Readers' Favorite

January 11, 2014

Birthday Flash Fiction Contest Linkup and Voting

© Johanna Goodyear | Dreamstime Stock Photos

My birthday is a week away and I can't wait to celebrate it with you. Last week I announced a Flash Fiction Contest and I hope you have your story ready as voting starts TODAY.

Here's the prompt,

I can't remember the last time someone held my hand or warm arms embraced me. It has been a decade since another's lips have touched my own. Now, I sit here on my birthday... no party or well wishes, not even a cake. Is this my future, to wither and die alone?

Writers, below add the link to your story and then tell all your friends, family, and fans to come here to vote. Please use your name as the link title to make it a bit easier for readers to vote.



Readers, please help me decide on the best stories. Voting is open until 6 pm EST Friday, January 17. Because I know how difficult to pick one favorite, I'm letting you choose THREE!  In the form below enter the link title for the 3 stories you like best. You may want to wait until later in the week to read all the stories in the contest as you can only vote once.

The 3 stories that receive the most votes will be chosen as the winners. Each winner will receive a bookstore gift card (winner's choice of bookstore as long as it can be purchased online and use US currency). I will serve as tie-breaker should it be needed. (Please be sure there is contact info available at the site your story is at so I can contact winners.)

Good luck!

January 10, 2014

Valerie Douglas: Top Questions Asked in Writing Groups Answered

What should I write?

That’s one of the most common questions that pops up on my author group. What they really want to know is what kind of book will be popular, what kind will make the best seller lists. As with so much else, there’s no one right answer.

When I was a child I remember when the first Stephen King novel came out. Horror had been declared a dead art. Then there was Carrie, and Salem’s Lot. Suddenly everyone and their brother was writing horror. Those were the days of traditional publishing. The gatekeepers – agents and editors - wanted more horror. It was a ‘sure thing’. Except, of course, there are no sure things. Instead there was a glut of horror, and enormous pressure on authors like King. More recently Amanda Hocking came out with her books, and gave birth to the Young Adult genre. The Twilight series took that to a new level. 50 Shades of Grey introduced Mommy porn, but it started as Twilight fan-fiction. Now there’s Hugh Howey, he introduced post-apocalyptic science fiction/fantasy.

So, back to the question. What should you write? Write what you love. Write because you have to. If you’re shooting for the bestseller lists, you’re writing for the wrong reason, and you’re doomed to failure. Write what you read. If you like post-apocalyptic science fiction/fantasy, then go for it, and follow behind Hugh Howey. Remember, though, that he set the trend.

Next question.

Traditional publishing or self-publishing?

The Coming StormThere are pros and cons to each. Traditional publishers will have a built-in reader base, and of course, they’re in all the bookstores. They will provide the cover art, an editor and the formatting. All that in exchange for approximately 2/3 of the profit from your book. Forget the marketing – most traditional publishers don’t do much marketing for new authors, you’ll be responsible for most of your marketing. By the way, one of the other things that you’ll give up will be control. You’ll have a little input into the cover, and a good editor will work with you, but be prepared to kill your darlings. That favorite passage, gone.

Buy The Coming Storm at Amazon

Oh, and by the way, you’ll even need an editor if you’re going traditional. There are two sure ways for your manuscript to wind up in the circular file (trash) – a bad query letter and a poorly edited book. They don’t have time to fix your basic spelling/grammar errors – they’ve got a lot of clients, you are only one of them. The belief that your writing will be so remarkable that they’ll overlook that sort of thing is a pipe dream.

Should I stick with one genre?

If you’re going traditional publishing, you won’t have much choice. As an Indie? Just write. Some of the best writers write in more than one genre – some traditional writers had to do it under another name. Stephen King/Richard Bachmann, Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb. Some of that has relaxed, but you’ll need to be a proven commodity with a traditional publisher for you to get away with it. Or work out a Hugh Howey deal – keep the e-book rights and control, while selling the print rights to a publisher.

