I don’t care how “big” I get (not claiming to be big now); I’m always going to love sharing reviews. The five-star review below from Shawna is for The Power of Words.
I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.
These short stories were a great collection. I love having short stories by different authors in one book. It always seems to shake things up a little bit.
These stories really spoke to me and I loved every second of them. Usually, I can’t really connect too well with shorter stories but these ones all had me hooked from the moment I hit play. Very well done!
I truly appreciate the thoughtful words.
As always, please allow me this opportunity to ask that if you’ve read any of my books (especially Betrayed), please be kind enough to leave a rating and review on Amazon, Goodreads, or Audible (or all three). They really do help.
This is the second book I have read/listened to by this author and I would listen to another. I like how there is a creature that is their God but he is not benevolent and his status as a God is sketchy. To evolve, her species- the seferam, transform into violent creatures. I did not quite catch the reason behind this. Either I missed it or it’s just not properly explained because this is a novella. I definitely look forward to listening to more in the series——- This is the first book I have listened to by this narrator ( Courtney Sanello ). I find her voice is an excellent match to the story since the Seferam seem to be similar to our conventional concept of winged fairies like Tinker Bell. Her voice is unique and has a very fluid, smooth, yet high quality to it. Despite this, she still does the male characters quite well.——- There are no explicit sex scenes, excessive violence, or swearing. ——- I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and voluntarily left this unbiased review. Please feel free to comment on whether you found my review helpful.
I always love hearing that on of my books (or, in this case, two) has left someone open to more of my work. I hope Margaret does decide to try more of my work.
The other three reviews are for The Power of Words. They are all four or five star reviews. The reviewers also shared those reviews on other platforms.
The other two were shared on Goodreads, and you can read them here and here.
As always, I humbly ask that you consider leaving a review on Amazon, Audible, Goodreads, or all three if you’ve read any of my work. It’s always helpful. I offer my thanks to all of these reviewers for not only taking the time to read my work, but also taking the time to rate and review it. No one is obligated to do such a thing, so I’m honored they gave of their time to discuss my work. I’m sure the other authors for The Power of Words feel the same.
I’ve always been one to say that words have power more than just their meaning and lived by that idea, so I was excited to see this book. For some reason the first 2 stories didn’t speak to me much, but the last two, the ideas behind them. The acts of defiance they displayed via the use of words was incredibly powerful, and I intend to check out both of those authors’ other works. That doesn’t mean the first two stories weren’t good, they were good stories, just didn’t illicit a strong reaction either way in me. I received a copy of this book at my request in exchange for a FAIR review.
I did another Audio Book Boom for The Power of Words, so I’m hopeful I’ll have a handful of reviews to share with you soon.
As always, I humbly request that you consider leaving a review if you’ve read my work. I’d be happy to share it on this blog, and reviews really help an author out.
Do you remember your high school yearbook? More specifically, do you remember that list of most or Mr. and Ms? I thought it might be fun to talk about a few of my characters using that concept as a twist. I’ve never really tried something like this, so hopefully, it’s fun!
Most Clever: Ardelia Sabine, Stealing Freedom/Power of Words. This isn’t even close! I think a number of my characters have a degree of wit, but Ardelia is on another level. She’d be a great villain if her motives were different. She’s always thinking and planning. Where power or just plain grit get some characters through, Ardelia is a throw back to the characters who love it when a good plan comes together.
Most Sympathetic: Elele’Therios, Sojourn in Captivity. This was a close race in a few ways, but Elele takes it for me. I think this will be controversial to those who’ve read all my work, but I stand behind it. I still think the first chapter in her story is the best first chapter I’ve written to date. There’s so much that happens to her that I don’t think anyone could read it and not hope for better things for her.
Most Dramatic: Sal Veltri,Caught. It was a close contest between him and Elele, but Sal is pretty dramatic if I’m being honest. He’s a man of passion in a lot of ways, and his emotions are always to the max, which is why I gave him this title.
Character I’d Most Like to Hang Out With: Driscoll Navin, The Journals of Bob Drifter. The guy’s hilarious! He’s hundreds of years old, so he’ll have a bunch of stories to tell. I also happen to know he’s generous, so he’d probably pay the tab.
