Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

The Chocolatier’s Wife/The Chocolatier’s Ghost

Happy Thursday, Squiders! (I’m actually writing this at the beginning of July, so this shall be my farthest scheduled post of all time, ahahaha–I hope everything works!) Today I’m pleased to be the final stop for the tour for The Chocolatier’s Wife and The Chocolatier’s Ghost, two fantasy mystery books by Cindy Lynn Speer.

BLURB:

The Chocolatier’s Wife: ROMANCE, MAGIC, MYSTERY…. AND CHOCOLATE

A truly original, spellbinding love story, featuring vivid characters in a highly realistic historical setting.

When Tasmin’s bethrothed, William, is accused of murder, she gathers her wind sprites and rushes to his home town to investigate. She doesn’t have a shred of doubt about his innocence. But as she settles in his chocolate shop, she finds more in store than she bargained for. Facing suspicious townsfolk, gossiping neighbors, and William’s own family, who all resent her kind – the sorcerer folk from the North — she must also learn to tell friend from foe, and fast. For the real killer is still on the loose – and he is intent on ruining William’s family at all cost.

The Chocolatier’s Ghost: Married to her soul mate, the chocolatier William, Tasmin should not have to worry about anything at all. But when her happily ever after is interrupted by the disappearance of the town’s wise woman, she rushes in to investigate. Faced with dangers, dead bodies, and more mysterious disappearances, Tasmin and William must act fast to save their town and themselves – especially when Tasmin starts to be haunted by a most unwelcome ghost from her past…literally.

The Chocolatier’s Ghost is an enchanting sequel to Cindy Lynn Speer’s bestselling romantic mystery, The Chocolatier’s Wife.

EXCERPT:

Time was, in the kingdom of Berengeny, that no one picked their spouses. No one courted—not officially, at any rate—and no one married in a moment’s foolish passion. It was the charge of the town Wise Woman, who would fill her spell bowl with clear, pure water; a little salt; and the essence of roses, and rosemary, and sage. Next, she would prick the finger of the newborn child and let his or her blood drip into the potion. If a face showed in the waters, then it was known that the best possible mate (they never said true love, for that was the stuff of foolish fancy) had been born, and the Wise Woman could then tell where the future spouse lived, and arrangements were made.

For the parents of William of the House of Almsley, this process would turn out to be less than pleasant.

The first year that the baby William’s finger was pricked and nothing showed, the Wise Woman said, “Fear not, a wife is often younger than the husband.”

The second, third, and even fifth year she said much the same.

But you see, since the spell was meant to choose the best match—not the true love—of the heart the blood in the bowl belonged to, this did not mean, as years passed, that the boy was special. It meant that he would be impossible to live with.

On his seventh birthday, it seemed everyone had quite forgotten all about visiting the Wise Woman until William, who knew this of long habit to be a major part of his day–along with cake, a new toy, and a new set of clothes–tugged on his mother’s skirt and asked when they were going. She stared at him a long moment, tea cup in hand, before sighing and calling for the carriage. She didn’t even bother to change into formal clothes this time, and the Wise Woman seemed surprised to see them at all. “Well, we might as well try while you’re here,” she said, her voice obviously doubtful.

William obediently held out the ring finger on his left hand and watched as the blood dripped into the bowl. “She has dark brown eyes,” William observed, “and some hair already.” He shrugged, and looked at the two women. “I suppose she’ll do. I’m just glad ‘tis over, and that I can go on with my life.”

“For you, perhaps,” his mother said, thinking of what she would now have to accomplish.

“Do not fret, mother, I shall write a letter to the little girl. Not that she can read it, anyway.” He petted his mother’s arm. He was a sweet boy, but he was always charging forward, never worrying about feelings.

The Wise Woman rolled out an elegantly painted silk map of the kingdom and all its regions, his mother smoothed the fabric across the table, and then the Wise Woman dipped a brass weight into the bowl. Henriette, William’s mother, placed her hands on William’s shoulders as the Wise Woman held the weight, suspended, over the map.

