Sunday, September 29, 2013

Today I bring you an interview with fellow fantasy author, Michelle Louring. Thank you for taking the time to talk to us today, Michelle.

1. Can you define the moment that you first knew you wanted to write a book?

I think it was about 8 chapters into my first book I actually realized that I intended to finish it… I had written a lot of short stories before and started on several books, but I had never imagined that I would finish one. But after I got so far in Resounding Echo, I thought ‘What the heck, I’m doing this!’.

2. Whose opinions do you value most when it comes to your writing?

People I know have read all their life, simply because they enjoy it. And if they’re friends, I have become good at knowing the difference between those afraid to hurt my feelings and the real ones who won’t hesitate to say ‘This sucks, change it’.

3. Where do most of your ideas originate?

Mental inactivity. When I try really hard at coming up with ideas, they’re stubbornly staying away. But when I’m sitting in a meeting, listening to someone so dull I’m afraid my brain will melt, the inspiration always come flying to my rescue. That, or when I’m desperately trying to sleep and it just won’t let me…

4. How many characters have you killed, and have you ever regretted killing a character?

Of my main characters (the ones that haven’t been villains), I have only killed one. Minor characters die like flies in my writing, especially the ones that make the mistake of annoying me.

…Yes, I know they’re my characters, but that doesn’t mean they don’t annoy me.

I have never regretted killing a character, but I do admit I have started to miss the main character I killed off. He was a lot of fun!

5. What has been the hardest book for you to write?  Why?

My second book, Silent Sound, was delayed greatly, because I kept falling into writer’s blocks caused by self-doubt. I didn’t take the first book that seriously as I had never intended for anyone to read it at first, but by the time I was halfway through the second, I started doubting if my writing really was worth anything. It still happens, but I have learned to ignore that annoying little voice in the back of my head and just power through.

6. Do you do any research before you begin to write a new book?

Never! I do research DURING a book, but never before. Actually, I never think before starting a new book. My first book was written after I asked a friend for an idea for something to write. All he said was ‘What about something that starts in a monastery?’. That was all I needed to get started. Figuring out such trivial things as plot lines can wait for later, can’t they?

7. How do you market your books?

To be honest, I don’t really anymore. In the beginning, I did the usual things: Facebook, Twitter, blogging and everything else they said you needed to do to market your books on the internet.
I also realized that it made life miserable and that I didn’t really enjoy writing while I did it. So I stopped. I still keep my website updated and make sure to announce new releases on the social networks, but other than that I keep pretty quiet.

I do, however, go to conventions and sell paperbacks. It doesn’t really do much for marketing, but I have a blast! It’s much more fun to meet people in person and have a chat than to see some number in a sales report.

Also, just at the beginning of this month, I went to a convention and someone who bought my first book at another convention two years ago came and asked me to write in the second after she bought it. That’s the kind of thing that warms an author’s heart!

8. Where do you publish your books, and which distributor do you see the most sales from?

I publish paperbacks via the POD publisher Createspace and ebooks via all major retailers. I publish directly through Amazon and to other retailers via Smashwords.

In the past, I had almost all of my sales at Amazon (like most other self-published authors), but lately, Amazon has gone back, while others, especially Apple’s iBookstore, are winning ground. I would say that Amazon and the Smashwords’ retailers are pretty much even right now.

9. How do you cope with writing and juggling the demands of all your other commitments?

I take the train instead of driving to work. I read on the trip out and get most of my writing done on the trip home. I never let writing get in the way of the rest of my life, as it was never meant to be a job, but I fit it in around all my other activities. I always carry a notebook around (and a tablet with a keyboard if I know I will get time to write) and I write whenever I have the time.

I find that I can’t even write probably when I have nothing else I need to do!

10. Do you have any other creative outlets aside from writing?

Lately a friend of mine has gotten me into costume making. I spend my weekends covered in super glue and trying to make horns out of PU foam. It can’t possibly end well…

11. Do you reward yourself after completing a book and, if so, how?

All the reward I really need is the first paperback copy arriving in the mail. Other than that, I just allow myself some time to relax before my mind goes into overdrive over the next book!

