ICE free until Wednesday


My debut novella ICE will be free until Wednesday, January 18. Most reviewers agree that it is worth a read.

Download our free copy today to find out:

  1. What is The Minter and why do the people of Minterville hold it so dear?
  2. Which trusted and beloved community member is hiding a dark and deadly secret?
  3. Where are the women who are disappearing from different parts of town being taken?
  4. What will happen if the town doesn’t band together and act in time?
  5. How, in the aftermath of these dreadful events, will another tragedy that had befallen Minterville be resolved?

Here is a sample excerpt:

We passed the Old Recreation Center, which fell into disuse when the New Recreational Center opened. i remember swimming in the Old Rec’s Center large, pristine swimming pool as a kid. After five years of abandonment, the Old Rec Center had the creepy feel that many rundown buildings have. 

With a touch of alarm, I noticed that the door the to Old Rec Center was open. Who was going in there? Certainly no one was using it to work out….

At that moment, I remembered Mom’s comment about Natalia de los Santos, and felt a renewed and intensified sense of unease. I considered saying something to Uncle Andy, but given his mood that morning, I decided to wait until later.

To this day, I wonder how many lives could have been saved if i had said something to Uncle Andy at that moment. 

Please consider downloading your free copy of ICE today. I truly believe you will enjoy it.

Much love and happy Monday,



ICE is free July 7-11


I am humbled and amazed by how well my first novella has been received. With 70+ reviews between Amazon and Goodreads, it has been a great joy to know that most readers have enjoyed ICE. Is it perfect? No, but the vast majority of readers have said that they enjoyed the small-town feel, the suspense, and the sense of community.

ICE tells the story of one fateful November morning when the the fictional town of Minterville, Georgia, is brutalized by vicious thugs. Twenty women are kidnapped and set in a death trap that can quite literally be described as cold. Time is ticking away as the rest of the town scrambles to come up with a viable rescue plan.

Here are what some reviewers have said about ICE:

“This book is a crazy (in a good way) mixture of supernatural, thriller, and mystery.” Emily Woodmansee, who gave it 4 stars.

“The twist this story takes left me caring more about ICE and it’s characters than any book I read recently.” Barbara Chioffi, who gave it 5 stars.

“This was an enjoyable read and the story was good…This being a great beginning to a writing career, there are some things that I personally feel could have made this story far better.” Tom Fallwell, who rated it 3.5 stars.

“A fast paced entertainment that sets the scene frot an uncertain future.” Mmcqu2005, who rated it 5 stars.

“Very interesting storyline…unique writing style.” Amanshay, who rated it 4 stars.

“The plot was excellent, the descriptive a done in a way that made the author’s research excellent.” Amazon Pygmy Reviews, who rated it 5 stars.

“This had an excellent plot that kept m reading to the end but it could have been so much more…[the author] is talented and I would read more…just need more development.” Loki, who rated it three stars.

ICE is also the precursor to my upcoming C.I.N. Dystopian trilogy. If you are interested, check it out free until the 11th. Thank you for your support of indie authors.

Money for Twenty (a Parody)

It has always been a dream of mine to be the female Weird Al Yankovich. Parody-writing is a lot of fun. Here is a parody of the song “Money for Nothing” by Dire Straits that summarizes my novel Ice. Enjoy!

Money for Twenty

(I want my, I want my lost money…I want my, I want my lost money…I want my, I want my lost money…I want my, I want my lost money)

Now look at them weirdos

What the hell’re they doing?

They act like they got some kind of ESP

But it ain’t working, that’s the way we’ll do it,

Money for twenty, or we’ll let them freeze.

Now that old building, that is where we’ll do it

Let me tell ya, that cop is dumb

Maybe then we’ll take his daughter with the others

We need to get a hold of the rich one.


We got to hurry up and get this plan moving

Cuz we got spaces for twenty

We got to get back Manuela’s millions

We got to get back to Miami…

Old Man Watson is the mayor of this hellhole

Yeah, buddy, he’s been hiding here

Old Man Watson thought he was gonna outsmart us

Old Watson’s daughter, she’s a billionaire.


Get ’em in there! Now!


Look at that, look there…

She should’ve known to stop all that yellin’

She should’ve known to shut her mouth

Now look at that blood spot that happened when we crushed her skull in, yeah

Against the pool side

Now what’s in here? What’s that? Why are my eyes stinging?