Most Frightening: Grimm, The Journals of Bob Drifter. Ohhh, so very, very close. (NO SPOILERS!) For obvious reasons, I’m going to go with Grimm. Sure, I have other characters who are pretty darn frightening, but Grimm gets the edge because he’s literally a grim reaper. Again, perhaps some controversy in this pick, especially considering the catch to Grimm’s goal, but I’d still run screaming from him in his cowl before any of my other characters to date.
Most Fun To Write: Caden Carroll, Caught. For so many, many reasons. The first is that Caden only speaks in metaphor and simile. I had so much fun researching the normal way to say what Caden means to find the perfect story or movie to pull from. He’s such a cool character to work with, and he’s absolutely bonkers.
Most Like Me: Richard Hertly, The Journals of Bob Drifter. This one will also (oddly) receive a lot of debate for those who know me and have read my books. Here’s the thing, Richard is never satisfied, nor does he ever feel good enough. That’s probably the core of who I am, and why I most identify with him. There are a number of other things I think I have in common with him. All my other characters have some aspect that is beyond something I have without careful thought and consideration. Naturally, they all have a part of me, but Richard has the part I most recognize about myself.
Best Developed: Kaitlyn Olhouser, Caught and Repressed. I’ve loved watching her grow thus far, and I can’t wait for you all to see the woman she’s destined to become. Elele was in consideration for this as well, and this may shift, but, for now, seeing how she’s grown from a scared little girl into even the young lady she is in Repressed is just fun.
Most Lovable: Bob Drifter, The Journals of Bob Drifter. I really think this guy could pretty much befriend anyone. He’s kind, intelligent, polite, and honest. I’ll be honest and say he’s the character I hope most of my readers would call their favorite. I think the reason most people love that book is because most people love Bob. I’d also argue that the majority of those who didn’t care for it think it fell short because, for whatever reason, they didn’t like Bob.
So there you go! For those who’ve read my books, what are your thoughts? Would you give any of these awards to other characters? Who is your favorite character? I’d be interested to hear about it in the comments below.
It’s a bit harder to share reviews for audiobooks because there aren’t any direct links to just those reviews (or at least I haven’t figured out the trick). However, I’ve gotten a number of reviews for a lot of these audiobooks, and so I wanted to take a chance to share some of the comments.
Caught: Caught has two ratings and one text review. It has an average 4.0 rating (again only two ratings) at the moment. The text review just kindly said that the reader loved the print version so much that they wanted to listen to the audio version while I work on Betrayed. The reviewer also took a moment to praise the plot twists, which I honestly think is the greatest part of the book.
The Power of Words: The Power of Words has four ratings for an average of 4.3 overall. It also has two text reviews. The most recent reviewer said the stories were entertaining. He appreciated the range of genres, which I was actually concerned would be a problem. He took a moment to praise the narrators on this (and I think Lisa and J.M. are indeed worthy of praise. This reviewer concluded by acknowledging that short stories don’t have the depth he typically looks for (“…they’re usually over before you can really get into them.”)
The older text review focused again on Lisa and J.M. The reviewer did say the collection “lives up to the title.” I appreciated seeing that.
Repressed: Repressed has one rating and text review. The reviewer had issue with the tone and target audience of Repressed vs Caught (Repressed, as you may know, is based on Kaitlyn from Caught). I honestly accept this criticism and respect it. I had to make a choice on what to do here. I wanted so desperately to give Kaitlyn her own short story, but when I did that I had to gauge the content against those most likely to read it. So it’s completely fair and just to have this thought. My hope is, those who love Kaitlyn will appreciate this story. Those who love the darker, more horror driven aspects of Caught, it’s fair to say, won’t enjoy this.
The reviewer also took a moment to compliment Jennifer on her reading. I always felt she had the perfect voice for Kaitlyn, and I’m glad this reader agreed. My hope is Repressed get’s Jennifer plenty more offers.
And I think that has me caught up with the reviews for my work so far.
If you’ve read any of my work, I humbly request you take a few moments to toss up a rating and review on Audible, Goodreads, Amazon, or all of those above. I can’t tell you how much reviews help in so many different ways. Even if you hated it, feel free to spend however many thousands of words you feel you need to express your discontent. It’s still valuable feedback.
