Monday 30 September 2013

Let's Fix This Before We Die

Blogging used to be a shit load of fun.

It still is fun, but not a shit load of fun; not as much as it used to be before the blogging community of writers started pimping way more book promo than interesting reading material.

I get it.

I'm guilty of it myself.

But now that Google Reader is gone, and I'm using Feedly, I notice it more. Whenever I take a gander at my feed, I scroll ... I scroll ... I scroll some more ... and all I find anymore are blog tours, cover reveals, author interviews, and BUY MY BOOK posts. Then I leave, and check out what's up on Facebook. As I said. I get it. I'm in the same boat. We are all publishing books, and lots of books, especially since there are so many of us going indie now.

But you know what? We have got to change this. I'm bored. And let's be honest, shall we? So are you. You may still visit blogs and comment, but I'm more than certain you are just doing it now out of loyalty.

Don't get me wrong. I'm sure there are still some of you that post interesting reading material. But you're getting lost in the haystack, friends. I really hate to say that, but you are.

Let's fix this before we die.

I have an idea.

Create a new tab on your blog/website. Call it something like Blogger Love. Whenever you need to pimp your books, or fellow bloggers' books, post your blatant promo stuff there (unless it's a guest post). Then, on the main page of your blog, the REAL blog, write an article ... or even better, write an article that is in some way related to the topic or theme of the pimp post in your Blogger Love tab. Attract readers to your post with an awesome title. And make your first line count. Just like you do when you are writing a novel. Hook your readers. Lure them in. Keep them there with interesting content. Then, at the bottom of your awesome article, link to the pimp post in your Blogger Love tab. You could say something like this: Hey, and speaking of [topic of your article], check out this book by Blah, which explores a similar issue. He/She is celebrating their book release today. Please show your support and help spread the word. You could even provide them with a pre-written tweet to make things easier for them. Or, if what you want to pimp is short and sweet, you could just tack it onto the end of the post as it is, with a bit of a, Hey, by they way, have you heard? 

I know. This is going to take more work on your part, because you'll actually have to write the articles. But you know what? I think your readership will grow. This approach would be so much more effective, don't you think? After reading an interesting article, most people will click onto the pimp post, or the links at the end, because they enjoyed their visit. Why did they enjoy their visit? Because they weren't bombarded with promo and skip ahead.

What do you think? Could we start a blog revolution? I, for one, am going to try. And I'm starting today.

*Day SEVEN of the release tour for Briane Pagel's newest horror book, Temporary Anne, continues today, in which Braine is writing a story on the go, and blog readers get to choose how it continues. Great fun, right? CLICK HERE to find out more, and also how to receive a FREE book of his. Please show your support and help spread the word!

Note: My Blogger Love tab links to a new blog I created, because blogger only allows static pages and external links to be added to tabs. Other blog sites may have an option to create a new tab with a separate feed, however.

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Friday 27 September 2013

Why Should Readers Care about the Indie Revolution? by Anne R. Allen #Indiestructible

Only $0.99 on Kindle!
Indiestructible tells the stories of 29 writers who chose the non-corporate path to publication. They are all published by independent small presses or have hired a team to help them self-publish. They are all part of the “indie revolution.”

I realize some book-lovers find this a terrifying time. Everything in the publishing industry is in upheaval. Bookstores are closing all around us. Publishers and online retailers are battling each other in the courts.

Change is scary.

But you know what’s scarier than change?

No change.

Before the electronic revolution, publishing was a calcifying industry:

  1. New writers found it impossible to break in. 
  2. Whole genres were eliminated at the whims of a handful of corporate marketers
  3. Anything innovative was stifled because it didn’t have a “track record.”
  4. Successful career authors were dropped if they couldn’t produce annual blockbusters in spite of no marketing budget. 
  5. The antiquated system of returns—which makes every bookstore a consignment shop—means publishers waste millions shipping books back and forth to warehouses and eventually pulping them.
But digital technology is changing everything. So is social media.

I’m sure you’ve read rants about how the eBook and Facebook are killing real books.

But they’re not. More people are reading now than ever before. We are not losing our literature to a “tsunami of self-published crap.”

There is certainly a lot of not-ready-for-its-close-up writing out there. But you don’t have to read it. Every book on Amazon has a “look inside” feature, so all you have to do is take a peek. Amateur writing announces itself in the first five pages.

But the self-publishing revolution is helping us all grow in new directions. I love this joke from social media guru Kristen Lamb: “Great, thanks to that Gutenberg jerk, everyone can be published.”

Just as Johannes Gutenberg took power from the ruling priestly caste and gave it to the people—who could then read the Bible and find out for themselves what it said—eBooks and POD technology are taking power from the ruling publishing caste and letting the people decide for themselves what they want to read.

This means more power is now in the hands of readers and writers than any time in history.

Thanks to eBooks, cheap POD paper books, and social media marketing, writers can now go directly to readers with fresh, innovative ideas and stories.

If they want to.

Here’s the thing: the revolution doesn’t mean everybody has to self-publish. But the self-publishing option changes the playing field for everybody.

Your life is being changed for the better by the electronic revolution right now—no matter where you buy your books, or what format you use to read them.

I admit to preferring paper books, and I’m not self-published, but that doesn’t mean I have to support the old paradigm. I’m published with a small digital press that is as non-corporate as they get. All profits from the company go to fund literacy programs in East Africa. But I’m making a living writing.

That’s why I’m proud to be part of the “indie revolution” and the Indiestructible team—both as a writer and a reader.

100% of proceeds will be donated to, a movement which breaks the cycle of poverty, illiteracy, and low expectations through service and education.

Contributing authors:

My PhotoAbout Anne R. Allen:

Anne R. Allen is a former actress and stage director who lives on the central coast of California. She’s the author of six romantic-comedy mysteries. Her newest is NO PLACE LIKE HOME. She has written a guidebook for authors with Catherine Ryan Hyde (author of the iconic novel Pay it Forward.) HOW TO BE A WRITER IN THE E-AGE…AND KEEP YOUR E-SANITY! She shares an award-winning blog with NYT bestselling author Ruth Harris at Anne R. Allen’s Blog…with Ruth Harris. 

Thursday 26 September 2013

Horror Novel Temporary Anne Blog Tour

Please WELCOME Braine F. Pagel, Jr!

This is DAY SIX of the release tour for my newest book, Temporary Anne.

Temporary Anne is a horror story about a woman so desperate to avoid Hell -- the fate for the evil she's done during her life -- that she makes things infinitely worse after her death.

To celebrate the release, I'm doing a blog tour in which I'm writing a short story, LIVE, with your help!  At each stop, I'll do an installment of the story and you can suggest where it goes next!

Below is PART TWO of the story.  PART ONE appeared on Tina Downey's Life Is Good, PART TWO on Andrew Leon's Strange Pegs, and if you didn't catch either, click here to read PART ONE and HERE to read PART TWO. Then Part Three was on Laws Of Gravity,  Part Four was on Rusty Carl's "The Blutonian Death Egg," and Part Five was on my own story blog, lit.



My body shudders.

My body shakes.

My body jitters.

My body breaks.

I'm not even kidding.  I'm just about to black out and then suddenly my body falls into pieces, and I see it happening.  My legs, from the knees to the feet, drop off, and my thighs, and my arms, and my torso and my head, all drop off into pieces. My head rolls away onto the web, and I can see one arm, still clinging to the grappling-hook Kindle.

Somehow, somehow I am still alive and that is the worst thing about this.  I am still alive and laying in pieces, pieces which are now dropping through the bits of the web, except for my head, which is just stuck there, on its side, staring kind of up and kind of to the left.  If I glance right, I can see the abyss below me, the howls of the Beast growing dimmer and dimmer, and if I glance left, I can see the tiny speck at the top of the abyss, the light that represents the world I left behind when I didn't listen to the Drum Major, who herself is falling into the pit below me.

I start to scream as I realize that I am a disembodied head left in the dark of the pit.

"Stop screaming!" whispers a voice behind me.  "This is no time to pieces."

I can't turn my head and look, but I don't have to in order to know who it is.

It's me.

I recognize my own voice, and I am even more afraid.  Suddenly, a hand picks up my head by the hair, wrenching it, and turns me around so that I am staring into my own face.

And I look mad.

"What the..." I gasp.

"Pleased to meet me," I say back to myself, and with a sneer I begin to laugh at my disembodied head.

"How..." I manage to say, and then I realize that I have breath again and I glance down.  My own body is growing back.

I look around quickly, and realize that the other pieces of me, even the arm on the grappling hook, are growing, too, growing more and more mes, and I realize that the me holding me must have been the torso part that landed behind me.

All this takes about a second -- I mean, I'm pretty smart -- and then I look back at the me who is still laughing and sneering at me.

"I'd like to stay around for the reunion," he says, "But I've got a world to conquer."  And he flings my still-partial body aside, jumps across a gap in the web to the wall and grabs the arm-plus-part-of-me off the Kindle grappling hook (TM!).  In just seconds he has flung the hook up even higher and I see him climbing away from me.

From us.

Around me are the still-forming other mes that have begun growing, like me, out of the parts of the body that fell apart.  But I have more serious concerns: two of them, to be exact:

First, the web is still burning, and 

Second, so is the spider, which is somehow still alive and still trying to get to me.  Its legs wave, weakly, but I can see the venom dripping from its fangs and the two eyes it has left look evil (which to be fair all spider eyes look evil but this one did try to kill me or whatever, so...)

And, third, I guess, I don't have legs yet.  They haven't grown in.  The other two parts of me that are still on the web have now grown heads; the rest of the me is somewhere down below, the pit, where the roars of the Beast almost can't be heard.

"Guys!" I say to me.

Two heads turn to look at me.  

"We've got to get out of here."

"No kidding?" I say to me.

"Doesn't take a Nobel prize winner to know that," I also say to me.

"No time for smart comments!" I snarl back at mes.

"Heads up!" I hear from above, echoing down the pit in my own voice.  I look up and wish I hadn't, as a rain of soldiers' heads, still in their helmets, decapitated and thrown down the pit, begin to fall all around us.

"I don't think we're all very nice," one of me says, as an evil laugh booms down from above.

"THIS WORLD WILL BE EASY TO CONQUER!" my own voice howls down at us.  We hear gunfire, and shells exploding.  There is a metal crash, then silence, then my voice says "TANKS for the weapons!"

"You need the antivenom," a voice says behind me.  Behind mes.  We all turn to look.  There, standing behind the spider, which seems to have given up, and amidst the soldier-heads, is a bearded man clinging to a rope that stretches up into the distance. In his other hand, he holds a bagpipe.

"My daughter was using her accordion," he says, which makes no sense at all. All of me just goggles at him.

"Quit goggling and get moving," he orders.  "We have very little time." Gesturing, he says "Look," and we all look down, where a light has started to grow in the bottom of the pit.  In  the glow of the light I can see other pieces of me not much farther down, stuck to another web (which has a gaping hole from where the Beast crashed through.)  Below that are more and more webs, further and further down. 

Each of them has an egg sac on it.

"You've got, I'd say, ten minutes," the man says.

"Before the egg sacs hatch?" one of me says.

"Before the poison paralyzes us?" another of me says.

"Before that guy" -- I gesture up -- "Gets away?" I say.

"Yes," says the Bearded Man.  "And also..."


Your turn! What happens next?


"Amazing to read. The man just oozes cleverness. And his descriptions of the demon world are the best I've ever read anywhere. Creepy as hell." Speculative fiction Author Rusty Carl.

 "It's fascinating. If you like horror, this is definitely a book worth reading."-- Fantasy/Spec fic author Andrew Leon

"Another chilling tale from the author of The Scariest Thing You Can't Imagine. ...Pagel's style reminds me a lot of Vonnegut's work in that while the narration seems jaunty with its humorous asides and such, there's a lot of hidden depth to that narration."-- Author PT Dilloway.

THANKS to everyone who's following the Temporary Anne blog tour!  

TEMPORARY ANNE is just $0.99 today!

If you didn't already get it click this link to download this excellent horror story.

OH, AND ONE MORE THING: For being so great and all, I am going to as an added bonus, let you get a complete book of horror stories, FREE, today.  "The Scariest Things, You CAN'T Imagine" is full of demons tormenting kids, dead wives coming back from the grave, catacombs full of bodies, angry babies stolen by gargoyles, and more.  NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART.  Get it free today by clicking here!

Wednesday 25 September 2013

The Artist Unleashed: HOW TO GIVE A SUCCESSFUL WORKSHOP by Natalie Buske Thomas

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 23 September 2013

Do you like writing book reviews? #litmags

Vine Leaves Literary Journal
As you know, I am the Co-Publishing Editor of Vine Leaves Literary Journal with the fabulous, Dawn Ius, and we have a new website tab in progress which will list all the books that have been published by our contributors. This is our way of paying it forward, as we are unable to offer contributors very much in the form of payment when they have their work accepted. We are extremely passionate about supporting writers in any way we can and can't wait to get this feature started.

What this also means is, we would also like to "hire" a book reviewer to be a part of the Vine Leaves Literary Journal team. This is a volunteer position, but you WILL receive the books for free.

Your reviews will be posted on our blog, though our Goodreads and Amazon accounts, and linked to via Twitter and Facebook (through the Vine Leaves accounts, and the Co-Publishers' accounts, which totals approx 15,000+ subscribers and followers). We will also feature it in a newsletter campaign, which currently has 600+ subscribers. So not only will we be promoting our contributors, but we will be promoting YOU, the REVIEWER, as a professional writer. A pretty great thing to have on your résumé, yes?

We ask that you review at LEAST ONE PER MONTH. If you want to review more than that, that's brilliant. The best bit? YOU get to choose the books you want to review from our Contributors' Books tab. We do ask that you be flexible with format, however, as not all books are available in every format under the sun. And if everything goes well, there is also a possibility of this turning into a paid position in the future.

If you love to read a variety of forms, including poetry, vignettes, and short stories in varying genres, then we want to hear from you! Please express your interest by sending us an email. Applications will close at the end of September.

We're not going to tell you what to write in your application letter. You can tell us as little or as much as you wish, but please send us links to other reviews you've written so we can get a sense of your style and if you'd be a good fit for us.

We're very much looking forward to hearing from you!

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Thursday 19 September 2013

I honestly never expected this level of reception ...

I honestly never thought I'd ever have readers emailing me and asking, "When's the next book coming out?!" But that's exactly what has happened since I started this Writing in a Nutshell Series. Not only am I so so flattered (thank you!!!), but it really got my butt into gear on getting the third and last book written and released before the end of the year.

It really is amazing what the encouragement of fans can do for a writer's ego and motivation. I honestly don't believe I could survive in this industry without their (YOUR!) support. So I just want to take this opportunity to say a BIG HEARTY THANKS to you all. I appreciate your enthusiasm for my work more than you know!

Your emails convinced me to put the next book in the series on the top of my priority list, and instead of releasing it in December, as previously promised, The Six Senses in a Nutshell is going to be available by the end of October at the latest. Cool, huh?

In The Six Senses in a Nutshell: Demonstrated Transitions from Bleak to Bold Narrative you will find eleven real scenes which illustrate how utilizing the six senses can bring your writing to life. In each demonstrated transition you will find a BLEAK passage (prose lacking sensory information), and a BOLD passage (the BLEAK passage revamped to make it more appealing by utilizing sense in an indirect and/or stimulating way). Dispersed throughout, and at the back of the book, are blank pages to take notes as you read. Writing exercises are also provided.

If you're a fan of the Writing in a Nutshell Series, and would like a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, feel free to contact me expressing your interest via email.

I won't be organizing a blog tour for this, as I'll be busy preparing for the November release of my third novel, Bitter Like Orange Peel, but if you would like to conduct a live Facebook Interview about The Six Senses in a Nutshell, just drop me a line and we can schedule a date.

Again, thank you so much for your support. It really means the world to me.

Have a great weekend!

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Wednesday 18 September 2013

The Artist Unleashed: ON WORLDBUILDING, by Catherine Stine

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 16 September 2013

Past or Present: What's Your Preference?

This weekend while I was writing my next Writing in a Nutshell book, I posted the following on Facebook and Twitter:

"I hate past tense. That is all."

Of course, this started a pretty interesting discussion, which I'd like to continue here. But first take a look at what others had to say ...
Trisha Farnan: I am well out of the habit of writing in past tense, and yet my current CP seems to only like past tense. so it's interesting 
Hart Johnson: Aren't we funny in our tenses. I really am not a fan of present. In fact I WON'T write in it, but really have to have a GREAT story to enjoy even reading it. 
Author Jessica Bell: yeah, present tense is my favourite.  When I write in past tense it feels like I'm rewriting something that has already been written. It loses its mystery ... 
Stina Lindenblatt: I'm so used to writing in present tense, I'm not sure if I can write in past tense anymore. 
Sarah Ahiers: whereas I hate writing in present tense. gross 
Laurel Garver: I feel like I'm in a flashback when I write in past tense. I guess it's a matter of what you're used to. 
Helena Halme: Me too, hate getting tangled up in all those pluperfects. Sometimes, though, it's unavailable. 
Daniel Wynne: I love writing in first person present tense. Some people might see it as a bit overbearing, but I think it works for fast-paced and humorous stories (which most of mine are). 
Roslyn Ross: I like past tense for its flexibility and deeper reflection. There is a limit to the Now for all sorts of reasons. Past and Future enable imagination to be completely at work in the literal and the metaphorical. 
Dennis Higgins: As a writer of time-travel, tense is very important to me...or was...or will be. 
Author Jessica Bell: Roslyn, I don't see how writing in the present tense means you can't deeply reflect on the past. There's nothing stopping a character reflecting on what they have done in the past just because the book is written in present tense. 
Example from String Bridge: "Alex’s watered-down Greek accent is stifled by the filthy rugs we have yet to remove from the corridor for the approaching summer. His voice is smooth, deep, and gentle. Unlike mine, which will forever be polluted with a brutal Australian twang. Alex’s voice was the first thing I was drawn to when we met five years ago at my debut solo performance in this city. It was just me, my voice and my guitar, battling the fear of laying my soul out for scrutiny, below the hot stage lights and in front of the quiet, unresponsive Greek crowd." 
If anything, I think it's more natural this way. Then all the past simple doesn't have to turn into past perfect. If you write a book in the past tense, then when you reflect on the past within that story all the tenses go wild and it drives me bonkers. But that's just me 
Roslyn Ross: I think the operative word Jessica was deeply, inferring a capacity for greater reflection than in the present, which is, by its nature, busy in the now. But I don't see it as important. Everyone writes differently and there is no wrong or right way. Compare Hemingway to Proust or Joyce - all very different from the average - and apart from Hemingway, would not be accepted by publisher or agent in this day and age, but all excellent writers. 
Author Jessica Bell: I know what you mean, Roslyn. And I still think you can reach as "deeply" in present as you can in past. 
Debbie Young: I write in both - sometimes present feels right for some stories/narrators, sometimes only past will do. Anyone ever written anything entirely in the future tense? Hadn't thought of doing that before! Might be interesting... Btw, sometimes I find reading a book that is written in the present is more tiring, maybe because I get more emotionally involved? 
Author Jessica Bell: that could be so, Debbie! 
Michael L Swift: I write in "Michael" tense. Just bring me another damn cup of coffee, dammit.
But my most favourite comment, however, came from Heather Truett on Twitter:
I like writing what IS instead of what WAS ... [past tense] loses its immediacy. I like my reader to be with me, not in my memory.

What's your preference? Past or Present? Why? Also, has the tense used in a book ever effected your enjoyment of the read? Why?

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Wednesday 11 September 2013

Monday 9 September 2013

SHE'S ALMOST HERE ... and I'd advise not being here when she arrives ...

