This Read an eBook Week…

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Trevor’s Song

This is Read an eBook Week over at Smashwords. It’s the tenth annual Read an eBook Week, in fact, and I believe I’ve had a book or more enrolled every year since the first.

I’ve given away a lot of books during Read an eBook Week. Hundreds, thousands… honestly, I don’t really keep count.

You can get your hands on my books this Read an eBook Week, of course.

But I actually don’t want to talk about my own books, or promote myself. Not this week. (My books are old, after all, and even in ten years, society has shifted quite a bit and I don’t even know if they hold up anymore. I’m still proud of them, though.)

Rather, let’s talk about you, and three actions you can take this Read an eBook Week.
1. Browse Smashwords. Set your erotic filters and browse away. Find new authors, new books, new genres and subject matter. This is a great time to expand your reading horizons, so go for it.

2. Read something. If it’s stuff that’s been sitting on your ereader for a long time, if it’s the new stuff you’re finding… it doesn’t matter. Just read.

3. Write reviews. Leave them at GoodReads. Go back to the book’s page at Smashwords. Got a blog? Leave them there. Got a friend with a blog? Another option. I am also always glad to post thoughtful, constructive reviews and essays about books you’ve read here. And, of course, if you need help with a review or an essay about a book you’ve read, holler. I charge a minimal fee, and you’ll get more than the cost is worth.

Yes, that’s it! Find a book. Read a book. Review a book.

It has been proven over and over and over and over and over and over again that word of mouth recommendations are the best way to sell books. Reviews often fall into this category, because it means people are talking about someone’s book.

So talk about someone’s book.

We know there are algorithms that will prop up a book when it gets a new, or many, or a set number of reviews. So YOUR review has a very good chance of resonating and helping an author. Yes, even if it’s a negative review! (Remember, reading is subjective. I mean, I have met people who don’t loathe Moby Dick.)

And it’s not like you paid money for these books. Most of them over at Smashwords, as part of Read an eBook Week, are free.

That means leaving a review is an easy way to say thanks. To show appreciation for an author’s hard work, even if it wasn’t work that you loved. To help a very small business owner have a little bit better shot at success… and that, right there, is reason enough.

We’re one reading/writing/publishing community. If we don’t take care of each other, who will?

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#SaysTheEditor Why Isn’t Hell Proper?

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So I’m reading a book. It’s a good book. It’s a crazy book, actually, full of slapstick comedy and subtle humor and there’s a LOT to like about this book. It turns out to have been the third in a four-book series, and you bet I’m going to go back and find the first two, and then probably the fourth.

It is not a book I edited. It’s one of the approximately 35 I’m going to so-called leisure read. But when you’re wired the way I am, leisure is an odd choice of words.

And that’s the problem with this book. I’d recommend it in a heartbeat. I would. I have been, in the few days since I finished it.

But… I’m wired the way I am.

And in this book, Satan’s a character. And Hell is that place for immortal souls and suffering and all that.

Hell is a place. An actual place.

Now, Disneyland. That’s a place. Mars. That’s a place. Paris. Pittsburgh. Carnegie Music Hall. Buckingham Palace. The Louvre. Miami University of Ohio. Costco.

See anything about all these words? Notice anything at all?

That’s right. You use capital letters at the start of each of them. They are what we call proper nouns. They identify a specific place.

In this novel I was reading, Hell was a specific place.

But not once was Hell capitalized.

Drove me up the freaking wall. Three hundred pages of Hell being an important location in this novel, and never once was it accorded the dignity and propriety it deserves.

Hell is a place. In this use, it’s a proper noun. Give it a capital letter.

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Featured New Book: Amnesia by Jaimie Roberts

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Featured New Book Spotlight

What a way to start 2019 — with more new books to feature! You guys know I love to do this, so keep sending your submissions in.

Let’s get right to today’s friend. It’s Jaimie Roberts, and what a delight to see her here! She’s written a LOT of books, so hopefully she’ll stop back and tell us about some of the others, too. Why not, right? “New” only means it has to be new to me and you. No one ever said it had to be a recent release!

So Jaimie, what song makes you think of your latest release, Amnesia?

Iris by the Goo Goo Dolls, simply because the heroine of the book has been hiding herself for years for fear of people judging her. The hero is someone she eventually gets close to – opens herself up to. She decides to trust him even when the world around her seems to be falling apart. He is where she calls home. Her light in the dark. She wants him to see the real her.

Ooh, I LOVE this song. Always have.

But… there’s more to this, right? It’s not merely a romance?

Check out the description. It’s a romantic suspense!

I don’t use the term “bully” lightly. However, I have no qualms about using it when it comes to Max Cooper.

Arrogant.
Aggravating.
Annoying.

Those are just a few of the names I have for him that start with the letter A. I haven’t gotten through the rest of the alphabet … yet.

From the moment I met Max three years ago, he was nothing but an arsehole. The only reason we put up with each other is because we share the same best friend.