If you’re interested in any of my audiobooks, and you don’t have a credit you want to spend on one, just send me an email, and I’ll send you a free promo code for whichever (or all) you want.
About a year ago, Heidi Angell, T.W. Iain, Richard Drake, and I released The Power of Words, an anthology dedicated to the First Amendment. My story for that collection was Stealing Freedom, and fun heist story about a mother who’s planning to shut down the servers that ruthlessly enforce the prohibition of speech and communication on her planet.
As per the agreement we had on that anthology, we’re allowed to release our individual stories (the anthology will remain available) after a year. In preparation for that, I’ve commissioned my artist, Carlos Villas, to do the cover. So, without further delay, I proudly present to you the cover to Stealing Freedom, scheduled for release Oct. 1, 2019.
It always amazed me to see what Carlos does with my concepts. For those who are interested, take a look at my request and little thumbnail:
I told him, “The frame is from the bridge of a girl-child’s nose to just below the collar bone. Around her neck is a metal (techno-looking) collar about an inch thick. Blue electricity is arcing around the collar which is visually undone.”
Carlos patiently went through 13 drafts of the image until we got to the image you see above. The bulk of the revisions were in getting the collar to where we wanted it and then getting that arcing light to look perfect.
He did all that work in perhaps a week? If you’re an author looking for a dedicated artist who will eagerly take direction and produce that level of work quickly, I couldn’t recommend Carlos highly enough.
Once I got the final image, I located a font I liked and designed the overall cover with the author and title text. One may argue my author text is a bit dark, but on a monitor it works out fine. I’d be more worried if it were for a print cover (as printing brings up color and density issues), but if my color-challenged eyes can make it out, I’m confident others can see it. I downloaded the font (for free) and placed everything.
The Audible cover (yes, the audio version of this novella will also be available (I hope) Oct. 1.) was more challenging. In order to keep everything I wanted, I had to place the text over the face. My options were to put text over the face or crop the face out. I opted for the first choice.
Once more, you can expect Steal Freedom to be available on Kindle and Audible Oct. 1 (give or take a day or two).
Shore Leave was last week, and it was yet again a huge success in terms of books sold!
The thing that really makes this so encouraging is that I’ve now had three consecutive conventions where I sold more than 40 books. This makes me feel like things are starting to build in the best ways.
At Shore Leave, I sold forty-nine books. I was especially thrilled at how the Repressed/Sojourn paperback worked out. I sold out! My favorite story is that one woman bought the book. She came back the next day to tell me how much she enjoyed it. She said she read Repressed in a matter of hours at the pool and loved it. When she found out Kaitlyn’s first appearance was in Caught, she bought that book.
I only have one copy of Power of Words remaining, and that’s pretty good. They actually sold pretty fast. I thought for sure the last one would sell, but it just sort of stalled I guess. But still, I sold 13/14 copies.
The next thing that happened is probably the most encouraging. The Journals of Bob Drifter has been out for four years, and I’ve done three Shore Leave events now. This is relevant because I met Amanda (and Grace) at Shore Leave. Bob did very well at the event, and I think I owe a lot of that to Amanda and Grace. You see, they came to say hi (and buy a few new books! Thanks!). While there, they managed to convince somewhere around four people to buy at least two of my books. They convinced one friend to buy all four of my books.
That’s not it though. That happened to me twice that I can recall. One person would be checking out my table, and another would come up and say, “I read his book (BLANK (Usually Bob)), and I’m telling you it’s good.”
I can’t express to you how that makes me feel. First off, just having someone walk up and say they enjoyed your book is a wonderful feeling, but to have previous readers bring you more readers is the very definition of “word of mouth!” It’s amazing!
The theory I have is this: It takes people a while to get through their TBR pile. This is true for me. I’m only just now reading books I put on my TBR pile a year ago. My thinking is that these people have had Bob on a shelf for a minute and then it just came time to read it. Now they have feedback for me, and they loved it!
Amanda said, “It’s (Bob) one of the best books I ever read.” She then told me the story about how she was at work and a coworker was trying to draw her attention and couldn’t because she was that enthralled. WOW! (But please don’t get in trouble at work, Amanda!)
Another person might have been one of maybe three people to buy my book at a convention last year. He said, “It (again Bob) was one of the best surprise reads” he’s had. He said he bought it because he liked me (which is why most people buy most things at conventions). But then he read it and loved it.