Henriette held her breath, waiting to see where it would land. Andrew, her younger son, had his intended living just down the street, which was quite convenient. At least they knew what they were getting into immediately.

The plumb-bob made huge circles around the map, spinning and spinning as the Wise Woman recited the words over and over. It stopped, stiffly pointing toward the North.

“Tarnia? Not possible, nor even probable. You must try again!”

For once, William’s mother wasn’t being stubbornly demanding. Tarnia, a place of cruel and wild magic, was the last place from whence one would wish a bride. They did not have Wise Women there, for anyone could perform spells. The Hags of the North ate their dead and sent the harsh winter wind to ravage the crops of the people of the South. Five hundred years ago, the North and the South had fought a bitter war over a cause no one could quite remember, only that it had been a brutal thing, and that many had died, and it led to the South losing most of its magic. Though the war was long over and the two supposedly united again, memory lingered. “I have cast it twice.” The Wise Woman chewed her lower lip, but therewas naught else she could do.

“Not Tarnia, please?” Henriette, usually a rather fierce and cold woman, begged.

“I am afraid so.” The Wise Woman began cleaning up; her shoulders set a little lower. “I am sorry.”

William, staring out the window at the children playing outside, couldn’t care less. What did it matter where anyone was from? She was a baby, and babies didn’t cause that much trouble.

“Only you, William,” his mother said, shaking her head. “Why can you not do anything normal?”

This was to be the tenor of most of their conversations throughout their lives.

BIO:

Cindy Lynn Speer has been writing since she was 13.  She has Blue Moon and Unbalanced published by Zumaya.  Her other works, including The Chocolatier’s Wife (recently out in an illustrated hardcover to celebrate its 10th anniversary) and the Chocolatier’s Ghost, as well as the short story anthology Wishes and Sorrows.  When she is not writing she is either practicing historical swordsmanship, sewing, or pretending she can garden.  She also loves road trips and seeing nature.  Her secret side hobby is to write really boring bios about herself.  You can find out more about her at http://www.cindylynnspeer.com, or look for her on Facebook (Cindy Lynn Speer) and Twitter (cindylynnspeer).

( Amazon Author Page )

GUEST POST:

As part of the tour, I’ve asked Cindy to put together a short post about where she gets her ideas. Take it away, Cindy!

~*~*~*~*~*~

Where do ideas come from?

The most important thing is to feed your muse.  Ideas are everywhere, but they need time to develop…and you need to feed yourself so that ideas have things to grab onto and add to themselves.  You may have this image in your head of a slave, who is lead to his freedom by a shape shifter who takes the form of a peahen.  (I do, I play with this story a lot, off and on.)  My problem is that I have not read enough…what would life be like for a black man of the time in the North?  What would induce him to go back — the woman wants him to, to free her husband, who lives inside the plantation house in a gilded cage.  I need to read to get his voice in my head, watch movies, look at pictures.  Then I will be able to take a wonderful idea and turn it into a great story.

For me, ideas are a combination of cool things coming together and things I would like to read.  Worlds I want to travel, people I want to spend time with.  You cannot draw anything from an empty well, so you should read, guilt free, widely.  Does it take time from when you should be writing?  Yes.  But if you are having a hard time putting ideas to paper because when you look inside your head and there’s nothing there to pull from, then maybe this is what you need to do.  Read things outside of your genre.  Read nonfiction that could be related to things you would like to write.  Go to museums, online and off, and explore their collections.  Look at the photos, the paintings, and tell yourself stories.  Throw your favorite TV or Movie characters in weird situations while you are sitting at a red light or waiting at check out.

Tell yourself stories as often as you can.  It does not matter if you can write them down or not, just letting your mind doodle, resting yourself from the everyday cares will strengthen you and help a lot.

As part of the tour, Cindy is giving away a $50 Amazon or B&N gift card. To enter, click the link below!

Enter to win a $50 Amazon/BN GC – a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Nonfiction Poll, Videocast Thoughts, and Other Sundry

Hey, guess what, squiders. I found my paper for the Shards library book talk. It was under my bed. Sigh. Who the heck knows why. (There were also cat hairballs under my bed, alas.) Too late to save me now.

