Announcing the June Book Cover of the Month!

Announcing the June Book Cover of the Month!

Hello everyone,

We’ve just wrapped up another month. This month was comparatively slow, but things got a bit better late in the game.

We had 2,560 votes this month.

It was close for a few days, but then the winner had a ten-voter surge and never looked back.

The June Book Cover of the Month is…

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Alphas and Airships by Melanie Karsak! 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!

Karsak received 145 total votes.

A Guiding Light by Susan Copperfield came in second, so Copperfield becomes the first author this year to get two second chances. We only saw that happen twice all of last year.

But for now, let’s look at this month’s winner!

Amazon:

(START BLURB)

With Lionheart as the new alpha, the streets of London are quiet.

But above the realm, mischief is brewing.

While airship pirates are a common plague upon the kingdom, the airship Fenrir proves particularly troublesome–especially on a full moon.

Clemeny must take to the skies before these shape-shifting Vikings kick off a new Ragnarok. Easier said than done now that she’s down one good eye, a partner, and not to mention the fact that she gets motion sick.

On top of that, the new scar across her face makes Clemeny feel like she’ll have better luck intimidating her foes than finding a beau. But Agent Edwin Hunter, recently assigned as head of Clemeny’s division, is proving to be an interesting prospect. Despite her apprehensions, it’s up to Agent Louvel to chase Fenrir across the heavens.

Alphas and Airships
 
is a retelling of the Red Riding Hood fairy tale set in Melanie Karsak’s bestselling steampunk universe. Alphas and Airships is Book 2 in the Steampunk Red Riding Hood series.

(END BLURB)

I’ve added Alphas and Airships 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 buy all the winning covers. I’ve already bought MayAprilMarchFebruaryJanuaryDecember’s book.


MAY_Cover_Collage
Here’s Melanie’s Facebook page. Give it a like if you’re curious about her and her work.

I’ll try to find out who did that cover. Truth is interviews are a bit hard to arrange on my end these days.  I’ll try to get back on track, but things are looking a bit busy lately (in a less good way at the moment).

The July Book Cover of the Month is coming along, and that contest will launch Aug. 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 Facebook page, you can see what covers will make the bracket.

Thanks for reading

Matt

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The June Book Cover of the Month Starts Now

The June Book Cover of the Month Starts Now

JUNE_Cover_CollageHappy first everyone! As is now officially tradition here on my blog, it’s time to start a new book cover of the month competition.

The Flipside by Jake Bible  and A Guiding Light by Susan Copperfield join 30 brand new covers this month.

You can vote all the way through the tournament, supporting the covers you like best through each round. I like to make sure people get the credit they deserve, so please show your support. Please vote and share as much as possible to get people a chance to pick their favorite.

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, let’s remember to be good sports! 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.

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

A Few Updates On What I’m Up To

A Few Updates On What I’m Up To

Greetings all,

Turns out, I’m pretty darn busy!  So I wanted to let you all know where I’m at with some projects.

Power of Words Cover_FRONTFirst: The Beta Draft of Stealing Freedom (previously Worth of Words) is done! I’d like to take a quick moment to thank the beta readers who helped me. Feedback is incredibly important, and I want to make sure I offer my gratitude when someone takes the time to help me look at my work more critically.  So please help me in thanking Carlos, Deborah, Kevin, and Julie. They all provided great insight.  I always look for overlap in stories.  I think some authors overreact to beta readers sometimes, so I try hard to put equal weight. I might shit something because of one reader comment if I feel like I was already worried about it.  I left last names out for privacy reasons, but I hope they see this, and I hope they know how appreciative I am. I hope they love the final product as much as I do.

Second: The Power of Words anthology is just about ready for final edits.  We’re wrapping up a few loose ends, but I expect to be sending Sara the whole project pretty soon (maybe a week).

