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L is for Literary Fiction #AtoZChallenge

by Donna Huber For the A to Z Challenge, I'm discussing different book genres/categories. Each day, I will give a few details about the...

October 3, 2015

"Spine-chilling fun" ~ Echoes in Darkness #Horror Anthology

Echoes in Darkness

"Ain’t nothing in the dark that ain’t there in the light..."

Stories of darkness and light — physical... otherworldly... and in the human spirit. From dangerous to romantic to chilling, this collection showcases seven absorbing tales and an unforgettable cast of characters.

In Kate Shrewsday's To Hear the Dead Proclaim, a trans-Atlantic air traveler comforts her seat mate with a sympathetic ear. His story allows her into the mind of a genius, but some conversations are best left unspoken.

In Flutters, Angela Amman takes us into the steamy Savannah heat, where the last surviving daughter in a family of women with extraordinary powers struggles to maintain her mother's legacy at all costs.

Helen has lived her life obsessed with a statue, going so far as to travel the world for a glimpse of it in person. The consequences of her trip reveal an ancient curse and leave Helen's life forever changed in Mandy Dawson's Awakening.

Previously published as a stand-alone short, Cameron D. Garriepy's Requiring of Care follows Lucy Montgomery to an unusual job interview. The would-be nanny is pulled into the world of Violet, a little girl who holds fragments of a haunting story.

Bad Deal, an excerpt from Andra Watkins' forthcoming debut novel To Live Forever, introduces us to an unusual little girl named Emmaline Cagney. Emmaline longs to fly from the dark side of her mother's affections, but what strangers lurk in the shadows?

From Kameko Murakami: A terrible accident robbed Danaë of her life, but not by killing her. Instead she is cursed, invisible to the world, with one exception: the dying. When her path crosses that of the one living man who knows she's there, Danaë must decide if she is to remain Unseen. [Previously published.]

"Ain’t nothing in the dark that ain’t there in the light, Edie." Nyctophobic Eden Summerhill has nowhere to go but the lonely family farmhouse she's inherited, but the darkness is waiting there for her in Love Apples by Elizabeth Yon.

A lovely taste of twisted tales ~ Michael

...will captivate you with its haunting tales ~ Darcie Cameron

Haunting. Above and beyond. ~ BirdieTracy

Buy Echoes in Darkness at Amazon

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October 2, 2015

How to Publish—My (Less than Helpful) Experiences

by Chris

books on shelf

Those of us who find ourselves writing books in the twenty-first century have truly never had it better … or worse.

Not only has the novel not died out (long-predicted since the birth of film and television), but the written medium has undergone (and is still undergoing) a genuine renaissance of distribution and consumption. Similar to the advent of the paperback, digital production has opened the doors to publication for many who would otherwise have languished in in the dark shadows of the unknown. Yet in a world where people fill their Kindles with $0.99 fan fiction alongside $19.99 best-sellers, it’s become increasingly difficult for writers to reach their audiences, and for audiences to discover new authors. (I’m interested to see how many parenthetical phrases I can insert in this article.)

Last month I wrote about the difficulties of marketing your book, and getting people interested in reading it. It’s hard enough when your story is something utterly original (hard to do, these days), and all the more difficult when it’s derivative Rowling or Tolkien (like my own work). But before you can look to market your material, you still need to publish it. This is one step that, thankfully, has only become easier over the years—though not always to everyone’s benefit.

My dream—as is the dream, still, for many writers—is (or at least, was) to be traditionally published. I wanted to see my book on the shelves of Barnes & Noble, with a professionally-designed cover, number one in the new releases category (maybe in the fantasy section). I wanted it to be reviewed in the New York Times, and have a quote from Stephen King on the cover about how great a story it is. I was deathly afraid, however—of rejection, of waiting, of never being recognized.

I was impatient, too—I didn’t want to wait years for my book to be published. I’d written it, and I wanted it out now. So came the temptation of self-publication. I did my research (so I thought), and came to a number of conclusions. One of these was that, no matter what, I needed to be able to hold a physical copy of my book. Digital wasn’t enough—I needed it in print. I also knew that I wanted the book edited professionally. I liked what I’d written, but I didn’t trust myself (you should never trust yourself to edit your work, incidentally).

