What you can do to help my book

This week has been awesome. Release Day and the ensuing live chats were way more fun than I expected them to be.

Lately, I’ve been getting a bunch of “How’re your sales?” And right now, I can only guess. The major retailers give you end-of-month sales reports, so we’ll just have to wait and see. Which brings me to my next subject: reviews.

If you’ve bought my book, thank you. Thank you times 100. If you enjoyed it, even better. Now I need you to do one more thing for me. I need you to write a review. It doesn’t have to be huge or in depth. Just a little snippet about what you thought. Then post it to wherever you purchased SD from. And if you really love me, post them to other places. The most important being Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, and Goodreads. Any or all of these will be a great help in getting other people to check out SD.

Thank you all again for such a wonderful beginning to my writing career! Stay warm!

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‘Twas the Night Before Release Day

So my book, this little story I wrote mostly for me, will be commercially published in two and a half hours.

Wow. Just wow.

So there’s a couple of things I wanted to share with you all before I get wrapped up in promoting and working on the sequel.

First of all, I am so humbled and grateful to all of those who’ve helped me get here. Ryan, Netta, and now Lane and Robyn. You guys rock and it’s rubbed off. Thank you.

Speaking of reasons my publishers are awesome, check out these quotes and images from SD. Still one more that drops at midnight, but I love these so much:

sdlp-mike sdlp-claire sdlp-ben

I know, right?

And lastly, I just got my first review. You can read it here. Not gonna lie, I cried a little. Knowing that someone you’ve never met or spoken to likes your stuff is exciting, humbling, and all the other great feelings in the world.

I am so fortunate for all of this. Thank you all again for being part of it.

The Rundown on Render

So, I finished Render by Stephanie Fleshman in about a day and a half. A ten hour road trip helped considerably. All in all, it was much better than I expected to be, so I decided to post my review early. First the book trailer to get you started, then my review:

Why you’ll love Render

It’s well written. Are you a writer? Editor? Have an English degree? Have you ever put a book down because despite the story, you were constantly pulled out of it due to the misuse of it, it’s, and its? Don’t worry, you’ll be safe in Render. Lately, some of the big blockbuster hits have had… shall we say less than impressive writing? Instead it’s all drama and feelings and action, but not long term satisfying. There are a couple of metaphors I could think of for this, *giggle* but I’m going to use the PG version. A meal of Chinese take out will taste great but everyone knows you’ll be hungry an hour later. With Render, you get a well-rounded steak dinner with a salad and a dessert. You are full, not stuffed sick, and you will definitely visit this restaurant, I mean author, again.

It’s not angsty.Or at least what I would consider “stupid angsty.”

Its not Twilight. It’s not Mortal Instruments. Its not Percy Jackson or Hunger Games. In fact, Render is the most grown up YA novel I have read to date. Thank you Stephanie, really. As much as we of the “mom” age enjoy reading and remembering our teenage years, it’s refreshing to have something that keeps me from rolling my eyes. The difficulties these characters experience are real, important, and feasible. Not only that, these kids, Koldan, Raya, Lucas, and Ethan, think beyond their own selfish wants. They sacrifice for each other, and even for people they don’t know and may never meet. The main crew could just as easily be 25 as 17, and I dig that.

It won’t slow down. I was never bored. I was never saying, “keep it moving!” I never found my eyes skipping down the page, because I knew if I did, I would miss something important.There are so many subplots in Render, you’re always unraveling a mystery. Then Stephanie  switches to a different conundrum and you’re off in another direction. I chased this story the way a cat chases a laser pointer. (Without running into a wall.)

It has history! I’m such a history nerd. As soon as I finished the book I was scouring the web for more about the Russian royal family. Having been fortunate enough to see the Catherine the Great exhibit when it came to the States in… well hell, it was awhile ago. I was little, but I thought it was the coolest thing ever. Have you seen her carriage??

This is but one of many. Ol' Cathy rode in style!

This is but one of many. Ol’ Cathy rode in style!

And the end of the Romanov dynasty with the possibility of missing Prince Alexi and Princess Anastasia? Such a good base for some seriously juicy fiction. I’m so glad Stephanie decided to use it. Now if we could get the Assassin’s Creed franchise on board… I’ll sidebar that for another day.

Why Render may not be the book for you

You want the typical, mainstream YA novel. If you need a moody, brooding, teenage vampire/billionaire/angel/half-angel/werewolf/ghost/zombie/fairy/wizard or any combination of those as a leading man. If you need the worst thing that could happen in the story to be not getting to kiss that guy. If you need the world to revolve around that guy and his love interest. If you are 14, or an adult who thinks Fifty Shades was the best novel ever written. If you want the main female character to rebuff the protectiveness of her male counterpart. If any of these things are what you want in a book, you may be disappointed. The closest you’re going to get in Render is Koldan, and he’s closer to Doogie Howser with an ulcer than anything listed above. Maybe Mikihail in later books, but still, he’s not exactly what you want either.

Don't worry ladies! He's still available... oh, wait!

Don’t worry ladies! He’s still available… oh, wait.

You want strong paranormal elements. No ghosts/vampires/zombies/fae/were-creatures to be found. I was terrified, but that could be from reading Render at the beach, after catching what I thought was a jellyfish, but turned out to be a moon jelly. Oh, and remembering that documentary about those teeny, tiny, evil little box jellyfish, with their nematodes, and how people react to their stings. Yeah, that’s the stuff of nightmares. Give me a vampire and a wooden baseball bat, and I give myself better odds. (Oddly enough, Stephanie mentions the same documentary in her acknowledgements, so I included part of it below. Yeah, she gets it.)

You have to know, right now! Look, we all know that it takes time to craft a sequel, and if its not done right, we’ll all be disappointed. I’m not asking you to wait say, seven years *cough* George R.R. Martin!*cough* or anything. But if you need all the answers at the end of the book, you are so screwed. Render is Lost, but with (thankfully) more answers. I can’t wait to see what happens next, but what I really mean is  I can if it means its done right. That’s a good book to me, but you may be different.

Still wondering what's going on. What happened to the polar bear?

I’m still wondering what’s going on. What happened to the polar bear?

You need the characters to be just like you. While I can relate to some of the more personal or moral feelings the main crew has, there’s always a bit of disconnect. My family wasn’t wealthy, nor was I a child prodigy, so I can’t relate to Lucas or Koldan. We’re certainly not in the billionaire club, so Ethan is out. I never even dated a rich guy like Raya. Strip their world away, which sort of happens on the island, and it’s much easier to feel for them. I just worry that it might happen too late in Render for some readers.

My favorite line

Koldan: “It’s not how I want to remember him. But the picture is more oil than water, and I know it will never fade.” I liked this line so much, it became the first intentional bookmark I’ve ever put on my kindle.

My favorite character

Ethan. I want more Ethan. I have a soft spot for Southern gentlemen, being from the south myself. I love his charm, his easy-going attitude, and the perpetual cigarette he’s always sporting. He can be sweet, without making Raya, thus me, uncomfortable or worried about his intentions. Yeah, give him his own series and love interest someday. I’d read that in a heartbeat.

I'm a die-hard lover of his older brother Chris. Still, the more Liam Hemsworth looks like his brother, the more I feel like a lecherous old woman. If Render makes it to film, here's my nominee!

I’m a die-hard lover of his older brother Chris. Still, Liam Hemsworth makes me feel like a lecherous old woman. If Render makes it to film, this guy is my Ethan.

Thing I want to see in the future

Better classification. I’m still waiting to see the paranormal aspect of Render. Unless something easily identifiable as paranormal shows up, I would lose it. Render is strong enough on its own, without adding anything else.

Raya’s back-story. I’m sure this will be covered in future books, but as she is the most relatable character to the other 99% of our country, I need to know about the normal girl. What the hell do I know about billionaires?

A sequel. Post haste!

Two things bear repeating. Render was way better than I expected. Maybe I’m becoming jaded by the carbon copy YA I’ve been reading lately. Secondly, from the beginning, Render reminded me of Lost, a show I loved. I say loved because eventually, I got tired of questions and needed some answers. Stephanie takes care of us in that aspect. Suggest Render to your YA friends, or at your next book club meeting. You won’t be disappointed.

Now, I’m ending this review before it gets any longer… damn. Oh, wait. Tour notes:
Render Tour BadgeAs part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, Render, the debut YA Paranormal novel by Stephanie Fleshman, is on sale for just 99 cents! What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes.

The prizes include a Kindle Fire, $550 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of the book.

All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment–easy to enter; easy to win!

To win the prizes:

  1. Get Render at its discounted price of 99 cents
  2. Enter the Rafflecopter contest below
  3. Visit the featured social media events
  4. Leave a comment on my blog for a chance at a $100 prize.

About Render: A betrayal born of blood. A curse for a gift. A love worth saving… Seventeen-year-old Raya Whitney thought she knew Koldan–until a sudden turn of events threatens both their lives. Get it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or iTunes.