Then, everything suddenly changes when Max is involved in a horrific accident that sets him back three years. He remembers his friends, but here’s the real kicker: He doesn’t remember … me.

At first, I think it must be a cruel joke, but then I see how serious he is. Over time, I get to know the real Max Cooper. The one who can be sweet, funny, and kind. The one who shows me he’s not such an arsehole after all.

Then, the inevitable happens. I fall for him.

Just as things between us begin to balance out, I lose my own equilibrium, and I don’t know why.
But, despite all of this, no one is prepared for the real terror that’s about to unfold.

Whoa! You romantic suspense lovers are going to love this one. Heck, I’m curious and giving evil side eyes to the TBR mountains around here that I promised myself I’d make a dent in during 2019.

If you’re ready to chuck that resolution or never had it in the first place, here are your buy links. Amazon-only, sorry to say.

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA
Amazon AU

And connect with Jaimie. Her website’s under design as we speak, but you can find her here:
Goodreads
Twitter

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Susan Speaks: This Thing On?

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Happy New Year, friends, clients, acquaintances, writers, and the odd stalker or creepy person!

I figured it was a good time to stop in, check in, see how everyone is. It’s January 2, after all. It should be an inauspicious day, although longtimers around here know it’s not, and they know why.

It’s been busy over here. I worked all through the break and to be honest, I can’t remember the last time I took a day off. And I’m still not caught up, so thank you for the continued trust and work. Best of all, it doesn’t feel like work anymore, and it’s certainly not drudgery. Editing is the best challenge, brain game, and use of my time — not to mention stress relief!

If 2019 continues for me the way 2018 went, I don’t expect that string of no days off to change. By my count, I have room for about 11 projects all year — but don’t let that intimidate you. Remember that I do work on a Send When Ready schedule, so one of those anticipated eleven openings might happen right when — or maybe a day or two after — you need me. Please keep referring work my way, and if I can’t handle it… well, truth be told, I’ll figure out a way to work it in. This is what you do when you love what you do.

One thing I want to make time for in the upcoming weeks and months is conducting workshops, preferably (gasp) in person. Writing conferences, retreats, even meetings. When I haven’t been editing, I’ve been developing a pretty broad-based portfolio of workshops. I’d like to beta them, so if you’re in the area, keep your eyes open for details and invites to join in. Help me help you make the best book possible.

That’s it for over here. It’s been quiet even as it’s been busy, and as soon as I have more of these workshops tamed, I intend to return to blogging on a more regular basis. There’s only so much time in the day, after all, and you guys who pay me money to work on your manuscripts for and with you, as always, have top priority of my time.

Let me know what you’re up to. Chat with me on Twitter (@WestofMars), submit your book for a Featured New Book Spotlight, and keep an eye on the Facebook page, too. No need to lurk, not around me! I’m here in my yoga pants and oversized sweatshirt, living the dream… so join me.

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Susan Speaks: Cool Kinds of Kudos

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This is a rare gem that I gotta share with you guys.

I’d been talking to a potential client, like I often do. And unlike I often do, I wound up wishing him well with his writing endeavors, as he chose a different editor.

But he dropped back into my inbox a few days ago to ask if he could write nice things about me on his blog.

I appreciated that he thought to ask. And especially that he wanted to say nice things. Who doesn’t like receiving public kudos for their passions?

I’ll let you go over there and read them for yourself. If you have nice things to say about me, too, I’d love to hear them. I’m told time and again I need a client testimonial page on this here site, but I continue to resist. Why? A lot of reasons, including that I have a lot of clients who, wisely, use multiple editors in their quest to make the best book possible.

If you guys flood my inbox, though, with the sorts of kudos that I can’t resist — and more importantly, that’ll help other writers realize how amazing I am — I could change my mind and have my amazing web designer get your words on my site.

I kind of like that idea. Because it makes me happy when you guys tell the world how much you love me. Even when you (the horror) hire someone else.

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#SaysTheEditor Functional Fitness

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I was reading an article the other day. It said that triceps dips were an exercise no one should do because they aren’t a move replicated in real life, and therefore aren’t functional fitness. And if it ain’t functional fitness, don’t waste your time doing it.

That’s like telling a writer not to write in first person if everything they’ve ever written and published is in third person.

And… I don’t agree with that advice.

First off, I kinda like doing triceps dips. When you do them right, your whole body is being propelled up and down by these three skinny little muscles in your arms, and that’s pretty damn amazing to think about. And when you do them right, they are hard. Really hard.

I don’t know about you, but I like them just for the pure fact of the challenge.

Same for writing. Rise to the challenge. Don’t focus on the outcome.

Push yourself. Try new things. Stretch yourself — physically, mentally, and creatively.

Because when you focus only on the outcome, you limit yourself. You focus on the destination, not the journey. You never get to sit back and smile and tell yourself you’re amazing; that you’ve just done something you’ve never done before, and dammit, you CAN.

