The Exchange Series – An update.

I’d never planned to write a series because I was always worried that I’d never be able to maintain one, but with so many people writing standalone series’, I decided to give it a go.

Admittedly, I copped out a little with The Exchange Series, because they’re all shorts (around 10k each roughly), but I’ve enjoyed it.

Dear Diary and Reluctance are already available, while book three – Repentence – is awaiting formatting and as soon as it’s ready will be released. The fourth – Dear John – is currently with pre readers. This will be the final book in the series, and in the new year, I will be working on combining them into an omnibus paperback.

I have to admit, I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the reception these books have received and a lot of the comments concern the way they’ve been written (diary and journal entries). I’m always pushing myself to be a little bit different where I can, and this format just worked. I will say now though, Repentence and Dear John are not the same format, but they are both different from a straight narrative.

Hopefully, both will be released soon, and I hope you love them as much as I’ve loved writing them.

Here are a couple of short teasers from both:

Repentence:

When his mom first told him a British chick was coming to stay with them, Tyler had been like a shark tasting fresh blood. He was going to charm her into his bed, then let her head back home, he hadn’t forseen her coming back thanks to his brother knocking her up. What choice did any of them have but to have her in the house, this time permanently?

“Hey, where d’you go just then?” Anna’s question brought his attention back to the present. Once again he could feel the warm sand on his bare feet and her small form in his arms. He smiled down at her.

“Sorry, I was thinking about home.” He bent to capture her lips with his own. The kiss making his heart rate pick up as every other kiss they’d shared had done. When he boarded the plane back in Arizona, he’d never expected much to happen on his vacation. He’d planned on lounging on the beach during the day, and drinking in bars in the evenings, but as he was checking into his hotel, he’d spotted Anna struggling with her bags and from the moment he’d helped her into the elevator, his plans had changed.

Plans that had never included falling in love with someone in a two week period.

######

Dear John:

“As many of you know, I spent a lot of time over in the UK. During my time there, I made many contacts with teachers in schools and one such contact has agreed to take part in this project with us. Inside these envelopes, you will find a name and address of your counterpart at a high school in Brighton, a town on the south coast of England. You will, over the entire semester, exchange letters with them and learn about them, their family, and the culture they associate themselves with in the UK. At the end of the semester, you will present your letters— so keep copies of those you mail out via myself and the school, after all, we don’t expect you to pay for postage to the UK.”

I stared at him, unsure what the point of this assignment was. We’d all learnt how to write letters years ago.

“In this technological age, handwritten letters are a rarity and this saddens me, so I aim to bring them back; even if only for one semester. Maybe some of you will end up with a pen pal for life and continue to correspond with them after this project is over. I predict that many of you will drop your correspondent like a hot potato once the semester is over, but as long as you learn something from them, that is your prerogative. You may open your envelopes.”

The sound of tearing paper filled the air. I slid the single sheet out. The only thing printed on it was:

                    John Davids
                   c/o 78-92 Falmer Academy
                   Falmer Road
                   Brighton
                   East Sussex
                   BN2 3FF

Groaning to myself at not getting a female pen pal, I tucked the paper into my bag and waited for Mr. Larsson to continue the lesson.

######

Hopefully, these will leave you wanting more! As soon as I have dates of release (or they’re live if I’m feeling sneaky), you’ll be the first to know. Make sure you’re following my Facebook Page to keep up to date with everything. That’s usually the first place I post anything.

Story Exchange

Earlier this year, I signed up to take part in a story exchange with some fanfic writers on Facebook. I used to write Twilight fanfic years ago, and I’m still friends with many that still do.

I used to take part in fic story exchanges, and the woman who organises those decided to organise one for original works.

The basic premise is this: You give 3 (pretty vague) prompts, a selection of 3 names and the genre you wish your story to be and what you are willing to write. Then, these prompts and names get swapped around and given to someone else. Everyone writes their story (2-10k) and posts on Wattpad on the same day.

Well, today is posting day and I thought I’d share the link to my story as well as the link to the tag so you can check out the others if you wish.

I can’t wait to read the story that was written for me.

Story Excange

My Story

Story Exchange Tag

If you decided to read the stories, please leave the author a little comment. It boosts our ego and self esteem😀

Shhhh… It’s a Secret, Apparently.

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If you’re a reader who is active on Facebook, Twitter, any social media, you’ll know that there are literally hundreds of authors (both indie and trad) trying to get you to buy their books. We post in FB groups, on our author pages, well thought out tweets, Tumblr posts, Thunderclap campaigns etc… the list goes on and on. The hardest part of this is to know what is actually working and what is potentially turning readers away.

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As a reader, someone who buys books and then talks about them on my review blog, there are a lot of things that other authors do that will instantly blacklist them.

