IndieView with Dominic Green, author of Warlords of Llantatis

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P J O’Rourke and Hunter S Thompson taught me that whatever everyone else is doing, I should step outside of it and lampoon it cruelly.

Dominic Green – 3 November 2016 Continue reading

IndieView with Michael Schreiber, author of One-Man Show

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I really believe a wide range of readers will connect with the overriding “human interest” aspects of this book, from the way Bernard fully embraced living a long life of exploration, creativity, and adventure, to his insatiable quest for human connection. 

Michael Schreiber – 31 October 2016 Continue reading

IndieView with Lori Forrest, author of The Castle in the Bubble

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The character, Erin, shares many of the same qualities as her namesake: imaginative, adventurous, kind and enjoys helping others.

Lori Forrest – 27 October 2016 Continue reading

Reviewer IndieView with Lottie from Novellique

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About Reviewing

How did you get started?

Procrastination! During a week’s break before my last AS exam, I started playing around with the idea of a book blog. During that week I did a lot of research into which blog type I should use, trying to find a name that I liked. I’d used both Tumblr and WordPress before, but I decided on WordPress because I was most comfortable that it suited the content I wanted to produce. Novellique came about as a combination of ‘novel’ and ‘unique’ – yes, technically it should be spelt Novelique but I added in the second ‘l’ for aesthetic value. Once exams had finished, I started looking for other blogs to follow and then started posting content.

How do you review a book? Is it a read first, and then make notes, or do you make notes as you go along?

I try to make notes as a go, but when I’m busy I don’t always get the chance to write my thoughts down. My opinions definitely change shape as I read, so when I’m looking back at notes I’ve written I generally tend to have a more developed and complex opinion. I’m still trying different things out even now.

What are you looking for?

I’m looking for, most of all, something that makes me want to disregard perfection. I’m looking for something that will mean something to me, that will suck me in and refuse to let go. Be it fantasy, contemporary, science fiction: I want it to challenge me, make me question my own viewpoint and expose me to new perspectives and ideas. Nothing much, really.

If a book has a great plot, great characters, but the grammar is less than perfect, how do you deal with that?

It depends to what extent – if the grammar is preventing me from understanding what is happening, I’m not going to be able to read it. It’s also about the frequency: small grammatical errors I can ignore if they only happen once or twice – I might not even notice them if the story is that good – but if there are errors on every single page I’d be likely to stop reading. If I’ve been given an ARC (or the book has yet to be published) I’d send a note to the author explaining that I find the grammar makes it hard to read and leave it up to them how they wish to deal with it. If it’s already published, I’d still send the note but I would imagine it would be much more difficult to fix one already in print.

How long does it take you to get through, say, an eighty thousand-word book?

A quick google search has told me this is an average of 320 pages, but I have no idea if that is a paperback, hardback etc. It’s difficult to say, so I’ll rate books by length in terms of examples I remember reading. The Mortal Instruments, at the time of reading a five book series, took a week to read (a book per day, I had plenty of time to read). Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, the entire series) took six months to read. I’m a relatively fast reader even if I don’t like a novel, but the flow will change how fast that ultimately is. There are a lot of different factors that will change how fast I read something.

How did you come up with your rating system, and could you explain more about the rating system?

I used to do both a star rating (like Goodreads) and a percentage rating – however, I now stick with a star rating. It’s the same as Goodreads. One star is a DNF, two stars is finished but didn’t like, three stars is okay or neutral, four stars is good and five stars is excellent. I don’t post anything below three stars in most situations, especially if I’ve been asked to review something. On Goodreads I’ll still rate it but I won’t do a full review unless I want to talk about something specific.

What advice could you give to authors looking to get their books reviewed?

I actually made a post about how to approach book reviewers with a request. To shorten it down into the simplest advice ever, be polite. Respect that a book reviewer is doing this off their own back, for a hobby, and is not required to accept. Don’t shout about your awards and feedback from other people (I’ve spoken to several others about this – we’ll likely just delete the request, we aren’t interested in what other people have to say, only what we think). Don’t pester a reviewer, although if it’s been several months you may want to check in with them again. Don’t try to create drama – contact them directly via an email or twitter DM, never in a social forum. Lastly, don’t feel bad if they reject you: even after checking their review policy, they are many reasons (none of them your fault) why the reviewer has said no.

Do you get readers emailing you and thanking you for a review?

