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[Book Blitz] Blessing of Luna by Blaise Ramsay

 

 

New Adult Paranormal Romance
Date Published:  4/20/2018
Publisher: FyreSyde Publishing
 
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Lonely. That’s how it felt when Damien Pierce returned to Big Timber, Montana. It had been his childhood home until the day he was hit by a speeding car only to learn he wasn’t badly hurt. The experience landed him the label of the town freakshow.
Following the death of his foster mom, Damien soon disconnected from the world around him. That was at least, until he met her. She looked human but something about made her appear otherworldly to him. He knew he shouldn’t but he wanted her. He would do anything to get to know her. To have her.
Jillian Styles was immortal. Cursed by a dark god never to find rest. A shifter capable of taking the form of a beautiful wolf. She had searched for her lover’s reincarnated soul for centuries only to find he was nowhere to be found. When she meets Damien, her world is turned upside down. She falls in love with him instantly and begins to pursue him.
However, Damien soon learns the darker part of Jill’s world. He finds himself on the hit list of the same vampire Lord responsible for killing Jill’s lover and reigniting the flames of an old war. His daughter desires Damien and vows to have him at any cost.
With the help of Alexander Kain, the mysterious wolf shifting soldier, Damien will learn what he thought he knew was only tip of the paranormal iceberg. He soon finds himself in the eyes of a vindictive and rage-filled dark god.
If you like hot lycanthrope guys, overly possessive vampire chicks, vindictive gods, strong female leads and some hot sex scenes, this book is for you.
 
Excerpt
Realization hit Damien as to who he was staring down. The same dark god that had challenged him stood in Lilith’s form. Damien’s heart inside his chest burned as he thought about Kain and all he’d done for him. Jill. Dad…Rob…Gabriel…Holt…Chelsea.
“Looks like it’s just you and me, Damien. You can surrender and die in peace or you can fight and die anyway. Your choice.”
Save him. Luna’s voice inside of Damien’s mind drew his attention. Save him. I beg of you. Please.
Damien’s body became surrounded with a radiant light so bright it forced Lilith step back. Her wing covered her face. He braced himself on his front legs, roaring at the monster in front of him responsible for taking so much.
The light became so intense not even the lycans could stare at it.
When it finally faded, Damien stood in his true lycan form. His white fur blew in the wind like mist at the tip of his stiffened ears to the end of his tail. The dark markings of his wolf form only seen on the tips of his ears, feet and tail. The fur on the back of his neck was thicker, almost resembling a mane.
“By the gods, he looks like…” Lune stood in awe.
“Tenebris.” Gabriel finished, his voice nothing but a whisper.
Stoker used the opportunity to sneak off, nursing the wound on his arm inflicted by Gabriel when he shifted into his full lycan form.
The vampires hissed at the light rising from the east, trying to flee towards the waning night. They had fallen right into Damien’s plan and were intercepted. Howls and snarls joined dying screams as the vampires were overwhelmed.
“What trickery is this?!” Lilith’s fangs spat as she tried to speak.
Damien ignored her, seeing the fear in her eyes as he made his way over to Kain on the ground.
The alpha was so weak he couldn’t retain his shifted form.
“Kain.” Damien’s voice was a comfortable echo. Warm and reassuring. “Alex. Can you hear me?”
Kain opened his eyes, slightly jumping. “Tenebris?”
Damien shook his head. “No. It’s me.”
“Damien. How?”
Damien took Kain’s jacket he was always wearing around his waist and covered his friend with it. “Stay here. Don’t move and don’t die.”
He stood back up and went to face Lilith. The lycans in his way stepped aside, their heads bowed. “This ends here, Lilith. You won’t hurt anyone else.”
About the Author

FyreSyde Publishing owner and founder Blaise Ramsay started out her creative career in the conceptual art and design industry. For fifteen years she spent her time crafting characters and world for others. Recently she shifted her attention to the world of literature where she writes mostly paranormal romance. Her debut title, Blessing of Luna is the first of four books in the Wolfgods series. A portion of the proceeds of her book sales go to help charities. When Blaise isn’t busy working with sexy wolf boys, she can be found reviewing books for fellow authors, working for a few tour companies, holding interviews and offering guest posts. A professional book blogger, mom, wife and full blood Texan, Blaise loves nothing more than helping others, meeting new people and coaching folks in Scrivener. If you would like to get in touch with Blaise, the best way to contact her would be via email at bramsayauthor@gmail.com. She loves to hear from people and get questions from her readers.
Contact Links
 
Purchase Links
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[Book Marketing 101] Know Your Target Audience!

“Marketing is telling the world you’re a rock star. Content Marketing is showing the world you are one.” – Robert Rose

Let’s say you just finished writing, editing, and getting beta readers to read your latest, greatest book. You’ve made it the best you can be and are ready to release it to the world.

