Tag Archive: Creative Reviews


Hey all;

The party’s down a Cambria’s FB page here:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cambria-Hebert/128278117253138?ref=ts

where to celebrate the release of Charade, sequel to Maskerade, much fun is to be had!

Head on down there for all sorts of goss, prizes and no doubt the odd toilet snake…

And here’s hoping it goes with a swing! See you there, perhaps….

JAC

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Dear all –

First an apology – this should have gone up last night but my computer is still having the occasional temper tantrum, and so I am a day later. But better late than never, esp in this case where our guest is none other than Prue Batten, who will be telling us about her new book Gisborne; Book of Pawns.

I asked Prue for a biog, and this is what she sent me;

“The best way to describe myself would be to use a quote written         about me by Mark Williams on a blog  (http://markwilliamsinternational.com/) in 2011. Since then, Mark has become my UK digital publisher through his highly successful  publishing house: MWiDP.

Here are his tongue-in-cheek words: ‘She lives in Tasmania, has a pet Tasmanian Devil called Gisborne, eats kangaroos’ testicles, has the most ridiculous one-star ever awarded on Amazon, and wrote a novel on Twitter…’

Believe it or not, most of it is true. My husband and I do own a farm so we have lots of kangaroos around, but the testicles? NEVER! As to the Tasmanian Devil? Not really the right sort of animal to cosy up to; besides, as reported in the Huffington Post, http://huff.to/f3zxSd the Devils are suffering the ravaging effects of a disease that is bringing them to the edge of extinction.

I do have a one star rating on Amazon… a woman bought my first book thinking it was an embroidery book, despite the blurb, and then gave ME a one star despite HER mistake.

And yes, myself and 50 others wrote a Jane Austen style novel on Twitter, [(#A4T) http://www.austenproject.com] which was mentioned by The Times (UK) no less as it took off in 2011.

Me in a nutshell!”

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That is indeed a corking biog! So without further ado, let me hand you over to Prue, and let’s find out a bit more about her take on one of the characters from the UK’s favourite folk-legend, and just what he looks like! JAC

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How many of you might have watched the BBC’s version of Robin Hood?

Being a lover of all things historical, both dramatic and less so, I did and I was honestly charmed by the in-jokes, the modern turn of phrase, the olde costumes with an edge and the slightly left field storylines.

In Series Two I began to hear a rather lovely male voice, one I hadn’t noticed in the first series – fans since have called it velvet, although how a voice can be velvet I don’t know… perhaps it’s the feel that tickles your spine as you hear the tone. At any rate, I was sewing at the time, and I remember looking up to see whose was the voice. It appeared to be an actor called Richard Armitage and whom I subsequently found out had an Army named after him and a global legion of fans devoted to him!

And so my affaire with Guy of Gisborne was conceived.

At the end of Series Three, I went to an online site called www.wattpad.com only to find that many fans were re-writing the series in flash-fiction form. And as I washed the floors one day, I began to imagine what Guy of Gisborne might have been without Robin Hood, without the Sheriff of Nottingham. And heresy… without Maid Marian!

Thus Gisborne the novel began – far from the traditional trope.

I began detailed research into the twelfth century, structuring the story as pure historical fiction. (I have an innate love of the hist.fict novel, stirred and fanned in the first instance by the inimitable Rosemary Sutcliffe from my childhood).

Eighteen months later I have finished writing the first in the series. I say ‘series’ advisedly because whilst there is definitely to be Volume Two, I think there could even be Volume Three… but of course my plots take me on strange journeys and Vol 2 may be the conclusion.

Gisborne, my protagonist, is based very loosely on his dopplegänger Armitage, or at least how Armitage portrayed the man… the tall, dark, embittered knight who abhors life.

So what is it that makes this man so raw?

Ah… well that’d be telling, wouldn’t it?