SomethingAlwaysRemains
Art by Collin Fogel

Third: The final part of The Journals of Bob Drifter is scheduled to come out Aug. 1. Something Always Remains is a very near-and-dear bit of writing to me. I felt this conclusion really put a nice touch on a story I’m still proud of. Bob taught me a lot about the craft and the business, and I’ll always be glad it was my first published book. When this part drops, it’ll make it possible for readers to try a part or the whole story if they so choose. I’ll make sure to get The Power of Words to Sara first, but this is my next priority.  I just need to get it formatted for Kindle and get the cover finished (title and author text).

I’ll have more deals with that too. Just stay tuned for those deals as I get closer to publishing.

Fourth: I’m selecting a narrator for Caught.  I received 12 auditions.  Five of those are on the short list, and I’m pulling my hair out trying to pick the right one as I type this. I don’t really think I can miss with any of them.  I’ll happily make an announcement once the contract is set up.

Fifth: I have the edits for Repressed done, and I have a verbal agreement with a narrator for that as well.  I’ll make an announcement about that the same time I finish the final draft of that story.

Finally: Shore Leave is next week.  I’m honestly a bit bummed I’m selling books at the event.  I mean, William Shatner, Ming-Na Wen, Shawn Ashmore, and Allison Scagliotti will all be there, and they’re awesome people!  I’ll see if my girlfriend let’s me scamper off and get some autographs. That said, I probably should sell some books (I’d be much obliged if any reading this give one a try), and I have three panels I’m on as well. Caught and An Unusual Occupation will each be 99 cents during that weekend (July 6-8). I’m looking forward to seeing some of the readers I’d met before. I hope to meet some new ones. If you’re in the Hunt Valley, Maryland, area I’d love to see you there.

I’m super excited about this month. A lot of good things are happening, and I just wanted to share all of this news with you.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Announcing the May Book Cover of the Month!

Announcing the May Book Cover of the Month!

Hello everyone,

We’ve just wrapped up another month. This month was a pretty close month! I’m glad June is a 30-day month because that means we might see another highly-contested bracket.  There weren’t a ton of votes, but it was a close contest.

We had 3,235 votes this month.

It was a three-horse race the entire time, but one book managed to get seven more voters than the rest.

The May Book Cover of the Month is…

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Clara’s Diary by Angelique S. Anderson! 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!

Lenders received 227 total votes.

The Flipside by Jake Bible fell just eight votes short in the finals, and A Guiding Light by Susan Copperfield fell just four votes shy in the Final Four. The good news is (remember that 30-day month I mentioned?) both covers get another chance to win the title in the June bracket.

But for now, let’s look at this month’s winner!

Amazon:

(START BLURB)

In a tale of monstrous proportions, with a flash of steampunk gadgetry, experience the impossible. After leaving the police force and striking out on his own, Detective Desmond still struggles to come to terms with the death of his daughter six years later. Then disaster decides to come knocking again. This time, a young Octilune woman is found dead. As a species of half-octopus, half-human, Lizbeth Patinson’s death is a tragedy. Raging against the two injustices, Detective Desmond does everything in his power to find the murderer. When evidence points to him, he has twenty-four hours to prove his innocence. Is Detective Desmond really guilty of murdering two young women in cold blood? Or will he find the evidence needed to exonerate himself and finally find the closure he’s been looking for? Get ready to swim for your life.

(END BLURB)

I’ve added Clara’s Diary 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 buy all the winning covers. I’ve already bought, AprilMarchFebruaryJanuaryDecember’s book.


MAY_Cover_Collage
Here’re Angelique’s Facebook page. Give it a like if you’re curious about her and her work.

I’ll try to find out who did that cover. Truth is interviews are a bit hard to arrange on my end these days.  I’ll try to get back on track, but things are looking a bit busy lately (in a less good way at the moment).

The June Book Cover of the Month is coming along, and that contest will launch July 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 Facebook page, you can see what covers will make the bracket.

