I just wanted to let you all know I’ve added a new link to my panels page.
I had the privilege to join Authors Heidi Angell and J.B. Taylor for a fun discussion about the first two episodes of the new season of Doctor Who and its spinoff Class. You probably want to jump to the 30:51 mark as we had to hash out some technical difficulties, but that’s when the discussion begins in earnest. If you want to see it, You just jump straight to it here.
The March Book Cover of the Month bracket has just wrapped up. This was a very tough bracket from my point of view. We had some heavily-supported authors and some tight races. We didn’t break a ton of records, but still had a solid month. We had a total of 2,808 votes. The last round had 190 votes. It was a pretty close contest, but someone has to win.
The March Book Cover of the Month is…
The Door Keeper by Steen Jones! If you’re curious about how I felt about the book, check out the Facebook post that I posted when this book first landed on the bracket, here.
I’d have to say this is a bit of an upset. This isn’t because Door Keeper isn’t a great cover; I only select covers that are great to go into the bracket. I say it’s a bit of an upset because Frank Dorrian had such a huge following. In terms of pure numbers, To Brave the End actually had a total of 348 votes, which is more than the 288 (yeah, that much more) than Steen had through the tournament. But Dorrian had a strong Elite8 and Final4; however, Steen had the stronger finals, and that’s how tournaments work. She brought her following when it mattered most, wining 107 to 83.
All is not lost for Dorrian. He’ll receive the last (reentry) bid in the April Book Cover of the Month. If you liked his cover, you’ll have another chance to get him some recognition next month.
Now, for this month’s winner…The Door Keeper is Steen’s first novel. Here’s the Amazon blurb.
Adventure. Love. Destiny.
Single mom Eden Saunders has learned that tragedy is simply a part of life. Her mother died during childbirth, and her husband was killed just three years after they married. On a journey to discover where she comes from, Eden inherits the key to unlocking new worlds from her deceased mother—including the world that should have been her home. The only thing stopping her from exploring them is the fear of leaving her daughter behind. Caught up in the circle of legacy, Eden discovers the mother-daughter bond that even death cannot break.
In discovering where she truly came from, Eden inherits a key from her deceased mother that opens doors to different worlds beyond her imagination, including the world that should have been her home. The only thing stopping her from exploring them is the fear of leaving her own daughter behind. T he Door Keeper explores the circle of mother/daughter legacies, and the bond that unites them; a bond that even death can not break.
As always, I’ve purchased the book and added it to my TBR. (For those who are new to the deal, I buy the Book Cover of the Month to read and review in the future. I bought Manning’s cover, Howard’s cover, and Deyo’s cover, and they are also on my TBR. (I’m reading Manning’s book now. Look for a review on that probably in the next two weeks.)
Here’s Ms. Jones’s Facebook page. Give her a like if you’re curious about her work.
The artist for this cover is Meghan Brim. I’ll reach out to her and see if she’d like to have an interview later on in the week. I don’t have a website of info for her just yet, but I’ll be sure to give you everything I can once I (if I) contact her.
The April bracket is ready to go and will launch on May 1.
I will continue to identify and select covers for each day from Amazon’s New Release section for fantasy and science fiction. If you follow and like my Facebookpage, you can see what covers will make the bracket.
For those of you who follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you’ve seen how happy I am to have completed the third draft to Sojourn in Captivity! I truly feel this is the best thing I’ve written so far (which I honestly hope to say each time I write something). Now that I’ve had an editor take a look at it, it’s time for what I call my Beta Draft. That means I need beta readers!
I’m sending out the call for any interested beta readers. I tend to like between 5-20 betas. In my mind, the more people who read it, the more feedback you get. The more feedback you get, the more certain you can be about certain aspects of the story. I’d like to send out the draft (31,000 words) Saturday, and I’d ask that you send your feedback (and a few very short questionnaires I have for each segment), by May 6. (That would mean you need to read at least a segment every other day.)
Sojourn in Captivity is a prequel, I guess it’s more of a novella now, but I’m calling it a short story, to my Perception of War space war science fiction/fantasy sequence. He’s an off-the-top-of-my-head blurb:
Elele’s course in life was altered when Adhol (her planet’s name for God) arrived three years ago. Her life remained relatively normal even though she couldn’t travel to the Gernis home planet of Welt, where she was supposed to study with the greatest mathematical minds in the galaxy. She’s still her father’s favorite child. She’s still gotten everything she’s ever wanted that was within her school’s or family’s power to give. That’s all about to change. Since Adhol’s arrival, he’s used his power to elevate her people from vestigial-winged, slender beings known as Seferam into the membrane-winged, monstrously sized Var’lechen. It’s supposed to be the greatest blessing a Seferam could ask for. It’s supposed to be when a Seferam evolves into a form that more closely resembles their god. There’s only one problem, Elele doesn’t want to transform. When she faces her god, she’ll discover that not only is her life about to change forever, but her family’s had secrets that she’ll have to come to understand before its too late.