A postscript: The idea for a second volume came from a short story called Gisborne that I wrote for a miniature book press in America (www.bopressminiaturebooks.com) in 2011. The tiny bespoke book led me on such a journey, sold and is selling well, so that the publisher and myself sent one to the man who inspired it. We received a kind letter back, sent from his UK home in Leicestershire, whilst on a break from filming The Hobbit in New Zealand.

The short story prompted me to think hard on the ending for Vol 1 and to see that changed and manipulated, it might lead Gisborne down another even more convoluted road. Thus Volume Two is on its way!

Buy it from Amazon US and Amazon UK

The novel will be available for all other readers (eg: Nook, Kobo, i-Pad etc) by the beginning of March. It will be available in print with all online distributors in May.

Useful links:

Website: http://www.pruebatten.com

Blog: http://www.mesmered.wordpress.com

Twitter: @pruebatten

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Prue.Batten.writer

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So there you have it, guys, and many thanks to Prue for that little slice of gossip!

If you’re curious about Richard Armitage, here’s the link to his IMDB page and if you’re curious about Prue, please do go and check out her blog – sounds as if the next part of the story will be out soon, and you’ll get the news first that way!

Have a good weekend all – for the next couple of weeks I am having a push on the editing so please do check back here, but if posting is a bit sporadic it should only be for the next month or two while I concentrate on getting Book 2 out into the open.

Catch you later, peeps!

JAC

Dear all;
Today we have a guestpost and giveaway by the lovely Splitter, author of The Reluctant and it’s sequel The Willing. At the end will be a giveaway – a free copy of each and all you need to do to enter is comment with your worst joke or most embarrassing moment!

Alas at the mo my computer is offline & am having to upload this from my phone so apologies if the formatting is all shonky- I’ll sort that out later.

So here are Splitter’s books on Amazon (check out those reviews!) and will leave you with him!
JAC

Splitter’s page on Amazon.co.uk

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And Now for Something Completely Different: The US vs. the U.K.

No, I am not trying to rekindle unpleasantness that was settled more than 200 years ago. This post is about two countries separated by a common language who share completely different cultures.

Living in the US, we are somewhat insulated from the rest of the world. As a matter of fact, our largest export just might be our culture (for good or ill). Our television shows, movies, music, and books, end up all over the world. Most of us don’t take a lot of notice of things made elsewhere.

I guess I am a bit different because I have been a fan of British television since I was a kid. Dr. Who anyone? I, Claudius? I even watched soccer (sorry, I know that is a bad term over there but we have our own version of “football” and we get confused) and became a Manchester fan. We only got these movies and programs through our state’s public television stations and they were sandwiched between really worthless programming. But I loved them even though I did not always understand them.

Now, with the advent of satellites and cable, we are exposed to far more entertainment from around the world. Recently, my wife and I found BBC America on our cable system. They even show some old American shows that I still love like Star Trek the Next Generation.

But the most wonderful thing about BBC America is the programming that comes from Britain. Yes, they blur the naughty bits when there is nudity and bleep language too foul for our American ears (drives me nuts!), but the shows are outstanding!

We have a long history of stealing the best British TV shows and Americanizing them. “All in the Family” was a great old example and these days, we have “Being Human” among others. The thing is, there is nothing like the original.

In the newer British shows, I have been tremendously impressed with the writing and acting. I have favorite American TV shows too, but Hollywood turns out more trash than treasure by a wide margin. Britain seems to hit the nail on the head far more often.

Just some examples:

Luther: Who knew Stringer Bell had that accent? This show is spooky and deep with very conflicted characters. But our question is: Where are all the people? Luther is always running around an empty city. What gives? And maybe you should consider giving your police guns because Luther gets beat up a lot…by criminals with guns.

Torchwood: Ahhhh, a secondary character that should have been killed becomes a star. That’s ok, I like that woman. Great stories, but do you all really have such a problem with aliens? Why have we not heard anything about this? Seems like all of the police over there know about it. Your people are obviously better at keeping secrets than our people.

