Monday, 27 January 2014

WIP: The Movie Bloghop... It's BACK!

Can you believe it’s been almost two years since we last did this? Well, WIP: The Movie Bloghop is back, and Rachel Schieffelbein and I are co-hosting again! For those who didn’t see this last time, or who need a quick reminder, here’s what it’s all about:

Almost all of us have imagined who would play the characters in our WIPs if they were ever made into a movie. On February 28th, we want you to “cast” your WIP, and post photos of the actors/actresses you would choose to play the characters in your latest manuscript. You don’t have to cast everyone if you don’t want to, just show us your MCs and tell us a little about them.

 Also, we’d like you to tell us which songs you’d have on your WIP Movie soundtrack! This can be one song that fits the main theme of the story, or several songs that make you think of your story.

Rachel and I will each pick a winner at random, and we’re giving away one of our favourite books which were turned into movies!

 Rachel’s prizes: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak + Choose one of Rachel’s ebooks.

My prizes: The Perks Of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky + Choose one of my ebooks OR an ARC of Game On Book 3 You can sign up for the hop here:

Friday, 24 January 2014

Friday Promo Day!

So... it's been more than a year since I unleashed Game On on the world, and while I did some heavy marketing at the time, I have said very little about it in the past few months. That would be okay if the series was over, and I was moving on, but I still have three books to go, and I need to keep the interest levels high! So, over the coming weeks, watch out for some character blog posts and some snippets for Bree's story so you can re-connect with the world of the Westberg Warriors!

Today, I thought I'd throw out some links for you, so those of you who are new can take a look, and those of you who have been around a while can remember what the books are all about! I'm sharing Smashwords links today because - in spite of them being on Amazon forever - the two free books are still not free on Amazon. I also would like to ask a favour. For unknown reasons, Game On is being sold for more than $5 on Amazon.com. I would be super grateful if you could follow this link and report that it is lower priced on Smashwords here. Thank you!



Okay, so... links...

A Beginner's Guide To Game On - FREE. (originally, these were blog posts from the A-Z Challenge, to introduce  the characters to the world.)

Game On - $2.99
After swapping her small town life to work for one of the top soccer teams in the U.S, Leah Walker thought she could finally leave the ghosts of her past behind. However, when she meets serial womanizer, Radleigh McCoy, the memories of her old life come swarming back, and she is forced to ask herself whether she has really changed at all.

Blindsided - $2.49
After a successful first soccer season in L.A, Jesse Shaw heads to London with his best buddy, Hunter, but his world is turned upside down when a dangerous prank threatens his career and his blossoming relationship with Hunter’s cousin, Isabelle.

Isabelle Mills lives in Notting Hill with her parents and her twin sister, Georgia. When she finds out her cousin is coming to stay, along with his famous soccer player friend, her first instinct is to hibernate until they’ve gone. However, once she meets Jesse, everything changes. He’s everything she ever wanted, but with so many obstacles in their path, can she really risk putting her heart on the line?

A Very Game On Christmas - FREE (This was written as a short Christmas gift for my readers, and ties up the first year at Westberg, and is all about Bree Collinson's birthday party - a lead-in the Game On 3, which is written from Bree's POV.)

And, there you have it! The Game On series, so far!

Monday, 20 January 2014

Blog Tours and Cover Reveals - Are They Still Effective?

I'm planning to release my next Game On book towards the end of February/early March, and already, I'm thinking about promotion. When I released the first book in the series, blog tours were a big deal, and they worked. I had exceptional (well, what I would call exceptional lol) book sales for a year after the book was released, and I can't help thinking that most of it came off the back of a blog tour and a high level of networking.

And I used to love being part of other people's cover reveals and blog tours. And reading about them! I'm not against it now, I'm happy to host anyone when I can but when I see cover reveals on a blog post now, my eyes start to glaze over.

I think it's the sheer amount of them. If it's a blogger I know, I will absolutely take a look, but when it's someone I've never heard of, I tend to skim. Which got me thinking, if someone is showing off my book cover to people who have never heard of me, are they skimming, too?

