Peace from Pieces
17th August – Guest Post & Book Review at Christopher Starr’s blog
18th August – Ford 99 at Mommy Adventures: read page 99 of ‘Water’

Can’t wait? Here is a teaser; part of my interview:

If someone wrote a book about your life, what would the title be?
Slow down, already!

What is your guilty pleasure?
Vampires.

Favorite places to travel?
Anywhere without the kids…sorry guys, but sometimes mommy needs a break.

Of course, there will be reminders throughout August to check everything out, and I will be perusing to let you know my favorite blog stops. In the meantime – I want to know how you would answer the questions above! Leave a comment with your guilty pleasure and/or your favorite place to travel. Also, if someone wrote a book about your life, what would be the title?

One Year Later…

It’s nearing the end of July, with only one month left of summer. Almost a year ago today, I self-published my first short story, ‘Gleaming White, Book One of the Kindred Curse Anthology’. Since then, that short story has turned into five prequels that made up the entire anthology, and I’ve published the first two novels in my Akasha Series, with the third to release in October.

It’s been a whirlwind year, and although sales aren’t quite enough to quit my day job, they are picking up. I’ve learned so much from the community and most importantly, I’m having…FUN!

This summer, I’ve been busy working on the print versions of each book. The formatting is completely different from e-books, and in my opinion more difficult to do. But finally, they are available:

All are on Amazon.com (The Kindred Curse may not appear on their website for another two weeks). So if print is your thing, pass the word along! Don’t forget, ‘Water’ is still free as an e-book.

So, we’ve got one month left, what are you going to do with your remaining summer? For me, it will be participating in Camp NaNoWriMo, The Orangeberry Summer Splash Tour, and a short trip to the beach!

7 Tips on Writing a Review

I wrote this post a while ago, but have procrastinated in posting it. Truth is – I looooove reviewers. All of them. Book bloggers, wannabe book bloggers, occasional readers…my mother-in-law.  As an Indie author, I am extremely grateful for any review posted of my work, good or bad. Both of which I’ve had my fair share of lately. The fact that someone took the time to read my book is incredible. When they go one step further and share their opinion of my writing with the rest of the world, I am ecstatic.

Just to be clear, a bad review really does sting deep down inside. But after the initial blow, I come to appreciate them. They can provide constructive feedback and they offer a certain authenticity to the book. Besides, any publicity is better than no publicity…right? In fact, reviews I’ve read of other books rant and rave about the decisions a character made. Often, this can mean the reader became emotionally involved, and that is a good thing.

But there are reviews, and then there are good reviews. In my perfect world, this is how reviews would be done:

  1. Be honest, and write the review in your voice.
  2. Don’t start with the books blurb.  On sites such as Goodreads or Amazon, chances are the reader just read the blurb – they don’t need it repeated.  I do see the value in book bloggers including the blurb first on their site, however the review on your site doesn’t need to be a straight cut and paste into Goodreads.
  3. Start with the good.  Many of the reviews on my book start with the bad.  And don’t get me wrong – do include everything you want to say, just say something nice first.  On many sites, just the first few lines of the review is shown unless the reader clicks to expand.  That means when they are just skimming through all the reviews (which is very often what I do), only the first few lines have a chance to make an impression.
  4. Do say something nice.  The book has a pretty cover, the main character’s name is awesome, the author has good use of punctuation.  Pick one.  There has to be something nice you can say – especially if you finished the entire book.  To be honest, a review filled with snide or snarky remarks and nothing at all good to say will often be dismissed by your audience.
  5. Be a grown-up about it.  And this goes both ways – I’m looking at YOU, authors!  Chances are, at some point you are going to write a review that an author or someone else won’t appreciate.  If they choose to respond in a negative way, then they chose poorly.  Be the bigger person – don’t feed the fire.  Let it go; move on.  You have a lot of books on your TBR list anyway.  I have to mention a one-star review I received because of how much the reader hated my antagonist. I just wanted to respond – THAT’S THE POINT . Another reviewer gave me a low rating because the rape scene just wasn’t hard core enough. Wow, just wow, people. To each their own. It took a minute, but I didn’t respond. I moved on.
  6. Give the reader of the review something on which to reference.  Is this book like any you’ve ever read?  Which one?  Does this character remind you of someone?  Who?  If you want the reader to really connect with your reviews, give them something to connect with.
  7. If you are book blogger – get visual! Including the book cover goes without saying. But I love bloggers who take it one step further and include relevant pictures or even action emotions. Make the review fun! It should be as entertaining as the book was.

So there you have it. Bloggers, authors, and reviewers – what do you think? Have anything to add?