ICE is free July 7-11

IceCover

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.

https://www.amazon.com/Ice-Jessica-Wren-ebook/product-reviews/B00O1CCAU6/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_hist_2?ie=UTF8&sortBy=recent&formatType=current_format&filterByStar=two_star&pageNumber=1

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Presenting a Special Guest-Lynne Murray

Lynne Murray

Tomorrow we celebrate The Lovely Lynne Murray, an event dedicated to the writing of a lady who is not only a fantastic author, but a wonderful person as well. I thoroughly enjoyed her book Gravitas: Valkyrie in the Forbidden Zone, but when I looked at her author page, I realized that she is quite prolific. And before I forget to mention it, Gravitas is on sale this weekend for $0.99.

gravitas

Blurb:

Sybil from Planet Valkyrie carries a risky amount of Gravitas, a top secret aphrodisiac embedded in the Ritual Jewelry around her neck. Before she can trade it, she is attacked by an angry warrior from slave-holding Planet Roggr. Sybil lands on Earth—in the Forbidden Zone. Rescue is impossible, all portals are sealed. Can she protect herself, shield her hazardous cargo and find a way home before the Gravitas destroys her?

Some Reviewer Comments:

One of my favorite parts of this novel is the witty dialogue. Although Sybil’s clueless culture shock is endearing, she turns out to be confident and resourceful as she attempts to figure out a way to return to Valkyries”

This book is too much fun to miss.”

“…the story is imaginative and empowering. I enjoyed this quick read.”

The author has a good sense of humour and an eye for unexpected detail about humans, which comes from the outsider perspective of Sybilla. The novel itself is a pacy, entertaining read with snappy and often funny dialogue.”

There is a companion short story that goes with this novel: Valkyrie in the Demon Realm

Valkyrie

Blurb:

Sybil, from the Planet Valkyrie carries a risky amount of Gravitas, a potent aphrodisiac. The cargo must be harvested before the damaging side effects send her into another realm. Or has it already happened? Where did that demon, the color of molten lava, come from? And what can she do to defeat it?

#LovelyLynne has written other novels and books as well, including some non-fiction tips for writers. Check out her Amazon page to check out her full selection.

I do encourage you to drop by tomorrow and meet #LovelyLynne. You’ll be glad you did!

To get in touch with her:

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lynne.murray.7771?fref=ts

On Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/268380.Lynne_Murray?from_search=true&search_version=service

On Twitter: https://twitter.com/lynnemurray

Presenting a Special Guest-Miranda Shanklin

Meet Miranda Shanklin, author of the Soul Journey series (who’s also celebrating a birthday today). The series revolves around four teens who discover they have power beyond anyone’s wildest imaginations–and some powerful enemies.

And let me just add that these are some of these most beautiful covers I have ever seen.

Miranda Shanklin

Book 1 is Soul Journey. 

soul journey

Blurb:

It has been many lifetimes since the cycle began.

The cycle that still haunts Annisa Lawson.

A spell cast in desperation to help, which only caused heartache.

Now, Annisa has found her way out of the varying repeats of her past; only to bring more danger to herself, and those around her. Now she must learn to survive with the help of her friends: Chase, Penelope, and Landon have all gone through each life cycle with Annisa. Sometimes helping, sometimes hindering. Now that Annisa has broken the cycle of their collective punishment, she finds that she needs her friends more than ever to keep their enemies, known, and unknown, at bay. As the group of friends learn of their souls’ journeys through their many life cycles, they must also learn to control the magick they have discovered within themselves and each other, in order to defeat the most feared assassin in their world.

What reviews have said about Soul Journey:

Such an amazing book!!!I don’t even know where to begin… the feels, the conflict & uncertantity of life is almost too much for Annisa, but she recovers beautifully and accecpts her new found lot in life with grace & dignity.” -Amanda Wise

“Fantastic coming of age story with a fun Sci-fi/Fantasy twist! The description of magic and how it’s wielded was absolutely beautiful, it actually gave me chills. Book 2, Soul Redemption is definitely on my TBR!”-K.D

“What a suspenseful book to read. I loved all the characters. They were very well liked. I would recommend this book to anyone that wants to read a book that is a YA book with great characters that you will love to read about.k has it all… mystery, love, conflict, regret, action… I have throughly enjoyed it!”-Tamra Cordery

To check it out: http://www.amazon.com/Soul-Journey-Book-1-ebook/dp/B00N7T7CX4/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Book 2 is Soul Redemption. 