I realise I slightly risk sounding like a bitch with this confession, because, let's face it, if authors aren't going to support each other, who else will? I'll never stop supporting my fellow authors, but is the cover reveal trend still as good an idea as it once was? If everyone is doing it, how can you make yours stand out amongst the others? Especially when so many people confess to scrolling by these kind of posts?

So... what do you think? Are blog tours and cover reveals still a good idea, or should we be thinking outside the box when it comes to promotion?

Friday, 17 January 2014

Guest Post: Alex Tanner Talks Book Covers



Today, I have something a little different on the blog. A guest post from the fantastic Alex Tanner. I recommended her book "Paradise Incoming" right before Christmas, and she's here today to talk about the importance of book covers!


 ****


Judge a Book by its Cover

Since we were children, weve had the mantra never judge a book by its coverdrilled into our heads. After all, whats important is whats inside the book. But whilst this is good advice when turning it into a metaphor for people, is it good advice when were actually talking about books?

No, it isnt. In fact its terrible advice. People are going to judge your book by its cover, so its important that your cover is the absolute Regina George of the Kindle store.

Being a cover designer myself, Ive come to learn a lot about what it takes to make a decent book cover. It has to pop, it has to stand out, it has to be simple. Less is more where book covers are concerned.

Here are some tips to make sure your book cover stands out:

Dont Fall Into the Genre Cover Hole

Book covers, just like anything visual, have fashions, and to say it annoys the bodily fluids out of me is an understatement.

Whilst your books cover must fit the theme and mood of your book (so having a chick lit novel with a black and white picture of blood and guts on the cover would be stupid), theres no harm in stretching your boundaries.

Observe some stereotypical and frankly quite overdone book cover styles:

The cartoon chick-lit cover:





The Young Adult fantasy book covers for older readers:





The monotonous eroticacovers:






The paranormal for teens covers:






I could go on, but I might start crying if I have to look at another copy-paste book cover again. If you find yourself on a stock images website and all of this looks familiar, rethink your cover - youll thank me later if your book stands out from the 100s of others that look the same.

Less Really is More

We often believe that to stand out we have to be bright and noticeable. That might count for people, but for books its a sure-fire way to get people to see it for entirely the wrong reasons.

This is my latest book cover



I went through god knows how many designs before settling on this. They were all overly busy, too colourful andjust too much. The red and black really pops against the white, and I felt the silhouette gave it a nice touch too. It may or may not be to everyones tastes, but it cant be denied that the cover, despite only having three colours, pops out.

To contrast, here is an example of what I feel is a terrible book cover.



Its just horrible, isnt it? The tacky silhouette, the boring typography, the total lack of design or flair. Obviously this person isnt a dab hand in PhotoShop. Dont let your book suffer because of it. Either learn PhotoShop, or find a service that can do it for you *polite cough* instead.

(if you want some truly bad examples of book covers, visit http://lousybookcovers.tumblr.com/ - they are all horrifyingly real and looking at them is addictive!)

No Fancy Fonts

Now let me explain this one. Fancy fonts can look great, but they can look extremely tacky as well. Look at your favourite, bestselling novels and their cover designs. Do you see wacky fonts on there? Comic Sans? Scripty-scrawly handwriting fonts? NO. And you never will, because these things are just not cricket in the cover designing world.

(Many cartoony chick-lit covers use the scripty-scrawly font option, and sometimes it makes them impossible or annoying to read from a small distance away, or in a thumbnail)

So thats my guide. Apologies to Kyra this went on far longer than it was supposed to - I will likely continue this over on my own blog, there are so many things to consider!


Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Road To Somewhere Bloghop and Giveaway!




New! From Bloomsbury Spark, a sunny heartwarming story of discovery and sisterhood. 

A road trip. A singing competition. And super-hot cowboys. 

What could be better? 

For Charlie, a post-high school road trip isn't just a vacation, it's life changingWhile her parents think she's helping a friend move, a chance at fame is the real reason to grab her best friends and drive to L.A. But when her super annoying, uber-responsible, younger sister, Lucy, has to tag along, it isn't quite the summer of fun she imagined. 

