Audiobook Readers’ Edge Update

What is Audiobook Edge for Readers?

·         A short, vetted list of clean indie audiobooks I recommend every month. I’ll try to give you a clear rating system in terms of curses, adult content, and the like. The first Sunday to be precise. By “clean” I mean the book has minimal curse words and adult content. (There will also be Matchmaker, which has some stuff I will not post to the main list – email me to get on that list.)

What do you get?

·         Free audiobooks. (The author emails of those willing to share audible gift codes or directly gift you the book you’ve select.)
·         News of any audiobook price drops, giveaways, and cool contests put on by the lovely authors on the list.

What’s the “catch”?

I run by the principle: “If you like it, then you shoulda put a review on it.” (And if you don’t like it, let the author know privately.)

These authors and their narrators have put hours upon hours into creating an entertaining or informative show for you. Listening and enjoying their hard work is one step, but it costs you about five minutes of your time to thank them with a review. It also helps other readers find and enjoy things you love.

Details:

By “vetted” I mean I’ve either read the book or know the author and the quality of their work personally. (I will be gathering a small team of audiobook readers I trust to make such decisions, but right now, it’s just me.) My reading tastes tend very strongly toward mystery, thriller, and science fiction with a smidgen of fantasy and a few other genres. Therefore, you can expect the list to lean heavily toward these genres. Also, I write (and therefore tend to read) squeaky clean stuff. I’m not saying there won’t be curse words here and there as it fits the story, but these will be the works you wouldn’t mind if your grandmother caught you reading it.

I’m just the middleman here as it were. I’ll show you thing I’ve enjoyed or am excited to try out. It’s up to you to contact the authors who are kind enough to offer some free codes.

Reviews:

Eventually, I’ll be posting the lists to my wordpress blog. After they’re up and running, I’ll send you a link to the recent post(s) at the bottom of the weekly newsletter.

If that sounds like a good deal to you, please sign up below. As a bonus, I’ll enter you into a drawing to win one of 5 ebook, audiobook, and paperback bundles of any of my applicable works. (Clarification: It has to be a title that has an audiobook, ebook, and paperback version.)

Update as of 8/12/17: I also have a matchmaker list of things rejected from the normal list due to excessive curses, too many adult scenes or gory descriptions.

Questions can be directed to: devyaschildren @ gmail.com (take out the spaces)

Ready to get your Audiobook Edge?

Join up here.

 

If 1-2 free books ain’t enough, check out Audible’s paid programs.

The first two books are free through the link below.

*Bonus: I also have free codes for all my audiobooks and if you join Audiobook Edge and email me the title of one of my books you’d like to review, I will send you a code to purchase it. See my Amazon page for a list of my books. (Eligible titles: Ashlynn’s Dreams Shorts, Ashlynn’s Dreams, Nadia’s Tears, Malia’s Miracles, Varick’s Quest, The Collins Case, The Kiverson Case, The Dark Side of Science, Awakening.)

*Double Bonus: If you buy one of my books as your very first Audible.com account purchase (needs to be a paid account), I’ll give you a $10 gift card/code to Amazon.com (please note, you have to be able to buy from the US site.) Also, this is only doable because of Audible’s bounty program, you’ll need to prove the purchase and wait until the bounty clears on my end.

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Carole P. Roman Speaks about Reviewing

Carole’s Comments on Reviews:

I started reviewing books on a whim. Books were an integral part life in our home. Both my mother and grandmother were avid readers. I read anything I could get my hands on and then would sit with them to discuss the book. My mother was my reading partner until she passed. After she had died, I found a certain loneliness in reading as I had no one to discuss the books. It was more of a personal experience. It never occurred to me to join a book club or even read reviews online.
I never noticed the reviews on Amazon when I bought a book. Book purchases were based on subject or genre. It wasn’t until I looked on Amazon to see the reaction of readers to my own books that I realized the value of a review.
The impact of reading other people’s reviews crystalized – they were a valuable tool in helping a consumer decide whether a book would interest them.
After a trip through my personal library, I tried to pick books I felt comfortable to review. There were so many old friends that kept me company or made the world’s worries disappear for the few hours. It was hard to pick which ones I wanted to share.
At first, I wondered if anyone would read what I had to say. Once that first review was posted, I noticed my rankings were somewhere in the millions. I realized my reviews would not have much impact. I posted as much as I could. They began to add up, as did the helpful votes.
I began reading other prolific reviewers, learning what worked and garnered the most helpful hits.

Writing a review is a big responsibility.

Some people enjoy trashing a book, pointing out all the things they didn’t enjoy. Liking a book is subjective, it is rooted in personal taste and preferences.
When reviewers write things like ‘this book was horrible- don’t buy it,’  it sounds judgmental. Just because one person may not like a book, doesn’t mean another might enjoy it.
A lot has to do with genre, style, and the mood the person is in at the time.
I have shifted genres throughout the years, loving it at one point and disliking it intensely the next year.

