Wednesday 27 February 2013

The Artist Unleashed: BREAKING THE STEREOTYPES OF POETRY, by Jeremiah Walton

The Artist Unleashed posts have moved to a new domain. Please click HERE to read the rest of this post and for the opportunity to comment. Just search for the title of the post in the search bar on the new site.

Monday 25 February 2013

Createspace Expanded Distribution: Can we really TRUST it?

I finally got a response from Createspace regarding this issue from the other week. Though it took a lot of squeezing to get a decent answer out of them, they did eventually give me one--an unsatisfactory one. 

Thing is, based on some information from a couple of other authors, which I will not name to protect their privacy, I do not believe them.

My correspondence with Createspace since the last post went as follows:
Hello Jessica,
Thank you for your patience.
The copy you referenced was printed through Expanded Distribution. Because Expanded Distribution copies are printed by another company, the finished product might look different. Amazon will sometimes fulfill orders through Expanded Distribution to ensure they meet customer demand. When this happens, you will always receive the Amazon royalty once we receive the Expanded Distribution manufacture reports.
You can always tell the difference between a copy print by CreateSpace as the product ID located on the last page of the interior is accompanied with a manufacture date and location.
We are always looking for ways to improve the products we offer and appreciate your taking the time to share your experience with Expanded Distribution manufacturing.
If you would like to discuss this further, please reply to this message and provide a phone number and a good time to reach you.
As you can imagine, I was FURIOUS at this canned response after all the trouble I went to. And I replied:
I'm sorry but a form letter in reply to this issue is not satisfactory.

The copies I received were clearly defected and not cut properly, and I would like replacements. A previous staff member even admitted that the photos I sent you showed that you needed to look into the matter. What was the result? Why were my books in such bad shape? They did not just 'look different'. They had major problems as you can see in the photographs I sent. I would like an answer to this question, and the five copies I purchased, replaced.
To this, Createspace, again, tried to fob me off with another form letter, which infuriated me even more:
Thank you for contacting us.
The book that you referenced was printed through Expanded Distribution. Amazon can fulfill orders through Expanded Distribution to ensure they meet customer demand.
We are always looking for new ways to improve the products we offer through Expanded Distribution.
If you would like assistance or clarification on this or anything else, kindly inform is and we will gladly assist. We are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week. You can reach out to us by clicking here
Again, in my hotheadedness, I replied, probably a little unprofessionally, but who can blame me?:

What exactly does this mean? That you will send me replacement copies through Amazon?
How do I go about ordering them to ensure I don't get charged again?

And why do you keep ignoring my question? I want to know whether the faulty copies from BD was just a one-off error. Can I feel safe having my book printed via your subcontractors, or not? If my books are always going to be printed like this through BD, I would like to remove my expanded distribution. This is why I need answers. PLEASE, stop avoiding to answer this question. It's very important to me, and I'm sure it's very important to a lot of other authors out there too.
Finally I got someone that wasn't just copy and pasting a canned response, sort of:
Hello Jessica,
Thank you for contacting us with regards to your order. I will gladly address your inquiry for you.
It means that you can contact Amazon and request for a replacement copy/copies free of charge. Amazons return policy will apply in this instance. They will replace the number of copies defective and give you a return label to return the defective copies for investigation.
This is not a typical error and it does not usually happen. However, the expanded distribution outlet can investigate what caused this error to prevent it for future orders.
We constantly try to improve our services in order to better serve you. So please trust us to deliver quality books to you.
Okay. So ... after all this, I do NOT trust that they will deliver quality books to me. At least not through expanded distribution. Though it may not be any direct fault of their own, but rather the fault of their subcontractors, they're clearly trying to cover their own asses by pussy-footing around this problem. It's definitely NOT a one-off. Because one of the authors that contacted me said this about their order ...
It's a 5.25"x8" pbk and it was trimmed to 5"x8". You can imagine what it looks like: the cover is unbalanced with part of the title sliced through along the opening edge, and there's less than 0.25" outer margins on the text block. The paper is cream, if a lighter tone than from CSpace HQ (or the more yellow UK version, but certainly not white), but the ink is much darker giving it quite an in-your-face aspect. I'd expected this to be printed somewhere in the UK or Europe considering Book Depository is based in England, but it was printed in the USA though I've no idea where from the barcode on the last page.
She then went on to say, that they replied with the same sort of form letter as mine above, and that they clearly do not give a damn.

