Today is the day! ‘Earth, Book Four of The Akasha Series’ is available for purchase on iTunes, Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords. $4.99 will get you through the exciting conclusion to the series. Join the already over 200 people who have added ‘Earth’ to their TBR list on Goodreads, now. Plus, Goodreads already has 4 reviews and 5 ratings – I’d love if you could add yours! Did you know each book is available in print, too? You can find Water, Air, Fire, and Earth on Amazon (just make sure you are purchasing the print version, not the Kindle version).
I am also currently in the middle of creating audio books for the entire Akasha series. The ‘Water’ audio version should be out sometime late May, with the rest to follow. Check out the very talented narrator I chose for the series, Emily Lawrence. I chose her out of 15+ auditions for her great voice, her knowledge about the business, and her reliability and professionalism. Plus – she is an author, herself. What a great match!
Also, by the beginning of May, I will release ‘Akasha, The Complete Saga’. This is a boxed set of all four books (available in electronic formats only), for $9.99. The boxed set will include never before published bonus content; short stories for each of the main characters (including one for Bee – twenty years into the future). I certainly understand that many of you will have already purchased the entire series, and don’t want to spend ten bucks for a few short stories. You can still get them – without spending the money! All you have to do is send me a link to a review of each of the four books (preferably on Amazon or Goodreads), and I will send you the bonus content (just the bonus content – not the boxed set) – for free! Please remember, they have to be a review (one or two sentences is fine), not just a rating.
So – on to the important stuff. How are you celebrating Earth Day? This weekend, we kept our celebration small and planted an herb garden on our outdoor deck area. Thyme, dill, parsley, sage, mint, basil, and some lavender thrown in for scent. Herb gardens are great; they cut down on pollutants, save you money, and green your area. They can be done inside or outside, whether you live in a house or apartment. And trust me – those summer mojitos with fresh mint are totally worth it! We have about ten of these planters, and can’t wait to start cooking with fresh herbs!
Not sure what to do for Earth Day? Go to www.google.com, check out their interactive, animated doodle – then search for evens in your area!
Time for another interview with another great book blogger. I met Navaeh through the New Adult Book Club on Goodreads. Then…I met her in person. Crazy, right? But yes, in this virtual world of blogs and electronic books and uploads and downloads – we sat down and had coffee and talked face to face.
Neveah runs a New Adult Book Blog, be sure to check it out! Her book reviews are packed with wonderful extras; a sense of humor, songs that remind her of the book, pictures, short samples of text – I love perusing her blog!
Anyway – on with the interview:
Terra: First thing is first – how did you get into book blogging?
Neveah: I read a ridiculous amount of books and found that I needed an outlet to express my feelings about those books, as well as keep track of who’s who and what happened in which book. I also love to discuss books I’ve read and have few friends who enjoy the same type of books I do…now I have tons! Also, I wanted to get into the daily habit of writing so that I might actually get something published someday myself. I have found that it is a double-edge sword though; I am writing every day now, but mostly reviews and find little time for writing anything else. Hopefully, I’ll learn to balance my time better soon.
T: Tell me more about Nevaeh’s New Adult Book Blog.
N: The blog was borne out of my resolutions for the new year, and is one of the few that has made it all the way until March ;o). I realized that most of what I have been reading could be considered “new adult” (NA), and after reading about the rising popularity of books in this genre, I decided to focus my blog reviews here. Not that I don’t read some YA and adult literature, but unless it crosses over and can also be considered NA, I don’t review it on the blog. There are plenty of YA blogs out there, and far fewer NA blogs. Most of what I review is contemporary romance, but I love to throw in a little dystopian, paranormal, and fantasy just to keep it real ;o).
T: White wine or red?
N: Red, definitely. After living in Argentina, I grew to love Malbecs but love a good Cabernet as well.
T: OMG – Malbecs are my favorite! I think it’s because they remind me of meat, and I am a total carnivore.
N: And that is really funny because I a vegetarian. A native Texan who lived in Argentina, both locales known for their beef, and I decide to go veggie. Go figure.
T: What is your favorite part of the ‘job’?
N: I have really enjoyed “meeting” authors, reading their work (many of which are debut novels), and sharing their work with others, who might not have seen or heard of their books otherwise. It feels good to be a part of getting the word out about those who are deserving of a chance to have their stories be heard.
T: What is your not-so-favorite part?
N: Technology. I am admittedly not tech-savvy and have no desire to be, but obviously that is part of the blogging “business”. I love reading and writing, but it’s definitely a challenge to make myself learn how to actually build a better blog.