As an Independent/Self-published writer, you can write in any genre. However… It will still serve you better to have at least two books in the same genre to start, so that readers are assured they’ll be able to come back to familiar characters.

Which brings us to…

My book isn’t selling well. What can I do to change that?

Write another book. Seriously. If you write something readers like, they want to have more like it. Only a few writers over the last century were successful with only one book, and most of those intended to write others. Harper Lee with To Kill a Mockingbird, Margaret Mitchell with Gone with the Wind. J.D. Salinger.

So write more books.

How can I sell more of my books? What’s the secret of marketing?

Work. There’s no secret. Just do it.

A lot of writers get burned out on the marketing. I know I have. The best advice I can give you is to schedule it around your muse. No one likes a spammer. Endless ‘buy my books’ ads can make people crazy. So, one week do about an hour of promotion/marketing M/W/F and the next week Tuesday and Thursday, or whatever works for you. Take advantage of free offerings if it’s your first book to build your name. Ditto free promotions on sites that allow it.

Join writer/author groups, ask for suggestions.

As you generate income consider doing paid promotions on sites like Pixel of Ink, E Reader News Today or Bookbub.

By the way, if nothing is working, look at your book especially in comparison to other books in your genre. Does your cover art stand up? How are your reviews? How many of them mention that you’d do better with some editing? Some of that is subjective, but if the majority say you need it, you might want to consider it.

Last word – Patience. 

There has never been a writer who blasted out of the gates. It may have looked that way, but what you didn’t see was the preparation beforehand, the editing, the choosing of cover art, the research into effective sites for promotion. It takes time for word of mouth to build.

To all of this I’ll say one more thing. Write. Write what you love. Keep writing.

And good luck.

About the Author:

Valerie Douglas is the multi-published author of novels of fantasy, mystery, suspense and romance, among them, The Coming Storm series, Heart of the Gods, Song of the Fairy Queen, The Last Resort, Two Up and Dirty Politics. Under her pen name of V. J. Devereaux she's also the author of several well-reviewed erotic romances - Cherry's Jubilee, Special Delivery and Demon's Kiss. Valerie lives in the beautiful heartland of Ohio with her beloved husband, two dogs, three cats, and an African clawed frog named Hopper.
Twitter  *  Facebook *  blog  *  YouTube

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate;  a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the above link. The views, opinions, and beliefs of contributing writers are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of Girl Who Reads. 


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January 9, 2014

eBook Deal: Under Fire by Rachel Amphlett

...truly outstanding and very relevant.. ~ Richard Smith

...gritty, gripping, thriller with plenty of action and even a wee bit of romance thrown into the plot. ~ Donna Usher

Under Fire

An explosion rocks a Qatari natural gas facility… a luxury cruise liner capsizes in the Mediterranean… and someone has stolen a submarine… 

Are the events connected?

Dan Taylor doesn’t believe in coincidences – all he has to do is convince his superiors they are next in the terrorists’ line of fire.

As Britain enters its worst winter on record, Dan must elude capture to ensure the country’s energy resources are protected. At all costs.

In an action-packed adventure, from the Middle East through the Mediterranean to London, Dan and his team are on a quest which will test every choice he makes. Assisted by the exotic Antonia Almasi, Dan realises he faces an adversary far greater than he ever imagined.

And not everyone is going to survive.

99 cents at Amazon
January 9 - 13
Regularly $3.99

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the link above. Prices are subject to change without notice, please verify price before purchasing. Want to have your bargain, discounted, or free ebook featured? Fill out this form.

Make a Marketing Plan

It's 2014 and do know what your marketing plan is?

Many authors feel overwhelmed by marketing and not sure really where to begin. Others find marketing to be time consuming. And while we all know it is necessary, we often don't know if it is effective. Creating a plan to follow will help you feel more in control and thus less overwhelmed. The beginning of the year is an excellent time to make a plan. Knowing what you need to do will help you make the best use of your time and having it all written down will help you review what worked best.

Whether you have several published books or planning to release your first book this year, you will benefit from a marketing plan.