I am now seriously thinking about removing my paperbacks from expanded distribution and looking into opening a Lightning Source account. Problem with Lightning Source is, it's a rather complicated procedure, and it costs a bit of money to set up an account, not to mention the fact that I'd have to purchase my own ISBNs. I don't have the time to be a publisher. Createspace is easy because it spares us from having to deal with the extra fiddly tasks and set-up costs.

Are shoddy books the price we have to pay for easy publishing?

What do you think after all this? Can we really trust Expanded Distribution through Createspace to provide our customers with a quality product?

Friday 22 February 2013

Alex J. Cavanaugh's, CassaStorm cover reveal!

Today I have the pleasure to announce the cover reveal for Alex J. Cavanaugh's latest book, CassaStorm!

If you don't know Alex, you must live on another planet. He's the fabulous ninja/author/musician the blogging community have all gotten to know and love over the past few years. He's committed to helping others promote, supporting other artists in any way he possibly can, all while maintaining a positive outlook through thick and thin (not that I know of much 'thick' because it's pretty hard to catch him having a negative attitude about anything, he's THAT fabulous).

Anyhoo, back to the task at hand. TADA!

A storm gathers across the galaxy… 
Byron thought he’d put the days of battle behind him. Commanding the Cassan base on Tgren, his only struggles are occasional rogue pirate raids and endless government bureaucracies. As a galaxy-wide war encroaches upon the desert planet, Byron’s ideal life is threatened and he’s caught between the Tgrens and the Cassans. 
After enemy ships attack the desert planet, Byron discovers another battle within his own family. The declaration of war between all ten races triggers nightmares in his son, shaking Bassan to the core and threatening to destroy the boy’s mind. 
Meanwhile the ancient alien ship is transmitting a code that might signal the end of all life in the galaxy. And the mysterious probe that almost destroyed Tgren twenty years ago could be on its way back. As his world begins to crumble, Byron suspects a connection. The storm is about to break, and Byron is caught in the middle…

Release date: September 17, 2013

Science Fiction - Space Opera/Adventure

Print ISBN: 9781939844002

E-book ISBN: 9781939844019

And if you missed Alex talking about writing and music here this Wednesday, here's your chance to catch up!

Thursday 21 February 2013

The Truth About Letting Go, by Leigh T. Moore, Launches Today!

I'm super pleased to announce that a great friend of mine, Leigh T. Moore, has a new book out. I've read it! And it's super-duper-fragalistic-odabulous. Trust me. I wouldn't lie to you.

Here are all the deets:

A companion to The Truth About Faking (not a sequel; the books can be read out of order), The Truth About Letting Go (link) takes readers back to Shadow Falls, or more specifically Shadow Creek, with Ashley Lockett as she learns about real friendship, love, and letting go.

Get me
The Truth About Letting Go (link) by Leigh Talbert Moore

Ashley wants to smash everything in her once-perfect life. Charlotte wants to walk in Ashley's seemingly charmed shoes.
Colt wants to turn Smalltown USA on its ear--with Ashley at his side.
Jordan wants to follow his heart... but Ashley is the one sacrifice he never expected to make.

Up until now, Ashley Lockett has always followed the rules. She's always done the right thing, played it safe, and then her ideal life is shattered when her dad dies suddenly.

Fueled by anger and grief, she vows to do everything opposite of how she lived before. She rejects safety, the rules, faith, and then she meets Jordan. Jordan has big dreams, he's had a crush on Ashley for years, he's a great kisser... but he's also safe.

Enter Colt. He is not safe, and he's more than willing to help Ashley fulfill her vow.

Get it today on:
AmazonBarnes & Noble iTunes Kobo

Add it on Goodreads!


I feel Colt laugh, and he looks down into my face. That’s when he seems to realize what I’ve been acutely aware of for the last several minutes—our bodies are pressed together.

“It’s awesome, yeah?” he says. “Adrenaline rush.”

“Yeah,” I breathe. “I guess.”

I’m not sure if he’s going to kiss me until he does. His mouth covers mine, and energy mixes with the alcohol flooding my body. Our tongues slide together, and I grip his shirt so I don’t collapse.

Every single bit of this is wrong, and there’s no way I’m stopping it. It’s back, that good feeling. The sadness has been pushed out again, and in its place is this rush, this rush of adrenaline like Colt said.

He pulls back and smiles at me. “We’re going to start dating. Now. You’re my partner in crime.”