Add in a detour to her grandparents' ranch in Texas, and between mucking the stalls, down-home cookin’, and drool worthy ranch hands, this could just turn into the best, and most complicated, summer of their lives. 


SO, Jenny Morris and Kelley Lynn are two people I have known pretty much since I started blogging. I love these ladies, and I was so excited when I heard their book will be published by Bloomsbury Spark! Now, the day of their cover reveal is here, and they're having a little bloghop and giveaway to celebrate! 

For the bloghop of the celebrations, they want to know about our sibling relationships! Well, I am the youngest of four, although my brothers and sister are actually my half-siblings. As such, they are a fair bit older than me, so growing up, I wasn't THAT close to them. What I remember most about my relationships with them, especially my brothers, is that they both introduced me to some excellent music. I used to sneak into their room and borrow their records when they were out. Mostly, they didn't mind, as long as I didn't get scratches on them! 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, 13 January 2014

Honesty Cover Reveal + The Obligatory Query Letter Post

Morning! Today I have two things going on on the blog! Firstly, Carrie Butler's cover reveal for Honesty! How gorgeous is this?!



Honesty (Mark of Nexus #2)


Category: New Adult 
Genre: Urban Fantasy 



Book Description:


Note: This title is best enjoyed after Strength (Mark of Nexus #1) and Courage (Mark of Nexus #2).

Cole Blake is more than just a roguish ladies’ man. He’s also a dedicated worker—so dedicated, in fact, that he’s willing to blackmail his boss with a falsified sex tape in order to keep his job. And his proactive efforts don’t end there. After hours, he uses his Dynari abilities to moonlight as a vigilante, keeping his neighborhood safe from drunks, dealers, and would-be thieves.

Until a mistake stops him dead in his super-accelerated tracks.

Now burdened with the closest thing he’s ever had to a conscience, Cole struggles to justify his once-reckless actions. It’d be all too easy to give in to his darker impulses, especially with ERA making dangerous advances toward their goal of revolution, but embracing that hatred could jeopardize the few relationships he actually cares about—including his pursuit of the saintly Rachel Ranford. No, in order to keep everyone safe, he’ll have to come clean about his warring compulsions and ask for help... before his dark side takes over.

 



Click here to read the first (unedited) chapter of HONESTY!

COMING MARCH of 2014
 Want to learn more about HONESTY? Check out its book page!






Where to Find Carrie:
•    WEBSITE: www.carrieabutler.com
•    BLOG: www.soyoureawriter.blogspot.com
•    NA ALLEY: www.naalley.com
•    TWITTER: www.twitter.com/carrieabutler
•    FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/carrieabutler
•    GOODREADS: www.goodreads.com/carriebutler
•    GOOGLE+: www.google.com/+CarrieButler
•    PINTEREST: www.pinterest.com/writer
•    LINKEDIN: www.linkedin.com/in/carriebutler
•    FORWARD AUTHORITY: www.forwardauthority.com
•    MARK OF NEXUS on FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/markofnexus



Congrats, Carrie! This looks amazing!

Next up, I want to talk about something I never expected to talk about. The dreaded query letter.

Here's the thing... I always thought I'd self-publish everything. It's faster, there's more control, I can set my own pricing and make my own covers... I'm too impatient for the whole querying thing.

Then I wrote a book that felt... different. All my books feel special, if they didn't, I wouldn't publish them at all. But this one... there's just something about it. And I still might not go down the querying road BUT if I do, I need to get it right.

The thing is, the query letter scares the bejeezus out of me. There is so much to it, to getting it right. While I understand what I'm supposed to do, I can never quite manage to nail it.

So, I'm looking for some help. Best places to look for tips on writing a great query, some of your own tips, and... hell if you wanna help me write it, just let me know lol!

Thank you!

Friday, 10 January 2014

Personal experience and writing

Firstly, thanks for all your thoughts about Game On 3. I feel a lot better about writing Bree how she is supposed to be now! I did get a little bit of work done on the story, and I'm hoping to squish in time to write some more between work over the weekend. (Working at the weekend is a habit I need to break!)

Next question. You know in the front of books, where the author writes that thing about "any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental"? Is that ever REALLY true? Every author, well, most authors, confess using incidents and occasionally characters based on people they know within their stories.

