Category: Creative Review Members


Morning, peeps and welcome to the weekend!

First things first; as you all know, we were hoping to have ODS2 out over Christmas. This is now looking more like New Year as my super editors are getting a bit booked up and won’t be able to scalpel it until between Christmas and New Year. This in turn means the ebook will be out in January, but it is now looking as if the paperback could be as late as summer.

Apols to those of you who are not yet possessed of an e-reader, but you are going to have to wait a bit more – and I know you’d rather we took the time and gave you something perfect than rushed through it and made a shoddy book. (Besides you know how anal I am, I CAN’T do that!!)

In the meantime though, Christmas Lites is available on Amazon.com, Createspace and Smashwords and will hopefully make it across to Amazon.co.uk at some point. I just got and read my copy and the stories are fantastic!! There’s a LOT of talent gone into that book….

However, that’s by the by. Moving on to the main blog of the day, this week we have an interview with another member of the Creative Reviews group, Shane Porteous. Shane has a new release out and asked if the readers might be interested in reading about it, and as I know there are a few werewolf fans amongst you, here for your delectation, are some details about Shane and his new book.

Name: Shane Porteous

Author of: How Gods Bleed, Grave Caller, Rasciss

Cover of "How Gods Bleed" by Shane Porteous

  Genre/s: Dark Fantasy

  P- or e-book: both

  Available from: Smashwords

  One-sentence summary: How Gods Bleed is a werewolf and warrior horror/fantasy story

  One-sentence biog: I am a huge Manga and  Anime fan that also likes documentaries and professional wrestling.

 Links:
 Email; authorofrasciss@yahoo.com.au
    Facebook   YouTube

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When you write do you have a routine or habit?

I make sure that I write every single day, usually a two-page minimum. I allow myself to write more than that if the muse is calling, but the rule is more for those days when you really don’t feel like writing. It just makes sure that your novel gets written. As for a routine, no; sometimes I will write first thing, other days in the afternoon and occasionally late at night. Doing it that way prevents it from feeling like a regular job.

What kicks off the book- a character, a situation, a plot-point?

All of the above, it often depends on what book I want to write. Sometimes it is all about the story and what kinds of characters are needed to tell that story, but other times it is about a character. When I was a young teenager and was coming up with characters left and right I decided to put them into a loose mythology so I would have them all on paper. Every now and again I will skim through this mythology and become reacquainted with a character I invented years ago. Sometimes I will say to myself “This character deserves his or her own novel,” so I build a story around that character.

What made you want to write this story?

I don’t think want is the right word, more like I had to write it in order to move on creatively. I already had plenty of stories that I had tried to write for years, but no matter which of these stories I tried my mind kept pulling me back to How Gods Bleed. So finally I gave in and began writing it.

What was the most difficult about it?

The fact that there were just so many ideas. It was really difficult to make any sense of it – there were probably two dozen major changes to the plot! When I finally decided on one of them I soon realized that it would not work and was forced to go back to the drawing board, so to speak. Eventually though the final plot shone through.

Do you have a favorite character?

Interestingly when I was shaping How Gods Bleed in my mind there were a handful of characters that at one time or another were going to be either the main character or the main antagonist. The character of Gokkus for example was going to be the story’s main antagonist; I changed his character ever so slightly and now he is one of the supporting protagonists. He changed from this very tragic and troubled soul to a very proud and honorable man. Aneeku was going to be the main character but when that particular plot fell through I wasn’t going to put him in the book. However I liked his character design so much, that I changed his background and put him in the story as a supporting antagonist. When I thought about how to change him from a good man to an evil one I looked over his history and shaped him how I thought the original Aneeku would change if certain things happened in his past.

Who are your favorite authors?

Actually I prefer individual stories more than the authors who wrote them, but Kentaro Miura and David Gemmell are two authors whose work I enjoy tremendously.

Have you read and enjoyed any other indie authors? Who/what book?