Knowing that author put their heart and soul into the book, it’s only right to leave a fair review.

The lowest score I will give a book is three stars, and if it can’t make even that grade, for me, I simply won’t review it. I wouldn’t want to be the cause that influences a buyer not to try it.
The result of these efforts has been astonishing. I have become a Top Reviewer on many of Amazon’s of the sites. The reviews have gained momentum, resulting in steady spots in two magazines featuring my reviews.
Publishers have written asking for reviews before books are published.
More importantly than that, reading books written by indies has helped the careers of people with slim budgets who can’t afford to advertise.
Reading and reviewing indies is like lending a helping hand to struggling writers who are trying to bring their work to the public, without much help or support.
There are some delightful books out there, many of them would be lost in the sea of all the other books being published.

Indie authors don’t have it easy.

They have trouble promoting and marketing their books. Partnering with my social media consultant, Julie Gerber, we decided to write about our experiences as authors. Navigating Indieworld has yielded a new blog radio show with the same name, as well as a new magazine called Indie Author’s Monthly.
Reviewing is fun. I think of writing reviews as practice. If you can please an audience with these small blurbs and develop a following, can a best-selling book be far behind?

A Little More about Carole P. Roman:

Carole P. Roman is the award-winning author of the Captain No Beard series. Both Captain No Beard-An Imaginary Tale of a Pirate’s Life and Captain No Beard and the Aurora Borealis have received the Kirkus Star of Exceptional Merit. The first book in the series was named to Kirkus Reviews Best 2012. Captain No Beard and the Aurora Borealis has been named to Kirkus Reviews Best of 2015. Each book in the series has won numerous awards including the NABE Pinnacle Award, IAN Award, Moonbeam Award 2014, National Indie Excellence Award Finalist, Shelf Media Outstanding Series Award, ForeWord Review Five Star and Finalist in the Book of the Year, and Reader’s Views Children’s Book of the Year 2013. Roman is also the author of the award-winning non-fiction culture series If You Were Me and Lived in… that explores customs and cultures around the world. She has co-authored a self-help book, Navigating Indieworld A Beginners Guide to Self-Publishing and Marketing. Carole is now circling the media stage as she has taken off with two radio shows on PodFire Radio (Let’s Say Hello To Our Neighbors and Navigating Indieworld) and is starting a new magazine called Indie Author’s Monthly on Magzter.com. She lives on Long Island with her husband and near her children and grandchildren.

Carole’s Links:

A Note from Spencer Hawke on Audiobooks

The following is straight from the horse’s mouth as it were …

My editor and writing “confidant” has just asked me to record an audiobook of my recently released novel, The Arrows of Islam by Spencer Hawke. We can make a lot of money on Audible.com, ACX and Amazon.com I am assured. “What am I going to do?” I ask myself.

(Not always the truth, but audiobooks are one heck of a fun journey.)

“ME?” “I am not an actor, my voice is strange, I’m not a Voice Over Artist. At most parties I don’t talk very much, unless I stiffen my resolve with a martini!”

“So what’s the problem?” you ask.
You’ve obviously never met my editor, say I.
“So?” you say.
She is not very tall, but she packs the punch of a Texan Longhorn.
“She can’t be that bad,” you assure me.
Let me put it this way, a Texas Rainbow Cactus has the prettiest flower in Springtime, but ya still don’t want to sit on one!

(So true. Words of wisdom)
My editor pairs me up with a tech-guru … Fearing my first Voice Over Audition, we email back and forth. He suggests I come to his recording studio, way the heck out of town, “Shouldn’t take more than a couple of days” says he confidently. All I can see is the face of a Las Vegas slot machine, “CaShing, CaShing, CaShing!” I can’t possibly afford that, not at least not with my voice,
“ABSURD idea…” I tell him.
My first attempt is a disaster. Techy Dude listens to my audio, “What’s all that WHITE NOISE? “White Noise?” I ask ignorantly.
“It sounds like you have a bulldozer in the recording studio.”
I didn’t want to tell him I was doing this on my iPad in my home office and the bulldozer he hears is my air conditioning unit; it’s bloody 105 degrees here!
Around and around we go. “WHITE NOISE!” his emails bellow. I furiously type back “WHAT BLOODY NOISE?!”
After many, many false trials, I wait for all the family to leave, I switch OFF my A/C (YES IN THE MIDDLE OF SUMMER!) I even switch off every fan in the house. I’m ready to go to my new recording studio. Then a great big pick-up hauling a trailer pulls up outside my neighbor’s yard. Her lawn mowing people have just arrived. DO you KNOW how BLOODY LOUD those things are?
(Anything is loud when you’re recording.)
The sweat is dripping down my brow, but the mowing is finished. I sneak off to my studio. It is in fact my CLOSET, a mouse hole of a room where the clothes insulate me from WHITE NOISE. I am ready with a jug of water, a rag to mop my brow, my trusty iPhone and microphone.
Two days later, I get an email back from my tech-guru, the subject line, GREAT JOB. I think to myself ‘Yeah right…” With much trepidation I read his email. “Well at least he’s not yelling at me, I think.” Across the bottom of the email is a link to his professionally engineered work of my recording.

