Monday, March 31, 2014

Interview & a #Free #Book: Angela Roquet

Here with us today is the fabulous Angela Roquet, author of the sassy and spectacular Lana Harvey series and Crazy Ex-Ghoulfriend. And the best thing about this interview, is that you can get her book, Graveyard Shift, absolutely free!(Information at the bottom).

For those who aren’t familiar with you or your work, give us a brief synopsis.
Me: I’m a writer by night, graphic designer by day, and mother 24/7. I like comic books, owls, craft supplies, painting, and weird out-of-print books. I’m also a big fan of equality, tolerance, and renewable energy.
My work: My Lana Harvey, Reapers Inc. series is set in Limbo City, the capital of the modern and eclectic afterlife. Lana is a reaper, employed by Grim, at Reapers Inc. She starts out as an underpaid peon who would rather be drinking at Purgatory Lounge (with her bff, the archangel Gabriel) than harvesting souls. But when a group of rebels rise up to threaten peace in the afterlife, Lana learns some very disturbing things about her past, and quickly finds herself in the middle of a conflict that could bring on the Second War of Eternity.

Graveyard Shift is a fascinating world, drawing intensely from world mythology and religion. Tell us how you came by this idea and what influences led to the creation of Limbo City and Eternity.
Most of my grade school years were spent at a private Christian school, so when I was inserted into public school, you can imagine my surprise when I found out there were other religions in the world. I spent quite a few years studying on my own, and then I took a world religions course in college that I found entirely unsatisfying. I spent more years studying on my own, and eventually, the idea of an afterlife where all the deities, heavens, and hells existed together was born in my mind. I was also fascinated by all the ancient visions of these afterlives, and I wondered what they might look like in modern time.
Do you often draw your inspiration from other books or a different mediums altogether (movies, anime, etc.)?
I’ve read a lot of books on different religions, so I definitely found inspiration there. It wasn’t until after Graveyard Shift was published that fans started reaching out and suggesting parallel books (Amber Benson’s Reaper-Jones series, Darynda Jones Charley Davidson series) movies (Wrist Cutters, R.I.P.D.), and TV shows (Dead Like Me, Reaper). I really enjoy stories, in any medium, that explore the afterlife in such creative ways. 

How many books do you foresee the Lana series entailing? And do you already know how it will end?
I started out really ambitious and outlined 12 novels for the series… though I might shorten that list and merge a few of the storylines together. I do know how it will all end, more or less. I see the light at the end of the tunnel. lol
If your book was cast, who would play each role and why? 
Oh, it would definitely be exciting to see Lana and company on the big screen! I’d never get to pick the cast, but if I could, I have some actors that play along in my head movies:
Lana is a toss-up. If Christina Ricci and Ellen Page could just merge into some kind of sexy Voltron … either one of them would be fantastic! I always picture Gabriel as Owen Wilson, but Tyler Sean Labine would be fun too. Jason Momoa as Maalik, Winona Ryder as Josie Gale, Lucy Liu as Jenni Fang, and Cillian Murphy as Kevin Kraus. Jared Leto as Beelzebub, and Ray Wise as Grim. There are a lot of characters in the series, but I’d say these are the major players, and who I most often fantasize about playing them. Obviously, these actors all fit the physical profiles of my characters, but they’ve also played quite a few roles that fit my characters’ personalities too.   
When you write, do you have a process that helps get you “in the mood”?
I have a toddler, so I don’t often have the time to get “in the mood”. Lol When my kiddo goes to the bed, I do have a little routine for my night writing session. I fix a cup of green tea (or a glass of wine, if it’s been a really rough day), light some incense, put on something easy to listen to (Iron & Wine, Damien Rice, Greg Laswell), and take it from there.
What are you working on now? And what can we expect to see from you in the future?
I feel like a juggling circus clown right now. lol  I’m working on more titles in my Lana series, and I have outlines for a couple other series (one YA and one adult paranormal), as well as a few standalones and short stories. Ideally, I’d like to get to the point where I can produce four to five books a year, but that might not happen until my kiddo starts kindergarten.

