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Month: February 2016

The Dragon in The Garden

A guest post by Erika Gardner!

Thanks so much to my fellow authors from Tirgearr Publishing for giving us each the opportunity to guest on their blogs. It’s been a pleasure to discover more about Elizabeth Delisi, Troy Lambert, and Kristi Ahlers during this process.

As you have likely realized over the past few days- our Press is having a birthday, their fifth, in fact! So to celebrate authors are discounting their books for a few precious days, February 26th through the 29th. Each our books will be available for just 0.99. That’s unreal to me. That means you could my book, The Dragon in The Garden, twenty times for the same price as a typical hardback. What a wonderful time to be a reader!

It’s a wonderful time to be a writer as well. While, traditional publishing is struggling, people ARE reading more than ever. They are simply doing it in new ways. The trick is to figure out how to capitalize on those ways in such a manner as to make a living wage at this business. I’ll let you know if I ever figure that part out. Still, with computers our work is faster and easier, while the digital age offers a myriad of new formats in which to distribute and market our work.

The Dragon in The Garden is my first published novel and is included in the Tirgearr Super Sale! Here’s a bit about it:
There is magic beneath the mundane and in The Dragon in the Garden, Siobhan Orsini witnesses it all. No lie can fool her, no glamour or illusion can cloud her Sight. She sees through them all and wishes she could close her eyes. Returning to face her past, Siobhan inherits her grandparents’ house in California’s wine country. She encounters a talking dragon, a hot fallen angel, a demon lord, a Valkyrie, and, oh yes, her ex-boyfriend. And that is just in the first twenty-four hours. 

It’s time to find out why she has this power. 

Siobhan seeks out the Oracle and learns that only her Sight can help mankind navigate the travails of an ancient war. Our world is the prize in a battle between the dragons, who would defend us, and Lucifer’s fallen angels, who seek to take the Earth for themselves. Using her gift, she will have to make a choice that will decide humanity’s future.

TheDragoninTheGardenbyErikaGardner-500

http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Gardner_Erika/the-dragon-in-the-garden.htm

 

Please enjoy this excerpt from The Dragon in The Garden. Happy Anniversary Sale!!!

 

I woke filled with the dreadful certainty that I was not alone. Blinking, I tried to see around me. In the faint light, I discerned the shape of a man sitting in a chair by the window. I started to cry out when I realized a faint, growing luminosity filled the room. It came from me. I glowed with a silvery light. A slender illuminated cord came off me, traveling upward. Pulses of energy flowed along the cord away from my body, leaving me drained and weak. Movement seemed incredibly difficult, impossible. As my eyes followed the shining strand aloft, I saw in sick horror that some kind of creature hovered above me.

I couldn’t figure out at first if this dreadful phantasm actually lived. Fragile, paper-like skin covered its skeletal frame. She? He? I couldn’t say, but the thing’s emaciation made it difficult to tell if skin actually covered those bones. The thing appeared all cheekbones, its features shrunken and shriveled. The being possessed wild, wispy hair so white it shone in the shimmering glow projected from my body. The strands floated in all directions around the apparition as did its robes, more rags than clothing. I was grateful for anything shrouding any part of the wraith-like figure.

I’ll never, for all my days, be able to explain the dread radiating from its presence. The sensation came from the thing’s eyes. They burned with an electric red, yet, this flame burned in a cold fire, devoid of any warmth or compassion. Though it wore a humanoid form, nothing remotely human emanated from it.

I drew in breath to scream for Daisy, Turel, anyone. More than anything I wanted to call for help, to be as loud as possible. Instead, I whimpered. No other sound came. The thing turned its withered head to the man in the chair. “Abraxas, it speaks. Never do they talk.”

“That’s because they usually don’t wake up and even if they did, they couldn’t see you,” explained the man named Abraxas. “This one is special.”

“Yes,” it rasped. “I see it is. I like it, so delicious, my ducky.” The thing’s voice rasped as thin and emaciated as its form. The death rattle sound of those words conjured nightmares from the dark corners of my mind, places where nameless terrors lurked, and my fears scurried like beetles under a rock. The faint smell of death and decay clung to the air around us.

“What are you?” I managed to whisper. My voice sounded faint, a breath, nothing more.

The thing floating over me cackled, an insane, evil sound. “Now it speaks to me. I love its fear. See it? So pretty, wants to run and hide, but can barely move.” It drifted an inch or two closer to me and I cringed, but couldn’t look away; its hellish eyes consumed me. “Soon it will never move again. Never, ever move, little pig.”

Abraxas snorted at the creature. “Why the pet names, Hag?”

The nightmare above me reached out with one bony finger as though to tap my face. Locked inside my head, I became a screaming, gibbering thing, beyond rational thought. It didn’t touch me though; it moved the finger back and forth as though conducting an invisible orchestra, its blood-red eyes burning into me. “It is food for me. I am calling it food names it understands, so it will know, it will suffer. Going to eat you, pretty lamb, eat you up.” It made a slithering noise, a slurping sound.