Soul Redemption

Blurb:

Just when Annisa and her friends were starting to think maybe the Counsel would leave them alone, two new students arrive at school. In any other town, new students wouldn’t be a sign that something big was about to happen to Annisa, Chase, Landon, and Penelope; but this wasn’t a normal town and they weren’t normal teenagers. They had come into their powers and defeated the most feared assassin in their world, so the appearance of new witches in their small town could only mean one thing…..the Counsel was ready to make another attempt to destroy them.

After watching the new students alienate them from everyone they know, including their parents, Annisa and her friends break through the spell and things start to calm down for them. It’s not until an old enemy returns with news that will shock them that they realize everything is not as it seems. Now they have to decide whether or not to trust an old enemy claiming to help them, or try and fight against the Counsel’s most trusted Advisors on their own.

The choice the group makes will change their lives forever.

What reviewers are saying:

“This second book in the Soul Series, captures your attention and imagination, even better than the first book. You live through the characters. You feel what they feel, become angry at what happens to them..you know them inside and out. If you like fantasy/romance/suspense/action/and young adult drama, this is the book series for you. 10/10!”-Crystal

Lots of twists here with the witches coming into their powers. Great story!” Pamijo

To check it out: http://www.amazon.com/Soul-Redemption-Series-Book-ebook/dp/B00O3N22GA/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top?ie=UTF8

Book 3 of the Series is Soul Knowledge:

Soul Knowledge

Blurb:

Annisa Lawson and her friends were getting pretty good at surviving. So far, they have defeated every force sent to destroy them. So when they are faced with new forces they had never thought possible, they were not entirely prepared. They were scrambling to catch up their magickal knowledge of the forces that were being sent after them. With their newly strengthened bond, they would have to work together to triumph. Just when they think they have it all figured out, something new pops up.
They are offered help, but will it be enough to once again overcome the forces working against them? The highly misunderstood forces in play will either help or hinder them; the question is, who do they trust?
The collective uncertainty and lack of knowledge could be the downfall of the entire group, testing their ability to trust in their own power, and that of each other. Can they overcome these forces and once again defend their special bond from destruction?

What reviewers are saying:

“A real rollercoaster of a ride. With spells gone wrong, kidnappings, destruction and love put to the ultimate test”-Samaris

“This series is amazing. The way the author portrays witches is very unique. This book was full of action and suspense. It was hard to put down. All the characters are interesting and believable”-Angie Campbell

To check it out: http://www.amazon.com/Soul-Knowledge-Series-Book-ebook/dp/B00PA4JC9Q/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top?ie=UTF8

Book 4 of the series is Soul Freedom

soul freedom

Blurb:

With the stress of graduation and planning weddings, Annisa and her group of friends want to end things with the Counsel once and for all. They strengthen their bond to the strongest it can be and go on the offensive. After they achieve their goal, they find that was not their only problem. Now they have to figure out who will be the next Counsel, and how to deal with other realms that have found their way in. While the group guards over the Origin, Annisa goes with members of the other realms to track down the wayward travelers, before they cause too much damage in our realm. To prevent this from happeningagain or any damage that may result, the group, along with their newly appointed Counsel, must come up with a system to allow other realms access to our realm, so they don’t have to constantly be on the lookout for trespassers from other realms. Can it be done in time for Annisa and her friends to enjoy graduation, and Annisa’s upcoming nuptials? With the help of friends and family, it just may be possible!

What reviewers are saying:

“This book is probably my favourite of the series so far…This one kept up at a steady pace and had me interested the entire time. I can’t wait to see where Miranda takes them next.”-Caitlin

“I was so engrossed in reading this book that I didn’t even realize I was close to the end until I turned the page to the ‘about the author’ blurb”-Amanda Wise

To check it out: http://www.amazon.com/Soul-Freedom-Series-Book-Volume/dp/1505267560/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top?ie=UTF8

Book 5 of the series is Soul Discovery

Soul Discovery

Blurb:

Annisa and her group have finally made it to the point where they don’t have to watch over their shoulders for someone trying to destroy them. They have put together a system that allows the other realms access to our realm and they are still able to keep an eye on them. Will the faeries and the trolls outsmart them and accomplish their goal? Will Annisa and the others be able to obtain enough support to keep their realm intact? Or will the faeries and trolls destroy all that this realm stands for? Chase and Annisa have taken on a task that they are not sure if they can accomplish without the help of the others who have to stay behind and keep things running smoothly at the passageways. They will have to be creative and convincing to pull this one off and create a truce between all the realms.

