A 5-Star Review for Caught

A 5-Star Review for Caught

caught-front-coverI came home from work yesterday to a wonderful surprise. I have a new 5-Star review for Caught on Goodreads. I’m always grateful for reviews of any type. Feedback is how authors get better. That said, when those reviews are positive and with a bunch of starts, well, that makes my day!  Check out the review here to see what one reader thought of the new book!

Announcing the April Book Cover of the Month!

Announcing the April Book Cover of the Month!

The April Book Cover of the Month bracket has just wrapped up. Every author and designer should be stoked. This was the second-most voted on bracket in the history of this young competition. It had a total of 4,281 votes.

The April Book Cover of the Month is…

51EUUVAiTXL
This image is used under fair use doctrine for the purpose of bringing awareness and assisting the notoriety of this book.

Singular by Zack Hubert! 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.

Let’s look at the stats!

This book averaged about 78 votes a round, but it had some of the stiffest competition possible.  Hubert always seemed to get the number of votes he needed, which includes a dominant win in the finals.

We’re on a streak of first-time authors here. Singular is Hubert’s first novel as well.  Here’s the Amazon blurb.

Amazon:

(START BLURB)

Milo Bell is not an ordinary teenager.

While the rest of the students at Bright Futures #127 spend a majority of their time in the virtual world of their SeeSees, Milo spends every waking moment with his eccentric grandfather playing with the vintage computers which fill his house.

That is, every computer except for the mysterious machine with the name “LISA” scrawled on its side. An artifact from his days as an Artificial Intelligence researcher, Milo is afraid that his grandfather might be hiding something or be in some kind of trouble.

Milo’s worst fear is realized when his grandfather suddenly disappears, and he finds the unusual computer in his own bedroom. Milo begins to learn its deadly secret when it’s snatched from his hands, leading him on the most dangerous quest of his life.

Peril turns to disaster as the world begins to crumble around him. With few friends and powerful enemies, can Milo unlock the secrets of the machine before time runs out?

(END BLURB)

APRIL_Cover_Collage FinalI’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, Deyo’s cover, and Steen Jones’s cover, and they are also on my TBR. In fact, my review for Betrayer’s Bane, Manning’s cover, is going to appear on this blog on Wednesday. I’m also happy to announce Mr. Manning was kind enough to grant me an interview, which you should all see on Saturday.

Here’s Ms. Hubert’s Twitter page. Head on over and follow him to see what he’s up to.

The artist for this cover is Gabe Rodriquez.  I’ll reach out to him and see if he’d like to have an interview.  I have his twitter handle (@gaber008 if you’d like to follow him as well). We’ll see if we can get an interview done for him.

The May bracket is shaping up and will launch on June 1. One more time, that will be a different sort of bracket. Instead of people voting one time per round, voters will vote all the way through the bracket. We’ll see how that goes, and I’ll ask you all your thoughts when that month wraps up.

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 Facebook page, you can see what covers will make the bracket.

Thanks for reading

Matt

April BCOTM Finals!

April BCOTM Finals!

The Closest Contest:

The closest match was (yet again) Michael J. Sullivan’s.  I feel the need to give this cover special recognition. No book cover has had a run like this. We’ve seen Age of Myth in every round for the past two months. Since Feb. 1, Sulivan’s book has fought to stay in the hunt, but each time it came just a few votes away. At last, another novel has been able to knock Sullivan both out of this bracket and out of the next. I personally think that sort of staying power is a testament to how great the cover is.  However, Singular by Zack Hubert managed to best Myth by a mere eight votes. This match was also the most voted on contest.

Head over here and vote!

Thanks for reading,

Matt

April Final 4!

April Final 4!

This round had 960 votes, which murdered the old record for the elite 8 (formerly 457). Our total for the month so far is 4,006, which already makes this the second-most voted on bracket so far! Thank you all for your participation and support. With that said, someone had to leave, and someone had to move on.

Let’s look at how this round broke down:

The Closest Contest:
Gods and Monsters by Janie Marie vs Flash Tales by Chess DeSalls was a nail biter. While not one match this round was decided by more than a 4% swing, Flash Tales only managed to take the win by two votes (50.EEP% of the total votes). You’ll see why that’s even more impressive in a minute.