I strained again to scream, but only mustered a gasp. “Why? What are you?” Speech grew even more difficult. The draining left me a shadow of myself. So tired, so very tired.

Abraxas shifted in his chair and fumbled around in his pockets. The faint flick of a lighter registered and then came a small flame as he lit a cigar. As he puffed furiously I had my first glimpse of his face and shuddered. Abraxas wasn’t human.

I’d lay odds he looked human to anyone else gazing upon him. However, to my eyes, even weakened, I saw the clever-faced demonic visage peering out from under the sharply dressed businessman exterior. It was as if he wore a people suit. He smiled at me with wickedly pointed teeth. Abraxas puffed on the cigar and remarked in a matter-of-fact voice, “You should save your strength. I have already answered your question.”

“Yes,” hissed the creature above me. “Save for me, all of you for me.”

I made my lips move. “No, you didn’t.”

The sound came out so softly, I didn’t know if I said it out loud, but Abraxas heard me anyway. His eyebrows flipped up in surprise. He leaned forward, exposing short, pointy horns on his head like a goat, or to more accurate, like a devil. He puffed his cigar. “Certainly, I answered you, she’s a Hag.”

“Hag,” agreed the terrifying vision above me. “Riding you, taking you, soon all gone.”

Abraxas shrugged. “She calls it riding, I say eating. She’s draining your life force, your will to live.”

“And fear, Abraxas, fear and hope. I take them all, yes, ducky.”

Abraxas crossed and re-crossed his legs in an impatient gesture. “Get on with it. We need to finish before Turiel returns. I don’t want to be meat for that tiger.”

The Hag snarled at him, “No rush me.”

“Oh fine, have it your way,” Abraxas grumbled, glancing at his watch. He smiled a nasty grin. “Just think, Watcher, if you had left a broomstick by your bed, folklore says she’d have been forced to ride away on it, instead of riding your spirit. A broomstick, isn’t that the craziest thing you’ve ever heard?” He chuckled, an evil sound, and shook his head. “You can’t make this shit up, I tell you.”

The Hag exhaled in a quivering, rattling way. The sound created images of broken body parts and decomposing flesh rolling through my mind as I shuddered again in pain and fear. She commanded Abraxas, saying, “We go now. No nasty angel and I take little lamb with me. I drain her slowly, play with her forever.” Her eyes burned like two pits of hellish fire as she examined me again. “So special, so delicious, little piggy.”

“No, the Black God wants this finished before Gwyrdd can find a way back to this world. I didn’t hire you for playtime,” snapped Abraxas. “Finish and let’s get out of here.”

“No broomsticks,” said the Hag. “Bad Abraxas.”

He held up his hands. “Right, no broomsticks. Just hurry up.”

“Poor ducky,” said the Hag, gloating.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I remembered in a drifting way a program I had once seen on television. It was a wildlife show, one of those safari ones. Some lions ambushed a zebra and began to eat the poor animal before it even died. I remember being shocked at the way the zebra lay there, waiting to die, waiting to lose enough blood to bring on oblivion. I was the zebra now. My body grew colder. It no longer seemed important enough or worth the effort to be terrified, although the Hag looked even more frightening now as she fed on me. The more of my life force she consumed, the brighter she burned luminescent, as I faded. As she devoured me, she became more substantial.

The faint odor of an open rotting grave became a ripe, overwhelming stench. If I could have gagged, I would have. All thoughts of escape, of curiosity, vanished as I waited for the end. The Hag smiled, showing rotten, yellow bits of teeth, her evil, red eyes danced. In her deathly voice she said, “Good chickie. Good. Never moves again. No, it doesn’t want to. It belongs to me. Mine.”

Something stirred in me at that moment. I didn’t belong to her. I belonged to me. No one else got to decide who I was or who I belonged to. I spent my whole life hanging on to my sense of self. No one else, not even a supernatural Hag sucking out my life force, and killing me in my own bed got to take that away from me. If ten different psychiatrists and more prescriptions than I could count hadn’t changed my mind, then I’d be damned if I’d let her decide for me.

There in the darkness, with my glimmer disappearing and a chill enveloping my limbs, I found a small spark inside of me, a stubborn iota of will. I searched my mind, seeking some way out. Then I did the only thing I had left, the only recourse still in my power. I prayed.

I didn’t pray to God. At the time, I don’t think it ever even crossed my mind to pray to Him. I didn’t have the strength of Tim’s quiet faith. Still, I knew who I needed. I prayed to Turel, only this time I called him Turiel. I prayed to him, partly in my heart, partly through lips like ice; lips gone numb. I prayed with fervor, hanging on to the spark even as I grew still colder, darker, and the Hag above me glowed in stolen radiance.