About the Author:

Leigh Talbert Moore is a wife and mom by day, a writer by day, a reader by day, a former journalist and editor, a chocoholic, a caffeine addict, a lover of YA and new adult romance (really any great love story), a beach bum, and occasionally she sleeps. 

-The Truth About Faking is her debut young adult romance (on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Kobo) -Rouge is her first New Adult romantic suspense novel (on Amazon).

Leigh loves hearing from readers; stop by and say hello!

Blog Facebook Amazon Author page Goodreads Twitter Tumblr

Wednesday 20 February 2013

The Artist Unleashed: WRITING & MUSIC HIT ALL THE SAME NOTES, by Alex J. Cavanaugh

The Artist Unleashed posts have moved to a new domain. Please click HERE to read the rest of this post and for the opportunity to comment. Just search for the title of the post in the search bar on the new site.

Tuesday 19 February 2013

WIN A SCHOLARSHIP TO THIS RETREAT, which is worth 1,550* Euros, plus more!

Vine Leaves Literary Journal is proud to announce that you have the chance to WIN A SCHOLARSHIP TO THIS RETREAT, which is worth 1,550 Euros, plus more!


If you’re considering a writing event this year, but are looking for just as much of an opportunity to sit down and write as you are to learn from the pros, then how about you write a vignette to win a spot at the Homeric Writers’ Retreat & Workshop, Aug. 1-7, 2013?

It’s held on the beautiful Greek isle of Ithaca which remains unspoiled by the modern world. Even in the height of summer you can find a secluded beach or a rustic corner to contemplate your thoughts. On Ithaca you'll discover the island’s rich culture and the reason why it holds such a special place in the hearts of those who have visited its shores. Learn more on the website.


Submit your vignette (one poem, or one piece of prose) at THIS LINK.
  • ONE vignette per entry. (If you want to submit more than one vignette, you will need to submit each as a separate entry. $5.00 entry fee)
  • Poems: no longer than 40 lines
  • Prose: no longer than 800 words.

First Prize:

Second Prize:

Third Prize:
Contest ends April 30.
Winners announced on or before May 31.

*Travel expenses not included. Winners of the scholarship must finance their own travel to the island. If winners can't attend, they may gift the scholarship to someone who can.

Monday 18 February 2013

5 Big Things People Should Know About Self-Published Authors

Gone are the days when authors self publish because they're too lazy to go through the slog of submitting queries, or editing their manuscripts properly, or simply out of impatience to see their work in print. In fact, from what I've gleaned recently, self-published authors are some of the most motivated and tough-skinned authors I've ever known.

A LOT of them have huge stories behind the reason they self publish. Stories that most people will never know about, because when someone releases a book, it's not like you can say on the blurb,

"This book is self-published, but I actually once had an agent and a book deal with a Big 6 publisher, but decided to go the indie route because I felt it was better for me, both professionally and emotionally."

(This happened to my friend Leigh. T. Moore, and this shall be BIG THING No. ONE.)

"This book is self-published because I spent years and years querying it, was told that the writing was great, but no agent believed they could sell it. So ... here's my book. I don't need to sell a million copies, a few hundred is enough for me. Plus it's been through so many edits after all the agent feedback, I doubt you'll be able to find one thing wrong with it."

"This book is self-published, but actually it was once traditionally published by a small press. Unfortunately they liquidated and I had to get it back on the market as quickly as possible before all my marketing efforts went to waste."

"This book is self-published because even though I have a contract with a small press, I still have to do the majority of the marketing, so I figured I would be better off getting all the profits for myself. I mean, why not? It's selling thousands, and I'm doing all the work anyway!"

"This book is self-published because even though I have an agent, and it had been on submission to big editors at big publishing houses for about three years, and despite all my agent's efforts, no-one wanted to acquire it. But my agent and I still believe in this book. So, here you are."

I'm sure there are plenty more BIG THINGS I could mention, but these are probably some of the most common.

So ... I urge you, next time you think about purchasing a self-published book, think about the story behind it, and the effort it's taken to get it out there, and the heartache the writer has been through to finally come to this decision. Self-publishing is no longer for the impatient ... it's for authors that have done everything they can before finally deciding to take their fate into their own hands. Next time you purchase a self-published book, do yourself, and us, a favour. Replace, "This is self-published because no agent or publisher thought it was good enough" with one of the statements above. 

What's the first thing you think when you pick up a self-published book?

PS: Don't forget to check out my 2 for 1 Birthday Giveaway.

Friday 15 February 2013


So if you read this post you know what I'm talking about. If not, read this first and then come back ...

