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

A 4-Star review for Bob!

A 4-Star review for Bob!

2017-02-23-bob-drifter-coverI just wanted to share a new review for The Journals of Bob Drifter that just posted. I don’t care how many reviews, good or bad, I get; I’m always happy to see them. I’m honored when someone takes the time to read and review my book. If you’re curious about what was said, head on over here and have a  look!

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

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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

The April Book Cover of the Month Bracket Begins!

The April Book Cover of the Month Bracket Begins!

APRIL_Cover_CollageApril’s bracket has 30 new covers.  Age of Myth is fighting more than I’ve ever seen a cover fight. Michael J. Sullivan finished with the top most votes in the semifinals, which earned him yet another shot in this month’s bracket. Frank Dorrian’s To Brave the End was last month’s runner up, so he gets another crack at the bracket as well.

As always, I’d appreciate it if you tag the authors and artists if you know them. I try to tag or friend every author I can, but sometimes it’s hard to track someone down. Max participation is a huge deal to me. The more people who vote, the more recognition these authors and artists receive, and I want this to be as legitimate as possible.

If you are the author, I feel the need to let’s remember some basic guidelines.  1) Please feel free to message or contact me at any time. 2) Please feel free to like, share, text, ask for support, and call everyone you know. I absolutely want max participation. However, if you’re going to offer giveaways or prizes, please offer them for voting, not just voting for you.

Also, while your summoning your army of voting soldiers, please make sure you ask them to vote in every match. Part of the idea of this is to get exposure to as many artists and authors as possible. By all means, if you can get 1,000 people to vote for your book, do it. Just please also send some eyeballs to the other matches.

A final note to authors and artists: I currently have links to the books’ Amazon pages. If you’d prefer I switch that link to sign up for your newsletter or like your social media page or whatever, just send me the link and let me know. I want this to help you. I want this to be as helpful as possible, so whatever you need me to do to facilitate that, just let me know.

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Since we’ve been going, I’ve been evaluating how the participation has been. A few authors mentioned that it can be pretty exhausting having a 22-day-long tournament.  So I’m going to try a few new things.  This month, I’m simply trying to reduce the amount of time in the tournament.  This torment will run from today to the 14th.  I’ll do something different next mont.  I’d like your thoughts and feedback as to which way is best.  My goal is to have a fun, honest, meaningful competition that helps everyone. Your feedback will make that possible.

Round 1 will go from today to May 4.

The Sweet 16 will run from then to the 7th.

The Elite 8 will take it from there until the 10th.

The Final 4 runs from the 18th to the 12.

The Finals will go from the 20th to the 14.

I hope you keep having fun. Please, vote, share, and discuss as much as possible.

All you have to do now is head over here to vote!

Thanks for reading,

Matt