What reviewers are saying:

“I really loved the fresh approach to a paranormal story. It was a little slow at start, but, it did not take long for me to become hooked. I can’t wait to find out what happens next.”-V. Hudson

“Miranda did a great job rounding out the ending leaving me satisfied with the complete story. If you haven’t picked up book 1 in the soul saver series and are into paranormal YA I would recommend this series to you.”-Caitlin

To check it out: http://www.amazon.com/Soul-Discovery-Series-Book-Volume/dp/1505892309/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top?ie=UTF8

To connect with Miranda Shanklin:

On Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8526541.Miranda_Shanklin?from_search=true&search_version=service

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mirandashanklinauthor?fref=ts

On Twitter: https://twitter.com/mlshanklin

Her Amazon Page: http://www.amazon.com/Miranda-Shanklin/e/B00N7X1LMI/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

Presenting a Special Guest-P.A. Williams

Meet the saucy, energetic, gregarious Paul Anthony Williams. He is also known as his #PlayBoyPaul for his (completely harmless) flirtatious ways that make him a hit with the ladies.

Paul Williams

Also a prolific horror writer, PlayBoyPaul is the author of the Dark Clown Series, which consists of The Snake of Snowspire, The fires of Al Yon, and The Tides of Time. The first two are free this weekend.

Book 1 of the Dark Clown series is The Snake of Snowspire

the snake of snowspire

Blurb:

A storm rages in the north region of Neduin. Snowspire sits amongst the snowfields and cold dark forests. It’s two distinct towering spires like great booming gravestones rise high above the city walls, casting its grey dark shadow upon the ground below. A greedy king waits for the arrival of the King from the East with hoards of gold to pay for his services and men. The King of the East seeks men to increase his own army as they venture south toward the High King’s castle to take the throne for his own. But to gain these men he must put a plan into motion with various pieces in place. Unknown to him the High King aware of the army in the north, formulates his own plan which begins with the arrival of a stranger who has traveled from the south toward the kingdom of Snowspire, with murder on his mind . . .
Away from Snowspire a soothsayer watches the events unfold, yet when the time comes will her involvement cause the downfall of Neduin? Or will a more sinister person cast the first stone to bring the Realm down upon its knees . . .

Sounds super-exciting to me. I can’t wait to get on this one. But don’t take it from me. This is what one reviewer had to say about The Snake of Snowspire:

“This is not usually the type of genre that I go for but I was sucked into the story straight away. This is a fabulous book. Shades of George Martin, Narnia and a very, very dark Tolkien. All written in a crisp, economical style which is hard to believe comes from a first time author. Can’t wait for the next in the series.”-Truth42.

Check it out here: http://www.amazon.com/Snake-Snowspire-Dark-Clown-Book-ebook/dp/B00M8JFPAQ/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Book 2 is The Fires of Al Yon.

The fires of Al Yon

Blurb:

Ten years have passed since the Battle of Southwell, peace flitters across the whole of Neduin. But a new deadlier enemy will rise from the shadows, hungry for blood and hungry for revenge, spreading his fires of terror from Snowspire all the way towards the Kingdom of the High King.

Jonas Yale has to make a decision…a decision that could affect the whole of Neduin. Meanwhile, two thieves start an adventure that will lead them to treasures and terror, resulting in the discovery of an ancient evil from Neduin’s past that could destroy them all.

This is what reviewer Rainne had to say about The Fires of Al Yon:

“An interesting and adventurous journey in an imaginative world, with plenty of action, intrigue, and unique characters.”

Check it out here: http://www.amazon.com/Fires-Yon-Dark-Clown-Book-ebook/dp/B00QIR2TZS/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Book 3 is The Tides if Time

The Tides of Time

The Very Poetic Blurb:

From the shadows I will come,
to rip the minds and souls of everyone,
to feast upon the flesh of fools and wench,
to bathe within the blood of the fallen taking in every aroma and stench,
to face the one who holds the key,
to his or my destiny…

From the darkness he will breathe,
from the tomb he will leave,
to begin a journey to watch the flames burn,
everything and all,
as the tides of time start to call,
the tides start to call….

Rumor has it that #PlayBoyPaul has additional books in the works, including a fourth book in the Dark Clown Series.

