pic from Amazon.com

There are rumours going around that the Kindle Fire will be on sale in France from this Tuesday, 27th March. Amazon has apparently been sending out invitations to various publishers about a mystery event on that day. Presently only the Kindle 4 is on sale in France, so it’s about time we had more choice! Kindle Fire has been doing very well abroad, with sales of 4.7 million since its launch on 14 November 2011. It’s a good little machine for $199 for those people who are looking for a colour ereader along the lines of an iPad.

However, sceptics say that the necessary French infrastructure isn’t there yet in the form of adequate MP3 and video content, and a thriving market in apps. They also point out that the Kindle Fire sells at a loss with Amazon recouping its costs through the content sales – which aren’t there at the moment.

Who’s right? Well, we don’t have long to wait. But one thing’s sure – Amazon will be announcing something important in France on Tuesday. I’ll be listening!

I’m delighted to be featuring the very enjoyable Helens of Troy by Janine McCaw today as part of the author’s virtual book tour (with Virtual Book Tour Café).

First up, a quick synopsis. Helens of Troy is a quirky, well written and very original paranormal novel. There are three Helens – daughter Ellie, mum Helen and grandmother Helena. Goth teenager Ellie has a busy first day when she moves to the small town of Troy. She has a row with Helen, meets a hunky boy and then finds a corpse on Helena’s porch.

Helen is also having a tough time. She knows that her daughter is having vision-like dreams, since she’s had them too. But she’s not telling anyone. And also, like her daughter, she’s been attracted to dangerous men.

And there’s Gaspar Bonvillaine to deal with too. He’s a teen vampire and catches Ellie. Should he kill her or keep her with him forever?

To overcome the threats around them, Helen must recognise and use the gifts she has. Helena must learn to be there for her family. And Ellie must make a choice. Is she ready to grow up and become another in the line of the Helens of Troy?

 

I interviewed Janine to find out more about her and her writing.

 1.            What inspired you to write Helens of Troy?

The title came to me first. The original Helen of Troy we all know popped into my head, and I thought…what if there are more of them…and what if they have supernatural powers. Three Helens, living in a town called Troy.

2.            Which character from the book are you most like – Helena, Helen or Ellie? Or Gaspar the vampire?

(Laughing) … I think at some point in my life I have been Helen and Ellie and I’m working my way towards Helena…never a Gaspar. At least not in this life.

3.            Helens of Troy has a great cover. Did you design it yourself?

I had their house in my head, and luckily a friend mentioned that another acquaintance lived in a house that fit what I was looking for. A few emails later and I got the go-ahead to shoot his home, so I grabbed my camera and shot it on a snowy day. My brother Tom Photoshop’ed the third floor and did some artificial landscaping, and voila, the LaRose home came to life. We played with some fonts for the title, and I found the talent on Shutterstock. It was a godsend to find a Goth-Chic with a bear in her arms.

4.            Deep down, would you like to have supernatural powers?

Wadda ya mean would I like? (smile). Yes, of course. But it’s probably just as well that I don’t. From time to time I do have premonitions, and I do believe that I have seen ghosts. But I have no control over any of this. I wouldn’t want to be able to read people’s minds, that would just be too disturbing, but I wouldn’t mind a little super-human physical strength from time to time.

5.            How many more books will there be in the series?

There are at least two more books in the series. Helena thinks she’s having a quiet Thanksgiving dinner alone with her girls, but we know that’s not going to happen. And they’re headed off to England for Christmas to meet Helena’s mother, Elaine.

6.            I love hearing from the characters themselves on the website  http://www.helens-of-troy.com/! Do they get many emails from fans?

Yes. Teenagers chat with Ellie and the rest of the world chats with Helena. Helen is a bit pissed-off about this, but she’s busy looking for a job anyway and doesn’t have a whole lot of time to respond. However, there was one mom who wanted some advice about dealing with a daughter who was going through a Goth phase…

7.            Another book you’ve written is Olivia’s Mine. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Olivia’s Mine is based on a true story. In the early 1920’s, there were a series of disasters in the tiny mining community of Britannia Beach, BC. There were fires, and floods and the flu epidemic, but one night, the side of the mountain came down, killing hundreds as the town washed out into the sea. I spun a story around those events, and I’m quite pleased that the BC Museum of Mining carries the book in its gift shop.

8.            Which authors or books are you reading at the moment?

I have to confess that I am a big fan of Janet Evanovitch’s Stephanie Plum series. I also recently read Liisa Ladoucer’s “Encyclopedia Gothica”, partly as research for the next instalment of the Helens. I also like biographies.

9.            How has your background in film and television influenced your writing?

I write the dialogue first. That part of my writing comes from writing scripts. The narrative is harder for me, because of course, in scripts, it’s rather simple. Helena’s bedroom. Day. In my opinion, the dialogue in “Supernatural” is some of the best on TV, and I strived for that type of talk back and forth between the characters.

10.          When did you first realise you wanted to be an author, indie or otherwise?

When I was ten and reading Nancy Drew. I started my own mystery series with a little dime-store notebook. It lasted one book. I wasn’t big on follow-through when I was ten.

 11.         What one snippet of advice would you give to aspiring self-published authors?

Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. Someone said to me, “What makes you think you can write a book?” And I said “What makes you think I can’t?” If you want to do it, do it. The sense of accomplishment is amazing.

12.          What’s the best thing and the worst thing about self-publishing, in your experience?

The best thing is you get the job done. It doesn’t cost an arm and a leg like it used to. The worst part is getting the word out. Not that I think authors that go the traditional route have any easier of a time with publicity. There is no right or wrong way to do it anymore. The work will stand on its own feet. Know your audience and target them. Give them a good story and hope they come back for more.

13.        Enough of the serious questions. What are your three favourite foods?

1. Spaghetti. I can wolf down a bucket of it in one sitting. 2. Fresh Florida cantaloupe. I can smell it a mile away.  3. Celery. Go figure.

14.          What do you like to do for fun?

I like to grab my camera and head out and see where the day takes me. Luckily my husband is a big planner, and I get to just go along for the ride. I have a permanently packed get-away bag, so we can be spontaneous. A couple of years ago we rented an RV and drove to Alaska. It was the trip of a lifetime.

 

Thanks Janine! Do treat  yourself to this fabulous book. You can get it from Smashwords here and from Amazon here. It’s very reasonably priced at $2.99 and you’ll definitely enjoy it.

I’ve blogged about Gary Vanucci before, and featured a guest post from him.

Time to mention his two newest books, both in the Wothlondia Rising series – Distant Familiarity, and Rose in Bloom, both of which have stunning covers drawn by William Kenney.

Distant Familiarity is the first in a series of new novellas by this very talented science fiction author. The realm of Wothlondia is a fascinating one, with distinctive landscapes and a rich variety of inhabitants, including dwarves, elves, barbarians, ogres and zombies.

This story introduces us to the three friends Tiyarnon the High Priest, Rolin Hardbeard the dwarf and half-elf Nimaira Silvershade. It’s a touching account of their relationship as they unite to face an old and dangerous enemy who may possibly be too powerful for them to defeat. Can he control their wills and turn them against each other? Or do they know and trust each other well enough to overcome Cyrza’s challenge?

Gary Vanucci creates excitement and tension in this story through the cleverly constructed, fast-moving plot and his inspired use of language which ranges from the brutal to the beautiful.

 

Now, you want a feisty heroine? Well, you’ve got one in Rose Thorne in Rose in Bloom. A troubled, abusive childhood has not cowed this young woman and she’s full of life and mischief as she starts her career at a bordello in Oakhaven in Wothlandia. This fantasy world, created by the ever-imaginative Gary Vanucci, has its seedier side, which Rose steers in and out of.

Rose is a little light-fingered, and it’s this that brings her to the attention of Ganthrope, an ambitious and quickly rising town digniatary, who keeps an eye on the criminal element of Oakhaven. But there’s more to him than meets the eye, and he has a proposition for Rose, his favourite redhead. A mutually advantageous relationship develops between the two of them.

However, there’s even more to Rose than Ganthorpe imagines. He may think he has her in his grasp, but you can never hold a rose too tightly because of its thorns! We’ll be hearing more about this wonderful character …

Just a quickie today to announce that Katie’s Cake is now in its seventh edition. I got my two free copies through the post today.

An edition is officially “the whole number of copies printed at any time or times from substantially the same setting of type-pages”. This definition arose in the 1940s. However, publishers use the term rather more loosely these days. In my case, it’s actually ‘print runs’ rather than ‘editions’ because no changes have ever been made to the text. Really it’s still the first edition.

There are other confusing terms too, such as revised editions, corrected versions, republishings – so the whole thing is rather muddled. And ebooks and print on demand aren’t helping. It’s now possible to make every corrections or changes between one copy of a book and the next using those technologies. Is each one therefore an edition, or a print run?

This is something I shall definitely return to again, but I need to do some mugging up first, because I’m starting to get confused by it all too!

Not long ago I featured a guest post byPeter Ubtrent, a science fiction writer I admire very much. I’ve now read two more of his books and wanted to share my reviews of them with you.

First up, Seed of Power, which is the second book in the Dark Pilgrim series.Ailanthus, Tethys and their rather unlikely band of friends, having escaped from the horrific penal colony of K’ar Krack’a, begin to attempt to build new lives. But the world they find themselves in isn’t really much different, full of criminals and liars all trying to steal credits and simply survive. There is conflict and tension everywhere – between The Church of the Blessed Prophets and the struggling Imperium, between some of the various alien species, and within the Imperium itself. Too many people are after personal power or revenge. Rohini becomes a key figure in keeping the Imperium’s collapse at bay since the new Emperor is neither popular nor diplomatic. And he needs Ailanthus’ help.

The dystopian view of humanity so evident in Dark Pilgrim Rising continues in this novel, so when loyalty, courage and honesty do appear, they shine like beacons. Familiar characters are further developed and new ones introduced. Unresolved issues and hints that surfaced in the previous book are dealt with, but new ones emerge to intrigue us. Themes and subplots weave through the story, carrying us towards the exciting conclusion that leaves us wanting to continue following this imaginative and epic science fiction adventure. This talented author plunges the reader into a rich, persuasive and fascinating alternate universe. He packs more into a page in terms of linguistic ability and sheer entertainment than many authors do in an entire book.

Next comes Dark Throne. This is the third book in the absorbing Dark Pilgrim series. “I am Bhasan Volans, son of Deneb Aquila Volans, and I am the Emperor of the Imperium,” announces Ailanthus during a meeting with the Druzsni leadership. He’s only pretending at the time. Whether he is or isn’t, and whether he can or cannot bring himself to be assume this role, is the uniting theme of this book, set in a very disunited galaxy. Ailanthus feels nothing but antipathy towards the Imperium. Can he really be expected to lead it? Can he bring peace to the huge diversity of co-existing lifeforms that include humans, Kroor, Dwad Mehstiv, Ynos, Morype Slugs, H’Chalk and Druzsni. If that’s not enough, the Lord Cardinals of The Church of the Blessed Prophet continue to scheme and complicate matters in their attempts to retain control of both the Church and the Imperium. Can Ailanthus control them?

If it’s possible, I feel this book is even more neatly structured than its predecessors. It open and closes with references to the Ynos, threatened at first but posing a threat themselves at the end. There is betrayal throughout, in small and big gestures. Not only does Ailanthus face it, but he knows he will perpetrate it himself if he is to unite the warring galaxy. In the prologue we see Marines spilling out of their ship “like a virus”. Another virus runs rampant both through the galaxy and the book. The epilogue closes with the observation that humans are chaotic, but this meticulously organised and tightly constructed novel suggests the exact opposite, at least from this human author!

Do check out Peter’s website at www.ubtrentbooks.com. And I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but his book covers are brilliant.

Peter will be appearing on the Author Show on 22nd March. Listen out for the interview.

 

This is my first go in a blog hop so I hope I’ve done everything properly.  Because of my Irish connections – fifteen years living in the Emerald Isle and two children born there – I thought I’d better join in.

Tomorrow is Ireland’s big day. There will be parades in every town, and anyone who gave up alcohol for Lent will be officially let off for a day. It’s a public holiday and generally a lot of fun. And most likely it will be pouring with rain. I can remember one sunny St Patrick’s Day, but that’s it!

Irish publishing won’t be celebrating that much though. It’s struggling at the moment, suffering its worst eight weeks for a long time at the beginning of 2012. The full article is here.

Non-fiction performed worst, falling 18.4% from comparative sales for 2011, and children’s books fell by 17.5%. Not good news for someone like me with kids’ books with an Irish publisher.

I wonder if some of the problem is that Irish publishers haven’t been doing too well with ebooks. Some presses are beginning to produce them, but generally they tend to be expensive. Readers want low prices for ebooks. Tirgearr Publishing has just launched itself as an ebook only publishing press with sensible prices. I bought a copy of The Trouble with French Kisses, one of their first books, to support them, but was a little disappointed with it, sadly. The editing wasn’t very impressive with a fair sprinkling of typos and the French wasn’t always correct. We had the heroine’s boyfriend calling her ‘mon petit’ occasionally – that’s horrendous! Anyway, let’s hope other books from the press are better presented and avoid these avoidable silly issues that good editing would sort out. (I have to say that since I’m a good editor!)

If you’d like a free copy of my children’s ebook Oh Auntie, which is the most Irish of my kids’ works I think, and therefore the best to be given away for St Patrick’s Day, then leave a comment below. I’ll send you a coupon code to use on Smashwords.

Happy St Patrick’s Day!

To find more blogs in the hop, go here.
Final link

http://carrieannryan.blogspot.com/

Today I’m delighted to be hosting the virtual book tour for Lola James’s Bound to Remember, a paranormal romance and mystery. It’s a modern, fast paced book with interesting  characters and plenty of twists and turns along the way.

Toni is a young doctor, with a deadly reason for forgetting her past. Ben, Nurse Hero, who has a tragic past, is forced from the secluded life he yearns into the public eye. When the two meet, Ben sees a strong resemblance in Toni to an old friend, while Toni can’t resist  Ben.

Kevin, Toni’s jealous ex, gets mixed up in events, and so do various friends and witches. Yes, I said witches! A quick magic spell looks like it might be the solution to a dangerous situation, but there’s a lot more action to come, especially when Hades makes an appearance …

The ending is totally unexpected – and brilliant.

I asked Lola some questions about her book and writing … and shoes!

1. What inspired you to write Bound to Remember?

I wanted a story that included the elements of vampire’s, witches, and the Greek Myths. I love all three and I thought a book like this should have a story.

2. Which character from the book are you most like – Toni, Dawn, Ben, Annie?

I would have to say Dawn. I am not from the south like she is, nor do I have blue eyes or blonde hair, but Dawn is a true friend and a matchmaker which I believe I am as well. =)

3. How has your love of Greek mythology influenced your writing?

I fell for the Greek gods in high school, I mean who wouldn’t, but I am just fascinated by how they can control everything from emotions to elements. I don’t read many paranormal romances with Greek gods in them so I took my chances and wrote the untold story!

4. Bound to Remember has a great cover. Did you design it yourself?

I wish I were that talented. I just picked it from an eBook cover site at random. I only asked that the color of the cover girls eyes be changed to compliment my character Toni.

5. Deep down, would you like to be a vampire? Or a witch?

Haha! I love witches BUT I would love to be a vampire, they are just so cool to me!

6. How many books will there be in the series? Please say ‘lots’!

Ok, lots… lol… I had originally thought of making this series a trilogy (because trilogies are awesome) but some other plans came up when I finished Unbound the book two in the series. So yes, lots!

7. Another book you’ve written is Fate’s Design. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Yes, Megan has very strange and realistic dreams and some come true. Well she and her twin sister embark on a trip to Italy but it’s not fun, wine and relaxation like the one they had hoped. It is a paranormal romance so it gets juicy!

8. Which authors or books are you reading at the moment?

I am late of the Fever series boat but I just fell in love with that series by Karen Moning and I am patiently waiting for the next book in the Sookie Stackhouse Series (you know True Blood).

9. I love how you’ve created blogs for the characters in your books! (http://spellboundseries.blogspot.com/ and http://thefateseries.blogspot.com) But how do you find the time to write all these blogs (including your own) as well as books and maintain a Facebook page on top of everything else in your life? Where do you get your energy from?

Thanks you! They are very fun because you learn a little about the characters personally.

I have a special relationship with coffee and he keeps me wired! Lol Seriously, I wake up between 4 a.m., 6 a.m. (just depends on the morning), and I try to post and schedule all of my blog post for the week on Monday morning. Facebook, I never really log off it (code word addict). I try to interact and connect with my fans or the fans of my book rather, so it’s worth it!

10. When did you first realize you wanted to be an author, indie or otherwise?

I was young when I decided to write a book but it didn’t become real until I bought my eReader and I discover the Indie route of publishing.

11. What one snippet of advice would you give to aspiring self-published authors?

This will sound cheesy but it’s true… Just do it! Never let anyone talk you out of your dream. Get a great writing group/partner and let the words flow.

12. What’s the best thing and the worst thing about self-publishing, in your experience?

Having to do it all would be the hardest I wouldn’t say worst, and I mean everything from marketing, publishing, to PR, but on the flip-side I love having my creative control with my books and characters.

13. OK, enough of the serious stuff. What are your three favorite foods?

Thai food, I could eat it every day! I went through a period when gelato was my favorite but the extra pounds quickly helped me get over that.

14. And finally, please describe your dream pair of shoes!

A tall heel about four or five inches, strappy, and hot pink! Oh, and it wouldn’t hurt if they were Christian Louboutin!

 

Do buy this great book from a really lovely author.