I am BLOODY AMAZED. I love it; it’s really good. Over my years perusing headlines, I have read of all different types of “CLOSET” people. Now I have to admit I am one; I’m a Closet Voice Artist. If you ever fly over Oklahoma, the pilot might warn you of turbulence ahead, don’t worry, tis only I, practicing my lines in my sweatbox of a recording studio. But you know what? I’m having more fun than any human being has a right to.

About the Author

A love for adventure as a young boy, travel across the African continent as a young man and a brief stint in Sao Paulo fed into the over-active imagination of Spencer Hawke to produce a plethora of interesting projects. His first work, The Eyes of Athena — the first in the Ari Cohen series — is now being produced as an audiobook. From his home base in Oklahoma City, Spencer spends his days with wife, Jenny, and grandson Devon, already an avid adventurer, and is always working on his next four of five projects …
Moral of the Story:
Anybody can become a VO artist!
Spencer Hawke is one of the brave authors trying out Audiobook Edge. If you want your clean mystery, scifi, fantasy, or thriller reviewed then placed on a monthly list to readers who love audiobooks, join us on Audiobook Edge for Authors/Narrators! If you’d prefer to see loads of free audiobooks every month, check out the Reader version.

 

Adventures in Other Authors’ Worlds

Introduction:

I know we’re all focused on building our own stories and keeping that going, but you might want to consider writing for Kindle Worlds. Here, Amazon has created a place for you to get paid to write fanfiction. Fanfiction gets a bad rap, but in Kindle Worlds it’s a little more structured. You have to abide by the rules set forth in whichever world you are writing for.

I’ve joined two KWs: The Lei Crime Series and The Sydney Rye Series. Lei Crime is mystery/thriller and Sydney Rye is more vigilante thriller.

5 Key Benefits to Writing in Kindle Worlds?

  1. You’re starting with a ready-made audience. Amazon has specifically chosen popular series to offer kindle worlds to. You often have a plethora of cool side characters to explore. This is especially true for the Lei Crime Series as Toby Neal has gone out of her way to make deep side characters with lots of room for exploration.
  1. Try new things – this is pretty much a risk-free way to try a genre you may not have done yet. At the time, I’d not done any traditional type mystery/thrillers. The first Kindle World story I wrote was Never Again, which was a prequel to the Lei Crime series. It explores the question why one of the characters chose to become a cop.
  1. Interact with other authors – Networking is super important. You never know who you’re going to meet and what the long-term benefits will be of that relationship. As a part of both KWs, I’ve met a lot of great people. I’ve even gotten to meet one of them, even though she lives in Canada and I live in the US. It’s not exactly a mentoring system in all cases. The worlds differ in how involved the original author wants to be.
  1. Power of the collective – The Lei Crime series in particular is very purposeful about launches. You can publish at any time, but joining a launch will likely get you better sales results. I’ve had months where the sales are triple what they normally are just because of the collective advertising and social media presence of a launch.
  1. It’s a heck of a lot of fun. – At the end of the day, you’ve got to enter this because you love what you do. Some of the worlds, like the Sydney Rye one will allow you to integrate characters you’ve already written. The Lei Crime series is under and older contract that does not allow this, but in Fatal Interest (Sydney Rye KW) I was able to bring in Nadia, who is also featured in the Devya’s Children series.

“Writing for KWs is easy and fun. The “heavy lifting” of character and world building is done, and with the addition of a little imagination, the writing feels like play and flows easily. I enjoy the creativity that gets unleashed by not having to build everything myself.” ~ Toby Neal (Author of Lei Crime Series)

“I like how there’s at least a possibility you can get some new eyes on the backlist (on the off chance readers of the KW world’s original author likes your work enough to check out your other books). 🙂 And I feel like Amazon gives their KW books a nice boost during release day / month, which is always welcome.” ~Marian Tee (NYT Bestselling author, The Marriage Dare, a KW novella)

“I love writing for KW LeiCrime because it brings happy memories of living there and I enjoy working with great writers such as Toby Neal.” ~J.L. Oakley (Author of //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=juliecgilbe05-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B00VQWUE5C&asins=B00VQWUE5C&linkId=b781e041307cf743263459a8ddaff64d&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff” target=”_blank”>Saddle Road, Lei Crime Kindle World Series)

How do you get involved?

Technically speaking, all you have to do is write a book that follows the guidelines of the world you want to join. Here’s the link to the main Kindle Worlds page. Odds are good that every genre is represented.

The first thing to do is get familiar with the world you want to join. If you’re already a fan of something, that’s great you can skip that step. But this is a hugely important step. Make sure you understand the world. Next, choose a character to write about. I started the Lei Crime Series intending to do a Defining Moments series featuring many different characters in each subsequent book, but once I wrote the second one, I stuck it out with FBI Agent Marcella Scott. I rebranded that series to focus just on her and called it The Shadow Council Series.