Urban Fantasy Author Angela Roquet lives in Sedalia, MO with her husband and son. When she's not swearing at the keyboard, she enjoys painting, goofing off her family and friends and reading books that raise eyebrows. Her book Graveyard Shift is available for free at Amazon and Smashwords. Visit her at her website or on Twitter.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Meet 'um Mondays: Josh Pantalleresco

By now you should know I have a special place in my heart for genre-bending. It's my personal opinion that it takes guts to break through the normal conventions of genre and say "rules be damned!"

Today's guest has demonstrated his own mixed palate with his tale, The Watcher. This story consists of poetry, epic fantasy, dystopian fantasy, coming of age, and art--an eclectic and interesting mix.

KS:  Tell us a bit about The Watcher. How could you describe this work to someone who’s never heard of it.
JP: It’s about a slave boy who wants more than to be a slave.  He kills his captors and escapes into a post apocalyptic world.

KS:  Who were your inspirations for this kind of writing?
JP:   I’d say three things:  My day job is a big influence.  I work a very monotonous day job.  It pays okay, but it’s about the only thing that satisfies me in any way about the job.  I want more.  I realized a lot of the post apocalyptic stuff comes from my childhood reading stuff like John Carter of Mars.  I’d say about chapter seven or eight I realized there was a kind of savage quality to the story.  I could see his influence in my work.  I’m not going to claim it’s on that level (I did my best) but I do see those kind of influences there.

Finally, I know quite a few people who settle on things in life.  I’ve been campaigning the #thereismore hashtag on my twitter account.  I think with all of us, there are things we settle for, and that there is more all of us can do to improve our lives.  The Watcher comes from some of my own personal struggle to get more.

KS:  The images add a nice depth to the boy’s tale of escape and subsequent adventure—how did you arrive at the decision to use images?

JP:  Some of the best books I see today are on the Young Adults section which merges images and pictures.  Being a comic geek definitely encourages the imagery.  Frankly, I’m surprised it isn’t done more often.

KS:  Tell us about your artist and how you found her:
JP:  Florence Chan is someone I met back when she lived in Calgary going to ACAD.  We were working at the same place and while we get along, I remember giving her more burdens at work than I was worth. 

That said, she seems to have selective amnesia, and I caught her working on a comic at my local shop called Fight Comics and thought I’d like to work with her.  Thanks to twitter and facebook I found her and asked her.

KS:  Do you also draw yourself?
JP:  Working on it.   Ask me that again in a year and I may have something cool up my sleeve to show.

KS: Your book has an interesting format. In most contemporary poetry, centering your lines is usually frowned upon. Why did you choose this format for The Watcher?
JP:  I like how the words kind of form an image when you center them.  To me the lines are like lego blocks.  Honestly, I hate how most poetry books are designed.  While my inner poet may frown at the centering, the inner designer likes the more aesthetic look.  It just looks better on the presentation when you read it.  Just my opinion though.

KS:  Can we expect a sequel to The Watcher or is this a standalone piece?
JP: Hopefully.  The whole Watcher story kind of came out of left field.  I’m hoping I can find that place again.  Not to say I don’t know where I want the story to go next.   Hopefully I continue the story from one of the other character’s perspective.  I think it’d add more depth to the world.

KS:  What are you working on now? And what can we expect to see from your soon?
JP:  I’m working on a comic called Paradigm written by myself and illustrated by Twyla April.  It’s about a superpowered teen trying to save the world from his parents.  It’s Disney afternoon buffoonery and I love every second of it.

I got a prose superhero story that’s finished.  Not sure what to do with it yet.  Also, working on a novel as we speak.

Non-work-related questions:
KS:  What is your favorite word?
JP:   Fuscia.  There’s an inside joke there with a couple of friends I can’t help but smile at.