  • Instant DMs on Twitter when I follow you telling me to check out your FB, Blog, Amazon page… nope. If you have an auto message bot set up on your account telling me about your product, then I will unfollow and never buy your books. Take the time to interact with your readers, gauge them as a person, not a consumer.
  • Inviting me to ‘like’ you author page the moment I accept your friend request. See above.
  • Spamming FB groups – this is a fine line. I, along with a lot of other authors, utilise FB promotional groups. That’s what they are there for. Every 3-4 days, I pick a book, write up a snazzy promo post (Or pick a pre written one – judge me) and I will post in around 25 groups that I’m a member of. Yes, this is spamming… however, I limit how often I do this. There is nothing worse than seeing the same authors doing what I do, either every single day, or even multiple times per day (I have seen it done twice a day). I get you have a lot of books you wish to promote, but after a while readers will start to hide your posts.
  • Authors with poorly written and mispelled social media posts. This is a bone of contention for me. Yes, I make mistakes and mispell my words all the dam time, especially when I post using my phone (fat finger syndrome), yet I will then go back and edit that post. More often than not, I am seeing authors mispelling simple words, using the wrong word, and even worse – using the wrong homophone in their post. I’m in no way a self proclaimed ‘grammar nazi’, but if you don’t know the difference between your and you’re, there, their, and they’re or to, two, and too, then why should I pay for you book? – That sounds extremely condescending, I know. But it’s a pet peeve.

There are the main things that bug me as a reader, and as a reader I wonder if these forms of marketing actually work.

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As mentioned above, I use Facebook promotion groups a couple times a week. I have noticed that on occasion, after I’m done ‘spamming’, I can get 2-3 sales. But, when I post these promotional posts in the groups, I also post them onto Tumblr, Google+, and on my FB Author page (which then tweets it for me), so in honesty, I can’t say for definite that the sale has come from FB.

I haven’t tried paid ads through Facebook as yet, but I have seen mixed reviews from friends. Admittedly, these sponsored posts get seen a hell of a lot more, by more people, but does that equal a boost in sales? I don’t know and it will be something I investigate further eventually.

I’ve also used a promotions company to host blog tours for new releases, and again, while that gets my books visible, it doesn’t also equate sales.

Social media as a whole is a great tool for advertising, but to get that post, tweet, or anything seen, you either have to pay for it or have a gazillion followers to share it. I’m lucky in a way, I have a few good friends who will share or retweet something when I post it and I appreciate that more than I can express, but again. Does visibility equal sales?

This brings me to Thunderclap campaigns.

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If you don’t know what these are, in very simple layman’s terms, it’s a bit like a kickstarter campaign without the money. Basically, an author (in this instance) sets up a campain to release on ‘x’ date. They need a certain amount of supporters for it to go live on that date. If they get the required amount, the message is posted on Facebook, twitter, and Tumblr. If they don’t reach the required amount, nothing is posted.

Now, I have used Thunderclap on three different occasions and I can honestly say that while I have reached the required amount of supporters, I can’t say for definite that they have helped with my sales.

This is the problem I and many other (indie especially) authors are facing. It seems like there is a secret strategy to boost sales, yet no one knows exactly what that strategy is. Other than word of mouth, none of these seemingly proactive advertising strategies seem to work (for me at least).

It often feels like that although we all do the same thing, what works for one, doesn’t work for others… it’s like a state secret or something, and I know I would LOVE to crack it wide open.

I’d love to hear if any of these have worked for you or not, or if you have any other ideas for advertising that don’t break the bank. Ones that don’t equate to me begging for you, the reader, to buy my book or I’ll not be able to buy my dog a new tennis ball, or those that piss potential readers off before they’ve even picked up one of my books.

 

L.A. is LIVE!

Gage gets his say…

Synopsis:

It Started in Texas, but as we all know, “…Gage Charles Weston will not start something without thinking about the consequences.” In this companion novella to the story that started it all, get a peek inside Gage’s head and find out what he was thinking and experiencing while Charlotte was turning his world upside down and vice versa.

 

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Buy Links:

B&N : iTunes : Kobo : Amazon

Excerpt:

Christmas with the Westons was always great fun, but being out of practice of having fifteen people in one house, five of whom are under the age of seven, was hard work. By the time Christmas Day was done with, I was itching to get out of the house, even just for an hour or so. Dad must have sensed it, because the morning after the big day, he came into the kitchen and handed me my old shotgun. Without a word, I followed him out to his truck, a box of shells resting on the dash.

It had been so long since Dad and I had been down to the old pasture to shoot; over the years we’d taken a bunch of stuff over there to use as target practice, but this time we raided the trash and gathered up a load of old beer cans. It took me a while to get used to the recoil against my shoulder, but I was soon numb to it and hitting can after can.

“Thanks for this Dad; it was just what I needed.” I told him once we’d run out of ammo, and sat on the hood of the truck, a flask of strong coffee between us.

“It was written all over your face boy, you’re not yourself this year.” There was no way I was getting down from the trunk unless I told him what was going on, and the thought made me sigh. “Boy, I’m worried about you. You haven’t got one of your… ‘girls’ pregnant have you.”

Neither of my parents approved of how I lived my life when it came to sex, but never came out and said anything straight to me about it, the odd comment like this one were usually passed and ignored.

“No dad, I haven’t; I always make sure I’m protected. Remember that talk we had when I was in sixth grade?” Dad laughed at the memory, making me smile a little. “But, don’t worry. I’ve not even had sex in three weeks.” The fact he was surprised by statement was a little depressing.

