Thursday, August 25, 2016
"When is your book going to be free?"
"This should have been a free book."
I have had questions and comments like this. There are so many free and deeply discounted books in the Indie author community now that they have become the rule rather than the exception. Readers have come to expect it and some have learned that if they wait a little while on buying a book, it's going to be free.
I understand and respect an author's decision to give their book away. They do this in the hope that readers will like the book enough to buy the next one they have written or they are hoping for more reviews. Sometimes it even works. I have read a free book and then bought the next one and sometimes I have left a glowing review on the free read. I have done that a few times so I can see the potential reward for doing so.
The problem is that when just about every Indie author is doing it, it lessens the chances of actually selling books because there are so many freebies out there. It devalues our work, in my opinion. I would actually like to get to the point where I can afford to write full time. In order to do that, I need to sell some books rather than give them away.
What's the solution? I would appreciate your thoughts and comments on this subject. In the meantime, I have no plans to offer my books for free. I think my books are reasonably priced and are fun reads.
Monday, August 22, 2016
Thank you very much for letting me take over your blog today to reveal the cover for my latest novel, Dragon Moon.
This is a Teen & Young Adult Fantasy, and I hope to publish with Amazon’s Kindle Scout program, if it is accepted.
The story concerns Scarlett, an almost nineteen year old who is undecided about her future. Throughout her school life she has been the subject of ridicule and bullying because of her flame, red hair. While college was easier, because she stood up for herself, she can’t make up her mind if University is the place she wants to be, and is taking some time out from studying to decide. She visits the Nottingham Goose Fair, and meets Dizelli, a psychic, who gives her a gold pendant and instructs her to wear it to bed.
Scarlett wakes up the next morning but she’s not in her bed, or her home. She’s in a field. In her pajama’s.
Her adventure begins and she’s thrown into a world of dragons and magic. She’s the Dragon Mage, and it’s her responsibility to save the dragons from slaughter, and also bring two warring tribes together.
There are just a few days left before the Dragon Moon arrives. All the dragons currently asleep, protecting their eggs could die unless Scarlett finds a way to unite the silver haired, and black haired races together and to stop Lord Ithel from killing the elder dragon who knows the secret location of the dragon eggs.
Here’s a sneaky peek!
No matter what Elyan’s surprise is, at least it’s another lovely day out. It’s another lovely day. The sun is shining and despite the cool breeze, it’s perfect for riding. We set off at a walk but once outside the city walls, Elyan kicks his horse and he’s off. I have a hard time keeping up on Sootli; bless her. Once he reaches the foothills, he slows and when I catch up to him, he pulls off to the left instead of the path through the mountain.
“Where are you going?” I ask.
He doesn’t answer and just waves at me as he trots ahead. He’s in charge again; he can’t help it.
We ride for only a little way, and then the smell hits me.
Soon we’re looking at a blanket of white flowers. They stretch along the side of the track as far as the eye can see, and the smell is amazing. Elyan dismounts and wraps the reins around a fallen tree. He helps me down and leads me to the huge log where we both sit.
I can’t stop sniffing the air and notice he’s staring. “What?”
He smiles and I notice for the first time how charming he looks when he’s not scowling.
“I know how much you like Vanillium and thought you would like to see where it grows. Am I right?”
I’m smiling as I look at him and see him in a different light. He can be thoughtful when he puts his mind to it. He stares at me for several moments, his gaze unfathomable. Do I want to know what he’s thinking?
“I am sorry for my behavior yesterday with Mostyn,” he says.
Wow! Didn’t see that coming.
“I expect learning he and your sister were an item was a bit of a shock.”
“I learned something else too. From my father.”
“What was it?” I ask as if I don’t know.
“That there was someone else he loved before mother. I am not angry about that. He expected me to be, though. I have a reputation, it seems.”
I can see a hint of a grin forming.
“My father relies on me to protect the town. While I have my warriors to aid, I am constantly on my guard. My responsibility to our people is foremost on my mind.”
“That’s why you’re so wound up, Elyan. You’re stressed out.”
I know how he feels. In my last year of college I was worrying over my exams, the bullying, and concerns about my life after college. My dad said when someone is stressed, they are short-tempered, have trouble sleeping and are unable to see the positive side of things. Elyan ticks all of the above. People don’t realize they are stressed, but once it’s pointed out to them, it becomes clearer.
“What am I to do? This is my life. I am responsible for our people.”
“I understand you have an important role, but you don’t have to do it on your own. You have warriors who follow your lead. They are just as capable as you are. Let them take some of the pressure.”
Elyan narrows his eyes as he looks at me. He’s listening to what I’m saying rather than spouting off. That’s a good sign.
“But will they then act as I do? Become ‘snippety’ as you say?” He grins.
“No, I don’t believe they will. If you divide the tasks between yourselves, it will be less of a burden. Do you see that?”
“Yes, I do.”
It could be my imagination, but I swear he looks less stressed already. He’s a smart cookie and I know I whined about him plenty of times, but he isn’t a bad person. Actually, as he is now--calm and thoughtful--he’s very attractive. He was already ranking high on my “hot men” chart, but it was his attitude that stopped him reaching a higher position.
Oh, I know you think I’m mean, but I bet I’m not the only one who has a score card.
“When we return home after the meeting today, you can gather your warriors and delegate your duties. Start enjoying your life, Elyan.”
“I like the way you think. You are as smart as my father said.”
“Did he say that?”
“Yes, last night after you left. I spoke with him for a while, and he believes you are too wise for your age.” He chuckles.
Ha! I think what the Earl said probably went something along the lines of “she’s too big for her boots.” But I’ll accept it as a compliment anyway.
Elyan is looking at me again. Not quite a stare but his gaze is lingering and I know I’m blushing. My cheeks are on fire. I’d like to know what he’s thinking. Wait...maybe that’s not a good idea. There’s a glint in his eye, which isn’t a bad thing, but I’ve got too much to think about at the moment.
Extremely bad timing.
“Are all the women in your town like you?” he asks.
“No. They are much nicer.” I laugh. “Women are equal to men, though. They share responsibility, work and some earn such a good wage that the man plays househusband and takes care of the children.”
“That is a story you have made up.” He laughs. “It is a woman’s responsibility to tend the children.”
I’m surprisingly calm after that misogynistic statement. In all fairness, he lives in a world where men are chivalrous and women are skivvies, and that’s not entirely his fault. However, I will nevertheless attempt to enlighten him of why a role doesn’t need to be filled by only one sex.
“Elyan, I’m going to explain something to you which you may find surprising. Women are quite capable of fulfilling any job a man is tasked with. The only difference is that some women might struggle depending on the physical strength required, but that does not mean that some women are not a strong as some men. There are some who are stronger.”
He’s shaking his head, so I continue.
“Women are in the Army, Navy, and Air Force. Where I’m from, we are ruled by a Queen, as are many other countries. So you see... there’s nothing a man can do that a woman cannot. As for taking care of children, why shouldn’t a man look after his child? There’s no rule that says a woman should be the only person to wipe a baby’s bottom!”
He laughs and shakes his head. “You are making this up, surely?”
“No, I’m not.”
I look at him and wonder how he would cope if he were to visit my world. Not only because of the women’s issue but all the technology we have as well. I don’t think he could take it all in, although he might have fun playing my X box.
“I should like to see this for myself. Your world sounds interesting. Do you think I would like it?”
“There are some wonders that would impress you, Elyan, but just as you have problems here, we also have them. Countries fight one another and man has built horrendous machines and created poisons that could kill us all. People starving to death live side by side with people who are so rich, they will never be able to spend their money before they die.”
He’s listening closely.
“Our world is full of different races and we are not all the same color. Whole nations have been targeted because of the color of their skin or religious beliefs. So you see it’s important that we try and resolve the issues here before they escalate.”
Elyan narrows his eyes. He’s thinking hard, I can see from his expression. He will be the Earl once his father passes and he could help implement changes now that would stop future warring.
“This makes you sad, does it not?”
“Yes, very much.”
“We are from different worlds and yet, we are not so different.”
He takes my hand in his and smiles softly. He’s capable of becoming a great leader, I feel it. He has already made changes to the way he acts based on information he’s acquired. He is a smart cookie.
“We have a saying—‘there’s nothing new under the sun’--and this is so true. Wherever we are in the world, whether we’re black-skinned or white, if we have black or white hair, or we worship the sun or the moon, we are all human beings and we have a right to be free and to live.”
“We shall have that here, Scarlett. I promise. I will do everything within my power to make Lord Ithel understand we must live together in peace.”
Elyan pushes up and pulls me with him. “You will show us how to make a start. Will you not?”
Thank you for taking the time to read the sneaky peek... you can read another on my official website www.julienicholls.com to the page, Dragon Moon where a link will be added once the book is available for purchase.
Monday, August 15, 2016
This is pretty cool...
Check out all of the tour stops here...
Tuesday, August 9, 2016
Please welcome author J.S. Frankel to Fantasy Fun Reads!
Harry Goldman, a teenage prodigy thrown into jail for illegal research, is teamed up with a transgenic cat-girl and soon finds himself in love and running for his life.
Harry Goldman, teenage DNA researcher, genius, and total nerd, is thrown into jail for illegal transgenic research. Freed by the FBI on the condition he works under their aegis, Harry is taken to New York where he meets Anastasia, a cat-girl and the product of transgenic engineering. No sooner do they get acquainted then they are attacked by another creature, a bear which is more than a bear, and are forced to flee for their lives. Along the way, they encounter furries, Doug the Dog, find out that they are more into each other emotionally than they’re willing to admit, and end up in the Catskill Mountains where Harry finds out the shocking truth about how Anastasia was created...and what she was created for.
Nick was about to move off when he heard the sound of
Catnip someone landing right behind him. It was a faint, almost imperceptible sound, and it startled him. He stood stock-still. The impossible had just happened! No one could just up and land without him hearing it first!
He was no commando, but the years he’d spent in alleys like this one in as well as the others around New York had taught him to be wary of anything and had sharpened his senses. He whirled around and whipped out a rusty knife from his pants that he’d picked up in his travels. His feet automatically settled into a fighting stance.
“You’re tryin’ to steal from me? Mister, you just bought yourself a can of beatdown. Whoever you are, come and get some!”
A figure emerged from the shadows at lightning speed and slapped the knife out of his hands. It clattered to the pavement and Nick stared at the creature in front of him. In the glow of the moonlight, he saw the thin coat of fur, the tail whipping back and forth, and the eyes, yellow and bright. He’d never been afraid of much, but this…this…whatever it was…suddenly put the fear of God in him, and immediately he experienced the overwhelming urge to urinate. He strained to keep everything in and couldn’t. His bowels partially loosened and then a hot stream of pee poured down his leg. “Who are you?”
The creature didn’t make a sound. It took a step closer and Nick backed up in fear against the brick wall. He smelled matted fur, excrement and urine, his own as well as the more pungent smell that came from his attacker. It was a strong smell—strong, penetrating, and dangerous—like a predator’s. And he was the prey. This he knew for a fact, and in the back of his mind, he also knew his time to die had come up.
“You mess with my bud?” George growled. “That is the wrong thing to do, man!”
Oh Lord Jesus, Nick thought with relief, the cavalry’s just come in. Good old George, there to watch his back.
The behemoth clamped his huge arms around the thing. The creature struggled briefly and then hung its head as if in defeat. Nick thought it looked like a cat, but he couldn’t be sure. It had a tail, yeah, fur, spots, but the features…and the …it had breasts…it was a woman! His buddy yelled out in triumph, “I got him, man, I got him…”
Abruptly, George’s voice rose into a high-pitched scream as the creature casually raked its claws, long and very, very sharp, up and down his forearms. The big man let go and staggered back. Blood ran from his wounds and he howled in pain. “Damn it, you cut me!”
To Nick, it seemed that everything happened in slow-mo, and then the cat-lady—there was no other word he could think of—whipped her tail around and smacked George in the face. The impact sent him spinning twenty feet down the alleyway. He hit the cement hard, stirred, and stopped moving.
Beyond terror now, Nick’s mouth opened and closed spasmodically. “What are you, man?”
The creature pivoted gracefully to face him and grabbed his shirt with one hand. He got a better look at the thing now. Yes, it looked like a cat—and didn’t. About five-eight, it had high ears, long, straight hair and the fur of the typical house pet, but the features—the nose and mouth and eyes—were human. The hands, while also human, were covered in a light coat of fur and had claws instead of fingernails. The claws extended out almost two inches in length, and yes, he’d seen how sharp they were. When it spoke, though, its voice sounded totally feminine…and totally pissed off. “First off, I’m not a man—man—and second, do you have any food?”
“No, no…I don’t,” he managed to stammer out. Once more, he tried to control his bowels and failed, and this time the stink came from his back end. He stood there soaked in his own urine and excrement, and felt ashamed.
The cat-lady sniffed the air. “You need a shower. And if you don’t have any food, where can I find some?”
Buy Catnip here...
Check out the YouTube Video....
Check out all of J.S. Frankel's books here...
To answer your question, no, Catnip and all its sequels are only in English. I live in Japan, yes, but to get it translated here would be prohibitively expensive and not all publishers would be open to having someone unknown like me work with them. It’s tough enough cracking the market in English!
2. Why a cat? Are you a cat person?
I like all animals, but I have a thing for cats. My sister has two cats and she has a unique talent for picking the prettiest ones out there.
3. It looks like you have a wide range of publishing experience. What have you learned about publishing that you wish you knew when you first started?
Outside of learning HOW to write, I wish I’d learned about the marketing side of things better. It’s not always how good you are; it’s how big your following is. In a lot of cases, it’s how many people you can reach.
4. You have written a lot of books in a short period of time. When do you find the time to write and do you have a set schedule and/or goal for your writing?
I’m a little OCD when it comes to writing. I hit the keyboard at night, from around nine p.m. until after midnight. On a day off, I tend to write for about five or six hours, pretty much nonstop, and do what needs to be done.
5. Tell us three things about Catnip that might convince a reader to give this book a try?
Wow, about Catnip. Well, the story is offbeat. Transgenics is nothing new, but it hasn’t been written about that often. As well, people tend to like animals, particularly cats, and the image of Anastasia (as the cat-girl) is a most arresting one.
Additionally, there is a lot of action along with a cute romance and some heartbreak. All of those things combined would make it an interesting read, I feel.
Follow Jesse Frankel here...
Friday, August 5, 2016
This week I am happy to welcome Rebecca Chastain to Fantasy Fun Reads.
To help a baby gargoyle, Mika will risk everything.
Mika Stillwater is a midlevel earth elemental with ambitions of becoming a quartz artisan, and her hard work is starting to get noticed. But when a panicked baby gargoyle bursts into her studio, insisting Mika is the only person she’ll trust with her desperate mission, Mika’s carefully constructed five-year plan is shattered.
Swept into the gritty criminal underworld of Terra Haven, Mika jeopardizes everything she’s work so hard for as she attempts to save the baby gargoyle from the machinations of a monster—and to stay alive…
From the imaginative mind of international bestselling fantasy author Rebecca Chastain, Magic of the Gargoyles is a spellbinding adventure set in a world full of elemental magic and adorable gargoyles that is sure to enchant young adult and adult readers alike.
