Book Review: The Unleashed by Bentz Deyo

Book Review: The Unleashed by Bentz Deyo
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This cover was taken from Amazon.com for review purposes under fair use doctrine. The other images were taken from Mr. Deyo’s website for the same purpose.

Spoiler Free Summary:  This was the February Book Cover of the Month. I’ve already reviewed the December Book Cover of the Month, which you can find here, and the January Book Cover of the Month, which you can read here. In The Unleashed by Bentz Deyo, Leam Holt has already saved Harbing from destruction, but he begins this story with amnesia and in enemy territory. Trapped between two machinators, Leam is the linch pin for both of their plans. The forces of light work to free Leam, but they want to use him. The forces of darkness want to keep Leam, but they want to use him, too. What will he choose to do if/when his memory returns?

Character:  Leam is a strong lead character. His conflict is honest and real. By the end of the book, I was furious on his behalf for the number of things done to him for the sake of either side’s plans. Leam is earnest, and that earnestness is compelling when he’s being trained and encouraged to do awful things. Those issues get expanded upon when he realizes how terrible his actions really are. I’d also like to mention Eloa, who steals the show from my point of view. She spends a good portion of the story trapped, but she not exactly helpless. Her arch hinges on that situation, and it makes me appreciate her. Gideon, the antagonist, also has in interesting story line that I wanted to learn about.

Exposition: I actually could have used a bit more in this sense. This is the second book in a series, and I think reading the second book took away from the story. I grew to like Leam, but a lot of his arc depends on the reader already knowing what’s happened. That made it hard for me to connect, so if any of this book interests you, I’d strongly recommend buying and reading the first before you move on to this story. I’m of the opinion that doing so will limit questions and issues that I had.

bio-3Worldbuilding:  Despite the fact that I wasn’t really sure who some of these people were and why they mattered, one thing Deyo did do was ease the reader into this world and magic. Where the characters didn’t make much sense early on, the world grew on you, and that made the book a bit easier for me. There were some aspects I wasn’t sure about, but I’m not going to hold the fact that I didn’t read book one against book two.

Dialogue:  The dialogue worked, particularly in regards to developing character. A lot of my connection to these characters formed during conversations. Deyo used this technique with pretty much every character. What made it work is the dialogue didn’t feel like  a forced infodump. Instead, you learned about the characters’ pasts and their personality through genuine, realistic conversations.

Description:  It’s honestly been a while since I read this particular book. I got backed up with reviews and reading, so I’m not sure how fair I’m being to the book in this regard.  What I’ll say is I remember the actions the characters took and how they felt about them. I don’t remember much about what any of the characters looked like or what the settings were like. I remember appreciating the detail in the magic system and some of the intense scenes, but the overall description felt a bit vague in terms of the characters.

Overall:  This story was enjoyable by itself, but I think people would like it more with the context of the first book. Leam’s story was the most compelling part of the book. His arch is emotional, touching, sad, and tragic. I’ll admit this book wasn’t so good that I’d insist on going back and reading the first, but I’m glad I read it. The magic system is cool, and this plot has a nice little cat and mouse sort of “Spy vs Spy” feel that I really enjoyed.

Thanks for reading

Matt

Book Review: The Blood Mirror by Brent Weeks

Book Review: The Blood Mirror by Brent Weeks
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This cover and other images taken only for review purposes under fair use doctrine.

Spolier Free Summary: (Note: It’s almost impossible to write a spoiler free summary for the fourth book in a series. If you haven’t read the first three books, read on at your own risk, but know I’ll try to limit spoilers. You can rest easy knowing I won’t spoil any of Book 4’s secrets.)  The Blood Mirror is the fourth of five planned novels in the Lightbringer Saga. Gavin must struggle to escape a prison of his own making. Karris hasn’t lost hope that Gavin is alive, but she has to navigate the crushing weight of her position. This is all the more difficult given her efforts to build a relationship with the Prism Elect. Kip is leading his own raids against the Color Prince, and Teia finds herself in the most conflicting position ever as she begins to work more and more closely with the Broken Eye.