12. If you had a super power, what would it be and why?

I always wanted to be able to walk through walls like Shadowcat, but now I’m thinking I would like the ability to shut people up. How hard can it be to be quiet in the Quiet Zone of the train?!

13. What has been the best moment in your life so far?

That’s a tough one… Can I get back to you?

14. Is there a message or a lesson that you’d like to convey to your readers?

Don’t super glue yourself to a table. Really, it’s stupid, don’t do it.

15. Please share your purchase links with us.

My books at:

Also, feel free to visit my website.

The battlefield of angels and demons is no place for a human...
For nearly 6 years, Selissa has lived an almost peaceful life at the temple, but she has no memories from the time before the priests took mercy on her. All she has from her past life are a strange symbol on her back and fearful dreams. 

It's only when the mysterious traveler Alassane arrives at the temple that her lost memories come back to haunt her. Soon, Selissa finds herself fighting for her life and comes to know that no one are what they pretend to be...

Michelle Louring was born and raised in Denmark, where she still lives, surrounded by her two big dogs, her cat and her owl. Yes, you read that right, her owl.

From a very young age, she loved reading and writing in Danish, but quickly fell in love with the more expressive English language when she was taught it in school. Now nearly all her books are in English and not even her to do-lists get written in Danish.

Besides writing, she has a great passion for falconry (hence the owl), archery and occasionally martial arts. She is also quite a geek as she enjoys comics, superhero movies and has been a gamer of World of Warcraft for 8 years.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Why do book giveaways and discounts work for some authors and not others?

Guest post by Vanessa Finaughty of Fireblade Publishers

Free books give readers an opportunity to try a new author without spending money. Let’s face it, in today’s world of indie publishing, far too many authors publish books that haven’t been edited properly (or at all), and, like everyone else on the planet, readers dislike paying good money for sub-quality products. If readers enjoy the book and find it of high enough quality, they’re likely to purchase other books by that author. If you’re lucky, free books will also earn you more reviews, thereby making your book more attractive to other potential readers.

Every author, particularly the independent author, wants the answer to the obvious question: how do I sell more books? While some authors swear by giving away free copies of their books, reporting that doing so increased their sales volumes drastically, other authors find that giveaways and discounts do little, sometimes nothing, to increase their overall sales.

What’s the difference between these authors and how do you know if it will work for you? There’s no easy answer to these questions. Myriad factors are involved, including how often you publish a new book, the total number of books you have available for purchase, how entertaining and original your books are, how well edited your books are, how well designed and eye catching your book covers are, the length of your books, whether or not your books are part of a series, what genre you write in, and how well you promote your giveaways and discounts, amongst others.

Let’s take a quick look at each of the above factors:

How many books do you have available for purchase and how often do you publish a new book?

Being prolific keeps readers coming back for more, and it’s a known fact that most authors experience greater readership (and sales) if they have more books out there. If you take too long to write your next book, readers will move on and many will forget about you and your books. With each new book you publish, you also have a new opportunity to market another book, which will draw more potential readers to try your products.

How entertaining and original is your book?

Your books have to entertain readers and make them want to read your other work. No one will buy another of your books if the first book they read is boring and unoriginal.

How well edited is your book?

Your books are products and, as such, you need to provide high-quality products. No one will pay for another of your books if they feel cheated out of the money they spent on the first book they read. In fact, this could earn you flame reviews that can irreparably damage your sales. Make sure your book is well edited, because most readers are educated enough to notice blatant spelling errors or typos, and many will find it offensive that you thought them so illiterate that they wouldn't notice the errors.

Is your cover well designed and eye catching?

They say ‘never judge a book by its cover’, but, when it comes to a literal book, this is exactly what readers do. If the cover is dull and inconspicuous, readers’ eyes will rove right over it and move to the next cover, the one that catches the eye with its boldness and interesting design. Your cover should also clearly depict what your book is about – readers should be able to tell the genre from the cover, at the very least. Your title should also be clearly visible and able to catch the eye from a distance (or from thumbnail view, if it’s an e-book).