(One would think I would put it someplace where I can find it now, but it’s still on my nightstand. Authors: not always the most organized people. We can follow a character arc to its completion but can’t remember where we put our socks.)

Nonfiction! Let’s start back up. I’ve got two options for the next one instead of giving you the giant list.

I’m good with either though I have already done a lot of work on the outlining one, so if you want to make my life easier… >_>

So, it sounds like people like the videocast idea! I like it too, and I actually have a pretty decent set-up for doing video which I’ve used previously for interviews and whatnot, so it wouldn’t be hard to get going! But logistics, logistics. You have to be consistent. If you were to tune in to said videocast, how often would you want to? Once a month? Twice a month? Once a week? I’m thinking they’ll be relatively short, at least at first, 10-15 minutes.

I’m also pondering tying them into my Patreon. My Patreon is an ongoing adventure in “marketing that I don’t really understand but am fiddling about with” and I know that not consistently producing content for it helps it not at all (the problem of course being that I don’t really know what sort of content people want over there). The videos won’t be limited to Patreon subscribers, but maybe I could release them a day early or something. Who knows? Not me!

I’m attending an online marketing conference this week, which has been interesting. I’m doing the free versus the paid option, so I have the day of to watch the conference videos before they disappear, which has been challenging. Thus far it’s been a good reminder of things, and I have learned a few new things to try. But it–and some networking I’ve done over the past few weeks–have reminded me that hey, there are some points of this marketing/publishing part that I’m good at–good enough to teach other people–and that I’m not as terrible as I sometimes feel like I am. So that’s been really nice.

I’d like to do another book-related thing this month. Which do you guys like better, the readalongs or the library book sale find reviews? I mean, it’s too late to do a readalong for this month, but we could get one rolling for the holiday season (not like the holiday season needs more stuff, but hey).

Found anything cool lately, squiders? Please let me know your thoughts!

Pondering a Podcast

Good morning, squiders! How is your October treating you? We’re in the midst of a butterfly migration. Which sounds amazing, but they’re literally everywhere and every time I hit one with my car I feel like a horrible person. (Two weeks ago the newspaper said we were at the peak of the migration, but they were wrong. There’s so many they’re showing up on weather radar.)

buuuutttteeerrrfffllliiieeessss

So, I’ve been pondering starting a podcast for about a month now. Well, a videocast. The idea started after the local author showcase I did at the library at the end of August, and it’s percolated after the last month as I’ve done some other networking with local authors and gone over what I want out of my writing during my writing break last month.

The idea would be to talk about how awkward and horrible it is to be an author at times, all the silly introverted or shy mistakes that I make, to show that there’s a side behind the “professional” facade we’re supposed to present to the world.

(She says as she routinely posts pictures of landsquid.)

I just can’t figure out if it would be a good way to connect with people, or if it would be a good way to shoot myself in the foot.

Thoughts, squiders? Does hearing about my three awkward run-ins with the author coordinator at the library sound like it might be fun? Or do you think it’s a bad idea, that showing off potential weaknesses will make it harder for me to sell books in the future?

In other news, I’m taking a new approach to MileHiCon this year. Instead of buying a table in the Author Row and camping out sadly for the three days, I’m doing a 2-hour signing spot and participating on some panels instead. They sent out the initial panel listing the other day, and I’m on three, all fan-related stuff: Star Trek, Doctor Who, and fangirling in general. At first I was a bit disappointed at not being put on any writing ones, but now I think this will be better–it will be more fun, I hope, because I won’t have to worry so much about what face I’m presenting (see above) and I can hopefully connect to people on shared interests.

Anyway, let me know about the videocast. Still pondering, yet still routinely finding good topics for it…

(I would talk about other things too, genre stuff that catches my interest, writing, process, etc.)

Nothing’s Ever Where You Need it to Be

Oh, squiders. Why is it when you need something, and you know you just saw it, you can’t actually ever find it?

I feel like the more important said item is, the more likely it’s been jettisoned into space, never to be seen again.