The Largest Victor:
51EUUVAiTXLI don’t really know if this momentum is going to continue, but I do think each match is going to remain ultimately close. So no one here really pulled away. The largest winning cover was Singular by Zack Hubert, and he only won by 14 votes. That’s not normally what a “largest victor” entry looks like, but it speaks to how close this round was.

Most Voted On Contest:
Remember how I said that two-vote victory for DeSalls was impressive? Well the reason why is she won the most voted on match by two votes. Every single one of the match’s 262 total votes was critical.

Least Voted On Contest:
The other reason I’m stoked is that every match received more than 220 votes. That’s just amazing. So far, this bracket has been one of the most voted on. It was also one of the most evenly voted on brackets I can remember. I feel I owe the authors and readers a debt for this. It’s great to see more than 220 people showed up to support not just their favorite covers, but all the covers on the bracket. Thank you!The least voted on contest was Fate of the Big Bad Wolf by Neo Edmund vs A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab. That contest received 221 votes (see, I told you, everyone got a TON of votes).

The Final 4 ends at Midnight, May 12. That’s only 2 days, so call your friends, share my posts, get your readers engaged!

It’s more important this month to get the victory because only the runner up for this month gets free admission into next month’s bracket if they can’t take the victory this month.

Get out there and vote!

Thanks for reading,

Matt

April Elite 8!

April Elite 8!

Let’s go over some numbers:

The Closest Contest:

Michael J. Sullivan just won’t go down. His cover for Age of Myth is the only book to have to rematches. It seems like every match he’s in is a close one. This match with The First City by Joe Hart was no different.  Sullivan edged out Hart by 1 vote (51 percent of the 97 votes the match received). The Day the Sky Fell by Adam Dreece also narrowly beat Brimstone by Cherie Priest. (I mean the last vote tipped the tie at 11:54 p.m.).

The Largest Victor:
Neo Edmund’s readers helped the cover for Fate of the Big Bad Wolf earn a decisive 28-vote victory (66 percent of 86 votes) over J.N. Chaney’s Hope Everlasting.

Least Voted On Contest:

We didn’t have quite the same max participation as we did in the last round, but everyone still got plenty of votes.  Chaney and Edmund’s match was the low-vote earner this round.

 

Most Voted On Contest:
The most voted on contest was Gods and Monsters by Janie Marie vs The Bone Tree by T.A. Miles. They both received more than 50 votes, but Marie took the round with 72 out of a total of 123 votes.

51b5obvd2WLMost Votes:
Gods and Monsters has surged to the front of this bracket. Marie’s received the most votes of the round as well as the most votes so far (164). It’s going to take at least 75 votes to beat her.

The Elite Eight lasts until May 10, which is another three days to show your support for the cover you like best!

Head over here and vote!

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Growth of a Character: The Plot isn’t the Only Thing That Moves

sapling-154734_960_720

I’ve been starting the habit of reading more books on writing. It’s something I’ve always believed in, but didn’t really practice as much as I should. I read plenty, and I listen to video blogs and podcasts when I’m not furiously doing the other things that life has me doing.  The thing is, we have to take the time to hone our craft, and it’s not enough to simply write. Writing without learning about the craft or trying new things won’t lead to growth.

 

I’d mentioned a few times how Caught was a bit delayed because my editor didn’t think Sal’s arc was clear enough. As is always the case when I hear feedback, even if I disagree with it, I started doing some research, and the book I’m currently listening to, Creating Character Arcs  by K.M. Weiland, has at least got me thinking. See, my struggle is some characters don’t change. I like some of those characters. So I had to figure out a way of thinking that allowed me to distinguish between one arc and another.

Here’s one choice that’s important: The events your characters experience should change them, or the situation or people should change as a result of your characters.

That, to me, is the distinction that matters. I’ll post a “review” of the above book once I finish it, but I’m far enough along in that book to know I’ve pinpointed that choice as one every writer should make.

Case study:
15326549_1179426122094499_6318367043184922848_nTyrion from Betrayer’s Bane: This was the December Book Cover of the Month. I finished this book last week, and I’ll post a review on it in a few weeks, but Tyrion is a good figure to study. You have a character who’s come to believe a simple truth: Nothing is more important that the elimination of the enemy.