This led me to the interesting (and often reviled) middle-ground of the indie publishing company (otherwise known as vanity publishing). I knew I could have done just about everything through Amazon and CreateSpace, but I was drawn in by the attractiveness of industry-standard publication methods, without having to fight the actual publication industry. There are a number of these companies out there, most of which fall under the global umbrella of Penguin and Random House. I went with one called iUniverse.

One of the things iUniverse was very upfront about with me was the fact that publishing through them in no way guaranteed success. I’d be putting a lot of cash upfront, with no guarantee of return. I thought I understood this, although I recognize now that I still had rather unrealistic expectations of what success actually looked like. Ultimately, the experience taught me a lot, and consequently my next book is coming out through CreateSpace and Amazon, done entirely on my own.

Do I regret publishing through iUniverse? Not strictly. Although I’ve decided not to use them again, my investment bought me a number of things. One of these was an industry-grade editorial review. Short of an actual edit, this provided me an insight into what my story had to offer in a heavily-saturated market, and how to tweak the story to better suit my audience. I liked this: it gave me a taste of what traditional publishing would do to my story, without forcing me to make changes I wasn’t comfortable with. This isn’t something you’re likely to get through friends and family.

cover History of Erath
Having industry professionals review and critique my work also gave me a huge boost in confidence. As silly as it sounds, receiving an editor’s choice award from iUniverse made me feel that my book might actually stand a chance. It allowed me to believe in my work, and to keep going (I have six more books to release in the series). Ultimately, I think I could have released the book myself, and in terms of sales, fared absolutely no worse (I’ve sold less than fifty copies in a year). But working with the people at iUniverse did at least help me feel like I was on the right track.

I’ll be more directly self-publishing going forward. A companion novel, History of Erâth, comes out in a few days, and it’s my first foray into publishing through CreateSpace. If all goes well, the second book of the Redemption of Erâth series, Exile, will be out in December, similarly published through CreateSpace. With (hopefully) a new drive on marketing, I’ll rack up another handful of sales for these new stories—and I’ll have done it on my own.

What are your thoughts? Should the dream still be traditional publishing, or can self-publishing lead to equal success?

Top photo credit: Books via photopin (license) Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

October 1, 2015

Experimenting with a Monthly Theme

by Donna Huber

Some time last year (maybe?) I considered setting up monthly themes. I could see the pros and cons to it and in the end I decided not to do it. But I'm thinking about it again and I have decided to do a little experiment this month.

One of the advantages to setting up monthly themes was the deciding on the editorial calendar each month. I would know what to do for "filler" posts (those posts that appear on days when there wasn't a review, guest post, your regular feature scheduled).

Quickly though I realized a major downfall to setting a theme. I would be locked into what kind of books I read for the month and what if I got behind? I wouldn't necessarily be able to review a book that I had already read, but hadn't reviewed.

A related dilemma was what about the staff reviewers and feature writers. I don't dictate what they read or write outside of some guidelines to keep the focus of Girl Who Reads.

October always gets me thinking about doing a theme as I see a lot of other sites focusing on monsters and mayhem in the lead up to Halloween. So I thought I would try a little experiment this month to see what people thought about it.

I'm aware that my readers might hate it. If a reader doesn't like horror s/he might wind up avoiding the site all month. (I don't read horror so that would never be all that was featured).

I made several decisions about how to handle a "themed month" in hopes of getting feedback on the idea as well as not alienate anyone.

First, I decided to let reviewers and feature writers do their own thing as usual (though they are welcome to play with the theme if they choose). I'm currently reading a chicklit short story and Chris tomorrow is sharing his experience with self-publishing. So there will be variety.

Second, I did a call for submission for Halloween themed flash fiction. While I hoped for some scary stories, I didn't want to limit it to horror genre in case someone was dying to write a comedy set at a Halloween party. I've wanted to feature creative writing pieces more so I thought this was a good opportunity to try it. While I had hoped for a few more submissions, I'm pleased with what was sent in. You will be seeing them on Fridays starting next week.