So where are you spending your marketing time and money this year? Here are a few things to consider making part of your plan.

Online Promotion:
Everyone is doing blog tours. The most successful tours are ones planned in advance. Pencil in the dates your are thinking about doing the tour. For more help planning your own tour, be sure to pick up a copy of my ebook Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour. 

Want to be featured on Book Bub, eReader News Today, Pixel of Ink, etc? As these sites grow the competition for the dates you want becomes stiffer. Check their guidelines for how often a title can be featured and set your schedule accordingly.

You can't be touring all the time. When would you work on your next book? But that also doesn't mean you can't do appearances. Actually you should shoot for two or three appearances on blogs each month. While you might not be able to set dates for the entire year for guest blogging, you can put together a list of blogs you want to appear on.

Social media events can be helpful marketing tools. Options include being the guest on regularly scheduled chats, setting up a Goodreads Q&A group, hosting your own chat or read along, etc. These events can be great ways for readers to interact live with their favorite authors.

Creating a mailing list and putting together a street team may be other options to pursue this year.

Radio and Print Interviews:
I've mentioned and HARO as places to find radio and print interviews. The key to getting interviews is planning ahead. Radio shows and monthly magazines are often scheduling 3-6 months in advance.

Awareness Event Participation:
Does your book deal with bullying, human trafficking, adoption, mental illness, or a children's book? Then you may want to find out when the awareness week/month is for that particular issue and see what community or online events you can partner with. Many schools and libraries participate in Read Across America Day by hosting authors (some places have made it a full week of activities). There's also Children's Book Week that include activities both online and locally. Karen Pokras Toz released her book Millicent Marie Is Not My Name during Bullying Prevention Month. Her book deals with bullying and it was a good tie in to a number of activities online including the hashtag #StopBullying.

Festivals and Fairs:
Now is the time to submit applications for summer and fall book festivals. Before you get overwhelmed by the price of a table at one of these events, look into if they have a regional author/new author tent. Often you are given a set hour to do a signing and it is free. Some events also offer a shared table; use the contacts you have in the author groups you are part of to find a partner. You may even want to check with the organizers to see if your entire writers group can have a booth (for those who participate in a local group).

Merchandise and Swag:
It's always good to have swag on hand and planning in advance helps you save the most money. Bookmarks, key chains, mugs, etc. with your book cover(s) and website info printed on them make great giveaway items. Does one of your characters have a catch phrase that readers have latched on to? Check with places like CafePress about selling shirts, mugs, etc. with that phrase. If you are going to events have some items available for purchase.

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the blogger behind Girl Who Reads and author of the how-to manual Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

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January 8, 2014

5 New Releases for January 2014

Are you ready for another great year of books? Looking over upcoming releases, I see a lot of second, third, and fourth books in popular series as well as some stand alone novels from favorite authors.  Here are 5 upcoming releases that caught my attention.

Hollow City
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was the surprise best seller of 2011—an unprecedented mix of YA fantasy and vintage photography that enthralled readers and critics alike. Publishers Weekly called it “an enjoyable, eccentric read, distinguished by well-developed characters, a believable Welsh setting, and some very creepy monsters.”

This second novel begins in 1940, immediately after the first book ended. Having escaped Miss Peregrine’s island by the skin of their teeth, Jacob and his new friends must journey to London, the peculiar capital of the world. Along the way, they encounter new allies, a menagerie of peculiar animals, and other unexpected surprises.

Complete with dozens of newly discovered (and thoroughly mesmerizing) vintage photographs, this new adventure will delight readers of all ages.

Publication Date: January 14
Buy Hollow City at Amazon

Lost Lake
From the New York Times bestselling author of Garden Spells comes a novel about heartbroken people finding hope at a magical place in Georgia called Lost Lake.