T: I think the term is tech-tard. At least, that is how I refer to myself. It’s like we have to be multi-talented when we barely have time to use one talent. How many hours would you say you spend on reading? How many hours on reviews and your blog?
N: Way too many but also not near enough ;o). Between reading and writing the reviews, I probably spend at least five hours a day (most of which is spent reading). I’m a night owl and operate on very little sleep, and have horrendous self-control when it comes to putting down a good book.
T: Tell me about the New Adult Genre.
N: Although some argue it isn’t a genre, and maybe it isn’t yet, I do feel it should be. To me, there is an obvious distinction between NA and YA books. New adult literature tends to have more explicit sex, significantly more swearing (and use of “harsher” swear words), and often deals with extremely mature issues (ie. sexual and/or physical abuse, suicide, illegal drug use and abuse). Characters tend to be in the age range between 18-25, though sometimes one of the main characters is older or younger. In the libraries, these books are often mixed in with YA books (since there isn’t currently a New Adult section), and I hate the thought of 12 and 13 year-olds coming across them, when they really aren’t geared toward them. Fortunately, many authors of new adult books have been responsibly putting a warning at the beginning of their books, warning that the content is more suitable for ages 17+. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that younger kids aren’t picking them up and reading them anyways.
T: I have to say, I wasn’t aware of the NA genre when my books first came out (not sure if it was around then), but I’ve grown to love it. I feel like it’s what I’ve been looking for all along! What kind of book is worthy of five wine bottles?
N: One that I never want to end. One that tugs on my heart strings, makes me laugh and maybe even shed a tear or two. One where I prefer their reality over my own, even if mine is easier. One where I say to myself, “Damn, I wish I would have written that book!”
T: Perfect answer – I agree! Who are some of your all-time favorite authors and series? What about your favorite movies?
N: In the New Adult genre, I love anything written by Colleen Hoover (Hopeless, Slammed, Point of Retreat…all incredibly written). Rebecca Donovan’s “Breathing” series (Reason to Breathe, Barely Breathing, and the yet-to-be-released Out of Breath) is ultra-intense; definitely “five-wine bottle” books. Jennifer Armentrout (also writing under the name J. Lynn) is very good, as well as Jessica Sorenson, Jamie McGuire, Abbi Glines, and Tammara Webber.
There have also been some fantastic YA series (some that border on NA). For example, The Mortal Instrument series by Cassandra Clare, Divergent series by Veronica Roth, the now world-famous Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and of course, Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling.
Let’s see…movies. That one is trickier because I’d pick a good book over a movie any day (and most often I do). Really anything with a good love story and a happily-ever-after ending. I guess if I had to pick a favorite I would choose Pride and Prejudice (the Keira Knightley version)….love that Mr. Darcy!
T: What is next for you?
N: I am hoping to concentrate more time on bettering the blog, both in appearance and content. I have focused almost solely on review writing and would like to do more interactive posts, with giveaways, interviews, etc. Outside of the blog, I’m also hoping to write something other than reviews and be published (self or otherwise) by the end of this year; that’s the goal anyway. I’ve been working on a book in the new adult genre and another novelette is begging to see the light of day.
Thanks, Navaeh for your time – it was wonderful meeting you in person and I look forward to many more of your blog posts!
Be sure to check out Navaeh’s blog!
I woke up to this news this morning. (Official press release here.) And I have to say – I’m shocked…and worried. Kudos to Amazon, though. It makes me wonder if their competitors are all:
I know I am, a little bit. The problem is, Amazon tends to roll out incentives to those who publish exclusively to them, and punish those who don’t (KDP program and certain royalty rates). It makes me wonder if I, as a self-published author, will not be able to reap all the benefits Goodreads has to offer because I am not exclusive to Amazon. In fact, I would be hard-pressed to even think about it, considering the majority of my sales now come from iBooks.
On the plus side, I think Amazon can help bring Goodreads into the digital world. So far, Goodreads hasn’t really been integrated into e-readers, and I am sorely disappointed in their smartphone app. Heck – Goodreads doesn’t allow ebooks in their giveaway section. It is print books only.
Until now, Goodreads has been a wonderful ‘crowd-sourcing’, review generating outlet. I hope it doesn’t lean too far toward its for-profit owner, but how could it not?
If Shelfari (Amazon’s other review site) is any indication of what’s to come, we can say goodbye to Goodreads and hello to whatever new book review platform Google or Apple might roll out. Maybe – just maybe, Amazon competitors are cheering…
What do you think?