Maybe triceps dips really aren’t your thing. That’s okay. Try them anyway. See where the journey takes you.

Same for your writing. Maybe this isn’t directly going to get you published.

What you’re seeking is the indirect.

Go for it.

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Featured New Book: City of Cayn (Cayn Trilogy Book 2) by C Jason McDonald, Alan Isom, Stormy McDonald

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Featured New Book Spotlight

Let’s welcome my friend Jason McDonald back to West of Mars! If you recall, in September, the first book in this fun trilogy came out, and now Jason’s back to tell us about the second. I totally agreed with his pick for the first book, so let’s see what he’s got for the second, shall we?

Jason, what song makes you think of your book?

I was so looking forward to this question with this next book.

There’s a scene in my head where Jasper, my rotund mage, walks down a busy street wearing a disguise. In the background is the outer wall of the palace compound and the first chords of the song strike up. Tears come to my eyes every time.

The song has to be “Dude (Looks Like a Lady)” by Aerosmith.

I remember this scene, and once again, YES. This is THE PERFECT song for that scene!

I can’t even begin to tell you guys about it. Seriously. Get the book — start with the first — and see what’s up. It’s fabulous.

Here’s the description for the second book in the Cayn Trilogy, which I still maintain is one you gotta read!

The people of Pazard’zhik are dying in droves due to the mysterious plague, and the only organization that might be able to help—the White Circle, the local guild of human mages—has been unable to find a cure.

Even Marcus, the leader of the Kral’s security forces, is sick and dying, but the team he recruited to investigate the disease, a ranger, a dwarf, a mage, and a half-orc gladiator, remains on the case. Not everyone is who they seem to be, though, and spies and traitors to the Kral abound, looking to aid in the team’s downfall.

Hunted by the local militia and the White Circle mages, as well as their true enemy, the team must race against time to locate the last wagonload of soap and solve the mystery of the Blood of Cayn before the citizens of Pazard’zhik perish.

Everything points to the city of Chernigov, but it is held by the orcs, their mortal enemies. Will the team be able to sneak in and find the answers they need to save Pazard’zhik, or will their capture and execution end all hope?

Sadly, this is Amazon-only. But it’s totally worth picking up in print and sharing with your friends. How often do I say THAT?

Connect with Jason, Alan, and Stormy!
Website
Facebook
Instagram
GoodReads

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#SaysTheEditor It’s December First!

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If you’re a writer, today, the first of December, means one of a few things:

1. Nothing special
2. Something special that has nothing to do with writing
3. A return to social media of a lot of writers you follow
4. A win
5. A loss

If it’s that last one, let’s talk about why it’s a loss.

Did you show up on November 1, intending to write 50,000 words last month? Are you kicking yourself for being a failure because you didn’t hit that 50k mark? Now that it’s December first, is all hope of winning gone?

Be kinder to yourself. You tried.

Yeah, sounds lame to me, too. So let’s talk about the REAL value of National Novel Writing Month — showing up to the page.

Kudos to you if you showed up for thirty days straight. Even if you wrote one word on a few of those days, you showed up. That’s what forms the basis of habits, and now that it’s December, just a generic month in the writing world, you shouldn’t stop. Keep that habit going.

Maybe you burned yourself out during November, struggling for those 50,000 words. You’re probably glad it’s December. If that’s the case, take some time off to recover and come back as soon as you can. Your fictional friends need you.

I remember when NaNo started and they’d tell you to go ahead and write garbage words, include stage directions for yourself – whatever it took to hit that 50,000-word mark. The intent was to show yourself what it would take to write a short novel.

But then NaNo changed, as everything does, and it became about being the month in which you’d draft a book you intended to publish. Hopefully you learned all about the art of revision.

Now, I think the value of NaNo is that it establishes (or RE-establishes) the habit. That practice of showing up every day, of staring at a blank page, of thinking about your characters, their struggles, their growth, the consequences they face.

And if you sat down on November 1, intending to write every day, but you found that because you’re a child, a parent, a friend, a lover, a boss, an employee, a coach, a mentor… a WHATEVER, you can only write on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays… that’s great, too! Make sure you show up on those days. Sit down. Stare at the page. Write at least one word. Two’s better. Ten’s an improvement. So’s eleven.

You get the idea.

Just because it’s December doesn’t mean you need to stop writing for the next eleven months.

Winning, in terms of being a writer, isn’t getting 50,000 verified words written on a page. Winning is showing up and doing the hard work of writing. It’s making a habit of working on your craft.

That said, though, while December tends to be a slow month for editing projects for me, don’t send me your NaNo attempt this year if you haven’t revised it extensively yet. Always send your editor your best work, so that s/he (I!) can give you the best feedback possible. The idea is to get yourself as far along the path as you can, and then bring in the big guns.