I’d be honored if anyone cared to give it a read. Please reply below or send me an email if you’re interested.
The semifinals are over, and that means we’ve narrowed down our vote to the final 2! We ended with 94 votes. This pushed us to 2,618 for the month. As always, I’m grateful to everyone who came out to support these covers, their designers, and the authors who wrote these books.
Let’s talk about it:
The Closest Contest:
I can honestly say they were both close depending on how you look at it. The Door Keeper by Steen Jones beat The Burning World by Isaac Marion won by 10 votes (63 percent of the total). To Brave the End by Frank Dorrian only beat Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan by 60 percent (11 votes).
Most Voted On Contest:
Dorian’s match was the more voted on of the two with 55 total votes (more on that below).
Dorrian’s book cover has taken every round since the Sweet 16. He’s rolling along, but I think Jones will give him a run for his money. I’m looking forward to seeing who wins.
As always, the top runner up for the round gets the chance to try again, and, for the first time, that lucky cover is once more Age of Myth. I’ve never had a book cover appear on more than two BCOTM brackets before. But Age just keeps hanging around. Age had 22 votes to Burning Wolrd’s 14, so is why Age gets the chance to try again.
A note on the tournament itself. I’ve spoken to a few authors, and it’s pretty demanding having a round-by-round that goes on for some three weeks. I’m going to try a few things in the next few months (the next few brackets) that I hope increases participation and limits how much these authors have to work to rally the troops. I don’t want this to be work or annoying to anyone.
Next month, the first thing we’ll try is a shorter time period. It will still be a round by round, which is something I’m a fan of. It lets me highlight covers multiple times, and usually lets a different cover shine each day I do an update blog. I’m going to try a single-vote tournament in June, just to see how it goes. What I want is the best blend between max participation and exposure for these artists and authors. Once I try a few things, I’ll let the one I feel is best run for a while before I change things up.
But that’s all future stuff, and the Finals have just begun!
They last until midnight of April 22. (That’s about 48 hours).
Spolier Free Summary: The Portal Opens looks to be the first book in a series, though I’m not positive. The ending certainly leaves potential for one. (Don’t worry, if you’re one who hates cliffhangers such as myself, this story doesn’t have one. It’s a complete arc that doesn’t leave you frustrated.) C.C. Rae writes a story in which the main character, Nicole, discovers a portal to the world of magic. Once the portal opens, Raiden, a seer from this magical world literally stumbles into her. They, and a dragon named Gordon, have to find out why the portal has opened. This reveals secrets and consequences that set up an interesting plot.
Character: So I have to admit a bias here. This is absolutely a YA book. With that said, there are some aspects of YA storytelling that I’m personally not a fan of, but fans of YA don’t mind at all. The biggest issue is the decision making and reactions of the characters. I liked this aspect least of all the parts of this book because it’s just hard to believe everyone would just roll with some of the things that happened in this story. I don’t find YA in general believable. Now, this is a personal bias of mine, and I want it known that this isn’t a break from what most YA does. I’d just appreciate the genre more if the characters didn’t just roll with the plot so easily. I’m most angry at the father in this story. I’m not blessed to be a father, but I’m an uncle, and there’s no way on earth I’d just roll with things the way this main character’s dad rolls with things. If you like YA, and you don’t mind this aspect, go for it because there are some very cool aspects to this book. While hard to believe, the characters are indeed proactive. I wouldn’t exactly call them sympathetic, but I’l give mad props to Gordon. He’s the character I was most drawn to, but he has the least air time. Why read a book outside of your genre? Because you have to stretch. I admit my bias in this review because I can not like rap music but still appreciate what it does well. My distaste for the genre in general doesn’t erase my ability to give credit to what the author does well.
Exposition: This was very well done. Rae doesn’t bombard the reader with blocks of exposition. It’s probably the strongest aspect of the book. Readers can follow the characters and world building without be buried in mountains of explanation or info dumping. This is impressive because this is Rae’s debut novel. She lets readers enjoy the book, and that’s a big asset to this genre.
World building: Bonus points for Rae here. You see, she and I are both from Yuma, Arizona! Why does that matter? The book is set in Yuma. Now I have to deduct a point because I’m a Criminal, and she sets the scene closer to Cibola High School. (At least it wasn’t Kofa.) I know…that doesn’t mean much to you dear readers, but imagine a book set in your hometown? Wouldn’t you geek out? I did. Oh…That reminds me, I discovered this book while home on leave. I met Miss. Rae at a local bookstore and bought her book (with an autograph of course). So she has my support! Now that the home town angle is sufficiently covered, the world building is interesting. The idea the our world and a magical world goes back to the days of Lewis. What I like is the explanation for this, and how that explanation drives the plot by providing conflict. I’d hope that future books explain more of how the source of the portal came to exist, but that’s what series do. The magic system is fairly soft right now. But I’m okay with that because magic is more of a source of strife and conflict than plot resolution.