In this case, I’m looking for the note sheet for when I did the Local Author Showcase for Shards so I can be properly prepared for the one this Sunday for City of Hope and Ruin. You know, not re-invent the wheel. Especially since I’ve already got to stress about going from the 10 minutes I had last time to 5 minutes for this one. Is 5 minutes long enough for anything?

It’s all for naught, though, because my notes from the last one are gone. Vanished. Disappeared into thin air.

I swear I saw them recently. I had to re-read Shards fairly recently to redo its book description (was that last year? yikes) and I think the notes were tucked in there when I picked my copy up. But where did I put them? They are no longer in the book (I’ve checked twice) and also don’t seem to be in the general vicinity of where the book hangs out (on top of the book case, currently under my copy of City of Hope and Ruin).

I’ve checked everywhere I keep story notes. (Which turns out to be entirely too many places and I should probably consolidate. But hey! I found the map that goes along with Broken Mirrors, which I’m not sure I’ve worked on since before I started this blog in 2010, but at least I now know where it is.) I’ve checked inside notebooks, where papers sometimes accidentally get forgotten or tucked, and I’ve checked inside folders that I might have taken to something writing related at some point. I even checked in the filing cabinet, though I’m pretty sure nothing remotely creative has ever gone into it.

And when it became obvious it was gone, I checked digitally. I checked my hard drive, and my back-up hard drive. I checked my Google drive and my email. Nothing. I finally, FINALLY, had the thought that I might have posted it on the blog since I had such a hard time finding resources to write the first one and, well, partial success. (There were pictures in that post at one time. Sigh.)

So I guess I should just give up and write a new one. Drat.

But again, 5 minutes. Do I squeeze in a 2-minute reading and do 3 minutes of intro/explanation? Do I just talk about the book and hope the process is interesting enough to get people’s attention? I am the only fantasy author in this particular bunch (8 authors), I think. I feel like for previous author showcases they’ve done a short blurb of each book and this one doesn’t, but going off of titles it sounds like most are nonfiction or memoir. Hard to tell.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Here’s the official announcement:

Douglas County Libraries Local Author Showcase

From fiction to memoir to children’s, please join us to celebrate these Colorado authors and their books. To register, click here.

Sunday, August 20th at 2pm

Douglas County Libraries –  Philip S. Miller branch
100 S. Wilcox St.
Castle Rock, CO 80104

Peggy Robinson – My Journey through Cronic Pain and Wonders of Christmastime

Kit Campbell – City of Hope and Ruin

MaryAnn Sundby – Monday is Wash Day

Debbie Johnson – A Pocketful of Seeds

Susan G. Mathis – The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy

Jean Jacobsen – The Reluctant Debutante

Thaddeus Dupper – Attack on Nantucket

Carrie O’Toole – Relinquished – When Love Means Letting Go

Well, at least I know where the rest of my promotional stuff is. Minor victories. See you Thursday, squiders!

(Also, I’ve started a lovely ’80s fantasy book called The Minecamp Vampire for our library book sale finds discussion. It is thus far as awesome as it sounds.)

Review: Icarus by David K. Hulegaard

Happy Monday, Squiders! Today I’ve got Icarus by David K. Hulegaard for your potential enjoyment. It’s scifi noir. David will be giving away a $25 gift card during his review tour, entry for which you can find at the bottom of the post.

It’s the winter of 1947 in Ashley Falls, West Virginia, and a teenage girl has gone missing. Local private detective Miller Brinkman takes the case, quickly uncovering a string of bizarre clues. A hidden diary, cryptic riddles, and buried secrets all pique Miller’s interest, but one key detail gives him pause: the girl’s parents haven’t reported her disappearance to the authorities.

As the case deepens, Miller’s investigation begins to poke holes in the idyllic picture of his beloved hometown. No longer certain whether anyone in his community can be trusted, Miller dives headfirst into a desperate search for the truth that extends far beyond the borders of Ashley Falls. He soon discovers that his missing persons case is not an isolated incident, but part of an otherworldly mystery—one that, if confronted, may threaten the very future of humanity.

Excerpt:

Jessie stalled in the doorway, studying the parking lot. She turned her head left to right several times, conducting a sweep of the area.