Thanks for reading

Matt

The May Book Cover of the Month Begins!

The May Book Cover of the Month Begins!

 

MAY_Cover_Collage

Happy first everyone! As is now officially tradition here on my blog, it’s time to start a new book cover of the month competition.

Siren’s Lure by Frost Kay joins 31 brand new covers this month.

You can vote all the way through the tournament, supporting the covers you like best through each round. I like to make sure people get the credit they deserve, so please show your support. Please vote and share as much as possible to get people a chance to pick their favorite.

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, let’s remember to be good sports! 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.

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

My First Balticon! Why This Event is Special

My First Balticon! Why This Event is Special

33527076_1266975076780596_6166677699583541248_nI think I’ve alluded to this story a few times here or there, but I wanted to make sure I expressed why Balticon was something special to me.

About four years ago, I attended my first Balticon. I heard about the guests, and couldn’t help but drive straight to the event.  It was like paradise for aspiring authors.

The first night, I was wide-eyed and awestruck as I stumbled into a dining area and realized several authors (including one I think particularly highly of), were just hanging out and chatting like regular people and stuff.  So I took a seat at a table with said respected author and a bunch of us just talked.

During the conversation, I’d mentioned how many rejections I’d gotten and how I was worried I wouldn’t get published.

The author (who will remain nameless because while I wish this person knew how much of an impact that conversation had on me, I never want to try to imply an endorsement) asked how many books I’d written. I think I’d finished four manuscripts by that time. Author told me about self publishing. Author took away the fear I had regarding self publishing. Here’s this best-seller and huge community influencer talking to rando-wannabe #273,99, and Author is nothing more than encouraging.

We didn’t talk about any of my books in particular. We talked about overdone tropes. We talked about world building. We talked about the permanence of dark fantasy, and Author simply told me to go for it.

During that same convention, I met the man I hope will one day be my agent. I haven’t trapped his attention yet, and I have several agents I think I’d work well with, but this is the guy I’ll confess is number one on my draft board. That happened during a conversation I had with him.  I was wandering the halls (trying to stalk Author without earning a restraining order) when I saw the agent sitting by a small, handmade sign that read, “I’m an agent. Pitch me your book.” I pitched him Bob Drifter. It didn’t grab his attention, but he gave me a touch of feedback and it helped make the story better.

The point is, I was this young man who wanted so desperately to be an author, and Balticon was this warm, encouraging environment devoted to the craft I wanted to have as a profession. I can say with absolute certainty that I’m not where I am now (this soon) if I didn’t go to that Balticon. I’d gone to a few others as an attendee, and now, here I am, selling two books at the convention that set me on the path to getting published.

I can’t really express how this feels. I’ve come to ave more realistic expectations for what happens during conventions, but I’m still excited to be here, hitting a major genesis point for my life. It’s full circle, but not complete.  I still have a lot of growing and learning to do. I still have a lot of work.

That said, I’m happy to be here and look back on how far I’ve come.

I hope to see you all at the convention. Whatever your goals or nerdish habits are, this is a place you’ll enjoy seeing.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

A Thin Line Between Loyalty and Boring. The Value of Conflict Between Supporting Characters

A Thin Line Between Loyalty and Boring. The Value of Conflict Between Supporting Characters
civil-war-cap-tony-179110.jpg
Image from comicbook.com

I’m making my way through my TBR pile, and I noticed something in a book that drew my attention. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s probably not a good thing. I’ll keep things vague because there’s enough bad pub out there regarding books, and I’m not in any way trying to bash anyone. However, we can look at what some people do and make notes.

We have a  main character who has a sidekick. This sidekick is loyal and steadfast. My argument is this character might have reached the point to where that steadfastness is not only hard to believe, but has become boring because no matter what the main character puts that sidekick through, the character simply keeps being this amazingly helpful, understanding person.

