Book Promotion & Marketing · Books

Free Kindle Downloads For Your Weekend!

I know it’s late and it’s probably the end of your Sunday where you are, but I’m still bleary-eyed as I sit in front of my laptop on a Sunday morning (9am) waiting for the caffeine withdrawal to hit.  So instead of making my personal pot of coffee first, I’m writing this post to let you know of a few free books you can download for your Kindle right now.  I also have the attention span of a 6-year-old at the moment (that’s what happens when you spend your days with one).

So, what’s free?  Of course, it’s my book, A Collateral Attraction: Fire & Ice Book 1!

collateral_free

And while you’re there, check out these other free books by my friends as well!

Invoke – A paranormal romance by Michele Hayes

Confessions of a Wedding Planner – a fun romantic romp by Michelle Jo Quinn

Pitch Black – a romantic thriller by Elise Noble

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Writers · Writing

August 2016 is Write An Amazon Review Month! #AugustReviews

On Monday 25th July, book blogger Rosie Amber wrote this post encouraging readers and writers alike to post a short review on Amazon for any book they’ve read and enjoyed ~ following this up, Terry Tyler is starting this initiative along with other writer-bloggers including Rosie, Cathy from Between The Lines, Barb Taub, Shelley Wilson and Alison Williams.

The idea is that, from August 1st, everyone who reads this uses their Amazon account to post just one review on one book that they’ve read (but feel free to carry on if you get in the swing!).  You don’t even have to have read it recently, it can be any book you’ve read, any time.  The book does not have to have been purchased from Amazon, though if it is you get the ‘Verified Purchase’ tag on it; however, if you download all your books via Kindle Unlimited, as many do these days, they don’t show the VP tag, anyway.

Remember, this isn’t the Times Literary Supplement, it’s Amazon, where ordinary people go to choose their next £1.99 Kindle book.  No one expects you to write a thousand word, in-depth critique; I don’t know about you, but I’m more likely to read one short paragraph or a couple of lines saying what an average reader thought of a book, than a long-winded essay about the pros and cons of the various literary techniques used.  Yes, those are welcome too (!), but no more so than a few words saying “I loved this book, I was up reading it until 3am”, or “I loved Jim and Vivien and the dialogue was so realistic”, or whatever!

Why should you write a review?

They help book buyers make decisions.  Don’t you read the reviews on Trip Advisor before deciding on a hotel, or any site from which you might buy an item for practical use?  Book reviews are no different.

If the book is by a self-published author, or published by an independent press, the writers have to do all their promotion and marketing themselves ~ reviews from the reading public is their one free helping hand.

The amount of reviews on Amazon helps a book’s visibility (allegedly).  If you love a writer’s work and want others to do so, too, this is the best possible way of making this happen.

It’s your good deed for the day, and will only take five minutes!

Off we go, then!  A few more pointers:

If you need any help with writing your review, do click on Rosie’s post, above.

A review can be as short as one word.  The shortest one I have is just two

You don’t have to put your name to the review, as your Amazon ‘handle’ can be anything you like.

No writer expects all their reviews to be 5* and say the book is the best thing ever written; there is a star rating guide on Rosie’s post.

Would you like to tell the Twittersphere about your review?  If so, tweet the link to it with the hashtag #AugustReviews ~ and thank you!  I will do one blog post a week featuring these links: The #AugustReviews Hall of Fame (thank you, Barb!).

If you have a blog and would like to spread the word about #AugustReviews, please feel free to copy and paste this blog post, provide the link to it, re-blog it, or whatever ~ many thanks, and I hope you will join in to make this idea a success

via August 2016 is Write An Amazon Review Month! By @TerryTyler4 #AugustReviews | Lit World Interviews

So, who’s in?

Featured Author · Writing

Featured Author: Andrew Reid, Author of Kingdom’s Fall

This week, I’m pleased to feature Andrew Reid, author of Kingdom’s Fall, a fantasy novel about a group of ordinary people and not-so-ordinary people forced to work together to save a kingdom from an ancient evil.  I first discovered the story on Wattpad and when Andrew published his novel last year, I immediately bought my own copy. 