Third, any filler posts as well as the Saturday promos will be theme related. An author friend is setting up a Halloween hop and I've volunteered to help host. So reader looking to get their literary fill of all things scary and supernatural will have plenty to look forward to this month.

As you may know, I'm a scientist by education and no experimental protocol would be complete without a way to determine results.

One way to judge success is looking at traffic. If numbers are higher, then it could be the cohesive nature of the daily articles are retaining readers. However, alone visitor numbers mean little. Perhaps there a lot of people are looking for Halloween related books.

Likewise, the number of shares a post gets will give me insight to reader behavior.

A second way is through comments. Comments, definitely when paired with numbers from above, can give me more understanding of what readers think about a monthly theme. Are non-themed posts getting more comments? What are people saying about the themed posts? I really hope you will give me some feedback through comments, either on this site or one of the social media channels where the posts are shared.

And finally, the best way to determine if monthly themes are appealing to readers is to do a poll. So look for that at the end of the month.

I do hope you will enjoy the bits of Halloween-themed pieces that will be coming this month, but there will be plenty of the non-scary as well to hopefully keep all my readers happy.

Top photo credit: Jack-o-lantern Wikipedia
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September 30, 2015

Review: Tainted Deception by Aleya Michelle

by Claire Rees

cover Tainted Deception

Meet Chase Hudson, billionaire's son and head of Hudson industries.

Gorgeous, dresses to kill, confident, a shark when it comes to business.

He also goes by Chaser a lead singer of a band full of tattoos and a Mohawk and carefree.

So far he has managed to keep his alter ego a secret and everyone thinks of him still as the billionaire playboy with a different girl on his arm each week.

That is until he meets Ivy Maisen, daughter of another rich man who having her heart broken before, now despises all rich men and will not give him the time of day. She tells Chase that her type of man was one with tattoos and leather jackets, not expensive suits and cars.

In Tainted Deception  by Aleya Michelle, Chase makes it his mission to woo her as he can't get the one female who has ever turned him down out of his head.

He even calls in sick to work to stalk her at the beach, just to prove to her that he is a bad boy with tattoos.

I enjoyed finding out whether Chase gets to show her the real him and get her to love him or if she will write him off for good.

Aleya Michelle did a great job creating the characters of Tainted Deception. Even the insufferable parents were written very well.

There was a little surprise at the end of the book that I didn't really see coming that was added good twist to the plot.

I loved Tainted Deception and found myself addicted to the characters.

Recommended to all who love a romance that proves that money doesn't buy happiness and that opposites really do attract.

Buy Tainted Deception at Amazon

Book Info:
available formats: ebook and print (276)
published: September 2015
ISBN13: 9781517138950
genres: romance, suspense
source: online party gift
read: September 2015

A free ebook was provided for this review. Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

September 29, 2015

Review: The Truth About Lies by Tim Chaddick

by Donna Huber

cover The Truth About Lies
A closer look at Jesus's temptation in the wilderness was what drew me to Truth About Lies by Tim Chaddick.

What kept me reading was the direct writing style that was filled with compassion and empathy. You didn't need a seminary degree to understand what Chaddick was telling you. Also, he was not coming from a place on a pedestal, but it sounded like he was sitting across from me in a coffee shop.

I liked that Chaddick focused on 'why' we give in to temptation instead of specific temptations and sins. Understanding the 'why' is the aspect of temptation we often overlook.

While it took me several weeks to read The Truth About Lies it wasn't because it was boring, in fact I had to fight the urge to spend long afternoons reading large chunks of the book. Instead the book required smaller bites with ample time for reflection to fully take in all the was being said. And even now, I think I could re-read it and get even more out of it.i

I loved how applicable certain passages were. One that particularly resonated with me,
You can't tell people who do not have Christ to mortify [kill] their sin, because they have no weapons, no ammo! This is where much of Christian history has gone wrong. Followers of Jesus, forgetting the very message they believed that gave them new life, tell nonbelievers to stop being sinful. Maybe this is why so many people think Christianity is only about being a good person.
I think Truth About Lies would make an excellent book for a small group to read together. While there isn't a discussion guide, I think there is plenty for a group to organically discuss in each chapter.

