Jilly: Booksweeps!

Do you know about Booksweeps?

I discovered them last year, when Jeanne included one of her Touched By A Demon books in a paranormal romance sweep. Since then I’ve heard good things about them, so when I saw they were running an Epic Sword & Sorcery Fantasy sweep I knew it was my turn. Here’s the graphic for The Seeds of Power:

A Booksweep is a contest that aims to connect avid readers of a particular subgenre with authors who’d like to reach a wider readership. First prize is usually something like an e-reader plus a free copy of every book in the sweep. Second prize is a free copy of every book.

Authors pay to be included. Readers don’t pay to play. They sign up for the sweep by joining the mailing list of the authors they like the look of out of the selection offered. They don’t have to join every list, but each one they join gives them a better chance of winning. Of course they could immediately unsubscribe from every list they choose, but past experience suggests that many of them don’t—as long as they enjoy the newsletter.

The giveaway I joined is called Epic, Sword & Sorcery Fantasy. That’s a nice, broad definition and I think the seventeen books in the bundle offer something for everyone. Some have battles on the cover—weapons and action, red-eyed dragons, mythical creatures and whatnot. Others highlight a central character, often female. Those look like my catnip.

I’ve been reading the blurbs and the Look Inside samples, and I’m especially tempted by Continue reading

Jeanne: Interview with Stacy McKitrick

Biting The Curse, FINAL front coverToday we’re talking with Stacy McKitrick, an author friend of mine who writes paranormal romance. I just finished reading her newest book, Biting the Curse and this is what I said in my review:

There are four things you can always count on finding inside the covers of her books:
1) Vampires or ghosts. In this case, it’s vampires.
2) A mystery–Why do heroine Janie’s significant others always seem to meet with unfortunate (and lethal) accidents?
3) A great romance between likable characters who earn their eventual happiness.
4) At least one or two laugh-out-loud funny moments. 

The thing I love best about the humor is that it’s not a clumsy add-on, but built deep into the way the characters behave–not just to make the joke, but because that’s who they are.

I actually stopped reading and texted her after I read one particularly hilarious scene. I’m eagerly awaiting her next book, which features Perry, who is probably her funniest character, at least among her vampires.

Let’s find out more! Continue reading

Jilly: Free Books for Honest Reviewers

If you’re a regular visitor to 8LW, chances are you’re an avid reader. Would you like to get your hands on the latest releases, for free, before they hit the market? If you’re willing to write an honest review of the book on Amazon, Goodreads or a similar platform, chances are you could do just that.

In today’s ultra-connected world, most savvy bibliophiles use reviews to help them decide whether to click the button and buy the book. Which means that most savvy authors will do everything they can to make sure their book has a good selection of honest reviews. Starred ratings are useful, but a paragraph or two describing what worked—or didn’t—for the reviewer is invaluable. It’s as important to warn off the wrong reader as it is to attract the right one, because word of mouth works both ways and the last thing an author wants is a disappointed reader.

So how do authors find these treasured reviewers? Sometimes through carefully cultivated “street teams”, but often by using a reputable ARC (Advance Review Copy) organization such as NetGalley, Hidden Gems or Booksprout.

It’s not permitted for an author to buy reviews, nor is it allowed to give a reader a free book in return for a review, honest or not. However, publishers large and small are allowed to pay an ARC organization who will match advance copies of their books with eager readers. The readers are not paid and are not required to review the books they receive—but as you may imagine, readers who reliably post insightful reviews are in great demand, while those who take the freebies and post anodyne one-liners, or nothing, aren’t likely to stay on the list for long.

Told you that to tell you this: there’s a huge demand for good reader/reviewers. Continue reading

Jeanne: Interview with Kimberly Beckett

LionelsLeapofFaith_505x825Kimberly is a friend of mine from Central Ohio Fiction Writers, my local RWA chapter. Her author story is one many of us would envy. She wrote her first book back in 2017, pitched it to Deb Gilbert from Soulmate when Deb spoke at a chapter event in early 2018, and received a request for a full manuscript, which was accepted.

Her series, Horses Heal Hearts, are set in various aspects of the horse world. The first, Dressage Dreaming, features a member of the British Olympic dressage team who gets a second chance when a black stallion named Tempest enters his life. The second features a former British special forces officer who works to spoil an attempt to fix the Triple Crown Race. I’ll let her tell you about the third one herself.

Question 1:  I love the cover of your newest book! Tell us a little bit about it.

My newest book is the third book in my Horses Heal Hearts series, Lionel’s Leap of Faith.  Lionel Hayes was first introduced to readers in Dressage Dreaming.  Lionel’s Leap of Faith is a novella and an M/M second chance at love story with one open door love scene and   takes place in the world of international show jumping. Continue reading

Jeanne: Interview with Janet Irvin

healyjerry_bobbleheadEight Ladies Writing is mostly about romance, but sometimes it’s nice to add a touch of mystery, so today we’ll be talking with Janet Irvin, a mystery writer I met through my local writing community. Back in 2015, her debut novel, The Dark End of the Rainbow (great title!) won the inaugural Jeremiah Healy award, aka the Jerry, for best mystery manuscript. The prize, presented at the Mystery Writers Key West Fest, included a contract with Absolutely Amazing eBooks, free entry to Key West Fest, including airfare and hotel (!), and a bobble-head Jerry trophy. How stinkin’ cute is that? Way more fun than a Golden Heart necklace.

Her newest book, The Strange Disappearance of Rose Stone, was released in September, 2019.

Question 1: Tell us a little bit about your newest book.