Wait? Where are the readers you hope to find? How are they going to see your book in a vast world of social media, book promotion and saturated Amazon pages?

If you’re asking these questions, you probably hadn’t taken the time to locate what authors and publishers call the “Target Audience.”

Light it up (1)What is a target audience?

Defined, a target audience is the readership you hope to market your book to. For example, for authors of paranormal romance with a focus on wolf shifters, you’re probably hoping to catch the attention of people who are fans of the shifter sub-genre. Taking it further, what age range are you going for? Are you hoping to catch male or female readers or both?

How can you find them?

  1. Go to your local bookstore. Look around at the different sections of the fantasy, young adult, romance, etc. What are they looking at? When in doubt, talk to them. You don’t have to bash them over the head with the fact you have a book. Just strike up a conversation to find out what books they’ve read recently or recommend. If they seem interested, then, author drop. Offer an Advanced Reader’s Copy. Many love a good free book in exchange for a friendly conversation.
  2. Utilize Amazon’s search bar. Type in some keywords you may think relate (and some that don’t) to your book. What are the shoppers in the kindle and book categories looking at? Take down some lists of some popular titles and utilize the “Customers Also Bought” section. Keep notes of the authors and the book titles.
  3. Use GoodReads. Goodreads has this nice little feature called book lists. Many readers have their TBR (to be read) lists named by genre. For example, for Biker romance lovers, you might find lists titled MC Romance or Biker Romance.
  4. Find your tribe. What this means is google some of the forums, facebook groups, book clubs, etc who have a focus on your genre. Offer ARCs in exchange for reviews and see what they have to say.
  5. Use Demographics. This focuses on where they are located, how old their are, financial standing, etc. Yes this is important. You can use Twitter and Facebook to find such information. Who are your main fans?
  6. Check out Market Trends. This goes along with using Amazon’s search bar. Try to use helpful tools like Google Trends to see what readers are doing. Knowing this can narrow down where you should go and who is looking for your book.
  7. Utilize Google Adwords. Adwords is a powerful tool. It can show you some of the top searched words in Google’s search engine.
  8. Ask a bookseller. While you’re in the bookstore looking for some potential prospects, why not get insight from the store on what is selling? Often they’ll share some of the titles that are flying off the shelves. This can help you greatly because you’re getting an insider’s look at the market.
  9. Offer up some surveys. Get some short answers involving popular subjects and genres. Readers often don’t mind answering these because they get curious as to what it is you’re looking for.
  10. When In Doubt; Consult a Mentor. Talk to other authors who have written your genre and age range. Authors love to help new and upcoming authors get over the plateau because too often, they remember being there. We all started out not knowing a thing. Finding coaches may help alleviate some stress.

Some helpful tools:Light it up

  • KDP Rocket – This is a helpful little tool endorsed by Jeff Goins and the Kindlepreneur. It helps to take away the trouble of hours of keyword typing and research. For a one time price of 97$, this is a powerful tool. Hurry because it looks like it might go to a subscription basis.
  • Kristen Martin’s course, Valiance – Kristen walks you through her own journey as a self-publisher. A five-time Amazon best seller, Kristin clearly has things under control as far as finding and marketing to her target audience. She also offers a neat little pdf on how to write a first draft in two months just for subscribing!
  • Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn has some helpful information that walks you through the self-publishing process and a free eBook to help. She is one of the leading experts on indie and self-publishing. Her writing podcast, The Creative Penn offers different interviews and helpful information as well.
  • Jane Friedman is one of my favorites and another successful self-publisher. Her blog at janefriedman.com is loaded with helpful information.

Remember, you are never alone in this journey! Writing and blogging can be lonely but there are people who are willing to offer their expertise. If you have an experience that you found helped you find your audience, please leave us a comment! We would love to hear from you!

If the content here today helped you and you would like to see some more, why not follow via email, bloglovin or right here on wordpress!

Before you go….

Interested in writing for us? Want a book review? Would like to guest post or want to offer your own insight? Feel free to contact us! We are always looking for authors who want to share their experiences!

Contact: website: https://fyresydepublishing.com/ | email bramsayauthor@gmail.com | For guest posts, interviews, booking for events, etc contact fyresydepublising@gmail.com

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[Book Marketing 101] Hybrid Marketing

When approaching the world of an indie or self-published author, what is the biggest line of questions you often hear or ask yourself?

  1. How am I going to market this in an ever-growing industry?
  2. How can I make my book stand out against so many others on Amazon?
  3. How can I market on a budget?

These are just a few questions that can be terrifying when one is just starting out.

So often we are tempted to pour what funds we have into online ads on Amazon, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. How about book promo sites? Surely those will help, right?