There’s something in the air and now it’s hard to breathe

Ah, this ain’t working. I’m done with this shit, screw it.

Money for twenty, or we let them freeze.


Listen here, now. This ain’t working. This ain’t how to do it. They took too long and we let them freeze.

This ain’t working. This ain’t how to do it.

Money for twenty or we let them freeze

(Money for twenty, we let them freeze….)

(I want my, I want my, I want my lost money…)

This ain’t working!

Author Spotlight-Phillip T. Stephens.

While studying Latin-American and Spanish literature, I became interested in the picaresque genre. Reading works such as Lazarillo de Tormes and Perriquillo Sarniento gave me a taste for the pícaro, a usually wisecracking antihero who recounts his misadventures. While reviewing indie works, I had the pleasure of coming across two authors who have successfully created a modern-day American pícaro. One is Phillip T. Stephens in his novel Cigrets, Guns, and Beer.

Using dry wit and sardonic humor throughout, the novel recounts the story of Dodd Dodd Dodd (no joke-that’s his full legal name), a recent parolee who, having earned his law degree in prison, is headed to Santa Fe for a prospective job. Unfortunately, he finds himself broke down in, of all places, the same town where his ex-cellmate’s brother lives. Sweet Water Falls, Texas is no one-horse town; that would be implying there was a horse and thus, SOMETHING to do besides, as one character bluntly put it, “mattress surf.”  You can literally visualize the tumbleweeds rolling down the road amidst the tiny dust swirls. While waiting for his car to get fixed, Dodd pops into a local store and interrupts an attempted armed robbery by a punk kid. Giving in to a moment of compassion, Dodd takes the kid (who he knows would be fresh meat in the penitentiary) under his wing and tries to help him turn his life around. This is the first of many things that put him at odds with Mal Rafferty and Joe Bob and Ralph Meeker, who hold the titles of mayor, sheriff, justice of the peace, and just about every other official title. Thus begins the adventures of Dodd, whom Sweet Water Fall’s grand oligarchy has reason to believe was involved in a botched robbery many years before (and evidently, some scandal involving a flying saucer) and uses several (sometimes laughable) stall tactics to keep him in town long enough to get to the bottom of the issue.

Rafferty and the Meekers are almost cartoonish in their buffoonery. If you imagine Texas hillbilly versions of the Three Stooges with greedy streaks and incompetent criminal minds, you have these three jokers. They can’t cooperate or get a plan together, even when their life literally depends on it. It’s so easy to confuse them and pit them against each other. Dodd quickly figures this out and uses it to his advantage every chance he gets, and in no time at all, a comedy of errors ensues.

I found Dodd to be an extremely likeable character. He’s calm, cool, and collected, and seems determined to remain on the straight and narrow. Depending on your viewpoint, Cigrets is either misogynist or pro-feminist. In the two weeks we get with Dodd, almost every woman in town comes onto him, and he never turns down the chance for a piece of action. The sex scenes, while highly erotic, are not pornographic.

I would classify Cigrets as a “comedy thriller” (proof that contrasting genres can successfully be blended). Overall, I highly recommend it.

To read:

Author Spotlight-Jeff Mariotte

“Empty Rooms by Jeff Mariotte gripped me from the beginning and wouldn’t let me go. I am a huge fan of crime fiction, and this dark tale of kidnapping, pedophilia, despair, and poverty has made me an offical fan of Mariotte. Richie Krebbs, a recently fired police officer working in an unsatisfying job as a security guard, becomes increasingly fascinated with the abandoned Morton house. Thirteen years ago, a young girl named Angela Morton disappeared without a trace, and Richie finds it suspicious that her parents seemed detached and even unconcerned about their daughter’s disappearance. Richie becomes obsessed with solving the case, and enlists the help of Detective Frank Robey. Together, they embark on a cross-country search of Angela Morton and her parents.
His “good guys” are not perfect, and his “bad guys” are not totally evil. In this way, Mariotte humanizes his characters and the reader feels empathy towards all of them. Richie has a questionable work ethic and comes across as extremely self-absorbed. Likewise, Mariotte delves deep in the mind of a sick pedophile and gives a very objective account of his life-long struggle, and eventual acceptance, of his tendencies. I give Mariotte an A+ for character development.
There were a few plot points that I feel were slightly underdeveloped and even somewhat questionable. The author implies that the pedophile had an incestous relationship with his mother, but there is a part at the end that, if this is true, would disturb readers. (I don’t want to spoil the ending, so I won’t go further than that). And some important characters (such as Sheriff Kate) were cut off at the end. Mariotte had to take a few fictional liberties to make the plot work (an extremely understanding wife who allows him to quit his job although the budget is stretched to the limit to pursue this case, a trusting detective who essentially gives Richie a blank check to finance the pursuit, and a few others) but I think all writers have to do that (myself included). Although I understand that Mariotte was trying to portray the darker side of human nature,  I feel that Mariotte was a little heavy-handed in the theme of domestic violence (basically portraying every man he encounters on the case as a wife-beater and every married woman as afraid to talk to him). The subplot of Wil Fowler and his family is not completely satisfied, so I would love it if Mariotte wrote a follow-up novel that centers around him and his situation.
Mariotte’s use of language is impeccable. He uses a combination of serious narration, manly sarcasm, and local/cultural dialect to tell a vivid tale. His use of wording is anything but cliched. He also expertly uses several symbols and motifs to drive his plot (Superman, angels, the Morton House, and especially the literal and figurative use of “empty rooms”). Mariotte is clearly not afraid to take on some extremely controversial issues, something I highly respect in a writer. I am a new fan and will definitely be reading more of Mariotte’s work.”
To read:

Plot Holes?

Have you ever read The Hunger Games? If so, consider this: why would Panem, a nation that seems to purposefully keep its populace living in concentration-camp-like conditions, provide what appears to be a marvelous education (complete with extracurricular activities and music lessons)to its youth? Notice the question word: why?

Within a suspiciously short time, I got nearly identical reviews on Ice that asked why was the pool never drained? Why did the drug lord wait so long to act? Why would a person with no history of violence act out such a complex plan of revenge?

I’m not complaining. I’ll take any reviews I can get. I also respect all readers right to their opinions and I think asking why is healthy. But it did get me thinking: where do we draw the line between plot holes and taking fictional liberties?

Plot holes are a lack of continuity within a story, either in a novel or between series. Here is an example from one of my favorite writers, Mrs. Isabel Allende. In Daughter of Fortune, one of the characters, Pauline del Valle, was pregnant with her fourth child towards the end of the novel. In its sequel, A Portrait in Sepia, thirty years later Pauline only has three children and it specifically states that she had been pregnant three times. What happened to the fourth child? A plot hole can also occur when a writer slacks off and creates a situation that is completely unbelievable; that is, something that cannot be explained at all. Even though they may not be continuity errors, they smack of lazy writing. To use The Hunger Games again, Cato and Clove, who are both consistently portrayed as ruthless killers who never leave a victim breathing, let not one but two victims get away. Cato gives Peeta a leg wound and then walks away, after he is shown to let his temper cloud his judgment.  Clove (who is literally a back-stabbing bitch) wastes a lot of time taunting Katniss, which led to her own demise. Of course, Mrs. Collins wanted to show that Katniss and Peeta had close encounters with the Careers and lived through it, but my thought was that in these two cases, she took the easy way out. One could argue that cato wanted Peeta to suffer a slow death, but this just does not match the characterization that Collins gives him. And another thing: Thresh lets Katniss live because he feels he “owes” her after the compassion she showed Rue. In the arena, there is no “owing.” You either kill or be killed. Now once again, one could argue that for Thresh, it didn’t matter. Whether he let Katniss live or not, he was eventually going to have to go head-to head with Cato. But Katniss’ explanation that “if he won, he would have to face a district that broke its rules to thank me” doesn’t make sense because Thresh had no way of knowing about the bread gift. Once again, I think Collins could have handled this in a more plausible manner.