It might help to get involved in some of the FB groups for authors interested in a particular Kindle World. I know both the Lei Crime and Sydney Rye series have FB groups. They’re private but if you’re interested, you can always apply and the admins will let you in if you’re serious.

BTW, if you grab one of the free books below then let me know you came from this e-conference, I will enter you into a contest to win a copy of any of my Kindle World titles, 2 Shadow Council pencils, and a postcard pack.

Conclusion:

Kindle Worlds are an excellent publishing option, but you have to follow very specific guidelines for each world. You need to read those rules closely for each world because they will differ. That said, it’s a fun and profitable way to gain more exposure for your existing works.

Thanks for reading!

Julie Gilbert 2013 (5 of 25)

If you want to see more from the Indie e-Con, go here.

If you want to win a free Kindle Paperwhite, enter the giveaway.

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Choose your adventure!
Get Ashlynn’s Dreams or The Kiverson Case absolutely free.

Email and Links:

Devyaschildren @ gmail.com

Author Website

Facebook Page

Twitter

Amazon Author Page

How to Get a Narrator You Love

Introduction:

You’ve worked really hard to get your book ready to good, and now you want to take the next step. There’s something highly gratifying about hearing a talented actor/actress bring the words to life. A few people have the time, talent, and recording devices necessary for doing this themselves. I admire these people, but I’m definitely not one of them. This article is directed to the majority of people who need to search up a narrator. Also, I don’t know much about the traditional publishing world of audiobook creation. I’m going to be speaking about using Audiobook Creation Exchange.

I’ve talked to several authors in various Facebook groups who wonder things like:

  • How do I get a great narrator?
  • How long should I wait once I get a few auditions?

So, how do you find and hire a narrator you’ll love?

The first time I sort of got lucky. The first or second person who posted an audition fit my idea of the character voices perfectly. In hindsight, I might have found somebody even more fitting if I’d gone through the process I’m going to describe below, but I still enjoy the work done with Kristin Condon.

Here’s how I did got the perfect narrator the other 3 times:

  1. I selected the characteristics I was looking for on ACX’s search section. First major choice is male/female. Other things you should consider is budget (more on that later),  style, and accents.
  2. I listened to random samples from people who matched my search parameters. More on pricing later, but I would probably go with people who are in the price bracket above what you think you can afford.
  3. Once I had a list of 10-15ish people I really loved, I wrote a general letter then adapted it for each person. I sent these narrators an invitation to audition for my book. Generally, if you contact 15 people, most will get back to you, a few will be too busy or not interested because of the price you’re offering, but the others will thank you for the invite and post an audition in about a week’s time.
  4. Set a timeframe like 1-2 weeks for when you’ll close auditions. Once everybody who promised an audition comes through, listen to the auditions carefully and choose your favorite.
  5. Privately message everybody as you get auditions to keep them updated on the status of their audition. If you don’t intend to hire somebody, thank them for taking the time to audition and let them know that. Be up front and honest. These people are auditioning for a lot of projects because it’s a tough way to make a living.
  6. Offer a contract to your top choice, but don’t burn bridges with your second and third choice because your top choice might not accept the contract.

Pricing Notes:

Some people have a large budget to put behind the audiobook venture. Others are popular enough to attract a stipend from ACX which will definitely increase the number of auditions you receive. But for the rest of us price is going to be an issue.

Reality – It can easily take about 4-6 (or even more) hours of work to get a finished hour of audiobook ready to go. The narrator needs to read the story, prep the voices, record the chapters, edit, and then re-edit to fix up any mistakes. Keep that in mind moving forward.

Royalty Share: This is the best deal for authors because you’re not taking any of the financial risk. You’re narrator creates the book for you, you approve it, and then once it’s on sale you split any royalties with the narrator.

If you can only do RS, that’s fine, but keep in mind this will likely limit you to those who are just starting out or doing it as a hobby. Most of the people with experience will stick to pfh because of the tremendous amount of work it will take to create the audiobook.

I prefer to put $50 pfh on the table, that’s the lowest paid per finished hour you can use. Most of the really talented people have $100-200 pfh. I privately let people know that I fully intend to give them a private bonus once the project goes live. ACX’s messaging system is pretty clunky but you can get their email addresses and discuss the project privately.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email: devyaschildren @ gmail.com

 

Introducing Audiobook Authors/Narrators Edge

What is Audiobook Edge?

·         A feature in my targeted email list for thriller, mystery, and spec fic audiobook fans. (I’m going to limit the slots to b/t 3 and 10 per letter, so you should get high visibility.) I will occasionally branch out to other clean works that aren’t in those categories, but the genres listed are the focus. Will also post ebook links, but focus is audiobooks.
·         A chance to use some of those audible book codes burning a hole in your pocket.
·         A chance to connect with other authors who write similar works to you.
·         A chance to get your book some visibility and gain some new fans.
·         Eventually, we can band together and run a FB party or something to better connect with the readers.