Good editing ain’t cheap. Remember that.

But maintaining your writing schedule? Rolling through the bumps that invariably pop up, interrupting your sacred writing time?

That costs you nothing — but will pay off down the road.

Keep writing. THAT is what makes you a winner. Not some random word count that is, to be honest, short for a good novel.

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Says the Editor: Authenticity

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You guys know I love Rock Fiction.

But lately… I have found myself disillusioned. Disgusted. Annoyed. Frustrated.

Because the authors aren’t bothering to do their research. There’s a HUGE difference between a band manager and a tour manager. Massive headlining tours don’t come together in days or weeks. And for crying out loud, know the difference between poetry and the structure of song lyrics. My favorite was the band who slept in their dressing rooms in the arena — umm… WHAT?

There really isn’t any excuse for this lack of research. And sorry, but, “I copied what someone else did,” or “I asked someone on Facebook” isn’t doing research. You need to talk to people who’ve worked in the industry, people with hands-on experience, people who’ve been there and seen it. Make sure what you want to have happen is plausible. If your star is the darling of the moment, can he REALLY take off to the beach and have a bonfire? Won’t there be security issues? No one notices and posts it to social media? He’s not too tired from all the touring, which is hard, exhausting work? If his alcohol problem is really truly that bad, can he spend that time without a bottle or can at hand?

Notice how my issues of authenticity begin to sway away from only the details of the music world.

That’s because, having found a string of errors, the author has broken the contract between us. I can’t trust what the author is presenting.

And therein lies a bigger problem, doesn’t it?

If you, as the author, can’t be authentic and therefore credible in your writing, why should I, as the reader, spend time with your book?

Think about it. A few small details is one thing. But the bigger issues… that’s undermining yourself. Your career. And, unfortunately, it hurts the entire genre or category, too.

If you love something, don’t hurt it. Build it up. Take the time. Do the research yourself. Check the facts. Build your authenticity. Get firsthand knowledge, even if firsthand knowledge means watching YouTube videos that established bands post of their tour busses or finding articles that describe busses that strain believability before you network your way to the people who can confirm and/or deny what you’re seeing.

Put the time in. Because if you don’t, why should I, as a reader, put the time into your book?

Increasingly, that’s the question I’ve been asking myself.

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Call for Submissions! Triangulation: Dark Skies

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I thought this cover would compliment the post, even though it has nothing to do with… well, anything other than the theme. In my mind. Let me know if I nailed it.

Local-to-me Parsec, Inc has put out a call for submissions for their literary magazine, Triangulation.

The theme is Dark Skies.

What does that mean?

From their site:

Triangulation: Dark Skies will be a celebration of the dark. This year, we are joining forces with the International Dark-Sky Association to raise awareness of the dangers of light pollution—to human health, to animals and plants in the nighttime ecosystem, and to the future of astronomical research on our planet. We’d like to see proactive characters experiencing firsthand the dangers and consequences of a world without darkness, but even more than that, we want stories celebrating our place in the universe, and our ability, as sentient beings, to see into the depths of space. Give us past, present, and future accounts. Cautionary tales. Secondary worlds and altered timelines. The effects of light pollution are many and varied—feel free to explore any aspects, from neurobiological studies, to life in an alien star system, to legends out of time.

Do you love it? I love it. I can feel some creative juices flowing already.

Submissions open December 1 and close on the last day of February, and should be made through my favorite submissions site, Submittable.

And they are a paying market! So be sure to check out the guidelines (aka rules) and follow them. Don’t set yourself up for failure. You are better than that.

As always, if you want my fine editor’s eye to look over your piece before you send it in, drop me an e-mail. I give discounts on editing when you say your intended market is one you first saw here. (HINT)

Good luck, and also as always, if your story makes the cut, come back and let us know. Do a Featured New Book Spotlight! Brag about it! Send us buy links so we can read it and brag about you, too.

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Featured New Book Spotlight: For the Sake of Honor (Seekers of the Past Book 2) by Amy Valentini

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Featured New Book Spotlight

Let’s welcome Amy Valentini to West of Mars!

She’s got a new book out, the second in a series, and it’s one of those series that continues the main characters’ timeline, instead of focusing on supplemental characters. So if continuing stories are your thing (I’m glad to read ’em!), listen up. If not, well… check out the first! Either way, you’ll want to investigate the first.

So, Amy, what song makes you think of your book?

MAGIC by Pilot
Many would recognize it from the chorus, “Ho, ho, ho – It’s magic you know – Never believe, it’s not so – It’s magic, you know – Never believe, it’s not so.
Emma and Sam’s journey to where the Past meets the Present and Love Lives Forever is magical. A series that’s based in contemporary but takes the reader on adventures into the colonial era past as Emma and Sam seek answers connecting them to a couple from the past. Does love live forever, reborn again, and again?

Wow! When was the last time I heard this song? Amy, you ROCK for finding such a great old gem. I may need to add this to my main, crazy Spotify playlist.