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:
- Be honest, and write the review in your voice.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
Winner, winner, chicken dinner! I recently submitted a short story to one of my Goodreads groups, Gotta Have Paranormal Romance with a Kick. The requirements were to write a short story about what it would be like to be Mrs. Dracula. No word count minimums/maximums. So I sat down, hammered something out, and won! Squee! I got a $25 gift card to AllRomanceBooks.com, plus an e-copy of Being Mrs. Dracula by Faith Marlow.
Of course, my version of being Mrs. Dracula includes Wiccans, environmental issues, and an unexpected twist at the end. Interested? Read below and let me know what you think!
“Mrs. Hun, your rebuttal, if you please.”
Melinda nodded at the moderator, and turned to face the cameras. Lights bore down on her, and she hoped her makeup held up to the heat. A bead of sweat rolled down the back of her neck. She ignored it, trying to focus instead on the audience behind the media.
“Although my opponent’s environmental goal is admirable; it simply isn’t enough. As Ohio’s newest senator, and duly elected representative, I intend to support the push for nuclear energy.” Melinda waited for the uproar to die down. Her announcement wasn’t unexpected; in fact, anticipation of the announcement is what led to such a large turnout. She leaned closer into the microphone, speaking above the crowd, “Nuclear energy waste is miniscule to what we produce now. A coke can’s worth per person’s lifetime compared to 68 tons solid waste and 77 tons carbon dioxide.”
There were shouts from the audience, both for and against.
She continued, “A nuclear plant takes up less than a square mile to produce the same amount of energy a wind farm on 200 square miles produces.”
From behind the cameras, someone yelled about weapons of mass destruction. Melinda did something her campaign manager strictly prohibited. She responded to the criticism, “Nuclear war is an exaggerated fear, fed to you by Hollywood and the media.”
She looked over at her opponent, candidate Daniel Kelley, and swallowed hard. A small, knowing smile crept up on one side of his face.
As the debate ended with a clear winner, the two candidates shook hands in front of the camera. He leaned into her, “Good luck with the rest of your campaign, Mrs. Hun.”
She nodded, “And to you, Mr. Kelley.”
He glanced over at the empty seat in the front row, “I look forward to meeting your husband.”
Melinda looked down. Her husband had yet to appear at a public event by her side. “Mr. Hun is busy with work.”
Daniel narrowed his eyes, “Well, I hope he is around to at least take care of your injuries.”
Melinda gasped, touching her eye. The tips of her fingers came away tinged with beige cover-up. Her makeup was running. She immediately adjusted her hair over her neck, hoping no one had spotted the bruising there.
Daniel smiled, leaning in further, “Makeup, hair, and high turtlenecks can only cover so much.” He bent the rest of the way, kissing her on the cheek, then straightened and winked at her. Daniel Kelley disappeared into the maelstrom of media, prompting a new frenzy of flashing lights.
Melinda closed her eyes and took in a deep breath. The campaign, relatively free of mud-slinging so far, was about to get ugly.
* * *
Melinda entered campaign headquarters with her manager and several aides, “How is my California colleague’s campaign going?”
The youngest aide, a recent college grad, answered, “He leads the polls.”
“And Louisiana?” she asked.
“The same,” the manager said. “Barring any unfortunate disclosures regarding religious affiliations, your fellow wiccans will be sitting at the capitol next year.”
Melinda nodded. Discussions on how to effectively change America’s environmental policies began within her small coven ten years ago. With a lot of hard work, and equal amounts of luck, they managed to ensconce a handful of loyal wiccans within the US political system. This was just the beginning. Between the congressional race and well-paid lobbyists, they were going to slowly oust the large corporation stronghold within US politics, and guide the country to vote on policies that were environmentally responsible. America would no longer be run by the highest bidder.
“Melinda,” her campaign manager stopped her with a hand on her arm. “Are you going to be okay?”
She furrowed her eyebrows at him.
“Your husband returns tonight?” He pressed. “This is a situation your opponent would love to exploit. We can’t afford that kind of press. We are behind enough in the polls as it is.”
Melinda fidgeted with the hem of her shirt, uncomfortable with this kind of attention. “What my husband and I do behind closed doors is no affair of yours.”
“Of course – yet it will soon become the affair of the entire nation, if you’re not careful.”
She cleared her throat, and met his eyes, “I will be in my private suite the remainder of the evening. Text if you need anything; otherwise I’ll see you before 9 for our flight tomorrow morning.”
He sighed, looking at her with sad eyes. The matter was not closed; next time he would approach it with more care.
* * *
Melinda took the elevator below ground to her private suite. There weren’t many buildings in Columbus that went this far underground, especially so close to the river. Melinda wasn’t keen on spending so much of their campaign money on a lease, but Mr. Hun was insistent. She crossed their spacious living room, removing her jacket and high heels along the way. She looked at her watch, he would be waking soon.