I don’t get readers emailing me, but I do get authors emailing me – which is always nice. One author in particular (Adara Quick, author of The Dream Protocol series) was super nice about thanking me over Goodreads, sharing my review and also gave me a physical copy of the book once it was published – of course indie authors can’t do this for everyone, but if you want to show your appreciation, helping share the review is a good way to go about it). Readers will usually comment, which will generate further discussion and is always a welcome thing.

My advice to authors on getting a ‘bad’ review (hasten to add that might mean a perfectly honest, well written, fair review – just bad from the author’s point of view) is to take what you can from it and move on. Under no circumstances to ‘argue’ with the reviewer – would you agree with that?

Definitely, especially if they’ve read the novel off their own back, but also if you’ve requested a review from that blogger. Trying to argue with a reviewer comes off as rude, even if you’re trying to be diplomatic – it makes it sound like you don’t respect the opinion of the reviewer. I can see this might be difficult when the review isn’t constructive and is being rude, but authors have to learn to be the bigger person. Respect reviewers and most of us will respect you in return.

About Writing

What are the most common mistakes that you see authors making?

Two things immediately spring to mind. The first is either describing too much (interrupting the natural flow of a novel) or not describing too much (disorientating the reader). The second is introducing too many new terms, names and phrases (especially in fantasy or science fiction) too quickly.

We’re told that the first page, paragraph, chapter, is absolutely key in making or breaking a book. Agents typically request only the first five pages of a novel; what do you think about that? If a book hasn’t grabbed you by the first five pages, do you put it down?

The first five pages is a little extreme (for me, personally, as a reviewer). If the book has a good hook – a good first chapter, I would say – I’m more likely to rate it higher because it controls my initial opinion. Take the opening chapter to City of Bones and Nevernight (two of my favourite opening chapters). These books are both 5 starbooks, for me. I can’t remember other books with openings which I didn’t like, which I suppose is the point – a good opening will make it

Is there anything you will not review?

Anything except erotica, pretty much.

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About Publishing

What do you think of the oft-quoted comment that the “slush-pile has moved online”?

To some extent I agree. A novel physically published doesn’t necessarily mean it is automatically better than those published online (there are many examples I can think of but won’t name) but with self-publishing becoming more accessible, it means anyone can publish – even people who aren’t necessarily producing writing to the best of their ability or putting in the effort to edit. That being said, without bad writing we wouldn’t appreciate good writing so much!

Do you think attitudes are changing with respect to indie or self-published titles?

I think opinions are to some extent. Indie and self-published novels are still reviewed differently for the vast majority of people – I like to take the form of publishing into account, because applying the same expectations of a mainstream novel to a self-published novel wouldn’t be fair. Large publishing companies can afford better editors, better cover designers and better marketing – therefore I’m less willing to ignore mistakes, especially in the writing (grammar, spelling and typing mistakes, for example).

Do you have any ideas or comments on how the industry can ‘filter’ good from bad, aside from reviews?

I guess the most important thing is for an author to never settle for second best, and then to learn from their reviews – always trying to improve and get better. I believe that, with practice, anyone can produce something good – even if it needs editing and developing and second (and third, fourth and fifth) opinions.

End of Interview:

To read Lottie’s reviews, visit Novellique.

IndieView with Jim Mosquera, author of 2020

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I published a couple of non-fiction books on the financial markets and economy in 2011 and 2015. This novel brings some of that content to life via characters.

Jim Mosquera – 20 October 2016

The Back Flap

Chandler Scott, a rising TV journalist, tries to connect the dots in a country mired in another financial crisis. Cyber terrorists add to the flames of fear. The public yearns for help from its leaders who respond in ways previously unimagined. Politics and economics collide during the Presidential election of 2020.

About the book

What is the book about?

Chandler Scott is a TV journalist working for the international network, El Mundo. He hosts a show covering financial and political topics. The backdrop of the story is a United States mired in a financial slump and terrorized by cyber hackers. The public demands government do something, which it gets in unexpected ways. Chandler uncovers, with the help of his mentors, a plan to mold the US and world economies giving the government more control over the affairs of its subjects. The novel culminates with the presidential election of 2020 and a historical action taken by the President.

When did you start writing the book?

Fall of 2015

How long did it take you to write it?

4-5 months

Where did you get the idea from?

This is an original idea. I classify the novel as realistic fiction. The backdrop of the story consists of actual events with a slight projection into the near future (4 years). The characters are fictional though many of the organizations/institutions in the novel are real. I published a couple of non-fiction books on the financial markets and economy in 2011 and 2015. This novel brings some of that content to life via characters.