KS:  What is your least favorite word? 
JP:  Conspiracy.  In conversations, it turns people’s brains off.

KS:  Who is your favorite author?  
JP:  Ray Bradbury.

KS:  If you could have any (but only one) super power, what would it be?
JP:  Either Green Lantern’s power ring, or invisible force fields.

KS: If you could pick the brain of any writer/poet/artist from anywhere across time and space, who would it be and why?
JP:  I’ll pick from all three:  Writer:  Isaac Asimov, Poet: E.E. Cummings and Artist:  Leonardo da Vinci

KS: What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
JP: Teaching English in China, comic book artist, pilot, alchemist and guitar player. 

KS:  What profession would you not like to do?
JP: A nine to five job.

Ks: If Dante’s Nine Circles of Hell existed, which circle would you be trapped in and why?

JP: I’d either be a repentant sinner or trapped in level two.  

Joshua Pantalleresco chases his dreams through writing. He currently writes columns for http://All Pulp and Comic Bloc. His first comic Veritas, illustrated by Craig Cermak and Lettered by Jim Reddington can be ordered here. The Watcher is available on smashwordsVisit him at his website, on Facebook, or Twitter.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Cover Reveal for Dive: A Short Story

I'm pleased to announce the upcoming release of my short story, Dive. In this story, a young woman's supernatural abilities lead her to her parents' killer.

For those who've read Dying for a Living, you know I have a problem with picking a genre and sticking to it. Weighing in at 10,000+ words, Dive is no different. Here you'll find a suspenseful mix of fantasy, crime, noir, murder, revenge, and interdimensional travel.

I can't wait to hear what you think.

Monday, March 17, 2014

How to Get Good Reviews for Your Book

I am working from the assumption that you have written a good book. After all, no amount of trickery can force people to like your book if you’ve submitted terrible content. So make sure your book is well-written, well-edited, and ready for the next part of the process—the reviews.


Fact #1 People are more likely to buy a product that has good reviews. No surprise right? How many of you have purchased a product (book or nifty hand vacuum) based on what your friend or Amazon said about it? So reviews ARE important.

Fact #2 You cannot FORCE people to review your book. Unfortunately. And it is unethical to ask them to write a good one. Instead, ask for honest reviews.

Fact #3 Certain actions can be taken to encourage people to post a review of your book, increasing the likelihood that you’ll get a review. And that is the focus of this post. I’ve made a list of actions you can take to help increase the number of reviews you will receive. And what credentials do I have you ask? Well, my book has only been published for 2 weeks and I have 33 reviews on Amazon and 18 on Goodreads, last I checked. So I must not be a total failure! :)


1) Start early. You need to send ARCs (advanced reader copies) out no later than 10-12 weeks BEFORE your book is
published. Most of your readers will already have TBR piles and you’ll be waiting in line. If you want that review on or
before your release date, earlier is better.

2) Target the right people. Don’t just throw your book into the wind and hope someone likes it! Find the people who specifically read and enjoy your genre. You can find them on Goodreads, Amazon, book blogs, etc. You can use social media to find your demographic as well, but whatever you do, target. Don’t just shoot in the dark. You will still make the mistake of giving your book to the wrong person sometimes and that is okay. It might mean they don’t love it as much as a diehard (insert your genre here) fan, but if you target more than shoot blindly, your chances of good reviews are much higher.

3) More is better. Not everyone who agrees to write a review for you actually will. Either they forgot or got too busy to review your book or maybe they didn’t like it and don’t want to hurt your feelings. Who knows. But if you are hoping for 20 reviews in the first week, you’d better request reviews from no less than 100-150 people.

4) Be specific in your requests. Once you’ve made your hit list, you’ll want to contact them with a friendly email/tweet/whatever. In this friendly request, be specific. Tell them where you hope they’ll post their reviews (on Amazon, Goodreads, Smashwords, and/or their blog). If you want them to post in multiple places (for example some of my reviewers posted both on Amazon and on Goodreads, then say so. Whatever your specifications, give them upfront so they can politely accept or decline your offer.