So, after THAT bit of fun (I may or may not still be dancing around my office… does anyone remember how to do the Hustle? Can you do it to this song? Why would I want to?), let’s get back to the book itself. Because really, as much as we’re here for the music, we’re here for the books, too.

Ready for what it’s about? I am!

The Seekers of the Past series continues as Emma and Sam seek answers to a growing number of questions. The discovery of gold on the family farm has left them wondering about the world, time, and love. If love conquers all, can love prove greater than even time?

Emma discovers a journal written by the youngest member of the Embry family. The author of the journal is her look alike from the past. She begins reading the story of Anna Pelt and Joshua Embry. His return from England with a future bride has left Anna questioning her place in his world. Having loved him all of her life, she feels betrayed and discarded. When he claims to love her but honor is forcing him to marry the woman chosen by his parents, Anna believes it is because he thinks her too far beneath him—only a servant, and not good enough to be his wife. Can love prove stronger than honor?

Can the journey to find the answers Emma and Sam seek about the past uncover more about their mysterious connection to the couple in the portrait?

COOL.

Definitely pick up the first in this series. And remember to leave a review once you read the book — reviews are SO helpful to authors, and it’s such an easy way to give back. (Remember, if you are struggling to write a review, drop me a note and I’ll help. Super cheap!)

Here’s where:

Amazon (Print and Kindle)
Smashwords (all other formats) *This is a referral link, so if you use it — and you should! — I’ll get a small cut.

Connect with Amy!

Facebook
Twitter
BookBub
Goodreads
Amazon Author Page
Google+
website
review blog

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Featured New Book Spotlight: Georgia Pine: Southern Promises Book 3 by KG Fletcher

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Featured New Book Spotlight Let’s welcome KG Fletcher to West of Mars!

KG’s got the third book in a series to share with us today, released just last week. And you know how early sales (and reviews! Don’t forget the reviews) help a book’s overall success. Which means you need to get those One Click fingers busy. And no, NOT like that! Sheesh. Focus on the BOOKS, people. Of course, with a cover like this…

So, KG, what song makes you think of your book?

Rewrite the Stars – Zac Efron, Zendaya – from The Greatest Showman

The lyrics in the song are hopeful and sad at the same time. In my release, GEORGIA PINE, my main characters, Jessica and Tim, are hiding their relationship from the world. They want to be together, but unless Tim comes clean with who he really is, they can’t publicly love one another. If only they could “Rewrite the Stars”, nothing could keep them apart. The gut-wrenching lyric in the song, “Say that it’s possible” is that glimmer of hope. Will they end up together? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

Yes, the video has subtitles in a different language. But this video had a lot of views, so that’s the one we went with.

Now, THAT song is enough to make me grab the book. How about you?

Here’s the official description:

The agony of defeat never felt so real.

Never in a million years did Jessica Kaufman think she would be divorced from her real-estate mogul husband and left to raise four young daughters on her own in an affluent Atlanta subdivision. The very last thing she expects is an encounter with her gorgeous gardener who looks more like a sexy beast from her daughters’ favorite Disney movie. She is smitten with his evergreen eyes, wild mane of hair and impressive stature.

Tim McGill is in hiding – his reputation and celebrated career on the West Coast left in shambles. He moves far away to distance himself from his downfall and inconspicuously tends the upper-class landscapes to keep his renowned identity a secret. Unlike his typical wealthy clients, Jessica doesn’t seem to mind that he’s a gardener. One spark between them is all it takes to ignite a fiery passion that could explode if Tim’s identity is revealed. He must earn Jessica’s trust and finally come to terms with what he has lost.

Can Tim open his heart wide enough to let in a beautiful mother and her four little girls? Or will his Southern Belle turn her back on him and walk away from their happily-ever-after?

Get your copy! Yep, Amazon only. Lots of authors find this is the best solution for their books.

Connect with KG, too! It’s always fun to connect with an author.
Website
Twitter
Instagram
Facebook
Amazon
Pinterest
Goodreads
Georgia Pine Spotify Playlist
YouTube Channel
Original Song recorded for the series!

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Featured New Book Spotlight: Son of Cayn by C Jason McDonald, Alan Isom, and Stormy McDonald

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Featured New Book SpotlightWOOT. I have been waiting for a LONG time to be able to tell you guys about this one!

C Jason McDonald, Alan Isom, and Stormy McDonald have collaborated on a fantastic tale that has stuck in my brain for years. YEARS. Do you hear me? I’m so glad Jason was willing to stop in and talk to you guys about this book, Son of Cayn.

Jason, what song makes you think of Son of Cayn?

Crazy Bitch by Buckcherry

This may be a surprise to a lot of people but it was the only song that kept running through my head every time I wrote about the baroness.

I knew this; Jason and I had discussed it at some point in the past, and let me tell you: he’s RUINED the song for me because HE’S RIGHT. This is the anthem of the baroness.

Bad Jason, ruining songs!

Good Jason, for picking such a perfect song.

Seriously, you guys. It fits.

Have I sold it hard enough to you yet? Well, here’s the description:

It was supposed to be a simple assignment—look into a caravan destined for the White River. But when Marcus, the leader of the Kral’s security forces, dug deeper, he knew something was amiss. Not only was it the teamsters’ third trip east of the Wall, a no-man’s land haunted by the dead, but their cargo was one of the least profitable—soap.

All was not as it seemed, so Marcus hired outsiders, a team not tied to his organization of spies, to find out what was really happening. A ranger, a dwarf, a mage, and a half-orc gladiator; they had the tools and experience to infiltrate the caravan and get the answers he needed.

Until the appearance of a strange knight sets in motion a chain of horrible events.

Time grows short as the people of Pazard’zhik begin dying—including Marcus. The healers can’t understand why, just that the deaths are somehow tied to the caravan. Can the investigators solve the mystery of the caravan in time to save the Kral’s kingdom, or will the Blood of Cayn claim the land?

Get your copy now. Unfortunately, it’s Amazon-only and that sucks, but this one’s worth asking your library to get their hands on if you’re not an Amazon shopper.

Connect with Jason, Alan, and Stormy, of course.
Website
Facebook
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Amazon Author Central

And remember: leaving a review is always a great way to thank an author for putting in the years, the blood, the sweat, the tears, the harsh editorial letters, the ruined Buckcherry songs, and the vision to bring you a book. If you read it and this isn’t your thing? That’s fine. A constructive, thoughtful review about why is also very helpful.

As always, if you are struggling to get a good review down, drop me a note. I offer a super-cheap service to help you perfect your book reviews. THAT’s how important they are.

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Featured New Book: For You I Fall: Angels and Misfits Book 1 by TN Nova and Colette Davison

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Featured New Book SpotlightLet’s welcome author TN Nova to West of Mars!

TN has a new book to share with us today, and for you series lovers, it’s the first. You get to start on the ground floor — but you also have the agony of having to wait until the next one comes out. It’s a mixed bag, finding out about a series starter when it’s new. I’m still a fan, especially given how backlogged my own TBR mountains are. By the time I get around to starting a new series, the next one (or, let’s be honest, more) are out.

TN and Colette’s book is called For You I Fall and there’s got to be a song that makes TN think of the book, right?

Right.

Do or Die by 30 Seconds To Mars reminds me of For You I Fall on so many levels. It took Seth dying to learn to live and love. It took Dante Falling to achieve his love. They will never forget the moment that they were able to be together and love freely.

You know, this song is on many of my Spotify playlists, but I’ve never listened to it. Time to change THAT!

Ready for the description?

Despite having had a rough life, Seth has a big heart. After spending nearly ten years sleeping rough on the streets of New York, he’s managed to get himself freelance work and a place to live. But his new found security is about to be torn apart, as the horrors of his past come back to haunt him in the worst possible way.

Dante was sent to watch over a young Seth when his mother died. As an angel, he had many rules to follow. The most important of which was to never fall in love—especially when it involves a human who is your charge. For the last ten years, Dante has kept his feelings for Seth hidden. That is until the night Seth’s past catches up with him.

When Seth is murdered, their destinies are changed forever. Feelings and emotions come to the surface, but will the rules that govern the afterlife keep Dante and Seth apart for eternity, or will they be able to find their happily ever after together?

**Contains explicit language and scenes**

Ooh, there’s so much to like in here. Agree? Grab a copy!
Amazon
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Amazon CA
Amazon AU

Remember, the best way to show your appreciation for an author’s book is to (well, pay money for it) leave a review online somewhere and talk about it to your friends and others who’ll like it. Another good way, though, is to connect with the author. Or, in this case, authors. Yep, TN stopped in, but that doesn’t mean you can’t connect with Colette, too!

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Colette Davison

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Featured New Book Spotlight: Witching Well by SD Hintz

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Let’s welcome SD Hintz back to West of Mars! SD was last here in January, with Vigilance and Vengeance, and now he’s back with a new one, called Witching Well.

SD’s not long on chatter, so you always have to listen to his song choices to understand how they tie into the book. This time, it’s Somebody’s Watching Me, that classic ’80s song by Rockwell.

I’m curious. Are you?

Here’s the book description:

It’s the end of the world…

…as Murray Macabe knows it. The security of his home life has been ripped out from under him when his mother was brutally murdered. Rejected by his aunt, Murray only has one place left to go, and that’s to live the rest of his life with a woman he barely knows.

To Grandmother’s House He Goes

At first, life with his grandmother doesn’t seem like it’s going to be that bad, but Murray soon learns his grandmother harbors dark secrets.