(Note: my purpose of this post is not to trash Mrs. Collins or The Hunger Games. I loved the book and devoured the entire series in two days. I’m just using it as an example because nowadays, I only read indie authors-due to time constraints-and The Hunger Games is the only mainstream novel I have read lately. I never, under any circumstances, criticize an indie author in this blog). Moving forward:

Fictional Liberties are “boosts” that an author uses to move the plot along. In the cases in Ice I have given above, these boosts were essential to the plot: if the pool had been drained, there would be no plot, at least not as I described it. As to the other two things, I explained those in the book, so either the reader wasn’t paying attention or deliberately ignored them. Once again, I will use The Hunger Games to clarify the difference between a plot hole and a fictional liberty. There are many examples I can give since the novel is chock-full of wild coincidences. The best way to tell them apart is if you have to ask why? As in: why would President Snow, who was apparently completely aware that Katniss routinely violated the law every Sunday by hunting in the woods, be so hesitant to punish her? In fact, Snow missed a great opportunity to hold her up as an example that even victors aren’t immune from the law. Because without Katniss, the story would be over. Period. She is necessary to the plot.  And why exactly is Katniss’ trick wit the berries an act of rebellion, when in 74 years, people have certainly pulled more desperate stunts to survive the arena. And speaking of this: why did Haymitch’s so-called act of rebellion result in the murder of his family but Katniss’ act did not? The answer to that may seem simple-Prim was Snow’s only leverage to force Katniss into prostitution in the Capitol-but why am I getting the impression that Finnick (and possibly Cashmere) were the only victors who actually served as prostitutes. And it says that clients paid Snow for the pleasure of a one-night stand with Finnick, so why would they owe him anything at all, least of all potentially seditious Capitol secrets?

So are you ready for Jessica’s ever-wise recommendations for both readers and writers? (Disclaimer: my opinion only. Not professional advice)

To writers: it is your story and you are free to write it how you choose. Fictional liberties (kept within the bounds of some believability) are fine. In fact, attempting to explain every single little thing will bog down your story. This is why it is called fiction. By definition, fiction is a product of writers’ imagination and not based on fact.

To readers: You are free to rate a work however you see fit; that is absolutely your right. However, if you are overthinking things, you are probably putting more effort into a review than is required for a work of fiction. I would say that if you hated a work, just get it off your chest and say you hated it (although for the life of me, I can’t figure out why a reader would even finish a book that he/she hated so much). I would much rather a reader tell me “I hate this story, I can’t get into it, and I can’t finish it” than to expect me to explain away anything that might deviate from reality a tad or is not written how they would have written it. I mean it. You have the right to tell me you simply hate my story, with no explanation. You are under no obligation to look for a reason to hate it (although I definitely still welcome and appreciate constructive criticism). I have more respect for a reviewer who simply tells me they didn’t like the story than one who tries to impose his or her version of MY story on me.

To answer the question as to why the pool never got drained? Because no one ever thought, “You know, this pool might be used against us one day in an elaborate revenge plan aimed at our beloved mayor. Let’s buy an expensive pump and get this sucker drained right this second.” Anyone who has read Ice knows that the Mints, spoiled into complacency by their peaceful existence, don’t have the same sense of urgency that most normal people have. For this same reason, they don’t bother to prepare for emergencies (like forest fires or errant gunmen).

Presenting a Special Guest-Ian Williams

Ian Williams’ Transitory was book of the month for January. This was the first month of this club, and the response and enthusiasm was tremendous.

Ian Williams is a science fiction writer from the United Kingdom. Transitory, which is about a businessman who travels to a distant planet and finds out that he is the target of a hitman, is Williams’ first novel. He recently released a second novel called The Sentient Collector, which is first in a dystopian trilogy.

To check out Transitory:

Here are what some reviewers have said about Transitory:

1. “The author, Ian Williams, took me to a fantastically different location without the normal dreary travel time evident in some science fiction books. His characterisations were brilliant. They made me care about Nate, the main character, and also the others who were helping him get to the truth.”

2. “This book is unlike anything I have read before. I found it refreshing and new. I read it pretty quickly because I had a really hard time putting it down. There were no slow dragging spots and it kept a nice steady pace.”

3. “…this book made it quite easy for me to picture the new world in my mind. There wasn’t an overabundance either which usually makes my eyes glaze over.”

4. “…I do believe that it will be a great read for those who like descriptive sci-fi.”

5. “I fell in love with Nate’s sassy mouth and cunning humor. His reactions to unusual and bizarre situations were often what mine would be, along with his coping mechanism of snarky remarks. It was nearly as much of a treat to be inside his head as inside this alien sci-fi environment.”

I was wondering what the story behind Transitory and what made Williams decide to write it. Here is an interview:

1: Was the writing based on something personal such as a war or love experience or was it all fiction?

Transitory was all fiction unfortunately. I’d love to say that parts of it were based on personal experiences, but they weren’t. Of course how characters interact and how people talk will have been influenced by people I see everyday.