Next week begins the blog tour for Briane Pagel's new Gothic Horror release, Temporary Anne, and I thought I'd prepare you for what's in store.

For each stop Briane is going to offer a free book that day from one of his other books, and at five of the stops he'll offer Temporary Anne for free, as well. But that's not all. He'll he'll be writing a short horror story on the go. Cool, huh? He'll begin the story, and each host and their readers will get to suggest where the story goes next. *cuedundunmusic*

This is going to be a blog tour like no other!
My name is Anne. With each day of my life, my actions brought me closer to Hell. Now, with each day of what is left of my existence, I struggle to avoid the fate that was set out for me -- or rather, not just to avoid it, but to master it. 

A contemporary horror classic, "Temporary Anne" presents the terrifying tale of a woman who avoids eternal damnation by sending others to take her place, scrambling to avoid the minions of Mephistopheles while searching for a way to allow her ravaged body to serve her indomitable will. The frightening images -- demons made of ice, babies' souls consumed -- will stick with you for as long as Temporary Anne exists -- which is FOREVER.

Get it on Amazon for $0.99! And watch for the blog tour where you can win free copies of this book and all his others.

Here's the schedule:

You might want to wear an incontinence pad ...

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Wednesday 4 September 2013


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 3 September 2013

Help Kay go on the World Race!

My friend Kay is going on the World Race. It’s 11 countries in 11 months and will take her into Central and South America where she’ll be doing ministry and humanitarian work.

To help support her, I’ve donated a book for the auction. All the info is right here at the QQQE blog.

The QQQE is run by Matthew MacNish, a well-known blogger in the publishing industry. He’s hosting the auction, and he and Kay are supplying some critiques and ebooks in addition to the prizes other authors have contributed.

Please show your support by bidding on the auction items and/or by entering a raffle.
Thank you so much, everyone!

CLICK HERE to subscribe to my newsletter. Every subscriber will receive The Hum of Sin Against Skin for free, and be the first to know about new releases and special subscriber giveaways.

Monday 2 September 2013

I have a confession to make ...

I work too much. (who didn't know that, right?)

So, it's time for a "new season resolution": one personal project at a time.

On top of the day job, Vine Leaves Literary Journal, Vine Leaves Press, and the Homeric Writers' Retreat & Workshop, writing time is ... hard to find. But I DO find it. And I also find the time to BE AN INDIE AUTHOR. That does not just involve writing books, but managing all the other tasks a publisher, designer, typesetter, and publicist manage. As much as I love it, it can get exhausting.

So from now on I have decided to write, design, typeset, publish, and market ONE book at a time until all the major tasks involved with that book are complete. THEN I will start the next one. I can't handle the juggling anymore. I don't have a life beyond the computer. And I realized this while I was away this August. (Okay, I realized it earlier than that but chose to ignore it.) After a couple of weeks of not turning on my laptop, the thought of turning on my laptop made me feel sick to the stomach.

That's not a healthy reaction.

So, I am going to become a "healthy worker". And stop pushing myself to get more and more and more and more done. What have I got to prove? Nothing.

I'm going to limit myself to a certain amount of tasks, and when I find that spare time, I'm not going to start another project (which is what I usually do when I find myself twiddling my thumbs), but I'm going to step away from the desk and LIVE a LIFE that does not involve books or computers.

How about you?
Are you a workaholic?
Have you tried to step back from your work to live a little more? How did that work out for you?

PS: drop by this Wednesday to read a guest post by Karen Kondazian! Karen is an American award-winning actress and author. She has appeared as series regular lead in CBS’s Shannon and guest starred in over 50 television shows and films including, TNT’s James Dean with James Franco (dir. Mark Rydell), NYPD Blue, Frasier, Steal Big Steal Little with Alan Arkin, Yes Giorgio with Luciano Pavarotti, and played Kate Holliday in Showdown at OK-Corral (David Wolper’s award-winning series).

CLICK HERE to subscribe to my newsletter. Every subscriber will receive The Hum of Sin Against Skin for free, and be the first to know about new releases and special subscriber giveaways.