Bedlam: Now we are talking! All the actresses are super hot. My wife says the main guy is too…but she is married to me so if you question her taste, I understand. Insane Asylum turned condominium complex = win.

Fades: Maybe my favorite. Again, I find it hard to believe that so many people are dying and no one notices, but I am willing to suspend disbelief. I write fiction so I understand the need to play with reality a bit for the story. GREAT characters. I especially like the friend who is obsessed with women and Mork and Mindy. Really, though, my British friends….do all of your young men walk around in the same pink pants every day?

I had to make a stop on my blogtour here on JAC’s (that what I call her) blog because she has been such a supporter and is a talented writer in her own right. I am not sure that there is a large international market for my books because they are rather “American” in setting and language. My writing is also rather American and JAC and I have discussed the differences in styles before. So I am not sure you all will like them, but I did want you to know that some of us do appreciate what you have to offer. Maybe my books can be one of the things we export that the rest of the world might actually appreciate.

Eh, who am I kidding.

By the way, sorry for that whole “late to WWII” thing. And thanks for the Beatles. We do hope you are enjoying McDonalds, though.

I know…you all might have gotten the better end of the deal with the whole colony thing.

Splitter
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so peeps- to get your free copies of Splitter’s very entertaining books, all you need to do to enter is comment with your worst joke or most embarrassing moment!

We will post the winner over the weekend, and you may have the ebook in whatever format you specify.

Thanks for dropping by, all – now, enter below!
JAC

Hey all:

This week’s guest post is by another alumni of Creative Reviews, no less than Beth Ann Masarik. She has recently brought out Prince of Darkness, part of her trilogy The World Among Us. So all you fantasy  / romance fans, take a look at her interview below and be aware that she’s going to do a giveaway- there will be a couple of great prizes, all to be had for a simple comment below.

I leave you in Beth’s capable hands!

JAC

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Name: Beth Ann Masarik

Author of: The World Among Us: Prince of Darkness

Genre/s: Young Adult/Fantasy (Urban Fantasy)

P- or e-book: All formats…paperback, hardcover, and e-book

Available from:  Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords & Otherworld Publications

One-sentence summary: The World Among Us is a Young Adult/Fantasy Trilogy that has plenty of Greek Mythology & Vampire lore, and of course, forbidden love.

  One-sentence biog: I love to write, read and    role play.

 Links to your Blog / Twitter / FB / other:

The World Among Us Fanpage,

My Author fanpage

 Twitter accounts:

@theworldamongus &

@literarylunes

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When you write, do you have a routine or habit?

I usually like to write in my bed, with my pajamas on, and the music blasting in the background. I usually listen to something fast beat.  This is going to sound weird, but I like to try to write to the beat of the music. Does anyone else do that?  I also usually have either a glass of Pepsi or mom’s homemade iced tea & a bag of chips with me when I write.

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

Usually a situation is what kicks off my books.

Do you plan the plot or follow it as it unfolds? How much do you know in advance? 

I usually do very little planning.  I like to have set goals or situations that have to happen in each book I write.  Otherwise, I usually just let my characters write the books, and I dictate.  Sometimes, however, my characters tend to sidetrack, and I have to get them back on track and plot a little bit.

Do you write character notes or background information?

Yes!  That is mostly what I plot. It’s how I get to know my characters.

Do you do research and how?

It depends on the topic I am writing about, but yes, I do research.  I usually browse the internet for said topic, and keep looking until I find whatever it is I am looking for.

Do your characters do as you intend or do they tend to run away with the plot? 

My main characters are generally good with doing what I want them to. However, once in a while they tend to get off track.

Do you have clear visuals of places or characters? 

Most of the time, yes I do.  It’s getting that vision into words that’s the problem sometimes.

When you have writer’s block, what do you do? 

When I have writer’s block, I usually put the book down for however long I need to, and read.  I usually read books in the genre I write in, and after a while, something I read or see in real life will spark an idea. I find that going to church is actually a good place to get inspiration from.  I often find myself zoning out of the homily’s after the gospel during mass, and entering the thoughts of my characters.  It’s a nice escape I have to say (especially if the sermon is really boring lol)

What made you decide to write this story? 