Update as of 8/12/17 – AE will come out the first Sunday of every month. I’d originally planned for once a week, but the amount of books I have and the time constraints involved in setting this up means something’s gotta give.

What’s the “catch”?
You will need to either gift me your book or give me an audible code to hear your book. (Don’t send it quite yet, please.) You will also need to share this page with your readers because collective bargaining power is sort of the idea behind this. One last thing, since the vetting team is me, myself, I, and a handful of trusted friends), please be patient with that process. I will try to keep you updated but I can only listen so fast. I can guarantee that if I personally enjoy your work, you will get reviews at both Amazon and audible.

You’ll have a better shot of making the list and getting fans if you offer up a few free codes. I will be strongly encouraging the readers to review things they like, but I can’t guarantee you’re a) going to get results or b) going to get results that you like.

Questions can be directed to: devyaschildren @ gmail.com (take out the spaces)

Meet Julie Hinton – the Voice Behind Malia’s Miracles

KEY:
Julie Hinton’s Comments

My Comments

About this Work:

What brought you to working on this project? I’m a YA fan, and I really liked the idea of these special teenagers making a difference.
(Cool. Hope you get a chance to check out the whole series. I’m eager to see what you can do with book 4.)

What was the hardest part of bringing this story to life?  Finding enough character voices that were distinct and identifiable.  A lot of people run through this story!

Do you have a favorite character voice from the project? Why/ why not?  Malia’s was my favorite voice to do.  It was easy to find and she sounded so different from the rest.  Having said that, her chapters were also the most frustrating to narrate because she speaks so slowly …

(She became one of my favorites to listen to.)

About your other works:

How many other works have you narrated?  This is my seventh audiobook.

What was the most challenging other work you’ve voiced? Easiest? Most fun? What made it hard, easy, fun??  The easiest was my first production, Me Before You: A Summary and Analysis.  It was basically a Cliffsnotes of JoJo Moyes; best-selling book.  I didn’t have to do character voices and it was quite short.  It is also the most popular of my narrations, so the best of all worlds!  

My favorite moment was probably in More Fables & Fantasies.  One of the stories there is a fractured fairy tale, and I got to voice a lot of fun fairy tale voices.  I think that section is in the Amazon audio sample if you’d like to take a listen.  As far as the most challenging, in most novels (like this one) I get the same feeling of panic towards the end when I worry that I’ve run out of distinct voices, and then I see another character pop up.  The solution to each situation is slightly different, but it’s a great opportunity to stretch just a little more each time.

Can you recommend any of your other titles for us? What about the work is appealing?  I don’t know that I can recommend just one as they’re all so different.  The Me Before You summary is great for cheating in a book club and still hearing a fantastic love story.  Heartless and Prestigium are both paranormal novels about women discovering new worlds they can make a difference in.  More Fables & Fantasies is a fun collection of 5 very different short stories – a perfect length for many commuters.  Glistens is a fairy story ideal for pre-teens, and The Dripping Wet Yellow Rubber Gloves (on iTunes) is a children’s story written by a good friend of mine perfect for the whole family.  My favorite part of narration is bringing these characters to life.  

About you/random ques:

What drew you to voice acting?  I got a degree in acting.  I love it, but not too many of us have the ability to do it full-time.  I started doing voice acting on the side and now do it more regularly than “regular” acting.  In audiobook narration, I get to play all the parts, not just one! 

Is this the only acting you do? If you do other forms of acting, which is your favorite and why?  Most of my early experience was on stage.  I found myself starring in musicals and Shakespeare productions.  Both of these genres prepared me for voice acting since the voice (both singing and speaking) is a tool needing to be worked out and shaped.  In recent years, I’ve been doing more short films, and I anticipate feature films to be my next step down this road.  You can see my resumes, production photos and some of the short films on my website, www.juliehinton.net.

Do you have a process when you approach a work? Please describe it for us.  I start by reading the manuscript cover to cover just for the reading pleasure.  I try to store my reactions and responses away so I can reclaim the fascination, joy, sorrow, and other emotional reactions to use in my performance.  Then I decide on voices for the main characters and work with the author until they get just right.  Finally, I get started in the narration process.  I try to stay in contact with the author as I go so we can make any decisions together that arise, such as pacing changes, new voices, etc.  I usually produce my own recordings at my home studio which has its pros and cons.  It’s nice to be able to work at my own pace and schedule.  It’s also nice to have a director to collaborate with as I make moment-to-moment decisions.  Once I come to the end of a recording, I forward it to the author who makes any final decisions, and then send it to the publisher for production.

What’s one random thing people don’t really know about you?  I don’t have a middle name.