“Oh, really.” I watched as he poured us another cup of coffee. “What caused the change of heart?”

“I met a girl.” It was the only way I could even begin to explain.

“That’s great son, your mom will be happy.” I could just imagine my dad stalking into the house and announcing to my mom that I’d met someone, and Mom digging out bridal magazines. I shuddered at the Hallmark movie playing out before me.

“Dad, slow down. It’s not that simple.”

Liverpool 2016

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After the original event was cancelled, Leigh Stone stepped up and decided to get the event go ahead in order to recoup any losses made by authors and readers. In 27 days, she was able to hire a room, bring together the above authors (and models), and a whole host of readers and bloggers.

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Myself, my assistant for the weekend (my best mate Sarah), another author Nicola C Priest, and blogger/volunteer Vikki Love arrived at the hotel on the Friday. Most of the evening was spent in the bar meeting up with other authors we’d already met, and other we hadn’t.

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 Saturday morning, we headed into the room and began to set up. Thankfully, I have a Sarah, otherwise my table would have looked like a jumble sale, but she made it all pretty. And I need to give a very special shout out to Ye Olde Swag Shoppe for providing me with the amazing swag I had to give away to readers.

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Because of where I was sitting (I think I was put in the naughty corner), I didn’t realise straight away when the doors were opened until people reached my table to either buy a book or to collect a pre order. I was too busy people watching, and snapping a few sneaky photos.

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I still find it a little strange when a readers asks to have a photo with me, but a couple did which I was honoured to do. I know there a couple more floating round, but I didn’t have them saved.

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The signing flew by, and it was soon to pack away and head up to the room to get ready for the evening’s… shenanigans. We dressed up, Western Style, and descended on the bar for food and a lot of drink.

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An amazing weekend was had by all, so much so – we’ve already decided to do it again next year. Same place, near enough the same time. Check out my events page for more details. I for one can’t wait!

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Cover Reveal – Looking Back from L.A.

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Wow… time certainly flew around pretty fast and already it’s cover reveal day for Gage’s POV. I really hope you like it, because I adore it and think it tells the reader so much about the story inside.

Synopsis:

It Started in Texas, but as we all know, “…Gage Charles Weston will not start something without thinking about the consequences.” In this companion novella to the story that started it all, get a peek inside Gage’s head and find out what he was thinking and experiencing while Charlotte was turning his world upside down and vice versa.

JPG Kindle Cover (1)

Cover designed by The Graphics Shed

**Praise for It Started in Texas**

“The banter between the girls is hilarious, they have such a beautiful friendship even though they all live countries apart from each other but they support each other so selflessly” – Natalie M (Amazon Reviewer)

“M B just makes all of the relationships within the group work, they feel real, I totally wanted to be in there with them! All characters were so laid back and relatable.” – Stacey G (Amazon Reviewer)

“I love how Charlotte came across as a ‘normal’ person. This author has a great talent of portraying her characters as real and she rocked it with this story.” – Philomena Callan (Goodreads Reviewer)

Teaser Tuesday – Slots (As Featured in The Edge of Madness Boxset) – R. E. Hargrave

My good friend R. E. Hargrave is part of a horror boxset releasing tomorrow. Check out the excerpt below from her submission, Slots. I’ve preordered my copy, have you? Links at the bottom of the post.
unleashes MARCH 01, 2016
 
 
Official genre of box set: SUSPENSE, THRILLER, HORROR
Content warning:
RATED MA 18+ for mature content, V — violence, S — graphic sexual situations, L — vulgar language. Not suitable for anyone under the age of 18. Reader discretion is advised.
MARCH MADNESS as you’ve NEVER seen it… 15 COMPLETE NOVELS AND NOVELLAS FROM YOUR FAVORITE AUTHORS IN ONE PRETTY PACKAGE THROUGH 
 
 
 
Below is an excerpt from R.E. Hargrave’s genre debut, a horrific short story not meant for the faint-hearted, SLOTS:
 
Although Nolan had already told me what he’d seen, witnessing it first hand on the tapes had my guts flip-flopping worse than the buffet gods. With no audio we couldn’t hear what the man in black was saying to them, but I could see Taylor’s clear adoration with him. She was doing that finger twirl thing with her braid and laughing a lot. She also kept leaning into the guy… almost stumbling. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that something was very wrong about the whole scene.
Hope had always been level-headed and aware of things. I’d never not seen her in total control of her surroundings. Leo replayed the footage and I watched closely, noting how Hope became more relaxed, less alert, as she sipped on the drink the man had given her. Taylor was giggling and falling into the mystery man while Hope stood by, giving a half-hearted laugh each time.
Hot tears pricked at the corner of my eye when I watched them walk off screen. The guy was practically carrying Taylor while Hope followed behind like an unknowing puppy. I had no doubts whatsoever that he’d drugged the girls.
“Mr. Schwarz, I think we need to call the police. Right now, please.”
(c) 2016, R.E. Hargrave, SLOTS
#99c BUY LINKS: