Monthly Archives: February 2014

It’s OFFICIALLY here! YA Fantasy “Journey To Landaran”

Landaran ebook 9 copy 300

While I’ve listed the release as being March 1st, I put up the book on Amazon a couple days early, in order to catch any issues.

So now it’s here and available for sale!  Please check it out. I’ll be posting on Monday about the first reviews and the blog tour set up by Reading Addiction. There’ll be a giveaway for a $30 Amazon Gift card and free copies of the book.

I’m so excited!!  If you read my first book, this one moves faster, and is more targeted to YA readers.

Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IO7IXSC  

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/journey-to-landaran-judy-goodwin/1117444241?ean=2940045419581

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/375610 

 

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Book Review: Primary Inversion

Quick update–so much to do! I’m uploading final copies of my book to be published on Saturday. Be on the lookout for an Amazon giftcard giveaway, copies, a blog tour and more!

Meanwhile I’m trying to get through my review list:

asaro

Book: Primary Inversion

Author: Catherine Asaro

Publisher: Amazon digital (self published backlist, yay!)

Genre: Science Fiction / space opera

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

It can be difficult finding good science fiction with actual science written by women. I heard about Catherine Asaro way back when I attended a writers’ convention over ten years ago. (The name might have been dropped by Connie Willis, who I was hanging out with–funny woman.) I purchased this book along with her second book, but then life kind of went haywire (I got a divorce and became a single mother). The books sat on my shelf, were boxed up, and then sat on my new shelf in my new house, for years.

Funny how the invention of the eReader has caused me to go back and start moving through my pile of books I always meant to read but never had the time. Since I can carry the Kindle in my purse, anywhere is a good place to read, and I can read multiple books at a time.

So I finally got to read this. And I really enjoyed it.

The book has a good mixture of space opera, science of bioengineering and space/time, and then also character development and romance. The opening scene was great with the image of these burly, over-muscled, armored and armed Jagernauts (and I’m sorry, but in my head I hear the German–“Yaegernawt”–because in German “Jager” means “hunter.” Otherwise it sounds too much like “Juggernaut” and I just didn’t like that).  It looked like a scene out of Halo to me.  I really liked the juxtaposition of outward strength and fighting ability in the main character combined with her inner vulnerability and damage as a rape victim. The book had several of these contrasting themes, which I think enriched it.

I also really liked the whole scenario of two warring cultures and a classic Romeo and Juliet setup. The book lost me in a few technical details during the starfight but picked me back up again when it dealt with the psychological aftermath of war. (It gets very techy, which even though I’ve read up on string theory and relativity and particle science was still a bit beyond me. So someone else will have to discuss the merits of the science. It looked good to me.) There are moments of humor as well as painful moments of human weakness and family dysfunction (in some cases REALLY dysfunctional).

I’ve already picked up the sample for Book 4–it seems that Books 2 and 3 are out of print and not yet in eBook form, so I’m hoping Asaro is working on getting the rights back on those to do it herself. I actually own Book 2 so I may be forced to actually read a physical book again for that.

I think my only complaint is that I wanted more by the end. This isn’t a comment on the plot–I think Asaro ended the book precisely where it needed to end. This is just the sign that she hooked me as a reader.

So for those who like a mixture of hard science together with a space opera feel as well as romance and “softer” psychology, I definitely recommend this book.

Book Review: Proper Gauge (Wool #2)

wool2

Book:  Proper Gauge (Wool #2)

Author: Hugh Howey

Publisher: Hugh Howey

Genre: Science Fiction

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I really liked the first installment of Howey’s Wool series. The story was a good standalone with enough of a riddle to make you want to read more. It had punch. It had deep questions.

I didn’t really find as much of these qualities in the second installment, Proper Gauge.While this was still a decent read, it didn’t hold nearly as much tension or emotion, and I found myself skimming parts of it, waiting for something to happen. The ending jolted me a bit, and I have to hand it to Howey for how to hook a reader, because yes, I purchase part three. But if things don’t get better, I’m bailing.

The basic plot was the search for a new sheriff in the Silo. They decide to descend to the near bottom of the silo where what’s left of humanity is living, over a hundred floors down. It’s quite a journey, and the two main characters learn a lot about both what’s happening in the various sections of their society as well as what’s happening with each other, a developing relationship. I find the world that Howey has created fascinating, and right now that’s probably the most compelling aspect to the series and what keeps me reading. The place is fraught with tension, both external and internal. I just didn’t like the slower pace of this particular segment.

So we’ll see what happens next. I’m a bit disappointed by the ending, frankly. Unlike the first installment, I didn’t see it as a necessary outcome of all the pieces in motion. Maybe Howey will convince me later. So yes, a lukewarm three stars for this one.

Book Review: Whiskey Sour

whiskey

Book: Whiskey Sour

Author: J.A. Konrath

Publisher: J.A. Konrath

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

This is one case where the writer has almost made more of a name for himself and his blog than for his actual books. I’ve been reading the musings of J.A. Konrath on indie and self-publishing for a while now. I don’t agree with everything he has to say about the subject, but I find him very entertaining and I think his discussions are both enlightening and informative.

So naturally I had to check out the first book in his very successful, indie published Jack Daniels series. Very cheap, at 99 cents.

And I found it, like his musings, very entertaining. Certain writers have big personalities, big styles, big voices. J.A. Konrath is one of them. (Another writer, one of my favorites, has this as well–Stephen King).

There’s a lot of humor and tongue in cheek in the story of Jacqueline Daniels, detective. (And yes, everybody congratulates her on having such a great name. And she drinks enough Jack to warrant it.) The murders are pretty grisly, and there are a few OMG MUST TURN PAGE NOW moments evocative of a Hollywood blockbuster film (you know, the part of the film where you hold a hand to your face and peek through your fingers.) All in all, it’s a great ride, which I found more than worth my time. I’ve already downloaded the sample to the next one with the expectation that I’ll probably purchase it once I read the sample. (I read samples for ALL books these days. No need to spend unless it really hooks me.)

Don’t look for a lot of deep thought or theme or fancy prose. You won’t find it here. This is meant to be a quick read for pure entertainment, nothing flashy or esoteric. It’s actually more of a suspense/thriller than mystery, as you’re introduced to the killer early on (but his real name isn’t discovered until much later). There are high stakes for the heroine not just to stop murders, but her safety and the safety of everyone she cares about as well.

So if you like classic thriller syspense with evil serial killers and snarky, funny heroines, I definitely recommend this book. You may not agree with everything Konrath writes on his blog, but he’s got the high thrills writing thing down.

Results of the two day sale and Goodreads giveaway

split book banner

And the numbers are in!

My two day 99 cent sale, I only advertised through one website, ereadernewstoday.com. I also made two Facebook posts, a few Tweets, and of course this blog.

So the results of this little mini-sale? 61 sales. Not bad, especially since the two weeks prior there had been zero sales, zip.

I did this promotion for two reasons: one, I wanted to check out the http://ereadernewstoday.com website and see how well they did just on their own. The only cost to me was 25% of the profits, which I thought was highly reasonable. Second, I wanted to boost my Amazon ranking in preparation for the release of my second novel. It looks better when you’re other full length novel isn’t languishing somewhere around 600,000.

That worked spectacularly well. From a dismal 750,000, it went as high as top 4366 Paid in the Kindle Store, broke the top 100 in Epic Fantasy, #44 in Sword and Sorcery, and #10 in juvenile literature Fantasy and Magic/Sword and Sorcery. (Obviously this last mini-genre is several layers deep and small.) This morning after the sale the book still stands at a respectable 11,000 overall. With this higher rating, hopefully I’ll also garner some sales at regular price.

So I highly recommend Ereadernewstoday for those who’d like a little boost and don’t care to do Kindle Select or a freebie promotion. This book is not in Kindle Select. One of the sales came from Barnes and Noble.

And then on the Goodreads Giveaway for Journey To Landaran–I don’t consider giveaways a good way to get reviews. I gave away three copies of Heart of the Witch shortly after it came out. I received on review–a glowing 5 star one, but only on Goodreads. Then the person left Goodreads, deleting their profile and the review. Le sigh. So I don’t really expect much in the way of reviews.

But what floored me on this time around was the number of people who added the book to their “To Read” list, and the number of entries to the giveaway. It ended up with 1252 entries. When it passed 1000 yesterday, it just looked so cool on page 4 of the “most popular” giveaways, alongside Big 6 published novels. And whereas the cover reveal encouraged about 200 people to add the book to their Goodreads “To Read” pile, the giveaway has now increased that by another 500.

Why is that important? Because the more active a book’s page is on Goodreads, the more they will include the book in your Explore, Genre recommendations. When I go into “Explore”, “Genre” and then “Fantasy” it shows me the “movers and shakers”–books with a lot of additions and reviews. There’s a book there that actually has nearly the same levels of ratings and “To Read” additions as mine–Remember, by Shannon Dermott, who appears to either be another indie writer or small press. Only difference is her book isn’t coming out until Dec. 2014 and it already has this much attention. But if you can get a book onto that page? Free marketing!

But wait, there’s more! This page is only updated monthly, it appears, but in the next update, it looks like my book will be in the top 150 at least: https://www.goodreads.com/book/popular_by_date/2014/March/. This is the under “Explore”, “Most popular”, “March, 2014”. It lists the most popular books by number of additions to the “To Read” list.

So this is why I think Goodreads Giveaways are beneficial, even if you don’t get any reviews. It gets your book name out there. For those who know marking, they know that the average buyer needs to see something several times before they actually go to check it out and buy it.

Author Intervew: Anthony St. Clair

First, last day to grab Heart of the Witch for $0.99!  Amazon link here:  http://www.amazon.com/Heart-Witch-Judy-Goodwin-ebook/dp/B00AR5HMZO/

And now I give you the last author interview I’ll be doing for a while, as I’ve become swamped by activities leading up to the release of Journey to Landaran. Today we have Anthony St. Clair, who has travelled far and decided to put that love of travel and science fiction into his writing. You can find out more about Anthony at Goodreads here:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7104178.Anthony_St_Clair

anthony

1.  What first made you decide to write?

At the most basic level, I knew in middle school that I would build my life and career around words. Though I’ve worked in various industries as a writer, copywriter, and web editor, what has really made me decide to write is to know my purpose.

My purpose is simple: I want everyone to enjoy full lives, to live the world in whatever way that means for them. So many people are not happy with where they are and what they’re doing. If my stories help people find within themselves the courage, love, and focus to do what they yearn to do, then every word I’ve written is worthwhile.

2.  You mention that the world in your books is similar to Terry Pratchett’s Discworld. What about that world interested you and what similarities and differences does your world have?

My wife can always tell when I’m reading a Discworld book, because I pretty much laugh myself hoarse the entire time I’m traveling in that story.

So much of what I love about Pratchett’s work is how he’s made his world approachable and accessible to anyone. A sequential series, such as Harry Potter, is wonderful and engaging in part because you know there’s an ultimate end, an ultimate payoff or confrontation. But in series such as Discworld—and I would also nod to Doctor Who—the world is infinite and boundless. Each Discworld story is connected yet independent; you can come in via any book, at any time, and be fully engaged. The series has something for anyone, and that’s my hope for the Rucksack Universe series.

While the Rucksack Universe has fantastical elements, it is also very much a similar version of our world, changed by a catastrophic event known as The Blast. There are no vampires, werewolves, or magical systems, though there are gods, powerful forces, not-exactly-human figures, and, of course, destiny-slinging bartenders. The fantastical is interwoven with the ordinary, yet the extranormal elements also happen on an unseen level, unknown and unobserved by most people.

3. Tell me about your latest book.

In 2000 I lived in Ireland for a few months. I stayed mostly in western Ireland, and got to know places such as Galway, the Aran Islands and, one of my favorites, the town of Clifden in the region of Connemara.

My latest novella, HOME SWEET ROAD (http://anthonystclair.com/homesweetroad), began as a short story, but I was never fully happy with it. In 2013 I decided to tear it up and start over. That showed me this story was about an ordinary woman who hides extraordinary secrets from two men who are not what they seem—but neither is she. Set in Clifden, the story introduces new recurring characters, but at its heart it shows us a pivotal moment in the life of Aisling, a woman who runs a hostel and plays a mean fiddle, but really is a powerful protector of Ireland and of the world.

Aisling’s grandmother was the most famous Awen of Ireland, but Aisling never knew that until she returned home from her travels, said her good-byes over the old protector’s grave, and learned from Jake Connemara that she was now Awen. No one has yet tried to steal the three relics under her protection, which combined are said to give the possessor the power to control the world. But when two strange backpackers arrive in Clifden, Aisling’s life and the fate of world rest on one moment.

We get glimpses into other aspects of the Rucksack Universe, such as the Jakes and Jades, the bartenders who help keep destiny and decision on the right course. We also learn a little more about The Blast, the catastrophe that destroyed the city of Galway and marks the point at which the world we live in and the Rucksack Universe diverged.

At its heart, HOME SWEET ROAD is about trust: how you learn to trust yourself, putting your trust in the right people, and what happens when you trust—and distrust—the wrong people.

HOME SWEET ROAD is available in e-book and paperback, more at http://anthonystclair.com/homesweetroad

4.  What was the most valuable lesson you learned in writing?

Know thy process.

Working on my fiction was nigh impossible until I sat down and worked through what I needed to do to write a story. I don’t mean the discipline or the time or the mechanics of writing; I mean the “why” of the story, the reason that I needed to write the tale instead of, say, repairing my back fence or organizing the garage.

For me, my process is to write like I travel. I need to have some idea of where I want to go, but then give myself total freedom within that journey to change.