At the floor to ceiling bookshelf, Melinda pulled on the copy of Bram Stroker’s ‘Dracula’. One click, and a panel opened inward. Melinda squeezed through the small opening. Inside was a large pentagram. Lit candles placed at intervals around the circular room provided the only light. Several men and women in robes waited on their knees, obediently keeping their heads down.
Melinda cleared her throat. One rose, walked over to her, and handed her an iced cocktail. She sniffed it, raising her eyebrows at him.
“It is the usual infused herbs, mixed during an incantation, Melinda.”
“And the blood?” She asked, peering through the clear glass.
She nodded, throwing her head back and finishing the cocktail in one swallow. She handed the empty glass to the robed man, along with her cell phone and campaign badges, “I am ready.”
He set her belongings down on a small table and pulled a lever just above it. The center of the pentagram opened, and a large bed rose into the room, gears underneath squeaking with the strain. Melinda held her breath, heart stopping for a moment as it always did upon his awakening.
The form on the bed stirred, pulling the chains that bound him tight. A slow smile crept onto Melinda’s face, “Settle down husband, you will fly tonight.”
He turned, gray eyes boring into her, “You have another name for me, witch?”
The vampire sat up in the bed, his bare chest heaving in anger, “One of these nights, I will break your curse. I’m too old; lived far too long to bend to the will of a human.”
Melinda stepped forward, removing her turtleneck and revealing her bruised throat. A small price to pay. The vampire did need to feed after all, “The day may come,” she said. “But it will require something strong enough to break the bond of marriage.” She wrapped her hand around one of the chains, pulling it tight. The vampire was yanked down again, flat on his back. “And something stronger still to break these bonds. Not to mention the curse.”
Melinda crawled onto the bed, straddling the vampire. She felt his whole body go tense. “We’ll be performing the Great Rite before I release you,” she nodded to the robed man and he took his place back in the circle. “We’ll need to make sure the curse holds while you fly free. I want my little bat to return home by dawn.”
She stroked the side of his face. He bared his fangs, but couldn’t bite into the healthy, throbbing pulse at her wrist. Not without her permission; one of many stipulations enforced through the curse.
Dracula closed his eyes, frowning. “I suppose this must be my penance.”
“Penance?” Melinda scooted down on the bed, making herself comfortable in between his legs. “It’s for the good of the country.” Her smile was all too malicious, “I’ll make a true patriot out of you yet.”
This is what my husband told me after I became seriously heartbroken after another two-star review for my eco-fantasy novel, Water. His point was, my book will not be for everyone, just as Picasso’s work isn’t for everyone. I understand that. Hell – I embrace some of the more critical reviews and have made my novel better because of them.
To give you some perspective, as of today on Goodreads ‘Water’ has an average 3.86 stars out of 77 ratings. Here is the breakdown:
Don’t get me wrong, I am extremely grateful to have 77 ratings at all. But why am I so obsessed with the fact that I have a below four star average?
Probably because I, myself, hesitate to read anything that has below a four star average.
Why do I spend countless hours gritting my teeth and analyzing the one and two stars and significantly less time celebrating the four and five stars?
Because I am human.
As authors, and especially as indie authors, we can say we have a thick skin all we want. But years and years of work go into one novel, and very often, we have given up so much to make it a reality. So when someone tears our baby apart, basically encouraging others not to give it a chance, it hurts.
But this is the reality of putting your creative work out there. Musicians, actors, and artists all go through the same thing. Under constant criticism, good and bad, how do we find the motivation to continue? Here is what I will try to keep in mind:
- I can’t stop writing, any more than I could stop breathing. Even if the outlet of self-publishing wasn’t available to me, I would see my series through to the end – and then start on another series.
- Despite his haters *glares at husband*, Picasso remains the top ranked artist (based on sales of his works at auctions as of 2004 according to the Art Market Trends report).
- There are plenty of very popular and successful books with sub four star ratings on Goodreads to include Fifty Shades of Grey ,every single book in the Twilight Series, and plenty of Amanda Hocking’s books.
To be clear, I am not comparing my novels with these books – I aim to be better. I will also keep in mind that I don’t play it safe with my novels. I tackle tough issues; rape, violence, relationships that escalate too quickly, suicide, mental disorders, as well as gay characters. If that wasn’t enough, my third book of the series, Fire, which releases this October, opens with a birth scene. Squeamish? You won’t last the first chapter.
So I will take a deep breath, vow to stop starting my day by checking Goodreads, and….well…I will: