Monday, December 19, 2016

Why do a Giveaway? +Revolt Giveaway!

Hey there kiddies! I know I already did a little bit of a post on giveaways, but didn't include much info... before we dive into the topic, check this shiz out:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Revolt by J.D. Harpley


by J.D. Harpley

Giveaway ends January 05, 2017.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway
10 copies up for grabs, 16 days to enter and share... Get it!

Why are giveaways important for indie/small pubs, you wonder? Because we don't have the power of a huge publisher, with a massive network of subscribers and reader, we have to spread the word by giving the words away for free! I suppose "have to" is strong, but it's a good idea.
I like to run Goodreads giveaways because they're very simple, and nearly always the giveaway winner will write a review once they finish the book. That's pretty rare.
What are the main points, then!

Spread the Word About a New Release

Giveaways are a great way to get the public aware of an upcoming release. Doing a giveaway before the book launches is also an awesome incentive for the readers who like to have "seen it first" or "post the first review". Hipsters...
Using a platform like Goodreads will allow readers to happen across your giveaway without actively seeking it out, unlike Rafflecopter and many others where there's no "central giveaway depot" people can hang out in and browse.
P.S. You can use Rafflecopter for free, but the free version blows a goat. If you're little, start with Goodreads =)

Increase Visibility of an Older Title or a Series

Giveaways don't have to be for new titles. If you've got an older book out there that you:
  • Just revamped (I'm in the process of doing that for all my works now!), or 
  • You're just looking for more reviews, or 
  • It's the first book in a series and you want to get people into it and buying the rest,
Then this is for you!

What Giveaways Can't Do/Other Cons

Unfortunately, there are a few drawbacks to giveaways.
  • Readers aren't required to leave a review
  • You won't get bumped in the charts on Amazon/Apple iBooks/etc
  • Cost is all up front and all on you
  • The Post Office sucks

For small-time authors, the rewards far outweigh the cons, and for larger authors, the cost isn't a huge deal to them and it just increases their fan following. Overall, it's worth it. It also feels pretty good to know 500+ people want to read your book ^_^

That's all for now kids. Stay safe in these crazy times, and don't forget to Revolt =P
Peace out!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Tunes - The Auditory Stimulus You've Been Missing

Hey there kiddies! Are you visual writers? 'Cause I totally am. What better to bring an epic movie scene in your head to life than the power of some sick beats, chill ambiance, or a death metal screamfest?
As I write this I'm listening to some pretty chill stuff, but in honesty, I spend most of my time listening to heavy metal, rock, and electronica to write. I feel it helps inspire action scenes, which I'm writing a lot more of recently.
I almost feel as though this is a "duh" post... I mean, if it is, just tap out now, I'm not going to blame you.

So, I've been writing Revolt:
If you can't tell from the cover, it's a bit of cyberpunk, even a bit of adventure, and a whole lot of action. My super slick (and slightly crazy) heroine, Hopper, needs a lot of inspiration to bring to life.
For Revolt I listened to a lot of Celldweller (ok, I won't lie, I always listen to a lot of Celldweller/Scandroid/Circle of Dust), Bring Me The Horizon (Doomed especially, love that song right now), Starset (because space!), and then copious amounts of trance/techno from various artists (my current favs being Seven Lions, Tiesto never leaves the list, and DJ CHEFF ^_^)

I need to get back in the headspace of writing Earth's Peril, because the next book on the list to tackle is Eli's Revenge (tentatively named, I'm really not sure if I'll follow Eli or not. His story on Earth is a bit boring... lots of walking and survival stuff, Vendum telling him how much longer it's going to take and what the other robots around the world are doing etcetc... HOWEVER, Bedelcast's story is interesting as fuck.) That was a long sidetrack. Alright, so I'm a little tipsy... sue me. How I'm going to get back in the headspace of writing the EP series will of course be to read the first book, and then jam out to the same stuff I did when writing it, lots of epic alien and space movies too.

Back to the Duh part of this post from an even longer sidetrack.

1. Identify the mood of your writing

It's important to know what kind of feeling you want your readers to be experiencing when they're consuming your media, because then you can correctly select the tunes to stimulate that atmosphere! Writing a laid back, slow love scene? Probably going to want some Sneaker Pimps. Needing a main character who is about to defy a regime, likely want something mainstream and easy to digest like Five Finger Death Punch. About to go into an epic, final boss type battle; bust out the Apocalytpica.

2. Verify that your mood matches the music, matches the scene you're writing

If one of these components are not like the other, the scene's likely to come out a little janky. Which is fine, I guess. You can always edit later. But I honestly feel if you're not in the headspace to write a certain thing, you should not do it. Lots of author promote the "power through" mentality, which works... but you'll end up wanting to rework it later. I'm rambling... mostly because I, once again, feel like this is duh territory.

3. Lyrics can mess up your flow

I've noticed that some of my best writing comes when I've listened to a song so many times, I know all the words and don't even need to comprehend the lyrics, because I know them, OR when there are no lyrics, OR when the lyrics are in a different language. I've listened to a LOT of Eisbrecher, Megahertz, Oomph!, and Rammstein. But also, a lot of F(x), Boa, and other really silly Korean boy bands.

Welp, that's about as much Duh as I can handle. I hope this was useful for you, or entertaining at least... peace out kiddies.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

MileHiCon: such a different experience!

Hey hey kids. So, if you follow my posts (which, I'm guessing the only person who reads these are my mom... HI MOM!) you'd know that I did MALCon in August. Well, that was an experience, lemme tell you what. But MileHiCon, holy cow... what a different kind of experience.
As you well know, I was in the vendor room for MALCon, but for MHC, I was on the Author's Row. Here's what I learned:

1. Respect your mates

My row was probably one of the best positioned, and it made a huge difference for sales. Unfortunately, my mate and I got trapped in a bit of a corner, and so traffic flow sucked when there was a ton of people. The most important thing to do it respect your mates, because A.) It's the right thing to do, B.) They'll respect you back, C.) You're gonna see these people again... likely at the next con...... and D.) You're all going to have more sales and a better time if you do.
Let me define what I mean by "respect" because it isn't just the courtesy of not farting in your booth space, it's much more.
My mate didn't have any sci-fi in his lineup. It was all zombies, murder thrillers, one military, and one high fantasy. I did not have any zombies, murder thrillers, or high fantasy in my lineup. When either one of us got to chatting with a person, and realized they didn't want to read our genre, we pointed them at the person we knew had what they were looking for. This was good for everyone. Instead of the person saying, "Oh I'm not into that stuff," and walking off, we passed them along to someone they would buy from, and typically they did.
Not only the above, but I had a good fricken time with my mates! We got a little tipsy, laughed, told stories, kept each other entertained during lulls, watched each other's booths when we were away (and even made some sales for each other!) and exchanged really useful information. All in all, this was the best takeaway and the best part, my new friends ^_^

2. Presentation is more than what's on the table... but that matters a lot too

I was not the only author without a mega banner hanging behind my head, but just about. They're not super expensive and they're really friggen cool looking. Get one.
The backs of my books are super boring... The art is cool, because the artist I had for each one was an illustrator, but not particularly awesome graphic designers. I'm a graphic designer (so says my degree), and it's about time I put that to work. Book backs shouldn't just be a wall of text. They need to have flavor, and personality. Because most of the cool illustrations are going on on the front, the back needs something else to keep it intriguing. Spice that shiz up with some InDesign layout awesomeness.
You'd think this one would be a no brainer... but make sure people can actually pick up your stuff and look at it. The first and second days I had my books further back so that all of the free shit (stickers, bookmarks, chapstick, candy, newsletter signup, etc) was all up front and grabbable. Wrong. Fucking. Move. I ended up (due to my mother's prodding) rearranging everything at the end of the second night, and it did result in a better pick-up-and-touch rate for people, but not necessarily a higher purchase rate.
Shiny shit at an angle is hard to see... Glossy book covers look friggen awesome, but gloss makes it invisible when there's reflected light pounding your potential customers in the eyes. Remove one of the three factors (light isn't really doable, so scratch that, two factors): Get some mat books (I have one and it seemed to pull some people in well!), and don't put your glossy stuff at an angle.

3. Medicine bag needs to be more inclusive

I learned from MALCon that I needed to carry tums, advil, and excedrin on me. I totally did that for MHC, but it wasn't enough. My medicine bag needs more... importantly, it needs purell... When you're on author's row, you shake a lot more hands than when you're a merchant. Purell... Purell your fingernails. Purell your wrists. Purell for your eyes sometimes because yes, you will see some shit...
Not really medicine, but medicine for my phone... bring a portable charger (and remember to update your Square software before the con, fortunately I did)
Caffeine and snacks.

4. Don't be anti-social

Another duh moment, but if you don't step outside your comfort zone and flag some people down, you're never going to get a sale. If you don't get any sales, stay positive. There's nothing worse than a whiny little bitch on author's row. I sold least of the other 3 authors in my row, but kept my shit positive (mostly with dry martinis), and stayed upbeat, because I wasn't there to make money. Let's get that clear (wow we're diverging from the topic here). It's not about the money. It's not about the money. Cons are about meeting fellow authors and learning as much as you can from them, meeting fans (or potential new fans), making real connections, and selling a few books, praying the people you sell to will review them (or even read them in the first place).
So, don't sit in your corner and hope people will come to you and ask you what your books are about. They won't. Get off your ass, work up 20 seconds of courage, and say hi to someone. The common phrases we used were "What do you like to read?" or "What do you love in a book?" or even got specific because Stant Litore is fucking amazing and say "The eternal question: Aliens, Zombies, or Tyrannosaurus' in space." That always got a laugh out of people ^_^ Stant is the friggen best.

Alright, this is going too long... here's a few pics. Peace out kiddies.

Monday, November 21, 2016

It's time to Revolt

That's right kiddies, time to rise up against the corporations and take your life back, whatever life you have left after getting your arm and leg ripped off and replaced, your guts torn open and put back together, your... wait... who am I talking about here? Someone specific? Mayhaps... Alright, I can't hold it in any longer!!!

Jen has departed, leaving mechanically augmented Hopper at the top of a dimensionally phasing building wondering what's next.
Riding home, she encounters the strange but intriguing Ravin, a man so desperate to make a change in their cruel world, Hopper's never fully sure she can trust him. Her thirst for revenge against the doctors of The Mill shapes the revolt of their century as she adopts Ravin's quest for freedom and unravels a secret which cuts deeply into her heart.
Return to The Mill with Hopper and Ravin on their bloody adventure to destroy the source of the depraved experiments and save the world from the true evil that plagues it.

Welcome to the next installment in the Verge of Desolation series: Revolt.

Friday, November 4, 2016

The Neon Demon - A Movie Review

I know, I know... I'm books... but this is too much to pass up. The Neon Demon, an Amazon Original, starring Elle Fanning (didn't even have to look her up), Jena Malone, Bella Heathcote, and Abbey Lee... 6.4 on IMDB, 54% on Rotten Tomatoes... f*ck all those f*ckers. PS for this paragraph, not censoring myself from here on in...

This movie was ridiculously good. An all too brief view into a world 99.9% of people could never understand with a sexy retro neon twist. I don't know how else to describe it than that.

So many of the scenes were undeniably perfect, the character behavior fantastic. Elle delivers a kick-ass performance, as usual (I love this girl). The very word narcissism quivers when it thinks of her. She is perfection, she is the embodiment of everything and everyone in the fashion industry. She is a goddess.
Until she soaks up her fame too far, casts off people she shouldn't, leaves herself open for ambush. A diabolical glance at what it is to be a model (fucking yuck), and what these psychotic bitches do behind closed doors.
Let us define beauty, absolute. This movie covers it in such a way that leaves you hollow and jealous. Fuck this movie. It's amazing.

I have no other words to say. See it.

Night Kiddies.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Mailing Lists

Hey hey, everyone. Sorry about the silence. These past few months have been all about supporting my self-published work (Sway's Demise), support for the anthology launch (UnCommon Origins), wrapping up the final edits on the sequel to The Mill (I have the name, but I'm not going to tell you yet!), wrapping up edits for my YEAG 2017 submission, which is one of the coolest damn projects I think I've ever been part of, and feelin' like a bawler for getting into another Con! If you're in the state of Colorado, or will be traveling here for the biggest Sci-Fi literary gathering in the midwest, please stop by and say hello to me at MileHiCon on October 28-30th.
Alright, on to what we're here for.

The Mailing List Dilemma

Why, dear lord, why? I avoided getting a mailing list for a long time. I didn't want to spam and harass people. I didn't want to piss people off. I didn't want to waste electrons sending something to someone who will just delete it straight away. But, I've apparently misjudged them. According to many author sources, Mailing Lists are the watering holes through which readers actually interested in your content gather to ingest it. Did I just refer to the readers as some kind of sub-saharan herd of animals? Never mind that.

Why You, and I, Need a Mailing List

As stated above, the mailing list is for the readers who are truly interested. Since mailing lists are opt in, and they can opt out at any time, you're not really burdening someone with another electronic sheaf of paper they're not interested in seeing. They might not want to see it at that very second, or that week, but eventually it'll be opened (even if it's just to unsubscribe). Onto the reasons:

It's an excellent content delivery tool
Have a short story you want beta read? Running a giveaway? Want to shower your readers with free words? Have a launch coming up? While Facebook and Twitter are easy to share (if your readers share), mailing lists are a much better way to get eyes on your content. With other social media, you can guarantee you'll only ever reach 10% of your followers, unless by some miracle it has the right combination of words and images to start trending. Not only that, but on social media followers have to click out of that platform to get at whatever you want them to see. With your mailer, everything you want them to see (or a decent preview of it) are right there in their email.

It gives you a semi-accurate count of your devoted followers
You can see how many subscribers you have, how many are opening your emails, how many are following links out from your mailer, and get replies from people to your redirect address. You can then:

Segment user groups to target your most valuable readers
A smart woman who taught me (and encouraged me) how to set up a mailing list just recently shared a story that I think is very valuable. She had a book she wanted reviewed so she blasted the whole list of subscribers and only received 11 reviews out of some 4,000 subscribers. Then, she targeted only the readers who opened the last ten emails and interacted with them in some way, then let them know it was an exclusive opportunity. The results were staggeringly different. She received nearly 30 reviews!
Additionally, when you have a new work release, you can target the people who open but don't often click with some special deal/promo code/offer. You can also reward your more dedicated clickers =P

Get beta readers
Sometimes editors miss things. Sometimes all of your editors miss a thing. You don't have endless amounts of money, and while it may suck a bit to lose the $300 you would potentially gain from giving your book away to beta readers, the return is infinitely more valuable. 50 people reading your work are bound to find some more issues with the story, plot holes, general content complaints, etc. You can also get a good preview of whether or not you've hit your target audience this way, and learn to tailor your writing a bit more in the future (or pick a new target audience ^_^).

Ooo, we're starting to run long! I'm going to cut it off here for now, and maybe to a part two...... We'll see! Later, kiddies.

Monday, August 15, 2016

MALCon Denver - Cons Are Awesome

So, my first con. Myths and Legends Convention. Let me just say, I feel spoiled.

They asked me if I needed a water refresh...

Like, holy hell. They came around to my booth several times a day. "Need a water? Need coffee/soda? Anything?"
I asked for ibuprofen - received. I asked for water - cold and delicious. They kept me company when the panels went on and there was a dip in customers. They told me jokes, helped me move, kept me sane! I'll tell you, my weekend was made 100% better by these guys.
The rumor mill churns and churns, and I've heard very bad things about ComicCon, and many other cons. They don't care about you, they don't care about your feelings/hopes/dreams. They'll charge you out the ass to dolly your stuff up to your booth. You can't bring and use your own dolly. Your booth is a long way away from your car. They'll laugh as they watch you haul 50lb boxes of books half a mile to your location.

I highly recommend doing a smaller con for your first. It's intimate, you meet tons of people, REAL people, you get treated like a god, and the price is f*ckin' right.

I was noticed by publishers ^_^

Because the event was so small, there was lots of potential to be noticed. There was a publishing studio in the vendor room with me, and a "collection of writers". There were at least three publishing studios attending the con as civilians. I have many people to reach out to at the end of this, and damn it, I'm feeling overwhelmed... but that's a good thing!
Getting noticed felt super good. My ego's been stroked once, twice, and thrice over... some might say too much. In any case, it can be a nice confidence booster for someone who's been operating in an empty silo for 11 months straight.

I made back the cost of my entry, and had some for spending!

Yes, I had to buy table runners, tableclothes, bookmarks, stickers, business cards, chapstick, postcard flyers, door hangers, and that doesn't even include the money spent on stock to sell! However, I have more than enough left over (because duh, you buy in +1k pack bulk) for the next con, and the next.
The things I bought for this one con will serve me for at least 4 more to come.

There were gobs of amazing people to meet

I met more than my fair share of fun, quirky, unique, fantastic, and all-around wonderful people. Smaller cons are so amazing for that. People have time to stop, say hi, interact, learn a bit about one another. I think my favorite human I met was on the last day. He came by with his brother (an author with whom I traded several books that just shot to the top of my TBR) and noticed I was alone. He stayed and chatted for at least two hours, which I'm sure sounds ridiculous. But it absolutely wasn't. We went on to discuss ideas he had, characters he'd dreamed up, amazing worlds he'd created, and he wasn't even an author. It amazes me how many people don't consider themselves storytellers, but are such incredible storytellers!
I personally feel that storytelling is human nature, and all humans are capable. Whether or not all humans want to do it is a different subject.

This is running long, and I feel I might bore you... so here are tons of pictures!
Oh look, it's me! Our Booth.

Jeremy at the booth.

Some very cool Steampunk cosplay

The Princess Bride cosplay to end all cosplay. Indigo is in the back with a ROUS on her back!
An amazing corset+dress+skirt shop! She was very proper as I took her picture.

Some of the coolest terrariums I've ever seen. DINOSAURS!

Out in Colorado Fiction group. They focus on GLBT writing and inquired if I had any. It just so happens... ^_^

Some of the awesome prizes available for the silent auction!

My nextdoor neighbors throughout the con! I uh... bought myself a viking headband. That thing is siiiiick, and warm =)

Very nice woman who makes some of the coolest unicorn and demon horns! Gosh dang it, I'm so nerdy!

I'll definitely do MALCon again. If they'll have me, I'll for sure do the author's row next year. I didn't manage to sneak out there for pictures because I was much too concerned with my booth presence, but I promise I'll collect much better pictures at the next con.

For now, this is me signing off. Night kiddies!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Book Review - Owl in Love

Hey kiddies, I picked this up at a used book store in Boulder for $.67. On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being I'd never read this book, 10 being of course I would, this book was a -15. It was so far removed from what I normally engage with, but still, I ended up being pleasantly surprised.
Owl in Love by Patrice Kindl

It's novella length, about 200 pages, and I must say, a very uncomfortable read at first.
Owl is a 14 year old shapeshifter (who turns into an owl, fancy that) in love with her 40 year old science teacher.

But alas, I remember being 14 years old and having a crush on men who were in their 30's-40's and then there's always Patrick Stewart, Sean Connery, and for some terribly odd reason, Kevin Spacey...

Back to the matter at hand. The story is well written, the prose very readable. Not only that, but Kindl somehow takes the very essence of birds and converts that to a human readable form. It was so unique and engaging to have this different perspective. I enjoyed that part enormously.

Throughout the book, we follow Owl in first person past tense, and there are excerpts from a foreign character in third person past whose name we don't learn for a long time.

We learn that Owl has no friends at school, and through desperation to get closer to her science teacher, befriends a loud-mouthed girl named Dawn. A mystery begins to unravel as reports of an escaped young man from a correctional facility begin to spread through Owl's small town. In owl from, she encounters a new resident who seems quite off, and things start getting more tense in all aspects of Owl's life.

I won't divulge much more than that because it's such a short read and I don't want to give everything away. In any case, it states it is a book for teens, but I was still able to enjoy it. Just fair warning that the first 40 pages feel a bit icky to an adult, though Owl does act very mature for her age.

4/5 overall, cute little weekend read.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Book Review - Bloodwalker by L.X. Cain

Hey kiddies! Long time no talk. I won't bore you with the details of my life, but it's not in a super stable spot right now, which is why I haven't sent much love your way. I apologize.

On to what you're here for, a review of the dark fantasy murder mystery book, Bloodwalker, by L.X. Cain (even the author's name is scary!)

Bloodwalker - L.X. Cain

Let me start off by saying Bloodwalker was my very first murder mystery novel, and I enjoyed the hell out of it. I wasn’t expecting to, but it happened all the same. Cain starts with a bang, letting the readers know right away there’s big trouble in the traveling circus of Zorka Cyrka.

Bloodwalker does not disappoint on the gruesome sounding name, for the contents within will fill your mind with waves of crimson and the smell of rot. Throughout the book we follow two heros from chapter to chapter, Rurik and Sylvie. Though both have some of the expected cookie-cutter heroine/hero attributes, Cain sets them apart with rich and unique characteristics stemming from their even more unique pasts.

We know from the first few chapters there are two factions of sorts, the Skomori (Sylvie) and the Zorka (Rurik). Though they work together at most times, the tension is still high, and the Skomori disdained. Cain never fully elaborates on the matter, but I hope to see a second book disclosing more.

Though I didn’t look up every cultural and setting reference myself (and I’m not very familiar with Central Europe), Cain does an excellent job of painting an amazingly diverse and real world. With lines like, “Inch by inch, murk swallowed the tall grass and bushes that marked the boundary...” or, “Silver duct tape fluttered in the wind, peeling from rips and holes in badly-patched canvas. Sloping roofs sagged. Rusty poles propped up lopsided awnings...” one cannot help but fall under the clutches of Bloodwalker, until it begrudgingly sets you free.

Though the wealth of description is often welcomed, there were a few scenes (the two mentioned above) where the character is in some kind of chase, and suddenly we stop to take in the surroundings. That was a minor pacing problem I felt took away some of the tension from these excellently fostered action scenes. There were many other scenes in later chapters that didn’t suffer this at all, and one of the final fight scenes where the pacing was laser fast the entire time. Delicious!


The book opens to Rurik, a former Strongman turned circus security due to an unfortunate lightning incident, chasing a clown through a run down train station and prying, with much difficulty, a child from the man’s grasp. He’s pieced together the string of child disappearances that have been following the circus like the plague, and has finally found the one at fault, but the thief slips through Rurik’s grasp.

Enter Sylvie, frightened, nervous, without confidence, and a bride-to-be. She and two other Skomori girls arrive at the Zorka Cyrka to be married off to their Skomori men, but nothing goes as planned. While preparing for the ceremony in the unused, broken down RV, things go wrong for the girls and Sylvie is left alone, assaulted by a man from the circus who’s taking what we know to be evidence of the clown kidnapper. After a scuffle, a sack of children’s bloodied bones fall into her lap. Being a Bloodwalker, Sylvie does not shy away from investigating, only to find something more horrifying than a corpse. Bite marks–human bite marks, on the bones.

Her mother swears her to secrecy, but Sylvie allows a small peep of information to Rurik just as she’s being married off (with some difficulty) to the worst man from her nightmares. Before Rurik’s able to investigate the RV, it’s burned to the ground, and the new Strongmen of the circus, the Markarov family, are implicated.

As Rurik continues his tireless investigation to save the innocent youth, Sylvie is slaving away for a husband who verbally abuses her, treats her like a prisoner in her own home, and beats her viciously. At this point, I’m angry at Sylvie. It was understandable for her to trust her mother and stay quiet (mostly) but when she’s being beaten and accepting it as “the way things are” I became upset.

I dislike women without a backbone who can’t stand up for themselves, but Cain does the victim mindset well. Sylvie acts as she would: a nineteen year old girl married off to a later twenties-thirties something man after being told Skomori men can be harsh all her life. I suppose it’s in her way to just accept it, and deal with it, but it pisses me off all the same. I couldn’t wait to get to Rurik’s scenes during this part of the book, but never fear, she finds her spine in time.

As we get closer and closer to the truth, characters start dropping like flies. There were two that were quite predictable, but some I had no idea were coming. As we go further and further down the rabbit hole of this gruesome tale, fewer things are making sense without some unnatural explanation.

And then Cain smacks you right between the eyes with a blood chilling description of the monster responsible for the deaths. By this time, we’ve been given many hints and a few bombs, but I was a little surprised by the reveal (which I refuse to divulge!).

To surmise, I cringed, I gasped, I pondered, I theorized, I begged and pleaded, then finally the ride was over, and I wanted more. I can’t wait to see what’s next for Sylvie and Rurik!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Happy Birthday Sway!

I'm sorry it's been so long. About two months back I decided I was Wonder Woman and I could do everything. I quickly discovered I was wrong and that I'd overwhelmed myself. So, that's the excuse for my absence. On to happier matters...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SWAY! Sway's Demise was originally a dream that had just about nothing to do with the book which emerged. There were robots, humans, aliens, and some post-apocalyptic stuff going on, but that's about all they had in common.

If you've read any of my previous posts, or The Mill, you know I love a good, strong heroine (not the spoon kind). Sway was everything badass about every female sci-fi character I'd ever met, digitally or paperbackly, with a splash of her own failings and imperfections.

In a world torn apart by intergalactic war, Sway and her community of a few thousand survive off the land, with very little technology. She joins up with her local militia to protect her loved ones from whatever might bring harm, only to find herself faced with an enemy she could hardly fathom. With so little time, and nearly no resources, she and her people struggle to persevere in a fight beyond their means.

That about sums it up. If you find yourself interested in a read, Sway's Demise is about 200 pages, and you can rip through it in about 2.5 hours. Check out some reviews up on Amazon, and try it for free if you have Kindle Unlimited!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Like Free Stuff? Giveaways are awesome!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Sway's Demise by Jess D. Harpley

Sway's Demise

by Jess D. Harpley

Giveaway ends April 30, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Firstly, check out that shit up there... Get yo'self a free book.

Secondly, giveaways are a fantastic marketing tool. I already give away crap tons of digital copies of my books, it costs me nothing but the hours of labor and the $$ spent on art/editing. I highly recommend you give that shit away for free, often.
When it comes to physical copies, it starts getting more expensive to ship them to you, and then to the customer (unless you're not going to sign them, then it's a bit cheaper). I still recommend you use some of your budget to do this. Especially seek out giveaways run by other blogs with nice followings, you'll reach a (typically) engaged and dedicated audience.

I don't really have much else to say about that. I always add a personal note to the books I sign for giveaways, thanking the reader for taking the time and having an interest. That will usually net you a review in one of five different places.

Anyway, good luck to everyone entering ^_^ night kiddies.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

New Novella - Sway's Demise!

Artwork by Jeremy Aaron Moore
After making peace with the desolate and stranded alien race, the Priyon, civilization limped on. Humanity occupies but a fraction of the globe at a stagnant abridgement of technology from the Priyon warning: Don't rebuild, or the darkness that destroyed their world will come to Earth.
Now eight young men and women from a small community will be the only barrier between the enemy of old, and the survival of the human race. Can they persevere, or will it be their demise?

I felt like she deserved a "Large" size image rather than my standard "Medium". Check that shit out! Thanks to Jeremy Aaron Moore for a killer hand-painted look for the cover.

Sway is probably one of my favorite characters to write for so far, other than one special guy in my short story Thief (which may end up turning into its own robust series of awesomeness) and Hopper–dear, sweet, positive, plucky, potty-mouthed Hopper. Her book is coming along nicely as well, 7k words and counting.

Anyway, this is about Sway! Back to it ^_^

Enter Sarah Way, an upbeat, inquisitive, defiant, and protective teen. Though considered an adult in her community, she still manages to find plenty of time for play, that is, between Beacon training sessions.
Follow along as she and her seven squadmates tromp through the forests of Kamloops, British Columbia, fire weapons with precision, curse like sailors, spread and shed blood alike, all in defense of the human race.

Excerpt from Chapter 1:

Sojin lurched forward, hand poised for a grab, and Sway twisted her shoulders to avoid it. Instead, Sojin went in for a smack, landing it solidly against her diaphragm. Ripples of pain shuddered through her ribs as she held in the need to gasp. Gripping Sojin’s antennae-like ears, Sway’s knee careened toward her, but was met with both of her hands.
She pulled on Sway’s lifted thigh, flipping her. In a move of acrobatics even Sway didn’t know she was capable of, she curled her back, released Sojin’s head, and sprung onto her palms, cartwheeling away into a fighter’s stance.
Sojin’s vocal modulator cracked with laughter, “You have been practicing.”
Sway panted, heart thumping wildly from adrenaline. Fluffy clouds parted as the sun reflected off Sojin’s well-oiled humanesque frame, causing Sway to squint. Her shine wasn’t completely worn away, after all.
Eli whispered under his breath, “Get her,” causing Sway to ball her shaking hands into fists, exhaling a long puff of fogged saliva into the morning light. She took another calming breath through her nose and swallowed to wet her hot, dry throat.
With the speed of a dozen humans, Sojin kicked at the dirty pavement. Gravel splashed onto Sway’s face and into her mouth. She dropped into a quick, desperate squat, unable to see. Her forearms met with Sojin’s shin as she kicked towards her side. Blinking away the painful, grainy distraction, Sway stood with an uppercut. Her fist twanged against Sojin’s steely abdomen, the vibration sending needles of agony up her arm.
Before Sway had a chance to recover, Sojin had a deadlock on her wrist, twisting as she sidestepped. Sway’s eyes watered as the sharp throb worked its way from her shoulder to her neck, begging her to relent.
Her mechanical voice was hushed, but held a well of pleasure, “Surrender.”
Sway contemplated, grunting as she struggled against Sojin’s hold. She could pop her shoulder out of socket, kick in Sojin’s knee and back off. Maybe she would have enough time to pop it back in before Sojin would come at her again. Would it be worth it? Sway wouldn’t win in the end, how could she? Then, she would lose weeks of training from injury repair, maybe even miss her chance at Beacon initiation.
Her voice hissed through clenched teeth, “I surrender.”