I’ve always been into the fantasy world, and love vampires and witches (not so much werewolves).  It was one of those stories that once I got the idea for it, it just HAD to be written.

What element did you start with and how did it develop? 

I started out with knowing the last ¼ of The World Among Us: Prince of Darkness, and developed the story around it.  It sounds complicated, and I guess you could say I kind of wrote the book backwards, but it developed nicely (I think).

Did anything change substantially along the way?

Sometimes something that started as a detail suddenly becomes a plot point. Have you had that happen and what was it (if it would not be a spoiler to say)?  I am sure that I have, but to be honest, I can’t remember a specific detail.  (there are just too many).

Do you have a favorite character or place? 

I hate being asked about my favorite character lol. It’s like being asked if you have a favorite child.  I love them all.  In terms of a favorite place, I would have to say Mount Olympus.  You don’t get to visit it much in Prince of Darkness, but you will get to see why it’s my favorite in Stormy Nights.

Are any of your characters / places / situations based on real life? 

Some of the places are loosely based off of places that I frequently visit in real life.  IE, Holly Oak University is based off the college I went to, and Port Washington is a real town in NY.  It’s in Nassau County, Long Island.

What are your views on self-publishing? 

If you have what it takes, go for it!  I self-publish my magazine called Literary Lunes (www.literarylunes.com), so I know that it’s a lot of hard work, and can be very frustrating if you don’t know what you are doing.  BUT if you have the time and patience, then by all means, all the more power to you!

What are your views on e-books?

I think e-books are great and convenient for traveling, but, I still prefer to hold the actual book in my hand.

Do you have / are you considering getting an e-reader?

I actually just received an e-reader for Christmas from my fiancé.  I received the Nook Color J.

Did you have your cover made /  work edited / proofed by someone else?

My cover was designed by someone that Otherworld hired.  James from JE Ellis Design designed it.

What do you do to market your book? 

I talk about it all the time on facebook, twitter etc. I have a fanpage on facebook (www.facebook.com/theworldamongus), and my twitter handle is also the title of my book @theworldamongus.  This way, whenever someone sees the name, they are always thinking or talking about my book (even when they don’t realize it!)

Are you on any social media? Which do you prefer? 

I am on too many social media websites. I am on so many, that I can barely keep up with them all.  I personally prefer facebook & twitter as opposed to myspace, however.

What has proved your most successful marketing method so far? 

Networking sites such as facebook, twitter, and Goodreads.  They are MUST HAVES, especially for new authors.  Blogging is also proving to be successful as well.

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

I’m honestly only just starting with reading some Indie authors, and the one that I just read was called Legacy of the Highlands by Harriet Schultz.  It’s a new, romantic thriller that has you on the edge of your seat right to the very end.  It was out of my normal genre (YA/Fantasy), so it took me a chapter or two to really get into it. BUT once I got into it, I was hooked.  I will be writing a review for it on www.literarylunespublications.blogspot.com over the next week.

Have you any tips for other authors? 

Be kind to your fans & readers.  If you’re on a pedestal, step down.  No one likes a stuck up author.  Be humble.  If someone takes the time out to review your book, be sure to thank them, or pay it forward. If you received a bad review, take it with a grain of salt.  Remember, a review is ONLY ONE PERSON’S OPINION.

Which book review sites do you read?

I honestly try to avoid reading book review websites BUT I absolutely ADORE everyone that has been participating on my tour.  It’s hard to pick just one.

Which review sites have reviewed your book? 

Too many to list.  If you take a look at the tour list on www.bethannmasarik.com or www.bahbammymusings.wordpress.com you will get an idea of who’s reviewed me.

Are there any resources you have found really useful? 

Goodreads is a goldmine for authors, writers, and yes, even readers.  It’s a great way to connect with your fans and the general audience.  There are lots of great books out there, and Goodreads is a great resource to finding them.