I plopped a coin on the table and joined her. “Is everything all right?”

“It’s probably nothing.” Jessie adjusted the book bag on her shoulder. “I think my mind’s playing tricks on me. Earlier I thought I saw… Oh, never mind.”

“What is it?”

“I don’t know. I thought maybe I was being followed on the way here from school.”

“Followed? Did you see someone?”

“Well, I didn’t get a good look or nothing, but I could’ve sworn I saw a man in a black suit behind me. Sort of keeping a distance, you know?” Jessie said. “But when I got here, he was gone.” She covered her eyes. “Gee, it sounds like I’ve read Jane’s journal one too many times, huh?”

I chuckled, though it was more from nerves than humor. “Tell you what, Jessie: how about I walk you home? I’m headed that direction anyway.”

“Oh, that’d be swell. Are you sure it’s no trouble?”

I reached into my coat pocket and felt the familiar shape of my Colt revolver at my side. “Nope. No trouble at all.”

My Review:

I get so waffle-y about these reviews. Anyway, in the end, I think I’d give this one a 3.5/5. I was going to say flat 3, but then I felt bad about being harsh, so there you are.

There’s a lot of great things about this book. Miller’s point of view is interesting and he has an excellent amount of sass. The conspiracy at the heart of the story has a lot of cool elements to it. There’s Puckett. (♥ Puckett.) The just-post-WWII era works well for the story and the noir element in it. (That being said, do people do modern day noir? Cuz I wouldn’t mind reading some of that as well. Let me know if you know of any good ones.) The pacing is good, though there are occasional reader asides that don’t always pan out (for example, Miller notes that a reminder that he’s being followed is good, or he’d be dead before Baltimore, but then nothing happens between DC and Baltimore to warrant the note, and I kept expecting something to). The secondary and side characters are well-developed and read like real people.

I really only had two problems with the book. The issue is that they really rubbed me the wrong way.

The first is the prologue. It’s told from the POV of the girl Miller spends the rest of the book trying to find, and the voice is, well, it’s one of the most stereotypical teenage girl voices I’ve ever read. I could barely get through it, and was relieved when we switched into Miller’s point of view and I realized I would never have to read that point of view again. What’s weird, though, is this character is treated with much better handling throughout the rest of the book, and the prologue really doesn’t add anything to the story that doesn’t come out better elsewhere. I just don’t know why it’s there, and it almost stopped me from reading on.

The other is that there is a textbook example of fridging. I won’t tell you who, but I will tell you that I really liked the character, and that it was obvious from the moment she walked onto the page that she was going to be fridged. So I spent a good part of the book going “You’d better not fridge her or I will be so mad,” and then when she was, of course, fridged, I was mad, as expected. I am still mad, because it didn’t really seem to do that much in the great scheme of the plot. Argh! Why!

(For those unfamiliar with the term, “fridging” is where a character is killed off solely to provide motivation for the main character. It can be–and often is–a “cheap” way to create angst. TVTropes has an entire page on the trope.)

So, other than that, I liked the book. If you think you’d like a post-WWII noir with some supernatural elements, you might like it too.

Author Bio:

David K. Hulegaard is an American author and paranormal investigator. His Noble trilogy has garnered comparisons to the works of Philip K. Dick and Stephen King. In 2016, he collaborated with best-selling author Tony Healey on the novel Planet of Ice.

David previously worked at BioWare, a premiere video game development studio known for creating the popular Mass Effect and Dragon Age franchises. He now lives in the Victorian seaport town of Port Townsend, Washington with his wife Jennie, and their banana-obsessed Welsh Terrier Tobi. In his spare time, he enjoys video games, professional wrestling, and photography.

Links:

( The Official Website of David K. Hulegaard | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon )

David Hulegaard will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter to win a $25 Amazon/BN GC – a Rafflecopter giveaway

Useful Link Round-up

Okay, Squiders, I want to be able to do the idea generation posts in a row, so for today, I’m going to share various links that I’ve been hoarding that other people might find interesting. Monday I’ll have a review/promo for you, and Thursday is, in theory, the first discussion post for the Finnbranch readalong (though I will need to read faster than I am because I forgot when in June I set the discussion for). And then we’ll head back into nonfic territory.

For Readers

Does anyone else just find themselves on random email lists they don’t remember signing up for? That’s the deal with me and BookRiot, which is a website about books, mostly speculative fiction. But I dig their newsletter, so I don’t really mind that it seemingly came out of nowhere.

I normally forget, but it’s never a bad idea to stop by sites like StoryBundle or Humble Bundle and see if you can get a ton of themed books for cheap. Normally they donate the money for a good cause.

For Writers–Writing

I don’t know about you guys, but I am terrible at conlanging and yet, since I write high fantasy, sometimes it is necessary. That’s why I’m super interested in Vulgar, which is a language generator. I haven’t given it a try yet, but you can do a demo on the website, and the full version is only $20.

For people who like to have an idea of story structure before they go into a novel, you might try Michael Hague’s Six Stage Plot Structure. It’s the one Siri and I used for City of Hope and Ruin. You can find a good overview over at Fiction University (which is a useful website if you are not already familiar with it.

For Writers–Learning

If you have enough time to fit in some learning, I recommend checking out sites like SkillShare and Udemy. I’ve taken a few classes (mostly marketing related, but also ones about how to use email lists) and recently signed up for one focused more on traditional publishing. You can buy memberships or classes flat out, but I like that you can see reviews and curriculum before you shell out money. There are probably more websites out there that provide a similar function, but I haven’t tried them.

(I’ve also considered making a course for one or both, but not sure what would be a good topic. If you know something I should go for, let me know!)

For Writers–Publishing

Since I’ve been putting together submission materials for my YA paranormal (all ready now! Just need a healthy dose of getting on with it), I recently wrote a synopsis for it. This blog post proved invaluable and took a lot of the guesswork out of the process.

For Writers–Marketing

Here’s a very interesting post on why it’s a bad thing to encourage your friends and family to buy your book when it first comes out. Good stuff to know. I recently found this blog through Siri and it’s been very interesting (also apparently I have done everything wrong). (Which I kind of knew.)

I also recently found this website called Hometown Reads that connects readers to local authors. I haven’t signed up yet but it looks like a cool idea, and my city is one that they’ve already developed, so woot.

Anyway, I hope you find some of these helpful! And let me know if you’ve found some place cool lately!

Cover Reveal: Ever Touched by Erin Zarro

Happy Monday, squiders! I know I don’t normally post on Mondays, but I wanted to share the cover for the third book in Erin Zarro’s science fantasy series, Ever Touched. (I have read an advanced copy and can confidently say it is an interesting addition to the series.)

Ever Touched cover

Tada! And here’s the blurb:
One secret remembered, another forgotten…which one will explode first?

Brianna has two problems: she cannot remember her past, and she astrally projects to another woman who has predictions tortured out of her. As a result, she is lonely and feels distanced from her co-workers — the only family she has ever known — the Fey Touched Hunters. She is their intelligence gatherer, and her episodes are interfering with her ability to do her job.

When Fey Touched Hunter Cobra, her friend, finds her alone and injured from an episode, she accepts his help. But she’s terrified of doctors and of being thought mentally ill, so she refuses to tell him what’s wrong or let him take her to get medical help. Still, Cobra continues to help and protect her. They find themselves falling in love.

But Cobra, too, has a secret that could rip their fragile bond apart. 

When Brianna discovers through her episodes that someone has plans to destroy the Fey Clans, the Fey Touched decide to put their hatred aside and help them. But it’s not just a matter of someone with a grudge: there are other, more powerful players — beings thought to be legend.

As they unravel the mystery, Brianna’s episodes become more frequent and more dangerous until she is faced with a choice. To find the mystery girl and help the Fey Clans, she must risk opening herself up to the Hunters and to Cobra, and put her own life on the line. But is she prepared for the answers she’ll find?

Ever Touched will be available in early May, though you can pick up the first two books, Fey Touched and Grave Touched now.

Hope you have a lovely week, Squiders!