My breath slowed, and I fought for each inhalation. Each heartbeat echoed through the room. That, too, slowed. My world reduced to these things: breathing and my heartbeat. Still my frozen lips moved and my spark of will pushed my prayers out into the universe. With my vision blurred as Abraxas regarded his cigar from his chair. He tapped his foot, frowning at us.

The Hag tilted her head in a gesture that in her hideousness suggested a caricature of a human’s movement. She seemed puzzled. “It is saying something, Abraxas. This I do not understand. What does my duck say?” She leaned closer and the stench of death and decay enveloped me. Still I prayed.

“What is it?” asked Abraxas, impatient.

The withered Hag tilted her head. “I do not remember the word for what it does. It is asking for help,” she answered. “It does not know no help will come? What a strange lamb it is.” She shrugged her now much more substantial shoulders, her hideous features twisting in concentration. “Ah, Abraxas,” she continued in her gruesome voice, “I remember the word. My piggy prays.”

Abraxas sprang to his feet in alarm. “She prays? To whom?”

CRACK!

A bolt of lightning exploding in the small room blinded my eyes. Turel appeared in its flash, his face drawn in a snarl, glorious wings extended. Sunlight, beautiful, sweet sunlight, filled my night shrouded bedroom. Turel took one look at me and the Hag over me. “She prays to me,” he roared. His arm drew back in a graceful arc and a second bolt of lightning shot toward me.

 

To purchase The Dragon in The Garden please see:

http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Gardner_Erika/the-dragon-in-the-garden.htm

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This post was written by Erika Gardner. She’s a native Californian, lifelong lover of fantastical adventures, and a dedicated Whovian.  If you enjoyed it, please sign up to receive updates on www.erikagardner.com   Or you can follow Erika on Twitter @Erika_Gardner, “Like” her Facebook page Erika Gardner- Writer and Storyteller. Or check out her contributions to the BBB Blog.

 

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The Good Shepherd

Stray Ally by Troy Lambert - high resMy thriller, Stray Ally is on special this week. It has been a helluva year, but the sequel, Good Shepherd, is nearing completion. And you, dear reader, on the Anniversary of Tirgearr Publishing, when you can get Stray Ally here (if you have not read it yet) for .99 this entire weekend, get a sneak peek. Here is an excerpt from the beginning of Good Shepherd. Enjoy, and check out the rest of the great books on sale this weekend at Tirgearr by visiting the sale page.

Excerpt, Good Shepherd

He brought his rifle up now, not aiming for the men in front, but the ones behind them, the ones with the rifles, while staying in a prone position, making himself as small a target as possible.

He fired a single shot, and one of the two men’s head exploded, sending blood and bone spattering over the others.

“Shit!” the second said, and swung his rifle around.

Before Rick could get off a second shot, something hit him in the shoulder, pushing him backwards.

“Jesus, go! Go!” One of the men was clearly aggravated with the driver, apparently not realizing the gate remained shut.

“I can’t!” came back.

One of the men holding the odd weapons jumped down and ran into the guard shack. Rick tried to bring his rifle around, but his right shoulder was useless. He felt really warm.

He heard the gate begin to roll open. He could only hope his call earlier alerted the others.

The dogs lay ahead of him, each with a pink tipped dart sticking from their sides. Both were breathing, their sides moved up and down.

As the truck rolled through the gate, Rick heard gunfire.

Good. The others were defending themselves.

He tried to get up, but fell back onto his face. His arm could not support any weight.

Instead he crawled to a place beside the dogs, encircling one with his arm.

“Shh, shh. It will be okay, he told them.

With no idea if it would or not, he closed his eyes, unable to hang on to consciousness.

Troy Lambert is a blogger, author, and editor living, working, and playing in Boise, Idaho. He is a cyclist, skier, hiker, camper, and terrible beginning golfer who loves spending time with his son, his fiancé, and their two very talented dogs. You can find him on his website, his blogs at contently, on Faebook and Twitter.

Stray Ally starts with a strange accident on the freeway, accusations of murder, and an encounter in the Idaho wilderness which all propel Todd Clarke into a new friendship with a dog named Sparky. But Sparky is no ordinary dog, and there is more going on than Clarke could have imagined.

A military commander he investigated for Aryan activity and links to domestic terrorism is after him, and he’s not sure why until another chance encounter provides the answer.

With Sparky and the help of his canine friends, will he be able to figure out the Colonel’s plan and stop him in time? All Clarke knows for sure is none of it would be possible without the help of his Stray Ally.

On sale for .99 on Amazon, and is available at all of these online retailers.

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00IRFVC98/

Amazon UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00IRFVC98

Nook http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/stray-ally-troy-lambert/1118892709

Apple http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/isbn9781310743665

Kobo https://store.kobobooks.com/search?Query=9781310743665

Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/414985

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IT’S OUR BIRTHDAY!

Guest Post by Krist Ahlers:

It’s hard to believe that Tirgearr Publishing is getting ready to celebrate it’s 5th birthday! And as a gift to you, my titles will be discounted. Check out my backlist! I promise there is something for everyone.

I’ve long had a love affair with Paris. There is simply something about this city that calls to me. When I lived in Belgium, I spent so many weekends in this amazing city. In fact, the last summer we lived there, I spent each weekend there. Yes, each weekend. You don’t know living until you’ve had brie and baguette until you’ve done so in Paris. Yes, it tastes better there. J

I’m also all about trivia so here is a little trivia about one of my favorite places on earth!

  1. The Eiffel Tower is approx. 300-350 mm high
  2. Musée du Louvre started off as a fortress
  3. The Arc de Triomphe is the final resting place of their Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
  4. Pantheon is the final resting place of Voltaire and Victor Hugo.
  5. Palais Garnier is the opera house Phantom of the Opera is based off of.
  6. Jardin des Tuileries was once the site of a Tile Pit.
  7. Tourists have been touring the sewers of Paris since 1858 thanks to Victor Hugo.

Check out my duet THE TROUBLE WITH PARIS

This collection includes my novellas The Trouble with French Kisses and The Trouble with Pilots.

The Trouble with French Kisses

Who knew that a country with a kiss named after it would consider it illegal to share one.

When Hannah Walsh finds herself being held in a French police station after sharing a passionate kiss with the handsome Damien Jacques, will she be able to ignore her reawakened desires?

Damien must come to terms with the fact that vivacious Hannah has changed the man he thought he was. Born of aristocratic lineage and heir to the award-winning Jacque Vineyards, and descended from French kings, his life as a notorious playboy is about to be put to the test.

Hannah can’t ignore the passion that has sprung up between her and Damien, but is passion enough to bridge the cultural gap of differences between them?

Will they find their happy ending after all?

The Trouble with Pilots

Wedding dress designer Sarah Harper’s best friend is getting married and Sophie has been asked to design the dress. When she discovers it means getting on a plane for Paris, all her flying fears spring to life. But this is for her best friend, Hannah, and the notoriety of designing a dress for the bride of one of France’s nobility is an opportunity Sarah can’t pass up. Even if it means sitting beside an off-duty pilot. Sophie swore off pilots when she left her ex, but her seatmate’s touch and spicy scent makes her forget all about the flight, and her promise. She blames the medication her doctor gave her and her naughty dreams on what happens just before landing. Could she be any more mortified?

Trey Chasen is finally taking some well-deserved time off and uses his friend’s engagement as an excuse to see Paris. At first, Trey lamented the loss of another jet-setter to the arms of a good woman, but he soon feels something is missing in his own life. When he meets his seatmate on the flight to Paris, his interest is instantly sparked, yet not in a way he’s used to. Using her fear of flying as an excuse to soothe her, he discovers he wants to get to know this pixie of a woman better. He just didn’t expect it would be so soon, or during the flight.

When the two realize their destinations are the same, it’s Hannah and Damien who set Sarah and Trey straight about the important things in life. Can Sarah put aside her trouble with pilots to find love? Trey likes is a challenge, and before Sarah returns to the States, he’s going to make sure he proves to her that pilots aren’t trouble but worth loving.

Kristi Ahlers is a flight attendant and a true romantic at heart. You can find her on the web at the following locations.

https://www.facebook.com/Kristi-Ahlers-Author

http://kristiahlers.blogspot.com/

https://www.kristiahlers.com

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Interview with Elizabeth Delisi

Liz photo

Elizabeth had joined me on my blog before, but this time she is talking about her novel, Fatal Fortune. Below is an interview with her, a few quick questions, but first an introduction:

Elizabeth Delisi is a multi-published, award-winning author of romance, mystery and suspense. Her time-travel romance set in ancient Egypt, LADY OF THE TWO LANDS, won a Bloody Dagger Award and was a Golden Rose Award nominee. Her romantic suspense novel, SINCE ALL IS PASSING, was an EPPIE Award finalist and Bloody Dagger Award finalist. FATAL FORTUNE, a paranormal mystery, was a Word Museum Reviewer’s Choice Masterpiece. Three of Elizabeth’s contemporary romance novellas are combined in one volume, HEART SPELL, due out in June from Tirgearr Publishing. Elizabeth also has a short story collection available, THE MIDNIGHT ZONE.

 

Elizabeth is a writing instructor for Writer’s Digest University. She has taught creative writing at the community college level, has worked as an editor for several small publishers, and has been a newspaper reporter and columnist. She invites readers to visit her web page: www.elizabethdelisi.com and her blog: http://elizabethdelisi.blogspot.com/

 

  • Tell us a little about yourself, and what inspired you to become a writer.

I’ve always enjoyed reading, and have wanted to be a writer since I was in first grade. After many years of expressing my quirky imagination and being told I was eccentric at the least, it was a natural step to become a writer. I love having the opportunity to share the stories in my head with others. There’s not much better in life than a good read! And there’s no thrill like someone saying, “I loved your book.”