Rose Stone coverThe Strange Disappearance of Rose Stone began as a series of connected short stories about siblings Peter and Rose Stone. Inspired by Kahlil Gibran’s poem “On Children,” the stories followed Peter and Rose through their troubled childhood. Once completed, I gave them to an agent, who kept them for a year, said no one was interested, and returned them. I turned to other projects, but the characters refused to go away. So, I rethought the concept, weaving the original stories in with what my instinct determined was their current situation. The main idea of the book evolved into this: Ten days after his sister disappears, Peter receives a note from Rose and a package containing their most treasured childhood possession. Now he must revisit the landscape of that traumatic childhood in search of clues that will help him solve the mystery of her vanishing. At the same time, he and his wife Kelly are struggling with infertility issues, and his detective partner has woman troubles of his own. Yet they work together to anchor Peter as he confronts the ghosts of his past and the ones still to be revealed.

Question 2:  Your first book, The Dark End of the Rainbow, won the 2015 Jeremiah Healy Mystery Award. Tell us about that experience.

The Dark End of the Rainbow coverIn the spring of 2015, I received an unsolicited announcement in my inbox about a contest based on the first three pages of a manuscript. I sent off the first three pages of both The Dark End and The Rules of the Game, my second novel, and promptly forgot I had done so. Meanwhile, I continued to polish The Dark End and took it to the Antioch Writers Workshop, where I pitched it to an agent. She asked for the full manuscript. A week later I received a new email saying I was a finalist in the competition named after Mr. Healy, who had recently passed away. At the same time, I was scheduled to undergo a brain surgery to correct my hemifacial spasms. The conference awarding the prize wanted all finalists to be there. I called to tell them my family wouldn’t let me fly a mere four days after surgery. We arranged for a Skype connection so I could watch the presentation. I planned to sit in my robe and slippers when my husband said, “You might have won. You better get dressed.” I did, and when they made the announcement, I was absolutely astonished, amazed, and humbled. Later, the contest sponsors told me both my submissions had made it to the top ten. The agent replied to my follow-up emails, but never made an offer.

Question 3: You have a developmentally disabled son. As you may know, my brother is also developmentally disabled. Growing up with a sibling who was intellectually challenged had a profound impact on my life. My mother used to say that whatever my other siblings and I know about empathy we learned from Lynnie and I think she may be right. What kinds of impacts did your son’s challenges have on your family?

Our son Scott’s disability was profound. He never advanced beyond the three-month Rules cover 1400ppilevel. After four years of in-home care, the toll on our family was severe. Having a handicapped child constrains your activities. Since I refused to consent to a feeding tube, his meals took longer and longer to complete. As he grew, it became more difficult to move him. His therapy, although never successful, involved daily visits to a center and the recruiting of many volunteers. Our older daughter started school. Then I became pregnant again. The social worker who counseled us suggested we place Scottie in a facility and, with great reluctance and many tears, we did so. Because of our son, my daughters developed a deep and compassionate understanding of what it means to be blessed. None of us takes for granted the gifts we enjoy: the ability to move on our own, to speak, to swallow, to interact with others. Scott passed away at the age of 19 from a difficult surgery. The sadness and the longing for him never goes away, but we have gone on to honor him as best we can by doing good things.  I agree with you, Jeanne, that these angels teach us many lessons, empathy being one of the most important of all.

 

Janet Irvin

 

J.E. Irvin is a career educator and an award-winning writer. Her stories have appeared in a variety of print and on-line publications, including Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, The Zodiac Review and SPARK a creative anthology. She lives on the edge of a nature park, where sightings of deer and serenades by coyotes enrich her creative life. She and her husband are avid canoeists, spending as much time as money permits paddling the waters of the Northwoods. A favorite quote by Kahlil Gibran serves to focus the direction of her life and her work: “We live to discover beauty; all else is a form of waiting.”

You can read her very nice blog at www.janetirvin.com (I’m her guest feature for November!) and you can find her books on Amazon.

 

Jeanne: Interview with Barbra Campbell

LMB - Moonflower CoverBarbra Campbell is a Persister–one of the amazing women who were finalists for the 2018 RWA® Golden Heart® award for unpublished romance. Since then, Barbra has gone on to publish 20 steamy romance novellas. Today, we’re going to talk to her about her most recent effort.

Question 1: Tell us about your book.

Leave Me Breathless: Moonflower Collection contains 8 steamy romances by 8 different authors for the amazing price of 99 cents for a limited time! The stories each contain an element of ‘dreaming of love’ and everyone knows that can take many forms. But hey, it’s a romance, so you don’t have to worry about the ending…only the journey.

My story, Becoming Her World, follows a couple who had a wild night of sex, and some great follow up, but Connor lives out of town and is elusive about his personal life. When he’s gone, Samantha finds out she’s pregnant but miscarries before she tells him. Continue reading

Jeanne: Anatomy of a Killer Debut—An Interview with Suzanne Tierney

Scandal6_RGB301Today I’m talking with Suzanne Tierney, who released her debut novel, The Art of the Scandal, on August 28th to great Day 1 sales–she ended the day in first place in Jewish Literature, in 16th in Classic Romance Fiction and 28th in British Historical Literature! And broke the top 5000 in Kindle Paid Sales.

That’s partly because it’s a great story. The Art of the Scandal provides a fascinating glimpse into the efforts required to seat the first Jewish Member of Parliament,. It also include intriguing tidbits on how counterfeited paintings are discovered and the romance between Simon Cohen and Lady Lydia, the quintessential English rose, is both challenging and ultimately satisfying.

But a lot of great books get released on Amazon every year and very few make it to number one in their category. Since a lot of 8LW readers are also writers who do or plan to publish, I thought it might be useful to find out more about the approach Suzanne took to achieve her great debut.

Question 1: I know you originally had a contract with a small press. What made you decide to go indie instead? Continue reading