The answer is YES, those DO help BUT they should NOT be the primary way of Today Ismarketing. These are all online marketing techniques and can help in building exposure but how many times have you honestly gotten on your social media and clicked on a buy button or link? Probably not often. I know I don’t.

To further explain, how long does it take the average publishing company to get back to their queries? Sometimes rather quickly for smaller press but not for the big dogs like Penguin, right?

This is the same as online. So often we see such high volumes of tweets, photos, Facebook posts, etc covered in book promotion. Sometimes those can get overlooked.

Fear Not! Hybrid marketing is your friend!

Here’s a not-so-secret, secret. Publishers, agents, interviewers, and scouts all attend LIVE book events and conventions!

This where hybrid marketing can come in handy. As previously mentioned in another article, social media is a wonderful tool for staying in touch with your readers and mentors. However, be willing to leave the computer and go out and meet people. Our readers are out there!

In order to utilize this truly powerful tool, one has to understand what it is.

 

Simply put, hybrid marketing is the utilization of both online and offline marketing techniques in order to draw in an audience and build not only your author platform but reach your potential readers!

How it can be used

 

Book SigningWhere_ Half Price BooksWhen_ 51218What time_ 1pmYou can reach out to venues you know will want to help you promote and sell your book.

These can include bookstores, libraries, book festivals, conventions, bloggers, and reviewers. The list goes on! Who is it that is in your target audience? Knowing this can help you better understand how to incorporate this technique into your own marketing planI cannot stress the importance of a solid marketing plan! If you do not have one, it is likely you will fail!

Hybrid Marketing Expands Your Network

You signed a deal with your local bookstore to appear for a signing. They’re happy to have you! You get there and shake the hands of a manager or event coordinator and BAM! A networking bond is formed and it’s all because you left the screen and shook a hand! The beauty of it is, they’ll often ask you to come back! So now you’ve made a bond with an individual who can be a long lasting relationship in your career as an author and who knows, a loyal fan!

Make Your Online Marketing Work for you when You’re on Vacation

This is when social media and online ads should work for you. When you find you’re wearing down and need those couple of months off or you know you’re going to be at a convention all weekend, make your ads work! You can meet your readers and get your book promoted at the same time. For example, say you’re getting a small press table at a major convention. You know you’re going to be gone all weekend. Start up an ad on Amazon! The cost can be as low as 3$ a day at .03 per keyword. You don’t spend a dime unless someone clicks! Run a promo through sites like Whizzbuzz books for a whole year at a low price. Make sense? You’re not beating down Twitter with “Buy My Book” tweets and folks are still seeing your book.

 

Hybrid Marketing Gives Attention to Your Amazon, Goodreads and Websites!

So often, people want to take a free bookmark or a business card with an author’s contact information including their website. Always stress your website as your central hub! Think of your social media, Amazon and Goodreads as webbing. They all should be connected to a central hub or your author website! Appearing in person at book signings, author appearances, readings, etc can give you a chance to bring attention to these pages! It is an offline marketing technique that can really help!

John J. Doe
Always have a business card

Do not overspend! Budget your Ads and never go over 100$ at a Live Event….at First!

Marketing can be an expensive endeavor if the audience isn’t where you are. It may be trial and error at first which can either be beneficial or not. It happens! BUT! Here is where knowing ahead of time can help. For live shows, start small. I recommend to start with what are called Small Press tables. They rarely go over 75$ and often come with two badges for conventions or a table space at festivals. This can help you build yourself a platform while networking with others who may want to talk to you about your book. These have been crucial in my own journey so I promise, I have seen the results!

Hybrid Marketing Shows Professionalism/LongevityToday Is (1)

Say an author appears at a panel and gives you their knowledge. They are building their rapport with their readers because it gives them a chance to meet and greet them to ask questions in person. Showing up to speak at conferences with confidence shows a level of professionalism. Potential agents and publishers often see these traits and will seek out the author to speak with them. The fact that the author has taken the time to research market trends and how to go about marketing their book scores high because they tend to want to know the longevity, especially in indie and self-published authors, to continue their craft and market wisely. Think of it this way, when you go to a job interview, a question you might get is “Where do you see yourself in five years?” It’s a question we often don’t know the answer to and can cost a position. This is no different in the world of literature.

It Gives Power to the Author’s Most Powerful tool: Word of Mouth

When you meet the eye and shake the hand of someone watching as you sign your book and include a free bookmark, that person will go to their friends and let them know they just a good book from a really kind person! This is word of mouth and it is the most powerful tool in an author of any publishing field’s toolbox! Get your readers talking! They’re giving their time to read your book in a sea of books! Hybrid marketing can help your book reach multiple audiences and they will love your signature!!!!

Most Importantly: NEVER GIVE UP!! Marketing is a process!!! Very rarely are you successful right off the bat. That’s okay! Remember you wrote your book baby because you wanted to tell a story!


If these tips help you and you will like to see more, why not follow us either on Bloglovin, email or right here on WordPress? Feel free to share your own as well!

Have you found something that works for you, got any more questions, just want to chat? Hit us up at fyresydepublishing@gmail.com

***Want to write for the blog? Suggest a book? Get a review or interview? We invite you to check out the policies first and if you want to, go ahead and email us or contact us via the contact box!***

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[#NaNoProMo] Budget Social Media; Invest in Live Events

“It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone.” (ie an author’s laptop/PC/Desktop)


Okay, we all know the famous quote above. But I digress. Why I used it is because for some strange reason, we author types (especially us indie published types), have a tendency to avoid our fellow man. Why do I say that? Because until recently, I had the same tendency. We hide behind our laptops and delve into the world of social media, book promo sites, book blitzes and blog tours and still we hope to hit the best-selling list overnight.

Now, before you jump on the “But Blaise, what about so-and-so?” or “What about e-commerce?” band-wagon; let me elaborate because this is something I have heard coached to me by many business coaches in many different seminars. Social media is critical in growing an online presence but it should NOT be your only point of contact. 

If you don’t believe what I say is true, I can go further. As an indie game concept artist, I had the privilege of speaking to a character designer for Marvel, yes that Marvel. In the skype call he told me two things:

 1) Always keep your social media updated frequently

2) Start attending conventions

 To go on, an author I love and is possibly the greatest influence on my own journey, you’ve heard me mention her before, Kristen Martin says that attending book related events is a great way to build your author platform because you are putting yourself face to face with potential readers, other authors and publishers to learn from them.

Those are not your exact words, I know, Kristen.


Without further ado, here are five reasons why I think that events are crucial to building your platform.

  1. Gives your readers a face: How many of us get a thrill from meeting our inspirations face to face? To get to actually talk to them about their accomplishments or ask them their advice or comment on their books. How many of us like to get our books signed in person and shake their hands? I know for me, that is an amazing feeling because it reminds me that the goals I’ve set are possible because so many times they tell me that they felt the same and went through the same trials and doubts. Your readers will be the same. They want to meet you, talk to you, get their books signed personally and learn from you.
  2. Chance to meet some mentors: Not only can you meet your heroes, but you can network with authors that want to mentor and read your work. They are willing or can point you towards potential referrals or possibly network you with the company (if they’re traditionally published) that they published with. Do not be naggy or begging about it but it is a possibility. You can ask editors questions and learn what they look for so you can edit your next manuscript or receive discounts on their services. The possibilities are endless.
  3. Huge Network Opportunity: Guys, you’ve heard so many say it, I know you have. Networking is crucial for book sales and marketing. I have learned this through so many authors and business webinars that it is not even funny. Conventions and book festivals are an amazing way to meet new authors, potential returning clients and contacts for your books and blogs. Yes, social media is great for turn-around and growing email lists but how hard are you working when you could spend the money you spend on Facebook ads to go out to the convention or festival and manually do what Facebook pays people to do. For example, my last ad campaign for Blessing of Luna reached over 300 people. Sounds great, right? I thought that too until almost all of those reached were paid to click and address ads. Talk about a let most-of-the-important-things-in-the-world-accomplished-by-people-who-kept-trying-when-there-seemed-no-hope-inspirational-quote-julie-flygare-narcolepsy-spokesperson-author-speakerdown. Budget the post boosting and splurge on the cons and festivals.
  4. Inspiration time: You want to talk about a plethora of inspiration? Events like cons and festivals are always full of groups of people who don’t know each other from Adam or Eve but get together and talk about common hobbies, strategies that worked for them or guys, can we say book swaps? Guest blog post opportunities? Maybe even a blog tour? Book blitzes? And these folks might be willing to do it if you do it for them. Why would you not want to meet and greet these folks? Book ideas abound, collab opportunities. Everything you read about in self-publishing blogs for marketing is just 100$ away or you can sometimes get early bird specials if you sign up early.
  5. Scouting opportunities: Guys, this is a big one. Huge. Almost every convention you go to, there are scouting opportunities. Publishing companies, editors, freelancers, etc are all there. They are looking. You actually get to talk to them instead of waiting five months for an email. Some of them will even look at your proposal on the floor if they’re open to it. Again, don’t be pushy, they’re busy and have so many folks wanting to get looked at. I can say this because I’ve seen them in person at conventions like A-kon. They are there but you aren’t going to meet them behind your laptop.

***For #NaNoProMo, I want to add some great ways I’ve found to offline market that have worked for me personally!***

  1. Book store appearances – Seek out your local bookstores or those in closeAdvertFlier proximity and call them to see if they will allow you to sign and sell your books in their stores. You would be amazed how excited so many of them are. Plus, you have gotten into the system. They’ll most likely ask you to return again for subsequent titles.
  2. Conventions – These are not just for science fiction, cosplayers, etc. I sold out of my book and had to switch to invoicing. Many interviews I got were from attending a convention. You meet other authors and build life long friendships.
  3. Book Festivals – You may or may not sell in a room full of other authors but hey, it’s a great thing to look at. You get to meet and network and get your book out there and do some book and review swaps.
  4. Libraries – Donate to libraries! Again this is a great networking opportunity and they want authors to come in and talk and read!
  5. Pass out ARCs – Free titles may seem like it hurts like heck but ARCs are a great review opportunity and who says no to free books?
  6. Ask for reviews – This was the hardest one. I was so nervous about sounding like I was begging but you would truly be amazed how many of them are willing to offer Businesscardtheir feedback and reviews. You never know if you don’t ask.
  7. Pass out business cards – Always have a PROFESSIONAL* business card! You can pass them out to so many people! Many are more than happy to take them and even ask if they can take them. Be sure to include Amazon and website links!
  8. Book swag – Book marks are a great tool to get your book’s cover out there and heck you can offer them for free. Many people are more than willing to take them and often couple your book with them!
  9. Make Fliers – You have to be willing to hoof it. Take the days you have off, open word and use a template to make your fliers. Starbucks is amazing with their community calendars and they’re everywhere!!! Grab a coffee, post your flier and head on to the next location. If you have an event at a bookstore, ask the manager if they provide fliers. If not, ask them if they’d be willing to use yours!
  10. Name Drop your book/ Tell them you’re an author! – Guys, I know this sounds strange but I kid you not. Blessing of Luna has been sold at restaurants, grocery stores, and even at the end of an event. I just approached someone in the romance isle and starting talking! Always have a book! You would be amazed what can happen!

* What I mean by professional is always have a .com, .net, etc. It has an air of professionalism and ongoing pursuit. Invest the money. Many domains like Bluehost, GoDaddy, HostGator, WordPress, etc have their own hosts.

So, I hope this has helped you. This knowledge was gleaned from trial and error, seeking mentorships and just asking managers and professional marketers. The cruel and harsh truth is, our market is saturated but it doesn’t mean we have to fight each other. There are readers who want to read our work, heck, maybe both of our books if we work with a partner to promote our books. Social Media is a black hole that is necessary for an online presence but at the same time, offline marketing gets you out there! Try for yourself!

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[Book Blitz Open for Sign Ups] Blessing of Luna by Blaise Ramsay

Blessing of Luna banner
This is my stop during the book blitz for Blessing of Luna by Blaise Ramsay. This book blitz is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours. The book blitz runs from 11 till 17 June. See the tour schedule here.

Blessing of LunaBlessing of Luna (Wolf Gods #1)
By Blaise Ramsay
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Age category: Adult
Release Date: April 20, 2018

Blurb:
Damien Pierce wasn’t like normal people. Since he was young, he learned that he had the uncanny ability to heal himself almost immediately. At fifteen he astounded the small town of Big Timber, Montana when an SUV hit him only to find he survived the encounter without suffering any major injuries.

After moving away for ten years, losing his mother and slipping into a deep sense of depression, Damien’s father moves them back home in an attempt to give Damien a sense of normalcy.

Enter Jillian Styles, the immortal, beautiful lycan that has been looking for the soul of her long, lost lover who after many years of being reborn into new bodies, his soul simply vanishes into the tides of time. When Jill first sees Damien, she knows immediately he is the one she had been looking for.

When an old enemy begins re-igniting the flames of a centuries old war, Damien must come to grips with a cruel fact that he is not human while nurturing feelings for the beautiful woman who captured his affection.

Now Damien must delve deeper into the world of the supernatural with the help of the mysterious Alexander Kain and Jillian. He’s about to learn, the secret sleeping within him is much more than he ever could have imagined.

You can find Blessing of Luna on Goodreads

You can buy Blessing of Luna here:
Amazon e-copy
Amazon Paperback
Blessing of Luna is available to read with Kindle Unlimited. A portion of the proceeds of each book sold will go to a charity.

The first five chapters are available to read for free are on Wattpad.