If you could only leave 1 lasting impression on the world, what would it be?  I think entertainment is so important.  We all have crazy lives, and often it is best to be able to leave them aside for a few moments to refuel our reservoirs.  I consider myself fortunate to contribute to some good entertainment that brightens people’s days and gives them those moments of escape.

Do you get to read for fun? Do you have a favorite genre to read for fun?  I read all the time in a bunch of genres – thrillers, YAs, mysteries, fantasy, science fiction, and more.  As long as it’s fiction and not too serious, I’m usually game.

Do you have other hobbies? What do you do to relax?  Read!  I watch a lot of TV and try to do various projects with my hands while I’m doing it so I feel productive. I’m also a screenwriter and musician.

What kind of movies do you enjoy?  Those with happy endings 🙂

If you could meet one person from history or present time, who would it be and why.  I don’t really have an answer for this one.  I prefer to watch from afar, and worry that anytime I might actually meet someone I idolize I’ll just make a huge fool out of myself and never be able to look at them again …

Thanks for stopping by to answer some burning questions.

Malia’s Miracles is currently being offered for FREE on Audiobook Boom! Comment here or drop me a line at Devyaschildren @ gmail.com (you’ll need to remove the spaced to prove you’re human and let me know you’re interested in listening to the story. We’re looking for people willing to review but in line with amazon’s new TOS we’re not demanding feedback. A review is simply you telling the world what you think of a story. Of course, we’d love for you to enjoy the story, so if you enjoy it, please share your thoughts on Goodreads/amazon/your blog, etc

Links:
Julie’s facebook page.

Julie’s audiobook page from her website.

Link to Malia’s Miracles on Amazon.com.

***If you’re willing to review if you like the story, email with a link to your audible or amazon reviewing platforms. We have a limited number of free codes for this endeavor.

julie-hinton-119c

Fantastic Creatures Anthology Release and Scavenger Hunt!

Introduction:

Good morning (or afternoon or evening). Today we welcome Bokerah Brumley and her insights into the Fantastic Creatures Anthology. I’d never heard of a Hum-Fairy, have you??

Bokerah’s Words of Wisdom:

Good things are on their way
When a Hum-Fairy Comes to Stay.

When the idea for A Fellowship of Fantasy Anthology: Fantastic Creatures was suggested, I knew I had to participate. Mystical, magical creatures are some of my favorite things to write about, and I had just the thing.

I’d like to introduce you to a Hum-Fairy. It’s sort of a cross between these two images. Hummingbird-like creatures, Hum-Fairies are sentient, self-aware beings that communicate through telepathy. In the Fae world I’ve created, they’re considered a good omen. And similar to fairy houses that real people put together for their garden, the Fae build houses for the Hum-Fairies and invite them to stay as long as they like. Hum-Fairies eat little and often travel, so they don’t usually stay for long. In the Fae Kingdom, it’s illegal to trap a Hum-Fairy.

In Ishka’s Garden, Seesha has just returned from New York where she had been visiting. Seesha and her mate have lived as Ishka’s companions for some time, always returning to Ishka’s Mergone tree.

I hope you enjoy the story of friendship in Ishka’s Garden, one of many mythical creatures in A Fellowship of Fantasy Anthology: Fantastic Creatures.

Thank you to the wonderful Julie C. Gilbert for allowing me to guest post. (:

Thanks for sharing. (I got to read the story before it launched. It’s pretty awesome, and everybody should read it.)

About the Author:
Bokerah Brumley is a speculative fiction writer making stuff up on a trampoline in West Texas. She lives on ten permaculture acres with five home-educated children and one husband. In her imaginary spare time, she also serves as the blue-haired President of the Cisco Writers Club.

Her work can be found in Havok Magazine (July issue), Southern Writers Magazine (Summer 2016 issue), Echoes of Liberty (The Clarion Call Book 2), The Stars at My Door (April Moon Books), A Fellowship of Fantasy Anthology: Fantastic Creatures, and three more upcoming anthologies.

She was awarded First Place in the FenCon Short Story Contest, Third Place in the Southern Writers Magazine Short Story Contest, and Fifth Place in the Children’s/Young Adult category for the 85th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition. More recently, she was selected as a 2016 Pitch Slam! finalist.

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Blog

Check out the book we’ve been babbling about:

Here be dragons … and selkies and griffins and maybe even a mermaid or two.

Twenty fantasy authors band together to bring you a collection of thrilling tales and magical monsters. Do you like to slay dragons? Or befriend them? Do you prefer to meet cephalopods as gigantic kraken or adorable tree octopuses?

Each story focuses around a fantastic creature from folklore or mythology, and they range from light and playful tales for the whole family to darker stories that may make you wish to leave the lights on. Also, all stories carry the Fellowship of Fantasy seal of approval. While our monsters may be horrifying, you won’t stumble into graphic sex and constant swearing.

Perfect for the fantasy lover who can’t get enough of mythical beasts.

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And just in case you were wondering, my story is called The Golden City Captives. Check out all 20 excellent, fantastic stories.