Suley, Georgia, is home to Lost Lake Cottages and not much else. Which is why it's the perfect place for newly-widowed Kate and her eccentric eight-year-old daughter Devin to heal. Kate spent one memorable childhood summer at Lost Lake, had her first almost-kiss at Lost Lake, and met a boy named Wes at Lost Lake. It was a place for dreaming. But Kate doesn't believe in dreams anymore, and her Aunt Eby, Lost Lake's owner, wants to sell the place and move on. Lost Lake's magic is gone. As Kate discovers that time has a way of standing still at Lost Lake can she bring the cottages—and her heart—back to life? Because sometimes the things you love have a funny way of turning up again. And sometimes you never even know they were lost . . . until they are found.

Publication Date: January 21
Buy Lost Lake at Amazon

Before Jamaica Lane
One simple lesson in seduction between two friends can turn into so much more…

Despite her outgoing demeanor, Olivia is painfully insecure around the opposite sex—usually, she can’t get up the nerve to approach guys she’s interested in. But moving to Edinburgh has given her a new start, and, after she develops a crush on a sexy postgrad, she decides it’s time to push past her fears and go after what she wants.

Nate Sawyer is a gorgeous player who never commits, but to his close friends, he’s as loyal as they come. So when Olivia turns to him with her relationship woes, he offers to instruct her in the art of flirting and to help her become more sexually confident.

The friendly education in seduction soon grows into an intense and hot romance. But then Nate’s past and commitment issues rear their ugly heads, and Olivia is left broken-hearted. When Nate realizes he’s made the biggest mistake of his life, he will have to work harder than he ever has before to entice his best friend into falling back in love with him—or he may lose her forever…

Publication Date: January 7
Buy Before Jamaica Lane at Amazon

The Invention of Wings
From the celebrated author of The Secret Life of Bees, a magnificent novel about two unforgettable American women

Writing at the height of her narrative and imaginative gifts, Sue Monk Kidd presents a masterpiece of hope, daring, the quest for freedom, and the desire to have a voice in the world.

Hetty "Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.

Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid.We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.

As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements.

Publication Date: January 7
Buy The Invention of Wings at Amazon

The breathtaking conclusion to the time-travel trilogy that is “both tender and electric” (Publishers Weekly)

The battle between the Tempest division and Eyewall comes to a shocking conclusion in this final installment of the Tempest trilogy, where the need for survival stretches the boundaries of history, both past and future, and the world Jackson once knew is a place forever marked by the detrimental effects of time travel.

As Jackson recovers from his brush with death, he’s surrounded not only by the people he loves most—his dad, Courtney, and Holly—he’s also amongst a few of the original time travelers. As he learns more about their life and how this world began, it becomes apparent that they need to put a stop to Thomas and Doctor Ludwig’s experimenting at Eyewall Headquarters. What starts out as an escape plan becomes a war between time and humanity, between freewill and peace. It’s the battle Jackson was born to fight and he’s not about to back down. Not for anything. Not for anyone.

Publication Date: January 28
Buy Timestorm at Amazon

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January 7, 2014

Review: Knightley and Son by Rohan Gavin

Knightley and Son
Sometimes I hate getting Netgalley ARCs because I read them and then have to wait possibly months before I can tell you about or if I tell you soon after reading it and you have to wait months to read the book yourself. For my US readers, the latter happens to be the case with this book. Good news for my UK readers - Knightley & Son by Rohan Gavin is now available.

I considered waiting until the US release date to post my review, but I couldn't wait until March to tell you about this book. It's just too good (I kind of want to read it again right now). I found it when looking for middle grades and younger adult books for my niece and nephew. I loved the description for this book and thought it would be a fun read for my nephew. Little did I realize how much I would personally enjoy the book. For me it felt a little like a Nancy Drew or Veronica Mars, but the lead character is boy and the case is a bit more supernatural. And oh, English!

Buy Knightley & Son at Amazon

Presumably, I read the British version and I wonder how much of the wording will be changed for the US edition (kind of like how the Philosopher's Stone had to be changed to Sorcerer's Stone). Knightley and Son is set in London and so I hope it doesn't lose too much of its British feel, but there were a few references that I don't think the target audience in the US would get. 

