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Friday, October 30, 2015

Scary (or maybe not so scary) Indie Reads!

Let's Tell SPOOKY  Stories!!!

You know me, always prowling around the halls of Amazon, looking for amazing Indie Reads for you! For today I'm making a Halloween themed collection. Some are paranormal, some light horror, and some just a little bit funny! 
I've provided Amazon purchase links, but keep in mind, if a promotional price is mentioned, these are often limited time offers, so double check that the price is still active before you download. All right, that out of the way, here we go!

When children start disappearing from the country's oldest and largest Halloween festival, half-Fae Robin recognizes a crime out of time. Also includes the first Robin Archer tale, the Pushcart Prize-nominated "And Only the Eyes of Children."

(currently 99 cents)

What's drawn Lili to Burial Hill? And what lurks in the shadows there? Could it be her Destiny to find out?

The next one is on a blog, not Amazon, and it is FREE. Just click HERE to read.

In this free flash fiction, Mick is stuck in LA traffic, wishing he were anywhere but in his car, when he notices that there is a rag sticking out of the car in front of him. When the rag starts to fill with a red liquid that looks like blood, Mick suddenly has to decide whether to get involved.

This free short story is more funny than frightening, but with a definite Halloween theme. How will Baby Claire get Momma to understand there is ONLY one costume epic enough for Claire?

These two shorts are free at the time of posting (please double check prices before downloading).

Ringo The Ghost Cat: A Short Story (The Adventures of Ringo the Ghost Cat Book 1)

 "My name is Ringo and before we start, let's get one thing straight. I'm a ghost, not a zombie. Zombies are only half-dead and I never do anything half-way." Join Ringo as this cool cat journeys from Ghost Cat to Guardian Angel.

A young adult, supernatural thriller the "Scifi and Scary" book blog calls "...the best YA Horror book I have read in ages."

Elise wants nothing more than to be a healer and erase the stain her grandmother's witchcraft left on her family, but when a wolf terrorizes her village, she'll have to choose between the safe life that will pacify her neighbors, and the life that will keep her loved ones safe.

A lich who raises magic bees swears to heal a girl infected with a vampire bite--but it may kill them both.

A werewolf who transforms when he uses magic is released from exile to solve the murder of his girlfriend ... The trouble is, the murder hasn't happened yet.

 In a world where monsters exist, it's not easy figuring out who you can trust.

Three sparky little stories for Hallowe'en - not spooky, just fun. 

Every night to help sleep tight, Mackensie reads a book. Read along with Mackensie as he says good night to ghosts and zombies, werewolves and bats, aliens, robots, mutants, and black cats. . .creatures of fiction, folktales, and lore – dragons, big foot, movie monsters, & more. 

“What’s a zombie?” Hmmm. Now, how do I explain zombies to a little kid without giving them nightmares? My Pet Zombie is the answer - written and illustrated specifically to introduce the concept of zombies to curious children without scaring them to death. 

A step-by-step guide to making your own paranormal art for your haunted house or your home sweet home. The detailed and illustrated instructions in the book are all you need to create your own creepy pictures with eyes that follow you.

Dandelion on Fire (Greene Island Mystery Book 1)

Teens with supernatural abilities try to solve a mystery that leads straight back into Greene Island's dark past and the dreaded Curse of Viola.

Oh, and I also have a Giveaway running so be sure to check out that!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Coming Soon: Virtual Fantasy Con

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

An Ordinary Knight GIVEAWAY!

An Ordinary Knight is almost here. You can preorder it now for the special price of 99 cents (going up to $2.99 after release) through the link below. If you'd rather win a copy, though, use the rafflecopter.

An Ordinary Knight: A Fairy Cursed Fable

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Review: The Enchanted Castle (Shioni of Sheba Book 1)

The Enchanted Castle

By Marc Secchia

A king bent on conquest. 
A murderous warrior tribe. 
And the slave-girl who dares to stand between them! 

When Shioni, slave to the Princess of Sheba, travels to the legendary Simien Mountains of Ethiopia, she encounters adventure beyond her wildest dreams. Little does she imagine the powerful forces lurking in this jagged volcanic wilderness; forces that could tear the Kingdom of Sheba apart. 

Kalcha, the Wasabi leader, has prepared a deadly trap, an evil sorcery rooted within the castle the King has chosen for his fortress. Kalcha is massing her warriors and her giant hyenas, intent on annihilating the Sheban forces. 

As the Wasabi attack it is left to Shioni to show the way with courage and the conviction of her heart. Can she overcome the wrath of a lion, outwit the treacherous Captain Dabir, and defuse General Getu’s inexplicable hatred? With the help of her friends Mama Nomuula, Princess Annakiya, and the fiuri Azurelle, Shioni must uncover the hidden secrets of the Enchanted Castle before Kalcha destroys all she holds dear. 

Shioni of Sheba: The Enchanted Castle is the first book in a unique African fantasy series set in the ancient Kingdom of Sheba, for middle grades/secondary age readers. Experience the myth and magic of ancient Sheba in this truly African adventure. Includes original illustrations by the Ethiopian artist Senait Worku.

Click Below to Purchase on Amazon

My Review

I really appreciated having a fantasy set in an authentic and different world. The book has a young, capable heroine and begs you to keep reading. Some violence and peril, while handled tactfully, probably make this a 12+ read, also because of some hard to stomach bullying scenes that while compelling might be difficult for younger, sensitive readers.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

There are mile stones in the writing process. One of which is putting "the end" on a first draft. This doesn't automatically make the book ready for consumption, quite the opposite, but it is an important step ... next steps? Beta readers. Then edits. Then some critique partners. Then more edits. Then a final proof ...
However, it is important to stop and acknowledge a completed step, so here I am, announcing that I just finished the first draft of Elemental Realms: Book Two--Call of the Waters is finished. I'm hoping to have this available in early 2016, depending on how the editing process goes.

If you want to read the first book in the meantime, you can pick it up on Amazon through the link below.

Lands of Ash (Elemental Realms Book 1)

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Cover Reveal and Pre-Order: An Ordinary Knight

An Ordinary Knight

Now available for pre-order, a new Tween Fairy Tale in the spirit of Ella Enchanted and The Goose Girl. Click below to pre-order on Amazon.

A Note From Author H. L. Burke

Debuting on November 9th, An Ordinary Knight will be on a special pre-order price of 99 cents! 
This piece is very near to my heart as an author. This is actually one of my older stories, written well before my currently published books. As a new adult struggling with loneliness, I asked myself, "Well, what is the love story I really want to have?" and from that desire sprang a story of a knight who isn't flashy, isn't particularly "charming," but who has the qualities I so desperately wanted in a life partner: loyalty, honor, kindness. Because while super-human characters are fun to imagine, what really makes a character extraordinary are often the very ordinary things.
I was lucky enough to find my one true love shortly after writing this piece. We're coming up on our 9th anniversary this year, and my Marine is every inch the Knight I was looking for. 

I've now polished up this dream of a perfect knight to share with my readers, and I'm so excited to share it with you.

A Fairy Cursed Fable

The Knight and the Fugitive Princess/Knight Less-Charming/Charming Quest: Fairy Cursed Fables book One (still up in the air about that title)...
Stuck in a humiliating position as the Royal Kennel Guard, Sir Percy sees little hope for anything other than an obscure fate. After all, in the Kingdom of Ithelia, you need a fairy to guide you to greatness, and fairies just don't bother with knights like him.
However, when Percy catches the eyes of the sheltered Princess Matilda, his world expands in new and frightening ways. 
A victim of an ill-planned Christening, Matty has spent her life in a locked tower, hiding from pixie attacks. Now she'll do anything to escape. And if that means dragging Percy along for a cross country search for Prince Charming, so be it.
But not all Prince Charmings are what they seem, and as Matty's plight grows more desperate, Percy finds himself losing his heart. Does a lowly knight have what it takes to uncurse a princess?

Connect with author H. L. Burke and follow her monthly newsletter on her website.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Art and Money: How Do You Judge Success?

Writing for Money

If you ask any group of writers about finances, you'll get all sorts of discouraging information about what the "average" writer makes. You'll also get some good information about how you can, usually by self-publishing and a lot of work, make a living off of it, but it's never an overnight thing. . .

And generally someone midway pops in with, "If you're doing it for the money, just get out now. There are much better, easier ways to make money. Writers need to be in it for the art!"

In someways it is true. There are literally thousands of careers that are guaranteed to get you more money than you'll probably ever see from writing. The few writers that are able to buy their own castles and whatnot are the exceptions, not the rules, and there are far more writers who slave over potentially awesome books but never see a dime, no matter how much passion and talent they have, just because they can't get their book in front of the right agent/publisher. I wouldn't encourage anyone to be a writer as a get rich quick scheme. I wouldn't encourage anyone to quit their job and start writing expecting to be able to pay off all their bills with one book on Amazon. 

However, there is nothing wrong with wanting to get paid, and if you are putting time (and in the case of self-publishing, money) into something, you want to see an eventual return on your investment. That's not greedy. It's just common sense. 

I don't think most writers mean to discourage people with the "don't do it for the money" and "don't expect a big pay off" mantras. It's more about  managing expectations, because if you go into this with an idea that sales will be validation for your writing being "good" or that if you don't make a living off one book it's because you failed, you're going to get discouraged and wash out pretty quickly. The percentage of authors who see overnight success or even over several years success is very small. It's a long hard path. I'm about a year and a half in. I'm happy with my income, but I couldn't live off of it. If it weren't for my husband's income/health insurance/etc, I'd have to be working a "real" job as well as my writing . . .
In fairness, I was exclusively a stay-at-home-mom prior to trying this writing thing and my hours put into writing are still "part time" around toddler wrangling and mom stuff. Other than an hour in the morning where I check email and schedule promo posts, I don't actually start writing until 3pm when my  younger daughter takes her nap and then I only have until 5pm when she wakes up and I have to make dinner . . . and then a few hours after both girls go to bed at night. . .so I'm putting in part time hours and making part time money. That's fair to me. 
But anyway, the point to this ramble: 
I still run into people who think money and fame is how you measure success in this business. And why wouldn't they? The authors in the news have these things and these are the authors they see the most. 
I remember trying to explain my income as a self-pubber to a person in a writers' group (at the time it was $200-400 a month. . .it's now steadily over $500 a month and once as high as $1000 but dang the ups and downs give me a headache.). He said he wanted to keep trying for trade pub because he hoped his book was worth a "six figure payout." I'm like, okay, you try that. Good luck. 
I've had other aspiring writers say things like "sales are what counts. You can't judge art, but you can quantify sales." 
The problem with that attitude is even with a good book, even a great book (artfully speaking, well written, well crafted, well plotted) on average you aren't going to sell that many books, and if that's the only way you have to measure success you're going to assume you're a big fat failure. 
I went into this from the opposite end. I consider myself an optimist, but my value system is really oddly skewed, and I really only wanted some people to read my books. I initially wanted to put my first book out for free, but I wanted it available on Amazon for convenience, so I went with 99 cents. . . and so for me, this IS success. If anyone tries to tell me otherwise, I'm kind of rolling my eyes at them in my head. 
I feel like the craft fair vendor who is making her little knit hats and mittens with love and enjoying a modest profit and the looks on her buyer's faces when their heads and hands are warm and someone comes up and says, "You know if you invested in machinery or took production to  China, you could probably turn this into a real business." 
That isn't the point here. 
My points are my promises to myself when I got into this.
A. I'm going to write things I'm proud of and would personally enjoy reading and find other people who will like them.
B. I'm not going to go into debt doing this. I'm setting budgets for what I can spend on things like advertising and production, and I won't dip into my family's limited funds to keep this afloat. If it starts to go consistently in the red, I'll back up. 
C. I'm going to keep working and invest the time and money I get out of it back into it and just keep pushing it bigger and better but I'm going to do it MY WAY.
So for me, self-pubbing was really the only option. 
So if you want to be a writer, my advice is that you have to find your value in it. Do you want accolades? Do you want to reach a specific group with a specific message? What is the most important thing about this for you? What would you consider success? 
Once you know the answers to those questions, it is a lot easier to chart your path. And yeah, with hard work and consistent writing, there is a financial reward. Just don't get discouraged if it isn't immediate.

Oh, and Dragon's Rival will be free from the 19th through the 23rd. Dragon's Rival (The Dragon and the Scholar Book 3)

Thursday, October 15, 2015

New Release: The Baby and the Bad Day

The Baby & The Bad Day

Claire is a wise cracking toddler who can handle anything the world throws at her. However, when a seemingly innocuous occurrence leaves her Momma in tears, Claire is stumped. Momma must be consoled, but how?

Purchase through the link below: (and I will be putting this up for free often. The first free dates will be the 16th and 17th of October)

The Baby and the Bad Day: A Very Short Story

This is my third short story in the "Claire" series, short stories inspired by my younger daughter's antics.
Earlier titles are The Baby and the Bacon and The Baby and the Batman ...
I put these books up for free whenever possible. I've managed to get Amazon to price match The Baby and the Batman to be perma-free (though this may change at any time, so grab your copy soon!) and the other two stories are free via Kindle Unlimited.
I love writing these stories. They're a fun way to look inside my toddler's head and pretend I know what she's thinking. All toddlers are really evil geniuses, aren't they?
Anyway, I hope you get to pick up a copy of one or more of my Claire stories. If you do, consider leaving a review!

The Baby and the Batman: a very short story