Giveaway:

Now, enter the Contest to win awesomeness:

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Click here or on the image above to go to the Rafflecopter.

Scavenger Hunt Stops:

Kandi J. Wyatt

Bokerah Brumley

H. L. Burke

Lea Doué

Jessica L. Elliott

Caren Rich

Julie C. Gilbert

Nicole Zoltack

D. G. Driver

Intisar Khanani

And finally, here is your scavenger hunt clue:

fortyeight

Thoughts on Giving and Receiving Constructive Criticism for Fiction Works

Giving Constructive Criticism

 

Perspective: The Big Picture

Writing a book isn’t hard. Writing a book well is very hard. Even if you have issues with pretty much everything in the story, there is still a respectable accomplishment in getting the book to where you see it. Seeking constructive criticism takes a lot of guts and trust.

Don’t Be Gentle …

The entire point of constructive criticism is to point out the flaws in a work so the author can fix them. Lying to somebody about how “perfect” a work is if you see there are fixable mistakes all over the place benefits nobody.

But Do Be Kind.

Hearing, “Your book sucks” is akin to hearing, “Your baby’s ugly.” The book might suck and the baby might be ugly, but in the first situation, there’s definitely a better way to say so. (And in the second situation, flat-out lie if you value your life.)

“It’s not what you say, but how you say it.” That old adage holds a lot of truth.

I usually preface my statements with something to this effect:

These are just the opinions of one person. This is ultimately your story, so you can take or leave the suggestions. Thank you for allowing me to read your story. I hope you find the suggestions useful.

End on a Positive Note

Most things have a redeeming quality. I’d suggest ending your constructive criticism with a positive note, if possible. Admittedly, this is a step that I often forget if I’m hurriedly dashing off an email to the author. It is an important one those. It’s easy to focus on the negatives, but it’s good policy from a people perspective to end on a high note.

Receiving Constructive Criticism

Perspective: Somebody Took the Time to Give you their Thoughts

Whether you’ve paid this person, asked them for a review, or just asked them for a favor, if s/he takes the time to give you their honest thoughts, thank them for the effort.

Perspective: It’s about the Work, not You

Comments about your characters, plot structure, dialogue, pacing/flow, formatting, and other aspects of a novel are not personal attacks on you.

Random thoughts to Consider: (Common Criticisms Distilled)

  • Stock characters – there is a time and place for them, but if everybody’s stock, is there something else that balances them?
  • Wooden dialogue – Do all the humans sound like robots? Is the dialogue soulless? That might sound harsh, but you’re trying to bring people to life. The best way to do so is to make their words come alive.
  • Poor formatting – One would think formatting a small issue, but it makes a huge difference. For example, I read a book recently where the author chose to use a space between every paragraph and two spaces to indicate scene changes. I have my own issues with the space between every paragraph, but the double spaces between scene changes is simply not enough. If the scene ends at the bottom of the page, there’s nothing to indicate that we’re in a new scene. This is a relatively simple fix, such as using a few asterisks to denote the change.
  • Too many adverbs – I was told ages ago that adverbs should be kept to a minimum where dialogue tags are concerned. In moderation, they add nice flavor, but like spices, they can quickly wear out their welcome if overused.

Tough but Good

The comments received are about a work you’ve likely put a lot of time, effort, and thought into getting to where it’s at now. There may have even been some blood, sweat, and tears too. I know it’s difficult to imagine the work not being perfect, but if you’re realistic, you’ll probably understand that this is the good sort of pain. If you take some of the suggestions, likely you’ll have a stronger work overall. As that’s the ultimate goal for both you and your critic, this is a good thing.

Glean what you Can, Discard the Rest

You may not even like or agree with what the critic is saying. But at least consider the advice given. Does the person have good reasons for what s/he is saying? Some things can go down as a difference in style, and that’s fine. But if the person’s marking grammar mistakes left and right, you might want to look up some of the rules they’re citing.

Conclusion:

It’s very easy to get defensive when it comes to our books, but they’re only going to get better if we’re willing to improve them. I learn new things with every book. Constructive criticism doesn’t have to be about tearing a work down. It’s aimed at making a bad work good, a good work better, and a great work excellent. No matter where your book is on that spectrum, there’s likely room for something to be improved.

10 Reasons a Reader Might Hate Your Fiction Book …

And what that says about your story.

Introduction:

Hate might be a bit too strong for my meaning, but it was much quicker than saying “dislike/loathe/have an aversion to/ can’t connect well with/ grew bored with/ etc.” These are in no particular order within their groupings, but I believe there are neutral, bad, and good reasons people don’t connect to your story.