All that feedback is so motivating. I can’t wait to get my next few books out there!
I nearly sold out of all my books. Those were just a few stories I wanted to share because of how amazing they made me feel in the moment. Julie was near to tears a few times. It’s just such blessing, and we thank God for brining so many wonderful people to our lives and letting our business grow.
So now for the business side. Shore Leave (and most other conventions I go to) have much more affordable tables. And the sales from the event made back the cost of the table (which is a huge benchmark to me). But things went so well, we only actually lost about $100. This is still a loss, but it’s significant growth. We’re hopeful that the prints and more products (big news on that is coming) will help tip the scales and allow us to change how we define “success” when it comes to conventions. For now though, we’re just overjoyed this event went so well.
For those who tried my books, thank you so much! We hope you enjoy them. Please remember to leave a rating and/or review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. They really do help.
I love to read. It’s relaxing, and a good book can captivate even a whole generation. Just look at Harry Potter. That series flat out made reading “cool” again, but time is just too short. I read before work. I read before bed. I read in the bath just to give myself time to read.
But I don’t get through my TBR list nearly as quickly as I’d like. This leads me to audio books. The main reason I love audio book is that they let me read more. I listen to audiobooks when I drive to and from work and pretty much whenever I drive around. This gives me about two to three hours of reading more than I would have. I like a good car karaoke on occasion, but I inevitably want to find out what happens next in whatever story I’m reading at the moment. This extra time can help me either blast through a book I’m reading or get through another book I wouldn’t normally have time to read.
Here are a few other reasons audio books really make my day:
1: It lets me re-read books I love: A number of the sagas I love are large. I think the shortest series I like is four (main) books. So audiobooks let me refresh my mind on previous books before the newest book comes out. It also lets me go back and read entire sagas I love.
2: A good narrator can make a story even better: I have favorite narrators. James Marsters, Kate Reading, Michael Kramer, and Wil Wheaton to name a few. They bring the story to life. Now, I have friends who assert the voice actors in their head are better than the other narrators, but I just love hearing a story come to life. Now, when I read Wheel of Time, I hear Michael and Kate’s voices.
2a. A good narrator can make a book I wouldn’t like a book I loved. I did a review on The Chaos Walking Trilogy. It’s written in first-person present tense, which I would have never read (let alone written) in a book. But when a friend recommended the series, I fell in love with it mostly because of the voice actors. I later was inspired by that series to try writing in that style (Sojourn in Captivity).
3. It’s a safe way to try a book you wouldn’t normally try: So one complaint I get with audiobooks is that, “I can’t pay attention to it.” I’ve found that a good one can really hold my attention. But a boring (or even bad) book can be made far less painful in audio form because I can mentally check out here and there. Then there are the other books. I tried the first book in the Demon Cycle because I liked a short story Peter V. Brett did in an anthology. I tried it via audio because if I didn’t like it, I could just tune out here and there, and listen for the highlights. But I loved it!
These are the main reasons I love audiobooks, and, since I didn’t know what else I wanted to ramble about in today’s post, I thought I’d try to convince readers to give them a try. May I humbly suggest The Journals of Bob Drifter, Caught, The Power of Words, or Repressed? If you sign up for Audible, you get a free credit, and I can’t do more than offer you a free book.
So we got some rest, and boy did we need it. AwesomeCon 2019 was such a wonderful, huge event. As usual, I wanted to take a moment and give you some insight as to how things went.
Last year ended on a high note. We had always planned to slow way down this year to get life figured out and write some more books. The wonderful thing is I honestly thought, “Well that was just an amazing success, but no way do I do that sort of stuff again.”
Well, I didn’t. In terms of books sold, I did even better. I sold fifty one books! I don’t remember the count from Baltimore Comic Con, but I remember it being in the forties.
The first thing I need to do is praise God for such an amazing blessing! Through four years of work, I’m seeing progress in this business venture, and all things come through him.
The next thing I need to do is thank all of you! If you stopped by and picked up one (or a few) copies of my work, you’ve helped my dream come true. I hope you enjoy the stories. I hope reading them makes you that much more excited for the things I’m working on next.
