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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Review: A Stitch of Honor

I'm really focused on "shorts" right now in my reading. It takes me forever to work through a novel, but I've been finding all sorts of deals on short stories and novellas and consuming those at a quick rate.

Here's one of the "small treasures" I've found. (you can purchase it through the link)
A Stitch of Honor
I don't read a ton of hard SciFi, but I'm familiar enough with the genre that it doesn't scare me. Plus this piece was character driven which I liked. 
Here's the blurb:
Captain Jefferies, of the research starship Pulsar, is on his way home after a long mission in deep space. He's looking forward to real coffee and time with his wife--and he's certainly not interested in that knitting kit that she sent with him. 

When his ship is attacked by a hostile enemy ship, Jefferies finds his ship infected with an alien virus that kills randomly--and he's hauling it back to Earth. 

Now quarantined in high orbit, Jefferies begins knitting a scarf for each of his sick men, partly to pass the time while waiting for the virus to claim him, and partly as a gesture of honor. But will any of them survive the quarantine?

I found this to be a quick paced story with a surprising amount of heart. It started out almost to fast paced for my tastes but once the bomb turned out to be not what I had expected things to a dramatic and rather poignant turn.
If you are looking for something to devour in a half hour, I recommend A Stitch of Honor by K. M . Carroll.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Chapter One Preview: Thaddeus Whiskers and the Dragon

It's time again! Time to tease the first chapter of my next book. In this case it is a children's chapter book called Thaddeus Whiskers and the Dragon. My six-year-old really loves this book, and that is why I wrote it. It's a read aloud adventure for the younger set, and if your kid is 10-12 they'll be able to read it to themselves and enjoy the adventures of a tiny orange kitten, a large green dragon, some rats, a princess, and a couple of wizards. 

Sound interesting to you? The kindle version is up for pre-order right now. Just click the link below.

If you're more a paperback type, you'll have to wait until March 1st, but in the meantime, here's chapter one. 

Chapter One
Thaddeus and the Wizard

Thaddeus F. Whiskers had been presented to Princess Clarice upon her eighth birthday by the palace wizard. He was therefore the most famous and beloved kitten in the entire world. Yes, the world contained many kittens, but none of them could claim the title of royal companion. None but Thaddeus.
The wizard chose Thaddeus because of his brilliant orange coat and jewel-like green eyes. The clever wizard had woven enchantments about the kitten, blessing him with a state of eternal kittenhood. Almost two years had passed, and Thaddeus still fit comfortably in Clarice's hands.
Thaddeus's purple pillow lay at the foot of Princess Clarice's golden throne. Her throne stood beside the towering seat of her father, King Victor the Third. While Thaddeus’s seat was the smallest, this was only due to the ungainliness of human bottoms. Thaddeus knew he was every bit as important as those with larger seats.
Visitors to the court marveled at how tiny Thaddeus remained. Clarice, also small for her age, beamed while lords and ladies fawned over her precious pet. Thaddeus would puff out his chest, stick up his nose, and regally twitch his whiskers.
Today, Thaddeus wore a golden collar, for it was Clarice’s tenth birthday, and he was the guest of honor. Clarice had demanded it be so. Clarice always insisted that her kitten receive as much attention as she did. It was one of the many things he adored about her. One by one, the inhabitants of the palace approached the throne and laid their gifts at the princess's feet where Thaddeus inspected them. He sniffed at packages and pulled at ribbons. All seemed perfectly acceptable as gifts for a princess such as Clarice. He nodded his approval.
The palace cooks brought baskets of cookies, many in the shape of kittens, frosted in orange butter cream. The royal seamstress had sewn a lovely gown. Thaddeus gazed at the silken skirts and imagined how soft they would feel against his paws. The palace jeweler had made Clarice a charm bracelet, each charm an image of Thaddeus in a different pose: Thaddeus napping, Thaddeus pouncing, Thaddeus stretching. Thaddeus batted at the bracelet when Clarice dangled it before him.
As the procession of presents ran on, he tucked his paws beneath him, curled his tail about his body, and yawned. Clarice wiggled in her seat.
King Victor glanced at her from the corner of his eye and smiled. “Don’t fidget, dear. Soon there will be cake.”
Thaddeus is bored,” said the princess.
Thaddeus’s ears twitched at the mention of his name. He gave an inquisitive, “Meow?”
Tell Thaddeus there will be chicken and cream for dinner if he waits just a bit longer.”
Thaddeus listened politely as Clarice relayed the information. He always wondered why the king didn’t address him directly. He was right there, for fish’s sake.
The last gifter approached: Hermes the Great, the palace wizard. The old man’s title seemed a bit of an exaggeration to Thaddeus. Other than having the wisdom to give Thaddeus to Clarice, Hermes never did anything the kitten felt was “great.” Last year his gift had been a sugar plum tree that constantly yielded encrusted, sticky plums. Clarice had gotten a stomach ache, and several of its treats had stuck in Thaddeus’s fur. The tree was quietly moved to a far corner of the garden and forgotten.
This year, Hermes’s hands were empty. Thaddeus suspected the wizard hadn’t remembered the party until the last minute, or perhaps he hid something up the long sleeves of his crimson robes. Thaddeus didn't particularly care. He was ready for his chicken and cream.
My king, my princess, and my royal feline.” Hermes bowed low.
Thaddeus sat up and eyed the wizard.
Upon your most illustrious tenth birthday, I must thank you, Princess Clarice, for a decade spent making the world a more beautiful place.” The wizard’s blue eyes twinkled.
The princess nodded, reached down, and rubbed Thaddeus’s ears. Thaddeus purred. Clarice knew just how to pet him, not too fast or too slow. Her fingers were small and soft. Most things bored Thaddeus, but not Clarice. She was wonderful. He gazed up at her appreciatively.
She smiled and scooped him onto her lap. He settled into the folds of her pink damask gown. Her hand ran down his back, smoothing his orange fur. He snaked his tail around her wrist, then whipped it back.
On this birthday, I am focused on improvement. Your furry friend, his name is Thaddeus F. Whiskers, correct?” Hermes asked.
Yes.” Clarice muffled a yawn with the back of her hand. Thaddeus stood on his hind paws and tried to rub up against her chin, but was simply too short.
Poor Clarice. She's probably as bored as I am. When we get to our room, we shall play hide and seek. That will make up for all this sitting around, Thaddeus decided.
If I may be so bold as to ask, my princess, what does the F stand for?” The wizard stuck out his white beard, as if pointing at Thaddeus with his chin.
Fluffy.” Clarice blushed.
Beneath his fur, Thaddeus blushed as well. Fluffy had, in fact, been his only name for several weeks, before eight-year-old Clarice decided the moniker too childish and had chosen Thaddeus, a more dignified name. Thaddeus appreciated the re-dubbing. He never felt like a “Fluffy.”
He is more sleek than fluffy, is he not?” Hermes continued.
Thaddeus’s short, orange fur bristled. Did Hermes dare to suggest Thaddeus was in some way inadequate? Such foolishness! He sniffed and wiggled his nose.
Yes. He is perfectly sleek.” Clarice twirled Thaddeus’s tail.
Hermes flushed, the tip of his nose glowing like an ember. “Of course, he is perfect, but how would you like it if he were perfect . . . er?”
He waved his hand and a white dandelion appeared between his fingers. The court “oohed” though Thaddeus's quick eyes had seen it come out of those cavernous sleeves.
I have a spell, a marvelous spell, to make him as poofed as this posie, a perfect, purring powder puff.”
Clarice’s fingers kneaded into Thaddeus’s non-poofy fur.
Thaddeus’s glare stayed on Hermes’s spindly fingers. The wizard drew the flower to his lips and let out a stream of breath. The fluffy white dandelion seeds separated from the stem and danced through the air. They twirled towards the throne. They brushed the king’s nose, and he sneezed.