I also anticipated an explosive 2016 election cycle, which is why I hoped readers would have interest in a novel with a political storyline.

Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?

There are parts of the book that I understand will not be of interest to the casual reader. There are certain things that need to be explained in order to maintain the credibility of the work and to add to its gravity. There is also a very important figure in the book serving as the protagonist’s mentor and some of his dialogue may not be of interest to many readers, though this was necessary to establish him.

The above, however, will not detract from the story or its explosive sections.

What came easily?

The storyline came very easy. I could foresee the political problems facing the country after the 2008 election. I wrote about the intersection of politics and economics in my non-fiction texts. This novel brings politics, financial crisis, and cyber terror together in an ending that will make the reader wonder if such an events were possible in the country’s future.

Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?

The characters are entirely fictitious though there are small elements of their personality that were taken from real people.

We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?

The majority of my reading has been non-fiction. There are no authors that influenced my writing. From a subject matter perspective, there may be parallels to Tom Clancy novels in the following respect: he uses realistic military/spy details and creates stories around Jack Ryan whereas I use realistic financial/political/cyber details to create, what will be a trilogy, around Chandler Scott.

I read that when Clancy wrote Hunt for Red October, the text was so replete with detail that his publisher told him he needed to pare the novel substantially. I’ve tried to be conscious of the detail component to ensure readability.

Do you have a target reader?

My sense is that if you like young adult, erotica, fantasy or love stories, you probably will not like this. If you enjoy reading something with a potent storyline based on realistic things supported by strong characters, you are probably a better fit. The book could also be of interest to someone wanting a peek into the near future, though not from a science fiction sense.

About Writing

Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?

I start with a short (one paragraph) description. Then I create an outline with a little pseudo-manuscript within it. Separately, I create a spreadsheet with scene and chapter numbers that detail location, time/date, characters in scene, and brief description of scene.

Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?

I do outline. Once I have a good sense of how it’s going to lay out, I use Scrivener, an application tailored for authors that has many more capabilities than I ever use.

Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?

I use multiple passes for editing, marking each scene in the process. The Scrivener app allows me to mark an editing “stage” in the process.

Did you hire a professional editor?

I have not to date.

Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?

Seldom. When I do, it tends to be something that would tend to be more mellow than strong.

About Publishing

Did you submit your work to Agents?

I didn’t for my first two non-fiction books. I did for the fictional work.

What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? Was it a particular event or a gradual process?

For my first two books, I didn’t have any expectation of any publisher wanting to print my work. For my third book, I solicited many agents. That process is quite time consuming since it is essential to find someone who markets your genre. After finding such an agent, each has their own desired format for project submittal. By that point, I had already completed the novel so I had to wait for many weeks for a reply, if any.

I then attempted through a smaller platform called Inkshares that proved wholly unsuccessful so I simply went forward, once again, on my own. I had the experience from my other two books so it was no big deal.

Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself?

The first two covers I did myself. For the third, there was what I would term minor assistance though I could have easily done it myself. I am going to publish my fourth book later in the year and I designed the cover myself. Many years ago, I purchased a simple cover design software package whose best attribute is formatting for publishing layout. You still have to do all of the creative work.

Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?

Marketing plan has always consisted of FM/AM radio interviews and podcasts. This time, I joined a book club where authors and readers review work and post them to Amazon, Goodreads, and Facebook. I also have someone attempting to secure broader radio interviews.

Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?

Honestly, I would discourage it with the following qualifier – do it for fun. If you approach it more as a hobby, you will be more satisfied. Much like music and film artists, there is an element of good fortune in discovering someone. There are probably many good musicians and actors who’ve never been discovered. The same could be said for authors.

About You

Where did you grow up?

I was born in the Central American country of Panama and raised there and in St. Louis, Missouri.

Where do you live now?

Suburb of St. Louis, MO

What would you like readers to know about you?

There are important changes which will occur in our country in the coming years The public is largely unaware of what is causing these changes and the 2016 presidential election is the seminal example of the nation’s divide. I have attempted to explain the country’s condition in my non-fiction work and tell a near-term story in my novels.

End of Interview:

For more from Jim visit his website or follow him on Twitter.

Get your copy of 2020 from Amazon US or Amazon UK.

IndieView with D.M. Barr, author of Expired Listings

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I would constantly edit to add clues, cut out parts that were superfluous, etc. and then once it was all out and I saw what I had, I changed it. Five different times! Revision is where the magic happens.