  • Tell us what FATAL FORTUNE is about.

FATAL FORTUNE, the first book in the Lottie Baldwin mystery series, is a mystery with a touch of the paranormal. No one in Cheyenne, ND believes in Lottie Baldwin’s psychic abilities; especially not Harlan Erikson, Lottie’s boyfriend, and Chief Deputy in the Sheriff’s Office. When a friend’s husband disappears, Lottie can’t leave it to Harlan. Armed with her courage and her tarot cards, she tries to solve the mystery herself, regardless of who attempts to stop her: Harlan, her friend—or the criminal.

  • If you were casting the movie version of FATAL FORTUNE, who would you choose for the leading roles?

HepburnLottie would be played by a young Joan Blondell. She looks the part, and would be a perfect fit for sassy, independent Lottie.

 

Harlan would be played by a young Robert Redford. He’s got a great sense of humor, and has no trouble being strong when it counts.

Redford

  • Tell us about a hidden talent you have that most people don’t know about.

I know how to tat, which seems to be—alas—a lost art. I also know how to do card-weaving (another nearly lost art), and my husband and I built an inkle loom for weaving.

  • What’s your favorite comfort food?

Chocolate anything, of course! No contest. Current favorite: Almond Roca. Yum! I also have a fondness for Sky Bars, which I remember from my childhood. Hard to find now. They’re like a Whitman’s Sampler in a candy bar, with four different flavors.

  • Are you an outliner or do you write by the seat of your pants?

I outline before I write. I’ve tried just winging it, but I feel too uneasy if I have no idea where I’m going. Outlines don’t constrict me, as I feel free to change and adapt them as I write. If I come up with a better idea for a particular scene, I change the outline to match. That allows me to keep track of all the loose threads, and make sure everything works.

  • What’s your favorite season and why?

I love all the seasons, and am happy to live in a state with four distinct seasons. Here in beautiful New Hampshire, I’d have to choose fall as my favorite—early fall. With all the gorgeous leaves in shades of red, scarlet, orange and gold, apple cider everywhere, crisp nights and mild days, I’m in a constant state of wonder.

  • If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?

Tough question. I think I’d probably own a combination book store/yarn store/coffee shop. Just the kind of store where I’d like to shop myself! Anyone know of one in New Hampshire?

  • Tell us about anyone famous you’ve met.

Ooh, let’s see. I met Captain Seawhiskers when I was five years old and got to be on the show. J I’ve met Jim Nabors, Gary Puckett, Kathleen Sibelius and Bill Graves (both Kansas governors), and Peter Noone. My most recent meet: Steve Smith, a.k.a. Red Green, from the hilarious PBS show, “The Red Green Show.”

  • What’s your favorite non-writing-related website?

Definitely Ravelry, for yarn lovers: www.ravelry.com and Aeclectic Tarot for all things tarot: http://www.aeclectic.net/tarot/

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Tirgearr Blog Swap and Sale!

This weekend is Tirgearr Publishing birthday. Their first one, really, since the company was founded on the last Leap Day.

I’ve been proud to be a part of Tirgearr, and have edited for them as a managing editor for the City Nights series when it first got started, senior editor, and I still edit for them on a regular basis.

In addition, but two of my works are published by them, Stray Ally, a military thriller about a man who saves a dog in the wilderness, but in the end the dog saves him; and my erotic thriller One Night in Boise, the kickoff book for the City Nights series.

Both e-books are on sale for .99 on Amazon this weekend, but they are not the only ones. Many of the Tirgearr authors are participating in the Birthday Bash, so their work is on sale as well. Check out the graphic below, head to the publisher’s home page, and find some great deals.

Not only that, but watch this space. Over the next few days, there will be three Tirgearr authors and their work featured here on my blog. Erika Gardner, Elizabeth Delisi, and Kristi Ahlers will all join me. Look for their posts, and grab up some great books and fill your Kindle Reading list.

TIRGEARR PUBLISHING800

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Write, Revise, Publish, Market, Repeat

Okay, I have been a slacker myself. I have excuses: the last year has been hard. Divorce, moving three times, all of that jazz you may have read about my life on this blog and elsewhere. Not to mention that now I have been planning a wedding. My soon to be wife has a rare disease that has resulted in hospitalizations and unexpected expenses, things that have made our financial situation challenging at best. You can read more about that here (and there are even ways to help, should you so desire).

That’s just what they are, though. Excuses. The deal with writing is simply this: there are three steps, production, distribution, and marketing. Let any one of those three go, and your work will not sell as well. I know I have shared these before.

Wait a minute before we get too far though: there is another aspect to this. If writing is your only source of income, you may face some significant challenges, especially at first. So I do recommend you look at the Three Legged Stool method for your “career.” Have more than one source of income.

Good Advice

Production

What is production of a book? Writing and revising are what you do. Editing, sourcing a book cover, and formatting are all tasks you should hire out. You need an editor, because you become word blind to the faults in your own work, although there are tools you can use to self-edit, and save yourself some money on editing.

As to book covers and formatting: you can learn to format your own work if you are going to self-publish, but unless you have a background in graphic design, or you have certain talents, creating your own covers is challenging at best.

The other aspect is this: if you do everything yourself, your project becomes very narcissistic and that shows. Collaboration makes every project better. Let artists do their art, editors do their work, and your work will be better for it. Enough of that soapbox. That is something I can cover in a blog post later.

Distribution

So what about Kindle Select, and making your work exclusive to Amazon? Does it work? Good question, and there are as many opinions as there are writers. While I believe Kindle Select may work for some short term gain, I believe in the long run having your work as widely available as possible is the best move for authors.

This means you either need to become adept at uploading your work to various different sites, you need to hire an aggregator who is, or use a service like Smashowrds, or you need to find a publisher.

As to whether to self-publish or hire a publisher, that will be covered later as well: for now just know that self-publishing is a lot of work, but gives you a lot of control, but is a pay now method of publishing. You need money to invest. Using a publisher (I recommend a small press, rather than the traditional Big 5) is a pay later method. Initially you are investing someone else’s money in your work, and pay it back later in the form of royalties.

No matter what way you go, you must treat this section, and all sections of your writing career, as a business. You need to look at what you, or someone else invested, and then look at how many books you need to sell to recover that cost. Make no mistake, just because a publisher invests in you once does not mean they will do so again if your sales do not ever cover their costs. In other words if your book does not pay out for them, you can hardly expect them to throw more money at your next book.

write for foodMarketing

This is a beautiful transition to marketing. You must market yourself and your work all the time. But as an author, if you just blast “buy my book” promos all the time, you will join a crowd of voices no one is listening too. You must develop relationships over trying to develop sales. Relationships with other authors are great, but relationships with readers is what sells books.

It is easy to do this with social media, it is also equally easy to screw it up. There are some great tips at Bad Red Head Media, Novel Publicity, and through many groups online, from K-boards to LinkedIn and Facebook. If you did not do the free Bad Red Head Media 30 day author challenge, either because you did not hear about it or didn’t think it would be worth your effort, you missed out.

As with other aspects of your writing, you need to pay for promotions. Pay people who know how to market to help you market your work, even if just to learn from them how to better do it yourself. Pay for ads, whether that is with the golden BookBub, E-Reader News Today, Kindle Daily Deals, or whatever method you desire to use.

And for God’s sake, blog, and guest blog. Don’t miss a great opportunity to communicate with your readers, other authors, and your community in general. You are the world’s foremost expert on your book, your writing methods, and what has and has not worked for you. Share them, and we all win.

Each of these topics could go on for hours, and at some point I just might. But for now take this away. Your writing is a business. You need to write, revise, publish, market, and repeat. The more material you have out there, the more you market and people know your name and brand, and the more often you do all of it, the more success you will have as an author.

Artbusiness

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A Visit to Amazon Books

Customers shop inside Amazon Books in Seattle, Washington, on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015. The online retailer Amazon.com Inc. opened its first brick-and-mortar location in Seattle's upscale University Village mall. Photographer: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg
Customers shop inside Amazon Books in Seattle, Washington, on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015. The online retailer Amazon.com Inc. opened its first brick-and-mortar location in Seattle’s upscale University Village mall. Photographer: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg

It wasn’t one of the detours I planned to make this trip, but Thursday afternoon rolled around, and I needed a break from the hospital, and I was in Seattle. Two logical things came to mind: I wanted to visit Stumptown coffee, as often as possible. And I wanted to visit a bookstore.

One of my usual picks is Seattle Mystery Bookshop, but after one of the worst customer experiences ever there, along with my experience as an author trying to work with them, I looked around and found a few options, then I remembered.

Amazon now had a physical book store.

And it was something I thought I could probably learn from, as an author, an entrepreneur, and someone experienced in management and business.

When I heard about Amazon Books, my immediate reaction was “Why would the world’s biggest online retailer often blamed for driving bookstores out of business, want to open a physical store?”

First, I considered why Amazon has been so successful in the first place: not only was the retailer willing to innovate while keeping overhead costs low, they were also willing to operate on a narrow profit margin, always betting on what was next.

And what was always number one? Customer satisfaction. They developed an often criticized review system, an unparalleled return policy and process, and a drive to assure that every customer was happy.

The daring to forage into the digital book process, to that point only offered by Apple, and in a very limited way, offered customers a new reading experience, on new, customer friendly devices. The instant satisfaction of downloading and reading a book replaced the browsing of shelves, to the point where even libraries embraced, if reluctantly, the rise of e-books.

So bookstores and libraries changed. Many smaller book retailers and even a few giants did not survive, many refusing to adapt until the ship sank below the waves.