2: Is there going to be a follow up book to explore the budding romance, the punishments and how Nate deals with all of it?

I haven’t ruled out a sequel. In time I may decide to return and take the story further. But for that to happen it would have to move beyond Nate and the others. To me it seems that L’Armin is the character who has the most interesting past and the potential to go much further than Transitory could. I would love to explore this story, with Nate and the others involved too of course.

3. How long did it take to write Transitory?

It took me around a year to write. This being my first book meant I spent longer than I would today. My aim these days is to have the first draft of a new book finished in roughly four months, followed by another two months of rewrites and editing.

4. What drew you to the science fiction genre?

I’ve always loved science fiction, mainly for the way it can tell multiple stories in one. I grew up watching TV shows such as Star Trek: The Next Generation (I also loved Quantum Leap and Stargate) and they always managed to do this in an enjoyable way.

Transitory was written as if it were a single episode of a TV show. This meant it was always supposed to be quite compact and yet explore large subjects at the same time. Science fiction is a genre that I natural lean towards because of this. I don’t feel that I could write the stories I want to in any other genre.

5. In Transitory, you explore the theme of corporate dominance and exploitation. What are your thoughts on this?

I don’t believe all corporations are inherently evil, but I do believe that they can sometimes act in such a way, particularly when it comes to natural resources. The corporate mentality is to put a price on anything and everything, even human life. They will find profit in any way they can and that sometimes means bending rules – or breaking them entirely. What is right is often less defined when there is money to be made.

This was the reason behind the theme of exploitation in Transitory. Nate’s company travel the galaxy in search of raw materials locked up inside asteroids. To them it is a routine job. But they have no idea what an alien species would make of such an act, more importantly I suspect they simply wouldn’t care. Like Fracking beneath people’s homes, it is done with only one concern: profit.

Nate, on the other hand, just hasn’t really thought about it before. L’Armin’s views on space mining would have been the first time anyone had ever really questioned him on the morality of such an industry. I’d like to think he would have changed his ways because of this.

6. Do you believe that in the future, space travel will be routine?

I do think this will happen, and sometime within the next thirty years. Only recently a private firm was given the go ahead to transport equipment and supplies to the International Space Station. When this is being done on a regular basis it will open up space to others too. I think this will then slowly filter down to the rest of the population.

As for travelling the galaxy, like in Transitory, I think that will take much longer. For that to happen we will need many advancements in space technology first. But with ambitious plans to land humans on Mars and even an asteroid only decades away, things are still certainly looking good for space travel.

7. Do you believe there is life on other planets? If so, do you think they are friendly, peaceful beings?

I do believe there is life on other planets. The general scientific consensus is that the chances of life existing elsewhere in the universe is overwhelmingly possible, if not likely. Take the findings from the Kepler Space Telescope for example. It has detected and confirmed the presence of over a thousand Exoplanets and is investigating many more; all this since 2009. Scientists are finding more and more each year.

If you then take into consideration that estimates put the number of stars in The Milky Way alone as somewhere in the region of 300 billion, then it becomes clear that there is indeed a high probability of some of those being orbited by planets containing life. Whether that life is intelligent is a different matter. 

I hope that somewhere there are other intelligent beings searching for signs of another form of life, and that they are friendly – although if we were ever to meet them I wouldn’t be so sure that they would consider us friendly and peaceful as a race.

8. What is your personal favorite part of Transitory?

My favourite part of Transitory is Nate’s memory of the mining convention he attended (Chapter 9).This was fun to write as I was doing everything I could to show that Nate isn’t particularly good at his job. He fluffs his lines when reading out his speech, he fails to answer questions and generally deals with it in a very unprofessional way. It was one of the points in the story that showed how Nate copes under pressure – or doesn’t in this case.

Nate’s character was intended to be arrogant, some have even said unlikeable, at the beginning. He comes across as selfish and often quite rude too. I did this to show how Nate’s character changes over time throughout the story. By the end of the book I wanted the reader to have warmed to him and even to start to like him. When he is forced into a corner and left with a moral choice, he will always do the right thing, despite what his corporate brain tells him to do.

Chapter 9 is also where an important plot twist is revealed to the reader. I enjoyed writing this part a lot.

9. You currently have a dystopian trilogy in the works (the first of the series has recently been released. do you care to tell us a little about that?