 

 

Navy Seal Mitch Downing is hit by enemy fire in Iran in 2014. But he survives, and realises there was a reason that he lived. Move on six years and he’s discovered how to invisibly access all human knowledge via inSyte, and also look into people’s hearts and minds.

It may sound the perfect piece of technology, but in Syte it has its dark side that Mitch has to fight. It also reveals to him that his lover Kate’s father is an evil man, who talks about family and Christian values but covets money and power. He’ll stop at nothing to get it. He’s already introduced Chesler, a dark evil presence, into the equation. Although he’s the bad guy, he’s interesting and we see into what makes him act the way he does – the personal idea of justice that he has and that motivates him.

It takes a little while to get into the story since the necessary background has to be covered, but once it gets going, like the technology it’s based on, it’s unstoppable. It’s an exciting, unpredictable book. There’s a lot of violence, but it fits into the scheme of the world that’s depicted. It’s a modern but harsh one. The technology described is feasible. We’re all very familiar with computers, social media, smartphones and so on these days, it doesn’t actually seem that big a deal for it to move on to an inSyte sort of level.  As Kiser said in an interview:

I was in a business meeting in 1999 and the customer asked me some questions and they weren’t quite important enough for me to fire up my laptop (which took about 5 min in those days) so I said I’d get back to him. It struck me that it would be nice to have access to the info on that laptop unbeknownst to the customer. That would be sort of cool, make me seem pretty smart.

As time went on, I realized that’s really inevitable with the internet. There are glasses you can buy today – so called visual headgear – that let you watch content on your ipod. Maybe while you’re on a plane.  Obviously you can also view info on your smart phone. Let’s say voice recognition software improves and the glasses get smaller. Say the glasses become contact lenses. You get the picture. It’s just a matter of time before you can get online anytime, all the time, and you’re doing searches based on a question asked of you. Or just by thinking about something. So you would search the net the way you search your memory. That’s the high concept and from there I developed the conflict to make the book (hopefully) interesting.

If you want an unput-downable read that will make you think (as well as avoid people matching Chesler’s description for the rest of your life!) then I urge you to read this sensibly priced, extremely entertaining and provoking novel.

Here’s where to buy the book:

Paperback at Amazon.com

Kindle version at Amazon.com

Smashwords – all ebook formats available

 

Giveaway

Please leave a comment if you would like the chance to win an electronic version of inSyte.

I’ve just discovered a real gem of an article by the CEO of Goodreads regarding the best way to get your book ‘discovered’.

In a nutshell, here are the best ways to get your book noticed:

  • Word of mouth works. 79% of Goodreads members report discovering books from friends offline, and 64% find books from their Goodreads friends. And simply finding out that someone is reading a certain book is enough to get another person interested.
  • Pre-launch buzz. You can’t start too early. Giveaways on Goodreads pre publication are a good way to get early reviews up and start people talking about your book.
  • Build a tribe by building relationships with your books. An astounding 96% of readers say they’ll read another book by an author they like. There’s the vague remark that ‘very few’ people read books they hear about on Facebook or Twitter, but I suspect that’s a tiny bit partisan! I for one find an awful lot of books through Twitter in particular, so by  no means discount that as a way to get known about.
  • Video chats are an effective way to reach a large audience.
  • The main ways people discover new books on Goodreads are: search; registration; recommendation engine; friends’ updates; genre browsing; author and series; lists; mobile; giveaways, and other.

Read the full article here. Plenty to think about there. I know I shall be acting on Otis’s advice, and very soon!

 

 

 

After a lot of umming and ahhing, I’ve decided to go with epublishing for Heads Above Water. And more specifically, with Kindle only to start with. I shall try out the Kindle Select program, whereby if you make your book exclusive to Amazon for 90 days, it’s offered free to premium subscribers as part of the lending library and you will get a share of the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library fund. Other customers buy it at the price you set, so there’s the possibility of two streams of income. Now, I haven’t done too brilliantly on Kindle up to now, but then I’ve only published a few non-illustrated children’s books and Best of Blog in France directly to it. They’re also available on Smashwords. Best of Blog in France is free on Smashwords, and hence on Barnes and Noble to which Smashwords distributes. I did this on purpose because Amazon supposedly always match the price, or lack of, on B&N, at least for a while. However, despite sending emails telling  Amazon about the free version of BoBiF, it was never made free for Kindle and that would have got me a lot of downloads and a lot of publicity.

But I’ll give Select a go and we’ll see what happens. I’m launching the book on 17th April, 37 days from now, and my daughter’s 18th birthday. That’s an auspicious day if ever there was one! I shall be organising a virtual book tour and doing some more promotional activities. I’ll keep you posted.