Blaise RamsayAbout the Author:
FyreSyde Publishing owner and founder Blaise Ramsay worked over fifteen years in the graphic design industry, with some experience in indie gaming. Recently she shifted her attention to the world of literature with her debut paranormal romance series, Wolf gods. The debut title, Blessing of Luna is set to release in 2018. She currently lives in North Texas with her two children, her husband and pets. A UTD graduate with a Bachelor’s in History with an intention on teaching, Blaise decided that the world of teaching just wasn’t for her. A stay at home mother of two, business owner and self-publisher, Blaise loves to meet new people and encourage others to follow their dreams through weekly posts to her Instagram, twitter, Facebook and blog.

You can find and contact Blaise Ramsay here:
Website
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads
Amazon

Giveaway
There is a tour wide giveaway for the book blitz of Blessing of Luna. One winner will win both an e-copy and paperback copy of Blessing of Luna by Blaise Ramsay.

For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway


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[Open Book Blitzes] Blessing of Luna

BlessingOfLunaBlitzBanner-1

Letting you all know about the open upcoming blitz opportunities for Blessing of Luna! There is one being held by Lola’s Blog Tours and Xpresso Book Tours!

If you would like to sign up to host the blitz, please head to the links above!

Giveaways are included in both events!

I am also still seeking folks who are willing to review the book! I can offer ePub, Mobi, Pdf, and physical copy (if necessary)! Reviews for Goodreads, Amazon, email or a mix are more than welcome! All reviews are posted on our website! Anonymity is more than okay. We can blur out your full name!

Blessing of Luna banner

A portion of every single book sold in any format will go to The Wounded Warrior Project and Carry The Load! As you may know or learn after reading, the main character suffers from PTSD. So many of our soldiers including my own husband has to cope with this debilitating problem. It is something serious that needs to be taken as such. If you believe the same, help us bring awareness! 

 

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[Author Interview] Mark Engels, Author of Always Gray in Winter

 

9781945247194By: Mark J. Engels

Genre: Paranormal Sci-Fi Thriller

Age category: Adult

Release Date: 8/10/17 (trade paperback); 10/1/17 (ebook)

 Blurb:

A distant daughter. A peculiar device. A family lineage full of secrets. When werecat Pawlina Katczynski finally resurfaces, her location previously unknown to anyone close to her, the reunion is short of welcomed. Instead, she finds herself thrust tooth and nail—tooth and claw—into a feud between opposing werecat clans as her family and their enemies reignite a battle that has raged for years. Always Gray in Winter invites the reader to join the feud and see if blood is truly thicker than water…


The Interview:

1) How did you get the idea for your book?

I’ve been a fan of anime, manga and anthropomorphics for over thirty years.  My muse came to me one night at work, imploring I write her story. When I ignored her, she “charmed” me with fangs and claws.  And told me her name was Pawly.

2) As a small press author, can you describe your experience through the process?

I’d been on the publication trail for some while before I got a couple small press offers, so I had some idea of what to expect.  Every small press is different, and each is at a particular stage in their development. My publisher had been around a couple years before I signed on, though at the time they were in the middle of an expansion and eager to sign new authors.  We negotiated a number of terms in the contract, which I had come to understand by talking to other authors, agents and editors I’d met during the query contests and Twitter “pitch parties.” And what I’d learned helped establish just exactly what my publisher and I came to understand we could expect from one another.

3) When you wrote your book, did you know you wanted to get it published or was it something you started as a hobby?

After having been an anime, manga and anthropomorphics fan for so long, I wanted to give back to the fandoms I’d come to love, through which I had found such joy and made so many dear friends.  Wanted to create content after consuming it for decades. Because I thought my characters and concept were kewl and labored under the delusion others would too.  I was determined to take their story to a wide audience, which was the main reason I queried agents and, later, submitted to small presses.

4) What was your general writing process?

I’m an electrical engineer in my day job, specializing in the design, construction and commissioning railroad and rail transit signal and communications systems all over the United States.  An iterative design process is second nature to me, starting with the abstract and working toward the specific. So I can’t not be a plotter, really.  I laid out a series outline in prose form detailing three generations of my werecat protagonist Pawly’s family, from the height of the Cold War to the present day.  Then I figured out a starting and an end point for the first book, which takes place in media res.  Drafting came next.  A year or so later I was ready to begin my edits.  I’d both joined a real-life writer’s group by then and picked up a copy of Browne & King’s Self Editing for Fiction Writers.  Boy howdy, did both of those underscore just how much editing I needed!  About another year’s worth, in fact.

5) How many hours a day do you devote to writing? If you have a day job, how do you find the balance to write?

“Balance” is not found, as if one is out in the woods looking for berries or mushrooms.  Balance is struck, it is made, it is hard fought. And it is always a compromise. Along the lines of “this isn’t he arrangement everyone likes most, this is the arrangement everyone dislikes least” more of then not.