Without a doubt that has to be Mathion: Book one of the Mavonduri Trilogy by Jeff Shanley, a sweeping epic that in many ways is a traditional fantasy story but never felt stale or predictable to me. It is the best ebook that I have ever read. It is the only novel that has directly inspired me to write a story and that is the greatest compliment one author can give another. If anyone doubts that an indie author can write a masterpiece Mathion is an ebook that will prove you wrong.

Also, though he isn’t an indie author I would just like to mention Gerald G. Griffin, author of Of Good and Evil which is the best paranormal thriller that I have ever read.

Have you any tips for other authors?

With all due respect, doesn’t be selfish, ignorant or arrogant and above all else listen/read what your potential customers are saying. If you’re going to join a sight like Goodreads or LibraryThing don’t quickly write half-assed reviews of super popular novels. These novels don’t need another review, it is boring to your potential readers. They do not need you to tell them that the sky is blue, everyone knows that Lord of The Rings is a masterpiece. Instead go onto sites like Smashwords, find unknown books by unknown authors, read and review them. Go into a bookstore and get yourself books from the discount bins. So when people come onto your profile they won’t quickly skim over it because you have done nothing more than review books everyone knows about. If you have reviewed unknown books, that gets people interested in reading your reviews, which will get them interested in you and the books you have written. It just makes you far more legit as a reader and therefore a writer.

Finally, is there anything that you would like to add?

When I finished writing How Gods Bleed I realized just how important it was to me to get feedback and opinions from readers, so I decided to make How Gods Bleed free to download. I wanted to make it as easy as possible for potential readers to get their hands on a copy.

So far I have gotten 5 star reviews on both Smashwords and Goodreads. They have been very humbling and overwhelmingly positive. To me getting feedback from readers is just as important and rewarding as royalties, because I value their opinion so much.

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So there you have it… Shane is giving away How Gods Bleed for free on Smashwords and would love you to read and review it, so all you werewolf fans, weigh in and let him know what you think!

Next week I hope to have another guest blog for you but as to who will be starring – well, you’ll have to come back and look, won’t you?!

Authors, have you noticed theKindle Store is now selling to Spain, Italy, France and Germany as well as UK and US? The first two are new… and gossip has it that Brazil is on the list for a few months time. It will be interesting to see, no?

In the meantime, I’m taking suggestions for  a New Year blog. (And it’s December – how did that happen?!)

So at New Year, what would you like to read there? Is there a specific indie author / editor / designer / person you’d like to interview? A specific subject you’d like me to write about?  Or would you simply prefer a short story, written specially for the occasion? Any thoughts? Leave me a comment and let me know….

Anyway, that’s all from me – drop by next week to find out who’ll be doing our next blog!

Take care:

JAC

Morning all –

and look what we have here! How will you recover from the excitement of not ONE but TWO new releases in ten days?! So, hopefully you all read Cambria’s story and left a review, right? (She wants to know what you think, you know). Well, just as you’re starting to look around and wonder what literary wonders you should segue onto, here for your delectation is a guest-blog by none other than CS Splitter, author of the Crayder Chronicles.

As regulars will know, Splitter is one of the more fnar-prone members of Creative Reviews and is a contributor to (not to mention the main instigator of) the Christmas Lites Anthology due out next week, so do comment, heckle, or if you feel really inspired, Tweet the link to his new book, out 21st November! I can’t comment just yet as my copy is still on the Kindle which is locked firmly in a drawer till I’ve got ODS2 out for you, but the goss down in Creative Reviews is that the Crayder Chronicles rock…. and that’s just the more critical reviews!

I have been warned by two or three persons of good judgement that Tom Crayder as a character is going to infuriate me until I accidentally end up liking him! So I for one am really looking forward to having a read, and judging by the first chapter which I have seen, you should BY NO MEANS believe Splitter when he says he sucks. Methinks the writer doth protest too much….

So read his blog, admire the covers, Tweet the link and do go check out the samples on Amazon. I mean, you could always throw underwear but there’s a bit of a cross-wind at the moment so it’d probably hit Bill Oddie or someone. Me, I’d go for the Tweet but then perhaps Bill Oddie would appreciate the attention, who knows? I’ll leave it to your good selves….

And so without further ado, let me hand you over to the lovely C.S Splitter!