In many ways, with Amazon Prime and now Prime Now in some locations and the entry into the potential world of drone deliveries, Amazon has bought into the Culture of Now, the business of instant gratification.

But what is the easiest way for a customer to get instant gratification? To walk into a store, see an item, and buy it. Or order it online, and walk into a store moments later, leaving with their purchase in hand. A physical purchase, not a digital one like a digital music file or e-book.

A physical location seems like Amazon’s next evolution. But what else does Amazon have to leverage at physical locations?

First, these locations can turn into distribution hubs for Amazon products, as well as a showroom much like what Apple has created, yet also very different. That’s what struck me first: the blend of the digital and physical in the store. Kindle devices and tablets lined a center aisle, with more than one of each model for customers to try. There were even kiosks on each aisle that encouraged customers to browse the world of Kindle with the books on the shelves, or just in the category itself.

Second, Amazon has access to a lot of data. There was a very picked over section called. “Books Popular in the University District.” How does Amazon know what sells here? We tell them, not only by what we purchase, but what we buy. Amazon has a tone of data that almost assures them what is likely to sell in a certain locale.

There is another section dedicated to local authors as well. It’s called “Read Local,” and it is much like the local author section Barnes and Noble and Borders used to have. Those sections are slim now, as instead of embracing the self-publishing revolution and vetting titles, bookstores just run from them.

This is a problem Amazon just doesn’t have. They know what local titles are well reviewed and sell reasonably well, so embracing the local writing community, even those who are self-published is simply not difficult for them.

On top of that, they carry books popular to local readers. The Seattle store carries books on the Seahawks, and Pete Carrol. Not a surprise, except that it’s rare for national chains to follow this lead. But why is that?

Amazon targets readers, not stores. Here is the final rub, the war Amazon has won over and over again: for a bit, the Big 5 were the only path for an author to get published and make a living. So their customers became, instead of the reader, the bookstores. The best seller lists became not what people were actually reading, but what book stores could be convinced to buy and stock.

Amazon skipped the retailer section of the funnel, and sold directly to readers, relying on their reviews and feedback instead of the traditional system. The result is that Amazon became the retailer instead of a wholesaler, and the retailer that conforms to the wishes and whims of readers rather than bookstore purchase agents.

Readers love it, and Amazon profits. Authors have a new platform to express themselves, and while there is debate about how much an author really makes with Kindle, it certainly is more than the zero they would have made with the Big 5, and at least there work is out there to be discovered (a whole other issue, for another later blog post)

So will Amazon plant more book stores across the country? I think it’s possible, and they could do so with some success. What I would almost rather see is other book stores to wake up to what Amazon is doing, and follow their lead, or innovate in a new and better way to reach customers.

But it’s more likely that Amazon will spread physical bookstores, slowly, and with success. I hope one comes to my area soon. I want to work there part time while I write. I’d be spending a lot of time there anyway.

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Guest Post: Murder Most Foul by Mary O’Sullivan

Thicker_Than_Water_by_Mary_OSullivan-sm_bannerThe town I live in lies between Cork city and the seaside village of Crosshaven, on the south coast of Ireland. It is a beautiful area – one I have been lucky enough to have lived in all my life. The scenery remains as stunning as ever, but over the years the changes in Irish society have been remarkable. We have seen huge societal shifts as we embraced the era of global communications .Because my latest book, Thicker Than Water, is a thriller, I am particularly aware of how murder, with all its attendant tragedy, has now become less a disturbing scandal and more a fleeting news item.

Back in 1963, Ireland was beginning to wake up to multiculturism, the Beatles and equal rights for women, amongst other things. In Dublin, a 22 year old South African named Shan Mohangi was attending the Royal College of Surgeons. He also worked part-time in a café named The Green Tureen. This is where he met sixteen year old Hazel Mullen. They became boyfriend and girlfriend, then murderer and victim as Shan strangled Hazel, dismembered her body and attempted to incinerate body parts in an oven.

The reason I mention this case is that now, fifty three years later, I still vividly remember the shock, scandal, the rumours about an abortion gone wrong. There was no other topic of conversation. It was all the more terrifying for a child, as any questions about what had happened were pushed aside. None of this was considered suitable for small ears, but hear it I did. I remember seeing Mohangi’s picture in the newspaper and being amazed that he was not snarling or did not have fiery red eyes. For months and months the public interest did not wane. His trial was reported on and followed word for word. He was found guilty of murder, sentenced to death, appealed the sentence and had the charge reduced to manslaughter, for which he was given a term of seven years imprisonment. He served four years of that sentence before being deported back to South Africa. But the story did not end there.

Forward now to 1993 and assembly elections in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. One of the candidates standing for election was a successful business man named Narentuk Jumuna. He had joined the Independent Democrats only one month previously. They were scandalised to find that their new candidate was none other than Shan Mohangi, convicted murderer, who had changed his name to Narentuk Jumuna on his return to South Africa in 1968. Even though according to South African law he was entitled to stand, he resigned from the party immediately.  I wonder if he felt cheated out of a parliamentary seat. Hardly comparable with cheating Hazel Mullen out of a future.