I hope that was as enjoyable for you to read as it was for me to write. This one has been a long time coming, and I'm so excited to be launching it on Friday, May 13th. You can preorder here: Sway's Demise

Have a good one kiddies ^_^

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Anthology - What is it and why should you care?

If you've never heard the word, anthology is a published collection of poems, short stories, and other written works. Anthologies are a killer way for indie authors to get themselves a bit of limelight! Not only that, but having your name next to other, award winning authors is great for your reputation.
So, here's a few pointers for finding, writing, and breaking into an anthology.

Where do I even look?

The internet is a vast and amazing place. I was not so great at finding anthologies when I started off, but I've found a few choice sites that I check regularly.

For Horror and all things scary, come here. They also have info on poems and art!

Frequently has opportunities for indie authors as well as minorities. Genre net is wide and far, shows just about everything.

Has a lot of openings for poems, it's kind of their focus, but will have stuff for magazines and anthologies as well!

She's just a lone writer/reader/reviewer, but she posts these really consistently every month. It's not just erotica either =P

Also, check your local authors groups. I'm currently a member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and they do a very big anthology almost every year. It's always loaded with award winning authors, amazing stories, and fantastic art. I'll probably pee my pants if my story gets accepted this year.
If you don't know about any of your writers groups in your area/state, probably use the internet and figure that out =) It's usually $100 a year, and so totally worth it.

I've found one I want to write for, now what?

First off, I'd say, check the guidelines. There could be some really specific stuff hidden deep in the description. Make sure you know exactly what it is they're looking for.
Second, research who's asking for it a bit.
  • Have they published anything before?
  • Are they known, anywhere?
  • Is anyone else tweeting/posting/commenting about this anthology?
You need to answer these questions to know whether or not it's even worth your time to write for it. If they're too small, or needing crowdfunding to get off the ground, you probably don't want to write something very specific for this one anthology. They might not even make it.

Lastly, I'd say what's most important, write something you love. You can always take a broad story and make it a bit more defined for a specific anthology. You cannot take a story you've already made for a niche audience and make it more broad to fit a different anthology if you get rejected, without a ton more work. Write something that inspires you, that makes you love your own mind, and marvel at your brilliance =)

I wrote the thing... how do I help ensure my acceptance?

Just the same as my advice to get Reviewers on your side, do the same thing for these anthology reviewers. Learn about them, learn about the company doing the work, figure out their style, engage them with niceties in the email submission (if possible).
Write a confident, yet humble, 3rd person bio. Typically no more than 2 paragraphs. Giving them a bit of info about who you are may help them connect to you as a human, and be more invested in your story.
Make sure your thing really does follow the guidelines, both stylistically and formatting. If your formatting is off, that's likely a straight up no. Style might be a bit harder to pin down, but if they say something like, "This should be a hot romance mystery", you should probably get an erection (or cliterection) when you write it.
GIVE IT TO AN EDITOR FOR COPY EDITING!!!!!! I know most anthologies say it will go through one or two rounds of editing, but you do not want to hand over a pile of blah with a spelling error on the first page, trust me... I've done it =(

I got rejected... I fail at life.

No, you don't. Try as you may to please the anthology gods, you might not have hit the exact style they wanted. You might not have had enough action, adventure, sex appeal, gore, aliens, valley girls, etc. There are a billion things that could have been out of your control which led your story to being rejected.
When you're rejected, go ahead and ask why. "Hey, thanks for letting me know. Just curious, was there anything I could have done with the story to improve it, or improve my chances of breaking into a different market with it?" Be really humble, very gracious, and calm. Yes, they just said "You're not good enough," but there may be a totally valid reason outside of "The story sucked a butt."

Don't give up, and save everything!

When your story is rejected (yep, when...) save that sucka for later! Collect your feedback from the rejecter, collect feedback from your friends/family, post chunks of it to your blog/facebook/twitter, find an online or RL writers group to review it at. MAKE IT BETTER! We can rebuild it, we can make it more descriptive, and engaging! Then save it for another anthology, which is why you should write a little more broad than narrow. Add the details you need to make it fit the theme rather than writing a story specifically for a theme.

Ok kiddies, I hope you liked this post. I'm going to go enjoy some vidja games on my snow day off!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Review - Blackstar by Joshua Viola

I'd like to preface this with Josh Viola is a pretty amazing guy. He's built and currently runs two companies, Hex Publishing and Frontiere Natural Meats, worked as an artist at Leviathan Games, has released award winning books, his debut being The Bane of Yoto (can't wait to read it, it's just farther back on my TBR), and on top of that, makes time to talk to a lowly little peon like myself. AND brought me the free copy of Blackstar which I am reviewing today!

Not lying, I'm lazy as hell... pulled this from my review on Amazon. 4/5 Blackstars... ^_^

I'm a pretty big sci-fi/cyber punk/time travel fan, and so the read was right up my alley and enjoyable. I did find some formatting/grammar/syntax problems, but I've found far worse in some "critically acclaimed pop sensation" books; they did not detract from the enjoyment of the read.
Pacing was well done. I feel like there was plenty of action and suspense interspersed throughout the novel, and the dialog was well worked. It was very descriptive, but didn't suffer from purpley-prose.
There were only two style choices that I wasn't offended by, but others may be. It's told from 3rd person omniscient most of the time, but will then sometimes dive down into the person's head, give their thoughts/feelings/senses, which is then 3rd person limited. It's also told in past tense, but includes present tense words like "this", "now", and "here".
Rezin, our leading man, was left a bit blank, and I feel this is unfortunate. He could have inspired a lot more feeling from me, but there were some missed opportunities to link me to him.
The only thing that irked me a bit was some of the references to Celldweller/Scandroid music. A few would have been alright, but within the first 50 pages, there's nearly 12 references to different songs/song elements. It gets to a point where it feels very forced, and they don't mesh together as well as I was hoping.
Battle descriptions were fantastic. I always felt very in the moment when it came to combat.
Josh pulled out all the stoppers on his vocabulary. Embarrassingly enough, I had to look up a few words through my read. All the more to add to my own mental dictionary, though! I enjoy variety in my reading. Seeing the same words over and over gets pretty exhausting.

~~~~~~~~~~SPOILERS AHEAD~~~~~~~~~~

The main issue I took with the novel was a few plot holes.

#1 The solution to all of their problems could have been solved in the one retro of Rezin saving Kaine years ago. He could have gone back in and just stopped himself from saving Kaine, Vray, and Bastion. Novel over. This could have happened about halfway through.

#2 The Outlanders respond to Elara's (excuse me for saying but) short/weak rallying speech, when previously some of the Outlanders spoke candidly of raping and killing her. She was not developed as a leader of her people, and it didn't seem to fit that the Outlanders responded to her call at the end of the novel.

#3, and this one is TOTALLY unimportant, just an observation of the end of the book. A tangent universe was created and sustained independently where Kaine was killed and reborn with Solaris' powers, yet the universe where Kaine was destroyed at 20 years old did not result in a universe where Elara and Venus were born, though they may already exist... and then, when Kaine was killed in the past before he melded with Solaris, the future him from the main branch universe held together, possibly by the existence of Elara and Venus themselves, disappeared from existence, but they didn't?
Time travel creates an interesting layer of complexity, but some of the events when held side by side don't match identical behaviors of time travel paradoxes. If future Kaine in the universe that Elara and Venus came from winked out of existence along with the entire city he created, as the Kaine of the past died, then so should have Elara and Venus been winked out unless they already existed (or all of the elements to make them exist were set in stone) at the time past Kaine died, but since they didn't, there would be a future for them unlike Venus said...
Unless they were protected by the powers of Icarus/Rezin, but then when Rezin relinquished his powers, Elara should have disappeared. X_X Time travel, especially when you have SOOOO much time travel/universe travel, is complex and intricate. I praise Josh Viola for getting it all to meld as masterfully as it did.

~~~~~~~~~~SPOILERS COMPLETE~~~~~~~~~~

If you're a fan of time travel cyber punks, I'd definitely recommend. Thanks again to Josh Viola for the free book, and many awesome conversations, and several connections that have done me much good on my own journey.

Life update: I've been traveling a lot recently, and I'm working on selling my house!!! So I'm sorry I've not been very active here. Review of The Stainless Steel Rat trilogy coming soon... and by soon I probably mean like 3 weeks.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

It's been a while - What I've been up to

Hey kiddies, sorry I haven't been around. Lots of life has been happening, and it's hard to find time for my backwater, low traffic site =P

So, what have I been doing?

I finished the next novella, Sway's Demise. Had to change artists, and downsize the project due to limited funds.

I've been writing boatloads of short stories for anthologies, aaaaand getting rejected. That's ok! Just means that I have a backlog of stories to throw an new anthologies every month.

Lastly, related to books, I've been reading more. I should already be reading a ton, but it's been a crazy couple of months with less time than optimal for extra curricular, hence the abandonment of this site. But yes! I read the written word, lots. I'll be doing stuff I don't typically do here... write reviews >_>

What's happening next?

Coming up here shortly I'll be writing a review for The Stainless Steel Rat trilogy: The Stainless Steel Rat, The Stainless Steel Rat's Revenge, and The Stainless Steel Rat Saves the World. I wish Harry Harrison was still alive... I want to kiss that man.

Nextly will be a post of more writer learnings: Point of View. 1st person, 2nd person, 3rd limited, and 3rd omniscient. I cover my opinion of all, and what I prefer to use.

Last but not least, I'll be posting excerpts from Sway's Demise, perhaps even writing some more poetry. I promise I'll be around more for you guys... I didn't mean to abandon you, things just got crazy. They're settling down now, and we can be together again.

O_o that's not how I meant it. Ignore any of the weirdness you're detecting, it's because I'm sick. The bacteria took over my face and are making the decisions now. Ok, later kiddies.