With The Sentient Collector I wanted to try and tell the story that comes after the world’s first Artificial Intelligence is created. In book 1 the AI has already existed for 7 years and things have started to unravel.

The story follows 3 characters as they each become embroiled in an ever deepening plot. Graham Denehey works for the company which created the AI, Phoenix is an outsider working for the wrong man, whereas Kristof is the man brought in to prevent a crisis. What brings the story together is one man known only as The Sentient Collector. Finding this unknown figure is the key to preventing a terrible event.

Transitory was always intended to be a short story or novella. The Sentient Collector, on the other hand, was planned as a full book followed by another 2 books. The Trilogy is already written in my head, I just need to put finger to keyboard and finish it.

10. Are there any other thoughts you wish to share?

I’d like to say a huge thank you to Jessica Wren for making Transitory Book of the Month for January. To have my first ever book featured in a book club is a true honour and one I will always be grateful for.

I would also like to take this moment to thank everyone who bought, read and reviewed Transitory. Hearing what you all thought of it has been a real joy.

If you are a fan of Ian Williams, of science fiction, or just want to show you support to a promising new author, I strongly encourage you to join the Ian Williams Fan Club. There are three ways to join:

1. On Goodreads:
2. On Facebook:
3. On Google Plus:

If you would like to join Jessica and Jen's Book of the Month Club, it is loads of fun and a great way to meet new friends and help promote rising indie authors:

1. On Goodreads:
2. On Facebook:
3. On Google Plus:

Jessica Wren

A very nice review of Ice. Thanks to Ms. Janis Cramlett


Writing is like fishing. You toss out your line (i.e. your book) hopping to hook a fish(i.e. a reader). They say as well that if you don’t hook your reader within the first few lines then it’s over. That person will probably not continue reading your book. Well luckily Mrs. Wren is a great fisherman for she hooks you within the first few lines with her tantalizing use of words. She writes with a mystery that begs you to read more to find out the meaning behind her setting of words.

Jessica Wren’s book “Ice” takes you on a dramatic, jolting ride. There is a mystery brewing in the small town of Minterville, Georgia. First two mysterious families have moved into the small town of Minterville, which has also brought on an eerie physical gloom of clouds that hang over the town. The clouds just hang there like a cover of gloom giving no rain. Next the Minter stopped. The Minter is this little secret mental communication board some of the towns folks have in Minterville. The big problem with it stopping is that it only stops when there is an evil presence around.

If that is not of enough worry for the residents of Minterville, the women of Minterville start disappearing…

Jessica Wren then takes the floor out from under you as the story takes a shockingly, wicked turn. To remind you this book is title “ICE

 ” there is a reason for that. I enjoyed how the Mrs. Wren weaved the title of her book into the story itself. There is a reason this book is entitled “ICE”. It is not pretty either.

Written in parts, with different narratives by certain towns folks of Minterville was an interesting narrative choice. It worked too. It gave the book a feel of finding an old town newspaper, or town history book. This worked with the overall tone of the story too.

Overall I enjoyed “ICE”. The book was not what I thought it would be. Jessica Wren sets up a nice cozy setting then all of a sudden it takes an enthralling unexpected turn that does not disappoint you.

There were a lot of characters and people being related to this person and that in the book. It kind of confused me a bit, but that is just me. Genealogy confuses me sometime with your brother being your uncles monkey or something like that. In the end good read. This innocently titled book will shock you.

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Author Spotlight-A.S Aramiru

As writing goes more indie, I am getting the pleasure of reading many more blended genre books. Authors are no longer pigeonholed into a single genre. The novel I just finished, A.S. Aramiru’s Black Halo: The Witch and The Guardian is an expertly blended book that is equal parts young-adult, dystopian, and fantasy. And like a perfectly mixed drink, Black Halo gives you a satisfying buzz without leaving you with a hangover. 
Out of nowhere, a mysterious light appears out of the sky. The world descends into chaos, violence, and confusion,and world leaders blame the mayhem on the “gifteds,” a group of mostly adolescents with supernatural abilities, such as telepathy, teleportation, clairvoyance, and element-bending. It is rumored that the gifteds got their powers from the Light, which created The Witch.
The theme of friendship and loyalty is prevalent throughout.  The Witch and Kalin (her guardian) are completely devoted to protecting and supporting each other, which gives the story a heartwarming feel. As for the other characters, the reader is left wondering whom to trust, as it is difficult to tell friend from foe amidst the chaos and everyone seems to have his or her own personal agenda. Other very important themes are acceptance vs. stereotyping and intolerance.  Aramiru also contemplates the role that free will has on our destinies, and to what extent our destinies are pre-determined. 
Is The Witch really as evil as the media claims she is? What power does she have to change the world? What will she have to sacrifice in order to fulfill her destiny? This page-turner will keep you reading just to find out the answers to these questions.”
To read:

Indie Book Promotion-What Not To Do

It’s a little frightening, really. When you Google “tips for Promoting an Ebook,” the thought that something that worked as well as early as 2013 is outdated now. The indie book publishing market is evolving at a frighteningly rapid pace, and to keep up, you can’t take a bicycle. You have to take the express train.

When i first published “Ice” in September of 2014, oh, you would laugh at how ignorant I was. here was the first in a long of of “don’ts” that I am guilty of:

1. Sit back and twiddle your thumbs and hope your readers find you-I’m a notorious procrastinator, and I just assumed that if I had an ebook on Amazon, it would get downloaded at a breathtaking pace. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. You know what they say…oh wait, I’m not done yet HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Ok, that’s better. As I was saying, you know what they say about ASSuming. So my next step:

2. Post a tweet or two and wait for the magic to happen.-Ok, I’m going to have to stop for a second because I’m in serious danger of busting out laughing again. You know how it is. You’re scanning Twitter and you see a tweet about a book. You think “that seems interesting. Wait, did I remember to pay the Visa bill?…” I made the mistake of ASSuming that an interesting tweet will automatically make people think “OMG, I have to have that book right now! Screw Visa! Screw my credit score! I have to have that book RIGHT NOW!” Sure I got a lot of favorites and retweets, but, unfortunately, retweets and favorites do not equal sales. So, what’s next?

3. Tweet the hell out of it.-Nope. Carpet-bombing Twitter and other social media sites had little effect on my sales but did a lot to annoy others. (And I still do it. Will I eva loin?)

4. Paid services, maybe?- I can’t speak for the success of many of them, mostly because my broke behind can’t pay $50 for a single mention in their sea of others. And some others have such restrictive requirements and/or such a long waiting list it’s like “Why bother?” I can tell you that Bookdaily sure ain’t worth the $50 a month. Which brings me to my next don’t:

5. An Email list, maybe?- As an Bookdaily author, I also get their emails. Guess what I do with them? I suspect most folks do the same, especially if they are free members. Do you really think that people are sitting there, anxiously awaiting the emails from BookDaily (or any other emailing list) to see what’s featured? Ain’t nobody got time for that. (another throwback from 2013. Damn, I’m starting to feel old.) People are busy. They are going to scan their inboxes and look for the important stuff. Things like “YOUR VISA BILL IS 30 DAYS PAST DUE’ are probably going to get their attention faster than my gorgeous cover and expertly-written blurb. Once the dizzied, panicked feeling subsides, they are probably going to delete everything else. Plus, you know how when you get the same email every day you tend to ignore it after awhile?

6. Sneaky mentions of your book into everyday conversations.-One site I read suggested that you set the autoreply of your email to “Working on my book-get back with you ASAP.” Well, maybe, but the people who email me already know I’m working on a book and the other is my work email (gotta keep the day job. The yungin’ still needs to be fed).  And go ahead and be honest. You’re not going to buy “Ice” after reading this blog, are you? Darn :(.

7. KDP Select- This might as well stand for Ke$ha Dance Party, because it’s soooo 2011. It may have been great back in the old days, when we still used MySpace. The concept was that people would download your book when it was free, get totally into it, and leave a smashing review. The reality was that people would download your book when it was free, remember that they had to pay the Visa bill, and forget your book was in their Kindle. In any case, neither of my free promo periods resulted in a single review in spite of over 1,000 copies being downloaded.

8 Book trailers?-Maybe. I haven’t tried this, so I can’t speak for its success. But my spidey senses are telling me a book trailer would be competing with a gazillion videos of cute kittens and wiggly babies. Plus, you have to have videos that are interesting enough that viewers will watch them til the end, and unfortunately, the Gem Sweater Lady set that bar hopelessly high. They cost a lot too, unless you are tech-savvy and can make them yourself (not I).