While I’ve recently come to believe that conflict in stories is a must, and I think authors should find as many opportunities for conflict as possible, I’m not in any way saying there needs to be some sort of fight scene or argument in every scene. Sometimes you need tension. Sometimes you need support. The thing is though, no one can be stalwart and reliable 100 percent of the time.

From a human perspective, even lifelong friends get frustrated with one another. My brother-and-I are such close friends and so well regarded, that family members have on occasion asked one of us what we wanted and then bought it for the other.  When I go shopping, I just buy something I really want and give it to him. That doesn’t mean we’ve never fought. From that same perspective, friendships are tested through adversity. The point in live isn’t to always agree and support each other.  Support is a thing, but support doesn’t always imply, helping or (more importantly) rolling with whatever the MC wants.

From a writer’s perspective, any author should be seriously worried when character reactions or actions become predictable. Predictable characters are boring, and boring characters lead to unread books.

Disagree?  Let’s take a look at some of the most famous “friends” in fiction or entertainment:

Let’s get the obvious out of the way.  Didn’t we all see Civil War? I mean, the movie made metaphorical-astro-bucks in theaters. Wasn’t that story (in movies and comics) all about putting allies at odds? That sort of conflict takes this analogy a little farther than I want though.  What about the most loyal sidekick ever?

samwise-gamgee-samwise-gamgee
Image from writingishardwork.com

Samwise Gamgee: The guy tagged along with Frodo through everything. Some may Sam is the actual protagonist of the story.  while I think he was the hero, he wasn’t the protagonist. The protagonist in any story is the one who has a clear goal and encounters obstacles. The main goal of Lord of the Rings? Destroy the ring. Yes, Sam just wanted to protect his friend, but it’s not as neat as those wearing fond remembrance glasses think. For starters, Sam didn’t hear about the tale and shout, “Frodo can’t go unless I do!”  In fact, he was caught eavesdropping and ordered to follow Frodo.  The very beginning of their journey wasn’t based on friendship and support; it was based on Sam being yanked into this mess because of being nosey.

Yes, Sam was stalwart through perhaps 95% of the whole story, but there was rising conflict and an eventual clash of wills and break-up. Sure it was short lived, but Sam and Frodo argued about Gollum, which ended in Sam saying he can’t support this path. Yes, he returned, but that return as all the more heroic because the audience understood and believed how frustrating it would be.

So writers, I’m not saying the friends or sidekicks of the story need to argue at every page or end up on opposite sides of the conflict, but no one real or fictitious, can walk in the shadow of an MC and not encore some of the emotional strain, turmoil, and resentment the MC encounters.

Writers should be aware of what the MC is putting that sidekick through, and respect that those challenges have a toll on that friend. Every Robin ever has had some major conflict with Batman. Sometimes it was a conflict to earn a place beside him, and sometimes it was a more literal conflict. No one liked Jason Todd until he came back and tried took on Batman.

mat-cauthon-hat-3-wheel-of-time-mat-by-dragoninstall-567-x-632
Image by Dragoninstall taken from agrimarques.com.

There’s another side. There are characters who get boring for the opposite reason. They almost never seem willing to support or help out that MC.  Mat Cauthon was a very hot and cold character for me.  I frankly resented him sometimes for how quickly he was ready to abandon Rand and how stubborn he was about pretty much doing anything. I understand part of this was an aspect of his arc and his fatal flaw, but he infuriated me, and there were times when I just wasn’t interested in him because I didn’t want to read another ten pages about how he wanted to avoid the situation. That said, I absolutely bawled when he mentioned a certain prank from way back in Eye of the World (I’d really appreciate anyone who remembers what that animal was by the way. I can’t seem to recall it. Might be time to read that series again.)  Mat ended up working for me because he inevitably was loyal. He fought it every step of the way, but he did come through in the end.

Consider this as you write. Tension and conflict, even between the closest characters, can make that relationship stronger.

Thanks for reading,
Matt