I can’t just sit down and go from zero on a story. I need to know why the story needs to exist. I ask myself this question: “If I was telling my best friend why she should read this book, what would I say?” Once I can answer that question as both one word and one sentence, I plot out the story, including the action and emotion, scene by scene, all the way through.

Figuring out my process was probably harder than actually writing a book. Now that I know my process, I can crank through my planning and manuscript writing at a strong pace.

5.  Who is your favorite writer, and why?

Terry Pratchett.

As Discworld has evolved, Pratchett has shown again and again not only the depth and breadth of his storytelling range, but also the strength of his writing. If writing fantastical stories has a downside, it’s often that the literary aspects get overlooked. Pratchett’s writing is tight, the wit is cutting, and his insights always make me think twice.

There are some Discworld books, such as Thud!, that I probably read once a year. Even though I know the ending, the journey is so engaging I want to take that trip again and again.

6.  What are you working on next?

I’m now turning my full attention to finishing preparations on FOREVER THE ROAD, the first novel-length work in the Rucksack Universe series.

In one form or another, I’ve been working on this story since 2003. One day on my way to the office, I had an idea that made me pull over and write it down (I couldn’t care less that it made me late to work). After years of hard work and refinement, FOREVER THE ROAD is in revision, and I am so excited to share this story with readers. It sets the tone for many of the tales to come.

FOREVER THE ROAD is a tale of travel, destiny and beer. Three travelers in India battle their hearts and their destinies as an awakened evil prepares to destroy all life.

Set in the fictional city of Agamuskara—which means “smiling fire” in Hindi—the book tells us more of the story of Jay the traveler, Faddah Rucksack (the world’s only Himalayan-Irish sage), and the mysterious more-than-a-bartender Jade Agamuskara Bluegold.

FOREVER THE ROAD takes our world to a pivotal moment of destruction or renewal. Yet at its heart, the story is about connection: our longing to connect with others, and what happens when we don’t.

More info at http://anthonystclair.com/forevertheroad

7.  You say you write “travel fantasy”. What are qualities of these sub-genre?

Traveling the world has defined my life in more ways than I can count, and the world of the indie traveler is the world of the Rucksack Universe.

Travel fantasy revolves around indie travel—not the book-a-cruise kind, but the kind where you backpack Asia for a year, live in another country, ride the same buses the locals do, or have been so many places you have to get more pages added to your passport. There’s often a large backpack involved, and dorm-style rooms in hostels where you can meet people from all over the world. There’s street food, friends you haven’t met yet, and a world where you treasure everything you experience, if only because you know there is so much more in the world than you can ever, ever know.

This sub-genre is all about people who don’t have roots, gave up their roots, or had to go somewhere else to put down roots. These folks aren’t tethered to where they came from but seek fuller lives elsewhere. They’re vagabonds, globetrotters. The world is home, and home is the road.

8.  What advice do you have for other writers?

There is no writer’s block.

One of the most damaging things writers can do is to get caught up in the idea of how artsy our craft is. Art is a component, but writer’s block is a pretentious fiction that derails many writers who could otherwise write amazing books.

As Steve Jobs once said, “Real artists ship.” We can struggle, we can face difficulties, but ultimately, if you’re a real artist, you will get the project done and put it out there for the world.

My dad is a utility contractor, and my father-in-law is an electrician. I once told them that I actually see my job as an author as more similar to their jobs than that of an “artiste.” There is no “contractor’s block” or “electrician’s block.” If they’re having an off day, they shrug, push on, and get it done.

The notion of writer’s block is death to creativity and craft. When you treat writing as a job, something you do every day, no matter what, you are far more likely to get your book done and build the writing life you want.

Last minute changes

First, $0.99 cent sale today on Heart of the Witch! http://ereadernewstoday.com/bargain-and-free-books-for-2-12-14/6740873/

Yikes, things always go crazy before a release. I was looking at the cover of my book Journey To Landaran over on Goodreads in the list of books having giveaways (now at an impressive 670 entries), and next to the other covers, it just looks so . . . colorless. Yikes. Up close it’s gorgeous, but I realized last night that it just isn’t vivid enough because of the sepia tones.

So I decided to muck around with it this morning in Photoshop, playing with saturation and color levels. Here’s the old version next to the new version.

Old: Landaran ebook final 300     New: Landaran ebook 8 300

The neat thing was that when I made the same changes to the print cover, it did some interesting color effects to the back cover:

Landaran Print cover V3 CMYK 800

Lol, and if my cover artist who did the image sees this, she’ll probably roll her eyes, because I’m pretty sure she submitted a color scheme pretty similar to this, and I told her to go sepia. Eh well. Live and learn, I guess!

I’d love to hear some reactions. Is the new color scheme better? I think it “pops” a lot more now, and stands up better to the traditionally published.