Stephanie Fleshman graduated with a degree in psychology and has family throughout the United States as well as in Thessaloniki and Athens, Greece. Visit Stephanie on her website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.

Review of Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble by D. Robert Pease

When I asked for books from my Indie author friends to review on my blog, I can’t say that the request was completely altruistic. I wanted new stuff to read. I needed things to blog about, because the journal-keeping inclination was never something I possessed. Considering how much I liked this book, I’m really starting to feel guilty.

The Setup

(From Goodreads) Noah lives for piloting spaceships through time, dodging killer robots and saving Earth’s animals from extinction. Life couldn’t be better. However, the twelve-year-old time traveler soon learns it could be a whole lot worse. His mom is abducted and taken to thirty-first century Mars; his dad becomes stranded in the Ice Age; and Noah is attacked at every turn by a foe bent on destroying a newly habitable, post-apocalyptic Earth.

Traveling through time in the family’s immense spaceship, Noah, a paraplegic from birth, must somehow care for the thousands of animals on board, while finding a way to rescue his parents. Along the way, he discovers his mother and father aren’t who he thought they were, and there is strength inside him he didn’t know he had.

Why You’ll Like It:

You are a Percy Jackson fan. I love me some Percy Jackson. Actually, I like just about any YA that Rick Riordan writes. While Mammoth Trouble isn’t the exact same thing, it has a similar feel. There is something about these guys (Pease and Riordan) that makes them really get the adolescent guy. Well, at least, I think so. I never was one, so I can’t say for sure. But this is how I’ve always imagined them to be.

You like a bit of history added to your books. The Hubs doesn’t, I do. It must have something to do with my minor in college (history). I find the blending of historical fact with fiction in a way that makes it interesting rather than tedious a great thing for any YA book to have. In Mammoth Trouble, much of what you read is in the future, but there are still peeks at the world that was here and there. I hope to see more in the sequels.

You like new interpretations of classic stories. I’m a sucker for these too. Total Once Upon a Time addict on ABC. For me, the reinterpretation of something I know to be “old hat” makes it new all over again for me. Is Noah from Mammoth Trouble told to build a ship by God before the oncoming flood? Of course not. That would be pretty hard to reinvent, wouldn’t it? But you can’t have a series titled Noah Zarc without some similarities either.

You’re a Sci-fi fan. Who doesn’t love some good imaginary tech? The gadgets in this book are amazingly well thought out. What’s even better (maybe because of the YA genre,) is that everything is explained to you in a way that makes sense. It’s not dumbed down, but it’s not described like Hamilton would explain it either. Read the book. You’ll get the Hamilton thing later.

You need books to have a sequel. Nothing drives me more crazy than just one book. If I love your characters, I don’t want a one night stand so to speak. While some books have the probability of a sequel, I’m always disappointed when I feel like I can see the overlapping story arc and it’s not as big as I would have hoped. It’s like knowing the day your milk is going to expire, only exponentially worse. Thankfully, Mr. Pease has left this series open for quite a few more sequels, which makes this reader happy.

Why you may not like it:

YA isn’t your thing. Hey, I understand. I live with that guy. I had to beat him over the head with Order of the Phoenix just to get him to read Harry Potter for cripes sake. And that’s a big book. Look, if you need serious drama cover to cover in all your books, I can’t make you want to read this. This book is for those of us who feel they have enough drama in their lives. This is an escape, where we’re invested in the outcome of the story, without needing to stress ourselves. These are my feelings on not only Mammoth Trouble, but all YA. It’s also why YA is one of my favorite genres.

Time travel makes your brain cramp up. I can get this one. If I go back in time and thump myself in the head, why haven’t I felt it yet? This cyclical argument about time has been addressed in things like 2001: A Space Odyssey to Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. The truth is, since no one has figured it out yet, one answer has as much validity as another. Thankfully, while there are a few spots in Mammoth Trouble where you have to stop and think a few things out, completely grasping the spacetime continuum isn’t required.

Here’s looking forward to the next installment of Noah Zarc. You can click here for purchasing information on Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble. You can also find D. Robert Pease’s Goodreads page here.

As a side note, Mr. Pease: while the title is very clever, I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had to backspace and retype it because of how it sounds in my head.

I shake my fist at you sir.

Now get writing.

Until next time, happy reading, happy writing!