There was some public interest in the media reports about Shan’s abortive 1993 election candidacy, but nothing like the all-consuming shock, curiosity and thirst for every detail which marked the 1963 murder and trail. We have become jaded with media reports of tragedy after tragedy, crime after crime. The stats vary, but on average put the number of men who commit murder at between three in one million and 3000 in one million, depending on how violent or tolerant of crime a society is. The equivalent statistics for women murderers vary between one in four million and 525 in one million. You can compute all the figures you like, but none of this will convey the utter devastation visited on families by the act of murder. Familiarity is certainly breeding contempt as far as attitude to killing is concerned. News of yet another murder is often now greeted by a world-weary shrug.  Maybe becoming desensitised to tragedy is a necessary self-protection. However, if we lose our sense of horror at the unlawful taking of life, we are losing our humanity.

Thicker_Than_Water_by_Mary_OSullivan-200In doing research for Thicker Than Water, I read many murder histories, both fact and fiction. To write my story, which revolves around murder in a rural Irish town, I had to put myself into the mind of the murderer. Or I should say that is what I tried to do. The debate goes on as to whether babies are born with a killer gene or are moulded into murderers through unfortunate circumstances or deprivation. The argument which comes down on the side of environment is suspect , in my opinion , for two reasons ; one, not all killers come from deprived backgrounds ; two, in a family of  , say four siblings , all subject to the same environmental conditions , it often happens that three may go on to lead law abiding lives , while one may become a killer.

The answer to what makes humans kill probably encompasses all factors, from child abuse, to poverty, to ‘the warrior gene’ to self-defence to just plain evil. Perhaps in the future, new born babies will be gene tested for a pre-disposition to violence. I hope this does not happen until genetic engineering offers a quick and permanent solution to protecting the child, and the society into which it will grow up, from the tragedy of murder.

Thank you to Troy Lambert for hosting me on his blogspot and thanks also to Lucy Felthouse (Writer Marketing Services) for organising my visit here.

Here is an excerpt in the voice of the killer from Thicker Than Water.

I piled more coal into the stove and then when flames were whooshing up the flue I went to place my runners into the furnace. The glass door open, heat searing my face, I hesitated. The uppers would burn quickly but what about the thick rubber soles. They would belch toxins out the flue. Huge clouds of black smoke could draw unwanted attention. It was night time but some people never slept.  I reached for a knife, separated the uppers from the soles and threw the tattered pieces of canvas into the stove with the insoles.   I waited until only cinder and ashes remained. I scrubbed and scraped, boiled kettles of water to scald and sterilise and did not stop until the rubber soles were like new. Then I chopped them in pieces, seeing Andrea McGee’s face in every ridge and indent, cutting her image away only to have it reappear.  And the others, they were here too, mouths open, eyes wide, begging. Just as I had last seen them.  I drew the knife back again and again , plunging it into their ghostly faces until , at last I felt it ,  that all-encompassing  surge of warmth  , that  spilling of fear and doubt . That power. That peace. I wrapped up the butchered, spotless soles of my runners in a plastic bag. They were anonymous now, safe to dispose of anywhere.  I was ready to slip back into my role.

Blurb

When local teenager, Keira Shannon and her father, business man Gerard Shannon, go missing, the town of Ballyderg unites to search for them.

 As the search continues rumours of domestic violence, extramarital affairs and criminal behaviour are rife. The crisis causes families and lifelong friends to doubt each other.

 The only certainty left is that the town has been visited by evil. Or has it? Could it be the evil one has always lived there sharing history, laughter and tears? And if so, who could it be?

 Buy Links

Amazon buy links:                      http://authl.it/3st

Tirgearr   Publishing:                         http://bit.ly/1J6E7ZV

 Amazon Author Page:                        http://amzn.to/1RpGnhf

maryosullivanauthorpicAuthor Biography:

Mary worked many years as a Laboratory Technician. Her hobby, her passion, has always been writing. Busy with family and career, she grabbed some moments here and there to write poetry and short stories. She also wrote a general interest column in a local newspaper.

As the demands on her time became more manageable she joined a local creative writing class. It was then, with the encouragement of tutor Vincent McDonald, that the idea of writing a novel took shape. She began to expand on a short story she had written some years previously. It was a shock for her to discover that enthusiasm and imagination are not enough. For the first time she learned that writing can be very hard work.

Mary now has six traditionally published novels, nine eBooks and hopefully more to come, inspiration permitting.

Social Media Links

Please visit my web page at:    http://www.maryosullivanauthor.com

Chat to me on Facebook at:    http://www.facebook.com/authormaryosullivan

Follow on Twitter at:                  https://twitter.com/authorosullivan

 *****

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