July 22, 2014

Happy Book Birthday to Shauna Granger and Time of Ruin!

Okay, everyone...what's my favorite part of writing? In unison now....It's the people! I love the other writers I've met along the way, many of whom I'm now lucky enough to call friends. 

Shauna Granger is among the best. She's super-spunky, sweet, supportive, and she's a great writer, too. She's also one of my critique partners (CPs in the biz) which mean we'll read early drafts of each other's work to provide feedback.

I've had the pleasure of being involved with her new series, Ash & Ruin, since the beginning. These are post-apocalyptic YA books that follow a young girl as she tries to navigate a world plagued by a smallpox-like disease...and a bunch of chilling monsters. Think dementors from Harry Potter meeting the Angel of Death from Raiders of the Lost Ark, and you'll pretty much have the Pestas of Ash & Ruin down.

These books are fun. They're creepy. They're engrossing. I can't think of the West Coast anymore without remembering some of her thoroughly heartbreaking descriptions of LA falling, and Washington State being completely obliterated. 

Trust me. If you're into YA post-apocalyptic books, you've gotta check this series out.

Today marks the release date for Time of Ruin, the second book in the planned trilogy, and to celebrate along with Shauna, here's an excerpt from the novel! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Sitting on the bumper again, my jagged nails scratch at the plastic as I fight the urge to tell Dylan to hurry. Blue looks up at me and whines. I shake my head at him and pet him with the toe of my boot. His eyes are dark blue in the evening light. Blue drops his head and looks at Dylan, his ears perked up into two triangles. I follow his gaze. Dylan’s still standing, holding his instruments of destruction, and staring at the raging fire.

Blue pushes to his feet and barks one sharp, loud yelp. My hand drifts over to the rifle by my leg as I let my eyes slide from Dylan’s back to search for the source of Blue’s panic.

“Dylan.” I mean to call to him, but my voice comes out in a strangled whisper.

I swallow as I stand and pull the rifle with me. Across the street, the shadows between the houses are taking shape. They’re no longer the snapping, twisting formless shadows from the fire, but something more, something substantial. Dylan lifts the can of fluid and squirts more onto the fire, making it spike and lick the air.

“Dylan,” I try again, my voice a little louder. The rifle is in my hands now. The stock is pressed into my shoulder as I aim at the shadows peeling away from the deeper black.

Still Dylan doesn’t hear me, or is ignoring me.

Blue barks repeatedly, backing up until he hits the car. I find my voice and scream his name loud enough that it hurts my throat. Finally he looks at me, his face cast in shadows with the light behind him. I can’t make out his features, but I can make out the horde of Pestas behind him.

“Run!” I aim the gun as I walk backward around the car.

Instead of listening to me, he looks back to see what has terrified me so. They shuffle forward, lines of them spilling out into the cul-de-sac. Dylan takes two steps backward, nearly tripping over his feet and making me scream again. I rip the rear door open for Blue to get in the car. Slamming the door behind Blue, I lift the rifle and fire a shot, aiming well away from Dylan. The Pestas cringe in unison, as though they are all puppets controlled by the same set of strings.

“Run, dammit!” I scream.


Fab, right?

If you'd like more info, or want to buy the books, go on and use these links below!

July 16, 2014

JO, a new horror novel, coming to you on September 1st!

Hiya! Isn't it funny that I write horror and sci-fi, even though I'm usually sweet-as-pie and spend more time talking about my family than I do about blood and guts and gore? 

Well, regardless of all that, I'm at it again, and I've chosen the dates to bring my new novel, JO, into the world, and to online bookstores near you! 

So! September 1st!!! That's the date! It's also Labor Day, so everyone will be out of work/school and you can wake up and START READING! 

I'll do a cover reveal here on the blog and elsewhere throughout the internet on August 1st, and let me tell you: I can't wait for you to see it! It's GORGEOUS, in a bloody/gutsy/gory kind of way. 

So those are the dates! Mark your calendars! And in case you've forgotten what JO's all about...here's the first page.