Check it out here: http://www.amazon.com/TIDES-TIME-Dark-Clown-Book-ebook/dp/B00WRADYU4/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

To connect with #PlayboyPaul: 

On Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2030116.P_A_Williams?from_search=true&search_version=serviceoyPaul:

On Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/P.A.-Williams/e/B00MEQSYCY/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

On Twitter: https://twitter.com/PAWILLIAMSUK36

Happy reading!

The Five Hundred

In case anyone is interested, my brother Winston Blake Wheeler Ward runs a cool monthly writing challenge called The Five Hundred. What happens is on the first day of every month, Winston gives you a theme. You write a short story between 400-600 words on that theme. I just entered a short story in this month’s contest, and it’s a lot of fun.

For more information or to enter the contest, check it out here: http://the-five-hundred.com/

On Choosing a Beta-Reader (Part 2)

In my last post, I detailed how a breakdown in communication with my beta-reader led to the severance of my professional relationship with this individual. it took me a few days to reflect on the situation, and my conclusion was that he and I just didn’t make a very good writing team. My immediate concern was that I would have to find another beta-reader, preferably someone familiar with the Georgia/Florida area (as that’s where the settings for all my books will be). Fortunately, my friend Megan, who is kindhearted but a no-BS person (she’s a teacher, too) had given me some very detailed feedback on Ice as well as a great idea for a new cover for Ice if i ever decide to change it. She also agreed to be my beta-reader and if she’s unavailable (teachers do get busy), she knows some others who have already offered to do the beta-reading. It’s great that every time I have a writing-related crisis, I get so many people who come out to support me.

But I have been thinking: what are some things writers should look for in a beta-reader? These folks are vital to your writing career, as they can give you helpful advice that you need BEFORE you publish.

1. A previous good relationship-I generally wouldn’t recommend having family members or your best friend be your beta-readers. This puts them in a position of having to say things to you that you may not want to hear. ideally, your beta-reader should be another experienced writer, an avid but critical reader, or someone with a literature/fiction background. Take the time to get to know them for a while before asking them to beta-read. This will help to determine if the right professional ‘chemistry” is there.

2. Someone who won’t take offense if you don’t follow all of his/her suggestions-if someone ever tells you that not following his way will result in no sales, run. Remember that it is your book and ultimately, you decide the final product. There is no rule that says you have to take anyone’s suggestions. And as far as not following their suggestions hindering your sales, unless what they’re pointing out is grotesquely offensive content or is a serious, fatal flaw, this is unlikely to be the case.

3. Someone who can be completely honest but still talk to you like a person-it’s one thing to say, for example, “You need to work on your character development’ and quite another to say “your characters make me want to kill myself.” A beta-reader should give you constructive feedback while allowing you to keep your dignity intact. Any type of condescension, belittling, or uncalled-for, unhelpful comments means you should probably keep looking. They need to tell you what areas are weak and where your book needs improvement, so I’m not saying they should handle you with kid gloves, but  there is no reason for anyone to treat you like you’re less than human. If someone is demeaning you,even under the guide of “just being honest” or ‘telling it like it is,” go ahead tell them “thanks, but no thanks.”

4. Easy, two-way communication-if you are not free to ask why the reader said X,Y,or Z, or if the beta-reader threatens to leave if you ask questions, try to get clarification, or (gasp!) disagree with a suggestion they made, leave the door wide open so it won’t hit them on the ass. Communication is keep to making this relationship work.

5. Someone with whom you feel 100% comfortable- if a beta-reader makes you feel uncomfortable for any reason, they’re not a good fit. keep looking.

Tips for Authors:

1. Don’t take your beta-readers objective comments personally. They are only trying to help you create a better product.

2. Don’t make a post on the Internet randomly asking for beta-readers. Take the time to get to know someone and determine if you trust their opinion. Any type of Internet site that allows posting is a troll-magnet. You don’t want your books in the hands of trolls who will trash your book for their own amusement.

3. Feel free to discontinue the relationship any time of a beta-reader is not being helpful or is being combative. Or if the person’s advice makes you feel uncomfortable.

4. Ask the beta-reader beforehand: Do you like books in my genre? Do you have time to do this? What are you willing and not willing to check for? Are you also willing to do some light copyediting? Are you offended by sex, violence, profanity, or any topics that may come up in this book? What is most important to you as a reader?Some readers are focused on the characters, and others on the plot. Ideally, you should have one “plot” beta-reader and one “character” beta-reader.

