Book Review: The Legion Awakes by J.R. Handley

Book Review: The Legion Awakes by J.R. Handley
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All images were provided with and by permission from J.R. Handley. Any redistribution without his written consent is in violation of copyright doctrine.

Character:  Lance is memorable, and he’s compelling to read about in an 1980’s action movie sort of way. What this book makes up for in pace and excitement, Handley gives up a bit in terms of character. It’s not that Lance isn’t cool; It’s not even that there aren’t other cool characters. The problem is characters get thrown at the reader very quickly, and readers don’t get a lot of time in their heads. Basil is probably my favorite character. He also has the most satisfying arc. I remember Wires because of the nickname, but that’s about it. That said, this felt like an informed decision on the part of J.R (who most of you know is a friend of mine).  This area is probably the weakest of the book for that reason, but I repeat this is because Lance is so powerful and there are SO many other characters we don’t get a chance to learn about.

Worldbuilding:  So I understand that Sleeping Legion is a sub-set of the Human Legion saga. There’s a bit of a struggle (very small mind you). I think if you’re a fan of Human Legion, you’ll burn through this without issue, but there are some pieces of information that bring questions to those who haven’t read that universe. I equate it to people who watch something like Doctor Strange without seeing the other MCU movies. You don’t ACTUALLY need it to understand what’s going on, but it probably increases the enjoyability.  If you’ve read both, I’d be curious to hear if you agree in the comments below. What I will say is the world building we need to understand is laid out for the reader in a plot relevant style.

17035309_1868128633457762_1660927310_nDialogue:  It’s solid, though I wouldn’t be able to argue with those who say some characters sound alike. Lance steals the show for the most part. What the book lacks in voice, it makes up for in mannerisms that are indeed unique to the characters. As a military guy, what’s nice about the dialogue is the natural flow of the military conversations. This book does a great job of mixing up the odd manner service members have of mixing high intensity conversations with light hearted topics that break that tension. It’s realistic. If you’re a service member, you get it.

Description: Depending on who you are, this is either the strongest part of Handley’s game or the weakest. I’m not a fan of description, so the sparse details don’t bother me a bit. It allows the plot to surge forward at a breakneck pace.  Again, I’m not actually a science fiction reader. High fantasy (probably my favorite genre) is very detail obsessive. So if you’re looking for schematic ready description, you’ll probably be disappointed. But you have the visuals you need to move along. Like I said, I’m honestly very interested to hear what fans of this genre have to say on the matter. For my money, I don’t actually care about the layout, specks of the weapons or things like that. I wouldn’t say no to a few more beats of description, but I honestly didn’t miss it.

15673254_1834716943465598_837346620_nOverall: Lance plus a relentless plot pace makes this a really enjoyable book. J.R. makes no excuses or apologies for what he writes, and I’m in agreement with him. This is plup fiction, action oriented storytelling. Any reader could zip through this book during a large meal and a tasty desert. (No, really! I totally read this in about a week, which in Matt’s reading time is about two days…maybe 5 hours of reading time. That’s LUDICROUS Speed at it’s finest).  At the end of the day this is a pleasant, action-packed story that blends elements of 1980s action movies with science fiction themes.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

I Received the Blogger Recognition Award!

I Received the Blogger Recognition Award!

I was looking at comments on the WordPress universe and was thrilled to learn I’d won the Blogger Recognition Award!

The classiest of classy gents, J.J. Azar was kind enough to award me this distinguished honor. It’s honestly one of the most flattering things in the world to have someone form your community feel you’re deserving of something even resembling recognition. As you’ll see below, he could have named any one of the blogs he’s following, and he felt I was one of those deserving.  Thank you, Sir.

To accept the award, I must:

Thank the blogger who nominated me and provide a link to his blog (CHECK)

Write a post to show my award (check)

Give a brief story as to how my blog got started (see below)

Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers (see below)

Select 15 other bloggers for this award (Just 15? Um…ok)

Comment on each blog to let them know I nominated them and link them to this post (pending)

 

How’d my blog get started? Well it was non-existant until Quintessential Editor sat me down and showed me how it was done.

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I wanted a central location for all things Weech. I like to do reviews, character studies, and, oh yeah! I also wrote these books I’d like to sell. I had a lot of great ideas and things I wanted to talk about in addition to the shameless self promotion, and blogging seemed like the way to go.