Buy The Truth About Lies at Amazon

Book info:
available formats: ebook, audio, print (176 pages)
published: August 2015 by David C. Cook
ISBN13: 9781434705242
genres: Christian nonfiction
source: Netgalley
read: August/September 2015

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

September 28, 2015

10 Questions with H. R. Lutz #MondayBlogs

by Heather Kirchhoff

What made you decide to start writing? Was this something you always thought you’d do?

I actually wrote my first mini series when I was just six years old. I brought it in to my first grade teacher, and she was literally blown away! My parents also always encouraged me to read and write, so they were honestly a huge influence. I began writing on a public website when I was fifteen back in 2009. It took a while, but I received a rather prodigious following and a lot of decent reviews on my stories. That really inspired me to write independently. I always knew I wanted to be an author, and now that I've made the first, small steps into the journey, I couldn't be any more happier!

How do you come up with your characters or story ideas? 

I come up with my story ideas from things based on life. Like Glow, my first story, which is about teen bullying and encouraging those who might be having issues to speak up, this was something that I was witnessing in real life. I was in high school, seeing and hearing things that just horrified me. I began writing Glow as a way to send a message to young adults who are struggling with this problem, or know somebody else who might be, to speak up and get help. You aren't alone. There are others like you. My characters are generally created from life as well. Sometimes, I take bits and pieces of personalities from people I know and incorporate them into each of my characters.

How do you get inspired to write? 

I am inspired by anything really. The shortest conversation with somebody could spark up the motivation to write. It comes so naturally to me that I don't really have to think too hard on it. My stories, before they begin, are basically outlined by chapter, so I know what I'm going to write and what I want to happen before I do it. It's more exciting for me that way and allows the story to have a smoother flow.

What do you do while having writers block? 

Writers block is just awful! Whenever I feel it, I take a break from the story, or stories, and take some time to myself. I try not to think about it and work on other hobbies instead, like painting, playing the piano, or even working on another story. It usually doesn't take too long for me to jump back in, though.

What kind of stories do you write? 

I generally write young adult fiction, however, I've been writing this one story that is strictly horror based and would not really recommend to anyone under eighteen. I have a fascination with the supernatural and dark fantasy, and that is basically where I'm at as of now. I love to fluctuate my writing, though, because it helps me to learn and grow as a writer.

cover Glow
Who are your favorite authors? 

I am a strict fan of Edgar Allan Poe - his work is just so phenomenal. I like Emily Dickinson as well. She has a great way of making you think, and I absolutely love J.K. Rowling and S.E. Hinton. I'll always have a soft spot for Caroline Keene, too.

How long have you been writing?

I've been writing solely since I was six years old. I've only been published for almost a year now.

What are your other stories about?

On the side, I'm working on a book that is a combination of poems, fairy tales and short stories along with a horror based novel that will possibly be released this year!

What are you currently working on? 

I'm currently working on Book II of The Oracle Ages, which is a supernatural/dark fantasy about witches. It is the biggest piece of writing that I'm doing and I'm really proud of it!

What do you do when not writing?

When I'm not writing, I'm working, painting, singing or playing the piano. I make my own instrumental music, and have completed two albums already. I'm also an avid reader, so I'm always looking for a new book to indulge in.

Buy Glow at Amazon

About the Author
H.R. Lutz's (Holly Reneé Lutz), career as an author began while she was still a student in high school in New Jersey. Disturbed by the dispute between teen social labels and bullying, Lutz began writing Glow, an honest, almost shocking novel told from the point of view of a 15-year-old girl named Carla-Rose Carson. Her favorite subject in school was English/Literature, and she began writing short stories and poems when she was just 6-years-old. 

The views and opinions expressed by guest are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of Girl Who Reads. Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.