5. Consider having a questionnaire for your beta-reader to use during the reading. This will serve as a guide. For example ask, “does my opening grab your attention?” Leave room for comments.

6. Ask the beta-reader to keep your work confidential until it’s published. If you send them a PDF copy, ask him/her to delete it after he’s done (you can gift him with a copy upon publication).

7. Don’t expect your beta-reader to also be your copyeditor, unless he or she is Ok with it and agrees to do it (and is qualified).

Tips for Beta-readers:

1. Don’t accept a book that is written in a genre you don’t like.

2. Consider your words carefully. Remember that although the author needs to hear the truth, he/she is still a human with feelings.You can be honest without being harsh or cruel.

3. Don’t accept a project if you can’t commit to it. Authors are counting on you to get the job done because they want to publish. If you cannot follow through, notify the author ASAP so he/she can find someone else.

4. Don’t ever accept a project that, for any reason at all, you don’t want to do. Never allow an author to pressure you into a project.

5. Make an agreement with the author beforehand on what you will and won’t be looking for. And keep your word.

6. Don’t share an author’s work with others unless you have permission to do so.

7. If a project is not working for you, it is your right to discontinue at any time. Just notify the author ASAP so he/she can make other arrangements (even better if you can recommend an alternate reader).

Anything else that I missed?

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

http://authorsandangels.blogspot.com/2015/01/review-ice-by-jessica-wren.html

Review

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.

Follow more on Jessica Wren
Homesite: Jessicawrenfiction.com
Twitter:@wrennovels
Facebook: Jessica Wren Fiction

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….

Author Spotlight-Dr. Robert G. Williscroft

Robert Williscroft is the author of a gripping historical fiction novel called Operation Ivy Bells. He served twenty-three years in the U.S. Navy, earned a PhD in engineering from California Coast University, and served a one-year tour in the South Pole and another three years in the Arctic. After his impressive military career (which served as the inspiration for his works), Williscroft decided to focus on writing, much to this reader’s delight.

Operation Ivy Bells is a fictional account of the actual historical event in which the U.S. Navy attempted to tap into the Soviet Union’s undersea communication cable during the Cold War. Narrated by Lieutenant J. R. McDowell (“Mac”), the novel recounts Mac’s adventures aboard the submarine USS Halibut as he completes the mission to place taps on the Soviet’s undersea communication lines. Such adventures include mechanical failures, mishaps caused by human error, attacks by sea creatures, scuffles with enemy Russian divers, attempts to paralyze enemy warships, and others. Williscroft injects moments of humor in the novel (specifically, some accounts of good-natured hazing and a scene with a hilarious prostitute named Snorkel Patty). There is never a dull moment in Operation Ivy Bells. The ending is completely satisfying, and towards the end of the mission, Mac begins a lifelong friendship with a very unexpected person.

I am glad that Williscroft provided a glossary of military terms so that we “civilian pukes” can better understand what is happening. Admittedly, the novel is borderline esoteric, but Williscroft makes it easy to read by taking the time to explain things as he goes. My favorite part of the novel is the camaraderie among the member of the team. They watch each others’ backs and are highly supportive of each other (without refraining from manly banter).The funniest part of the novel is when one of the divers is caught in the jaws of a superfish (and left with non-fatal injuries).

Each chapter begins with an illustration that gives a hint as to what the chapter will be about. i liked this idea so much that I may incorporate it into my future novels.

Operation Ivy Bells is an edge-of-your-seat war novel with characters that you just can’t help but love, and just the right amount of suspense at each turn. As Ed Offley (who wrote the foreword) said, “You won’t be able to put this down.”

To read Operation Ivy Bells: http://www.amazon.com/Operation-Ivy-Bells-novel-Cold-ebook/dp/B00NAGDWL0/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1417490265&sr=1-1&keywords=operation+ivy+bells

Ice Character Spotlight-DeWayne Burgess

Character: Dewayne Burgess

Age; 22

Occupation: paramedic, pre-med student

Family: Georgeanna (“Georgie”) and Nolan Burgess (parents), Kira Holmes (girlfriend)

Tenderhearted but quick-thinking DeWayne is about to face the toughest moment of his life. His skills as a paramedic will come in handy when he has to assist in a strange rescue.

To read Ice: http://www.amazon.com/Ice-Jessica-Wren-ebook/dp/B00O1CCAU6/ref=sr_1_4?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1417015458&sr=1-4&keywords=ice