Excerpt from Magic of the Gargoyles:
With one last twist of a filament of earth magic, I fused together the delicate seams of the quartz tube. Slumping forward, I braced my elbows on the table and rested my cheekbones on my palms, cupping my weary eyes in darkness. Six down, six finicky tubes to go. The specifications of this project taxed my substantial skills with quartz magic, which was the point. This project would launch my business and prove that even though I was only a midlevel earth elemental, my quartz skills were equal to or better than more powerful full-spectrum elementals. These fussy tubes would fund the down payment on the lease for the shop I coveted in the Pinnacle Pentagon Center. I could finally quit my demeaning job at Jones and Sons Quarry, be my own boss, and begin a career creating one-of-a-kind quartz masterpieces I could take pride in.
My entire future rested on these fragile vials, and they were due tomorrow at four.
Dull pain pounded my back muscles. Night had crept over the city while I worked, and my jerky movements as I stood and stretched were reflected in the semicircle of bay windows in front of my worktable. Purple smears of exhaustion beneath my green eyes were exaggerated in the dark windows, and my pale face floated above a dirt-smeared navy shirt. I checked the clock: almost midnight. Sixteen hours until my deadline, and eight of those would be taken up by my Jones and Sons workday. There was no time for a break. If anything, I needed to work faster.
Groaning, I redid my ponytail, tucking shorter wisps of strawberry-blond hair behind my ears before giving my hard wooden chair the stink eye. Mentally chanting, Pinnacle Pentagon, to motivate myself, I reached for another seed crystal.
Frantic tapping shook the glass in the balcony door. I pulled the door open, knowing it was Kylie, my best friend and the tenant who shared my second-floor apartment balcony. “I really can’t talk. I need to finish—”
“Help! Help! They’ve got—”
Something small and hard slammed into my stomach. I staggered backward into my chair and crashed to the floor. A small boulder skipped across the wooden floor and smashed into the wall.
“You’re a human!”
I shrieked. The voice came from inside my room. I twisted, scrambling onto my bed.
Against the wall, the rock moved.
Beautiful blue dumortierite quartz veined with green aventurine twisted into a winged panther no bigger than a house cat. A pissed-off, solid-stone, magical, winged house cat. A gargoyle—no, a baby gargoyle. A hatchling.
Her eyes glowed feverishly. Long polished blue claws gouged into the floor when she launched into the air. Her agile stone wings unfolded with a soft gritty sound.
I lurched backward across the bed until I was pressed against the wall. The mattress shook when the hatchling pounced on the space I’d just vacated. Sharp claws bunched in my yellow bedspread. She raised her muzzle, mouth open, and sniffed the air.
I eased toward the foot of the bed, readying my escape into the hallway.
“It’s you! Your magic smells so good. I thought—”
My magic has a smell?
The gargoyle’s eyes darted to the open door, then back to me. She arched her stone back and hissed at me, the sound dying to a hair-raising growl. The tip of her stone tail slashed back and forth, gouging my wooden headboard.
“I need help.”
“My help?” Gargoyles—even baby gargoyles—didn’t interact with midlevel elementals like me, and they certainly didn’t ask for our help. “There’s a full-spectrum elemental just—” I started to point up the street but froze when she snarled at me.
“No other humans! Before it’s too late.” The gargoyle’s words were smooth coming out of her rock throat, with just a hint of a lisp from her tongue working around enormous teeth.
I stared into her glowing blue eyes, seeing past the bared fangs and agitated movements, reading her fear for the first time. I reached for her, then pulled my hand back when she shied from me.
“Too late for what?”
“You can save him. Hurry!”
Magic of the Gargoyles is currently free on Amazon. Get it here...
Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00NYISFXY
Amazon Everywhere: http://smarturl.it/MagicGargoyles
The box set, featuring three full novels is also on sale...
Get it here...
Rebecca Chastain is the internationally bestselling author of the Madison Fox, Illuminant Enforcer series and the Gargoyle Guardian Chronicles, among others works. Inside her novels, you’ll find spellbinding adventures packed with supernatural creatures, thrilling action, heartwarming characters (human and otherwise), and more than a little humor. She lives in Northern California with her wonderful husband and three bossy cats.
Links where you can find Rebecca:
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Rebecca-Chastain/e/B00MW89XB0/
1. Gargoyles! I thought I had included just about every supernatural creature in my books but I left those out. Tell me what I need to know about gargoyles and how they feature in your books.
The Gargoyle Guardian Chronicles are set in a world saturated by magic—mythic creatures live side-by-side with humans, and all humans possess varying levels of elemental magic. Gargoyles are special in that they have the ability to enhance magic in others…which makes them vulnerable to the machinations of evil individuals.
My gargoyles are intelligent, breathing, moving, non-violent creatures. I made only two rules for them: (1) no matter what hodgepodge shape their bodies took, they had to have wings, and (2) they had to be made of some form of living quartz. Somewhere along the way, a third rule snuck in: they had to be adorable.
The series is told from the perspective of Mika, a midlevel earth elemental, and all three books revolve around gargoyles in need, starting with the baby gargoyle who bursts into Mika’s home and insists Mika’s the only person who can help with the gargoyle’s desperate mission.
Would you be able to say no to a helpless baby gargoyle?
2. Tell me about your publishing experience, how you found a publisher or decided to self-publish.
I spent five or ten years trying to entice an agent with my writing, researching the art of query letters, and taking classes on writing. Not being picked up by an agent turned out to be the one of the best things that ever happened to me. I spent those years honing my craft. I wrote six or so novels, many of which will not see the light of day because they were rubbish and deserved to be rejected. But in writing them, I learned so much! When I started getting very nice rejection letters, like, “I love your writing style and this book, but it feels like something that we would have published last year” (aggh! What was I supposed to do with that?!), I decided to self-publish. Turns out that A Fistful of Evil—that “outdated” fantasy novel—was destined to become an international bestseller.
3. What have you learned since your first book was published that you wish you knew when you first started out?
Momentum is key! When I first published, I had various manuscripts laying around (all those I was trying to entice agents with), and so I focused on getting the best of them publishing ready. I started with A Fistful of Evil, and about two months later, its sales took off, but I didn’t grasp how important it was to keep going with the same series. Instead I bounced over to Magic of the Gargoyles, then back to the sequel to A Fistful of Evil, then I published my suspense-romance-magical-realism mutt of a standalone novel (Tiny Glitches) before finally realizing I needed to finish a series already! That’s when I wrote and published books 2 and 3 in the Gargoyle Guardian Chronicles, and the response from fans has assured me concentrating on a single series at a time is the way for me to go!
4. What books/authors influenced you growing up that led to you writing in the paranormal & fantasy genres?
As far back as I can remember, I been hooked on fantasy. I devoured the complete works of Piers Anthony, David Eddings, Anne McCaffrey, Robert Jordan, Raymond E. Feist, Robin McKinley, and so many others. I could not get enough of magical worlds of all kinds. I was so wrapped up in fantasy that I didn’t even know romance novels existed until a time-travel romance by Jude Deveraux pulled me into that genre when I was 17. I hopscotched to Diana Gabaldon, Karen Marie Moning, and Katie MacAlister, and along the way found and fell in love with the urban fantasy genre through Kim Harrison, Ilona Andrews, Laurell K. Hamilton, and Gail Carriger. It’s hard to pinpoint any one author that influenced me; it was more of a group hypnosis, under which I realized the only way I could get any closer to these magical worlds was to create some of my own.
5. What are you currently writing and when is your next book coming out?
I’m starting the outlining process of the third Madison Fox urban fantasy novel, which is scheduled to come out this fall. I’m all nerves about it because when I set that deadline, I thought I’d be starting the book in April. It’s time to put on my blinders and focus!