Character:  Fist the good. Without a single point of view chapter, Tisis stole the show. She had a lot of moments here where she demonstrated her strength and patience.  The NEED for those things affected Kip’s sympathy slider, but he’s been awesome since Page 1 of Book 1.  I simply felt that a “secondary” character with this much of a compelling story should earn some recognition. Karris, Kip, and Teia are all awesome. They continue their trend. Weeks does a masterful job of given each character not a simple parabolic arch, but a more natural (yet less mathematically friendly) rollercoaster of development. Teia’s task is nearly heartbreaking, and the strength she’s finding to do it is equally so.

unknownNow for the bad:  I need to cry foul here, and it’s hard to do without spoilers. There’s a plot twist in this novel that I simply have trouble buying off on. This has everything to do with the point of view chapters from book one. It’s one thing to tell me a character is outside his mind, I’ve seen stories to that effect, but the difference is, the “character” in question never had a point of view chapter. I loved the book. I love Weeks, but I expect far better answers in the last book, and would be disappointed if I don’t receive a more satisfactory explanation. Again, my problem isn’t with the plot twist, it’s the manner in which is was executed.

Like all epic sagas, this series is rich in characters, and I expect any fans to have favorites outside of the “main” point of view characters (or even those limited in viewpoint). My above gripe aside, all these characters are real and compelling.

Exposition: I’d say Weeks has this down to an art form. I can’t think of a single “data-dump” paragraph. Yes, we do go into other characters’ viewpoints to receive information, but even then, we learn about events as those characters do things.  I think Liv’s chapters are the most “dumpy” in terms of information, but it was still interesting to see what she was up to.

Worldbuilding:  The world is expansive, but it’s a little bit less real to me than others. I think this is because there are a lot of characters spread in a lot of directions, and I don’t see the scope. So what Weeks earns in the expanse of his world he loses a bit (just a bit mind you) in the visceral nature of the world.

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Other books in the Lightbringer saga.

Dialogue:  Some may argue the character dialogue in this book is tough because the characters are pretty similar. I wouldn’t really argue. But I’d read a whole book’s worth of Kip, Karris, and Tiea having a conversation.  Andross is particularly entertaining to listen to as well.  Yes, all of these characters are flippant smart asses, which could make them sound a bit similar if you forced me to acknowledge it, but I like that sort of snappy dialogue, so I don’t care.

Description: Weeks is more vague in this area than most, choosing to only provide clear description on things that matter most in a scene. This may be what’s affected the world building, but if you’re going to be too little or too much, I personally prefer too little.

Overall: I felt like I had to wait forever to get this book. I’m happy to say that when I did, it delivered. Very few series have me waiting for the next piece of info, but this one does. Weeks does a fantastic job of blending intrigue with action, and fans of his books will love this latest edition.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

January Book Cover of the Month Elite 8

January Book Cover of the Month Elite 8

This was easily the most exciting round in the short history of this little event I’ve come up with.  And the votes are just staggering.  We’re up to 1,647, which means the Sweet 16 had 593 votes all by itself. I had to wait until just a few moments before midnight to declare a winner (and even now I’m refreshing the bracket to be sure one contest didn’t change).

As they say in football, let’s go to the tape:

The Closest Contest:
For the second round in a row, Upside Down found itself in a nail biter. It wasn’t able to pull of the victory this time though.  *Refreshes screen to be sure nothing’s changed* Only 45 minutes from the end of the round, Rebel, Pawn, King, managed to eek out a two-vote victory.  I’ll be honest, I’m a HUGE fan of Upside Down, but it couldn’t find the votes it needed.  It was the closet in terms of how many votes separated it and marine of victory (decided by only 3%!)

In terms of margin of victory, the closest contest was Marked vs The VeilMarkedreceived more raw votes, but it only received 52% of the 67 votes from the contest.

The Largest Victor:
Dominion beat The Liberation by a margin of 32 raw votes and 40% of the total votes. I think this artist should be very proud and very grateful to her following. (I don’t mean that sarcastically, that’s AMAZING support for a great talent.)

Most Voted On Contest:
As much support as Dominion got, Human vs The Unleashed got just ONE more vote (81 total votes as I type this). Those contests and Loveless vs ShadowBound all received more than 75 votes.  On that note, I’m overjoyed to see such support. I want fans of these artists and authors to come show their support, but while you’re doing so, please take the time to vote on the other contests. I’m very glad that every contest had at least 60 votes, but I’d be even happier if there was less separation between the most voted on and least voted on match. I think it shows respect to all those involved.