As for my advice:

  1. What do you do that others don’t? For a while, I think my Character Studies was something I did. There are a LOT of great blogs out there, but I really enjoy looking at characters and analyzing how and why they are effective. That was something I liked to do that I didn’t se others doing.  Then I had another idea. I’m an instructor at the Defense Information School, and I’m constantly reviewing work. I judge award contests, grade students and provide feedback. I’m also a fan of randomly staring at covers. That gave me the idea of the Book Cover of the Month. Every month, I post a bracket in which people can vote for their favorite covers. I’m still growing this, but it’s already been a ton of fun and hugely viewed. There’s a lot of wonderful people out there doing a lot of great things, but you have find the parts of yourself that make you unique and expose (the right word I promise) those vulnerabilities, those parts of yourself that make you special, to the world. If you’re only saying what other say, why should people come to your blog?
  2. Consistency is everything.  Now, it’s okay to have some elements of randomness. My BCOTM posts happen each time a new round comes up. But those who follow my blog know that they’ll see a post of some kind every Wednesday (usually a review) and every Saturday (Usually a character study). When I see someone’s reviewed my book, I post that. If there’s some news relevant to my projects, I post that as well. But I never post more than once a day, and people always know when they’re guaranteed to see something new. Also, viewers know the BCOTM posts start on the first of every month, so even that has elements of consistency.

Now, to nominate those I can. There are a lot of blogs I follow, but those below are the ones I make it a point to visit whenever I’m doing what I call, The WordPress Tour. I don’t get to do it as often as I want, but I ALWAYS try to check these guys out.

Quintessential Editor

Red String Papercuts (Steve is my Social Media and Marketing Mentor and Jessie’s poems are lovely.)

J.R. Handley blog (Great interviews and military-based posts)

The Idiot in Tin Foil (Fantastic short works)

Rough and Ready Fiction (Wonderful Web Serials.)

Sinisterdarksoul (Absolutely HAUNTING prose. Content warning.)

Elizabeth Rose’s Site (Just a great site to visit. Lot’s of good info.)

Kristen Twardowski: A Writer’s Workshop (Simple, honest musings with author related info.)

The Excited Writer (Another solid site that, like Corey, talks about balancing writing and family.)

There are more, honestly, but these are the one’s I’m pretty driven to check up on when time allows.  They’re all wonderful blogs that I think you’d either enjoy reading or learn a lot from (usually both).

I’m honestly flattered J.J. nominated me. It’s nice to feel like I’m providing value to someone.  Thank you all as always.

Thanks for reading

Matt.

Happy Birthday, Bob! The 2nd anniversary of my first published book.

Happy Birthday, Bob! The 2nd anniversary of my first published book.

2017-02-23-bob-drifter-coverTwo years ago today, my life-long dream came true.

I’m just stunned typing those words. I’ll ask you to bare with me as I’m simply musing right now, and my fingers happen to be over a keyboard.

I’m weird. There’s no arguing that point. I think the thing that made me feel most odd was that I’ve always known what I want to be. I remember talking with Collin Fogel, the cover artist for Bob, about the stories we would tell. We were in junior high.  I remember role playing with my friends Sean and Ben, who later became my best friend and then my brother-in-law (though we’ve considered each other brothers before I even gave my sister away at the wedding).

All my life I felt weird because everyone talked about how they didn’t know what they wanted to do.  I was always like, “Dude, I’ve wanted to do this since I was 8.”

I’ve told you all how my journey began and how I was first encouraged to write.

I’ve spoken about how and why I decided to publish The Journals of Bob Drifter.

I’ve talked about how to fight fear.

On the second anniversary of this wonderful occasion, I want to talk about Bob (the book). Bob started out as a short story that no one wanted to publish. I’d put it aside to write something new because that’s sort of how I work. One day, me and Ben were talking (I never shut up around him). I mentioned off hand that I always thought it would be cool if the “every day normal” version of a grim reaper had to fight the “big and scary ‘IT’S YOUR TIME'” version of death.  I think I said, “I always saw them eventually fighting.”

Ben, in his infinite wisdom said, “Dude, you have to write that book.”

So what inspired the original short story?

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A very young Drew

The first (of two) reason was in fact, Drew. In the book or in real life, Drew was pretty much a center piece of the family. He was getting on in years. Some days I’d go upstairs and sleep next to him just to keep him company (he was usually just waiting for my dad).  Drew was a member of the family. Now, I’ll never argue whose dog he was. That dog loved my dad, and my dad loved him. But the credit for picking that dog goes to yours truly. (While I’m being arrogant, I’d like to point out I have this odd habit of paring things that belong together.  Trust me on this, the anecdotal evidence is overwhelming.)

My sister and I finally got permission to buy a dog, and we went to the local pound. I will never forget that day as long as I live. We were roaming the cages looking at these dogs. In one cage, was this knee-high dog who seemed to want to kill us. We passed a cage and saw another dog who took one look at us and immediately wet the floor.  I took a step back and saw this little, brown cocker spaniel.  I am not lying. He looked to his left, looked to his right, then looked right at me as if to say, “You’re seriously thinking about one of these two?”

We picked him, named him, and took him in the car. (Yes…he pooped in my car, but I got over it. He was actually a very loyal traveling companion.)

There’s a bit of debate in the family over where his name came from. You see, I fancy myself a football guru.  In those days, there were two quarterbacks at the top of their game: A young Brett Favre and Drew Bledsoe.

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Drew’s on the right in this image. Yep, see…doesn’t he look like a carnival stuffed animal?

Yeah, the name Drew was on my mind, but for the record, I have been and will ever be a 49ers fan.  So, to put a long-time family discussion to rest: Yes, I liked the name Drew, and I first gave it thought because of the Patriots quarterback. (Note: This was well before the Tuck Rule and the soon-after hatred I bear for that organization.) But Drew just sort of was. He was never a Fido or Barkey. He was never a dog. He ate what we ate. He went were we went (I mean traveled…he pooped outside after that one time in the car).  He was a member of the family. So when I sat down to write about what it must be like for someone who has to watch death, I thought about the relationships and what we lose when people die. I wanted to feel like some parts of us always remain.

Which brings me to my second reason:

Well, I won’t get too deep. It’s been nearly 20 years, but it’s still a bit hard to talk about. My family’s seen some rather hard times. I’m not trying to compare our troubles to others, only speak on how our troubles affected me. There were some very special people in my life that I had to say goodbye to. I won’t go into the details because I’m a private person, and not all of this information is simply mine to tell. But watching those people leave my life ripped a part of myself away.  That pain found its way into Bob’s story. These people didn’t die. They simply had to leave.

So as I wrote the full version of Bob, I realized what I was writing about. Inevitably, you have to say goodbye to the people you love. Being in the military, I’ve done that quite a number of times. If anyone’s figured out how to make it hurt less, they’re smarter than I am. It hurts. Every time. Moving, deploying, death. It just fucking hurts. What I wanted was a little way for me to feel like some part of them is with me, and some part of me is with them.

Why am I saying this now? Well…because sometimes, the people we miss actually come back.  Last  year, when Bob was but a mere “new release” one of those people I had to say goodbye to and I reconnected. This individual had a nickname for me, and the first words the person asked were if that nickname was still approrpriate.

I only cried a bit more than I am as I type this.

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The Junior (who is actually on schedule to graduate early last I heard) wants to get into the theatre business. I take full credit.

You see…I’m weird. I’ve know what I wanted my whole life, and I can say my dream came true. I have new goals to pursue, and WAY more to learn about this dream occupation of mine, but I also know the happiest time in my life. It’s not any one time. It wasn’t JUST that night when I got that Facebook message. It was all the times I felt a bond form that I knew nothing would break. I remember the first time, the first WORDS I ever read to The Junior (Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities, she was 1 night old). I remember teaching The Boy his first Jutsu (The Transformation Jutsu. Now he uses it to hide and ambush you with tickles. Listen, I like Anime, and a young man needs to learn his techniques). I remember the MOMENT Ben became my best friend (We were talking about a particular day on the bus, and how he was ready to stand up for me). I remember climbing trees with Collin.

I could go on forever. And that’s the point of Bob. Life goes on. The human soul, in whatever form you think of it, never goes away. It actually grows. I believe our souls grow each time we form a bond with someone new. Those bonds never break. Even the mortal limits of existence can’t erase a person, and that’s special.

So I created Bob. This guy who has the honor to take that essence of what makes us special and Pass On those memories to others, so that we never really leave.

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All stock images taken from Pixabay.

I want to take the chance to thank all of those who’ve read it. Thank you for reading. Thank you for reviewing it. Thank you for showing interest in my work. I’ll never pretend that I don’t throw myself (figuratively) into my work. I do. Ever book I write has some part of myself in it. That’s because writing is just another form of sharing one’s soul with the world. Thank you for allowing me to share that part of my soul with you.

 

Happy birthday, Bob. I shall always strive to live because that’s the point of life.

Thank you for reading,

Matt

Sojourn in Captivity Update!

Sojourn in Captivity Update!
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I can not stress to you how different Elele looks from this rough concept art. But here’s where it started.

I just wanted to announce the happy news! The second draft of Sojourn in Captivity (previously Sojourn in Despair) is finished and on its way to my (hopefully merciful) editor.

This project wouldn’t have moved forward the way it did without the help of my Alpha Readers.

The are:

Quintessential Editor and Jenn Moss. (My brother in law, Ben, also took his cut, but he gets first look at EVERYTHING).

Their feedback was honest, sometimes painful, and always helpful. Good Alphas do that for you.

I’m a huge fan of this project for a lot of reasons, and I honestly feel like this project has put me on another level.

So, what’s next? Well, while I wait for my developmental edit, I get back to redesigning The Journals of Bob Drifter.  I’m also starting the development of my next writing project, tentatively called The Truth of Emotion. ToE is a short story told from Kaitlyn’s point of view. Kaitlyn is one of the main characters from Caught. ToE is meant to bridge readers from the end of Caught to just a bit before Caught’s sequel (which had a title until I realized I need a new one, so give me a minute on that).  The JoBD re-design will take the bulk of my attention, but I should make a bit of progress on those other things as well.

I’m glad to be moving forward on this. Progress always makes me happy.

Thanks for reading,

V/R
Matt

Flash Point Cover Reveal and Interview with C.L. Schneider

Flash Point Cover Reveal and Interview with C.L. Schneider

I’m always happy to feature fellow Slush Brain authors, and I’m especially happy with that author is someone whom I consider a mentor and dear friend.  Cindy (C.L. Schneider) is currently very busy setting up for the release of Nite Fire, which is her fourth novel and the first in her Flash Point series.

She was not only kind enough to allow me to post her cover on my site (which you’ll see again on my Facebook Page March 12, and in the March Book Cover of the Month Bracket), she was also kind enough to answer a few questions about the book. But first, let’s show you this beautiful cover:

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All images are owned by C.L. Schneider and used with her permission. Any use or redistribution of these images without her permission is subject to copyright law.

I think this is a pretty dynamic cover. I’ll cover that more on my FB page next month. Right now, it’s all about Cindy and her newest project.

Cindy, I want to thank you for taking the time to speak with me. I hope the weekend is going well.

What were you looking for in the cover?

In the Crown of Stones books, each cover was a pivotal moment from that book. This allowed me to see them perfectly in my head before the covers were created. The focus was on bringing a particular scene to life and conveying the overall mood of the story. Each of the Crown designs had this sweeping epic feel, which was perfect for the stories. You never see Ian’s face clearly in any of the three covers. His story was very personal and tragic, and I felt like to dive so deep into his tortured psyche, it would help the readers to envision him however they needed to.

For Flash Point, the first book in my new series, I wanted it to be a little more conceptual, more of a general introduction to the main character and the style of the series, rather than a direct reflection of the actual story. While Dahlia has her own troubles and flaws, she is not quite as psychologically tormented as Ian. Not yet anyway ☺. I can’t make any promises for later! To put it simply, Dahlia’s story may still be a roller coaster, but instead of the ride taking you through so many long dark tunnels in a row, this series offers a bit more light.

I wanted the cover to help establish Nite Fire with its own identity and to help set it apart from my other series. I think it does that. The cover of Flash Point has a definite urban fantasy feel.

unnamed-2You went with the same artist you worked with in Crown.  Tell us about him and your process for this cover.

My cover artist is Alan Dingman. We met over ten years ago after our oldest children met at an indoor park. Our kids became instant friends that day, and so did his wife and I. Of course, I was scribbling away on some story in a notebook, but once we started talking, I discovered she was a freelance graphic designer and her husband (Alan) was designing covers for a well-known publisher in NYC. Our conversation turned to books, and that was it. We’ve all been friends ever since.

Alan is a portrait artist and illustrator whose work history includes St. Martin’s Press, The NY Times, Rolling Stones, Simon & Schuster, as well as privately commissioned portraits and murals. Alan illustrated Stephen King’s 3D pop-up book, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. Currently, three of his cover designs for Simon & Schuster authors are on the New York Times paperback bestseller list.