The whole time I was reading it, I couldn't wait to share it with my nephew. I know he will love it. I guess having to wait until March isn't so bad as it is closer to his birthday and I won't have to worry about what to get him.

It is a fun adventure story that the whole family should read together. While there is a supernatural element to the plot, I wouldn't really call the book fantasy. It is such a small portion of the story line. Knightley and Son is so much more - a detective story, a great father-son adventure, conspiracy and danger abound, family and loyalty are at the forefront and never underestimate the intelligence of young people. There is even a bit of humor infused within the pages.

It would make an excellent father-son bonding activity whether read together at bed time or in a book club type setting where each read on their own and then talk about it together. I recommend it for father-son time because the story focuses on a father-son team, there is nothing keeping it from entertaining the entire family. I hope there are more adventures to come from Knightley & Son.

Book Info:
ebook & hardcover (30 pages)
Published March 2014 by Bloomsbury USA
ISBN13: 9781619631533
Source: Netgalley
Read: December 2013

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate;  a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the above link.  A free ebook was provided by the source.

January 6, 2014

Interview with Tracey Lampley, author of KEPT

What does it mean to be kept? 
When a woman becomes a long term sex partner to a man to whom she is not married, she is kept if he provides for her. Provisions could include gifts of rent and/or mortgage payments, payments for cars, jewelry or clothing. Usually he is married to another woman. If this is the case, one can expect him to be controlling of his mistress, sex partner.

If you could pick any actor to be your sugar daddy, who would it be? 
There are two actors I’d pick, and they’re in no particular order. Denzel Washington is one, and the young Sean Connery (When he was James Bond) is another.

Why did you pick that actor?
Denzel is sexy in an understated way. The fact that he doesn’t find himself sexy is a turn-on, and Sean Connery radiates a power and sexiness unmatched by another. Connery often tried to play down his sex appeal—but to no avail. In fact, for a novella in the works, I’ve borrowed pieces of Bond’s character played by Sean Connery. My character is debonair with a touch of humor.

What made you choose this theme? 
I wanted to try my hand at romance writing, and since I know two people who’ve been kept by a man, I decided to write about it. I included the suspense part to portend the potential dark side of being kept.

Have you ever been kept? 
I’d never tell if I was.

Was it difficult to write the sex scenes?
Very, and I’m still not certain I’ve written them with the taste they deserve. While I’ve never considered myself an erotic writer, Kept has erotic overtones, and I hope I’ve depicted my characters and their actions realistically.

Tell us about the character, Kate Mercer.
She’s a vulnerable woman who got caught up with her sugar daddy, Carrington Grant who is totally controlling. So she decides to take her life back, and along the way she reconnects with her ex-lover, Lamar Burton. It’s then that she realizes she’d made a mistake and should be with Lamar, but she’s being stalked and has to fight for her life.

Tell us about Carrington Grant. 
He’s a man you never say ‘no’ to. With that being said, Kate dares to walk away from him. Will her decision cost Kate her life?

Tell us about Lamar Burton. 
Lamar is a prideful man who is partial to damsels in distress. But Kate is from his past, and he’s uncertain of their future.

Is this novella a series? 
Yes, it will be, but with different characters populating each novella, although the second book in the series will feature Kate Mercer again.

When will you release the next novella in the series? 
On February 1, 2014, I will release Kept: Book 2 just in time for Valentine’s Day. The novella will be an update and continuation of Kate Mercer’s story.

Tracey Lampley is a graduate of Miami University of Ohio with a degree in English. Since she was a kindergartner, she wanted to be an author and publisher. So at the tender age of five she published her first book by punching three holes in ten sheets of typing paper and binding them together with her hair ribbon. Her uncle bought her book for 5 cents. One nickel, imagine that! Now she wants to be the Shonda Rhimes of novellas.

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate;  a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the above link. The views, opinions, and beliefs of contributing writers are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of Girl Who Reads. Promotional interview was provided by the author and used with permission.