You back?

Okay. Firstly, I'd like to add how friendly and professional Createspace are being about this. They are also responding to me in a very timely manner, which I'm pleased about.

So ... last night I receive this in response to my complaint:

Hello Jessica,
Thank you for contacting us. I am sorry to hear about your print copy concerns for the book order received from the Book Depository. 
In order to track the error and investigate this issue more thoroughly, I would like to gather further details regarding the order you received. Please send additional details regarding the title ID, Book Depository order number, number of affected copies, and pictures if possible. Please also provide the product ID of the defective book. The Product ID can be found on the last physical page of the book under the bar code, and can be sent through the following link:

I really appreciate your patience and understanding in the matter and apologize for any inconvenience this information may present.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any further questions or need help in the future, by clicking here:

We are always happy to help.
Best regards, ... 

I sent them everything they asked for, including photos:

Hello Patricia,

Thank you for getting back to me. I'm replying here as your support link on the website won't let me attach more than one thing.

Here is all the information you requested.
Title ID: 3846484
Book Depository order number: BDG-561-58751270869
number of affected copies: 5
product ID: 317296LV00001B/56/P

Photos are attached and labelled. I've compared the Book Depository copies with the Createspace copies. I've abbreviated Book Depository as BD and Createspace as CS in the labels for you to see which copy is which. The defects shown are present on all five BD copies.

Defects are:
-paper colour and quality not the same as I proofed
-smudgy images and/or double printed (the 'appendix' image, as you will see, seems to have remnants of my name over it)
-trim cut too wide, some pages are meant to be bled but they have white all around edges

Many thanks for your assistance.

Best wishes,
Jessica Bell

Colour difference. Bottom is nice
CS copy. Top is Book BD copy.

Photo quality. Left CS. Right BD.

Image defect. Top CS. Bottom BD.
See bits of my name printed over it?

Image defect. Left BD. Right CS. What's with that smudge?

Trim is cut too wide. See the white edges?
These pages are meant to be bled.

Pretty shitty, right? Anyway ... CS replied to this with:

Hello Jessica,

Thank you for contacting us with images regarding your recent order from Book Depository.

I received your images and can see that we need to do some more research. I am connecting with our Technical Services team in order to get the best answer. You will hear from us within one to two business days. I really appreciate your patience.
Best regards,

What do you think? Do you think this is only a one-off thing? I hope so. But my gut is telling me it isn't ... 

UPDATE: Click here for results.

Thursday 14 February 2013



I'm not going to explain anything. Just read the email I sent Createspace this morning and you'll get the picture. I. AM. FURIOUS!!!

When I order my books directly from you, they are printed with really lovely cream paper, which I have obviously specified my books be printed with. But I ordered from Book Depository recently, and the paper is WHITE and feels like photocopying paper I stick in my home printer, and the ink is smudged in various places.
Is this what you are sending out to the public? Making authors think that the books are a really nice quality when you send direct to them, and then you cut corners when you print them off for everyday customers? 
I really truly hope this is a ONE-OFF error on your end, because I would be extremely disappointed if my books were being sold to the public like this. For a company that "strive to produce quality products for our members and their potential customers", this is unacceptable, and I would like an explanation.
I would also like to know that this won't happen again. And I will check that it doesn't. Believe me. Purchasing my own books from other retailers is the least trouble I can go to, to make sure my readers get what they are paying for.
Best wishes,
Jessica Bell


Spread the word. Get other authors to check out their own titles. This has got to be stopped. 

FRIDAY UPDATE: To see results, WITH PHOTOS, click here.

Wednesday 13 February 2013

The Artist Unleashed: RESEARCHING SEALS & SEA LIONS, by Krystalyn Drown

The Artist Unleashed posts have moved to a new domain. Please click HERE to read the rest of this post and for the opportunity to comment. Just search for the title of the post in the search bar on the new site.

Tuesday 12 February 2013

To be hurt by the truth, or be hurt by deceit. What's your preference?

I'm not usually one to get emotional here on my blog, but something happened this morning that has had me in tears. Unexpected tears, though, because I really didn't think something that probably really has nothing to do with me would set me off like this. But I feel like I've been kicked in the gut. It feels personal and it HURTS.

To cut a long story short, there was a family member I wanted to see when I was in Australia last month, whom I haven't seen for at least ten years, and whom I used to be very close to when I was a kid. I love this person. A lot. I went to great lengths to try and get this person to travel from another state to visit, not just me, but my other family members too. I even offered to pay for their ticket. The excuses rolled in as to why they couldn't make it happen. All of which seemed bloody stupid, because if you really wanted to see your family over Xmas, there shouldn't be anything stopping you. Especially since the excuses were so damn easy to sort out.

A month later, after I've left, this person made the effort to travel interstate and visit. Can I just say again, AFTER I'VE LEFT.


Maybe they thought that if I could afford to pay for their ticket, I could have paid for my own and visited them myself. But that wasn't the point. The point was to come and see the WHOLE family. Not just me. Maybe this person has a valid reason for doing what they've done, and it's most likely that this isn't at all personal and they really didn't think it would be an issue. But you know what? I would NEVER do what this person has done, so I just can't wrap my head around it. And they haven't even contacted me to say what's going on, so this can only mean they are hiding from it.

Which got me thinking ... were any of the excuses honest?

I'm betting not.

I want to know why people, especially family, can't just be fucking honest with each other. This world is stuffed up enough as it is with its war and corruption, the least we can do is be honest with the people we love.

Even if that honesty is going to hurt someone, I think it's better to be hurt by the truth, than be hurt by deceit.

I don't get it.

I don't get it.

I don't get it.

What do you think? Do you think it's better to be hurt by the truth, than be hurt by deceit?

Monday 11 February 2013

In which I celebrate by birthday by giving YOU presents! #BookGiveaway

I'm doing a Buy 1 Book, Get 1 Free Birthday Giveaway!

Until February 26th, 2013, I'm giving away a free e-book (mobi, ePub, or PDF) with every purchase (e-book or paperback from any store worldwide). And the best thing about this is, that you can even purchase the CHEAPEST book, and still claim a more expensive one as your free copy. Cool, right?

But think about this ... if you purchase String Bridge, you'll receive both its accompanying soundtrack, AND a free e-book! Even better, I say. That's almost 20 bucks worth of goods for only 3.99!

Feel free to share this with whomever you like. This deal is valid for everyone, worldwide, as long as the purchase is made between Feb 9th - 26th.

If you'd like to tweet about it, here's an easy copy/paste tweet for ya:
Jessica's giving away #books 2 celebrate her b'day! Learn how 2 get yours here! #BookGiveaway #GreatReads #FreeReads

To claim your freebies, just forward me your purchase receipt to, with B'day Giveaway in the subject line. Easy-peasy!

To see the list of books available and their various purchase links, click HERE.

For those who subscribe to Vine Leaves Literary Journal, you may also claim the purchase of the 2012 anthology.

PS: If you'd like to get offers like this direct to your inbox in the future, please subscribe to my newsletter.

PPS: My birthday is on the 26th, so don't go sending me b'day wishes just yet :-)

Wednesday 6 February 2013

The Artist Unleashed: THE EXPAT WRITER AND THE INTERNET, by Amie McCracken

The Artist Unleashed posts have moved to a new domain. Please click HERE to read the rest of this post and for the opportunity to comment. Just search for the title of the post in the search bar on the new site.

Tuesday 5 February 2013

Using Colour to Accentuate Theme

I like to use the symbolism of colour to strengthen a common theme(s) I want to explore in my writing. I am fascinated by symbolic references in the books I read too (even if they do not have anything to do with colour), and believe they bring a richness and depth to what we read, even if it is not immediately evident to us.

If you would like to read about how I go about implementing the symbolism of colours into my work, please visit Laurel Garver's blog, where I am guest posting about it today.

Comments are disabled on this post. 
Please leave one at Laurel's instead! :-)

Monday 4 February 2013

Social media mania attack! Is this all really necessary?

I don't know about you but I'm starting to freak out a little about all the sites and cyber-crack I have to keep track of and update regularly ...

For my personal stuff:
Facebook page
Amazon US & UK author page
AuthorSB page
Kindle Direct
Email (personal)
Email (Show & Tell in a Nutshell support)
Email (day job)
There are more that i'm not listing, because I've abandoned them!

Vine Leaves Literary Journal:
Facebook page
The ReviewReview
email (submissions)
email (reviews)
email (editorial)
email (donations)
Mailchimp (thank dog that's Dawn's responsibility - yes, I said dog on purpose)

Homeric Writers' Retreat & Workshop:
Facebook page
And lots of other sites I need to advertise it on and I totally can't keep track ...

And you want me to sign up to Pinterest?!?!?

Have you ever suffered from a slight case of social media mania? Do we really need all this ... stuff?