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splitter crayder chronicles

C S Splitter, author of The Crayder Chronicles

Name: C.S. Splitter

Author of: The Reluctant and The Willing

Genre/s: Action/Adventure, Thriller, Mystery, Humor, Crime

P- or e-book: Both books are available as eBooks right now (The Willing to be released November 21st)  and will be available in print early in 2012.

Available from:

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/The-Reluctant-Crayder-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B004VS751O/

Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/52864

Journal Stone:  http://journal-store.com/bookstore/the-reluctant/

Barnes and Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/c-s-splitter

ibooks:  http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-reluctant/id449636851?mt=11

and other internet resellers.  Books are also available through other internet retailers and on Amazon’s international sites (UK, Germany, etc..)

One-sentence summary:

The justice system failed but Tom Crayder will not.

One-sentence biog:

C.S. Splitter is a business man, author, and stand-up philosopher living in rural Maryland with his beautiful wife, small dog, and astonishingly large cat.

Your links:

Blog – http://splittersworld.blogspot.com/

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002241805910

Twitter:  @SplitterCS


Book cover Reluctant Crayder Chronicles SplitterCS Splitter Crayder Chronicles 2 The Willing

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Indie Mistakes and Lessons

Since I will never be able to convince you, the reader, that I am an expert in the field of self publishing, let me take the easy route and convince you that I am stupid.  I see that look on your face – you are already believing me.  Good!  Here we go:

One of my earliest memories as a child was sitting on someone’s hip in the kitchen, either my grandmother or my mother (they were both there), and being told not to touch the hot stove.  I do not remember the pain, but I remember the angry red circles on my palm and the commotion that ensued among the adults.  They were right; the stove was hot.

Apparently, I need to figure out things for myself.  I am dense like that and have a whole file full of stories from my life to prove it.  You do not have to be so dense and you will not be if you read on.

In 2010, ideas for a character and then for a story hit me.  Hard.  I had to write it.

That lightning bolt from the heavens came a decade too late.  I had spent more than ten years trying to come up with an idea for a fantasy book, my favorite genre to read.  I would get an idea, begin to outline it or write it, and then realize that it had been done before and probably in a better way than I could ever hope to duplicate.  I gave up writing fiction.

It did not matter that, when I finally got a good and original idea, it was in a totally different genre without swords, or castles, or princesses to rescue.  I had to write it.  It was that powerful.  The will to write fiction was back in a big way.

I began enthusiastically tapping away on my laptop and the first few chapters flew by.  I bogged down in the middle of the book and had to abandon my original outline for an even better idea.  I struggled through that period and, as Paul Harvey would have said, “the rest of the story” just flowed until the end.

I did it!  I wrote a book.  I did a little dance, consumed some alcohol, and dreamt of the fame and fortune that would be coming my way.  I had no idea whether or not the work was any good, but the dreaming was fun.  For a while.

Reality set in when I re-read my book.  The story…well, in all modesty…I think it was good.  The writing seemed fine, too.  After all, I had read hundreds of books in my life and knew how to spell and punctuate and not end a sentence in a preposition.  At least, I thought I did.

I had to make hundreds of corrections on my subsequent readings.  After about six re-reads and self-edits, it was ready to release.  I hated my own book by that point because I could almost recite it verbatim.  People read it and liked it—and sent me emails showing me where mistakes still lurked.  I fixed them and put out ten or more revised versions.  Everything had to be fixed by then, right?  Right?

Not by a long shot.  By the time the book had ten reviews, all four and five stars, there were still problems.  My readers, as thorough as they were, did not catch all of the book’s flaws.  But, the story and the characters were good enough to make them like the book.

By the time I figured this out, I was mostly done with the first draft of the second book in the series (The Crayder Chronicles).  I didn’t need to beg (as much) for alpha and beta readers for the second book because I had the contact information for some readers who liked the first book.  My alpha/beta readers are the BEST!  They tore into the second book and sent me lists of little errors that needed correcting.

Every time I made corrections on the second book, I sent out a revised file to the beta readers.  Right down to the last one, they kept finding little errors.  I was well on my way to having to publish the second book, The Willing, and do many revisions just like I had done with the first book.