One parasol-shaped seed touched down on Thaddeus’s snout. It balanced for one moment, and the kitten’s eyes crossed trying to focus on it. Then it exploded in a miniature starburst. Thaddeus inhaled the sparks. They trickled through his body, cold and tingly. His fur expanded, lengthening and puffing.
Clarice cried out. She held Thaddeus up, his hind legs dangling. Though her hazel eyes were poor mirrors, Thaddeus could tell, from the extra warmth, that he was now undeniably fluffy.
That is remarkable.” The king clapped his hands. “Hermes you have done it a . . . ah . . . choo!” The king let forth a thunderous sneeze.
Bless you!” exclaimed the entire court.
The king’s eyes watered. His nose wrinkled. Another sneeze exploded through the throne room. As if in answer or echo, a lady in the crowd kerchewed. Soon lords and ladies, knights and knaves, were caught in the throes of sneezing fits.
Thaddeus winced and turned away from the scene. Humans could be nasty. Cat sneezes were much quieter.
What has happened?” King Victor wheezed. “This isn’t . . . the . . .right season. . .for . . . hayfever. Ahchoo!”
All eyes, the dry and the watering alike, turned to Hermes.
The wizard stroked his beard and shuffled his feet. “Er, it seems I have miscalculated the consequences of this particular enchantment. I shall try to reverse it.”
He took Thaddeus from Clarice. His big hands felt awkward around Thaddeus. The kitten turned up his nose in protest. He waved his hand over the kitten. Thaddeus’s fur turned blue, then red, then twisted into braided strands. His skin prickled and his whiskers vibrated.
Hermes tried magical words and mystical gestures. However, Thaddeus’s fur remained long and fuzzy, and half the court still sniffled. Hermes snapped his finger causing Thaddeus’s coat to go orange again. Thaddeus mewed in displeasure. He hissed at Hermes. “Turn me back now, you idiot!” Unfortunately, humans didn't understand cat language, and no one rushed to Thaddeus's rescue.
Hermes cleared his throat. “Perhaps I should take him to my tower and work with him there.”
That . . . ah . . . is the best idea . . .ahchoo . . you’ve had all night.” The king waved them away.
Thaddeus shook his head. He did not want to go with Hermes. He tried to wriggle away to get to Clarice. Clarice would save him.
Clarice stood. “I want to go with Thaddeus, Daddy. I don’t get hay fever.”
Hermes will fix him and bring him back,” the king said. “Let’s not allow this to ruin your party.”
Thaddeus kept his eyes on Clarice’s beloved face until the door to the throne room shut between them.
Clarice!” he mewed sadly.
Hermes’s tower stuck out from the rest of the castle like a candle in a birthday cake. The wooden steps creaked beneath the wizard's feet. Thaddeus glanced through the gaps between the boards. The stairs seemed to spiral down forever.
Hermes took him through a trapdoor into a cluttered round room. A chandelier of dripping candles sprang alight at their entrance. The wizard put the kitten on a work table between a bouquet of dried herbs and a stack of dusty books. Thaddeus sneezed.
Hermes grimaced. “We’ve had enough of that for one day.” He pulled a massive handkerchief from his sleeve and wiped down the area.
Thaddeus glanced around the room. Mounted skeletons of various creatures, one of which looked suspiciously like a cat, gazed back at him from a shelf. Books were scattered everywhere, like the aftermath of a windstorm in a library. They even filled a giant black cauldron in the fireplace.
Red orbs of light floated in circles about the room. One passed near Thaddeus, and he swiped at it. His paw sank through, coming into contact with nothing, but the orb changed course and hurried away from him.
The wizard opened a heavy tome. “You’d think they’d mention such a virulent side effect to a simple spell,” he grumbled. He removed his hat and laid it on top of Thaddeus. The kitten mewed and scrambled out, knocking the hat to the floor. “Oh sorry.” The wizard picked it up and placed it on a stuffed dodo bird. “I forgot I’d put you there. . . Ah ha! An asterisk! A sure sign of ill intent and deception.”
He set the book on the table beside the kitten and stabbed his finger at the sunburst shaped mark on the page.
Thaddeus scowled. He couldn’t read.
An asterisk, my little friend, indicates important information has been left out and hidden elsewhere. In this case . . .” Hermes licked his fingertips and turned the page. “See, here is what I missed. ‘The Fluffication spell should never be used in the vicinity of those sensitive to hay fever or similar complaints, for the spell is irreversible, and irritation . . .’ Irreversible? Come now, nothing is irreversible.” He flipped back and forth.
Thaddeus slapped the edge of the pages with his paw, but his heart wasn’t in it. Surely the wizard couldn't mean he'd be this way forever? Well, at least Clarice didn't have hay fever. He could still be with her even if he had to avoid the king.
Someone knocked.
Come in,” Hermes said.
A young man in a page’s uniform poked his head and shoulders into the tower room. “Mr. Wizard, the king still can’t stop sneezing; neither can most of the staff. His majesty swears the irritation to the royal nostrils is as bad as when the cat was in the room.”
Not surprising. According to the small print, the effects may spread as far as a quarter mile. I need time to research if I am to fix this.”
The page cleared his throat. “His majesty says he can’t breathe and if you do not amend the situation immediately, he will be forced to reconsider your contract with the crown.”
Hermes licked his lips. “Did he, now?”
Thaddeus’s eyes widened. His whole body trembled. He wanted Clarice. He wanted chicken and cream and his silk cushion and perhaps a lengthy nap, but most of all he wanted Clarice.
He mewed.
Hermes shook his head. “I will fix this, Mr. Whiskers, I promise. For now, however, the king needs to breathe.” He turned to the page. “Tell the king I shall deal with the difficulty post haste.”
The page disappeared through the hatch. Hermes pulled a wire bird cage from under the table. Alarmed, Thaddeus scratched at the old wizard, but his tiny kitten claws didn’t pierce the man’s callused skin. Hermes shoved Thaddeus into the cage and covered it with a heavy cloth, leaving the kitten in darkness.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Amanda's Books and More: Beggar Magic by H.L. Burke

There's a new review up on Amanda's Books and More!

Amanda's Books and More: Beggar Magic by H.L. Burke: About the Book In Gelia City, magic is music: a constant ever-changing melody known as the Strains. Hereditary ability to use the Str...

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Dragon's Debt Bargain Days

Starting tomorrow (1/28) Dragon's Debt, the second book in the Dragon and the Scholar Saga, will be 99 cents. This is a countdown deal, so grab it while you can. After 2/4 it goes back to its original $2.99.
Click the link below to pick up a copy:
Dragon's Debt (The Dragon and the Scholar Book 2)

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Free this week: The Baby and the Bacon

While trying to plan promotions, I realized I could put The Baby and the Bacon free today  . . .

So I did.

(click the link below to download)
The Baby and the Bacon

It is actually free for the rest of the week.
Based on the riveting true story of a baby and her favorite breakfast meat. 

linked here

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Thaddeus Whiskers and the Dragon Release Day Party: On Facebook

Me: Do you want to read my new book?
Matt: It sounds disgustingly cute.
Me: It is. It's about a kitten who befriends a dragon.
Matt: Can't it be about a kitten who is captured and tortured by a dragon but then escapes and comes back to get revenge?
Me: Oh, now I want to write that . . .and he's a ninja . . .and wears a Rambo bandanna.
Matt: I'd read that.

So many ideas, so little time. . .but until I have time to write "Revenge of the Ninja Kitty," I'm hard at work getting  Thaddeus Whiskers and the Dragon ready for release day.

If you'd like to join me for a Facebook release day party, click here and sign up. There will be fun facts and games and prizes! And kittens! Many, many kittens!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Writer Shirt

I got a new shirt for my recent birthday.

It reads;
I'm a writer
that means I live in a 
crazy fantasy
world with
Thank you
for understanding.

Cool, huh?

And if you've been paying attention, you may notice my hair is now significantly shorter. I got it cut a few days before Christmas. I hadn't cut it since before I was pregnant with Claire (who turns 3 next week). Over a foot got taken off, so I donated that to Locks of Love. I've had my hair this short before, but not for a long while (again, pre-Claire.). 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Thaddeus Whiskers: Goodreads Giveaway

I'm giving away three advanced copies of Thaddeus Whiskers and the Dragon through Goodreads. Sorry, at this time they are only available to those in the states. If you are outside of the states and interested, I'll be running an ebook giveaway later.


    Goodreads Book Giveaway


        Thaddeus Whiskers and the Dragon by H.L. Burke



          Thaddeus Whiskers and the Dragon

          by H.L. Burke


            Giveaway ends February 09, 2015.
            See the giveaway details
            at Goodreads.

      Enter to win

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Cover Reveal: Thaddeus Whiskers and the Dragon

Ready to see the awesome new cover for Thaddeus Whiskers and the Dragon?

Well, you better be, because here it is!

Special thanks to artist Mikayla Stallings for her painting and my designer Jennifer White for the layout/design. Are you a fan of kittens and dragons?
Then click below to pre-order the epic tale of Thaddeus Whiskers and the Dragon.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

ARC Opportunity: Thaddeus Whiskers and the Dragon

Do you like dragons? Do you have kids? Or like reading children's books? Do you like free books and leave reviews?

Perhaps Thaddeus Whiskers and the Dragon is your next favorite book!

I'm getting prepared to release my children's chapter book this spring. As part of this, I'm making a list of advance readers who will receive an early copy in return for their honest review (left on Amazon/Goodreads/Blog) when the book goes live.

Advanced copies may contain a few errors that will be caught in final proofs or some incomplete formatting. Acknowledging this unfinished state allows me to slip them out over a month ahead of deadline.
Contact me if you want on the list for your free, advanced copy!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Happy Dragon Appreciation Day!

I found out late in the game that January 16th is actually Dragon Appreciation Day!
Have you appreciated your dragon lately?
I thought I'd make a quick post sharing some indie books featuring dragons.

The Clockwork Dragon

Three authors. One legend. One dragon. A Legion of demons. Who will survive and who will lose their soul? 

The darkness consumes. We are Legion. Locked in our golden prison. Waiting. Seeking. Tempting. Are you strong enough to resist? Or will you allow us to escape?

"Dragons, mages, and estranged siblings collide in a struggle to control the Kingdom of Rioch." 

The Guild of Mages is determined to destroy the dragon race at all costs. Queen Christine, keeper of the peace and leader of the dragon riders, strives to maintain stability in Rioch. Amidst this struggle, Zharah is torn between the anti-dragon teachings of her childhood and her unwitting bonding with the dragon hatchling Elihan. She must cross the kingdom in search of her long lost brother and the answers to her future as a Dragon-Touched human. She finds both friends and enemies along the road, but above all she finds herself.

Dragon's Curse
The Dragon and the Scholar Saga, Book One

On her first assignment out of the Academy, young healer and scholar, Shannon Macaulay is summoned to the struggling kingdom of Regone to see to the wounds of a young but crippled king. When the unwanted attentions of an aggressive knight and the sudden appearance of a hated dragon turn her world upside down, she decides to take matters into her own hands even if doing so proves dangerous.

Finding herself strangely drawn to the company of the dragon, Gnaw, Shannon must force herself out of her safe world of books and botany to come to the aid of her unexpected ally in a strange kingdom, cursed by a fateful encounter with a dragon and the loss of a beloved prince. Can she learn to put aside her fears, and perhaps sacrifice her deepest desires, to help a friend and restore a family? 

A Dragon's Scale (The Paradan Tales Book 2)

A single impossible wish leads Aurora into the dangerous unknown. A new world of monsters awaits her on her terrifying quest. Cannibalistic Goblins, merciless Ogres, the irresistible call of Lyra’s, at the long thought mythical Lyric Lake, are just the beginning to her obstacles.
Tommit continues to plot his escape with two thing on his mind retaking his throne and …….revenge.
Cassius remains in Paradan and he has the daunting task of rebuilding his beloved country, without Aurora. A new maiden Greya, schemes to become the new queen. A protector joins Aurora on her quest, and he becomes enchanted with her strength and beauty leading to a possible new love.
Will Aurora find the golden dragon scale and will it ultimately lead her back to Paradan and to Cassius? Or will she choose a new love and a new life?
An assassin haunted by her past. A desert world with no hope of a future. An evil collective bent on their total annihilation.

For virtuoso assassin Sahara Acwellan, this flight was supposed to be her last. Convicted of slaying the Dragon-Lord Chieftain on her homeworld and sentenced to the labor camps on the desert world of Silesia, Sahara's brilliant career as a freedom fighter has been cut short. But when fate intervenes and her prison transport crashes in the sands, she might have a second chance to finish what she started.

All that stands in her way is Jared Alareth, the warrior turned apprentice healer with a past as shattered as her own. He rescues her from the desert and brings her to his home city of Albadir, but Sahara's plans have nothing to do with moving on and everything to do with vengeance. As Sahara sweeps Jared and his people into a conflict they have tried so desperately to avoid, they discover that the treachery of the Dragon-Lords goes deeper than they could ever have imagined.

And when Sahara's fate becomes twined with that of everything Jared loves, will he find the courage to save her and his people before it's too late?

Gemworld (Facets of Reality Book 1)

For a US Navy SEAL, life can be many things -- challenging, thrilling, rewarding, hazardous, unexpectedly short. Lieutenant James Salvatori knew all this going in, but nothing could have prepared him for his mission to Laos. What started as an anti-terror operation turned into an experience that was quite literally out of this world!

New lands, mythical creatures, powerful magics, immortal tyrants. What's a guy like Sal to do, except lock and load?

Alrekur Vidarsson had to wait three thousand years to finally fall in love. He spent two thousand years searching for her, but then she found him, awaking him from death.

Unfortunately, she was engaged to another, and Alrekur had to wait another eighty years. Finally, he won her over and they got their happily ever after...except that it won't be that easy.

The birth of their daughter has awakened the entire dragon species, who had been sleeping since before Alrekur was born. The dragons have their sights set on Alrekur's family, and they'll stop at nothing to get what they want, not caring if they destroy everyone he loves in the process. 

Ben the Dragonborn (The Six Worlds Book 1)

There are very few people on earth who know the location of a mysterious school where heroes of the past train those who belong to the future. Ben Taylor only learns of the school’s true purpose when he is called into the Principal’s office. Miss Templeton gives him a simple test to see if he is a Chosen of the Guardian. That very day Ben is sent through a portal to a watery world of mermaids and monsters. “Has a mistake been made?” This is the question on everyone’s mind, including Ben’s. Ben’s only chance of success depends on discovering the secret of his own true self in a terrifying world where nightmares come to life.

Tales of Aldura: Phaedra

Phaedra, a young Njae Loremaster, must confront a terrible fate predicted by a Seeress. She risks her husband, her child, and her life in order to save the peoples of the Twin Goddess.

Get Over It, Writers

Writers are people. People are funny. Funny and finicky. I spend a lot of time around writers who aren't yet published or are considering publishing, and a lot of them echo similar fears. What if my piece gets rejected? Or doesn't sell? Or people don't like it and leave mean reviews?

All understandable concerns when you are putting something on the open market after you poured so much of yourself into it.

However, occasionally, even with long term, several books in, published writers, I see a lot of pet concerns that just amuse me, from little things like, "People misspelling their name in reviews" to specific things they get sick of seeing in reviews . . . most of these things fall into the camp of "I don't like losing control of things."
I'm a chaotic personality which means, I don't remember the last time I felt I was completely in control, and I kind of like it that way. So that gives me a prime opportunity to MOCK YOU ALL!!! . . .er . . . playfully dissect worries that plague writers and inform you why they aren't particularly a big deal?
(Disclaimer: and a few of these may have plagued me at one point or another. I'm chaotic, but I do have my own little quirks. I'm just not going to identify which . . . also another I've never actually seen someone complain about, but I thought it would be funny, so I slipped it in. I'll let you guess which it is. . .but other than that, all of these are things I've seen voiced as major to minor concerns in author groups or discussions)

People reading your book an interpreting it wrongly.

I think this is what tempts a lot of writers to over explain. It could be as dramatic as a reader finding one character emotionally abusive towards another or as subtle as them missing a little bit of symbolism, but readers bring their own world views, perspectives, and thought processes into your book, and once they've got a hold of it, you can't get it back. Hence all the shipping going on in fandoms and how certain characters take off when they were intended to be the bad guy or a minor part. 
Unless you literally tell your readers what to think about the book, they're going to get it "wrong" sometimes, but honestly, my favorite books are the ones that let me fill in the blanks with my imagination, so is this really a bad thing?
Conclusion: Get over it. (man, I'm snarky today)

People not liking a character.

Yes, our characters are our babies. Yes, we even put a little of ourselves into them, but they aren't real. They aren't, I promise. I . . . what do you mean my character is needy? No she's not! She's just affectionate and devoted. No, that other character is not a brat, not too much anyway, just a little bit spoiled and . . .well, yeah, a brat, but in a nice way. Why don't you love her?
People are different and will react differently to different personalities. Also, similarly to item one on this list, they'll bring things into the reading and maybe your character reminds them of someone who once stole their favorite pencil in kindergarten. Out of your control.
Conclusion: Sorry, you'll have to either get over it or just never talk to people about your characters.

People reading in the bathroom.

Yes, your words are well crafted and high-minded but this is one of the places people read. And be honest, didn't you come up with 90% of your text in the shower anyway?
Conclusion: Get over it and then go read in the bathroom.

People doubting something you researched or witnessed could actually happen.

Yes, it's annoying. Readers think they know everything. They'll be quick to argue, "I've never known a person who could chew gum and walk at the same time! This character's ability are super human and unbelievable!" even though your Great-Aunt Martha was always chewing gum and walking at the same time. You even have video of her doing it.
Or maybe you researched something to death and found a really weird side effect to an actual drug . . . or a man who fell out of a jet plane and lived . . . or any number of strange but true facts that might be fun to work into a story.
Well, you know how they say truth is stranger than fiction? It often is. You just have to write it as convincingly as possible and resist the urge to hit someone over the head with your research. After all, it's fiction.
Conclusion: Roll your eyes at the person complaining about it, but still, get over it.

The thought of your book ending up for sale second hand.

I didn't realize this was a thing for so many writers until recently. but apparently it really bugs some writers to see used copies of their book either on Amazon or other sites. I guess they are the sort of reader who covets every book they own forever. My husband is sort of like that (though not a writer). Every year I make a box of books to donate to Operation Paperback and I'm like, "Can I have some of these books you haven't read in five years." And he's like, "No! My books!" 
But space concerns alone mean that most readers aren't like this and many like to make a little money reselling books after they've read them. 
Also, another complaint is, "But I signed it for them and personalized it." To me this really only works if the reader has some sort of emotional connection to you, though. If they won your book in a giveaway and never read you before, they probably don't. Now if your mother is reselling all the 'dear Mom' copies you gave her, it might be time to have a heart to heart. 
Another way to look at it: once that reader has read the book, they put it on the shelf, and it sits there and does nothing for you. The reader sends the book back out into the world, whether by donating it to their library or thrift store or selling it on ebay (extra special author signed addition, $400!!!), and they've given your book feet. It is now out and about being your ambassador, a tiny paperback billboard that says everywhere it goes, "Hey look, this person wrote a book!" 
Remember, ebay and thrift stores are a better alternative than the dumpster. If you ever see your book in the dumpster, don't get over it! Climb in and rescue the poor baby because dumpster books are just a waste.
Conclusion: Your book being resold is actually a good thing. Super quickly get over it.

I might get bad reviews . . . or I GOT a bad review

This one could have a post all to itself. It happens. Your book is not everyone's taste. Sometimes, kind of like in the instance where you did your research but people still doubt your gum chewing grandma is possible, it will be unmerited. They'll maybe accuse you of not researching something you did because your conclusions on how to portray something fell outside their personal experience. Or they'll make assumptions about your personality. And yes, troll reviewers who say mean things just to be mean exist, but you know what? They do it to evoke a reaction. If you give in, they win. If you respond they especially win. 
And in this case getting over it doesn't mean you don't have a right to be annoyed or even saddened, especially if something fairly nasty is said, but for your own good, you still should get over it, move on, look the other way, because otherwise, you'll go nuts.
Conclusion: Sorry, but you still have to get over it. Maybe have some chocolate?

Do you have any thing that has been a hang up for you in the writing world? Think I'm a little too snarky and need to drink less coffee?
Let me know in the comments below!

URQ Poster3What do pirates, explorers and children have in common? They all love treasure hunts!

THE ULTIMATE READING QUEST will end on Monday, January 19th, at midnight. This is your last chance to explore new books and authors, and to take home free prizes and books. Plus, one lucky winner, will get a


To enter your name for this SPECIAL TREASURE you must prove yourself worthy by collecting the 49 letters of a secret message! Just by reading this post you already have two of the letters (A and B).


Find the rest within the Quest, writing them down as you go. When you have all 49, unscramble them to decode the secret message. Enter the exact words of the message in the Mystery Prize Rafflecopter right here: a Rafflecopter giveawayAs you're searching for the letters, be sure to leave a comment for each and every author. Not only will you get to chat with the amazing Quest authors, but each comment will earn you extra entries in the general Quest prize giveaway that includes an astonishing XX free prizes and gifts! a Rafflecopter giveaway

What are you waiting for? Click this button to start collecting the rest of the letters. Then return here and enter to TAKE THE TREASURE!


jointhereadingquestsmall Integrating the art of story with technology and curriculum to enhance learning for the 21st century. questteaching@gmail.com Meet the author and get extras at : www.questteaching.com/wordpress/ Novel available at the following links : https://www.amazon.com/author/sharonskretting Face book : http://on.fb.me/1d60x8e Twitter: @QuestTeaching https://twitter.com/QuestTeaching

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Let's talk about sales (in which I discuss three different promotion sites)

Now if you've clicked around here before, you may have seen this post where I attribute my best ever sales day to an ad on eReader News Today. I've tried a couple of times to repeat that success, but they don't like to run the same book too close together, and sequels I listed got me a jump in sales, but not the massive one I hoped.
So I've started experimenting with other promotion routes and thought I'd talk about what worked and what didn't and why. Both of these new sites I have used twice now, once for free days and once for discount days.

Since I released Beggar Magic, sales have been okay, but without a related sequel or prequel, it did not give me the boost I'd hoped for and seen with releases in my Dragon series. So I decided to dip into advertising again. Since eReader News had worked for me in the past I started with that, putting Beggar Magic at 99 cents for a few days following Christmas. I also planned a free day for Dragon's Curse, but was unable to get it accepted onto ENT for that.

So unable to get onto ENT for Dragon's Curse I tried two other reasonably priced promotion sites, bknights out of fiverr and the Choosy Bookworm. I jumped on Choosy Bookworm because I wanted to schedule it before they did a price increase, I forget what the price used to be for a guaranteed feature, but it is now $20 and it was slightly less .  . . anyway, that site does a one time email feature and then has you listed on their feature page for a week, which is a good amount of time for that price of ad. I'll talk about results and their reach in a bit.

Now, when you are running a "free day" that green line representing free downloads jumps WAY up and makes it hard to see the little red and blue lines of books you are actually getting paid for, so I did two graphics, one showing the green line and the other without it.

Let's start with the green line.

Let's talk about basic downloads.
BKnights is EXCELLENT for promoting free download days. I used them to promote a 99 cents sale and got a tiny jump in sales, but nothing worth writing home about, but for a free day, considering their ads are only $5, they really came through. The day they featured my book, I had over 800 free downloads.
A few days later my book ran on Choosy Bookworm. Their current fee for featured books is $20 so a decent amount more than BKnights but still in the "reasonable" realm. I also had used them for a 99 cents sale in November, and similarly to BKnights saw a small jump but not enough that I made the money back from the ad. They don't seem to work for 99 cents sales. That said, they do keep your book on their website for a week, which is a decent length of time. When I promoted my free day with them, free downloads, which had dropped down to just over a hundred the day before, shot back up to 367.
So both sites work to promote free days. BKnights obviously works better and costs less, but it doesn't hurt to do both, especially if you space them a few days apart like I did.

Now the main reason to do free days is to encourage people to buy your non-free books, so let's take a look at sales. I'll start with the release of Beggar Magic  with the semi-disappointing sales I was talking about to give you an idea of average vs promotion.
For release day, I did about 11 sales of Beggar Magic, and sales were pretty steady all through December (which I'm told is usually not a great month for ebook sales, with people more focused on gifts and whatnot. Ebooks are hard to wrap). I had a few good days but most days were a book or two sold.
So back to Ereader News Today. Again, probably because of December (I ran the ad the day after Christmas), I had less sales than I did during my Dragon's Curse promotion, but 47 sales in one day is nothing to scoff at.
My free days for Dragon's Curse launched December 31st, and I definitely saw a ripple through my sales as far as sequels go. On average, sales have been up and the best seller has definitely been book two, the book right behind the free day book.
So it worked. I think I've probably about made back what I spent in advertising. The question is, will sales continue. Will those who picked up Dragon's Curse for free read it and come back for Dragon's Debt and the rest of the series? I hope so. There has been enough of an uptick that I'm optimistic.

But anyway, three sites, three results. Hope this is helpful for you if you are planning to market some books.
Does anyone here have a marketing plan they want to talk about?

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Ultimate Reading Quest

Click on the button to start your quest!
Happy New Year from all the Authors in the Ultimate Reading Quest! This year myself, and all the Quest authors, want you to enjoy your reading experiences more than ever! So in 2015, the Ultimate Reading Quest has more, more, more! More authors and more books, means more mystery, more danger, more intrigue and more edge-of-your-seat adventure awaits you! We want you, our readers, to be able to fill that Kindle, tablet or E-reader you got for Christmas, with fabulous reads to take you through 2015. The Quest is so much fun! Who doesn't love searching for treasure? The ULTIMATE READING QUEST is about finding books that are “perfectly” suited to your reading taste by clicking on choices. To thank you for participating, the authors have decided to give away oodles of prizes for free! Enter your name to win Amazon cards and free books from authors! Plus a whole store of treasured books are just waiting to be discovered by you!

Enjoy your journey as you travel through the QUEST! Don't forget to enter the raffle on the first page of the Quest. And please leave comments or questions for the authors of the Quest. We would love to hear from you. What are you waiting for? Click on the buttons above or below to get started on your QUEST for the next ULTIMATE READ! 
Click on the button to start your quest!
My contribution to this event is Beggar Magic, my YA Steampunk Fantasy, available on Amazon.com through the link below. 

Beggar Magic

Integrating the art of story with technology and curriculum to enhance learning for the 21st century. questteaching@gmail.com 
Meet the author and get extras at : www.questteaching.com/wordpress/
Novel available at the following links : https://www.amazon.com/author/sharonskretting
Twitter: @QuestTeaching https://twitter.com/QuestTeaching

Friday, January 2, 2015

Kitty-Ears: Beggar Magic Book Review

Check out this cool Beggar Magic feature on the Kitty-Ears blog!

Kitty-Ears: Beggar Magic Book Review: H. L. Burke sent me a copy of Beggar Magic to review! As I loved her Dragon's Curse series (by the way the f irst book is free on amaz...