Review of The Darkening Dream by Andy Gavin

So I’m going to be honest. I wanted to read this book because of the author. Andy Gavin created Naughty Dog, which is an AWESOME video game developer. At fifteen. So clearly this guy has some creative talent. I was intrigued to see if this carried over to the written word from the land of 1’s and 0’s. It did, very nicely I might add. So here we go about The Darkening Dream:

The Setup

(From Goodreads) 1913, Salem, Massachusetts – Sarah Engelmann’s life is full of friends, books, and avoiding the pressure to choose a husband, until an ominous vision and the haunting call of an otherworldly trumpet shake her. When she stumbles across a gruesome corpse, she fears that her vision was more of a premonition. And when she sees the murdered boy moving through the crowd at an amusement park, Sarah is thrust into a dark battle she does not understand.
With the help of Alex, an attractive Greek immigrant who knows a startling amount about the undead, Sarah sets out to uncover the truth. Their quest takes them to the factory mills of Salem, on a midnight boat ride to spy on an eerie coastal lair, and back, unexpectedly, to their own homes. What can Alex’s elderly, vampire-hunting grandfather and Sarah’s own rabbi father tell them? And what do Sarah’s continuing visions reveal?
No less than Gabriel’s Trumpet, the tool that will announce the End of Days, is at stake, and the forces that have banded to recover it include a 900 year-old vampire, a trio of disgruntled Egyptian gods, and a demon-loving Puritan minister. At the center of this swirling cast is Sarah, who must fight a millennia-old battle against unspeakable forces, knowing the ultimate prize might be herself.

Why You’ll Like it:

You liked Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I did, and I liked this book too. The dare I say, improvement on the original vampire novel was more action, more twists and turns. I’m sure some of this has to do the time period. Some of the stuff you’ll read in Darkening isn’t up to Victorian standards of etiquette, which I consider a good thing. Also, it’s nice to read a book with the same kind of feel through a third person POV. Dracula’s letters wore on me after a while.

You don’t like your vampires sparkly. Or nice. Or the tortured romantic interest. If you’re looking for another Edward, Angel, or even Eric, he’s not here. What you will find is monsters. Good, old-fashioned, eat you and leave your corpse for the local children to find monsters. This is a horror novel, with vampires. You could get your boyfriend to read it without rolling his eyes.

You’re into Steampunk. Even if the genre is new to you, this book makes it easy. There are some trademark characteristics of Steampunk  here without getting so left field you’re lost. There’s turn of the century ideals and setting, along with some really well crafted paranormal elements.

You’re into Horror novels. This goes back to the “no sparkly vampires” point I made earlier. It also extends past that. The aren’t just vampires. There are demons, warlocks, giant critters, and bug people akin to that thing Keanu Reeves killed on the street in Constantine. As much as I liked this book, it was not something I read right before bed.

You’re tired of competitive romance. I didn’t used to see this very often, but I’m starting to with the Indie authors I’ve been reading lately. I like a good love triangle as much as the next girl. Hell, I even used one in my book, and didn’t do what Andy Gavin and a few others did. In Darkening the two characters going after the same love interest don’t hate each other. They may not always agree, and there’s always going to be a little competition, but I cannot tell you how refreshing it is not to read about a pissing contest or a cat fight. It makes you really like all the characters, not just the winner or the loser of love. Now I have to fix mine.

You are leery of religion in fiction. This might sound like a reason you wouldn’t like it, but it’s not. Probably my absolute favorite thing about this book is the equality given to the “big three” religions. There are bad guys from the different faiths, but what’s made clear is that the individual is not a good person. It has nothing to do with who they worship. If anything, it’s tells you who the bad guys are going to have to face in the end.

Why You May Not Like It:

This is not YA. Yes, the main characters are all in their teens. But that’s about all the similarity you’re going to find. They have all the usual teenage feelings and lust, (and some not so usual,) but Gavin goes into a level of detail that a reader expecting angst and romance is not going to find. This is a dark book for adults. You must be an adult to read this and appreciate it, i.e. not snicker at the sexual aspects. That being said, I also want to mention this is not Laurell K. Hamilton over sexed either. I think it’s just enough.

You don’t do gore. If you can’t watch an action movie for the blood, or don’t like being scared by horror films, this isn’t your book. You want “horror-lite” stick to the YA section with Stephanie Meyer and P.C. Cast. (I’ve enjoyed both of those authors, so there’s no shame in it. Just trying to warn you.)

So there you have it, my thoughts on The Darkening Dream by Andy Gavin. Click here to go to Andy’s Goodreads page. Click here to go to the official Darkening Dream webpage for giveaways, purchasing info, and all sorts of fun and scary stuff.

Until next time, happy reading, happy writing.