So, is there ANY hope at all for an indie author who has a yungin’ to feed and is 30 days past due on the Visa Bill (*whistles*)?

I have noticed that I had a spike in sales after a successful review exchange (which, please don’t argue with me over the pros and cons of review exchanges. I made a lot friends that way, which are waaay more important to me than sales. Yeah, go ahead and groan, but i mean it.). Here are my theories, which may lead to some new and creative ways to market until 2016 gets here.

A review exchange works because another person (not me) is representing him- or herself as a reader (not a fellow indie author) and talking me up on social media, a blog, a website, or my word-of-mouth (does that even exist anymore?) to friends. To test this theory, I chose a book that I reviewed in the past and asked the author if he would like for his book as Book of the Month. I then proceeded to scream his name (wait, that sounds wrong, let me backtrack) scream his title on the four winds of social media and invite people to join my Book of the Month club, where this title would get a month’s worth of undivided attention. I was surprised myself at how well my idea caught on. People are enthused and I was even able to gain a club co-sponsor. And the happy guinea pg, er, author is reporting better than ever sales. Soooo, my advice would be to:

1. Enlist the trust of a few supportive, gregarious friends. Instead of tweeting the hell out of your book and getting a warning from a Facebook group moderator (which has never happened to me. No, sir. Not ever.) have your friends scream your name  title on the four winds of social media (even better if they actually read the book hehehehe).

But, are people really flocking to read a title from a very talented but equally unknown author just because I told them to? Maybe it’s my magical power of persuasion? (Please buy “Ice.” Reading it will not only entertain you, but it will cause the acne on your butt to clear up). Or not. it could be the fact that I have offered to enter every valid reviewer into a drawing for a $20 Amazon gift card. So Tip #2.

2. Via your friends, offer some kind of incentive.- you can get creative with this, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be money. Are you bribing people to read your books? Absolutely. But be honest: do you get up every morning at 6:30 because you just can’t wait for an exciting day of grumpy customers and computer glitches? Just sayin…Just about everything people do is either to gain a reward or avoid punishment (whether extrinsic or intrinsic), so why not use any kick-in-the-pants method you can (legally and ethically) use? Provided it doesn’t actually involve kicking someone in the pants. They may not appreciate that.

But are people really flocking on my book of the month bandwagon for a slim chance of winning a measly prize? Hmmm.

3. People are joiners by nature so if you have someone scream your name title on the four winds, the group mentality may take over- So instead of having people promote your title per se, create a group for your book, and have your friends invite others to join it. Then the friends should invite their friends, and their friends, and their friends, and on and on. You can even offer some kind of incentive once the group reaches a certain member ship. The goal is to…

4. Create a captive audience-This is why Superbowl commercials are so memorable. The commercials themselves are goofy, but the viewership of the Superbowl gets attention for the product that it wouldn’t otherwise receive (and why people are still taking about Janet Jackson’s nip-slip). By having people join a group, you can create an audience that you can say “Hey! Check this out!” to. They may or may not buy your book, but they may be kind enough to refer your book to someone else. And you can then start getting them interested in your next book.

5. You have to continue to keep them interested, but not in a pushy way.- The fact that your friends have enjoyed your book so much that they are creating a group for it (hehe) gives your book that special “handpicked” feel. Would you have bought Divergent if you didn’t see a display of it every two seconds or hear you friends rave about it? Possibly, but the chances are greater that someone will buy your book if it passes the awesome-book-clearance-test (that is, someone on the internet says it’s an awesome book). But humans have an attention span that lasts as long as Lindsey Lohan’s periods of sobriety, so you got to keep giving them fresh material to keep them interested. Start having your friends post about your next book (which I should be working on, but I’m a notorious procrastinator) by giving sample chapters, teasers, book covers, giveaways, whatever works (I know nothing about releasing a second book, so I’ll save that for another post).

6. But you are asking your friends to do you a ginormous, possible career-changing favor. What’s in it for them?-A steak dinner at Longhorns? A diamond ring? Your undying gratitude? You’ll have to work that out with your friends, but in any case, NEVER forget to show your appreciation for those who support you and speak on your behalf. People remember things like that.

Now, please go buy “Ice” while I deal with this 30-day past due Visa bill and fix my yungin’s bottle. Aww, look at the wiggly baby….