Bad Reasons:

  1. Too many grammar mistakes – Oddly enough, poor grammar doesn’t bother everybody. The writer in me cringes at that notion. Since I’m guessing a lot of you are writers too, I think we can all understand this one. Typos are often the bane of our literary existence. Yes, they happen to pretty much everybody, but that’s why there are advanced readers, editors, and conscript-able family members. That said, be cautious relying solely upon the last one unless your significant other is an editor or a writer. Lay family members also have a vested interest in remaining on your good side, so they may not be able to offer an unbiased critique of what can make the story better.
  1. Confusing plot – There’s a difference between “complex” and “confusing.” Complex is good. As writers, we strive to create a world that’s intricate enough to enthrall the reader. In many genres, part of that entails keeping the reader guessing what will happen next. It follows that confusing is bad. There are definitely times to lead readers on fantastic journeys to far-off lands, but you don’t want to leave them stranded there somewhere with no idea how to return. Strive for detailed, but don’t lose the reader.
  1. Blah characters – This is a tricky one because every reader comes with their preconceived notions of what makes a character interesting. For me, the key lies in the question: does this character contribute to the overall plot? Is s/he useful? For example, it annoys me when a princess is a cardboard character who only exists for the purpose of being rescued. Give her some personality. If her life being threatened is integral to the plot, then you’ve got to make us care about her first.

Stock characters have their places. There’s simply not enough time or page space to make every character a main one, but choose the few you flesh out wisely.

Neutral Reasons:

  1. Style preference: first person vs third person – If I had to guess, I’d say the vast majority of fiction works are written in the third person style. Third person generally allows the author a little more leeway with revealing details. It’s easier to be omniscient in that style. First person usually allows one to really get inside the head of the main character and/or the narrator. Often the narrator is the main character but that’s not always the case. I’ve done both styles, and I think they work well in the respective series. Yet, I completely understand not liking first person narration.

The main question that comes up subconsciously is: “Do I believe in this character’s voice?” That question is closely followed by: “Do I like this character’s voice?” In a book told in the first person, the reader’s going to be trapped inside the head of the narrator for all two-three hundred pages of your story. If the reader doesn’t particularly like the voice they’re hearing that whole time, it’s a tough thing to overcome.

  1. Writing style: general – As a reader, I just don’t connect well with how some people write. That’s the nature of the beast. I’m filing this under neutral because this reason is nothing you should automatically seek to change or question yourself about. Chalk that up to “you can’t win ’em all” and move on.
  1. The genre isn’t the reader’s favorite – This is probably one of the most common reasons I can cite when I identify a book I’m not connecting well with. You might ask why I’d bother reading a book in a genre that’s not really my favorite. It’s a fair question. The answer usually is that I was asked to read the book by the author. Also, I’ve read plenty of great books in genres I don’t consider my favorite. Every book is different, and you won’t really know unless you’ve tried it.
  1. Tone – Some people love humorous books, but often, when things veer into the ridiculous, I turn off as a reader. I love when there’s a lighthearted tone even about serious situations, but if everything’s a joke, then I can’t take the story seriously. The same could be said for a story being too gloomy. I don’t do well with tragedies on the whole.

Good Reasons:

  1. Characterization is so good that the reader ends up annoyed because they hate the bad guy. – While I’m sure we’d all love every reader to absolutely adore the story we’ve poured our heart and soul into, there is such a thing as making something too realistic. I know I’ve watched movies and read books that I mostly enjoyed but disliked because one character drove me crazy with their cruelty, injustice, or stupidity.

In an odd way, it’s a testament to your skill, but it’s also something to be aware of as you craft your next antihero or villain. Does the villain have any redeeming qualities? Is there something respectable about the antihero?

I guess one should be cautious that the characterization isn’t just bad, but then again, there are real villains in the world who ought to be hated and/or feared. I’m not saying you should congratulate yourself for annoying your reader, but I wouldn’t worry too much if one or two people cite this as a reason for not enjoying the story as much as they would have liked.

  1. Tone – Some people love humorous books, but often, when things veer into the ridiculous, I turn off as a reader. I love when there’s a lighthearted tone even about serious situations, but if everything’s a joke, then I can’t take the story seriously. The same could be said for a story being too gloomy. I don’t do well with tragedies on the whole.
  1. Outrage over a plot point/ ending – I think this one could easily cut both ways, as in be a good thing or be a bad thing, but I’m going to focus on the good here. If you can evoke very strong emotion in a reader, you just might be doing your job. Hopefully, you’ve intended for the reaction and aren’t being blindsided by people freaking out unexpectedly. Although this could be another sign of your skill as a writer, be cautious. You want readers to be on your side. Evoking emotion is good, but provoking a reader beyond reason is not good. Try to find that nice balance point.

Conclusion: Writing is an art and a skill. One of the aspects that I love most about writing is that it can be improved over time with practice. Some writers are afraid to share their work, but if you want to make it the best it can be, you’re going to have to let other people critique your baby along the way. If they truly have your best interests at heart, the people who critique the work will be open and brutally honest. Some of what they say may sound harsh, but take it with good grace. Remember, it’s not an attack on you. I’ll share more of my thoughts on what to do with constructive criticism later.

Thanks for listening.

-Jules