I’m very fortunate that I enjoy my day job for its intrinsic value (I play with trains and electronics all day, yay!) and make a decent living for my family doing it.  I do work full time, though, and during business hours the job needs must be my priority. I’m also a father and husband. Every night after my son goes to bed, I devote two or three hours to “writing”, but I don’t use such a narrow view as “words on a page.”  Research is writing, mentally picking away at the Gordian knot my plotlines have bunched themselves together into is writing, dispositioning critique partner feedback is writing, reading other’s books is writing, platform building is writing, etc. Many activities don’t get words down on a page but are part and parcel of my writing process nonetheless.  To help make sure the words I do get down are the right ones, and that those words have a fighting chance of reaching their audience.

6) When did you decide you wanted to become an author? Who were some of your inspirations?

I really didn’t set out to be an author, or a writer for that matter.  It just sort of happened. Being an anime and manga fan at the dawning of the Internet age, I came upon newsgroups, bulletin boards and mailing lists where I could meet and get to know fans of one particular franchise or another.  On a couple of occasions after a dramatic shift in a story or after its conclusion, I felt that the creators had left “money on the table”, leaving characters undeveloped, plot threads twisting in the wind or entire stories gone untold.  So I set about to fill in the spaces between with fanfiction. Including several novella- and novel-length stories.

My books aren’t all that different.  I came to know an artist featuring anthro characters whose work I adored, who wanted to release a web comic featuring them but wasn’t sure how to begin.  He was struggling with his antagonist’s motivations especially. We began a dialogue about same with an outline I’d prepared and expanded into a complete story arc.  After sitting down at a convention together over coffee, he told me “this sounds like a great story, but it’s not my story” and that was that.

Or so I thought.  I was fully prepared to put the experience behind me and go on with life, but my muse had other ideas.  She came to me and started shredding away at my consciousness, insisting I tell her story. And that of her family.  Turns out my muse she be a werecat. One who looks strikingly like my story’s protagonist, in fact. Pawly makes a convincing argument with fangs and claws.

7) How long did it take you to write your book?

A year to draft, a year to edit, a year to query/submit. Nearly another year before release during which time I built out my web site and social media presence.

8) When you wrote the book, were you trying to make it a stand-alone story or are there any sequels planned?

After I finished my series outline, I sent it around to some friends and fellow writers in the anime fanfiction communities to get their feedback.  All of them thought the premise outstanding and unique, and all exhorted me to not to try to cram the story into one book. So after spending a fair bit of time re-organizing my outline, I’ve determined I have enough plot points to cover at least three books.  Or four should I decide to dive deep into Pawly’s family history.

9) As you know this is blog is mostly geared towards authors trying to get their platforms built, market their books, focus on personal promotion, etc. What are some of the best ways you would advise our readers to market their books? To get themselves out there and get on podcasts, guest posts, etc.

“Best ways?”  Uhm, I’m not all that sure I know, truthfully.  Because marketing is every bit as much subjective as editing and critique.  What worked for them/there/then (that is to say, for me or for any other author) may not be useful nor effective for you/here/now.  If one desires to write a book in a specific genre, while reading deep in the genre, pay attention to what successful authors in that genre have done and are doing to build their platforms.  All of it is worth considering, even if some of it might not work well for you.  Or for your book.  You’ll be prepared to make an informed decision yea or nay.

That said, I believe successful marketing strongly correlates to an author’s willingness to build relationships.  Especially online ones, where so many of us find and reach our audiences. There is a lot of awful out there on social media, but there are also pockets of like-minded creatives eager to make new friends.  “Getting yourself out there” is salient advice, though I would qualify “early and often.” Writing is frequently a solitary exercise, and I’d suggest one run silent and run deep while one is developing their first draft to avoid distractions.  Though it’s high time to seek out other creatives once the story has something of a beginning, a middle, and an end.  Start working on a query letter right then; there are all kinds of query contests online to help with that.  The friends I made there (and on the Twitter “pitch parties” once the manuscript was complete) today number among my most valued critique partners.  And my most ardent supporters.

The same folks ought to come in real handy as you’re going through editing your own book prior to submission or publication.  They can also help make suggestions as to agents or editors that may really enjoy your book, or help refer you to their trusted resources if you decide to self-pub.  Because having done so, getting on the podcasts and guest posts was fairly simple. I just had to ask my friends who asked their friends.  Voila!  They were glad to have me.

10) As a writer, we all know we are bound to deal with harsh book reviews from people who just don’t like our work. How do you go about dealing with “bad press”? For good reviews, do you tend to reach out to the reviewer and thank them?

I make it a point to reach out to reviewers who take time to share what they liked about my book, what maybe didn’t work for them, how my book made them feel–good or ill.  Though never as a comment to the review itself; those are written by readers for readers.  Author responses to such are seen by many as rude, seen as an intrusion into a private conversation between readers.  To the extent possible, I use the reviewer’s handle to track down an email address or social media link where I can reach out and thank them.  Because I find even disparaging remarks often provide unique opportunities to consider what most to improve in my future work.