Without giving you too many spoilers, I will tell you what matters is he has a fundamental belief.  Each plot point serves to in one way or another test that belief. As the story progresses, he’s even tempted by other things. Then his moment of decision comes when he has to choose to let go of that belief completely or hold to it. That moment of choice must feel realistic. The temptation to change coarse must feel tempting to the reader, and the moment of decision must come at the character’s most delicate frame of mind. Michael G. Manning does an amazing job of following those threads to a satisfying conclusion.

Iron Man:
This story I feel less likely to have spoilers, so I feel a bit more ready to point out some of the specifics.  Tony Stark has a fundamental belief in the beginning of the movie. Nothing matters as long as you have wit and money. There may be other (and even better) ways to say it, but this is him in a nutshell. Sure, when he’s captured he learns the pain of irresponsibility, but he still counters this with his mind and financial power, but he’s fighting the symptoms of the problem. He’s still pretty caviler about things until the his newest weapon nearly falls into the wrong hands. Here he has the chance to let let the responsibility go, or accept it and do something. That moment of choice is when we see Stark’s growth.

But what about those other arcs I like so much? I’ve been open that I like a character who  doesn’t change. When a character doesn’t change, the world around him has to. This is the nature of a story. Something must change.

Captain America: From beginning to end, our hero is who he is. Yes, he gains power. Yes, his looks change. But those are superficial. He starts the movie a young man believing that truth and justice are worth fighting for, and ends his battle paying (or seeming to pay) the ultimate sacrifice for his belief. He doesn’t change. But every other character around him does. His belief becomes  a beacon of light for others to look upon. Characters look to him and decide to follow his example, or reject him and become his opposition.

overcoming-2127669_960_720A great plot is an equally great place to start, but events (especially those as traumatic as the ones we see in literature) test people. If those people hold tight to their beliefs (regardless of their truth or falsehoods), the characters around him should be inspired by those actions (or they should try to kill him).  If the people don’t change, the characters should. People crave companionship. If the world around us doesn’t change we’ll eventually change ourselves to fit in. Peer Pressure and Social Norming are examples of this truth.

How do you do that?  Well, part of it is to consider how your character will react to the events you’re about to put him through? Who is your character at the beginning of the story?  Who will he be at the end? Who were the other characters when they meet your main character? Who will they be at the end?

Plot shows a progression of events, but that’s just part of it. Characters should grow or help those around them grow.  I thought I’d spend a bit of time offering my thoughts and seeing what everyone else thinks.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

 

 

 

 

April’s Sweet 16!

April’s Sweet 16!

Let’s go over some numbers:

51h86X6LycLThe Closest Contest:

The above shoutout should have been the hint. Michael J. Sullivan had a late (like 11:30 p.m. late) surge and took the match by three votes (just 51% of the total votes).  That makes Age of Myth vs To Brave the End the closest contest no matter how you slice it. Sullivan just won’t go away. He consistently finds a way to win (except for that pesky final match).

The Largest Victor:
World, meet Neo Edmund and his outstanding cover Fate of the Big Bad Wolf. He beat Malevolent Mind by Misty Harvey by 64 total votes, which is 74 percent of the matches’ 132 total votes (No, it’s not the most voted on contest. Like I said, you all had a TON of support!)

Most Voted On Contest:
For my money, the most voted on match was the most fun match to watch. It had a lot of lead changes and was always close.  Waters of Salt and Sin by Alisha Klapheke managed to beat Restitution by Kristen Martin by just 8 votes (one of the three closest matches). This match dominated in terms of total votes with 188. I saw both authors tweeting and sharing away.  It was great to see their participation and touching to see how many readers showed up to vote for them.

Least Voted On Contest:
For the first time since I started this, I really think we had max participation in that every match had a significant number of votes.  Yes, the above match had some 20 votes more than the others, but everyone got some love.  However, someone usually gets the fewest.  This round, the match between by Darkborn by Carrie Summers  vs The Lady of the Lake by Andrzej Sapkowski received the fewest votes (120).  Summers took the match pretty handedly though (by 46 votes).

Head over here and vote!

Thanks for reading,

Matt