When I decided to self-publish, I looked at the variety of covers available at CreateSpace. There was nothing wrong with them, but none lived up to the image that had lived in my mind for well over a year. As a lifelong reader, I’ve always had a huge thing for cover art, especially when it comes to fantasy. Many times over the years (in many bookstores), I’ve fallen in love with a book on the art alone. Just as often, I’ve made purchases simply on how the cover image makes me feel. It’s a fascination that made the cover of my first published novel even more important to me.

unnamed-1I knew Alan had the talent I was looking for. I approached him with my idea for Magic-Price, and I was thrilled when he took the job. We worked closely together to ensure he understood my vision. He was incredibly patient. I wanted to convey a very specific mood with my main character’s pose, and Alan went above and beyond to get it right. He took the image for Magic-Price (and the subsequent Crown books) right out of my head, recreated it beyond anything I expected, and then added his own flair.

For Flash Point, I gave him my ideas, including a detailed description of my main character. We had some discussions, and I provided him with photo images for reference, and then he ran with it. After he had the initial design down, we went back and forth on the details. This time, the focus was my main character. He had creative license for a good deal of it, but I wanted certain parts of her depiction to be as close as I pictured her as possible.

Tell us a bit about the new book?

Flash Point is the first book in an urban fantasy series featuring shapeshifting creature-hunter, Dahlia Nite. The series will be set mainly in the fictitious Sentinel City, a supernaturally-plagued urban sprawl. Readers will also travel with Dahlia to parallel worlds, including her own home world of Drimera. Nite Fire is based on the premise that many of our myths and legends are actually tales spun with the purpose of concealing the truth from humanity: that these creatures actually exist and ours is not the only world.

The decision to hide the truth was made long ago by the dragons who rule Dahlia’s world. Humans are not the only ones kept ignorant. Any species that could threaten the health and future of Drimera are kept in the dark. The dragons regulate much of the travel between world by way of an organization called the Guild and the use of dragon-hybrid shapeshifters called lyrriken. Dahlia is a lyrriken, which is the product of a human female and a male dragon in human form. She has some of her dragon father’s abilities, but her human half keeps her from shifting into a full dragon. Dahlia was a decorated and respected executioner for the dragon-queen, Naalish. She was formidable, driven, and fierce. Then one night, one mistake, and Naalish condemned her. To survive, Dahlia fled her world for the only other one she had a hope of blending in: ours.

unnamed-3Flash Point is set many years after Dahlia left her world. She has spent her time among humans hiding and hunting; traveling the country to track down the creatures that sneak in illegally and wreak havoc in the human realm. Though she is considered a traitor on her world, she disposes of these threats and conceals the crimes, continuing to keep the secret and maintain the legends. Advancements in human science and technology have made her job increasingly difficult. Failing, however, would risk invasions no one could afford or likely even survive. But when Dahlia is called in to investigate a brutal (and unexplainable) triple murder in Sentinel City, covering up the crime soon becomes the least of her worries.

Well I’m hooked! Where did the idea for this new book come from?

1d9390_138339a396c348f9ade2dfafb512d4c8I’ve been intrigued by anything supernatural for as long as I can remember. I’m a huge fangirl of pretty much any show that deals with fantasy, scifi, and everything in between. The X-Files, Supernatural, Green Arrow, Lost Girl, Grimm, The Walking Dead, Buffy, Haven, Stargate, Sleepy Hollow, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Killjoys—the list goes on. So yes, my DVR is very full and Netflix is one of my best friends! I’m a very character-driven person. If I connect with a character, I can forgive a lot on the plot or production values. As a rule, I don’t enjoy reality shows. I want to be swept away and can easily suspend disbelief if I can latch onto at least one character. But if I don’t care who lives or dies, it doesn’t matter how kick-ass the hero or heroine is, or how cool the premise, I stop watching.

Another long-time interest of mine is myths and urban legends. I’ve always wanted to write a story revolving around one. While one specific urban legend isn’t at the heart of it, The Nite Fire Series was inspired by my interest in those legends, and my fandom for some of my favorite shows. Like episodes of a TV show, each book will take place over a short period of time, approximately 2-4 weeks. Each one will feature a current threat to the city and her citizens, as the underlying mythology and mystery surrounding Dahlia, the dragons, and the parallel worlds, unfolds throughout.

Is this the beginning of a series? If so, how many books?

Flash Point is the first book in the series. Right now, I’m not entirely sure how many books it will be. I have ideas for four or five, but it will depend on how quickly I decide to bring things to a head. If the overall plot wraps up naturally in four books or eight, I’m fine either way. Though there are plenty of creatures out there to work with, I won’t stretch out the series just for the sake of it, or the overall storyline will suffer.

In conversations with you, you’ve been quite open about how different this book is from Crown. What made you decide to go in such a different direction?

z_pE98Lf.jpg-largeI loved writing Crown of Stones, but I spent years in that world and in Ian’s head. I needed to remember what it was like to do something else. Crown is also a complex and emotionally heavy story. I enjoyed every minute of it and couldn’t be more proud of how it turned out and the impression Ian’s tale has left on many of my readers. But when the trilogy was done, I was ready for something new. That’s not to say Nite Fire isn’t dark and graphic, and it will become more complex as the series progresses. It just has an entertaining atmosphere, sprinkled with pop culture references and some amusing characters that help make it a less emotionally taxing read. I also think the fast-paced, nature and short time frame of the Flash Point allows the reader to discover who Dahlia differently than Ian. You will definitely get a good idea right away, but some of her complexities and her past might not necessarily be known as immediately or deeply.

Simply put: Crown of Stones drops you unapologetically into Ian’s tragic existence and instantly starts putting your emotions through the ringer. That was the point. But sometimes you want a different ride.

In this book, we meet a new character. What do you think fans will love most about her?

Dahlia is resilient. She’s strong. She is confident and snarky at times, yet like all of us, she has her hidden vulnerabilities. She’s survived in the human world for so many years by lying and manipulating. She’s lived on the road, with one fake job and fake identity after the next. Now, she wants all that to be over. Even if deep down, she knows she can’t come clean, Dahlia wants nothing more than to be herself, to live her life without judgement. To be accepted. I think that’s something a lot of us want.

fp-promo4Dahlia is a bad-ass, shapeshifting creature-hunter, yet she still has her insecurities. She wants friends and stability. She questions her faith and her future, as she tries to find her place in a world where she doesn’t belong. Dahlia also has her own clear sense of right and wrong. She works to uphold a greater good. It may not be the one everyone else agrees with, but it’s the ‘good’ she’s chosen to protect. In a bad situation, even knowing the consequences and her odds of succeeding, she still has hope. It’s a human trait that challenges the austere, pragmatic way in which the Guild raised her.

What about this project do you find the most motivating?

Starting a new series can be nerve-racking, but it’s also a lot of fun. There are so many unexplored possibilities, new characters, and plot-lines just waiting to be tackled.  And the material for Nite Fire is something I’ve always wanted to work with. I love the obscure myths and urban legends. I find myself doing more research than I actually need to!

Now for the important part. When does the book launch? 

bluepromoThe paperback will be available for purchase the last week of February. (NOTE: The Paperback JUST went live! Order your copy here!) Shortly after, I will set up the ebook for a discounted preorder. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter and/or keep an eye on my website for details.

Are there any online events or conventions (real life) where someone might have a chance to meet you and steal an autograph?

I have two in-person events scheduled so far this spring. One is on March 11 -12 at the Big Apple Con, located at the Penn Plaza Pavilion in NYC. The other is May 6-7 at the Hudson Valley Comic Con in Poughkeepsie, NY. I hope to be scheduling more soon. I don’t have a date for it yet, but at some point in March I will be having an online Facebook event to celebrate the release of the Kindle version of Flash Point. I will also be online at the Brain to Books Cyber Convention in April.  You can find information on that event, and any of my other online and in-person appearances, on the News & Events page on my website, subscribe to my newsletter, or follow me on social media.

Signed copies of my books are also available directly through me (via email or the contact form on my website) for anyone who cannot attend one my in-person events.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

I hope anyone who decides to pick up Flash Point enjoys reading it as much as I did writing it. My plan is to have book 2 out in the fall, so hopefully you won’t have long to wait to continue Dahlia’s story.

Thank you for stopping by, Cindy! I’m glad you had the time, and I look forward to snagging my copy of Flash Point.

I’d like to thank my readers for joining me. I hope you decide to give Crown of Stones a try, and, when it comes out, Flash Point.

Thanks for reading

Matt

A 4-Star Review for Caught

A 4-Star Review for Caught

caught-front-coverWhile doing my Internet rounds, I learned I had a new review out. I always like to share those with people. Any time someone takes a minute to share their thoughts about my work is such a thrill (even the not so nice to hear comments).  Feedback is a great thing regardless of its content.

Check out the review here.

What Box Does This Fit In? The Importance of Putting Your Book in the Right Category

What Box Does This Fit In? The Importance of Putting Your Book in the Right Category
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This screenshot was captured Feb. 3, about 6 days after Caught was released.

As I type this, Caught is still a long ways away (a month actually).  I recently read (and reviewed) How to Market a Book by Joanna Penn. One of her chapters spoke about categories and their importance, and that made me want to share with you some things I did differently this time around.

 

What I did wrong: I’m in love with my genre, and I (obviously) know The Journals of Bob Drifter better than anyone. I understand the magic system and the other three books (two written) that are related to it, but none of that matters. I didn’t see it, because I was trying to fit Bob and my work to where I want to be one day. I threw it in the Urban Fantasy category. It simply doesn’t belong there.

What I fixed: Well, the trick here (thanks to Joanna’s book) that worked was to think about Caught in terms of books that are related. What books does Caught feel like? What authors produce work that is similar to what this book does?

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This screen shot (taken Feb. 3) shows the various categories The Strain is in. Notice how well it’s doing in all categories related to Vampires?

The first book that came to mind was The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan.  That book’s primary category is Mystery, Thriller & Suspense. Down that rabbit hole of categories is a sub category called Supernatural > Vampires.  A few clicks down Amazon’s categories, and there for the taking was my category (there’re some spoilers in that area, but it’s there).  Bob is a Supernatural thriller as well.

 

(NOTE: The real trick is getting the book to register on those deeper categories.  For instance, The Strain is also in General Fiction > Horror.  Caught is in a few other categories as well, which increases visibility. That’s great, but I still focus on the category I know is best.)

But I didn’t just DIVE after the Supernatural category. I did some more searching around. I came up with a list of books and authors that all line up with Caught. I feel the readers who enjoy these books or authors will like Caught.

Night Chills by Dean Koontz

The Shining by Stephen King

Not all the stuff I looked up fell in this category, but many of them did.

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Bob isn’t doing so well in this category. Is it a bad book? (Screenshot taken Feb. 3)

I can shove my book into the Fantasy category if I want. But Caught isn’t Fantasy. It isn’t by any stretch of the imagination. Sure, I know Bob has a magic system. Eventually, you’ll see more of that magic (and even a monster), but even when I publish 1,200, a clever reader would have to look closely to see the connection between that book and Bob.

 

The lesson. Put your ego in a trunk, and throw it off the deck of a ship. I’m an author. I worked long and hard, sacrificed, and spent thousands of dollars on editors, but the PUBLISHING of that work, the MARKETING of it is about the CUSTOMER. Readers have the right to know that the book they purchase isn’t one they

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No. It gets good reviews, but it has no visibility because the people who will enjoy it can’t see it. (Screenshot taken Feb. 3) 

“might” like, but one you know they’ll love. Man was it hard to look myself in the mirror and tell myself that. ESPECIALLY while I’m getting ready to revise Sojourn in Despair. But that’s the right call.

 

Put your work in front of the small, specific audience you know will like your book. Some writers avoid this out of pride (abashedly raises hand). Other avoid it because they’re afraid. They want their book in front of millions of eyes.

People, I see dog poop on the road every day. Seeing it doesn’t make me want to pick it up.

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This image and the Feature Image were taken from Pixabay.

Your book (my book) isn’t dog poop, but it might as well be if you throw it on the busiest street (metaphorically) you can find. Because those people (metaphorically) are going somewhere. They’re looking for something specific. Put your book where YOUR readers are going.

If your sales are low. Ask yourself if you’re putting the book in front of the right readers. Try changing the category. I promise, you’re not going to sell fewer books.

For example, my category for Caught has 1,120 books. I’d rather go up against 1,000 books than the 293,452 in the broader category. J.R. (I believe he passed it along to me, but he’s the guy who told it to me) said be the big fish in the little pond. It took me a minute to find my pond. This is what worked for me.

When I shift Bob over to the right category, I’ll let you know how it affected sales and reviews.

Thanks for reading,

Matt