How long are your books?

Studies have shown that most readers prefer longer books, probably because they feel that longer books are greater value for money. If your book needs to be short to avoid being overly wordy and padding it with boring nonsense, that’s okay – but be sure to charge a little less for shorter books, so readers still feel as if they’re getting a deal.

Are your books standalone books or part of a series?

Series sell better than standalone books. If readers enjoy the first book, they’re likely to want to read the rest of that story and, as such, will purchase every book in that series even if they don’t purchase any of your other books. However, after enjoying an entire series written by one author, the chances are readers will sample your other work too.

What’s your genre?

Some genres sell better than others. For example, you’re likely to earn twice as much selling romance or erotica books than you are any other genre.

How well do you promote your freebies and special discount offers?

This might sound obvious, but many authors discount their books or make them either permanently free or free for a limited time, then expect the downloads to start, yet they don’t advertise the fact that the books are free or discounted. You need to make use of all social media at your disposal, and announce the giveaway or discount on your blog and anywhere else you can.

So we’ve covered how to increase the chances of your freebies and discounts resulting in more overall sales. So, again, why do some authors follow all these ‘rules’ and see fantastic results when they offer free or discounted books, while others do the same and see little or no results, and how do you know which category you will fall into?

There is no ultimate answer to the first question. What I have noticed, however, is that free books work best when the free book in question is the first book in a series. Once readers have sampled and enjoyed a series, they’re much more likely to purchase the rest of the series, because they want to know how the overall story ends, and they want to read more about the same characters they’ve come to know and love. For standalone free books, there’s always the chance that readers will enjoy the book so much that they want to sample your other books, but keep in mind that it could be that none of your other books’ plots interest them. However, I find that discounting standalone books works better than discounting books in a series – many readers purchase the entire series in one go or as soon as they’ve finished reading the previous book if they enjoyed the first book, so they wouldn’t benefit from discounts unless the books were discounted at exactly the time they were planning to purchase. When standalone books are discounted, a reader who enjoyed another of your books is more likely to purchase the discounted book to see if it’s as good as your previous book.

As for knowing which category you will fall into – the only sure-fire way to know that is to test the waters. Discount some of your books or offer some for free, then advertise the offers, and wait and see.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Top Gear road challenge driving from Merseyside to Gibraltar

Cyber Chronicles fan Paul Price, a UK truck driver, took part in a Top Gear charity road challenge drive last week, Friday 13th, in which he drove from Merseyside to Gibraltar and back.

Paul is a self-proclaimed avid reader of my books, and took his Kindle with on the drive so he could continue reading The Cyber Chronicles during any free time he had. Thanks for your support, Paul, and I hope the charity drive went well!

When Queen Tassin is forced to flee her kingdom on the backwater planet of Omega V, she has no idea that the strange warrior who helps her is a cyborg; the deadliest hi-tech killing machine ever created. Her world has forgotten the technology that almost destroyed it, but then a freak accident damages the micro-supercomputer that controls Sabre, and he is free to take charge of his destiny…

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Guest Post Request

As many of you know, I’m currently in the process of writing Demon Lord, Book 8. I’m pleased to report that the book is going well and almost complete, but then I still have to edit it until I’m 100% happy with it, so it could be a while still, particularly if I spend too much time blogging. Therefore, I’ve decided to request guest posts so I can keep my blog busy and still focus on writing as much as possible.

If you have anything interesting to say about science fiction or fantasy in general, I’d love to share it on my blog. Reviews, interviews, or guest posts on writing, publishing and marketing are also welcome, or any other relevant topic you can think of.
Please send all post submissions to my publicist at and she’ll run them by me. Please note that all posts might be edited for typos and other errors. If you haven’t already written the post, it’s best to check with Vanessa first to make sure your desired topic is suitable for my blog, as not all submissions will be accepted. Please also keep in mind that my blog is for all ages, so nothing naughty and no swearing in the guest posts, please.