Andrew did a virtual “interview” and he was kind enough to answer a few questions I posed about his book and his writing process.  Before I go ahead with the interview, do check out his blog.  I love his so-English humor and Andrew’s got it by the buckets.  Considering that the main male character in one of my novels is so English, I should be taking notes…but I digress.

Let’s check out the interview!

So what is Kingdom’s Fall about?

It’s about “a handful of exceptional people who band together to brood, crack jokes, fight giant monsters and save their kingdom. It’s a fantasy novel built on the idea that the choices people make out of duty or loyalty – even if they’re the right choice – can have repercussions that echo for a long time. It is told through the medium of cool people doing awesome stuff.

What inspired you to write the book?

A scrap of paper that I saved from a writing workshop. I’d been kicking around a fantasy idea about two rival kingdoms and a gift of a cursed sword that never really found its feet. Casting about for something to give me direction, I found about 200 words of a prologue that I had written during an hour-long session with Mark Chadbourn (fantasy and tv writer) back in 2009 about a giant wall that held back the sea, and the ship that finds it breaking. I reread it and thought about a country locked behind walls; walls so old that nobody remembers why they were built; about walls that aren’t necessarily made of stone. I started with that and a list that read “Soldier, Spy, Rogue, and Adventurer” and the story sprang from there.

51RiJp3jAXL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_How would you describe your writing style?  Are you a pantser or a plotter?

I started off essentially as a pure seat-of-the-pants writer. I got the book done, but…I found it very stressful going. Even though all the parts were there, it needed a lot of work in the edits to get the structure, pace and flow correct. So now I deploy a little structure beforehand to keep me sane. It’s based off of Save the Cat, and I will build a set of cards with the major beats that I want to hit and then start writing towards each one. I do go off piste sometimes, but having it all laid out means I can think, “right, well if *this* has changed how can I use it later?” and it’s a much smoother process.

Who has influenced your writing?

I’m a huge fan of Robin Hobb’s Farseer trilogy. It’s one of my favourite fantasy works, along with the companion Tawny Man trilogy. I love Ursula K LeGuin: A Wizard of Earthsea is a fantastic book. Other favourites include The Count of Monte Cristo, and the Culture novels by Iain M Banks. Recent fantasy books that I really enjoyed and have had an influence on me: The Copper Promise by Jen Williams, Half the World by Joe Abercrombie.

What do you love about writing?

I love playing about with dialogue, the inner and outer voice. I like feeling that kick when you get characters sparking off of one another and it makes the writing *come alive* when you read it back, even though you know it took six months and three drafts to make it happen. I really like seeing what references my brain throws into the mix – all the stuff you see and read, all these old quotes and ideas get dredged up to the surface and it’s amazing what you remember when you’re sweating blood trying to just get the words out of you and down.

What do you dislike about writing?

Getting too close to the work is a problem. I can picture scenes very very clearly in my head, so when I come to write them I feel like I have to smudge the image a little to leave room for the reader’s interpretation. But when it goes out to beta readers, those parts always get flagged as being too vague, and could I be a little more forthcoming with the detail. It can be really hard to judge sometimes if you’re being blunt, or simply direct. Basically, the constant second-guessing of the thing you’ve just written.

What challenges have you faced as a writer?

Getting a traditional publishing deal is the current hurdle! I’ve been really close to things a few times now – I have a couple of unpublished novels under my belt in the past few years – and it has come down to things like “this is really good, but it’s not a debut” or “right writer, wrong book”. So…that’s what I’m working on. I’ve got one book bouncing through round after round of edits so that it is about as good as I can get it, and hopefully it will stick. Touch wood.

Can you tell us about your next book or project?

The next book is called The Tracer. Bit of a diversion from the fantasy, but it’s a contemporary thriller about a tech-savvy bounty hunter who is hired to track down a corrupt trader, only to find him dead and evidence planted at the scene that implicates her in his murder. I’ve had some thoughts about surveillance culture bouncing around my notebooks for a while now, and getting to talk about them AND have a main character whose main solution to any problem is to kick it as hard as she can seemed like a nice way to spend my evenings. I’m also working (slowly) on the sequel to Kingdom’s Fall. Hopefully the former will be finished in the summer, and then I can concentrate on the latter.

What’s the last book you read?

The last book I read was so bad it put me off picking up another one for a few days. I won’t mention the title or author but it was a hangover in the worst way.

On the good side of things, I just picked up The Privilege of the Sword and The Fall of Kings, which are the sequels to Ellen Kushner’s *truly amazing* fantasy, Swordspoint. Now that is a book hangover. The imagery is so crisp and intense, the world so compelling and yet almost entirely ephemeral on the page: the city where it takes place is never named, and yet feels so familiar you could swear you’d been there. I should have put that up in influences, but seriously: Swordspoint is an amazing gem of a book.

On the tech-y side of writing, what programs or apps do you use to write?

I write mostly in Google Docs at the moment. With one small child and another on the way alongside a full-time teaching commitment, I write on my phone during my commute and then sort out the text later on. For the complete draft, it all goes into Word so I can track changes. I use notebooks to sketch out ideas. I very rarely write blocks of text freehand, but I do a lot of flow diagrams or loosely connected frameworks. I write a LOT of dialogue fragments and often surprise myself by going back through old notebooks. I use index cards and Post-Its stuck to a wardrobe for planning, although I just got a massive flipchart refill where each page is divided into squares about the size of a Post-It and have hung it on the wall so I can write straight onto it. It should be awesome.

What’s the best advice you can give to someone about writing?

Best advice heard: finish what you start. Get it done. Yes, you have other ideas. Finish this one first. Advice to give: if you’re submitting to agents or publishers make sure your MS is complete before you start querying, follow the submission guidelines, and be polite. Writing is art, but publishing is a business. Be professional.

Thank you so much, Andrew!  Learn more about Andrew and Kingdom’s Fall on his website.


Excerpt

Aiden was dragged from the inn – his shoulder alight with pain, too much for him to protest or resist any further – and out into bright sunlight. The inn stood at the very edge of a tiny village. It was little more than a stopping-point, a place that thrived off what few travellers and wagons passed through on their way inland. On the opposite side of the road a massive tree disturbed the verge, so big that it had been either too much trouble or too familiar to cut down.  Someone had thrown a rope over one of the branches, and a noose swung lightly at one end.

“I thought I was going to face justice.” Aiden spat the words out between gasps. The pain was hot and bright, bright enough to mix with the sunlight and send flashes across his vision.

“You are. Warrant doesn’t say you need to be alive to face it.” The leader grinned savagely. “We’ll hang you here, and save his majesty the trouble.” He made a show of looking Aiden up and down as if judging his weight. “Might just send your head back.”

Two of the men held Aiden upright while the leader slipped the noose over his head and pulled the knot tight against the back of his neck. One peace-man spat on the ground, disgusted. “Thought you’d be bigger,” he said. “At least you’re not begging. Can’t stand it when they beg.”

“Does it ever work?” Aiden asked.

The man thought for a moment. “It gives us something to laugh about later.”

“I’m sorry to disappoint. If we ever meet again, I’ll try to make more of an effort.”

“Do that.” The man let him go. Aiden sank into the noose, barely able to stand. He twisted on the rope, turning to look at the men who were getting ready to haul him up. He could feel the blood gathering in his face, the skin of his cheeks and forehead prickling hot and tight.

“Any last words, my lord?” Their leader asked.

For a long time there was nothing but silence, and terror. He was going to die, alone and hurt and afraid, for something he couldn’t even remember doing. Aiden closed his eyes and felt the weight of it press down on him. As it sank through him, a thought rose to meet it. There’s still one thing you can do. One good thing. Aiden struggled to nod, and the weight on the noose eased off as they waited for him to speak. He forced the fingers of his good hand up under the rope, trying to take the pressure off his windpipe. “There were six of you.” His voice was little more than a whisper. “Now there’s four. If you kill those two who are off after the serving girl, that’s a lot more reward to share.”

The leader snorted. “Bit late to find your conscience, my lord.” He turned away, gesturing to his men. “Haul him up, lads.”


Purchase Kingdom’s Fall here. Your purchase benefits Pencils of Promise.  And if you’ve read Kingdom’s Fall, please leave a review.  Reviews help readers discover new authors!

-Reposted from Liz Madrid Author

 

Featured Author · Writing

Featured Author: Barry Alexander

I first met Barry on Wattpad via a recommendation from Mary L. Tabor and loved his war poetry.  I was very moved by his memoir entries and hoped he’d publish them, and thank goodness, he did.  Barry is my first featured author on my blog, and I’m so honored to have him. 

Barry Alexander is the author of On Afghanistan’s Plains, an insightfully written war memoir that I first discovered on Wattpad.  You can purchase his book on Amazon here and add it to your Goodreads TBR list here. – Liz


Hi everyone – Liz has kindly invited me to run a guest spot on her blog this week. I’ve never done one of these before, so please don’t run away just because I’m not Liz!

First things first, a huge thank you to Liz for letting me loose on here. Secondly, I am British, so I apologise right away for spelling in ‘The Queen’s English’, I say to-mah-to, you say to-may-to, but I don’t see that as grounds for calling the whole thing off.   

Liz and I write in such different genres but have developed a great mutual respect for each other’s work.  If I was to look for commonality between our writing, I would have to say that our work is bound by two of the most intense and not unrelated of human experiences; love and conflict.  As I relate in one of the final chapters of my memoir, On Afghanistan’s Plains, I saw many displays of love in combat.  The kind of love that causes men to put themselves in harm’s way to save a comrade or share their last drop of water with a thirsty friend.  If love is present in conflict, one does not have to look far to find conflict in love, as Liz’s Loving Ashe series so vividly portrays.

On Afghanistan's PlainsOn Afghanistan’s Plains tells the story of my experiences as a Nursing Officer in the British Army, deployed in support of various fighting units in Helmand Province, Afghanistan in 2007.  Wiser heads than mine have identified that in the entire history of literature, there have only been seven stories ever told. From the ancient Greek epics to Harry Potter, all us authors ever seem to do is repackage the classic formulae for a contemporary audience.  If that is the case, my story sits squarely within the ‘voyage and return’ archetype, in which the protagonist and friends travel to a distant land where they encounter and overcome dangers, returning home with nothing but experience and wisdom. As an avid fan of classic war movies, in committing my memories to paper I was no doubt influenced by Hollywood. In her fantastic blurb for my back cover, Mary L Tabor comments on the cinematic quality of the writing, yet identifies that this is ‘no movie’. In a section where I describe a night of fitful sleep caused by my insight into seemingly endless ways of meeting a sticky end, the narrative directly references the epic movie A Bridge Too Far. Elsewhere a passage which deals with treating multiple casualties in the midst of a heavy firefight makes an oblique reference to Ridley Scott’s Blackhawk Down.

I began my writing journey as a poet.  As a young soldier, I wrote a short collection of poetry based on my first overseas tour on active duty in Bosnia.  I entered a few of these into competitions and sought publication but without success. While I focussed on my career, these poems, handwritten on parchment paper sat gathering dust in various drawers and boxes as I moved from posting to posting. I did not pick up my pen until 2011 when I saw an advertisement in a national newspaper for modern war poets to enter a poetry competition.  That weekend I wrote a series of poems that drew on my Afghanistan experience and submitted them.  The experienced proved cathartic and I found that from then on, I had to write.


“It is by turns gritty, terse, tense and horrifying… the account of a British Army company assault on a Taliban position in Helmand Province in Afghanistan… is an intensely visceral experience… Barry crafts images and explores themes that are powerful and persistent.”
– Wattpad reviewer


One of the poems, Care Under Fire, led to my writing an account of the action and publishing it on the online writing platform, Wattpad. People seemed to enjoy reading this, which spurred me on to writing the whole book, which was initially serialised on Wattpad before being taken offline, re-worked and edited into the form in which it is now published on Amazon.

File Apr 27, 4 28 00 PM

As an avid reader of books and poetry, there is no doubt that I am influenced by some literary big-hitters and some ancient texts. For much of my time in Afghanistan, I worked alongside C (Essex) Company of the 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment.  This modern day band of brothers is the inheritors of a proud martial tradition that traces its lineage to Anglo-Saxon times.  On one patrol, I found myself thinking of the Anglo-Saxon epic poem ‘The Battle of Maldon’, of which only fragments survive.  The poem tells of a bitter struggle between a band of warriors, led by their chieftain who steadfastly face up to an overwhelming force of Viking marauders. I arrived at the thought that the men I stood alongside in Helmand were the direct descendants of those ancient heroes. More modern influences are, of course, Hemingway and in the poetic line, Wilfred Owen, and Siegfried Sassoon.

A multitude of books have now been published about NATO’s experience in Afghanistan. Contemporary influences include Attack State Red by Colonel Richard Kemp and An Ordinary Soldier by Doug Beattie MC.  Attack State Red tells the story of 1 Royal Anglian on that 2007 tour (I even have a walk-on part in which I am referred to by my shortened name ‘Baz’).

The number of Afghanistan books that have been published has led to many agents sensing market saturation. This was the primary motivation for my decision to self-publish. So, if the market is saturated, why should you buy On Afghanistan’s Plains.  I can offer two reasons.  The first is that few nurses were deployed into forward locations (the practice was later stopped), and as far as I know, mine is the only account of such experience. The second is that you will gain a unique insight into the experiences that fuelled my poems, some of which are included at the end of the book; I suspect that no other Afghan memoir will have this appeal for poetry fans.

Thanks for reading and once again, thanks to Liz for allowing me the privilege of a guest spot on her blog.

Amazon US


 

EXCERPT

ON AFGHANISTAN’S PLAINS

The quiet of the day has been replaced by the rattle and crack of small-arms fire. Every now and then, we flinch and duck as stray bullets snap over our heads or whiz in between us like angry metal wasps

As we move down a track in between settlements, the scenery becomes more verdant, almost picturesque; poppies grow waist high, their heavy heads bobbing lazily back and forth in the breeze and nearby, an unseen brook babbles gently downhill towards the river.

…the branches of the trees above us start to disintegrate, accompanied by the insistent snapping of bullets and the fizzing sound of a rocket-propelled grenade passing by close over our heads. Somewhere, someone is trying to kill us. Fortunately, they are not making a very good job of it.

The bombs hit their target, the orange flicker of the explosion engulfing the hilltop, followed a split-second later by the sound of a thousand roof slates crashing onto a marble floor as a column of thick black smoke and dust climbs into the sky.

“You’ll be all right,” I tell him. “Chicks dig scars.”

The nonchalant black humour doesn’t have the desired effect.

“Yeah,” he retorts, “they might dig scars, but they don’t dig blokes with one fucking leg!”

“What’s the score?” I ask anxiously. The clock started ticking for this casualty the moment he was hit.

On Afghanistan’s Plains by Barry Alexander is available on Amazon on 5th May 2016

goodreads

Learn more about Barry Alexander by visiting his website at http://barrynalexander.wordpress.com

 

Reviews

Book Review: Kingdom’s Fall by Andrew Reid

Kingdom's FallKingdom’s Fall by Andrew Reid
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this as it was serialized on Wattpad, then bought it the moment it was published.  It’s one of the things I love about stories I discover on the site that go “wide,” meaning that they end up published professionally (we’ll argue about the difference between traditional and indie in another post).

But before I continue with the review, let me just preface this by saying that if you guys know me, I am a romance and women’s fiction writer, though my reading choices lean more towards literary fiction, thrillers and women’s lit with elements of romance.  And other than George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire, I don’t necessarily gravitate to fantasies right off the bat.