Dialogue: I tie this to the character a lot. Because the characters react the way they do, the dialogue falls a bit short for me. It’s not wooden, and the characters each have a distinctive voice. But most of the conversations do tend to revolve around explaining why the characters are reacting the way they are. This is a solid aspect of the story and has the potential to get very good.
Description: This is solid. It’s not vivid or entrancing, but it’s not overly vague. I probably could have used a bit more detail here and there, but I’m way more glad I didn’t get a description of every blade of grass or article of clothing. The characters are visually stronger in my mind than most settings (though the location of the final conflict is pretty clear to me).
Overall: This book is an interesting rendition of a common YA Fantasy trend. The plot is the strongest aspect of the book. I think readers of YA will enjoy this book most, but it doesn’t quite transcend the genre like some other books in the genre do. It’s a fast read with some pretty cool moments.
We’re down to four, and I think it’ll be a tough round!
We picked things up a bit. This round had 314 votes, which brings us to 2,524 for the month. I’d love to see us break 4,000 for the month, but as long as you’re supporting the covers you love, that’s all that matters.
Let’s look at how this round broke down:
The Closest Contest:
Last month’s runner up, Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan, just finds a way to win every round. It’s always close, but Sullivan always comes through. He managed to beat Empress of the Fall by David Hair by just 10 votes (barely 57 percent of the votes in that match). That was the closest match no matter which way you measured it.
The Largest Victor:
I’m not an odds man myself, but I’m thinking whoever wants to make it to the finals is going to need at least 65 votes. And only two people have been hitting (and passing) that mark so far. This week The Burning World by Isaac Marion beat Gilded Cage by Vic James by a sound 44 votes, and at 79 percent of the votes, that takes the cake no matter how you slice it.
Most Voted On Contest:
As dominant as Marion’s victory was, his match didn’t garner the most support. That distinction goes to To Brave the End by Frank Dorrian vs Ahe’ey by Jamie Le Fay. That match was well ahead of the rest with 106 votes. I’ve seen Mr. Dorrian’s posts on FB and Twitter. I’m much obliged for your support, and your readers are doing a fine job of backing your outstanding cover.
This was still a slower than usual round. (Honestly, we’re only three months in, so it’s not like there’s a “usual” yet.) Still, all the contests had at least 60 votes, which is pretty respectable in my opinion.
Least Voted On Contest: The Door Keeper by Steen Jones vs Asharielle by Kathryn Cook racked up 63 votes. It was a pretty close match, with Jones only wining by 14 votes.
Marion came on strong, but Dorrian wins his second round of the tournament with the most votes. He earned 64 for the round and is sitting at 232 for the tournament (That’s 16 votes more than Marion at the moment). I hope this motivates Jones and Sullivan’s fans: It looks like an epic head to head between Dorrian and Marion unless someone pulls of an impressive upset. For those rooting for those underdogs, remember to share the tournament and ask your friends to support.
The Final 4 ends at the strike of Midnight, April 20. That’s only 2 days, so call your friends, share my posts, get your readers engaged!
The good news for those who made it into this round is that one of you is already guaranteed a bid in next month’s bracket if this month doesn’t work out for you. The top vote-earning runner up will automatically go in for the April bracket, so every vote counts in this round.
Hello everyone! The Elite 8 is here! The Sweet 16 had 457 votes, which puts us at a total of 2,210 votes so far!
Let’s go over some numbers:
The Closest Contest:
Empress of the Fall by David Hair narrowly defeated The Secret of Spellshadow Manor by Bella Forrest. It was the closest match both in terms of votes (only by 7) and percentage of votes (55).
The Largest Victor:
Frank Dorrian has thrown down the gauntlet. He racked up an impressive 82 votes. His book, To Brave the End, defeated The Lich by Adam Vine by 55 votes (75%). In fact, Dorrian earned more votes than any single match. (So needless to say his match had the most votes, and Dorrian’s book received the most votes).
Least Voted On Contest:
Night Lights by Helen Harper vs Gilded Cage by Vic James only received 53 votes. This was a slower round than usual, but we were bound to level off after three consecutive record breaking months. Fifty votes in a contest isn’t anything to balk at, but, as always, I’m going to ask that when you rally your voters, please ask them to vote in each match.
To Brave the End is the current leader in total votes due to his amazing support. The Burning World isn’t far behind, but rest of the pack is. The number three vote earner so far (Asharielle by Kathryn Cook) is 46 votes behind.
There’s still time to support your favorite book cover.
The Elite Eight lasts until April 18, so things should pick up with less time to vote between rounds.
One last thing. I’ve gotten a bit of feedback that says the tournament is too long. I want the authors to have enough time to drum up support, but I don’t want it to be taxing. Do any of you have any ideas or recommendations? Is the tournament too long? How many days do you think you need?