So, how does it work? How much is too much? I get that using a work of "fiction" to fully chronicle something that happened in your own life might not be the best way to do things, but where is the line drawn?

Have you ever used personal experience in your books? And if so, did you ever feel like you'd put in too much of yourself, or people you know/knew?

Monday, 6 January 2014

This Is The Week!

This is a very bold announcement to make, since I have a bunch of work on this week, but I've decided, this is the week I write a massive chunk of Game On Book 3.

See, I started it during NaNo last year, and never completed the challenge, never mind the book. The reason? I genuinely thought I'd written drivel.

The issue with writing a series like Game On - which doesn't follow the same MCs throughout - is that each character is SO different, it sort of messes with the balance a little. Game On was all about passion and fire. Therefore, people expected more of that when they read Blindsided. (Keeping in mind it should have been clear from the blurb that those two books were going to be very different!! But apparently not everyone reads blurbs). Game On Book 3 - loosely titled "Sidelined" - is different again. Where Blindsided was sweet and romantic, Book 3 actually has very little romance. It's more to do with Bree's struggle to find her place in the world, outside of being the wife of a famous soccer player, and the label of being a total ditz.

As much as I like to think it doesn't matter about the differences between books in the same series, it seems to matter to a lot of readers.

Those things weighed down on me while writing, making me think the book was not worth the paper it is written on.

I need to get over it, because there IS no other story for Bree. This story is who she is, and where she is in her life at this point of the Game On timeline. I can't force myself to make it something it's not for the sake of trying to make it more like Game On. Well, I could, but then it wouldn't make any sense to me, and it would throw off the following books.

So, this week, I need to get over the doubts and get the book written. I promised a February release, and if I delay too long, February will be here and I won't be ready!


Thursday, 2 January 2014

Happy New Year - 2014 Plans and such

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope 2014 is everything you want it to be and more!

So... I took a very extended break from blogging last year, popping in and out whenever I found the time, and while I really did try my best to fit everything in, blogging was one of the things that mostly got lost amongst everything else I was doing.

Here's the thing. Every time I come back saying I promise to be better at blogging, I always fail. It's like a New Year's Resolution I make four times a year, and it pretty much falls by the wayside as soon as the words have left my mouth - or fingertips. SO, instead of that, I am going to say that from next week onwards, I plan to blog on Mondays and Fridays. That means I know when I need to post, and I will use those days to catch up on everyone else's blogs instead of trying to follow everything every day, and flailing because it's too much. See, I figure giving myself definite posting days is better than a wishy-washy promise to "try harder".  The new schedule will start on Monday!

This year, I have GOT to set myself better working hours, so I know when I can be writing, when I can be working on the day job, and most importantly, when I can read and generally unwind. I need to fit more paid work in this year, which means I need to manage my time properly. I have just set up this page on my website, where I am now officially offering beta reading, proofing and editing services. It would be fabulous if you'd check it out and/or tell people about it - but you don't HAVE to. I just wanted to put it out there so you know what I'm doing. :D Also, if you are a bloggy friend and I've known you for a while, I will still edit your work for free!

In regards to actually writing - well, I need to get back on the publishing horse! I published nothing last year, which is absolutely ridiculous. I finished an MS, but it's STILL resting while I work out what I want to do with it. I am also working on Game On Book 3. While I was unsure about whether it is even interesting enough to be published, the fabulous Annalisa Crawford read it and I got in trouble for not finishing it because she wanted to read more! That is always a good thing, and a much needed boost. If I work hard, I can get Game On Book 4 out also, and as yet, I have no other brilliant book ideas so it's definitely  a possibility.

In amongst all that I need to find  time for my new hobby lol. Those of you who I'm friends with on Facebook will have noticed I picked up an unexpected interest in knitting! It makes me feel about five hundred years old to be doing this, but it's oddly addictive.

This was the first thing I ever knitted - and yes - I'm aware it's pretty freaking bizarre lol!

Okay, that's enough rambling from me! I am going to get back to seeking out jobs and trying to pretend Christmas isn't really over by eating mince pies and chocolates!