D.M. Barr – 17 October 2016 Continue reading

IndieView with F.J Stewart, author of The Hatchling: Soul Keeper

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It came from observing how we treat the planet, and each other, and what would happen if the human population went back down to under 100 million.

F.J. Stewart – 13 October 2016

The Back Flap

t is two thousand years into the future after the Great Change, when the planet turned over, and the human species is down to about eleven million worldwide. Magic has reentered this world, and the environment is pristine.

And so it is, on a calm green sea sails the Taraway, an old two-piston wreck, carrying its crew of fishermen. The crew notices a strange thing: a damaged vessel surging through the water embroiled in its own personal storm, with a ravaged woman tied to the mast. She is stranded on the ocean terribly weakened, with a broken ship and no retinue. The kind captain and his crew take her in and become intoxicated by her beauty.

But she has guiled the crew into assisting her. In fact she is the queen of a highly destructive alien race called the Voth. The queen is on a desperate mission across the world to save her race – a mission that threatens to destroy all of humanity, putting an end to earth’s peaceful existence.

About the book

What is the book about?

In short, it is an epic, post-apocalyptic, fantasy/adventure story, about a desperate alien queen who is on a journey across the world to save her race. A small group of humans are sent to find and stop her, because if they do not, all of humanity will perish. Out of this, there emerges a half-human creature with the latent power to destroy both species. The ensuing conflict is a story of morality versus expediency, love and hate and the primal urge to survive that lies at the heart of all life.

When did you start writing the book?

2014

How long did it take you to write it?

Six months.

Where did you get the idea from?

The idea came to me over a period of years. It came from observing how we treat the planet, and each other, and what would happen if the human population went back down to under 100 million. There would be room for quantum magic, telepathy, teleportation, and intellectually evolved animals, and secret creatures would come out of hiding…such as Sasquatches.

Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?

I had to learn how to type! Had no idea before then. I wrote almost the entire story by hand in a notebook. Then I had a voice-recognition software program that I read the story into. I added more to the story by typing it out. Then my dear daughter retyped the entire thing. Big process. Almost 140,000 words.

What came easily?

The characters came easily.

Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?

I would say they are mainly fictitious, although, I feel artists and writers are always influenced by people and events in their life.

We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?

Ernest Hemingway. His truncated way of writing, how everything is below the surface, simple, direct. I don’t like laying everything out for the reader. I trust they’re intelligent enough to read between the lines, so to speak.

Do you have a target reader?

Any adult that likes to take their mind for a ride.

About Writing

Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?

I have a direction of where I want that chapter to go, and after two to three sentences, it starts to flow.

Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?

I don’t do any outlining. I hand-write most of my stories, and when I type it out, things alter, change, and move around a bit.

Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?

Edit when I’m finished.

Did you hire a professional editor?

I did hire an editor, paid him a bit of money, but found out he didn’t read the story. So I have my very astute and supportive daughter proofread for me. She has a friend who is a professional editor who voluntarily edited my book because she was interested in the story. And I had many close friends and family members read the story in order to give me feedback.

Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?

No music. But there’s always music in my head.

About Publishing

Did you submit your work to Agents?

I tried but couldn’t find one.

What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? Was it a particular event or a gradual process?

Gradual process. I didn’t want a whole group of people try to change my story. I didn’t want to sound like somebody else .

Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself?

Professionally done. I drew the image on the cover, but had a graphic designer put the jacket together.

Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?

Well, I’m winging it a bit. But that astute daughter of mine? She organizes me that way. I have a book signing happening in October, at a popular book store in the city nearby.

Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?

Be original, avoid cliches (unless you’re making fun of them).

About You

Where did you grow up?

Western Canada

Where do you live now?

Okanagan Highlands of BC, Canada

What would you like readers to know about you?

I like to make people laugh.

What are you working on now?

The final book in The Hatchling Trilogy: Cascadia.

End of Interview:

Get your copy of The Hatchling: Soul Keeper from Amazon US or Amazon UK.

Reviewer IndieView with Meghana of Love Connection Haven

 

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I don’t believe a book can be categorized as good or bad. It all depends on the reader.

Meghana – 10 October 2016 Continue reading

IndieView with Ryan Uytdewilligen, author of Tractor

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That’s the toughest time in life because everything is all you and you spend all your time trying to figure out who you are and what you want to do. 

Ryan Uytdewilligen – 6 October 2016 Continue reading

IndieView with Ann Campanella, author of Motherhood: Lost and Found

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I wanted to share my story so that others might have an emotional roadmap to help them on this difficult journey.

Ann Campanella – 3 October 2016 Continue reading