And DO NOT tell them that you expect a positive review. Just ask for an honest review and where you hope to see it. If you know the publication date, it would be nice if you gave them that as well, so they have a deadline in mind.

5) Be organized. Keep a running list of who you’ve asked and whether they said yay/nay. This will help you later when you…

6) Send out an email on release day or a few days before. Politely remind your reviewers that your book is now available and that you would love it if they shared your review. This would also be a good time to remind them of your specifications.

7) Be grateful. It takes a lot of time to read a book and write a thoughtful review! Be sure you express your gratitude to those who shared their reviews.

8) Think ahead. Keep the list of reviewers who you enjoyed working with. You may want to contact them again (and repeat the process again!) for future books.

Remember these are just the tips I’ve been using so far. If you have tips, please share them in the comments section! I’m always looking to improve my repertoire ;)

And if you want to read about my favorite reviews that I've received for Dying for a Living so far, click here.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

So Far So Good (#Book #Reviews): My Top Picks

Anyone who is into books knows that good reviews are hard to come by. So I'd like to give a formal shout to those who did a pretty bang up job during my first week of publication. They are listed below in no particular order:

I Smell Sheep: Book Review (ARC): Dying For a Living: With the added bonus of a giveaway is happening now. You still have four days to enter and win an autographed copy.

Rabid Reads Review: Dying for a Living gave me a charming 4.5 out of 5 :)

A.B. Shepherd offers both an interview and a review.

Rebecca Poole of Dreams2Media shared her reviews on Amazon and Goodreads in addition to this interview.

I also got an enthusiastic thumbs-up from the fabulous author Angela Roquet. How cool is that? :)

And how could one forget the fabulous Cabin Goddess, Kriss. Though she is on blog-vacation right now, she has a great many fabulous things to say about my book, for which I am very grateful!

I also want to thank the everyone nice enough to post their reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. You're appreciated! Truly!

And for those of you who want to learn how to acquire good reviews for your own books, you can read my post How To Get Good Reviews for Your Book.

Happy Weekend, all :)


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Little Practicality, Cherie: Anne Rice to Release Next Vampire Chronicle

First of all, points to the vampire-loving fans who know what movie this title comes from. Hint:

"You think vampires sparkle & attend high school for eternity?"

       If you still have no idea what the Queen of the Damned I’m talking about, clearly you weren’t alive in the 80s and may not remember when vampires didn’t sparkle, but instead tore out your throat and left you to bleed out in swampy marshes at the edge of the 4th circle of Hell (aka 18th century Louisiana)--
       But I digress. The point of this post is to praise the bravery of sequels. Just a day ago Anne Rice announced that there would be a new book in the thought-to-be-abandoned Vampire Chronicles, featuring lovable rogue Lestat de Lioncourt. For those of you who have been living under some sad, cold rock, you have until October to catch up with the series before the latest novel will be released.
       So why do I think this is courageous? For the same reasons that I thought Stephen King releasing Doctor Sleep was courageous.
       Wildly successful books like the Vampire Chronicles or The Shining have a lot of pressure placed on them. From a writer perspective, I can only imagine that I would be paralyzed into a severe case of writer’s block, or at the very least terrified beyond measure on the eve of my sequel’s release, if I had to live up to that standard.
     Just think about it: most people will either expect your sequel to be unrealistically AMAZING, or really, really bad. There will be a lot of expectations and criticism waiting to happen.
     Most writers know that once you finish a book and send it out into the world, it becomes the property of the ravenous mob known as readers. They will either chew it up and declare it delicious or spit it out in a mangled half-digested heap!
       So for these writers I have to point out the insanely admirable act. First, that they have the writer cojones to keep their mind focused long enough to complete a sequel novel without all the self-doubt and panic creeping it— do I even need to speak volumes on the difficult task of completing a novel—and second, the brave act of releasing said sequel into the world knowing that there will be people who hate it, who deride it, and claim it ruined an otherwise perfect story and that the sad excuse for a writer should just retire already!
       And meditating on the courage of sequel-releasing veterans is good for novice writers, because it is a fine reminder that we have a long, long way to go. That if we are lucky, we will get to a place where enough people have read/care about our work to try and make us feel crappy about ourselves.

That's success, baby!

So whenever we start to feel like the writing, the publishing, the editing, promoting, and all of that is too much, we might want to remind ourselves of all the brave writers who did it before us. And that perhaps it is better to just sit down, buckle up, and make that page count--come hell, or failed sequel.

P.S. Don't forget to check out my guest post on Joe Wikert's Digital Content Strategies blog and if you're into free books, my latest giveway is happening here--as well as my character giving me a piece of her mind ;)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Work It Baby: How to Make Your #Fantasy (#Novel) A Reality

Book marketing is a tricky biz. I can’t say I’ve mastered it, since I just launched my first book 2 days ago, but I’ve been at this for months, and I can say that so far a few things are working really well--while others aren't.

What Works

Giving Up The Goods
People like to know immediately what they are getting themselves into. This is why it is super important to provide samples up front. Here is an example of my synopsis and free first chapter. But your blog/website shouldn't be the only place to share. Also, make sure that your paperback/print version has a "Look Inside" feature and that your ebook is set up to provide a sample as well. 

Amazon has been great to work with so far. They did a good job of condensing the multiple versions of my book and giving it exposure. (It’s #55 on one list and #60 on another, which isn't bad for day 2).   Amazon also made it easy to get my author page  up and ready. Don't know how to create your author page? I just looked at other good examples and read a few posts. For more on that, read this  and this.

Book Bloggers and other Indie Promoters
They are your friends. All you need is a few great reviewers to be as excited about your work as you are and they’ll be happy to shout from the mountain about it. My cheerleaders so far have been Cabin Goddess Kriss, Sharon of I Smell Sheep , A.B. Shepherd and RebeccaPoole, who’ve all had really encouraging things to say about the book.

This is good because people get tired of hearing YOU talk about how much you love yourself. Hearing it from someone else makes you seem less like that crazy cat lady who is always showing pictures of her Noodles and Mr. Cranks.

Yes, cats--not how much time I've spent formatting my book

So make friends with these fabulous people and remember—it is a two-way street. Don’t forget to show love to the people who showed it to you first.

Getting your Goodreads author page set up is important. Start early (months before the release!) and get your ARC (advance reader copies) out. Ask for reviews and then watch others add you to their TBR list!

I’m also going to try a Goodreads giveaway this weekend: 3 DAYS, 3 AUTOGRAPHED COPIES. I will write about it once it is over and let you know how it goes. I’m mostly following the advice given in this well-written article.

If you aren’t on Twitter, make it so. It’s a great resource and I’ve met some wonderful people in the TwitSphere. If you are apprehensive about getting started, read this guide from book baby.  It makes it easy. Also, once you may want to invest in a twitter managing service to help you grow and maintain your follower list. I use JustUnfollow to manage my 7500+ peeps.

What Doesn’t Work

Paying to promote my posts or page on Facebook hasn’t garnered me much success. I easily wasted too much money that could have been used to better advertising ends. At first glance it looks like a good deal. It promises exposure. You are in control of your “daily budget”, etc. But really what you are paying for is “likes” not sales. And even when people are feeling generous, and give you a like, it doesn’t mean they will rush off to buy your book. Instead of paying for promotions, direct your twitter traffic to your FB page, and there are plenty of likes to be had. :)

Crappy Content
Writing a great book and cleaning it up is the first step, yet you’d be surprised how often this is overlooked. You don’t have to be rich to produce a good book—but you will have to take the time to do it right. Make sure your print book is well-edited with a nice cover—if you aren’t a good editor yourself, get one. Don’t have photoshop skills? Hire someone. Just do what you can to the best of your abilities. Look at good examples in your genre and aim high. You can use scrivener to produce a proper eBook complete with embedded links instead of just uploading a generic word doc.

Shooting in the Dark
Don’t try to sell your work to just anyone. Sell to your specific demographic. For example, my book is good for readers who love sci-fi, paranormal or urban fantasy. And people who are into quirky, sassy protagonists with attitude—added bonus. So it does me no good to twitter stalk someone who only reads children’s books or nonfiction. Get the idea?


1) Make it good (clean up that book!)
2) Start early—(get those ARCs out, build those Goodreads/Twitter profiles)
3) Make friends (Indies unite!)

Saturday, March 1, 2014

“Her” : An Interview

Darling Rebecca Poole took a moment out of her insanely busy schedule to chat with me about her upcoming appearance in Rise of the Goddess.

You are about to debut for the first time. Fresh meat! How do you feel?  
To be perfectly honest, I’m terrified and excited.  I’m unsure of what to expect.  You never know what people are going to think of your work when you let it fly free. 
Your short story “Her” will be published on March 20 by Crushing Heart Black Butterfly Publishing. What can you tell us about the anthology and your story’s place in it? 
The anthology is called Rise of the Goddess.  The theme is to pick a goddess or create one of our very own, but she needs to be strong and empowered, not a weak willed ninny. 
I created my own goddess for this anthology and I hope that readers find her interesting.
“Her” focuses on one man’s devotion. What was your inspiration for “Her”?
I was inspired by an image, actually: a winged woman metamorphosing from an empty husk.  I wanted to write about who she was and how she came to existence.

You also work as a badass cover designer. What made you want to switch hats and get inside of a book for a change?
I love reading.  I find books magical places and I wanted to try to create magic myself with my words. 
Do you often draw your inspiration from images? As a visual artist that would make sense.
I draw inspiration from everything.  I’m a very visual person and sometimes I get very distracted with all of the pretty imagery surrounding us. 
When you write, do you have a process that helps get you “in the mood”?
I do, actually.  I make a playlist of songs that will set the mood for the particular piece I want to work on.  I also need caffeine of some sort, preferably green tea.
What are you working on now? And what can we expect to see from you in the future? 
I’m actually working on several ideas-one is a paranormal romance, another steampunk erotica, and a romantic comedy.  I suppose I would get more written if I actually focused on one work at a time.  I’m hoping to be involved in a few more anthologies.  I love being a part of a group of authors writing about the same idea.  It’s so interesting to see the different ideas that come to fruition. 

OK, now for a few non-work-related questions:

If the world was burning and you could save but one book, which would it be?
That’s so HARD to answer.  Oh man…that’s like asking me to pick my favourite cat.  Weaveworld by Clive Barker.  It’s the one book I’ve had to replace a few times because of circumstances and it’s my favourite book from my childhood.
What’s your go to snack food?  
If you could have any (but only one) super power, what would you choose?
Super speed.  Maybe then I’d be able to get everything done.  J
If you could pick the brain of any famous person anywhere across time and space, who would it be and why?  
HP Lovecraft.  His stories are so WEIRD and I really have so many questions to ask him about where his ideas came from. 

If you could have live in any from any of the fictional universes, which would it be and why? 
Dragonlance.  I grew up with Dungeons and Dragons, and that was my first series I’d ever really gotten into that was strictly fantasy.  And my favourite character is from there.  Raistlin Majere.
What is your favorite word?
Dude—I have another favourite word but it’s not really acceptable to say.  ;)
What is your least favorite word?
If Dante’s Nine Circles of Hell existed, which circle would you be trapped in and why?
Limbo-from my understanding, it’s the circle that’s the least torturous.  I’m sensitive…I don’t want to spend eternity suffering.

Rebecca Poole runs Dreams2Media, a full-service site for authors in need of graphic design, books covers, trailers, and more. Be sure to check out the debut of  "Her" in Rise of the Goddess, available March 20.