“Bad press?”  I leave it lie and recommend every author do likewise.  Nothing I say will change their minds about my book, and it’s not my place to try.  I’ll only wear myself out in doing so. Besides, a reader’s opinion is just that. One person’s opinion, to which they’re entitled.  And I’m entitled to respond with but a shrug and move on.

When bad press does come, I endeavor to remind myself of a couple key principles: first, that the book I had in my heart to write may decidedly not be the book any one person had in their hearts to read and, second, that that is okay.

11) Your first book is a mystery/ thriller, is there a reason you chose this genre?

Just happened to be the book I had in my heart to write, of course!  The sort of book I had in my heart to read but couldn’t find.  It was only after I’d written the book that I began to bill it as a “paranormal sci-fi thriller”, because I had to assign it a genre for query contest and Twitter pitch parties.  Up until that point, I was complete clueless to genre conventions and subtleties (and, frankly, I’m still figuring them out.) All I knew was that my story was my story, though I set about to understand them by necessity when I began to pitch my book.  Contemplate just what sort of audience I would endeavor to reach out to. And how best to engage them.

12) What are your views on writer’s block? Do you believe in it? If you do, do you have ways to cope with it that you would be willing to share?

Yes, writer’s block is a thing.  A thing I fear, actually, which is in part why I do so much work up front plotting.  If I know the story has a defined beginning, a middle and an end, then I can just plow through the places where the story drags and sags.  Because I can always edit later! Pantsers suggest that doing such layouts stifles creativity, to which I can only say “to each their own.”  This is what I do and why I do it, and it seems to work for me. Your mileage may vary.

What does seize me up from time to time happens after I’ve gotten feedback from my critique partners.  They’ll point out what works for them and what doesn’t, and I’m always grateful when they do. When several of them point out one particular thing that didn’t work, that suggests strongly there’s something there I need to fix.  But it’s always a struggle–I gave it my best!  A bitter pill to swallow that one’s best isn’t good enough.

Or, as I’ve come to understand, it’s not good enough yet.  I’ve found that if I put away the feedback for a period of time, like a couple weeks or sometimes even a month or two, then when I come back to it I can more better see what the issue is.  Often with such clarity arrives the answer unbidden to the problem that had me stymied.

13) What time of day do you find is your “creative time for writing”?

Evenings.  After my grade-school age son goes to bed and before I crash.  To those who write early in the morning, God bless yer pea-pickin’ hearts.  That just doesn’t work for me. I find I need a full day of doing unrelated stuff to get my brain “spun up” fast enough so I can write.

14) Do you have some advice for the new authors that may be reading this post right now?

The book that you have in your heart to write may not be the book any one person has in their hearts to read.  And that’s okay. You’re okay.  Your story is okay, though always be willing to take into consideration points-of-view that might be hard to hear.  Because often those help you figure out how to tell your story even better.

What’s worked for them/there/then may or may not be practical, feasible nor helpful for you/here/now.  Don’t let anyone tell you your way is wrong.  Your way is your way, every bit as valid as you are.  Consider other people’s successes and failures as you soldier on, keeping Bruce Lee’s timeless advice close to your heart:

“Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.”

Reach out.  Put yourself out there.  I know it’s a daunting prospect to introverted types, but I believe doing so will pay dividends for people like it has for me.  Query contests, pitch parties and forums like Absolute Write’s “water cooler” forums are great ways to learn things and make friends.  I did just that and now have a cadre of resources I can depend upon to help me write, edit and promote my stories.

15) Last but not least, what are your future plans now that you have published your first novel?

“I’M GOING TO DISNEY WORLD!”

*eyes royalty statement*

Well then, maybe not.  Back to working on my next werecat book…


You can find Always Gray in Winter on Goodreads 

You can purchase Always Gray in Winter on Amazon 

Read an excerpt!


About the Author 

Boyhood interests in trains and electronics fostered my career as an electrical engineer, 120c9a380f5682af4516508841a3af37designing and commissioning signal and communications systems for railroads and rail transit agencies across the United States. Authoring rail industry trade magazines articles led me to write novel-length fiction, inspired by my beloved anime, manga and anthropomorphic fandoms. Growing up in Michigan never far from the Great Lakes, my wife, son and I live in Wisconsin with a dog who naps beside me as I write.

I am a member of Allied Authors of Wisconsin, one of the state’s oldest writing collectives, and the Furry Writer’s Guild, dedicated to supporting, informing, elevating, and promoting quality anthropomorphic fiction and its creators.

 

Find and contact Mark Engels here:

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