Did I really want to repeat those mistakes?  Did I really want early readers getting less than my best effort?  Did I really want to keep finding little typos and having to correct them by updating the files on sites like Amazon and Smashwords?

No, I did not.  I am not really bright, but I do try to learn as I go and, as a side note, I have never laid my hand flat on a red hot stove burner again (at least, not on purpose).  I got an editor, Tricia Kristufek.  I call her the “Comma Queen.”  She started with my second book and worked her way back through the first book.

It was apparent that after all of the “cloud editing” that my alpha and beta readers did for me and even after readers pointed out typos as they praised the characters and story, I still sucked as a writer.

“Sucked” is a harsh word.  I guess I didn’t suck compared to some of the bad indie work I have seen out there, but I wasn’t “clean” either.  I did not want to be one of “those” indie authors who put out junk, so I got an editor.  A real editor who could give the books a little polish.  My editor showed me why “sucked” was really not too strong a term for me.

I say all of that to say this: learn from my mistakes.  That is lesson one.  Do not touch hot stoves and do not needlessly cause yourself heartache and embarrassment.  I have already done that for you!

It is terribly embarrassing, in retrospect, to know that the there were still too many mistakes in the first book, even with the last revision, before I had it edited.  How many potential readers downloaded those first couple chapters and noticed something that turned them off?  How many publishers?

See—I have bad habits as a writer.  I can say that freely because if you are a writer, you probably have some too.  I even see bad habits FREQUENTLY on display from well known authors from Big Six publishing houses.

So here is lesson two: You are making mistakes in your writing that you do not even realize and you need someone looking over your shoulder from a totally new perspective that will point them out to you.  Get an editor.  Somehow, some way, get an editor.  See lesson one for a refresher on “why.”

Because I am doomed to analyze positively everything, I thought back and tried to figure out why I had made the mistake of putting out that first book too quickly and with too many errors.  I thought back to how I felt when I was writing that book and how wonderful it felt when I “finished” it.  That was it!  I rushed the book out to be published because I was excited and because I did not know any better.

Lesson three: There is no hurry.  Wait.  Refine.  Think about it.  Do some research.  If you have read this far, you no longer have an excuse for not knowing better…I took care of that for you by making those mistakes already.  See lesson one!

Am I sorry I made so many mistakes with the first book?  Not really.  It turned out just fine in the end.  The characters and the story were always good, or so I have been told.  The writing was where I was mostly falling short and that was fixable.

Plus, I found some wonderful alpha and beta readers that will, hopefully, be available to me as I put out future books in the series.  I made friends that included other authors and bunches of readers and reviewers.

I have one more lesson for you today, take it for what it is worth: your cover is probably bad and is costing you sales.  Did I mention how bad my original covers probably were?  I say “probably” because, as someone who lacks any hint of artistic ability, I made them.  So, when I decided to finally start marketing the series, I started working with Dafeenah from IndieDesignz.  I basically just said, “Here is what my story is about, here are the themes I want to follow, please make me a good cover.”  She delivered in a HUGE way for the cover of The Reluctant.

Here is where the writer of this article should double back and convince you, once again, that he/she is such an expert that you should be following his/her advice.  I will tell you truthfully; I am no expert.  I am just an indie writer fighting his way through this new aspect of the publishing industry.  All I can really tell you is that I am, or have been, where you are or were.  That’s not far yet, but maybe someday…

Splitter

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So once again, many thanks to Splitter for coming to play today! His new book The Willing is out on 21st, so do check out The Reluctant if you haven’t already looked.

Next week, we have a Q&A with Shane Porteous who will tell us a little about his  new book – one for the werewolf fans among you, he tells me! And further down the line we will have blogs from MTMaguire and Lexi Revellian and if all goes to plan, quite possibly On Dark Shores 2: The Other Nereia though that will be further into December.

So as always, add your comments below and tell us if you’ve already read The Reluctant, what you know of The Willing,and indeed whether your undies hit Bill Oddie after all…

Have a great weekend, peeps!

JAC