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Many thanks to Beth for the interview, and now for the giveaway – Beth has kindly offered prizes for you! There will be the chance to win an ebook, a fanclub Tshirt and possibly a mug, which could be yours! To enter, please leave a comment below…. and if you know other fantasy / romance fans, please let them know as well!

Thanks to Beth for this great opportunity;

JAC

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

Hey peeps –
ain’t we the lucky ones today?! For why you ask (or at least those of you who didn’t read the title do)??
.
Because today we have a special guest post with the lovely Cambria Hebert, published paranormal author, fellow member of the Creative Reviews group on Goodreads (click the button over there on the right if you haven’t visited there yet) and general lovely nutter. This is her, look:
Hot chick with thiing for werewolves

Hot chick with thing for werewolves

Now boys, calm down (girls, she is just as lovely as she looks). She has kindly agreed to answer some questions for this blog to celebrate the release of short story Before, which will be released for your enjoymen and delectation on 18th November, no less and is a taster forher main novel Masquerade, due to hit the shelves on 16th December. Her blog is full of amusing and entertaining stuff, and her book trailers are WAY cool! Especially the one for the short story White-out which is frankly the best book trailer I’ve seen in some time. She is also one of the main culprits responsible for the Creative Reviews Charity Anthology, Christmas Lites, due out on Nov 26th,  so keep an eye out for all of these literary amuse-bouches.
So – let’s hear from the lady herself….

Name: Cambria Hebert

Title: Before

(more details  and frankly fabulous cover are at end of post)

Format: Ebook (no links yet)

One sentence summary:  What if your life was charmed and everything in it was perfect… Before.

One sentence author bio: Cambria is an author, blogger, latte sipper who loves werewolves and just knows a toilet snake is waiting to get her.

Links:

Website: http://www.cambriahebert.com

Blog: http://www.theunlockeddiary.blogspot.com

FB:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cambria-Hebert/128278117253138

Twitter: @cambriahebert

1.  When writing Before what element did you start with and how did it develop?

Before is the prequel to my debut novel, Masquerade, so I used the novel as a jumping off point. Masquerade is based on Heven, a teenage girl who had the perfect life before there was an accident and she was left horribly disfigured on the left side of her face. She is then treated with caution and considered a freak. Heven can’t remember the accident or how she got her scars. Before is about Heven about her life before her accident and the trouble that is lurking in the background that she doesn’t see….

 2.  What was most difficult about writing Before?

The most difficult thing is that it is a short story and shorts are hard!!! Trying to pack some interest and action into such a short amount of writing. Also, I felt a lot of pressure to make it be enticing so people will want to read Masquerade.

 3. Do your characters do as you intend or do they run away with the plot?

They run away with the plot – always!! That’s why it’s so fun to write! Once I researched a character’s name for an hour, picked one out and then wrote the scene where the character came into the book. When he was asked his name he said something else!!! I was like all that time researching wasted! I couldn’t force his name because he never would have been quiet in my head. I would have insomnia!

 4. Why toilet snakes?

Imagine this: its one o’clock in the morning, you wake up and crawl out of bed, trudge through the dark and into the bathroom. You sit down on the toilet, half sleeping… and then a snake bites you! On your butt! Ack!!!  Always look before you sit. It’s a rule!!! Never get caught with a snake on your bum. It could happen. But it won’t happen to me, because I look before I sit. Yes, even in the middle of the night.

 5. Werewolves. How often do you have to groom them?

That’s the beauty of a werewolf. Sometimes they are hairy and other times they are hot men. Wait – not just hot – Hawt. Yup, gotta exaggerate that hawwt. Uh –huh. Anyway, when they get shaggy looking you can just either make them morph into their human selves or send them to the groomer. Or perhaps they can just run off into the woods and scratch themselves against a tree. Either way they are great for cold winter nights….

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 JAC: <bafflement. Fleas?>

 .