So I won’t go over information he covered because I frankly want you to read his blog. But I do have some additional insights.
How I measure “success.”
I ran into another author who was a bit upset that sales weren’t there. Now, some authors measure success in terms of profit. I’m not one of those. Even with multiple books, I still don’t have enough products to expect to actually profit. I “made” $289. That’s fantastic. It’s certainly way more than I normally make. It paid for my table ($273.35 for badges and table), but I spent $456.66 ordering books, so I actually lost $441.01. That might lead to a lot of sad faces and discouraged hopeful authors. First, AwesomeCon is a huge event with pretty expensive artist alley tables. I don’t go to AwesomeCon to make money. I got to AwesomeCon to have fun and meet people. I got to meet new readers who I hope will become loyal readers. My two of my three most loyal readers were all people I met at AwesomeCon. So yeah, I lost money up front, but those people buy my books I later release, even if they wait to do so at the next AwesomeCon.
So I told the author I mentioned above, “I already know I’m going to lose money here. I don’t count success by dollars made. I count it by books sold.” Fifty one is a new record. So I see this event as a huge success.
How could I have done better? Well, I’m still not used to having so many books. I ordered twenty copies of each of my longer works (Caught and The Journals of Bob Drifter), and I ordered thirty copies each of my shorter works (Repressed & Sojourn in Captivity (paperback) and The Power of Words). I only sold more than half of one of those. So I just ordered too many books. If I’d only ordered half of those numbers, I still would have lost $213 (or so), but that’s expected at an event where I still have a very limited number of things for people to buy. This is something I’m going to try to adjust. At Shore Leave, I intend to sell prints as well. It’s a low-up-front cost item that will help me diversify what people can come to my table to purchase. I’ll also be able to bundle them and increase deals for potential customers.
Now, Shore Leave is much less expensive to attend. I clearly don’t need to order more books. I took that money I earned from AwesomeCon to pay for my table. If I sell all of those books, I’ll make back that table. Mathematically, I will still have lost $100-something, but I’ll have that many more books out there for people to read, (hopefully) enjoy, (hopefully) review, and (hopefully) recommend to a friend.
2. Try new things:
As I mentioned above, I’m always looking to try new things. My biggest mission is to provide low-cost (both to me and the potential customer) products to purchase. Bookmarks did not work. They make great hand outs, but people just don’t want to pay for those. So I looked around and realized that there are a lot of artists in artist alley (go figure). So the new plan is to commission art based on my books to sell prints of at conventions. I don’t expect to do as well as people who sell cool pictures of trademarked characters, but I’m not touching that. But if someone looks at a really awesome picture of Caden or Elele, they may want to buy it. They may want to know about the character. This may work; it may not work at all. The point is you have to diversify your options. Not everyone reads. Most people who go to conventions buy art from someone. Why not art based on my books? Plus, it gets Carlos and Collin some attention. Also, I’m sharing profits with them so I don’t pay up front. It’s a risk on their end, but it’s an investment of time for the potential to profit money.
3. Sharing is great!
I’ve shared a table before, but I didn’t know how to do it. I’d read both of Andrew’sbooks (I shared a table with him a few times), but he’d only read one of mine. Also, we thought of our one table as two tables rather than thinking of the table as ours. This might have been something I did wrong. I’m not saying we didn’t try to help each other out, but we were still pitching our stuff more individually. Steve knew all my pitches for all my books. He understood my work, and he knew how I was marketing. We talked before hand. We also pitched what was right for the reader. If someone said they liked traditional fantasy, I put Steve’s book in his hand. Steve must have sold at least three of my books. I might have sold as many of his. We amplified one another. Now, Andrew is wonderful, and he worked hard for each other. I just lacked the understanding of how sharing a table really works. This is something I really want to continue to try. It brings the up-front costs down for each of us, and it really works when you’re selling the books people want. In fact, during AwesomeCon, I actually told a reader I probably don’t have a books she likes (she’s a fan of Terry Pratchett). I directed her straight to Andrew’s work. I told her, you’ll love him.
So those are a few insights. Ultimately, I couldn’t be happier. It took Julie and I a week to recover. We were so exhausted, but we had so much fun.
If you were one of the people I met at the event, thank you so much for giving our work a try. We truly hope you enjoy the books.