Thank you, and I look forward to hosting your post!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Free Book Binge Week – FREE BOOKS!

Today, I’m pleased to bring you 10 permanently free science fiction and fantasy books. Don’t forget to leave the author a review on his/her download page if you enjoy the read!
In his search for the origin of the human race, Liam MacAskill travels to another planet and comes face to face with the Devil himself. He’s driven to claim sanctuary from the monks and nuns at Tridor Monastery, where another stranger to the land lies in a coma.

A man scarred by bad deeds answers the call of a heroic cause. An unconventional heroine will tug at your sympathies as she bravely faces adversity with all the strengths and vulnerabilities of her womanhood. And overarching it all are the rys. Their magic makes them superior to humans, but they are not above employing humans in their deadly schemes. Union of Renegades begins the love story between Dreibrand, an ambitious military officer, and Miranda, an escaped slave. They'll become a power couple that rules a vast kingdom, but only after grim struggle and terrible sacrifice.

Download this fantasy novel from the author’s website.

Clinging to the bar running along the front of the platform, Sergeant Osric has a lot of time to think about how he got there. About how he’s shooting through a forest on a rocket powered train platform. About how a grinning thief is clinging to the same bar beside him. Most of all, though, about how he’s heading for Bytarend; a town no-one has heard from in almost a hundred years. There has to be a reasonable explanation for their silence, after all. Osric tries to think of a reason that doesn’t end in his horrible death…

…he can’t come up with one.

Dark twist on faeries. For Shade, a chance meeting with a powerful Teleen Faery warrior who wields electrical currents and blue fires along his skin, has her joining him on a treacherous mission for the good Seelie Faerie Court across the land of Faerie. Magic and malice abound and nothing is what it really seems to be.

Download this free fantasy novel from Amazon.

Michael is just an ordinary, average, normal, everyday middle schooler in the perfect town of Lincolnshire, a town that happens to have more superheroes per square mile than anywhere else on the planet. What could possibly go wrong, surrounded by so many people who could destroy the town with a snap of their fingers?

With so many humans focussed on snakes on July 16 each year, World Snake Day, the snake god Calebius gains more power. Power that builds over the years until one day, 16 July 2013, he’s finally powerful enough to free himself of the curse that, millennia ago, rendered him incapable of achieving physical form. Now, he seeks revenge on those who trapped him, but they are long dead, so their descendents will have to do… Only one person can quell his thirst for blood, but can Lily learn to trust her heart in time to save the human race?

...Love and other man-made disasters... A woman looking for a new life gets trapped in a commuter tube, and manages to find love and herself in the aftermath of the disaster.

Victor Mansfield, king of Dalmar, has infiltrated the occupied castle of Argonna in order to free the Queen of Argonna, Fiora Durassil, from imprisonment by the D'rolock Empire. At first everything goes according to plan, but soon his plan begins to unravel in this thrilling story by Timothy Wilson.

This is the epic tale of Kirin of House Dar’Shiel, the elfish daughter of an exiled priestess who must travel to the elfish high city to serve the goddess Alorana. Upon her journey she must learn what it is to be a Namari. This goddess-given gift of foresight makes her an invaluable commodity in a war between two elfin goddesses, one of whom will have her death, or her service. Her path crosses that of an injured harpy, a creature thought to exist only in myth, who is upon a quest save her tribe from extinction. Together, they must find a way to thwart a dark goddess and save their homeland from destruction.

The Clements Academy was established, somewhere around the year 2045, to train the best and brightest orphans from around the world into the perfect agents. Weapons training, martial arts training, and small unit tactics are just a taste of the curriculum for Clements students. Mark Eblin is one graduate who's never been amazing...and now he's been had.

If these free books whet your appetite for more, visit the other participating blogs below:

Lauren Scharhag’s blog

Aneza Lee’s blog