I actually discovered this book while searching to see if anyone was using the title Kingdom’s Fall since it was the title of Gareth’s breakout mini-series in Loving Ashe.  To my surprise, Reid already was, but I ended up sticking to my title anyway, and then went on to read this – and I sure am glad I did.

So on to the review.

Something dark is growing in the Kingdom. Trade from the south has choked to a standstill, and the air over the marshes hangs heavy with the threat of war.  In the north, the sea-wall, the ancient defense that protects the coastline, is crumbling.  The people look to their lords for guidance, and the lords look to their King.

But King Varion has little time for their concerns, for his daughter has been kidnapped a priestly cult who intends to sacrifice her and summon an ancient power into the world.

From the moment the story began, I liked the way the characters feel realistic.  You feel like you know them, their motivations, even their failures.  I felt for the characters, beginning with Kara, the innkeeper’s daughter who finds herself allied with the most wanted man in the kingdom, Aiden Baird, who can’t quite remember who or what he’s doing so far from his King. Then there’s Captain Gray who takes the poor army urchin, Cuan, under his wing, and the Islanders Siv and Einar on a heart-wrenching mission to find their kidnapped daughter.

I stuck with these five characters through their journey to fight an evil force that’s threatening to take over the Kingdom, even as the walls protecting the coastline have started to crumble. The odds are against them all, but they keep on going, knowing that if they fail, the Kingdom will fall.  One thing that I did wish to see in the book was a map to show me the Kingdom that everyone is fighting to save, but that’s only because I’m a visual reader in some respects – and maybe I’m so used to those maps that come with Martin’s books.  But let that not be a reason to not check this book out – the story is engaging and the characters even more so and they’ll have you rooting for them till the end.

Buy on Amazon

Book Promotion & Marketing

A Global Linker for Your Books

I’ve seen this link floating around the web, and have always made a mental note to look into it.  But like every mental note that never got written down, it disperses into the ether and I’m left with the same question, “where was I?”

So today, while reading Successful Self-Publishing by author and public speaker, Joanna Penn, I found it.  It’s called Booklinker, and you go and add the link to your book on Amazon, and voila! You end up with a global link page to all your books in the worldwide Amazon store.

Someone in Japan wants your book?  Well, they click on that global link and it takes them to Amazon Japan. Same thing happens to someone clicks the link from Germany or Canada – the link will take them to their the respective Germany or Canada Amazon pages featuring your book.

So without further ado, here are the links to a few of my books:

Loving Ashe –  myBook.to/lovingashe

A Collateral Attraction – myBook.to/collateral

Finding Sam – myBook.to/findingsam

It can also link your Author page globally as well:

Liz Madrid – Author.to/LizMadrid

Source: Liz Madrid Books

Book Promotion & Marketing

A Book Preview Right On Your Author Page

I don’t know how long Amazon has had this feature in place but you can now embed a preview of your book on your website.  They have 2 html codes available – one that has a frame embed code and the other a simple html link that opens a new window with the preview of your book.  No more clicking the “Send Preview to…”  your selected device.  Just hit the link and the preview shows up like this one below:

You can see an example of the embed code above and live on my other Author Page here. I know – I have 2 author pages because I originally blogged on Blogger for years, which allows embedding certain html code while WordPress.com doesn’t allow it (unless you go through wordpress.org).  Instead, for this page, you can only use a link, like the one below, which will take you to a standalone tab featuring a 10% preview of your book followed by the link to purchase the book.

PREVIEW THE BOOK

You’re probably wondering where you can find the Embed link and it appears right below the buy box on the right side of their screen for the website visitors. It looks like this:

Sharing options for your book
Sharing options for your book

I think it’s a great way for authors to showcase their own books, or their favorite books, right on their own websites and also help speed up the reader’s decision-making process from ‘hmm’ to ‘I gotta get this now!’  It would be great for those who like doing book launches, too, without having the visitor leave their page and risk getting sidetracked by something else unrelated to the book they just read about.

What do you think?