Least Voted On Contest:
To stress my point on the above contest, two matches received 60 votes. Queen of Chaos vs Tested by Magic and A Gathering of Shadows vs Orbital each earned those.  Neither match was very close, and I understand how quickly a favorite could form, but I think those were four very nice covers.

So now it’s on to the Elite 8!  This round will last until Feb. 17 at midnight. That’s not a lot of time, but you only have 4 matches to vote on! So, authors and artists, make sure you reach out to your fans and get them voting to support you (and the rest of the competitors).

I’m still amazed at how successful this has been. I mentioned on Facebook that this bracket is currently one of the most popular on Brackify (at least is was when I was typing this). Let’s keep the momentum going!

Head over here and vote!

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Caught Giveaway!

Caught Giveaway!

Starting today, I’m doing a Goodreads giveaway. Two people will each receive a free, signed paperback edition of my new release, Caught.  You can head here for details.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Caught by M.L.S. Weech

Caught

by M.L.S. Weech

Giveaway ends January 27, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

 

Book Cover of the Month Final Four!

Book Cover of the Month Final Four!

I just wanted to update you all on the progress of the Book Cover of the Month bracket.  We’re into the Final Four. The bracket is going along well. You can vote in the next round right here. Voting on this round only last for two days, so vote now while you have the chance!

Thanks for reading,

Matt

december-bracket-final-four

 

 

Book Shoutout: Entrepurpose, by Rusty Pang and Brian Laprath

Book Shoutout:  Entrepurpose, by Rusty Pang and Brian Laprath

I’ve always said I love it when other authors get published.  These particular authors and this particular book makes me that much happier because Rusty is a friend of mine.

Let’s start with the book blurb for Entrepurpose:

Begin blurb

14680572_349703372032090_6956008003380102308_nYou are here for a reason. So, the question is: Why?

Entrepurpose is a book inspired by 13 intense years of struggle to find the answer to the question,

“Why am I here?”

That journey took me through three depressions, alcoholism, and unhealthy weight gain as I tried to reconcile my life without purpose.

Now that I know my why, I have experienced an infusion of life and focus that I have never felt before.

This work has become my mission, and I can enjoy it more fully each day. But, it came at a price. That price was 13 years.

My story is our gift to you.

Inside these pages are the tools and principles that led me to understand what I was born to do.

If you apply these principles to your life, you will begin to see that every experience, no matter how painful, is part of your strength. If you feel different from others, a misfit perhaps, this book will show you why different is better than better. Maybe, for the first time, you will begin to accept who you are.

Whatever the reason that brought you here, know that you are here for a reason. That reason can be understood, and once you know it, you will have a responsibility to impact the world in the way only you can.

Welcome to your rebirth.

End blurb

This book is already doing well, and I couldn’t be happier for the creators.  It reached number 1 in three categories: Business and Money, Education and Education and Reference.

What’s most important about this book is, it’s designed to help people who truly feel low.  All the feedback I’ve seen and all the messages I’ve read continue to say, “This is what we need.”  Every writer wants his or her book to have an impact, and the early returns on Entrepurposve indicate this book does that.

Now let’s meet the creators.

rusty-profile-webI met Rusty somewhere around two years ago.  We both teach at the same school.  Over the last few months, we’ve been working more closely as he’s teaching the same segment of the course I teach.

There’s a bond between authors.  They don’t have to recognize it or accept it in any way.  It’s a bond of caring for your craft.  You see it when they’re a bit tired the next day because they rushed home to eat up whatever time they can with their family before they toil away at another job that takes not just a great deal of effort, but an insane amount of mental energy.  I’ve watched Rusty as he’s pushed himself to share this with you.  It’s not just his story, which alone is something compelling; it’s his passion.

Every day I see him talking to people about personality types and how they gather information.  Every thing he does as a teacher is driven to understand how the student thinks and learns, so that he can teach more effectively.  I haven’t had a chance to read the book just yet (it’s next on my TBR), but his story and his effort to find ways to reach people are already strong motivators for me.

brian-laprathI haven’t had the pleasure of getting to know Mr. Laprath.  He’s currently a reservist in the Air Force, and any time I can help out a fellow veteran, I’m going to.  You can find out more about him on the Entrepurpose website.  That site also has a blog and a ton of information worthy of checking out.

So I wanted to take a moment today and share this with you.  As most of my followers and those I follow know, I love giving shoutouts when dreams come true.  I relblog posts where authors announce they’ve finished a book.  I like it when people achieve their dreams, and I wanted to share this achievement with you.

Thanks for reading

Matt

Book Review: Magic-Borne by C.L. Schneider

Book Review: Magic-Borne by C.L. Schneider

I’m very glad I had the chance to finish this book last week.  I’d been excited to read the final book in the trilogy, and I wasn’t disappointed.  To remind you all what’s happened so far, please check out my review of Magic-Price land my review of Magic-Scars.

magic-borneSpoiler Free Summary:  Magic-Borne is the final book in the Crown of Stones trilogy.  It takes place pretty soon after the events of Magic-Scars.  Ian is trying to solve the mystery of his scars, save a loved one, defeat his father, and find a way to bring peace to the land.  We get a lot of questions answered and the readers will get a complete resolution, which is all any reader of a series can ask for these days.

Character:  Ian is still amazing.  His arch shows a lot of progress from the character we met in Price.   He shines more in this book.  I’ll admit I missed some of the other characters who, while still in the book, didn’t get as much air time as I’d have liked, but Ian is, and should be, why people are reading the series.  In my  review of the last book, I’d noted I would have liked more from them, but I think pulling back a bit was a sound decision.  Jarryd had some major impact moments that showed his evolution in some pretty powerful ways, but the rest of the characters simply don’t get a lot of face time.  It’s understandable given the ending, but I won’t lie that I wished they had a bigger role.

Exposition: This is about the same as the last book.  Schneider has a knack for blending exposition with description to help the reader avoid large blocks of data dumping.  I almost never notice the exposition in her work.

18714210._SX540_Worldbuilding:  So what I have to do here is admit that if someone shouts that the ending “seems” convenient (or at least the plot device that brings about the end), I couldn’t get too angry because I’d understand what they see.  I’d like to argue though that what Schneider did here is not MUCH different (if not even done better) than what McCaffrey did in Dragon Riders of Pern.  Before anyone throws stuff at me, realize I’m only drawing a correlation between plot devices.

Pern is my favorite series (by a lot) and will always be.  But if the plot device in that series didn’t bother you, the plot device in this one shouldn’t either. Schneider did a great job closing all the loops here and letting the readers learn about a complex magic system as they needed to. She sets up the ending to be complete and fulfilling while simultaneously leaving the door open for more books from that world.

Dialogue:  I’d say the dialogue in Scars was better.  There were scenes and arguments in Borne that felt a little quick for me.  As I write this, I’d have to say Scars was my favorite in the series on a lot of fronts.  That doesn’t take away from what this book is and could be.  The biggest difference stylistically was the pace of the dialogue.  Even the amount of dialogue felt a bit more rushed in this book.  This was not to a degree as to degrade the quality, just not the same crips, visceral dialogue we saw in Scars.  It’s still a great book.  I just felt this was a weaker element of the book.

The crown of stonesDescription:  I mentioned problems with how I saw characters in the review for Scars, and Schneider followed up her novel with much more character description.  Her extra attention to smaller character details made the book that much more visceral than the last.  I thought this was a great blend between setting, scene, and character description.  This was an improvement from Scars to Borne.

A note on content:  I don’t think this book is as explicit as Scars.  There are some adult scenes in this book too.  This still serves as a plot device as intimacy is a theme that shifts through each book.  Where as with straight romance (note, I’ve only read two), you tend to see scenes like this for the sake of scenes like this.  Here, you get steam and impact for the character.  That’s something I appreciate.

1d9390_138339a396c348f9ade2dfafb512d4c8Overall:  I stand by my opinion that Scars is the best of the three, but this book is a very satisfying and complete conclusion to a great story.  Where Scars upped the drama and the emotion, Borne lets us slip into the the resolution like a warm bath.  I appreciate how this story tied up all the loose ends and let us leave this world feeling as if we’ve seen all there is to see, for now.  This also holds true to how I usually feel about trilogies.  I tend to like the second act best because that’s where the most drama is.  That makes this book a perfect conclusion. No, it’s not the most exciting book because it can’t be.  A reader has to leave a story knowing there’s nothing more (in a manner of speaking) to be seen from this arc.  Borne does that.  If Schneider ever decides to go back, I’m going to be immensely pleased.  This was a sold, complete, well told story with an amazing protagonist and a fascinating twist on a few old tropes.

Thanks for reading

Matt

Caught is FINISHED!

Caught is FINISHED!

Caught CoverAfter more time and revisions that I could ever count, I’m so very proud to say that my second book is ready to send off for review and, more importantly, publishing!  I don’t know that this feeling will ever get old for me, but I plan to enjoy every moment I can every time I reach this stage.  About a year-and-a-half ago, I published The Journals of Bob Drifter. I had no idea what to expect, and I honestly didn’t know what I was doing.  I just wanted to publish my book.

Caught is different. I’ve mentioned a few times. It’s darker, but I feel like it’s a step forward for me as an artist. I learned a lot from Bob, and I’ll always be proud of it, but if I’m not pushing myself to reach new levels of skill, I’m going to be irrelevant before I’m even heard of.

This process is still going to take some time, but it’s a matter of weeks now instead of months.  I want to send it to some reviewers (Kirkus and Red City) for cover blurbs. While they take a swing at it, I’ll probably address some style issues and do another proofread. One thing I regret about Bob was not doing another proofread.  It’s a problem that I’m not sure I’ll let stand for much longer, but I don’t have to make that mistake with Caught.  So there will be a lot going on here in my life. I’ll be setting up my book for publishing, waiting for the reviews to come back, and taking that time to do another read-through just because I care that much about fixing any mechanical issues that may pop up in the book.

new-lion-iconI don’t have a release date yet, but I’ll announce that as soon as I get a few things figured out. What matters to me is first that my dream has come true a second time.  That doesn’t happen without God’s help, and a lot of help from some very important mortals as well.

I’d have to start here with my mom.  The reason for that is she had a nightmare once.  She told me about it.  I filed the thought away and the result is this book.  I love my mom. I think a lot of my creativity and drive comes from her side of the family, and this book is a result of her many conversations with me about stories.

Ben is my alpha reader, editor, best friend, and pretty much whoever else I need in life.  He is and will ever remain the first person I send my books to.  If I never sell another book (I’d rather sell a million), I’ll keep writing them so long as he enjoys them.

Rosa was the first person to read this book (and a very rough draft at that) after Ben.  I’d just gotten to know her and she picked this up to read and wouldn’t put it down. She took it home and read through it.  That was one of the first times anyone just read my work for the sake of reading.  It was a big moment for me.  This was before Bob came out, and I was very nervous about sharing my work.  She’s of the opinion this book was better.  I have a soft spot for Bob, but I’ll admit I feel confident this book is, at the very least, written better, especially after all the editing.

Marco Palmieri of Otherworld Editorial took what I thought was my final draft and showed me how to make these characters even more impactful.  He did this during an incredible transition in his career and some emotional struggles as well.  Even then, he and I sat over a phone call and hashed out the character and plotting of the book to find ways to amp up the development and growth of the characters.

Quintessential Editor did a few passes on my book.  He’s my continuity editor on this project, and I’ll keep working with him as long as he keeps putting up with my random messages and Naruto interruptions.  Corey, thanks for your unwavering support.

kaitlynPeggy has become a huge supporter of mine after Bob.  She’s read a few key scenes here and there, and I can’t wait to see what she thinks of the finished product. She’s a one-person sales and celebration team who I’ve come to admire more and more since meeting her.

There are more, but these are the people who I wanted to give special appreciation to as I head into the publishing process.

So what do you do when you accomplish a life-long dream for a second time?  You start writing another story.  I’ll plow straight into Sojourn in Despair so that project can be finished by deadline.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Marketing Journal: Goodreads Campaign

Marketing Journal: Goodreads Campaign

I’ve made no bones about the fact that marketing is something I don’t understand.  Oh, I have as much economics training as the next Associates Degree holder, but to be honest, I only know enough to know I don’t know what I’m doing.

My idea is to create a marketing journal.  I’ll track what I try and how it works.  Then I realized others might be interested in seeing what I’m doing.  Maybe they know how to do it better and will help a guy out, or maybe they’re like I am, and this will help them at least be as successful as I’ve been.