Double, Double Toil and Trouble; Fire Burn and Caldron Bubble

As bad as Grandma’s secrets might be, they are nothing compared to the secrets held by the neighbors, three elderly women who have set their sights on Murray for their own dastardly purposes. Soon Murray finds himself fighting for his very life, and there’s no one to turn to for help because everyone knows there’s no such thing as witches.

I have to say, this sounds like so much fun, I’m sorry I didn’t get to work on it in my usual guise as a freelance editor. This sounds right up my alley. So you know I’ll be adding it to my wishlist to pick up when I have some spare cash and time.

Here’s the link. It’s Amazon only, unfortunately for those of you who like to support independents or other retailers.
And, hey! Want it in print? Here’s the link for that. If there are other retailers you like to use for print, ask them to order it. Independent bookstores, in particular, love to order books for patrons!

Want to connect with SD? Sure you do! Here’s how:
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Susan Speaks: How to be Productive

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Like I’m not busy enough this summer, I answered a call from a journalist who was looking for creative ways to be productive at an unfulfilling job.

You guys know me. You know what I had to say.

But go check it out anyway. And, of course, do the upvoting thing and all that.

As always, send your friends my way. I’ve got a college tuition to pay, a research trip to Yellowstone, my mortgage… and besides, the busier I am editing, the less trouble I get myself into, and while my adventures are fun and make great stories — my attorney told me a couple weeks ago that she misses hearing them — staying out of trouble for the next couple of months is a good choice. At least until I’m sure the college kid isn’t going to follow in my footsteps. Too much.

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Call for Submissions: Novellas of the SFF persuasion

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Some SFF for you to consider, although this is already published and not a novella, so it doesn’t fit the current call for submissions.

We’re in that time again. It’s happening.

No, not Mercury Retrograde, although that’s happening, too.

Tor is open for unagented novella submissions. They’re looking for between 20,000 and 40,000 words, and encourage you to take a close look at their current list to see the sorts of things they publish. (This means they’ll consider works that are different from what they currently publish, but not so far from their mainstream that they can’t comprehend. They are, after all, a for-profit publisher and are trying to maximize profits first and break new literary ground second. So be wise with your expectations.)

Now, to jump on the bandwagon, they are “actively” requesting submissions from writers “from underrepresented populations.”

I’ll leave that there and let you read the PC decisions behind that. It’s sad that a SFF publisher even has to say this when so many of the SFF greats of history have fallen into that “underrepresented populations” category.

Sigh.

But anyway, move FAST because this window is only open for a very short time — until August 13, to be exact.

If you’re not ready now, don’t fret. They last held an open call like this in May — and haven’t finished sorting through the submissions — and so are likely to do it again. Focus on making the best book possible.

And, as always, read the guidelines. Make sure you conform to them because no, they’re not going to make an exception for YOU. That’s narcissistic thinking and it’s wrong and it’s stupid and don’t go there, okay? Follow the damn guidelines. Here they are again, so you have zero excuse.

On the off chance that you start writing and your finished product doesn’t fit the stated guidelines? Check Submittable! There’s always good opportunities over there. (Just beware of the tool charging $85 for a manuscript evaluation. What the fuck?)

This is the spot in the post where I offer a last-minute go-over before you submit, at a steep discount. But… it’s summer and you can tell by my lack of regular posting that I’m swamped. Unusually so, even for summer. If you need me, drop me a note and we’ll talk and see what we can work out. You know I’m always glad to have your back and help make your words sparkle.

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Would or Wouldn’t? Ask the Magic Decoder Ring

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It’s been awhile since I’ve posted about the charming narcissistic abuse we’re being exposed to on a daily basis. But this one’s been gnawing at me, so here it is.

Know how some members of the media are chasing after our Narcissist in Chief, trying to figure out what he means? Do all the walkbacks, the contradictions, the double-speak give you whiplash?

They are meant to.

It’s the most basic form of narcissistic abuse: keeping you on the hook, around, dependent on him (or her) for clarification. There is no reality other than what the narcissist creates, and it’s a shifting, slippery, scary place. He (or she) is the only one who can navigate it for you.

But if you look at the words and then compare them to the actions, they NEVER match up. They never will. Because the words are a game. They’re the worm on the fishing hook and you’re the trout. You can’t resist; it looks so good wiggling away there on the hook. One bite and it’ll be yours.

One more try to kick that football that Lucy holds and you’ll have made it, Charlie Brown.

Get it? See how that works? The media comes salvating around, trying to get at the truth of the situation. Would he? Wouldn’t he? Which is it? Yesterday it was would, today it’s wouldn’t, tomorrow it’ll be would, come back Tuesday to see if it’s changed or stayed the same.

There’s a hint of an endorphin rush in there, isn’t there?

Don’t buy into it.

Don’t listen to the words, especially when the words change so fast. Look beyond them, into the spaces the words are designed to hide. Look beyond them, into the actions the words are designed to hide — and no, the spaces and the actions aren’t the same things. Not even close.