6. Brussel sprouts – why?

As in why would anyone eat them?? I don’t like them. I’ve tried to cook them, bake them, season them. They are gross. They taste like mini cabbages (which isn’t that what they are?) and cabbage is gross too. Sorry to all you cabbage lovers out there!

JAC:
Thanks to Cambria for answering those questions,even if the whole werewolf / fleaing thing is a bit of a worry….. So here are those links again in case you missed them!

Cambria Hebert
Didn’t get enough? Check me out on Tuesday nights at 9pm (EST)
 BEFORE – by Cambria Hebert
 Details:
Cover of short story by Cambria Hebert

What if your life was charmed and everything in it was perfect…

Before.

This is the story of my past. Of what things were like for me when everything was normal. Of what every teenager’s life is like. Clothes. Parties. Boys and summer vacation. What’s so wrong with that? I liked it. I was happy.

Until things changed. I changed.

I didn’t know that lies and secrets were about to take over my existence. I didn’t know there was someone out there, someone meant just for me. I didn’t know that I was about to go on a journey, a journey that would lead me to the girl I am today.

This is the beginning of the worst year of my life. Would I go back and change things? Erase everything that has happened to go back into these moments?

Not a chance.

This is a story of before.

= = = = = = = = =
So once again thanks to Cambria for her fab interview, and best of luck with the exciting multiple releases over Christmas! And remember, kids, when she’s at the top of the NYT Bestsellers list – you saw her here first!
In the weeks to come – a guest-blog from CS Splitter, author of The Reluctant with hopefully some details about his new release The Willing, due out 21st November…. and a couple of other treats queued up between now and Christmas, so keep an eye on this space! And you never know, it’s just possible that I might have a new release in the On Dark Shores series for you before the end of the year….here’s hoping!
Upon which note I shall get back to my edits and leave you lovely lot to go look at Cambria’s websites (go on! I didn’t put all those links in for nothing!) Have a great week, peeps – and  when you’ve read Before, and indeed all the rest, don’t forget to leave a review!
Catch you later;
JAC

Christmas Lites Charity Anthology from Creative Reviews

 

Look, not only do we have a new cover for Christmas Lites!

If you have not been paying attention so far, this is the new short story anthology including 26 stories from of the Creative Reviews group – it’s going to be great fun, including at the last roundup Santa, zombies, ghosts, a living snowmaiden and a ninja elf…! Furthermore, all proceeds will go the the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, so it’s all in a good cause. If anyone is up for helping us with a bit of publicity, please get in touch either here or on the Creative Reviews group, as we’d really like to raise a bit of money for the charity at Christmas.

More as we get it but there is a bit more info on Cambria’s blog here:

http://theunlockeddiary.blogspot.com/

and a bit more about the NCADV here on Jenn’s blog:

http://www.indiesupporter.com/

And both of them have the trailer all ready to be watched as well, so do check that out – ninja elves – how can you resist?!

A blog with author Cambria Hebert later in the week so do watch this space – and please, if anyone is up for spreading the word about the anthology, it would be much appreciated.

Thanks all – as always you are stars!!

JAC

 

Hey all!

Sorry for the long silence – I’ve been busy writing, editing and writing some more!

Book 2 will now bw called “The Other Nereia” and “The Mother” will be book 3 (just as you all requested!). Editing is ongoing – hopefully book 2 will be online before Christmas and the paperback version of 1&2 is due out in Spring 2012.

In the meantime, keep your eyes peeled for my short story “A Sprig of Holly” in the charity anthology “Christmas Lites” – this is an anthology of short stories written, edited and generally put together by authors, editors, and other members of the Creative Reviews group on Goodreads and is due out in time for Christmas, with all proceeds to go to NCADV, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

More details to follow…watch this space!

Also:

later in the year, an interview with Cambria Hebert, author of the imminent release Masquerade.

This should be a good one, so I’m really looking forward to finding out what she has to tell us about her writing, her radio show and where on earth she first came across toilet snakes….

More later!

JAC