This is my first entry under this Marketing Journal tag, and I don’t know how often or regularly I’ll post these.  Most marketing campaigns have some sort of cost associated with it, and money just isn’t a thing I have.

I noticed Goodreads has started an add campaign system a while ago, so I thought I’d give it a try.

How it works:  Well, if I can figure it out, it’s pretty easy.  You start by clicking here.  It’s the summary and description of how it works in general.

target-418917_960_720Like I said, advertising usually costs money.  For this campaign, I set a limit of $50.  For anyone smarter than me:  is it completely unreasonable to think the money you invest in campaigning should at least result in the same amount earned in sales?  What’s the ration of profits earned against advertising dollars?  For me, I would consider this a gain if I simply get 50 people to add my book to their TBR lists.  I’d be ecstatic if I sold 50 copies of my book.  But I need to be told if that’s just a pipe dream.

I have a daily cap set at $5 a day.  That cap is based on my Cost Per Click.  I established my Cost Per Click originally at $0.5.  So when I started, if 10 people clicked my link, I wouldn’t get any more clicks, but I wouldn’t lose any more money from my budget.  I’m not sure how big a deal that is to be honest.  My whole campaign is built to end when the $50 I invested runs out, so weather that runs out in a day or a month, I’m not concerned either way.

september-stats
This is my actual chart that tracks views for the month of September.  All the following images are from my dashboard showing my progress.

Now we come to the part I think might be of interest to those like me.  I set up my add to target women who like a group of genres.  I was very broad, basically clicking any genre my book comes anywhere near to fitting in.  The first day I had 70 views.  The second day I had 73 views.  I didn’t have anyone click my link.  I’ve mentioned before that interaction matters to me.  So I changed it up.  I shifted so the campaign only targeted men.

I’m a man.  I wrote a book I liked.  I wrote a book my best friend and brother in law might like.  But when I looked at Goodreads and Amazon, I realized that the BULK of my sales and 5-Star Reviews were, in fact, from women.  That’s why I chose women first. Watch this:  When I shifted from women to men, my views plummeted from 73 to 22.  I can say I wrote this book for whoever I want, but the fact is, women are more interested in my book than men. I shifted the campaign back to women the next day and ended with 100 views.  After four days, I had 165 views, but no clicks.  Time to switch it up.

Goodreads also has a feature that allows you to target people who rated a group of Authors.  So if I select authors I think my book is like, anyone who gave all of those authors 3 or more stars will see my add.   This is awesome.  I chose Dean Koontz, Christopher Golden, Mike Molina, James Patterson and Dan Wells.

I had 23 views.

My theory is that the list of authors I gave is very broad.  Only two come any where near each other, and even that is a stretch.  So if only a small percentage of people read that combination, it reduces my reach.  Now, this would have been fine if those 23 views also mean 23 clicks, but it didn’t.  In the interest of science, I switched it from women who liked those authors to men.  Again, I dropped to 16.  Still no clicks.

So I changed my approach.  I switched my audience to women again.  Then I went back to genres.  This time, I reduced the number of genres to those I felt BEST represented Bob.  I chose Ebooks, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Paranormal, and Thriller.

october-viewsIn one day, I received 3,562 views.  I  also received 3 clicks.  Two people added me to their TBR lists.  The next day I received 3,362 views and one click.  I was very happy with the views and the clicks were improving.

The help section in Goodreads recommends if you want to increase your click through percentage (CTR) (percent of people who click your link from those who view your add) to change the add summary.  At this point, my add was an image of the cover with the following:  “Dead Like Me meets Supernatural.  A story about life from the perspective of those who watch over the dying.”  In an effort to increase that CTR, I changed it to, “Dead Like Me meets Supernatural.  A substitute teacher must collect the souls of the dying.  How does one live, when his real job is death?”

october-clicks-1Whenever you change your ad, it takes a few days for Goodreads to approve your ad.  So my ad shut down for a few days until it was approved.  When it came back up, I received 2,720 views, but no clicks.  I’m going to let this campaign run for a few more days with these settings.  If I don’t get back above 3,000 views, or I don’t get any clicks, I’ll go back to the original add and see if those numbers climb back up.

That’s where I’m at right now.  I’ve had 10,040 views and 4 clicks for a CTR of .04%.  (Goodreads says the results span from .05-.5, so if I can get to .25, I’ll call that a solid first time average).

current-add-lookI hope this helps those trying to figure out ways to reach viewers.  Of all the campaigns I’ve tried outside of conventions, this is one I feel best about because I already know I’m getting my add in front of interested readers.  That’s priceless to me.  Facebook and Twitter adds can be refined to interests, but people are finicky.  I would not call someone who likes Harry Potter  a fan of Fantasy.  The reading of one book doesn’t make you a fan of genre.  I’ve read two romance novels.  I hate romance.  I actually liked one of those books.  I read it because I wanted to learn from the structure and style.   Any genre is the same really in that regard.  BUT, to be able to target readers who like those genres or the authors those book match is awesome!  I’ll keep you all posted in how this goes.

Until then, thanks for reading,

Matt

A Fall From Grace: When Characters Devolve Into Villains

A Fall From Grace:  When Characters Devolve Into Villains

I honestly love character studies.  I started them in high school and learned how to write by doing case studies.  Just as I was pondering this very post, I ran into Adam’s blog post about how villains become villains.

eery-1648250_960_720I’ve grown up spoiled with stories.  I’ve gotten to read, watch, and listen to a ton of great stories in a litany of formats.  The most common trend I see these days is the sympathetic villain.  Perhaps a more accurate term in this case is a “relatable” villain.  Let’s face it, people just don’t wake up one day and say, “I think I’ll be a horrible person today.”  People are motivated to take action.

demon-1294136_960_720This got me thinking about a character study I’d like to share with you.  The most fascinating villainy turn I saw was linked to a phrase of mine. “The Devil isn’t the monster, he’s your best friend.”  I hope the Lord understands my metaphor and his worshipers don’t judge.  Let me explain the theory.  I don’t think the devil is one who threatens and yells.  It’s far easier to ENCOURAGE sin.  So that’s the meaning.  The guy who says, “Why not? Everyone else does it?  Why  not?  Who’s it really hurting.”  Temptation is the enemy of faith, and those “reasonable” steps away from what one should do is how that highway to Hell gets paved.  Now, I promise, this isn’t a theological post.  It just sets up this amazing story arch.

weeks_nightangelomnibus_tpBrent Weeks’ Night Angel Trilogy is great just to read and enjoy, but I invite you to read it (or even better read it again) and pay close attention to Dorian Ursuul.  His arch is amazing.  You see.  He’s a good guy.  He has his struggles.  He even has this intense desire to step away from the fearful reputation of his father.  He’s a good guy right?  Well…sure.  But let’s try to avoid spoilers as much as we can.

The first thing that happens is he has to take the position his father had.  It’s all fine and good to CLAIM to want to be benevolent and kind, but that doesn’t always work out in practice when you’re in charge.  Dorian starts by hating himself and making concessions as to why it’s “necessary.”  Indeed, as a reader, I found myself noting that, “yeah, what are his options?”  Quite frankly his option was to live the bad guy or die a man of principle.  Who doesn’t understand that?

What Weeks does masterfully is up the anti.  Dorian does something else that isn’t’ very nice, but he has his reason.  Then he does something slightly worse.   By the time he makes his fifth or sixth “bad” decision, the readers have come to see him as having “gone bad.”  Even if his reason is the most noble on the surface.  This proves what I said above.  Villains descend into darkness.  I have a book on my own inspired by that very premise.

This arch is all about how power corrupts.  As Dorian progresses, he makes every decision for a number of reasons, some of which make perfect sense.  His descent was gradual and unfortunate.

grimThis is a POWERFUL storytelling tool I’m surprised hasn’t ben made more useful in fiction.  It makes the villain sympathetic more than a plot devise.  I won’t lie.  The main character, “Grimm,” in The Journals of Bob Drifter, is a plot device.  I don’t hate any storytelling techniques on it’s surface.  I’m simply trying to provide writers a tool for an underused structure they may want to consider.

I hope the example I gave makes sense.  I really fight to avoid spoilers.  If you haven’t read the book, you should JUST to follow THAT character’s story line.  It’s amazing storytelling.

Thanks for reading,

Matt