Close your ears. Tune out the narcissistic abuse that’s nothing more than noise. Stop chasing him around, hoping for the final absolute truth and reporting every last syllable even when it contradicts what your eyes tell you. The only thing you’re doing is hurting yourself — and everyone who’s depending on you for the truth. In the case of the media, the harder they chase, the more they feed into his claims that they’re not truthful. See how that works?

Look at the actions. Always, always, always, look at the actions. There’s your truth, even when it’s ugly and hard to admit.

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Summer’s On at Smashwords! #SummerSale

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Trevor’s SongTrevor’s Song is part of the Smashwords Summer Sale.

It’s July, so that means one thing: the Smashwords Summer (winter for you Down Under) Sale!

As always, my books are free for you, so help yourself. Pick up one of my past titles, enjoy Trevor and the Trevolution. Let me know if you want to see a third Trevor novel or a fifth Demo Tapes compilation — or even a complete set, with each and every story in chronological order. I can and will do any or all of these for you.

But this year, I’m going to lay down a challenge for you. On August 2, 2019 (so, a year and a month) from now, my daughter is headed to Yellowstone National Park with the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium. They picked 13 of their ZooU students for this trip, which is run through Ecology Project International. They’ll be doing a week’s worth of research, conservation work, and more. They’ll be camping in the back country, bear spray at the ready. It’s a nine-day trip, the longest she’ll have been away from me. And she’ll be doing something I’ve dreamed about! Talk about adding insult to injury…

So. What’s the challenge I’m handing down to you?

It’s this: If you decide to pay full price for any of my books at Smashwords during the month of July, when they are on sale and you could have them for free, I’ll put 100% of my royalties to the cost of her trip. It’s not a cheap trip, and she needs some gear before she goes, too. Thankfully, because we are a Scouting family, we have some of it. But she still needs some.

Want to donate directly to her and skip the books, since you’ve already read and loved them? You can do that. She and I would both love that.

Regardless of what you choose to do (if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice!), take some time and wander through the Smashwords Summer Sale. Find some good deals.

And no matter what, remember to leave a review! Nothing helps an author more — except telling your friends about something you’ve read — than leaving a review. Even if it’s as short as “I liked this because…”

Negative reviews may prick an author’s pride, but when written constructively, they are helpful to both the author and future readers. I encourage you to think long and hard, but not to shy away from a negative review.

And, as always, if you need help writing a review, holler. I offer a steep discount on review help. That’s how important they are to me.

Happy Smashwords searching! And if you haven’t joined the Trevolution yet, why not? It’s FREE.

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Says the Editor: Busy Season!

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For a long time, I thought the reason summer was my busy season was because you all wanted me to edit while you’re on vacation. Really, you guys deserve longer breaks from your work in progress for more than a week, but I’m indulgent like that. (I slept until 8:30 this morning — well, the morning I’m writing this — and that’s extremely rare for me.)

But lately, I’ve found a way to quantify my stress and I noticed that as soon as the kids were out of school and my oldest now a graduate, my stress levels… plummeted. That’s coincided with my sitting on the couch, working on my own fiction. (and probably sleeping until 8:30, but that’s another story.)

Coincidence?

Not on your life.

Whatever the reason, I’m glad to say this summer is shaping up for me like almost every other: busy. Which means that if you need me (and why don’t you???), better get in the queue now. I still work on a first come, first served basis and I’ll do my best to hold a date if you’re a deadline person, but know I’m not going to sit idle for a few days while I wait for you. I have a college tuition to pay starting in August!

Right now, I’m not so busy that the Rush fee is active. That could — and probably will — change at any point, so if you’re working on something that you think or know will be ready for an edit soon, well, do NOT rush it. Not for my sake. Remember you always want to send your editor your very best (unless you’re stuck and you need my expert eye, at which point holler and I’ll help. Of course!).

So what do you do?

Contact me. Tell me you know it’s the busy season, and you want to make sure I’m on your radar. If you’re an existing client, will it make a difference? Quite possibly; I take care of my people.

But if you and I haven’t worked together yet, don’t despair. You won’t be thrown to the back of the queue time and again. Nope. You’re my people now, at least temporarily, and I take care of my people.

What does that mean? It means I’m not too busy to communicate with you (generally) about where you are in the queue and when I’ll get to you. It means you’ll get 100% of my attention and be the only project I work on until it’s done. (Not all editors, I’ve learned, work this way.) It means you potentially get to make me so busy, I impose the rush fee.

Got it?

Now, get busy on your fiction. Summer’s here (unless you’re Down Under, but that’s a logistic we can work out another time). Hopefully your stress levels plummeted as much as mine have. Hopefully you’re busy writing, and you’ll need me before you start shopping for school supplies or (eep!) dorm room linens. Be in touch, let me know you’ll me.

In the meantime, I’ll be over here. Busy.

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