Part 1: Preservation

I’m dead.
Sort of.
I thought you should know that right away, because this story won’t end well for me. I don’t have much longer. The battery that’s powering my brain is shutting down.
I’m sitting in my dorm room in the middle of the night. My mother’s asleep on the bed, and she’s snoring. It’s not a loud snore, not by any means, but it’s soft and it’s nasal and it’s there. I hear it. It transports me back in time, back to the days before things went sour and I had all the time in the world. Back then, sometimes, when I was very small, my mother and I had sleepovers in my bedroom, pretending we were girlfriends. We’d paint our nails and eat ice cream and giggle for hours.
Then my mother would fall asleep on the bottom bunk, and she’d snore like she’s snoring right now. So soft, so gentle. I’d lay in the top bunk and listen to her for hours. I loved feeling so close, so intimate, like I was the only one in the world who got to be with her like that. I felt so safe, those nights in my room so far away from here.
Right now, I wish I felt safe. I wish I could fall asleep to the sound of my mother’s snores, like when I was a little girl. I’m so tired. But I won’t let myself sleep yet. Because if I do, I won’t wake up, and I haven’t told you my story. I want you to hear it. I need you to hear it. Are you ready?
First, and most important, I’m not almost-dead by choice. I didn’t choose to be this way. I didn’t choose to become a monster.

That choice was made for me.

July 14, 2014

Guest Post: Armand Rosamilia

Good morning, all!! Happy Monday (again)!

Today I'm excited to have my new friend, Armand Rosamilia, stop by the blog with some information on why book reviews matter. I have to say, this post was eye-opening to me (and holy COW on your book sales, Armand!!! Congrats, man!), and I think it will be for you. We should ALL be taking the time (especially us writers) to review the books we love. It really helps the authors out!

So, thanks for coming by, Armand, with interesting data disguised as a funny guest post! And everyone else, check out his Dying Days series, and by God, review books!!!

Why You Need To Review My Dying Days Series

Armand Rosamilia

Because I said so, that's why! Do you really need another reason? You do?

I did a little adding (sure, I used a calculator, but it still counts)…

Between February and May 2014 (4 months of data) I sold a lot of books. A really nice run of sales for me, and I am going to brag. Too bad. I remember the report that came out last year saying most indie authors wouldn't make more than $500 for the year. I'm lucky enough to be able to stomp on that number (relatively speaking… I don't have a lot of overhead. No credit cards, no car payment, low insurance, I don’t drink or smoke or do drugs… I do spend money on M&M's, though). 

I'm going to tell you about just three releases in my Dying Days series for the four month period, because they pretty much paid all my bills and then some: Darlene Bobich: Zombie Killer, Dying Days and Dying Days: Siege 1 And 2 Set. All three releases were 99 cents for the duration of the four months. Just those three releases (and only counting Amazon, which is the bulk of the sales) garnered 4,158 sales in the four month period. I sold a crapload of other books, too… 

But leading up to last week, out of the 4,158 sales of these three books I've received fourteen reviews. Good and bad, it doesn't matter. Roughly 1 out of 297 sales resulted in a review. If I wasn't so lazy right now I'd give you the miniscule percentage this is. 

And it isn't just me. I see so many authors who have great books out and readers praising them, but they don't give literally five minutes of their time to post a review. 

I can't complain about money coming in. I also write Hollywood adaptations and books to be made into movies, and it is quite lucrative. The sales aren't my issue. But I want to reach more readers, and the biggest way to do it is word of mouth… and Amazon reviews. 

A book's rank is set not only by steady sales but by the reviews of the book as well. If I sell x number of books and another author does the same, but he has 10 reviews and I have 0, his ranking will be higher. The Amazon algorithm is complicated and crazy and ever-changing, but one thing hasn't changed: reviews help. Reviews are the bread and butter of an author's career. They can make or break someone, and I'm not being dramatic (OK, a little dramatic). 

I'm in this for the long haul. I don’t want to have to go back out into the real world and get another soul-crushing retail management job. I fought my entire life to get to the point where I could live the dream of being a full-time author. I've arrived, I love it on this side, and I don't ever want to go back…

Many sites that run advertising for books have a minimum of ten reviews and a 4.0 or better rating average before they will run your book. Most of my books fall well short of letting me run any advertising, even though most have been out long enough. 

So help me out, please and thank you. If you were one of the 4,158 readers who bought one of these three books or if you purchased any of my books, I thank you. I salute you. You are letting me live out this fantasy life. 

But I have one favor to ask… please take five minutes of your time and leave a review. It doesn't have to be three pages long. It just has to hit the key points: I loved/hated this book because… why would other readers read this or not… and what were the high- and low-points (without spoilers). Something along those lines. 

Amazon loves to send me an e-mail every time I finish a book on my Kindle, and I've begun reviewing them right away so it's fresh in my mind. I've also begun going back through and reviewing them, because it's the right thing to do and takes five minutes of my time. As a reader I want to help the authors I like to succeed. I'm greedy that way, because I want them to do well and write more books. 

I'm going to thank you in advance for your time… and your review. 

For more info on Armand Rosamilia and his Dying Days series, visit his web site or his author page on Amazon.

July 4, 2014

Happy birthday, America!

Happy Fourth of July, everyone!